Saturday, May 20, 2017

2017 trade package #13: I Feel Like a Collector Again

This is already the second time I'm posting cards from Kin of I Feel Like a Collector Again since he hit me up with a PWE a couple months ago.  Kin collects an interesting mix of Blackhawks stars, WVU alumni, several different MLBers, racing, and more, so I wasn't surprised when he sent me a second envelope that hit three of my PCs along with some Tigers; variety is the spice of life!

Here's what he sent this time:
Barry Larkin 1998 Pinnacle Epix Season Orange
As the caption implies, this card is actually orange, but I love that it looks red in the scan since that would make it perfect (though the orange does look just fine).  Epix was a great looking insert back in the 90s so I love examples like this.  Having just recently spent time looking over Larkin cards during COMC's spring cleaning and been disappointed at above-reasonable prices I especially appreciate him sending this my way.  Any Larkins people send my way are great, and 90s inserts rule! (Tag deployed!)
Cal Ripken Jr. 1998 Circa Thunder Promo
Thunder is a product I never really got into because the design wasn't my cup of tea (though as I mentioned a while ago, I completed the '99 Skybox version after winning a free box from Beckett in my past collecting life as a subscriber).  That said, I do enjoy collecting promos and samples like this Ripken that advertises the 1998 Circa version of the product.

Though this isn't always the case, the regular issue is practically identical to the promo.  The production version has yellow "scribbles" along the front right side instead of blue, and the color used for the stats on the back was switched from black to white, but besides those minor points they're the same.  Those of you who collect promos are likely aware that initial mock-ups often feature completely different photos along with other design choices that may ultimately change.

Another cool promo for my Ripken collection!
Justin Verlander 2006 Topps Turkey Red (RC)
Justin Verlander 2015 Topps Allen and Ginter Mini No Card Number
The PC portion of this posts ends with a third Verlander card from Kin, who previously sent me a 2011 Chrome Purple Refractor of the namesake of the blog you're currently reading.   On the left is JV's issue from the base set version Topps made of Turkey Red, as opposed to the insert version that was used a couple times.  The pleasantly artsy card gets the "(RC)" notation because he actually appeared on rookie cards in 2005, but the rules of what actually makes a RC are weird.

Next to that is a Mini from A&G's product from two years ago, and this one happens to be a bit more special than it first appears.  I was aware that the backs could be different having collected some of these of other players, but I originally identified it as an A&G Back version until I found that it was missing the usual card number.  A bit of searching confirmed for me that it was the "No Card Number" version, though determining that would have been easier if these added "A&G Back" to the name.  Regardless, while these aren't numbered, they're limited to just 50 copies, meaning this is a very nice addition from Kin indeed!
And here's a page of the rest of the Tigers he included.  Catalanotto is one of those Tigers I hated to see the team trade away, especially since he was used to get Juan Gonzalez; I may write up a post about my favorite players to have been traded away soon!  I'm sure everyone still remembers Galarraga's "imperfect perfect game".  Garcia's finally showing the potential that earned him the nickname "Mini Miggy", unfortunately with the division rival Sox.  It was fun having Hunter in Detroit for a couple seasons, long enough for him to appear on this 2013 Triple Threads base.

Mahtook is one of just two current Tigers today, shown here with the team that drafted him #31 overall in 2011, the Rays.  He's joined by V-Mart on one of the scan's three Wal-Mart Blue parallels.  I just posted another card of excellent 80s catcher Lance Parrish in Thursday's post, and I'm 100% positive this Leaf issue is new to me.  Former awesome-then-unreliable closer (e.g. everyone the Tigers have put into the role) Jose Valverde closes things out (pun intended) with another Wal-Mart Blue.

Kin, thanks a ton for another fun envelope!  I'm happy to say that I'll soon be able to respond with a thank you package once I get things shipped from a couple sources, and I promise there'll be at least as much variety as you see here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

2017 trade package #12: Cards on Cards

Cards on Cards
Kerry from Cards on Cards is a guy I don't trade with often, but since we're fairly similar collectors--we both chase MLB and college teams--our deals are always great.  The last time I posted cards from him on this here blog, not quite a year ago, I was the happy recipient of a buttload of useful Tigers and a plethora of new Ripkens.

