Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Three Packs of 2017 Topps Update

By the time you read this 2018 Topps will probably already be on the shelves everywhere. I'll give it a chance much like I give most everything else but I just haven't had time yet to get to the card shop and get some packs. I had these Update packs around from my annual Target baseball card birthday binge to myself in December so I figured I might as well go through these pack by pack before I move on to getting some 2018 cards. After reading other blogs back in the fall about how Update didn't really update anything, I'm not really expecting much. There's 12 cards per pack, let's see what lies within.

Pack #1

One pack in and I already pulled one of the most wanted cards from the set, the vaunted Cody Bellinger rookie card. I might as well just call it here and not even bother with the other two packs! I also got a really neat Bill Mazeroski "Postseason Celebrations" insert card celebrating his series winning homer in 1960. Some other cards I dig in this pack are the Travis Wood card (who I had no clue was with the Royals) and the Seth Smith card. I always like the way the Oriole orange just pops on cards like this. Not bad for the first pack. 

Pack #2

There's honestly not much here to really talk about. The Jeff Bagwell card is one of those goofy reprints that Topps likes to do, this time it's of the Rookie Cup variety. Seeing that reminds me I've got a 1992 Topps factory set in the garage I need to do something with. The highlights for me here are the Yonder Alonso All-Star card and the Sal Romano card (although I've already got thanks to some recent trades).

Pack #3

Well, that's interesting. I wound up with 13 cards in the pack instead of the advertised 12. Either the buyback of Seth Greisenger doesn't count as a card or I wound up with a bonus card for no reason. I'm not complaining though. This was probably the second best pack of the three as there was the Ian Happ card, the aforementioned buyback, a 1987 style Dallas Keuchel insert, and the "History Makers" card of Bryant and Rizzo. Upon doing some research, apparently the blue stamp is the second most rare stamp of the buybacks, I just wish it wasn't stamped over top of the players' name.

Overall, this wasn't too terrible. I enjoyed opening the packs and got some fun cards to show for it. I didn't get any of the Heroes of Autumn inserts that were advertised on the packs but I did get one really cool insert, that being the "Postseason Celebrations" card. Onwards to the 2018 cards!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Wacky Wrestling VHS Boxes #8

It's Royal Rumble day! Hooray!

This means it's time again for another go around with some old school wrestling VHS boxes. I'd put this series on hiatus last year because I ran out of tapes to scan. While I have yet to add any new tapes to the collection, I did manage to find some good quality scans of tape covers online, so that's what this edition will consist of. I'll give full credit of where the scan came from in the caption.

In this particular edition, since it's Royal Rumble day and since the event turns 30 today, I thought there'd be nothing better than to look at some old Royal Rumble covers. I've gotten covers from most of the early Rumbles except for 1988 (which was never released on video) and 1992 (sadly, I couldn't find a good scan of the front and back cover anywhere).

WWF Royal Rumble 1989

Scan credit: The Canadian Collection
This was the first Royal Rumble event broadcast on pay-per-view and the first one with 30 participants. The prior year it was shown on the USA Network and only featured 20 entrants. I just re-watched this recently and it was a decent show, nothing special, but the Rumble match told a good story throughout. I also liked the six-man tag match and the Haku vs. Harley Race match, which got cut out of the VHS release. I hadn't actually seen this box since I rented the tape ages and ages ago from a place called West Coast Video, which had the largest wrestling selection in town. I got the tape, took it back to my grandparents house, and popped it in the VCR in the basement. That was the last time I saw this show until recently. As a matter of fact, I think that was the last tape I ever rented from that store as I'm pretty sure it closed shortly after.

WWF Royal Rumble 1990

Scan credit: VHS Wasteland
The Royal Rumble was starting to finally find it's feet by this time and 1990 was an interesting show, especially with the underneath matches. It's probably best remembered, at least by hardcore wrestling fans, for the excellent submission match between Ronnie Garvin and Greg Valentine. It also had a memorable face-off between Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior that teased their match against each other at WrestleMania 6. Also, there's a very unfamiliar voice on commentary as long-time WCW announcer Tony Schiavone called the action with Jesse Ventura. Schiavone would wrap up his WWF run soon after and head back to WCW.

WWF Royal Rumble 1991

Scan Credit: VHS Wasteland
Here we have a very strong contender for one of my favorite VHS covers of a wrestling tape ever. I mean, just look at it. How could you not call this a work of art. You've got every major star of the time rumbling down a dark alley in search of a fight. It has a very gritty, almost gang warfare aspect to it. The back though, isn't as impressive with the matches and some studio shots of the wrestlers. The design on the front though was so amazing that it was brought back the next year (1992) and ten years later (2001). It should be noted as well that the tape did not contain "each and every exciting match" as the Koko B. Ware vs. Mountie match was cut out for time. It did, however, contain the awesome opening tag match between the Rockers and the Orient Express and the historic WWF Championship change when Sgt. Slaughter beat Ultimate Warrior to set up Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter at WrestleMania VII.

