Sunday, August 26, 2018

Blasting Into Some Football

Normally on Sundays I don't stray too far from the house, as a matter of fact the backyard is as far as I get most weeks. However, this particular Sunday the family and I had to run out to the local Walmart to get a few things. Of course, while I was there I had to check out the card section and, wow, was it ever a disaster. Things just strewn everywhere, no sense of anything except mass chaos, and the most recent baseball product was Series 2 which led me to believe that it hadn't been updated in about two months. 

I wasn't looking for anything in particular but I had some extra cash and wanted something to rip. Amongst the chaos, I found this box of 2018 Panini Classics football. I haven't opened any football products in a long time so I was pretty excited to check this out, plus it's always fun to venture out of the ordinary plus there's the promise of at least one relic card.

As usual, the first card from the first pack. It's Delanie Walker, a tight end for the Titans who's been around the league for 12 years and made the Pro Bowl the last three. 

I really like the base card design. It's got a pretty old school feel but it's on modern card stock. They're also pretty colorful and just look like fun, which to me is always good.

There's a healthy mix of current players, rookies, and retired legends. Here are some of the more notable current players I pulled out of the box. I didn't pull any Bengals cards but there were a few cool Browns cards.

Here are some of the legends cards. I like the mix of more recent stars like Dan Marino mixed in with old school guys like Paul Horning. The one difference in the base design, something that also carries over to the rookies, is that instead of the flag saying the team name, it just simply says "legends" and has the team name in a black box above the players name.

Since lots of football fans like to talk about rookies, here are the three ... well ... rookie cards I pulled. I'll be honest when I say I have no idea about any of these players.

Two insert cards here. I think I like the "composers" card more that the "high praise" card. 

Now for my two favorite cards in the box ... first this Terry Bradshaw/Ben Roethlisberger card. It's probably my favorite standard card. While I'm not a huge Steelers fan, I'm keeping this for my collection though.

As I mentioned earlier, the blaster guaranteed at least one of the "Saturday Swatches" relic cards and here it it ... it's Jameis Winston and a piece of his Florida State jersey. I have to say, doing cards with pieces of the college jersey is a bit more unique.

Anyway, that's a blaster of 2018 Panini Classics football and I have to say that I really enjoyed opening this up. Would I buy another blaster of this? If I had some extra cash, perhaps. It's probably the best football product I've opened in a while.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Going Through the Archives - 2018 Edition

Archives is out!!!!!!!!


These were some elusive little creatures to find. I went to the Target by work on the release day, nothing there, then the next day I went to the Target by the house after my son's kindergarten screening, and nothing there. Finally, Friday night they showed up as in-stock at the awesome Target on the way home so I stopped there, at 10:45 at night mind you, and stocked up. I grabbed two blasters and three fat packs. I had two coupons from my Series 1 blaster I used plus just over $30 in gift cards that got me a good deal on them.

I started with the blasters first. As usual, the first card of the first pack I opened and it's Yasiel Puig.

Archives this year is based on the 1959, 1977, and 1981 designs. Sure, they're not exact replicas but they're close enough for me. I always love the inclusion of retired stars in Archives, especially those such as Bert Blyleven and Warren Spahn. Even better, Spahn is listed as a member of the Milwaukee Braves.

I got the two vaunted rookies every is probably after, Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto. Is is just me or did the Ohtani-mania craze die down fairly quickly after he got hurt. There's also an Ohtani variation of him swinging a bat going around.

Two more 59s, and I'm curious as to why they chose the color pink for these two. I feel like Honus Wagner only pops up in Archives. As far as variations go, there are two different types ... one is a no autograph variation (which speaks for itself) and the other is in the backs. There are white back and grey backs called "Venezuelan backs".

Moving on to the 77s. One gripe I have about these is that, in the case of Bruce Sutter, the facsimile autograph is nearly obscured completely by the darkness of the background. This happened with a few other cards as well. 

The Jeter is another case where the autograph is pretty much unable to be read. However, I think these are probably my favorite design of the bunch. Variations on this theme include only a non-autograph variation.

One blaster yielded me this gray parallel of Travis D'Arnaud. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Now the 1981s. The 1981 set is something I feel that gets often overlooked or forgotten about. Personally, I think it's a pretty neat set and Archives did it well. Nice to see Edgar Martinez show up in newer cards. There's also a variation of the Ernie Banks card floating around.

