No Hobby Love – Trailblazers Edition

What is love?

The Portland Trailblazers were a playoff team the past few years and have a number of very good players on their team. Sure they are in a small market, but the fans here are rabid. I love picking up new Trailblazers autographs, especially of my favorite Blazer Nicolas Batum. But it seems as though the Blazers get no love in the hobby.

It’s hard finding sports cards featuring some of the smaller market teams in every sport. But due to economics, a lot of those teams don’t have much talent. The Trailblazers have a ton of talent but barely any higher end autographs or game-used cards on the market.

Everyone reading this is thinking about all the great Brandon Roy cards out there. I know, I understand, but Brandon Roy isn’t the whole team. This year I was lucky enough to see a Marcus Camby patch from Absolute on eBay but missed my chance at it. But I never see anyone other then Brandon Roy and the occasion LaMarcus Aldridge autographs floating around. What is it about the players that the card companies don’t like?

I understand Brandon Roy is a super star despite his injuries. Who else besides LeBron or Kobe could of taken over that playoff Game 3 against the Mavericks? But where is more LaMarcus, Batum, Wes Matthews, or Andre Miller? Nicolas hasn’t had an autograph in a product since Upper Deck was dropping inventory for 09-10 Upper Deck. Wes Matthews only has rookie autographs and he is probably one of the best sophomores in the league this last year. Andre Miller is probably the smartest and deceptive point guards in the league and has been around for years bringing great success. Hell, Andre Miller dropped 52 against Dallas 2 years ago. It was kind of a fluke but which point guards in the NBA can say they dropped 52 in a game?

The Lakers are a more popular team but a simple search of eBay shows several different current Lakers autographs. Lamar Odom autographs? I’m sorry, but isn’t he a backup? Sasha Vujacic? Who? Luke Walton? Does he even play anymore? Derek Fisher? Any other team and he wouldn’t have the same minutes because Kobe has a man crush on him. And finally, headcase Ron Artest?

Blazers on eBay? Roy, Aldridge, and rookie autos. Will I ever see an Andre Miller auto with a Blazers uniform on? A Wes Matthews? Marcus Camby? If I can get an autograph of Ron Artest I should be able to get an autograph of at least Wes Matthews.

Panini, I think it’s time to expand the autograph checklists a bit. Bring us closer to the game and the players and teams we love. Sure, everyone would love to pull a Kobe auto, but I’m sure others would love to pull a Nicolas Batum just as much.

Panini don’t hurt me, no more.

Suggestions to Fix Expired Redemptions

Expired redemptions are a black mark on the hobby today. When you open a pack or a box of older cards you always fear the worst. You don’t fear a career minor leaguer, you don’t fear being shorted hits, and you don’t fear pulling a Gypsy Queen jewel relic (or something like it). You fear pulling an expired redemption, especially if it’s of a great player. I was watching some YouTube box breaks today and saw someone pull an expired Sidney Crosby autograph. How crappy does that guy feel?

Redemptions are in the product because the athlete had not signed the card (or sticker, jersey, etc.) and it was not back in the factory at the time of pack out. That leaves little printed stickers on cardboard telling you they owe you a card. Also on that card is an expiration date. Why? Some states apparently consider redemption cards “sweepstakes” and there must be a definite start date and end date.

First, why not make the end date 10 years from the start date? Extending the redemption end period would solve so many problems. Upper Deck has claimed close to 90% of redemptions are claimed within the two years. How about making it 99% and extending the redemption dates? Especially for those players that take forever to sign. I’m talking to you Vince Carter and Monta Ellis.

Speaking of players taking forever or not signing, why not add in a little something to the contract? If you do not autograph these items by xx/xx/xx your contract for this product is void and you are not getting your money. Hit them where it hurts. I know you want to get checklists out and promos out ahead of time but which is worse? A late checklist or angry customers because they never get their redemption? It should be focused on customers first.

But what is done with the cards once the redemption has ended? Some companies use those cards as replacements to other redemptions that people have sent in. Others are known to destroy those cards. Why in the world would you destroy them? Why not just use some of the older redemption cards as replacements for an expired redemption? How about a box of cards from the latest product for those higher end redemptions? What about another sport? I’m just tire kicking here but there has to be something the company can do.

You want to “bring back the card shop” then do something to help make their boxes worth something if they have extra product laying around. Prices of boxes with expired redemptions are dropping and the “hobby shops” you all adore are having to take losses because of these redemptions. They will continue that trend for as long as redemptions are in products and expire after two years. How much will you be able to get Panini Limited hockey for after their redemptions expire? (In case you don’t get the reference, some Limited boxes have had as many as 3 redemptions inside.)

What Box To Break?

Well I was hoping to bring a nice surprise retail break today of Gypsy Queen since everyone else is doing it, but Fred Meyer did not have any Gypsy Queen to be had. Sorry, I’m not going to drive a half-hour to try Target or go get shot at my Wal-Mart 20 minutes away. So with no Gypsies or Queens to be had, I pocketed the money to wait. There was a plethora of 2010 blasters available at my disposal, but nothing I really wanted. Oh, and NO HOCKEY! Why do I have to live in a state without any hockey love. Our WHL team is in the finals and they can’t even fill the lower bowl at the Rose Garden. So, my attempt to bring Gypsy Queen has failed.

