Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mailday: 90's Style as Usual

I picked up a few 90's inserts from one Ebay seller and got a great deal!

I have been working on the 1995-96 Between the Pipes set and I really like the look. I have always liked the look of the 96-97 set as well but have never been able to grab them at a good price, until now!

I always liked the Red version of Eddy's Hawk mask and never understood why he painted it black at the start of the 1995-96 season.

I picked up the last 4 cards of the post for my 1995-96 Topps master set I have been working on. I have been very lucky to have picked up a lot of my wants from the set lately for great prices and trades. If anyone has any card from 95-96 Topps please let me know and maybe we can work out a trade!

The State of the Hobby

Lately I have really been noticing some trends in the hobby. For starters, most products sell at there highest right after release, with the exception being prospect/rookie heavy releases. I have noticed with this years Between the Pipes that some cards have really been selling high, much higher then they should be.

A better example would be the regular Upper Deck hockey series. Right upon release singles, especially the Young Guns sell for an absurd amount but within a year can be had for roughly 25%-50% of the first month (after release) selling price. Packs upon release are usually sold for around $5 and can be had the year after for a $1 or $2 (usually retail packs only). It seems that many collectors, collect from year to year, forgetting about last years issue's for new product. As long as a card is not too short printed, you can easily have many of the singles you desire for a much discounted price (for the most part), if you wait 8 month's to a year after a product's release.

I don't really understand how many collectors focus on acquiring new product only, forgetting about past releases. In my personal opinion, after 20 years of collecting the price of cards has sky rocketed and the value received for money spent just does not add up.

A big reason for the drop off sale prices on cards is thanks to Ebay. While it's much easier to find what you desire, it's also much easier to find product for much cheaper then you would at a card show or hobby shop. Ebay has contributed to the death of hobby shops. I only know of 3 hobby shops in a 100 mile radius of me and I don't buy from any of them because compared to the Internet, they are too over priced.

From a buying perspective I can't really complain about lower prices on Ebay. From a collecting perspective and selling perspective, I have much to discuss. In regards to placing value, I once loved Beckett magazine and I treated it like a collectors bible. I trusted it, felt like it was accurate and most seller's died by Beckett prices. Now Beckett's value's do not remotely reflect actual sale prices in the market and has become obsolete. You may still find dealers trying to sell or trade by beckett value and if you do, don't expect to get what you want at a fair deal.

I once dreamed of making a living buying and selling cards with the ultimate goal of owning my own shop. This dream has died hard for me as I see that this is not really possible anymore. I begun selling on Ebay and quickly realized that all profits got eaten away by the insanely high fees. I then moved on to Flea Markets to realize that card collecting is just not very popular in my area anymore. I was lucky to make $50 a day.

While I may never make a living selling cards, I have managed to make some good choices when it comes to selling. I picked up a Stamkos FW Auto Rookie when the set came out for $45. I later flipped that card for three times that amount. Now if only I had purchased many more of these cards I would be laughing now.

At this point I think I have done enough ranting! I have a few ideas that might make the hobby more interesting and promote growth.

1) Can someone please limit the amount of releases per year?

I think it's gotten out of hand with how many releases come out by one company and it's doing more harm in the long run then good. I have heard of many player collectors who simply gave up collecting because they can't keep up with all the releases every year. It's much better to take the time to put out a solid product, then rush it and have many redemption's. I'm sure Upper Deck has gotten more people out of the hobby, then into it with redemption's. Each company should be capped at 5 releases in one calendar year per sport.

2) Give ITG an NHL license

ITG has shown that they can produce a very creative and unique product. While the company has produced some nice product, there growth is rather limited without an NHL license. The possibilities are endless for great products ITG could produce if they were allowed to show NHL logos.

One thing I've noticed is that young kids enjoy jersey cards and ITG is well known for producing some nice game used product. Many kids do not know Junior players, so having nice cards of NHL players would promote more kids getting into the hobby. As long as ITG can keep the price point for there packs at around $5 I'm sure more kids would take to the product.

3) Change Distribution Methods

Most collectors only have the chance to purchase products online and there is always a major risk of product being tampered with. It's hard to know what you are buying and where it comes from. I have never really done well busting boxes or cases and I wonder sometimes if mine had been searched before sent.

I really wish that is was possible to buy boxes and cases straight from the company, although I know this will never happen. I personally think that it would be a neat experiment to produce a set and have each card sold individually directly on the companies website. This way, the company could determine a value for the card, selling it at that amount. In a way this would be like e-Topps but for a full set of cards sold individually. The set would have to be small as a lot of cost would be associated with this due to many employees needed to fill orders. It would make things interesting as I can picture someone with a lot of money buying all of one card then re-selling on Ebay for any price they like.