The man who calls himself Madding took things to another level this time by doing major damage to my player collections, hitting a ridiculous 13 of them.  "Hope you can use some of these!" said the guy who, in addition to another buttload of Tigers (seen below), flipped me 19 PC cards, an outstanding 16 of which were new to me.  And I'm not talking a dime card here and a common there, either.  Can I use some of these?  Has Topps disappointed me for 10 years running?  Hell yeah!
Jake Cronenworth 2015 Bowman Chrome Draft Blue Refractor (#030/150)
Tampa's seventh-rounder out of Michigan two years ago, Jake's off to a pretty good start in high-A ball.  This lovely Refractor is my ninth card of his out of his run to-date, all of which comprises a 19-card 2015 Bowman/Chrome Draft rainbow.  For a Wolverine alum you can't do better than blue!
Chris Getz 2014 Topps Camo (#32/99)
This parallel of Getz is one I could have sworn I had, so I was glad I needed it after Kerry went to the trouble of sending it my way.  It features one of the best photos on a Getz issue and is my 10th card from Chris' 17-card sunset season rainbow (and #81/106 overall).
Ken Griffey Jr. 1993 Hostess
Ken Griffey Jr. 2003 Fleer Showcase
I think you all know I don't supercollect Griffey--I'm not made of money--but I'll happily take anything I can get of one of my favorite 90s/2000s stars, like this interest pair that spans a decade.  Oddballs like the Hostess food issue are always interesting to me since I usually know so little about them that I'm generally unable to peg the year or brand at a glance.  And Showcase is one of Fleer's better mid-end issues, with Griffey's card a textbook example of a classy and pleasing design.
Rich Hill 2016 Topps Rainbow Foil
I can't say I've ever received what I'd call a bad trade package, but whenever Rich Hill appears in one I'm more than happy to call that envelope a winner as he remains my favorite guy to PC.  This Rainbow parallel is my eighth of his 18 2016 flagship...uh...rainbow cards, featuring one of the dumber choices in photograph.  What can I say?  Topps gonna Topps.  Anyway, this marks my 259th of Hill's 374 cards I have checklisted, and #276 overall.  Good luck to Rich on a return to health and effectiveness for the Dodgers!
Ryan LaMarre 2016 Topps Allen and Ginter Mini
Ryan LaMarre 2016 Topps Rainbow Foil
LaMarre made what I thought was a surprising appearance in last year's flagship and A&G sets, the former with his second team, the Red Sox and the latter with the Reds, the team that drafted him.  Since then he's signed with the Angels and then been flipped to Oakland, with whom he's appeared in three 2017 games.  I actually landed the Cyan plate of the A&G mini before I landed the card above, my first of his six from the product (besides two from A&G X).  The Rainbow parallel makes its second appearance today as my sixth of Ryan's run from last year's flagship.  Kudos to Kerry for helping me cross the 50% mark as I own 28/54 of his issues so far.
Heath Murray 1998 Bowman Golden Anniversary (#13/50)
This was a package full of surprises, and few of the items were as surprising as this limited parallel of Murray, a guy who's not exactly obscure but appeared on just 30 cards, 24 of which I already owned.  Two of the five I now need also hail from this product, the Chrome International Refractor and Chrome Refractor version of this card, limited to just five(!) copies.  I tip my cap again to Kerry for digging up a need like this.
Michael O'Neill 2014 Bowman Chrome Prospects Series 2 Blue Wave Refractor
The best part about getting this card, besides the fact that it's a Refractor and another one to knock off the checklist, is that it got me to look up O'Neill and realize that he's now with the Rangers after signing a minor league deal with them a few months ago.  Hooray for not having to collect more Yankees if he gets to appear on more cards!  And hooray for a new Refractor, my 10th of his 42-card 2014 Bowman Chrome/Mini rainbow and 30th of 85 overall.
Jim Paciorek 1993 BBM
If the Murray was surprising, the inclusion of this foreign Paciorek issue was straight up jaw-dropping!  A much more obscure former Wolverine, Jim's career consisted of 48 games in 1987 along with two cards from that year:  Fleer and its Glossy version.  After nabbing those I hadn't even looked into other Paciorek card possibilities.  As it turns out, Jim played six seasons in Japan:  four with the Yokohama Taiyo Whales and two with the pictured Hanshin Tigers, as depicted on this card out of the pretty well-known BBM brand.  What a fun card to dig out of a trade package!
J.J. Putz 2008 Topps Triple Threads Emerald (#103/240)
J.J. Putz 2008 Topps Triple Threads Gold (#70/99)
Kerry's no putz as he managed to send me two new '08 Triple Threads parallels of Michigan native J.J.  Besides an All-Star patch card and five multi-player relics, Putz appears on a base card and five parallels, and of those six I now own four (the base and Sepia are the others).  With the retired pitcher unlikely to make any future cardboard appearances hopefully I can continue making some headway towards his 327 cards; I currently own 193 (and 205 including 1/1s and others I don't count toward his mainstream checklist).
Cal Ripken Jr. 2002 Upper Deck AL Centennial Memorabilia jersey
This sweet Ripken jersey relic from 15 years ago (seriously?) was another huge and much appreciated surprise.  I've sent Kerry a few decent Cardinals and Ducks hits over the years but nothing that I'd assume would warrant something like this of a HOFer I love to collect!  It serves as a nice history lesson as well as the younger of the two leagues began in 1901 with eight teams, including my Tigers.  As for Cal, this serves as my 10th relic (two of which are manufactured) and 12th hit overall.  Nice!
Alan Trammell 1991 Topps (#389)
Speaking of All-Star shortstops that are should-be HOFers, this '91 Topps subset of Alan Trammell is one of just three PC cards that wasn't new to me.  Not that I'm complaining about getting any dupes of half of Detroit's famed double-play combo!
Justin Verlander 2013 Topps Chasing History (#CH88)
Justin Verlander 2017 Donruss (#95)
Justin Verlander 2017 Donruss Dominators Blue (#135/249)
And speaking of Tigers dupes, I thought the Chasing History insert was a new one for my Verlander collection but was mistaken.  Again, no complaints since I'm happy with any JV card new or old!  The others from this year's Donruss product (hell yeah!) were most definitely new additions, though.  As usual I like the look of the base design while its lack of MLB logos barely registers on my radar.  The numbered Dominator insert is great too, with a design that doesn't remind me of previous iterations.  Nice job by Kerry to pay his respects to this here blog's namesake!
Lou Whitaker 1988 Score
Lou Whitaker 2005 Topps Retired Signature
Last up for my PC guys is a sweet pair of Lous; you can't have Tram without Whitaker and vice-versa!  The card on the left from Score's debut is another fun dupe for me, but the Retired Signature card is a huge get for a couple reasons.  First, as I'm under 50 cards to go in my pursuit of his collection, it's getting harder to find stuff that's new to me.  And just as importantly, some base cards like that one tend to attract unreasonably high asking prices for some reason.  That makes it a big deal for me, besides the fact that I like seeing the combination of older photos with some of the newer designs.  