WWF Royal Rumble 1993

Scan Credit: The Canadian Collection

The WWF in 1993 was in the midst of change from the Hulk Hogan era to the New Generation era. I remember the first time I watched this particular event, I didn't really like it and to be honest, I found the Rumble match kind of boring. However, this show has really grown on me and now when I'm in the mood for a show from this time period, I tend to put this on. While the Rumble match on this show is still a bit boring and predictable, the undercard is what really makes this show shine with an awesome Steiner Brothers vs Beverly Brothers match, a really good Shawn Michaels vs Marty Jannetty match, a fun match between Big Boss Man and Bam Bam Bigelow (in what was Boss Man's final WWF pay-per-view until 1998) and a good Bret Hart vs. Razor Ramon match. This was also the last pay-per-view that Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan would call together and it was the last one  where Monsoon himself was the lead play-by-play announcer for the company as he would be replaced by Jim Ross at WrestleMania.

WWF Royal Rumble 1994

Scan Credit: The Canadian Collection
I'll wrap up this post with one of the most memorable shows (and not in a good way) of the mid-90s. This is the show most remembered for two things. First, the goofy "levitation" of the Undertaker after he was beaten by about 12 of the most random collection of heels, or bad guys, in the company. Then, there was the whole co-winner of debacle at the end of the Rumble match itself where Bret Hart and Lex Luger supposedly both touched the ground at the same time. It was a bad ending for a bad show. The box art however, kind of makes up for it with the pretty fun cartoonish drawing of everyone just battling each other. The background kind of looks like their coming out of a TV as well. Just a really fun cover for a really interesting time period.

Well, that does it for this round of VHS boxes. Hope everyone enjoys the Royal Rumble tonight and the first "double Rumble" in WWE history with both a men's and a women's Rumble match. Hopefully, I'll be able to find enough scans to continue this series as it's really one of my favorites to write.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

WWE NXT Jumbo Retail Pack

With NXT Takeover and Royal Rumble this weekend, I thought this would probably be a good time to dive into a jumbo pack of some WWE NXT cards. We've got 18 cards in a pack so let's rip. Hopefully there's something good as I'm not sure what to expect out of this.

Apparently there's two different base sets in this, there's the base roster set and there's the base moments and matches set, along with parallels of each. Not sure who Aliyah is but Peyton Royce is one of the top competitors of the Women's division.

A few more matches and moments cards are the highlight of this batch. I think everyone was pretty well shocked when Bobby Roode showed up in NXT and he had a nice little run there before getting called up this past summer. 

Awesome! I got a Shinsuke Nakamura card! So far, that's my favorite card of the pack. Even better that it notes his debut match against Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover Dallas in 2016. If you're a wrestling fan and you haven't seen that match, I suggest going to watch it ASAP! It was by far one of the best matches under the WWE umbrella in 2016.

Not much here. I'm not familiar with Oney Lorcan although I did have a science teacher in junior high with the last name of Oney. I'm looking forward to the eventual feud between Ciampa and Johnny Gargano as they haven't been able to have a proper feud since Ciampa turned on Gargano last year at Takeover Chicago. 

Here's the best trio of the pack. Ember Moon is a favorite of my four-year-old and he runs around the house singing her music all day sometimes. Ruby Riot, now spelled as "Riott" since she's on the main roster, I remember seeing a few years ago at a local show where she wrestled under the name of Heidi Lovelace. She was good then, but she's even better now. Oh, and speaking earlier about Johnny Gargano, here's a card of his!

The final trio consisting of hall of fame manager Paul Ellering, current NXT champ Andrade "Cien" Almas (who I might add shocked the world when he beat Drew McIntyre for the title) and wouldn't you know it, a card of Gargano and Ciampa as a tag team. 

Overall, this was an ok pack. I got a few good cards but most everything else felt pretty bland. I'm definitely not going to be rushing out to get anymore of this off the retail shelves any time soon unfortunately but I guess it's always good to try a product at least once.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

You've Got Mail #76: Red Cardboard

I'd heard rumors of Matt at the Red Cardboard blog doing a mass cleansing of his collection. So I found his blog and those rumors proved to be correct. I found a few cards I was interested in and emailed him. It turns out that most everything I was interested in had been spoken for but there were a few things I'd asked for that were still left. Along with the cards I'd asked about which I'll get to shortly, Matt threw in a ton of extra Reds cards as well.

I'll start off with some oddballs. The 1977 Burger Chef Fun Meal disc is one of the more neat pieces of the package. To me there's just something about cards from restaurants and stores that aren't around anymore. To me, they tell an interesting story about the time when they were popular and more importantly, what happened to them? My favorite part though has to be the back with the Frankenstein-esque character "Crankenburger". The Johnny Vander Meer and Paul Derringer cards are from the 1983 Cramer Baseball Legends set. I'm not sure who (or what) Cramer was but these are definitely some neat cards of two of the top Reds pitchers from the late 1930s.