I hope someone actually read's this post and takes the time to comment and reflect. I could have gone on with other idea's but I'll keep it at this for now.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mail Day #18: Small But Nice

It's been a while since I've added to my Barrasso or Irbe collection so it was nice I could add to both my one card. This is a dual sided jersey card with Barrasso's side featuring a two color jersey. I have been eyeing this card for some time and I finally picked one up. I hope to add more of these dual jersey cards in the future as I believe their is a Cujo/Healy dual.

I landed another 1995-96 Topps Home Grown Canada for my set and I spent less then $5 with shipping for this one. My scanner does not scan foil cards very well, so unless you can see this card in hand you won't appreciate it completely. The back drop for the card is really nice and I'm thrilled to add this card to my collection.

I have a large Marquee Men Power Booster lot from 1995-96 Topps Hockey coming in and I'll post it as soon as it arrives in the mail.

1991-92 Score Re-Visited

1991-92 was perhaps the worst year for hockey cards. The hockey card industry was in the heat of the mass produced era and this is clearly evident by the amount of un-opened Score product around today. I've heard countless people say that they busted so many boxes of this stuff to try and find the Bobby Orr autograph, yet still boxes of this product are easily found usually going for $5-$10 a pop.

Their are so many variations for the set, it makes your head spin! The red bordered card is the Canadian variation, clearly marked on the back with a Canadian Flag. The second series of the Canadian issue has a blue border. The American variation was marked with a purple border and released as a one series 440 card set. Furthermore, the Rookie and Traded set was produced as an addition to the American set and features a green border.

While pulling the base cards could grow really tiresome, the series included subsets such as "The Franchise" and "Dream Team". These cards were such a thrill to pull as a kid and they looked great! Other subset's included "Trophy Winners" and "season" leaders. My Dad brought home a few packs for me one night after work and I pulled a Dream Team Wayne Gretzky card. I cherished this card for a long time and even kept it a secret from the kids at school for fear that they would keep on bugging me to trade it to them.

As I grew up and became a "serious" collector I despised set's like 1991-92 Score but since going back to my collecting roots, focusing on 90's hockey, I appreciate this set considerably now. I began collecting in 1989 and 1991 was when I really came into the hobby full swing. I have large 3,000 count boxes full of early 90's singles sitting in my closet. While many consider these cards to be junk, I consider them childhood treasures.

The Eric Lindros Hot Card was the second best must have card of 1991-92 next to the Pro Set Patrick Roy Mask card. I managed to land one of these about 5 years after the set came out from a kid in my neighbourhood. This card was simply too tough to find during the Lindros craze of the early 90's. These Hot Cards came inserted 1 in every bubble pack of 100 cards.

These Bobby Orr cards were inserted in packs and featured six different cards. Bobby Orr signed a reported 15,000 cards, roughly 2,500 of each card. I just found this information now and I can't believe they made Orr sign that many cards! No wonder he is so crusty when it comes to signing now. Orr is so popular that despite so many autographs of his on the market, they still go for a good chunk of change. 1991-92 Score was so mass produced that even with 15,000 Orr cards inserted, they are still a VERY tough to pull.

Next time I see cheap boxes of 91-92 Score I'm going to pick up two: one to bust and one for my wax box collection. Maybe I'll get lucky and pull an Orr autograph.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mail Day #17: Some Nice Pick Ups!

I haven't posted a mail day in a long time. I have been getting mail, I've just been too lazy to post them. I've had a pretty good haul lately so I figure I'll show off some of my favourite's.

A nice low numbered card for my Brathwaite collection. This card is numbered 1/74. I obtained this through a trade.

These patch variation's are getting tough to find. This one is numbered 383/400. It's a very nice card and I love the Titanium design from this year. My Brathwaite collection is becoming really nice, although I know the collection would not be appreciated in most collector's eyes. I don't know of any other Brathwaite collectors.

When I was in my early teen years I would go camping with my family a lot during the summer's. I would always pick up a beckett before I left and I would spend hours going over the pricing section. This is one card set I drooled over: 1996-97 Skybox Impact Zero Heroes. I'm happy to have picked up my first one!

I have been working on the 1995-96 Topps set. The OPC variations are very tough and I have never seen an OPC Marquee Men until I received this card in trade. It's a beauty.

I love these Marquee Men Power Booster cards and I'm happy to have picked up the Moose! I love his bucket.

Another nice Eddy card. I really like those old Hawk jersey's. In the 1995-96 season Belfour switched his mask from red to black. I like the red one much better.

I'll be sad when Osgood retires as he will be the last of the goalies with the helmet/cage combo. I highly doubt that Rick Dipetro will continue to wear his once his face heals.