You got to see three guys in Tigers (well, Detroit Tigers) uniforms up there, but they weren't alone as they were bundled up with a hoard of other Tigers, pretty much all of which I can use, Kerry, believe you me:
This first group could be called "The Killer C's" as future HOFer Miguel Cabrera (Heritage Chrome Refractor!) and maybe-not-as-awful-a-human-being-as-people-thought Ty Cobb book end Nick Nicholas Castellanos, who seems to continue to improve.
Another nice group is headlined by 2016 AL ROY and Tigers ace(?) Michael Fulmer, an insert focusing on Jose Iglesias' glove, and Mr. Tiger Al Kaline.  Those are joined by a pair of RCs of CF Jacoby Jones, who should be getting more looks in the Detroit OF this season.
Donruss Elite!  If anybody on Detroit should be give that title it's All-Star 2B Ian Kinsler, seen here on a card numbered 934/999.  Recuperating-turned-resurgent slugger J.D. Martinez makes a couple appearances courtesy of Opening Day and Topps Stickers.  And I loved the inclusion of the '86 Topps leaders card featuring Lance Parrish, a catcher who might just feel at home in today's game.
Sanchez has been a tire fire this season, Scherzer is unfortunately gone, and Zimmermann's results have been mixed at best, but Upton has been a nice story this season, putting up some pretty good numbers early for a change.  My hope is that he does well enough to opt out of his contract so Detroit can put that money to better use.
Here's one last bunch of Tigers that don't really fall into the group I collect by player but deserve to be shown off anyway.
And last up is one more hit, a Signature Rookies autograph of former #1 pick (11th overall, 1995) Mike Drumright, a pitcher who cracked Baseball America's top 100 prospects the two years after this card was made.  Although he never panned out--no surprise, pretty much nobody did for Detroit in the 90s--he's got a very nice signature, though I'm probably lucky not to have received one from closer to the end of the 5000(!)-card print run.  Nice find!

