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Archive for the ‘Card Collecting in General’ Category

Earlier this year there was a quiet little product that was released with little fanfare but quickly caught fire. That product was called Famous Fabrics by a little known company called Creative Cardboard Concepts. Pre-sells on the single boxes were around $70 and by the second week after the release, boxes were fetching $140 or more. While the cards themselves didn’t have any player pictures or team logos (due to licensing issues), the cards featured huge jersey swatches, great patches, and unique player combinations that we haven’t seen. So after the huge success, was it any surprise to hear that there was going to be a second product?

So in the great tradition of the Hollywood blockbuster sequel, we have Famous Fabrics: Second Edition releasing on August 4th. Pre-sell prices on the product are currently hovering around $85 (Dave and Adam’s) as retailers seemed to have learned their lesson from the previous release and aren’t pricing the product too low this time. Each box contains just one card, which is encased so there are no issues with the cards being damaged between the factory and your hands. Every game used memorabilia card is numbered to only 9 with a ton of cards being 1/1. In addition, there are cut signature cards of legends like Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and many more. The whole product run is limited to just 5,000 boxes and only 500 10-box cases.

I know what you’re saying… “ok, seems just like the first Famous Fabrics to me. Why is this going to be so hot?”

Two words…Stephen Strasburg. Like it or not, Strasburg has taken over the hobby like no one has in years and any product that offers a chance at something with him in it is going to sell big. And when you are the first product to offer a jumbo patch for Strasburg, people are going to be all over it. Yes, this patch is not a Washington Nationals patch, but look at it! That patch could be from Nick Punto and I would still think it was a freaking cool patch.

Maybe USA Baseball memorabilia pieces aren’t your thing. That’s ok, Famous Fabrics has you covered there if you’re a Strasburg chaser. Check out this autograph card. Yes, that is part of an autographed hat from Stephen Strasburg. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t think of any other product that I’ve ever seen where they diced up a signed hat bill and placed it in a card. I imagine this card is very thick (thank goodness they all come to you encased). In addition to this unique Strasburg hat auto, they have a Tiger Woods golf glove autograph card that is in the product.

One other thing about the product that I absolutely love is that since there is no licensing from any of the major sports leagues, FF is free to pretty much do anything they want. A great example is a subset in the product called Notorious. The cards are designed to look like police mugshots and feature some of sports’ bad boys over the years. You can see here the Michael Vick card and notice that it even has “Surrey County Sherrif’s Office” on the board! There is no way on earth that Topps or Upper Deck would even consider doing a set like this in fear of ticking off the player’s unions. (Also in this subset are Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Mike Tyson, Pete Rose, Plaxico Burress, and others)

So is Famous Fabrics: Second Edition going to be a winner? Yes, I think it certainly will be. If you’re like me and you love love getting big game used patches, this product is definitely for you. If you’re in the hobby for the thrill of the big gamble, I also think this product is right for you. There are tons of cards in the product that will far exceed the current $85 pre-sell price.  Remember, there are only 5,000 boxes being produced so as boxes/cases are being bought and busted, if the big prize cards are not being hit early the prices on the still sealed boxes are going to go up and up. So if you’re getting in on this, get in early.

One last card image before I end this post…

For this card here, I have to give a lot of credit to the folks at Creative Cardboard Concepts. Whether you like all the Lebron/Wade/Bosh hoopla or not, you have to give credit here for being reactionary to the current sports news. Being a small company CCC has a much easier time reacting to what is hot in the sports world and making adjustments. I would venture to guess that at this time last week this card wasn’t going to exist in the card set. But now it does and will certainly be a hot card. Kudos to CCC.

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This morning I woke up and read a post that Mario over at Wax Heaven had posted yesterday. In it, he spoke of collectors’ fascination with prospects and the future. That got me thinking of players in today’s game that are often overlooked by collector’s because they aren’t a highly touted new prospect.