I didn't get any of the variations of the 1981 (which include a different Clemente card and cards with the old style Topps logo) but I did get a nice batch of awesome players like Trout, Carew, and Clemente.

I got a good batch of Reds and Indians cards but my favorite of the Reds ones has to be the Barry Larkin card. 

Some Indians cards including catching prospect Francisco Meija and Jose Ramirez who is on an absolute tear right now.

Inserts I think is really where Archives struggled this year. I know the Hank Aaron "turn back the clock" card isn't really an insert, it sort of fell in there when I took the picture. I enjoy "The Sandlot" as much as the next person and having cards in there using the 1962 design is neat but they just don't do it for me. I've got two Sandlot cards, and they're already earmarked for my next package to Dimebox Nick.

My favorites of the inserts are the Future Stars cards. I could've done without a "Rookie History" insert reprint set though, considering just a year or two ago we got "Berger's Best" reprints in flagship which featured some of the same cards. 

Moving on to the fat packs now. One thing about these is that I really like the pack design. One thing I  didn't like is the fact I got a lot of duplicates. However, I did find a number of cool cards I didn't get in the blasters.

Getting cards of Ichiro is something that makes me really happy.

Three people here in Ozzie, Cozart, and Correa that I like to collect. My favorite though has to be the Early Wynn card. Have a look at that background will you!

Two more Reds, both new and old.

The Coming Attraction inserts are really the best insert set in Archives this year.

Finally, I'll close this with my two favorite cards I got from my haul. First, David Ortiz as a member of the Twins!

And this .... Ronald Acuna Jr. who has just absolutely terrorized the National League recently with his incredible hitting and the lead-off home run streak. 

So, that's it for Archives this year. Was it great this year? Not really. I liked 2016 and 2017 a lot better. I think I would've liked it better if they'd chosen something other than 1959 and maybe continued on with the 90s sets and used 1993 as the past few years where it was 1991, then 1992.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Wacky Wrestling VHS Boxes #10

SummerSlam is here! And you know what that means, time for another entry in the Wacky Wrestling VHS Boxes series. Along with the usual WWF old school goodies, I found some more obscure scans online from classic NWA/JCP and a weird tape from Japan.

The Wrestling Classic (1985)

Scan credit: VHS Wasteland
The Wrestling Classic was the first widely distributed pay-per-view event in company history and featured a 16-Man elimination tournament along with a WWF Championship match between Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper. I've watched this event a couple times and each time I never really was impressed. Most of the tournament matches are very short, maybe only a few minutes each and the Hogan/Piper match was decent.

The box here is pretty straight forward as were most of the early WWF tapes from this time. The interesting this about the title of the tape though is "Wrestlevision". I'm not sure if that was a line of tapes they had planned but this was the only tape released with this banner. The back is pretty basic but makes the claim that Hogan is the "9th WWF World Champion" and this is a true statement if you combine Bruno's reigns as one, ignore the Antonio Inoki win, and also the fact that the title was held up for a month during Bob Backlund's run. The back also has the list of participants in the tournament and judging by the way the list is ordered, it's easy to see who they were pushing at the time.

Anyway, if you haven't seen this particular event before, I think it's worth at least one watch just for historical reasons.

Biggest, Smallest, Strangest, Strongest (1985)

Scan credit: VHS Wasteland
Going from a pretty basic looking video box to this crazy looking and eye catching box, here's a tape called "Biggest, Smallest, Strangest, Strongest". While I've never seen the tape itself (I think it might be available on WWE Network) from the notes I found, it's pretty much a highlight tape designed to showcase some of the more unusual happenings from the WWF in the 1980s. The matches that are featured show Gorilla Monsoon, Hillbilly Jim, and Ivan Putski in action plus two midget matches (that's what they were called back then).

The case design is pretty eye catching with lots of photos both on the front and the back showing some of the craziness that one would be likely to find should they rent this tape. The back is interesting though mentioning some of the skits that are included but also claims that Pampero Firpo, Bepo Mongol, and Grand Wizard are shown. I find that pretty random at least from a WWF tape in the 80s.