Kerry, once again big thanks to you for an amazing trade package that did lots of damage to my PCs and will beef up my Tigers box.  I actually have a few things set aside for you and on the way so I'll be happy to be able to respond a bit, though maybe not in a way that's worthy of this envelope just yet!

Monday, May 15, 2017

2017 trade package #11: Sports Cards From the Dollar Store

Well, it's been a little over two weeks since I last posted--in fact, this is the first time I'm blogging in May!  But there's been plenty to keep me busy, including fun family stuff, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (saw it twice!), and perhaps most important, improved weather.

But as usual, my lack of posting should in no way indicate a lack of cards to show off, especially since you generous traders keep hitting my mailbox with cool new stuff.  On that topic, I want to give a quick mention that I'm working on return packages for a number of you with cards sourced from eBay, COMC, and likely soon, JustCommons.

One such future recipient is none other than my most prolific trade partner, Doug of Sports Cards From the Dollar Store.  The very polite Canadian collector (who just showed off his loot from the recent Spring Expo, check out those posts!) sent me an envelope that included--wait for it--hockey!  But it wasn't all stereotypical stuff as the other three sports were represented as well.  Wolverines of the hockey--and yes, basketball and football--variety can be seen over on TMM this evening while our baseball example is available right here:
This here is a nice oversized box topper of Miguel Cabrera, a Purple version, from this year's Gypsy Queen.  That product has never remotely interested me, but that doesn't mean a card or two from the set doesn't pique my interest.  In this case I'm a fan of two features:  the oversized-ness and the Refractor finish.  The former gives you a great big photo and makes it something worth displaying while the latter just plain makes it look nice.  Bonus points go to Doug for shipping it in its original pack which sort of gave me the experience of opening it myself.

Hopefully Miggy can overcome his slow start and put up the numbers we're all used to seeing; he fared poorly in the games I've attended this year, and I think a lot of that was due to injury.  Maybe with J.D. Martinez back and Justin Upton looking better than last season he'll start to heat up.

Doug, thanks a bunch for this cool Tigers 'topper!  Pending some eBay and COMC shipments I'll have a return package headed to Canadia as soon as I can.  And yes, it includes lots of hockey content!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 trade package #10: All Trade Bait, All the Time

All Trade Bait, All The Time...
"Baseball card collectin', die hard Dodgers fan" Oscar, a.k.a. Stealing Home, of All Trade Bait, All the Time fame (and writer for LA Dodger Report, check it out!) was nice enough to hit me up with another fun PWE to celebrate the start of the 2017 MLB season.

It's been an up-and-down April for the Motown Kitties, and I've attended five games this season, two of which were wins.  Injuries to Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez, among others, haven't helped things lately, but this is shaping up to be a rough season for many reasons, especially yet another terrible bullpen and an overmatched manager.

But that doesn't mean I don't still like receiving cards representing my home team!  Oscar has sent me PWEs filled with Tigers before, like he did this past December, so I knew I was in for some Tigers treats:
Here's Miggy's card from last year's Topps Marketside promotion.  I'd already been sent Verlander's card from this set so now I have both Tigers available in the Wal-Mart product.  Cabrera's put up a slow start to this season, likely due to back tightness lingering from the WBC, but I'm still betting on big numbers when he returns.
Alan Trammell is nicely represented here with a pair of mid-90s cards:  1994 Flair and 1995 Pinnacle.  Looking at these, along with the many cards I've been getting ready to post for my Griffey/Gwynn/Maddux/Ripken collections, really makes me pine for the variety of the 90s, a time when we didn't have to suffer through the creative stagnation of the Toppsopoly.  The Flair card looks fantastic, and as I'll tell anyone til I'm blue in the face, Pinnacle's '95 set was definitely the pinnacle of that product.
You can't have Tram and now Sweet Lou, right?  As Oscar correctly did last time, he paired up the legendary double play combo with a couple more 90s issues of Whitaker:  1991 Donruss and '92 Fleer.  These hail from closer to the junk wax era but I still like them, both for what they are and as a reminder of the variety we collectors enjoyed back then.

