Saturday, February 17, 2018

2018 Topps: The "Wave" of the Future

I'll admit it, I may have gone a bit overboard on 2018 Topps.

However, in order to stretch the cash my wife fronted me as a Valentine's Day present, I had to make the most of it so I got as much as I could so I could get a nice sampling. I bought five loose packs, the last two fat packs on the rack, and a blaster box. I'll break down the highlights the same way. First the loose packs, 

Here's my first card of the year, Tyler Flowers of the Braves. As far as the design goes, I think I like it more in person than I did from the scans and pictures of it I saw on other blogs. It's a nice full-bleed photo and the graphics at the bottom are clean and simple and the team logo looks as if it's either surfing a wave or going down a water slide. I definitely dig it and if Topps can keep the design for the base set clean like this every year, all will be good.

Here's a few former Reds who are Reds no longer, of these Todd Frazier has changed teams, going from the Yankees to the Mets and re-uniting with former Reds teammate Jay Bruce.

Speaking of Reds, here's a few current ones. I pulled three of the Billy Hamilton cards so the dupes will be going in the trade box.

The horizontal cards are really neat and work a lot better than they did the previous two years. I picked these because they had the best photography and I love the way the A's green and gold just pops on these cards.

A few more base cards, again picked mainly for photography than anything else. I dig the throwback Giants uniform on Christian Arroyo though.

There were also inserts, lots of inserts. I can't say I'm exactly thrilled with the insert sets this year although the 1983 style cards are pretty neat. It looks like buybacks and the first pitch inserts have sadly been dropped.

Moving on now to the fat packs (or jumbo packs, whatever you prefer to call them), here's a few guys  who are now on new teams, Cutch with the Giants and Cozy with the Angels.

A few more cards with nice photos.

More nice horizontal cards. I was pretty hyped to pull an Ian Happ card considering he's a University of Cincinnati product. 

More current Reds. Tyler Mahle was a nice late season call-up for the Reds last year and did so well that he's a candidate for a rotation spot this year in spring training. He was one of the few bright spots of the Reds pitching staff last year.

The first foil parallel of the break and it's Dellin Betances of the Yankees.

Two of the hottest young stars in the game currently, Rhys Hoskins and Dansby Swanson. I would've been happy just getting these out of the fat pack but then came this ...

The much heralded card #1 of the set, Aaron Judge. I'd say just based on those last three cards alone, the fat packs were more than worth it.

Finally, the blaster. I've shown a lot of base cards so far but here are a few of my favorites of the 10-pack blaster. 

Two foil parallels and a gold parallel were found as well. I really like the way the gold cards stand out this year.

More inserts. I'm not really sure what the point is of the Opening Day cards, maybe they should've just been left for the Opening Day product itself.

I'm not down on these Jeter inserts as much as most people are it seems. Sure, Jeter isn't exactly someone I actively collect but still, these are nice cards in person. However, I know a few Yankee collectors that might appreciate these more.

More of the 1983 style cards. I can't really get enough of these.

And here's the guaranteed commemorative patch card. Manu-relics for me are pretty cool and I've got a few in my collection. For blasters and retail, I think they're fine but they shouldn't be included in hobby boxes and count as a "hit". Anyway, I won't really complain about in being an Evan Longoria card either as he's one of the better players from the list.

So that's my first experience with 2018 Topps. It was fun to break into these but after a while, the buzz wore off. I'll probably buy a few packs here and there at the card shop if there's nothing interesting and I feel the need to buy something to rip. As I mentioned, I'm not exactly thrilled with the insert sets except the 1983 cards but overall the base card design is really nice, the photography is good and everything feels fresh and new.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Retail Repack Adventures #14

Rejoice! Spring Training has officially started! While I have been enjoying the hockey season this year, I'm ready for some baseball. Being that I haven't been able to pick up any 2018 Topps yet (that will probably change by the time you read this) what better way to start off the dawn of a new season than with another baseball repack. This time along, I've got the 4-pack, 50-card variety. 

If you're not familiar with these, then you get four packs, a 50-card mini box, and a "bonus". I tend to think of the "bonus" prize in terms of the prize you get from a cereal box, nothing spectacular but sometimes kind of neat. In terms of packs, there's a Babe Ruth Collection, 2016 Heritage, and two retail packs of the Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks. The Babe Ruth pack I've already earmarked for Dimebox Nick so I won't be ripping into that, but the others I will, at least the Heritage pack should be somewhat fun.

This was the bonus prize, a pack of Teeny Mates baseball figures. In the pack, there's two figures and two puzzle pieces. I'm not sure what good the puzzle pieces will do me but the figures themselves aren't bad. This particular pack had a Reds figure and a Mariners figure. 

