Collecting Card-bored?

Every once and awhile someone will get bored of collecting sports card. Even yours truly has gone through the points where it just feels boring. I mean, in the end, it’s usually the same thing across the board. Sports players on cardboard.

Sure you’ll have your refactors, inserts, sets to complete, game used, and autographs, but those kind of get boring after awhile as it’s the same thing repeatedly. Some people even go to the point where they get bored of their personal collections and sell everything off.

When I get bored at sports cards, I like to change things up a little bit. I may switch my sports focus for a little bit. Right before I started the blog, I went through a phase of boredom in the hobby. I ended up going to a hobby shop, Wayne’s Sports Cards in Edmonton, and decided to open my first hobby box of NHL hockey cards. Well, it turned into my first three boxes. This opened up a brand new collecting door that I had never tried to open and boy, it got me going. I have always loved hockey and hockey cards rekindled the fire once again.

It just goes in spurts. The previous lull in my sports card collecting journey I started opening Benchwarmer products. Who doesn’t like hot chicks on cardboard? The fresh designs and faces again rekindled the collecting fire.

I’ve never been to the point where I just sold everything I have, but I’ve gotten to the point where I just sold off all of my trade bait just so I could go out and open some more boxes or get some personal cards for my collection. Lately, I’ve been thinking of selling off some of my personal collection that I don’t display and get cards worthy of displaying. I have countless autographs and game used cards that I don’t display or ever see and would like to put their combined value into something really nice. But I don’t think I could get rid of them as they are all teams I love.

What do you do to change up your collection or rekindle the fire inside you for collecting?

August 2011 Sports Card Releases

Here we go again for the month of August. Plenty of goodness about to be released in all 4 major sports. It’s heating up here in the dog days of summer with this product line up about to go out to collectors. As always, ratings are my excitement level for each product and what should be your excitement level too. Dates are subject to manufacturer change.

Baseball:

2011 ITG Heroes & Prospects “Hits” Series 2 Baseball – August 3, 2011 – Price: $85 – 7/10

This one pack per box baseball product brings you only the hits. Find autographs from players of the future and yesteryear including cuts of players like Hank Aaron and future stars like Manny Banuelos.

2011 Topps Lineage Baseball – August 3, 2011 – Price: $100 – 7/10

Find autographs from past and today as Topps uses it’s popular designs from the 60s and 70s including autographs on the old 1952 card design. It should be loaded with some great hits.

2011 Topps Marquee Baseball – August 24, 2011 – Price: $175 – 8/10

This new hit per pack product looks to be a mix of Tribute and Triple Threads. While I’m not excited about the relics unless I pull a patch, for this high end of a product I would want more patches. Other than that, the autograph checklist looks pretty good in itself so it’s definitely worth it to check it out.

2011 Tristar Obak Baseball – August 10, 2011 – Price: $105 – 7/10

11 hits per box! With autographs from history’s greatest baseball players as well as future stars, this product looks loaded with the possibilities for some nice hits. When you get 11 of them, there is sure to be a ton of filler, but the really good hits should be really good.

Basketball:

2010-11 Panini Elite Black Box Basketball – August 31, 2011 – Price: ? – 9/10

The newest high end offering from Panini looks like it has great promise for it. A ton of beautiful on card autographs and a few embedded autographs that don’t look that bad besides the autograph getting cut out a bit is what you’ll find and will be what everyone is looking for. A nice insert set dedicated to Kevin Durant has been long in the making. This product just depends on the checklist. But for now, I got the hype.

2010-11 Panini National Treasures Basketball – August 10, 2011 -Price: $440 – 8/10

The prominent high end product of the basketball season comes out with awesome patches, great autographs, and the rookie cards of the season for basketball. The rookie class may not be that great, but these cards are always top of the line from Panini.

2011-12 Upper Deck SP Authentic Basketball – August 30, 2011 – Price: $115 – 6/10

I can honestly say that I’m not very excited about this product. The only excitement comes from the fact it’s possible to pull a Michael Jordan or Lebron James autograph. The man-crush on North Carolina and the amounts of possibly Lebron or Jordan autographs is kind of killing their values, but if you want another good chance to pull one, here’s another shot.

Football:

2011 Panini Threads Football – August 24, 2011 – Price: ? – 8/10

One of the better Panini football products, there is a ton of great looking cards in this year’s set with some great looking rookie and veteran autographs, including the always popular rookie letterman autographs. The veteran and rookie autographs you can pull are pretty solid in this product and it looks like a winner.