WING Scaffold Match (1992)

Scan credit: VHS Wasteland
Well, this looks pretty bizarre. I saw this scan on VHS Wasteland and I knew I just had to talk about it. I mean, where else but Japan will you see a VHS cover showing a guy hanging off the side of a scaffold? WING was the offspring of Japanese hardcore wrestling promotion FMW and only lasted a few years before shutting down. During their run, people such as Mr. Pogo, Manami Toyota, Great Sasuke, Dick Murdoch, The Bruise Brothers, Ivan Koloff, Miguel Perez Jr., Bill Dundee, and The Headhunters wrestled there. Shortly after shutting down, the IWA emerged from the ashes of WING.

As for this tape, while I've never actually seen it, I had to do some research on what was included. From that I found it's a compilation tape of the main event matches from the March 11, 1992 and March 13, 1992 shows featuring matches such as Mr. Pogo against Kanemura, Ivan Koloff against Mitsuteru Tokuda, and Miguel Perez Jr. (of WWF Los Boricuas fame) against The Iceman in a scaffold match.

1992 Battle of the WWF Superstars

Scan credit: VHS Wasteland
Battle of the Superstars was a series that Coliseum Video and the WWF put out for a few years in the early 90s and consisted of matches filmed exclusively for video. The one thing about these tapes is that they have lots of interesting matches, like Randy Savage against Berzerker. There are also some interesting multi-man tag matches on here like Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, and the Bushwhackers teaming against the Beverly Brothers and Nasty Boys but the one match on here that sounds really fun is Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper going against Ric Flair and the Undertaker.

The cover of the tape really sort of grabs you with the big Battle of the Superstars logo, Jake the Snake choking out Roddy Piper and all kinds of craziness. The back is just as wild with Bret Hart punching the Mountie in the stomach, the listing of most of the matches, and some other stuff. This is really, really and eye catching tape cover.

War Games: Bash 87

Scan credit: VHS Wasteland

"Let the War Games .... begin!"

Hearing that during when WCW was about to put on what was probably their signature match would give me chills. I got those same chills and excitement last November when NXT brought back War Games and had one of the most insane matches I've ever seen. The original concept however debuted in Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987 during the Great American Bash tour.

For 1986 and 1987, Turner Home Entertainment released compilation tapes of some of the top matches all around the tour. This particular tape contains both War Games matches from the tour along with other top matches such as Dick Murdoch against "Dr. Death" Steve Williams in a Texas Death Match, Rock-N-Roll Express vs. the Midnight Express, and Ric Flair vs. Jimmy Garvin in a Cage Match among others.

The artwork on the front of this tape with the fencing and the drawings of the War Games combatants is really cool. The one thing though I never liked with WCW/NWA tapes is that the back didn't have the match list. It had a summary and write-up more along the lines of what you'd see on the back of an actual movie.

With that, I'll put the bow on this entry in the Wacky Wrestling VHS Boxes series. I hope everyone enjoys SummerSlam tonight with Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns (again ... ugh), Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss, and A.J. Styles vs. Samoa Joe. It should be a pretty interesting show.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Around the Horn: Los Angeles Angels

Ah yes, the Angels ... the "other" baseball team in L.A. Despite them taking up residence only an hour south of the Dodgers, I never really hear them get talked about as much as the Dodgers do. 

The Angels have been around in some form or fashion since 1961, when they and the new Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers) were granted a team in the first round of American League expansion. 

This is the only card I have representing the 1961 Angels and it's a pretty interesting one, Ted Klusewski (one of my player collections I'll get to when I cover the Reds) with a White Sox hat with the Angels listed as the team. It also doubles as his "sunset card" as 1961 was his last year in the bigs.

In terms of player collections, my biggest player collection for the Angels would have to be Mike Trout. These are my two favorites. The first is from 2015 Heritage and is one of those pesky "action image" variations that I pulled from a pack I from a card shop in Jacksonville, NC on a trip to visit the in-laws. The other one is a 2016 Heritage Chrome card that came from, of all things, a random Target 50-card, 4-pack repack deals.

Some horizontal Trout cards, I always think the 2013 card is the famous rookie card because of the rookie cup but I'm not lucky enough to have that. I'll settle for the rookie cup card though.

Overall, I've got 27 unique Mike Trout cards in my collection, most of them pack pulled. I didn't realize exactly how many cards of him I had until I pulled them all for this post. I guess I'll consider him an official player collection now.