That brings me to Dan Haren. If you aren’t familiar with Haren85136467CP008_LOS_ANGELES_D then I’m guessing you live under a rock. The guy is nails on the mound and sports a ridiculous ML-leading .893 WHIP this year for Arizona. In the history of Major League Baseball, there have only been 32 pitchers who have had WHIPs lower than what Haren is putting up this season. In a nutshell, the guy is good….real good. Yet the hobby world just hasn’t caught on. It could be due to the fact that Haren’s best seasons have come during his stints in Oakland and for an Arizona team that hasn’t made the playoffs.

Haren’s 8-19-2009 9-46-47 AMmost popular rookie card has always been this 2003 Bowman’s Best card featuring an on card autograph. I’ve seen this card in the past top out around $30 or so but you can now pick one up for under $10. The last one sold on ebay for a whopping $9.49. There are other rookie card variations that are also selling for under $10. For a pitcher that is as dominant as he is and still only 27 years old, that is pretty ridiculous.

If you’re into patches, Haren has patch cards in 2007 Ultimate Collection, 2007 Exquisite Rookies, and 2008 Premier. All of those patches are courtesy of his days with Oakland so you can find some great green and gold patches if you’re like me and you like that sort of thing.

So what’s the deal? Why aren’t collectors all over this guy? He’s in the prime of his career and he’s putting up great numbers. Does where a guy plays have that much of an effect on his perceived value to collectors? Let’s hear what you think.

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I came across this listing today and had to laugh. First off, I love this title…

2008 TOPPS ALL STAR GIANT PATCH JUSTIN MORNEAU CPR-JM

Ok, I’ll admit that the word “GIANT” in the title piqued my interest and I had to check it out. I wasn’t really familiar with any oversized patch card from the All-Star Game for Morneau but I figured I should check it out. It turns out !BS),jt!!2k~$(KGrHgoOKj!EjlLmYmWCBKE2g7,!L!~~_1that the card being sold is the one here to the right. Maybe it’s me, but this is a pretty much worthless card and they routinely sell for under $2 on ebay.

This ebay listing is a mess. Not only is there no picture, but the description of the card itself is very vague. It doesn’t tell you what product the card is from and thank goodness there hasn’t been any clueless ebay buyer who has stumbled upon this and placed a bid.

Here’s a tip….even if the card you’re selling is likely not to go for much, take a damn picture!! The last time I checked, the first picture is free so there really is no excuse!

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As I noted last week, on Saturday I headed up to Chicago with a couple of buddies and attended my first real card show in probably 20 years. If you read the post last week you knew that I was curious how it would be since things have certainly changed since the last show I went to. So here is how it went…

First off, I want to make it abundantly clear that what follows is just my opinion and isn’t meant to sway any of you in one direction or the other.

We got up to Rosemont around 9:45 so the doors hadn’t been opened to the general public for very long. We stepped through the doors and I couldn’t believe the amount of tables and vendors that were there. Cards and autographed memorabilia as far as the eye could see. I almost wept.

Anyway, the first table you saw when you walked in was Mr. Mint and his “briefcase full of cash”. He had a smug look on his face so I didn’t bother to go talk to him at all while I was there. I would have liked to though since I’m curious how his business works and how well he was doing there this weekend.

We walked around for awhile and kind of took things in. One thing I noticed within the first 10 minutes I was there was that this show was certainly “vintage dominated”. Maybe it’s just my perception, but I think nearly 65% of the vendors there had vintage cards as their primary product. That’s fine, but not really my cup of tea right now. The dealers with autographed stuff seemed to be overflowing with Cubs stuff. To me, that was fine since I’m a Cubs fan but how many Ron Santo autographed baseballs were in that place? 1,000??

We continued to walk around and I kept my eyes open for any Morneau cards. I can honestly say that in this entire show, I saw one card. It was a 2007 Triple Threads card and I just glanced and moved on. I was also looking at interesting patch cards that I thought looked cool (more on that later tonight – new side project). I saw a few that I thought looked really nice but when I asked about the pricing, I was immediately turned off by the asking prices from these dealers…which brings me to Annoyance #1.