2011 Topps Finest Football – August 31, 2011 – Price: $100 – 8/10

Topps Finest football is always a hit amongst collectors. Rookie autographs, rookie patch autographs, and veteran autographs, you can find some great cards in this product but also some duds. It’s a fun break as it’s one of the first Topps products of the season featuring rookies and veterans.

2011 Topps Inception Football – August 11, 2011 – Price: $90 – 9/10

I’m impressed with this product with the rookies and the design Topps was able to use despite not getting great pictures at the NFL Premiere when the lockout was in place. I’m in love with the design and what Topps has done with this product and I think it would be a great pickup.

2011 Upper Deck NCAA Sweet Spot Football – August 3, 2011 – Price: $110 – 8/10

A hit per pack product again, I think the price is a little high for this product, but it should be filled with some great autographs from the incoming NFL rookie class in their college uniforms. With college football gaining popularity by the year, it looks to be a solid product as it gives collectors, especially college collectors, what they want.

Hockey:

2010-11 Panini Dominion Hockey – August 31, 2011 – Price: $390 – 10/10

I am beyond hyped up for this product. Finally, a competitor with The Cup in the hockey arena and it looks like it will do a great job with some great cards and new concepts in this set. Plus, who doesn’t love an insert set dedicated to the Hartford Whalers?

2010-11 Upper Deck The Cup Hockey – August 30, 2011 – Price: $390 – 10/10

The Cup hockey. Really, what else is there to say here? The highest of high end from Upper Deck is back and looking just as good as ever. It will be challenged by Panini Dominion, can it claim it’s spot at the top of the high end hockey world with some new competition?

2010-11 ITG Heroes & Prospects Update – August 30, 2011 – Price: $40 – 7/10

H&P Update isn’t my favorite ITG product, but it always has very decent hits with heroes from the game of hockey and ITG’s great players that they have signed and some of the top prospects in the minors and junior hockey leagues.

2011-12 Upper Deck Victory Hockey – August 2, 2011 – Price: $30 – 8/10

How can you not like the first NHL product of the season? All the new rookies and the offseason trades and pick ups. This is the first cards of the new season’s hottest rookies from this year’s draft!

Check this post back often as I will be releasing official Sports Card Blog preview information in the coming weeks before the products are released!

Racing:

2011 Press Pass FanFare Racing – August 24, 2011 – Price: $115 – 8/10

Press Pass’s newest hit per pack product hits the shelves running with some of your favorite NASCAR drivers as well as some of your favorite Nationwide and truck series drivers. A lot of first time drivers on these cards make for some great value before you even open a pack!

Trading Sports Cards Online

We at Sports Card Blog love to trade cards, but the location is absolutely terrible for trading. Living in kind of a mountain, cow town has it’s disadvantages in this regard. The closest decent shops are 30 minutes to an hour away and they really don’t have any events for collectors or their customers. Once a month there is a show at a mall about 35 minutes away. I have actually never been to Jantzen Beach Mall for this card show, but if it is anything like some of the hobby shops in the city I’m going to be disappointed. They need to take some of my ideas to run a better hobby shop.

So I have to resort to doing 99.9% of my trading online, but that is okay with me. Even though I have to pay to ship the cards in some sort of protective package and send it to far away countries like Canada, it’s still worth it in the end. I haven’t had the opportunity to trade with anyone farther away then Canada but I am always happy to trade with anyone else.

I use different sports card forums for my trading. When choosing a sports card forum for trading, you look to find the most legit forums. I’ve been browsing several forums lately looking for the best of the best. First, let me start off by saying no site is 100% safe when you are trading. But I would stay away from places like YouTube where there is absolutely no method of weeding out the bad traders.

My favorite and the place I trade the most is Sports Card Forum. Sports Card Forum probably has the largest number of people to trade with across all sports. These people come from all ages and backgrounds from around the world. I admit I may have somewhat of a “homer” bias with them because it was my first forum I ever joined and I was a staff member there for 3 years. But over 200 transactions and never having any of my cards or money stolen is definitely a good thing. I would say their forte is their football area which is probably the biggest of any forum sites. They are always looking for ways to improve the experience and have a ton of features. Finally, SCF as it’s called, has the best custom built Trade Manager of any site to keep everything organized and in place.

