Thursday, November 17, 2016

Griffey/Gwynn/Maddux/Ripken scanning update: offseason oddballs

As I continue my great Griffey/Gwynn/Maddux/Ripken PC scanning project, I thought it would be fun (and productive!) to show off a few of the more oddball-ish items I have of each player.  In this case I'm not referring to food issue stuff or items found in boxed sets; everything below was made between 1997 and 2000.  That's not a huge surprise as that's when I really got back into collecting and didn't have much of a focus on what I wanted.  That meant I tried at least a little bit of many products and was a big-time box- and pack-breaker--back when boxes were actually good values!

The decade between the mid 90s and mid 2000s was a great time to be a collector as there was a ton of choice (remember being able to buy something other than Topps?), and each manufacturer tried all kinds of tactics to get us to buy their stuff.  That resulted in some really fun stuff that gives me the warm fuzzies every time I look back on it.

I found a total of 12 such items of the four players mentioned above, and as luck would have it, it works out to three per collection.  Rather than group them by player, I sorted them by product instead.  Enjoy!

1997-1998 Pinnacle Inside cans:
I think I touched on these in a post a while ago as I already had Ripken's '98 can in his album.  Regardless, a quick refresher:  in 1997 and 1998, Pinnacle sold "packs" in the form of these cans, which you actually had to open with a can opener (top or bottom didn't matter, though my brother and I eventually decided that they looked better with the bottoms being the opened part).  The cards inside were stored in shrink wrap, though that didn't necessarily prevent damage from the cards getting tossed around.

While the base set was pretty standard Pinnacle fare--along with some pretty great inserts, and one dud--it was fun getting to keep the "pack" as an extra collectible, especially since these are so easy to display.  You just had to make sure to get to wherever they were sold quickly enough to get your favorite player since the cans weren't obscured in any way.  This is one of the few times I recall buying cards at a drug store as my local Rite Aid had them (along with the football and hockey versions) in abundance.

I actually have quite a few I'd be happy to unload from all three sports, so you may see those available soon.  But as for these, it's fun to own pieces of cardboard history as Pinnacle tried something new to tempt collectors.
1998 Donruss Preferred Tin Packs:
In another example of "I get to keep the pack?!" I have a pair of the double-wide versions of these tins from 1998 Donruss Preferred.  The higher-end Donruss set was already a draw thanks to its beautiful base cards and outstanding inserts, but these added even more value.  Not only were they very collectible by featuring two stars up front, but they were also useful as a means of storing and transporting cards as well!

It's been almost 20 years since they came out so I can't remember all the details, so I don't remember if each tin was covered to the point that you didn't see who was on them when you purchased them individually, but I do know they came in both this double-wide format (retail) as well in singles (hobby), and that each "box" was a larger tin in its own right (hobby again).  Also, there were Silver and Gold versions of the hobby packs.

My collection includes two of the best pairings in Gwynn along with the Big Hurt, and Ripken plus rising star A-Rod.

I believe I have a couple football versions of these I may be looking to unload as well, so stay tuned.
1999 Topps Action Flats:
Going away from collectible packs for a minute, here's a one-off set of not-quite-action-figures/cards Topps produced in 1999.  As the name suggests, these Action Flats" were flattened figurines that mimicked the photos of the specially-stamped base cards that accompanied them in each package.  Facial details aside, these do a pretty good job of capturing the action on the cards, and they're very easy to display in these packages.

Years ago at a card show, quite a while after these came out, I bought a box of them for a ridiculously low price.  I want to say something like 20-24 came in a box, and I believe I landed one each of the 12 "base" versions; Away and Classic Uniforms versions could also be had, and I'm not sure if I landed any as they were tougher pulls.

I didn't intend to make this post into advertising for a future cleaning/giveaway event, but I should have a few of these guys up for grabs as well.
1999-2000 Topps Oversize:
Here we have a pair of items that are the most "card"-like out of today's bunch.  I mean, they're certainly cards, they just happen to be oversized versions that came one per hobby/HTA box in 1999 (Ripken) and 2000 (Maddux).  Here they're shown actual size, although that scale may be a bit confusing since I tend to blow up most of my scans to this size.  Rest assured that they're larger than your normal 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 trading card, but that's the main difference as they use the same photos.
1999 Upper Deck Retro Lunchboxes:
And lastly we return to collectible packaging.  Remember how I mentioned that '98 Donruss Preferred was sold in small and large tins?  Well in 1998 and 1999, Upper Deck's amazing Retro product arrived in theme-appropriate lunch boxes.  The '98 versions were bright and colorful in a 60s/70s sort of way while UD went with a more austere look the following year.