Annoyance #1 – Pricing. As expected, every dealer there subscribed to the Beckett Bible and quoted book price on every card there. Then, to make it sound like they were your friend and doing you a favor, they would pitch you a price that they are “taking a loss on”. For example, I was very interested in a nice Tom Glavine dual patch card from 2007 Ultimate Collection. The seller said the price was $125 but he would do $100 even though he’s losing money on it. I know this is a $55-60 card on ebay and passed on it without even thinking twice. Most sellers I encountered weren’t real interested in haggling and I wasn’t real interested in pushing it so I did a lot of asking about prices and not much buying.

Annoyance #2 – Show your prices!! I can’t tell you how annoying it is to walk through this place and look at all the nice cards and then have to ask a seller how much a card is since there is no pricing sticker on the front of the card. I would guess that 90% of the sellers didn’t have their cards priced so you could see it and they had to open cases and look at their Super Secret Prices on the back. If you’re taking the time to put the price on the back, just stick it on the damn front so we can all see it!! I’m sure some of the sellers chose to do it that way since they know their asking prices were ridiculous and were embarassed to show them to everyone.

Annoyance #3 – Making crap up. I know these guys are there to sell cards and they do whatever they can to make sales, but getting to a point where you just make stuff up on the spot is really annoying. The prime reason for that in my experience on Saturday was the dreaded “no pricing due to scarcity” Beckett line. Since there was no documented pricing, sellers were making things up on the spot to give the interested buyer a price. I actually listened to a seller tell a buyer that a Derrek Lee jumbo patch from the 2009 Topps (and all the other players with those patches for that matter) was a $350 card. Huh?!? $350?? I really wanted to out the seller there for being a greedy lying bastard but I didn’t and just waited until the guy walked away and told him that the cards on ebay don’t go for near that amount and he should save his money. So I did my good deed of the day.

All in all even though I was annoyed a lot of the time, I really did enjoy myself at the show. I saw a lot of really cool cards and some great signed memorabilia. The coolest card of the day for me was a quad NFL Shield auto card featuring Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne, and Anthony Gonzalez at the wolverine24 table. Those guys had thousands of cards there and they were always busy. One other thing that I thought was odd was that there weren’t many people there selling sealed wax. Dave and Adam’s and Marty’s were the only two that were really selling any, which was surprising to me.

So I go to this huge show with all this stuff with a wad of cash in my pocket so I had to buy something cool, right? WRONG! I walked through the entire show and inquired about a ton of cards and didn’t buy any of them. I looked at some sealed wax and contemplated buying a box of something and then passed on it all. At the end of the day, I spent $4 on some holders and that was it. I just don’t think the show scene is right for me. I’m not into vintage right now and I’m not a set builder. I like individual cards and I know what I should have to pay for them. I’m also not a haggler so working a seller down to what a card should sell for is not my expertise.

Oh well, I had a good time and saw some cool stuff. I’ll probably go back again some time.

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I really can’t remember the last time I went to a card show. Once in awhile at the local mall, there will be some guys that come in and set up tables and overcharge for inserts and lame single color jersey cards, but I don’t really consider that to be a “show”. When I think of a show, I think of a big room filled with multiple dealers, mounds of unopened wax, and cards as far as the eye can see.

I honestly think the last card show for me like that was way back when I was 12…so we’re talking 20 years ago. That will all end this Saturday when myelf and a couple buddies are making the trek north to Chicago for the annual Sun-Times show in Rosemont. Lots of things have changed since the last true show that I attended.jmss

The first big change is the advent of ebay. Since I haven’t been to a show since ebay became the #1 way to acquire cards, I don’t know how the dealers at the shows price their stuff. Am I going to see a card like this (Justin Morneau – 2006 Sweet Spot #/275) with a sticker on it that says $40 because that is the dreaded BOOK VALUE of it? Or is there going to be a sticker on there for $15 because that’s the actual secondary market value set by collectors on ebay? I would like to think it is the latter, but I don’t have high hopes for it. I full expect to see a lot of book value prices on cards, which will do nothing but piss me off.