Moving on to the 50-card mini-box. It's to be expected that there will be a bunch of commons from the late 80s and early 90s in these but a good 90% of the box was that. There was so much, in fact, that I had trouble finding cards from the box to scan, something that typically isn't an issue. I did manage to find a few gems, but not many. This was the top card of the stack, a 2013 Topps Toys R' Us Purple Parallel of Giancarlo Stanton, late of the Miami Marlins. 

The oldest card in the mini box, a 1985 Fleer Bruce Hurst. No, it's not some goofy rainbow parallel, my scanner just seems to hate 1985 Fleer.

Some recent and future Hall of Famers in Alan Trammell and Tim Raines. Good to see that Trammell is finally getting his place in the Hall. Now, if we can just get Lou Whitaker in there as well.

A few nice horizontal cards, including one of Juan Castro, who I'd completely forgotten about until I saw that card. Castro spent the middle eight years of his career (2000-2008) with the Reds as a utility infielder, playing mainly third and short.

Can't go wrong with this either, a Future Stars Billy Hamilton card with the Topps Rookie Cup on it.

Moving on now to the packs of Panini Prizm Draft Picks. These are a staple of these type repacks and never really do much for me.

Only four cards in each pack and nothing really here to write home about from either pack. Jack Flaherty is at least someone I've heard of. Some of these will be thrown into the trade bin, the rest, I guess, will reside in the collection for now or will be set aside for the Goodwill bag.

Finally, the Heritage pack. There's 9 cards here and since it's the 2016 version, that means it's the 1967 version.

There you have it, a few interesting cards but wait, what's that in the middle? Why it's a Chrome parallel of Mike Trout #'d to 999. Here's a close up of it ...

So yeah, I'd say that was a pretty decent pull from a Heritage retail pack. Anyway, that puts the bow on a another repack. I'd say this was pretty much a bust aside from what I decided to show. Hopefully the next one will be better.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

You've Got Mail #79: ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession

I received this a while back from Adam of ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession. It turns out I was the beneficiary of another housecleaning by a fellow blogger. For those not in the know, Adam apparently bought a humongous collection a while back and needed to clear out some room. He offered a few teams up, the Reds being one of them, and I quickly jumped on the claim train. Soon thereafter a small Priority Mail box showed up on my doorstep filled with all kinds of wildness.

Big Klu is one of my favorite players to collect from the 1950s era Reds. Sure, they had other great players on those teams like Vada Pinson, Joe Nuxhall, and Wally Post to name a few but the major slugger of those team was Ted Kluszewski. Over 11 seasons with the Reds (1947-1958), he slugged a whopping 251 home runs and finished in the top ten of MVP voting three times. He's definitely someone I want to expand my collection of this year.

Speaking of player collections, there were three major assaults on some of my top PCs including these six Griffey cards I didn't have before.

There was also this really awesome batch of Sean Casey cards.

And a few new Larkins I didn't have as well, including a 1998 Pinnacle. I'll touch on that a bit more later as there were more cards included than just Larkin from that set.

Here are a couple curiosities. Upon finding these in the box, it was the first I'd ever heard of King B and their "quality meat snacks". I though maybe these were just issued in the 80s and 90s but no, it turns out that King B issued these discs from 1988 all the way through 2001. 

As is the territory for any trade package, it contained a healthy batch of late 80s and early 90s cards. These are three cards I know are for sure not duplicates. 

There was also a good batch of mid to late-90s cards as well. I think my favorites have to be the Pinnacle cards of Ron Gant and Pete Schourek though. I think both of these guys get forgotten about in Reds lore but they were both very important pieces of the 1995 Reds team, which was the last Reds team to make it all the way to the NLCS. 

Gant was a major piece of the everyday lineup that year and hit .276 with 29 homers and 88 RBIs in a huge comeback season. Schourek had the best season of his career that year going 18-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 29 starts. What I didn't realize is that he finished second in the Cy Young voting that year and finished 20th in MVP votes, the only year he would receive votes in either category.

Speaking of cards from the 90s, you can't go wrong with mid-90s Score. The cards from these sets were some of my favorites as a kid and they still are today. They have really slick looking designs and the photography is great too (although I wish they'd had a better picture of Jose Rijo).

Finally, some 2001 Donruss cards to wrap this up. I opened a pack of this last year for the first time and had no idea what to expect and I was pretty pleased with the result, even though it was a five card pack. However, I didn't get any Reds cards in the pack but seeing these come out of the package was really, really cool.

A big thank you goes to out Adam for sending these cards over to me. I will have some Giants cards to send to you soon after I finished weeding out any duplicates.