So that leaves me with pretending I had cards to open. I was stuck looking at previews of products soon to come out. Sure, I have a little money in my PayPal account but it’ll take forever to get a hobby box here. Plus, I WAS going to save the majority of it for a couple boxes of 2010-11 Upper Deck Ultimate hockey but it was delayed…again, like every other Upper Deck product. I think it was pushed another month to June 24th. Same thing happened when I wanted to buy The Cup last year. I had the money available and they kept pushing it back. I ended up spending the money on something else.

Okay, I’m done ranting on that.

But a good thing did happen today. After I got home from failing to find some GQ, I looked in my mailbox and received a package from Panini. In March, I had opened a box of Certified hockey up in Edmonton and did not receive the correct number of hits. I’ve never requested a replacement before as I figured it was just luck of the draw but this time I did. I sent in all the information and my replacement was received today. It was this:

2010-11 Certified Certified Champion Jordan Staal Auto #/50

Not bad for a replacement, wish it was his brother Eric though. It’s definitely better then nothing and I thank Panini for sending me the hit I was missing in my box.

Speaking of boxes, I really want to open some boxes. I want to open one hobby box from each sport and review it here, preferably using each of the major card companies. So I need ideas. I also wouldn’t mind just one from each card company so we can see what each one brings to the table.

I would like at least one Topps, one Panini, and one Upper Deck. If I have anything extra I could try some ITG too. What should I review? Let me know your thoughts.

No Purchase Necessary (NPN)

Do you love the gamble of opening packs or boxes of product? So do I. Well the fact is that it pretty much is a gamble when you buy a pack of cards as you are hoping to pull something big. The odds are stacked against you to pull an insert, game used, autograph, etc. Well because the odds are stacked against you, companies had to create the option of getting one of those cards for free or else they would have to limit the people who could buy packs. If they had to limit the people then obviously the customer base would get smaller and since it would then be considered gambling, it would have to be heavily taxed.

No Purchase Necessary (NPN) is found on the back of all your packs of cards that you open. Right after it gives you the odds of what you can pull, the NPN information is located. Usually it requires you to send an index card with your name, address, and telephone number to an address. Upper Deck’s NPN is slightly different, and in my opinion better. They have you go to the Upper Deck NPN website. I likeĀ  their NPN system better because you don’t have to go through the effort of filling out an index card, putting it in an envelope, and then paying for a stamp. Using the online system you never have to worry about the postal service getting your mail there. I’d love it if every company adopted that system.

Plus if you’re Canadian and terrible at math, you don’t have to answer the always funny “skill testings” question. In case you Canadians are wondering, the reasoning behind the question is basically that Canadian law does not ban gambling if it is a “skill” game instead of just plain gambling odds. So if you Canadians are good at math, that is considered a “skill”. I always thought the best Canadian skill was people with good manners and creating poutine (just kidding, I love you neighbors to the north). The sad thing is, I don’t think you have to actually get the answer right.

I’ve probably entered 10 NPN sweepstakes in my sports card collecting career, accumulating one winning prize. A 2009 O-Pee-Chee Premier Alex Tanguay autograph #/50. I am mainly an autograph collector so I was stoked when that prize came in from Upper Deck. I know it’s not a high value card, but a free card? Can’t beat that.

Preview: Panini Contenders Hockey

It seems like this is turning into a hockey blog, huh? Sorry to all you fans out there of other sports but this is the time of the year for some awesome hockey products. Baseball and football products are just getting started while basketball is in a lull. The next product I want to discuss is Panini Contenders hockey. That’s right, I said it…Contenders hockey. Panini has crossed over the brand that brings great rookie cards from football over to hockey in what seems like a seamless way.

Contenders is going to bring you what you want rookie collectors, 4 autographs per box with at least 3 of them being hard signed Rookie Ticket autographs. Also included, like football, will be the 14 karat solid gold trading cards. Imagine a Taylor Hall solid gold rookie 1 of 1. Now imagine the joy of pulling it. Although the idea is gimmicky, I love good gimmicks.

New to the set is Leather Larceny which features a leathery card stock featuring some of the best goalies in the league. I’m not sure how this will feel or look, but I am always a fan of something different. Leather, acetate, solid gold, Panini has filled this set with different types of cards. Personally, I like something a little different. Providing the designs are nice, this product might be one of the best to try and put a set together for you set collectors out there and look good in your collection at the same time. Actually I’m really hoping the designs are excellent in this product as I haven’t been impressed with anything since Crown Royale.

The only problem I have is that this will be arriving sometime in May. So is Panini Zenith. We have been bombarded this season with a ton of hockey products and honestly, I think that is a bad thing. Overproduction is a problem with all these sets this year being brought out, especially at some of the prices we’ve been seeing.

But as far as this set goes, I can see it being one of the best sets of the season. It would definitely be one of, if not the best in it’s price range if it goes off successful. All I know is I will definitely want to be opening this when it comes out. Let’s just hope I can hold on to the money in my PayPal account that’s just burning a hole. Panini Peek: 2010-11 Contenders hockey is some official Panini information for you guys. Oh and Before Packout: 2010-11 Panini Contenders hockey Rookie Ticket Reveal too.

Here is an example of this year’s rookie ticket. Thankfully, I was able to find one of one of my favorite teams (Carolina and Edmonton) so I am happy to post it.