In 1999, a total of 17 were available, with nine featuring a single player on each side, and another eight in the style of mine, shown above, pairing up Griffey or Mark McGwire with each other, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, or Mickey Mantle.

In this case I do recall that the boxes were covered--I think I remember cardboard--so you didn't know what you had until you bought and uncovered them.  Needless to say, my brother and I were pretty happy with how we did here.  Plus we loved the set and its inserts, so that helped.

I'll continue scanning the rest of my stuff for the four big PCs as I find time, but I had a blast digging through this stuff and remembering how much fun collecting was before it became a one-horse town, and I hope you've all enjoyed a look at some of the odder stuff I own.  This post has also given me the inspiration to include and show off a few other non-card items of each player, though I think you'll find these to be a bit more mainstream.  What are they?  Stay tuned for a future post!

Monday, November 14, 2016

2016 Blowout Forums purchase: High(-end) (twenty)five!

To say my card purchasing has diminished this year would be an understatement--I finally crossed the $1000 mark this month, putting me on pace to spend half as much as I did in 2015--or less!  That doesn't mean I haven't been able to score some fun pickups, though.

For instance, I recently made a relatively rare deal on the Blowoutcards forums--just the second such purchase I've made this year.  A Tigers collector decided to trim some of the fat from his collection by offering up a pretty nice Detroit lot.  Thing is, I already had a few of the cards he listed, plus there were others I didn't really care for.  So for the hell of it I asked him about the two I was hoping to get.  $33 delivered later I had a very nice envelope on the way.  And for what you could consider two cards for $15 each (plus $3 shipping), I'd argue that I did very well!

(Better yet, that seller noticed I was a Wolverines collector and tossed in a great surprise freebie!  Check that out over on TMM this evening.)

Have a look at what I got and decide for yourselves:

Al Kaline 2016 Immaculate Collection Immaculate Marks Red auto (#14/25)
An autograph of Mr. Tiger is a win; a Kaline signature numbered out of just 25 is a coup!  This is a beautifully executed autograph out of this year's Panini Immaculate product, and it's both super high-end and super thick.  Not only did Panini do a nice job of selecting a photo that minimizes the impact of the lack of logos--they paired that with a gorgeous on-card signature in all its bold blue Sharpie glory.  I like when card designs allow for a clearly-defined space for the 'graph, so I'd say Panini nailed it here.

I'm happy to say that I now own five total autographs of this legendary Tiger, and I sure wouldn't mind adding more before the end of 2016!
Justin Verlander 2007 SP Authentic By the Letter Signatures 'R' manupatch auto (#4a) (#09/25)
MOAR VERLANDERS!  I don't think there's such a thing as a bad JV autograph, but there sure are some nice ones, like this fun example of a letter patch/auto.  Without a doubt I'd crown Upper Deck as the champion of that genre, though Panini's done some nice ones as well.  The foil around the outside looks great in-person, the manupatch is executed well, and there's plenty of room for a solid signature.  I don't know how much I can expect to try to finish this nameplate, but it does give me hope that I was able to find this card for as reasonable of a price as I did.

I now count 228 Verlanders, 17 of which are hits, with four of those being of the autographed variety.

There's nothing like padding your favorite team's collection with stars from "A" to "V"!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Complete sets: 2000 Fleer Tradition Ripken Collection

It's been a bit of a Ripken-heavy last couple weeks here at TMV as the Iron Man has been featured in my last three posts.  One of them was thanks to a trade package from Jeff while the other two are courtesy of my great scanning project of 2016.  The latter is responsible again today as I show off another group of inserts I dug up while sorting through the PC cards I intend to scan and post.  While yesterday's cards represented a fraction of an insert set, today's comprise the whole thing.