My second favorite place to trade is at CloutsnChara. First, I want to start by stating they are 95% hockey collectors. I collect all sports but this is definitely a great place to trade if you are into hockey. Plus they hold the most group breaks I have ever seen with just about every product imaginable in hockey. If you’re American like me you’ll be sending to Canada quite a bit and Canada Post isn’t always the most reliable when it comes to international shipping. This owner also owns their own card shop in Canada so they can help you getting the newest hockey products.

Although I’ve never traded on this site, I find the discussion to be top notch and it has great possibilities for trading. Freedom Cardboard is that site. Although at times I find some of the discussions to be brash and some of the members to be kind of rude to newer people, I think they mean well. I would recommend this site to those in the slightly older crowd and those with thicker skin. There are a lot of baseball people there and a lot of prospectors so if you are into prospecting or just baseball cards this is probably the best site for baseball card collectors. The owner here is also always trying to improve the experience with new ideas and also owns his own card shop in Georgia.

I’ve traded on Trading Card Central as well, but I feel like this site is slowly going downhill. The members are leaving and it’s becoming more and more inactive on the forums. Secondly, I haven’t traded on Card Collector’s World but I know a lot of the members and staffers there to be good people. It’s a pretty tight knit community that is easy to integrate yourself into. Finally, I’d like to add The Bench as well. I almost forgot about them but they are still a popular forum to trade on, but like others it has tapered off over the years.

So there is a short list of sites for you to check out if you are interested in trading sports cards online.

Basics of Group Breaks

I’m just going to state this now and get it out of the way. I love group breaks.

What is better then paying a fraction of the price of a box or case and having the possibility of getting a huge hit? It’s like gambling on gambling. It’s like trying to win the lottery of the person who is going to win the lottery. Except you usually actually get something in the end instead of a garbage piece of paper….well hopefully you don’t end up with garbage.

Group breaks are fun for the people breaking and fun for the breaker. It’s fun for the breaker because you get to rip packs and see what is inside. We all know the reason we love ripping packs is to see what is inside and hiding behind that foil wrapping, or in some cases clear wrapping (which makes no sense). It’s drama at its finest.

So basically there are several types of group breaks. Pick Your Team, Random Team, Pick Your Spot Draft, Random Draft, and Yankee Swap*. (*Yankee Swap may not really exist)

  • Pick Your Own Team is just that. You pick your own team. Sometimes some teams are priced higher based on possible good cards and sometimes they aren’t. Usually the most popular teams will go first so it just depends how fast you are if you get that spot.
  • Random Team is everyone in the group break is put in a randomizer with the teams. Random teams, random person gets the teams. Sometimes there is a combination of Pick Your Team and Random Team.
  • Pick Your Spot Draft is when there are draft slots with each slot significantly priced higher the closer to the first pick you go. That person at the top of the draft picks first all the way down. Sometimes people will snake the draft and sometimes it will go back to the top.
  • Random Draft is a card draft, but the top pick on down is randomized. Again, there is an option for snakes. SNAKES IN A DRAFT!

Those are the four main types of breaks. Occasionally you will find other variants like League Division or something like that. All these are good and fun ways to spend your money.

But you want to spend your money with a trustworthy source. We all DO NOT want to be in a group break like the recent happenings on YouTube with callofhockeybeast. This is fairly recent but the low down is this. The kid hid a hit behind a decoy while showing the contents of the pack. This is a one hit per pack product, we know he hid it and we could see the corner of the card hidden. First off, this kid should be blacklisted. Second, you want to know how to avoid these things.

My first rule for avoiding bad group breaks is stick with the trading sites. CloutsnChara and Sports Card Forum are the two trading sites I use most for group breaks. These can only be run by the staffers on those respective sites. The odds of getting scammed are the least on those sites. They just wouldn’t risk their reputation. I’m sorry if other sites have staff only group breaks but I don’t know of others. Blowout often has group breaks run by it’s members, but there are less problems on sites that only allow staff to run the breaks.

My second rule for avoiding bad group breaks is to stay away from YouTube. There is absolutely no protection for YouTube group breaks. The person could just take your money and run or pull the old scammer switch-a-roo. I’m not going to detail how to scam someone by the old scammer switch-a-roo because I don’t want to give anyone ideas, but trust me, it’s possible. I know all the possible ways people can be burned, I spend way too much time thinking about how I could be burned in any deal where there is no protection guaranteed.