I can never figure out if this card belongs as part of my Mike Trout cards or my Albert Pujols cards. Maybe I should count it for both?

Speaking of Pujols, these are all my Pujols Angels cards. I tend to think of him more as a member of the Angels now instead of the Cardinals

I never realized I had this many Tim Salmon cards. He's not really someone I collect but when I get cards of his, I don't mind at all.

Seeing Reggie Jackson as anything but a Yankee is always cool. I always forget he had a couple stops with the Angels. My favorites of these are the Diamond Kings card at the bottom and the 1987 Topps since it's his sunset card.

I just need 1971, 1975, 1978, and 1980 to complete the entire team card run from 1970-1981. 

I had no clue that Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson were on the Angels together in 1973. They're shown as member of the team in the 1974 set but by then Pinson had been traded to the Royals. Speaking of 1973, I've got both a 1970 and 1973 Sandy Alomar card and when I see cards of his, I usually tend to pick them up.

Who can go wrong with a Kellogg's Nolan Ryan card?

Some fun players from the huge batch of 1982 Donruss I picked up in the community yard sale last spring. 

More neat cards from the mid-80s. Bobby Grich is one of only a handful of 1985 Donruss cards I have in my collection. I really like the design of it and it's one I wish I could find some more cards of in dime and quarter boxes.

A handful of Topps cards from 1985-1988. I'd forgotten that Don Sutton was still pitching in 1987. 

Dave Winfield is definitely someone I have on my player collection list but these are the only two Angels cards I have of him. Maybe once I wrap up all going through all these teams, I'll go back and show the cards I have of all my PCs.

I always like Eduardo Perez when he played for the Reds and I think I got an autograph from him when I was a kid. That minor league Classic card is probably one of my favorites.

A mixed bag of random cards from the 90s. I never understood the name change from the California Angels to the Anaheim Angels and from the red and white uniforms to the blue uniforms with the winged, flying "A" on it (seen here on Troy Percival).

I never did see Bert Blyleven pitch but seeing as he's a Hall of Famer and had a long career, I tend to pick up cards of his when I see them for a decent price. He's not on my official player collection list but if I get enough cards of his at some point, I might eventually add him.

I've shown this card off and talked about it previously but it's a pretty unique card from 1993 Topps. Long story short, the Angels scouts were looking for new talent anywhere and found it by signing three players from Russia as an experiment to see if they could open up a talent pipeline there. did a great article and retrospective on it (here) and I encourage reading it and it's incredibly interesting.

In terms of short term stops with the Angels, Eddie Murray is probably one of the most interesting. He played 46 games for the Angels during his sunset season and swatted the final three of his 504 career home runs with them. This is the only Eddie Murray card I have of him that chronicles his brief stint with the Halos.

Some cards from the 2000s. My favorites here are the UD Decades Don Baylor and the 2001 Topps Garrett Anderson. It feels to me that 2001 Topps doesn't get a whole lot of love from the card community but I've always enjoyed it as it's the last Topps set I bought packs of during my initial foray into collecting. Maybe someday I'll attempt the set but the Pujols and Ichiro rookies might dissuade me from doing so.

Some cards of the famous Rally Monkey. Who doesn't love a little mascot action? 

A few random cards from the current decade. I'd had no clue that Jason Isringhausen played his final season in 2012 for the Angels. The Nolan Ryan I picked up at a card show last fall and it's some sort of Panini VIP card.

I don't know much about Jeremy Moore but this has always been one of my favorite cards from 2012 Topps, mainly because of the awesome throwback uniform. As a matter of fact, it's the card that inspired me to start chasing throwback uniforms.

I instantly thought of Dimebox Nick when I plucked this card out of of a dime box at a card show. It's probably one of my favorite cards in my collection overall.

I'm sure most everyone forgot about Brandon Phillips' 24 game sojurn to L.A. towards the tail end of last season. Truth be told, I'd forgotten about it too until I pulled this card out of a Heritage pack earlier this year. Despite him being an anchor of the Reds infield, he never was one of my favorite players. I always found him a bit too cocky and show-boaty.

Even though I've shown this card previously, I felt it was appropriate to close out with my lone card of Shohei Otani that came out a Gypsy Queen retail pack.

That pretty much covers the best of the Angels cards in my collection. I hope you enjoyed this entry in the "Around the Horn" series. 

Next up .... the Houston Astros.