Oscar, thanks again for a fun PWE--an envelope with three of my favorite Tigers was the perfect way to kick off 2017.  I probably said this back in December but I seriously do plan on returning the favor soon, especially if I can get to the monthly show next weekend!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

2017 trade package #9: Bob Walk the Plank

He started it!  I mean, at least, I think so.  I've been trading with Matt of Bob Walk the Plank for more than three years now, and at some point during that partnership one of us raised the stakes to the point that each time we send out a package we do our best to wow each other, often with high-end stuff.  Since this is my blog I'm going to say that Matt fired the first shot.  I may not be able to pinpoint the exact moment he ramped things up, but I have lots of examples:
With amazing content like that, what could I do but respond in kind?  It has been and continues to be a blast trading with Matt, especially thanks to this high-end back-and-forth that fortunately hasn't resulted in bombings on either side.

So let's look at the latest heavy hitters the Mountaineer Man sent my way last month!:

Austin Jackson 2016 Panini National Treasures Game Dated Material Signatures jersey auto (#98/99)
This beauty represents the Tigers portion of the envelope, and it may just be my best Austin Jackson in that bunch yet!  I do have a Triple Threads jersey/auto as well, but I think the game-datedness noses this one ahead.  I looked up the box score of that June 30, 2012 game against Tampa and confirmed the back's mention of AJax's 8th inning, two-out, three-run shot that ended up being the difference in the Tigers' 6-2 victory that day.  Also of note in the box score, the only Detroit participants still left on the 2017 roster are Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila.

As for the card itself, it's another fun example of a simple Panini design I like that isn't hurt by the lack of logos.
Barry Larkin 2015 Topps Five Star Golden Graphs auto (#19/50)
I'm happy to say that this amazing Barry Larkin autograph isn't the default winner of the package, if you can believe it; reserve your judgment until you see the other two cards!  Five Star was pretty much a forgettable product as far as I'm concerned, but the exception would be this beautiful signature set featuring a bold gold auto on a striking black background, plus a nice photo.  Larkin seals the deal with his very cool John Hancock on a huge addition to my collection.  It represents my fifth Larkin autograph and 20th hit overall, giving me a nice pair of milestones to celebrate!  Seriously, Larkin stuff often goes for big bucks so it doesn't get much more high-end for me than a fantastic inclusion like this.
George Sisler 2003 Topps Gallery HOF ARTifact Relics bat
George Sisler 2016 Panini Flawless Teammates Triple Relics Sapphire bat-jersey-bat (with Goslin and Rice) (#03/15)
And this pair out of f$@kin' nowhere is why the Larkin wasn't an automatic win.  The Wolverines have placed three players in the Hall and Matt sent me cards of two of them in Larkin and this pair of relics of "Gorgeous" George Sisler.  One is from the 2003 HOF version of one of my favorite Topps products, Gallery, and I really like how they added a bat chip and color gradient along the left border to what was already a very nice looking base card.  

The other hails from the very high end Flawless product made by Panini in 2016.  This super low-numbered hit features not one but three HOFers including Goslin and Rice.  These three were Washington teammates for part of 1928, Sisler's only season with the old Senators, while the other two played most of their careers for that club.  Tigers fans may remember Goslin playing for Detroit from 1934-37.

This was an amazing pair of out-of-the-blue high-end hits of one of the best players in my collection, not to mention the game's history, and I'm floored at Matt's generosity, not even taking into account the other two cards you already saw!  I'm proud to say that thanks to Matt I now own three Sisler relics (to go along with three manu-relics), bolstering my collection of vintage stars.

I can also credit the Plankster for sending me the cards to reach another fun little milestone of 350 Michigan Baseball hits!

Matt, at this point I'm speechless, but rest assured I'm going to get to work on putting together a package that makes your jaw hit the floor, just as soon as I can find the ammo to do so.  Remember:  you started it!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

2017 trade package #8: I Feel Like a Collector Again


Time to get back to trade packages!  Including this post I currently have three to show off, though that could change quickly considering how generous and awesome many of you are.

So about a month ago I received my first envelope from Kin of the impeccably-named I Feel Like a Collector Again.  It was a three-card PWE that I'm looking at as a fun icebreaker that should lead to future trades, especially since his note mentioned he's got more to send me eventually.