My third rule for avoiding bad group breaks is always join group breaks done on BlogTV or UStream…something live. If they are just recording a box break who is to say they didn’t switch boxes on you? (Version of the switch-a-roo scam) You need it to be live with someone, preferably most, involved with the group break for verification it’s on the up and up. A YouTube video of you opening the box won’t cut it anymore. This is a cut-throat hobby and some people will do anything to get ahead in the end.

My final rule for avoiding bad group breaks is the most important rule….and that is to do your research. Pick someone who has a proven track record of sincerity and trustworthy actions in several sites or communities. There are several bloggers, eBay, and YouTube people who are great. You just have to do your research. Check your prices, check the persons background by their username on several sites, look into as much as you can. If you don’t you’ll be paying for it in the end.

So, I love talking about group breaks and having fun with them. There are several going on right now across the blogosphere. I Am Joe Collector is taking spots, A Cardboard Problem is holding one, and I think Nachos Grande is holding one too. All legit and great group breakers from what I’ve seen.

I’d also like to hold one if anyone is interested. You want your background information on me? 200 feedback on Sports Card Forum, 53 on eBay, and a couple scattered over other trading sites. I would just like to gauge the interest level. If it’s really high, I’ll get one posted ASAP. If not, well we can always try again later. If you are interested post a comment and your favorite sport to break. Simple.

So there is your guide to group breaks. I hope this helps you stay informed and get the best for your money.

The Ethics of Pack Searching

Today I went to Fred Meyer to search for a blaster of 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen or 2011 Bowman. Freddy’s had neither but I saw an open retail box of Gypsy, loosys as many people know them as. They were all mixed up, turned around, sideways, obviously rifled through. When purchasing loose packs you always run the chance that someone had come by and tried to search them for the “hits”, game used or autographs. Needless to say, I opened 5 of the remaining 15 packs and didn’t get much.

Were these packs searched? I don’t know, I couldn’t tell.

Pack searching is the act in which someone goes to a retail or hobby store and molests the packs of cards with their hands or other devices in which to try and find the hits. I would estimate about 10-15% of collectors are known to do this in one form or another whether they admit it or not. I wouldn’t be surprised if that number was higher. But why do they do it? Greed is probably the most common reason. Self-esteem issues because their collections may not match that of others they know online or in person is another. Finally, maybe they don’t know what they are doing is wrong. Ethically, searching packs is wrong.

Hits are put into boxes according to odds, it says so on the back of packs and boxes. These searchers are the ones who try and defy these odds, therefore taking what is supposed to be random out of the equation. If some little kid or myself wants to go to the store and buy a pack of cards and receive the same odds as everyone else, we usually end up just buying a blaster or hobby box because we don’t know what has been done to those packs. The searchers create an atmosphere in which nobody is getting the same odds and is in effect, unfair to those who come later. Sure, you may say those odds will change by those who pick randoms themselves but those people are not trying to get 1:1 instead of 1:3500.

Also, the pack searchers often damage the cards in itself causing the monetary value of what is purchased to be lower. Now not only are the random odds being taken away, the money being spent is now going to a complete waste. Do you want to be the victim of such practices?

I avoid all cases in which I could possibly be a victim, except for last night. I should of known better, but every once and awhile I just like to open new packs for fun and just see what’s inside without worrying about what is actually inside. But how can one protect themselves?

  • Buy from newly opened boxes
  • Save your money and stick to just buying boxes from reputable dealers
  • Go to a dealer who is honest in themselves (shop owners are known to do this as well)
  • Buy loose packs from dealers who keep them behind counters

All of those points are ways to protect yourself to make sure you are getting the same odds as everyone else when buying packs. Why would you not want to get what you are paying for?

In all fairness, pack searchers are the bottom feeders of the hobby. They ruin the pack opening experience for both the young and the old, the newbies and the veterans. The card companies have taken some measures to counter their actions, but it seems like the searchers always find ways around it. The best stride I have seen companies take is just to put single packs inside clam shell packaging so people can’t molest the packs. This is not cost effective so it doesn’t happen as much as it is really needed.

In the end, the only protection you will get is the protection you will give yourself. You can help others too. Report pack searchers to the store employees as they are most likely damaging products. The stores won’t take too kindly to that.

Finally, I leave you with some words of wisdom. Wheaton’s Law states, “Don’t be a dick.” You should live your life by that motto, it may come back to…mess with you.