Here's a interesting card from TCMA. If you would've guessed this was anyone but Billy Martin then you would've been wrong. I wasn't even sure who it was when I first looked at it. I'd always read that Martin anchored second base for the Reds in 1960 after being acquired as part of a deal that sent Gordy Coleman to the Indians but I never could find the 1960 Topps card that noted this for a decent price. This card will nicely suffice in its place although I'm adding that 1960 card to my most wanted list. As far as his single season stats for the Reds, he played 103 games, and hit .246/.304/.334 for a Reds squad that finished 6th. 

I love early 80s cards, especially those of the Big Red Machine players. Concepcion was the last link to those days for the Reds as he kept playing until 1988. 

At first I thought these were just simply Topps cards from the "junk wax" era and I flipped past them because I've seen them dozens of times. On a second glance, these are O-Pee-Chee cards! The giveaway for me was the "Now with ..." text on the Martinez and Power cards. It's always great to add some O-Pee-Chee to my collection.

More oddballs, this time of the Pepsi and Diet Pepsi variety. I had a few of these as a kid but I'd forgotten about them until now, plus I get to add a new card to the Sabo collection and that's always a plus.

I had really hoped this card would've scanned better but it was not to be. However, this Jose Rijo card was issued by Upper Deck in conjunction with Denny's. The lone Denny's in Dayton closed down a few years ago and has since been demolished. The food was ok the few times I ate there (although I remember the Slamburger being pretty awesome) but going there wasn't about the food as my friends and I would go there late at night after going to wrestling shows across the street at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and it was just some time for us all to unwind and chill out together.

Another card I'd wished would've scanned better was this but it's a Gold Rush card with foil so I sort of expected it. Anyway, this is a perfect shot of Riverfront Stadium from the 90s when the Reds were still hanging in there as far as winning teams go. As a kid going to games, the place was cavernous, having to wind through tunnels to get to the field level seats but I have some good memories there and saw so many games. I even saw my only Bengals game to date there but don't remember much of it.

Matt threw in a whole slew of Barry Larkin cards, so many in fact, that it was tough for me to figure out which ones to scan. Instead of scanning a bunch, I figured I'd just scan in one of my favorites. As I've mentioned in prior posts, I don't have a whole lot of late career Larkin cards. Going through all those Larkins and weeding out dupes may take me a while too.

Some early 00s Upper Deck and a really neat card of Johnny Bench accepting his Gold Glove award. Upper Deck made some really good quality cards during this time, too bad they're pretty much nonexistent now.

I love this card of Big Klu, everything about it screams "cool card". The way the red stripe blends with the tan border and the black and white photo make it just a mesh of awesome. Plus, it's Big Klu in his trademark sleeveless jersey. How can you get better than that?

I'm not hip to the whole rookie card thing so if this classifies as a rookie card of Joey Votto then that's super cool. This is easily the earliest card of Votto that I own now.

Here's a few more random cards of George Foster and Joe Morgan from the early 2000s from the Upper Deck Decades set. I would love to track down as many more of these as I can as I'm fascinated with baseball and the 70s. Which reminds me, if love this period of baseball check out the book "Big Hair and Plastic Grass". It's easily one of the best baseball books I've ever read.

Matt was also nice enough to include more modern cards as well, such as this Frank Robinson. I can't remember exactly what set this is from (perhaps Topps Tek or something like that) but it's nice to see Topps make a card of Robinson as a Red as it seems like he gets more love from the card companies as an Oriole.

Here are three more Votto cards I didn't have. The clear one again looks like it's be an insert from Topps Tek, Topps Fire, or one of those late season releases that I don't pay much interest to.

More Reds randoms including a Anthony DeSclafani (or Tony Disco for short) purple parallel and an Amir Garrett minor league card.

The Reds portion closes with some rookie cards from Heritage high number. Jesse Winker should be in the mix for an outfield spot this season as he was pretty impressive last season in the playing time he did get.

Moving on to the cards that initiated this whole deal. These were all that was left from the 1979 Topps cards that were up for grabs. I'd figured someone would've claimed Steve Carlton but hey, I'll take it.

Starting Lineup cards are always a fun addition to any collection. The Lou Gehrig one is super cool.