Here's those three cards:
First up is a pair of 2017 Heritage base cards of DH Victor Martinez and reliever Alex Wilson, done up in the style of the Topps set from 1968, the same year as Detroit's second most recent World Series title.  Both of these guys factored in Detroit's win this afternoon over the Twins with V-Mart scoring a run on utility guy Andrew Romine's grand slam and Wilson earning a two-inning save.

Those guys were joined by another current Tiger familiar to anyone who can read the title of this here blog:
From 2011 Topps Chrome, this here is Justin Verlander's Purple Refractor (#271/499).  Kin's note mentions that he figured I already had this very card, but fortunately for me he was wrong!  Instead, it's my 237th different Verlander.  In terms of that year's rainbow I also own the base Chrome and Refractor from this set as well as the base cards from flagship and Opening Day.  It was nice to add some color to that bunch, not to mention a new Verlander in general.

Thanks again for kicking things off, Kin!  I'm looking forward to trading with you once I can pile up some stuff I know you'll like, but for now rest assured that I was glad to receive this Tigers trio, all of which were new to me!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Blasting off with 2017 Leaf Draft football

This post combines two things that have been pretty uncommon for me recently:  posting more than once in a week and (going back even further) spending money on retail stuff.  But after I saw what these 2017 Leaf Draft cards looked like, I decided to snag myself a blaster at Meijer last weekend.  (It also didn't hurt that five Wolverines feature in the base set, with lots more on the autograph checklist.)  A couple days later I grabbed one more since I enjoyed the break and hoped to complete the set.  Here's a bit more about the product and then lots more about how I fared:

  • I believe this is a retail-only product, and I also think that's been the case throughout its existence
  • Blasters go for about $21.99 and include 20 packs of 5 cards
  • As a bonus, you get two guaranteed autographs which are separately packed into toploaders (no sleeves!) and then a team bag
  • The base set includes 69 cards of players in their college uniforms
  • The photos are airbrushed in some cases, surely for licensing reasons
  • Inserts include:
    • Gold parallels
    • All-Americans (and Gold Parallels of those)
    • TD Machines (and Gold Parallels of those)

I pulled the following out of my pair of blasters:

  • 1 base set (69 cards)
  • 44 base doubles
  • 27 gold parallels
  • 1 set of  All-Americans (17 cards)
  • 10 All-Americans doubles
  • 8 gold All-Americans
  • 1 set of TD Machines (14 cards)
  • 6 TD Machines doubles
  • 5 gold TD Machines
  • 3 regular autographs
  • 1 gold autograph

Since I managed to complete what I'll call a master set of the base set and non-Gold versions of the two inserts, I decided to show off all of those here.  Should you have interest in seeing the Michigan cards in more depth, please head over to TMM!

Base set:

A sample base set card back, Virginia Tech QB Jerod Evans (in honor of MCM's Spankee's Hokies):

All-Americans:

A sample back from the All-Americans:

TD Machines:

A sample TD Machines back:

Here are samples of the Gold parallels from the base set and inserts (backs look exactly the same):

And here's my four autographs:

  • Rodney Adams (USF)
  • Johnathan Ford (Auburn)
  • Eddie Jackson (Alabama)
  • I'Tavius Mathers Gold (Middle Tennessee)
Overall my impressions were fairly positive:  
  • Cons:
    • I would have preferred to be able to snag a complete set out of one blaster, but the crazy number of inserts (an average of about 44 per box!) made that unrealistic
    • Airbrushed unis (though that's not Leaf's fault)
    • I'm fine with the base parallels but think the insert versions were superfluous
    • The TD Machines design doesn't do much for me
    • Sticker autos don't bother me, I just don't really care for the plain white ones used here
    • A good number of the autographs are SSPed
  • Pros:
    • College unis!
    • Autographs of 153 different players
    • Five Wolverines in the base set
    • Early cards of some of the top players before the draft
    • A pretty solid base design
    • The colorful All-Americans insert looks great
    • A decent price point (that could be even better with coupons/sales/discounts); if you consider two of these the equivalent of a hobby box, you're probably going to get what I did:  a master set, lots of other inserts, and four autographs, all for about $40
    • Perfect collation:  neither blaster considered by itself contained any doubles whatsoever, and together they produced zero triples.  You can't beat that!
I'll note for those of you that are interested in these blasters but don't really want to get in at full price, I've seen card show sellers flipping them for something like 2 for $36, and I bet most of you could do better than that.

So if you're a college collector like me, you have my recommendation to check these out whether it's blasters or singles!