The biggest change since my last show is that I’ll actually have some real money to spend. When I used to attend shows as a kid, my mom would give me $20-30 and set me loose. I’d go all around the show looking at cards that were out of my range and then settle on buying a wax box of 1987 Topps or something like that. This time will certainly be different since I’ll actually be armed with some significant spending money.

So what’s my goal while I’m there? First and foremost my goal is to find the three remaining letters that I’m missing from my Morneau 2006 SPA By the Letter project. I still need the “E”, “A”, and “U” so I’ll be scouring the show to see if I find any of those. After that, I don’t think I really have any set agenda. I would like to find a good relic card of someone like Ted Williams. I used to have one and it is one card I still wish I had. And my last goal is to go the entire day without whipping the credit card out of my wallet. Yeah….right. 🙂

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A friend of mine sent me an email the other day whining about another auction on ebay that he was watching all week and missed out on. Evidently he put in a bid with 8 seconds left to become the high bidder and he assumed he would win the item. Then…..poof! It was gone. Somehow he lost the auction to someone who managed to get a bid in with 1 second left to beat him out. Boy was he pissed!

I asked him if he ever thought of using a site that put bids in for you and he didn’t seem to have any idea what I was talking about. I explained to him that the reason that he lost that auction is that another bidder was likely using one of those services that shoots off bids with very little time left to “snipe” auctions.

Some people may see these sites and services as an annoyance but I’m telling you, they are simple to use and if you’re losing to guys using them, why not play on even ground? I’ve been using AuctionSniper for well over a year and I have to tell you that it has been great. I have had zero complaints. I like using it because sometimes my computer at home isn’t the fastest in the world so when I want to get a bid in late on an item, it helps me do that. Also, there are times when an item ends either after I’ve headed to bed or while I’m at work and I don’t want to forget to get a bid in on something.

AuctionSniper isn’t free unfortunately. I don’t know exactly what the cost is per “snipe” but it’s not all that much. I don’t know if there are free services out there or not. AS is the only one I’ve used so far. If you have been a victim of a late bid beating you out, I highly recommend going over to try it. I think they give you 5-6 free “snipes” when you sign up. If you sign up, you can put me down as a reference (wilsond7). 

I warn you though….sniping can be a little addicting. There are some times when I find some auctions ending soon that seem to be going for far less than they are worth and I’ll set them up to toss a small bid on late and I’ve won them. Some of the cards I wanted but some I was just only tossing out a bid to see what happened and I ended up with the card. Oh well….I guess those cards could be good trade bait at some point.

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2006udultimatebb

Those of you who have read this site for awhile are well aware of the kick in the nuts I received with the 2006 Ultimate Collection Baseball break I did back in January. If you don’t remember the slaughter, check it out HERE.

In summary, I was denied two of the more valuable hits and they were replaced with 2 of the crappiest hits. While I do understand that Upper Deck tries to protect themselves from these situations by placing the words “on average” in all their marketing material, that sort of wording is primarily aimed at the “by the box” crowd. When it comes to a full case, you should hit the average!!!

Anyway, after the break I wrote a very well worded and polite email to Upper Deck’s “Customer Service” stating my frustration and asking them to make the situation right. Even though it was an older product, it was still factory sealed and in my mind was still Upper Deck’s responsibility to back up their claims.  I sent the email and got the canned email back saying that an agent would respond within 24-48 hours. A week later…

No response.

So I sent it again….

No response.

Since that time, I have sent the same email 6 times! Not one single damn response!

Now I am well aware of UD’s downsizing and the fact that there are people in the Customer Service area that are being let go, moved, or whatever. But that doesn’t mean that UD as a company can just blatantly ignore the collectors that are keeping it’s piss poor company afloat.

At this point I’m not really expecting to get any sort of resolution to my problem but I am going to keep sending the email until I can get someone from the CS department to at least respond to my inquiry.

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