But here's the card I really wanted the most out of the deal, this 1991 Kellogg's Willie Mays. I've had a newfound appreciation for Kellogg's cards over the past few years so I grab them up whenever I can, provided they're in decent shape. Sure it didn't scan all that well but it doesn't matter, it's still an awesome card of a legendary player. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Retail Repack Adventures #12

For those not familiar with this series, I grab the Fairfield repacks from local retail establishments (Walgreens and Target) and bust these open and take a look at what's inside. There really is no set goal, aside from a few minutes of fun opening a mystery brick of cards. Since this is a new year and a blog "re-launch" so to speak, not only do I have baseball ones to break into, I've also got a few hockey ones. I figured for this go round, I should go with what I'm familiar with, that being a baseball 100-card brick, before diving headlong some of the other ones. This is the twelfth in a series.

Our cover boy, Joe Mauer. It's interesting to see that 2017 Heritage has already found it's way into these. When that came out last spring, it disappeared from retail shelves almost immediately as everyone and their brother wanted to get their hands on it. Even when the high number set came out last fall, the same thing happened. All this means that I didn't get in on the action as much as I would've liked. 

As usual, there was a load of Topps base cards, mainly from 2013 this time around. I didn't feel like scanning all of them but these were my favorites. 

I love it when old school Upper Deck makes it's way into these boxes. I really don't have a whole lot of 1990 Upper Deck in my collection so that's a nice addition. Did you happen to notice how empty the stands are behind Dennis Rasmussen? I think my favorite card of the 1991 batch has to be the Tom Foley card, simply because of the Expos powder blue road uniforms.

I've got a factory set of 1992 Topps sitting in my garage I need to sort at some point but this is always a set I've enjoyed, mainly as it's the first Topps set I remember from childhood.

The other thing I always found fascinating with 1992 Topps is the fact they put a picture of the team's home stadium on the back (space permitting). While it never was a great picture, I personally always found it pretty cool to see a picture of a team's stadium on the back of the card, especially when it was a stadium, like the Kingdome for example, that I never saw on TV back then.

One thing that keeps drawing me back to these repacks is the variety contained within. Sure, there's a bunch of cards from the present day but always buried in the middle are cards from the mid 80s, such as the case with these 1985 Topps cards. I've always liked 85 Topps, dating back to the days as a kid where I bought a lot of them from an antique shop and maybe, one day, I might actually put the set together. Of course, I have to finish 1984 Topps first.

Speaking of 80s cards, here's some from 1987 Donruss. While I really enjoy Donruss sets from the early to mid 80s, after this set things kind of nose dive for a few years. Mike Moore was a pretty decent pitcher for the Mariners in the 80s, his best season coming in 1985 where he finished 10th in Cy Young voting and had a 17-10 record with a 3.46 ERA. Two years later in 1987 though? Not good. He led all of baseball in losses with 19.

Bedrosian was one of the better NL pitchers of the 80s, turning primarily into a reliever when he joined the Phillies. 1987 was an All-Star season for him with 40 saves and winner of the NL Cy Young Award. In four seasons with the Phillies, he posted 103 saves over 287.1 innings and a 3.29 ERA.

Some cards from a few of my favorite sets of the 80s. I think 1981 Donruss gets a bad rap, sure it was hastily produced but it still has a few redeeming qualities such as the general design. If I ever finish off 1984 Topps, my next project might be 1984 Donruss, not sure though but I really do like the design. Also, Mike Smithson may not be the most notable pitcher ever but I really dig the Twins home uniform he's sporting!

Standard operating procedure with these is that I have to show off any Reds cards included. A bunch of cards here I've seen a million times before and one dude I've never heard of.

Here's a curiosity, I wasn't expecting a Bowman Chrome refractor to come out of this. It took me a moment as I was thrown off by the facsimile signature but I realized this wasn't the 1-in-4 "hit" that the box proclaimed. Instead, it was a 2011 Bowman Chrome of Cory Riordan, a pitcher who has washed out of the minors with two different organizations and played the 2017 season for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League.

As with any repack, there's bound to be tons of junk wax. Here's the best of what was included. Nice to get a card of "Hard Hittin'"Mark Whiten, who famously slugged four homers in a game against the a Reds team in 1993 that, strangely enough, Ray Knight was a coach for.

Some cards from the mid-90s, including a 1995 Fleer card of Tony Gwynn, as if you couldn't tell what it was by the crazy design. One day, I'm planning on reviewing a card of each design from 1995 Fleer baseball (and maybe even football but I'll have to see what I have stashed away).

Some late 90s and early 00s miscellany. I always tend to forget what 2001 Topps looks like until I pull an actual card from somewhere. 

These are not your average 2016 Topps cards. They are, in fact, cards from the team issue sets. I always seem to come across a lot of team issue cards in these which makes me wonder if perhaps those sets get bought from the manufacturer come season's end at overstock prices? Or do they go buy up team sets from closeout places like Ollie's? It's one of those mysteries of life I suppose.

Speaking of closeouts, that about closes out this repack. I guess I should mention as well that the sealed pack contained within was a pack of 1988 Donruss, something I am less than thrilled to open up. Oh well, I suppose I'll just save that for a rainy day post.