Fleer's 2000 flagship Tradition product was another in the long line they produced that I enjoyed very much thanks to a great design, excellent value in each box, and lots of fun inserts.  I did pretty well while breaking two boxes of that product not long after it came out and was more than satisfied with how well I did.

One of those fun inserts, the so-called Ripken Collection, centered around--you guessed it--Cal!  I don't know how many of these I pulled and how many I had to track down myself, but I do know that I have all 10--though I'd neglected to show them off until now because I'd forgotten about them for a while as they sat in Ripken's section of my player collections box, and that happens to be one of my largest PCs.  Happily, this scanning project caused me to pull them out, remember how much I enjoyed them, and get them scanned and posted!

Much like UD's Prime Nine set from yesterday, the Ripken Collection cards focus on several of the most important moments from Cal's career, with a bit of natural overlap with Upper Deck's effort.  With the benefit of an extra two years, though, Fleer had a bit more to work with.  Highlights not only include his '82 Rookie of the Year award, '83 MVP and World Series win, and '91 MVP, but also encompass joining a select group of players that hit at least 20 homers in each of their first 10 seasons, mashing his 400th homer, and ending the Streak.

But the defining feature of this set is its look as each card honors a design from a past Fleer product.  Better yet, Fleer didn't limit itself to its baseball designs, but incorporated NBA and NFL versions as well.  In fact, the insert uses three of its past baseball designs, four from basketball, and three more from the NBA, and just about every one is pretty well known at this point.  All the same, Fleer helpfully notes the design on each card back.

So here's a look at the fronts and backs of all ten Ripken Collection cards.  I hope you enjoy a look through Fleer design history as well as Ripken's storied career!  If you feel like it, leave a comment with your favorite design implemented by the set.  Mine's the classic '86-'87 basketball look.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

(Prime Nine minus 2) times 2

My effort to get my remaining cards of the Griffey/Gwynn/Maddux/Ripken quartet really ramped up this week as I took advantage of a couple off days to go through my box housing their PCs, weed out the duplicates and already-posted cards, and sort out what still needed to be scanned.  I finished the sorting portion yesterday, so now a bunch of scanning awaits.  That's fine, I'm up to the task!

While going through each player's cards, many of which hail from the glory years of the 90s, I found a couple groups I thought I'd scan and show off now instead of waiting until everything else was done.  One's a single-player-focused insert set you'll see next time, and today's content represents two of my biggest PC guys and their portion of a larger insert set.

One of Upper Deck's many inserts available in its 1998 flagship product was Prime Nine out of Series 2.  As with many of the other inserts of the time, the fronts went heavy on the foil, as they included a regular portrait or action shot combined with an unrelated smaller photo to the left.  The backs, meanwhile, delve into one or more years of each player's career along with a specific highlight of that span, which is accompanied by a third unique photo.

Eschewing the idea of picking a starting nine squad, UD just went with nine of the most popular guys at the time.  It ended up as a 60-card set, and even someone like me who doesn't have a strong aptitude for math knows that nine doesn't go into 60 evenly; as it turns out, Barry Bonds and Greg Maddux were the two players to get shorted at six and five cards, respectively.  The other seven guys each got seven, including Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas, Mark McGwire, and Juan Gonalez.  I don't have any of Griffey's cards yet, but I do own all seven each for Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr.

First, here's a look at all seven of Gwynn's cards:
No surprise here as UD focused on Gwynn helping the Padres get to the '84 NLCS, winning lots of batting titles, piling up the hits, and making a run at .400 in '94.  Had this set come out the following year the seventh card could have added Gwynn's San Diego team making its second World Series instead of devoting a pair to 1997.

And now, Ripken's cards:
The list of accomplishments UD used for Ripken make plenty of sense as well, including his '82 ROY award, '83 and '91 AL MVPs, '83 World Series win, and eclipsing Lou Gehrig's streak in '95.

Both players enjoyed a few more highlights in their four seasons after these cards came out, including the aforementioned World Series trip for Gwynn, more All-Star appearances (two for Gwynn, four for Ripken), and of course their joint entry into the Hall of Fame in 2007.  Clearly Upper Deck was right to add them to the Prime Nine roster!

With these posted, stay tuned for one more fun insert set, and then who knows as I continue to work on the great scanning project of 2016!