A nice card sent to me by Dodger Bobble! Thanks a ton man! It's been a while since I added any card to my Leafs collection.

Saving the best for last, the ultra rare 1995-96 Topps Home Grown series. These cards rarely pop up and I was happy to grab this one at a steal for $10. I really need to clean my scanner!

TTM Mail Day #30: Mike McPhee

Another Topps card for my set! It's nice to see the mail box full these days! I'm trying to make the time go by fast right now as I'm waiting for the Between the Pipes singles to get posted on ebay as the product is released today.

Mike McPhee was a hard nosed, checking, leadership type player through the 80's and 90's. He was remarkably consistent and you knew you would get around 40 points a season from him. Not bad for a third line/penalty kill type guy.

I like these type of mail days. While I don't collect these other sets, I'm happy to get a signature on any 90's card. Who knows which sets I might tackle one day if I ever finish my 90-91 Topps project.

TTM Mail Day #31: James Reimer

Leafs nation goes crazy for goaltenders so I was surprised to get this card back in the mail. Like other Leafs goalies over time, they stop signing through the mail once they get a bit of fan fare.

Reimer put together an excellent season for the Leafs and he has been rewarded by being named to Team Canada at the World Championships. I'm really excited to watch the games asCanada is icing a fantastic roster. I haven't seen a roster this strong for the World Championships in a very long time.

I really hope that Reimer finds success during the rest of his pro career. Hopefully he is the goalie who can bring the Leafs back into the playoff picture.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pack Break #13: 6 Packs of 1995-96 Topps Hockey

I picked up a 7 pack lot of Ebay of 1995-96 Topps for .99 cents plus $3.75 for shipping. I've broken six of the packs and I'm saving the last one for another time.

I'm currently working on the 1995-96 Topps Master Set, excluding the OPC parallels as they are just too tough to track down. I was hoping to find a few inserts that I didn't have in these packs.

The odds on the back of the pack are (sorry for the blurry scan): Hidden Gems 1:24, Profiles 1:12, Power Lines 1:12, Rink Leaders 1:36 and Power Boosters 1:36. Each pack has 13 cards, a large amount per pack which is really nice. I forgot how poor the odds were of pulling inserts in the mid 90's. I was hoping to pull at least one nice insert from my packs.

I landed this beauty in my first pack! It's the last card I needed for my the Power Lines set! The Power Lines falls 1:12 packs so I figured I'd be done after this pack and just pull base.

I pulled several Marquee Men from my packs: Shannahan, Bure, Kariya and this Linden card but I didn't pull any of the 1:36 packs Power Booster parallel. These cards were highly sought after in my neighbourhood and I was the envy of every kid when I pulled the Eric Lindros Power Booster in the summer of 1996.

I was surprised when I landed one big hit in the packs. I have never pulled one of these myself and thats after busting a box and around 100 loose packs of this product as a kid. I mainly busted the jumbo packs found at my local dollar store and I think the Rink Leaders cards are exclusive to the regular packs.

Ray Bourque Rink Leaders!! What a hit, I really need this card for my set and it was awesome pulling it from a pack that I paid less then a dollar for. I noticed that the Canadian Gold cards were not found on the odds either, so I think they may be exclusive to the jumbo packs.

I also pulled a Winnipeg Jets power line insert. I think I did pretty good considering I pulled two power lines and the rink leaders card from 6 loose packs.

 I really like that mid 90's product never guaranteed a certain amount of inserts per box, they just had a rough ratio. Sometimes you did really good and killed the odds and other times you didn't do so hot. Products now guarantee you "x" number of auto's, GU, inserts etc. You know exactly how many of each you are going to get and I think that takes away the fun from it. It's too late to switch now because a lot of people freak out if they don't hit the right ratio per box. I hear it all the time from collectors and how they contact the company to try and replacement cards to make up for the lack of hits.

Boxes today actually make me want to throw up when I think of the cost. To pull anything decent you have to put down over $100 for a box to get maybe $30 worth of cards in return. That is just not any fun for me. I can't even remember the last time I spent more then $30 on a box of cards. Maybe about 4 years ago when I was stupid with my money and was too young to realise how much I would need it in the future.

I will post up my last pack when I manage to break it!

Friday, April 8, 2011

TTM Mail Day #29: Danny Richmond

I'm finally caught up with my mail after this post! I sent this request care of the Toronto Marlies during training camp in the fall and finally got it back this week. I have not seen a Richmond success before and perhaps I got lucky.

After a strong training camp I really felt like Richmond would receive some playing time with the Leafs this season, even if it was just for a cup of coffee. Last I heard Richmond was moved to forward with the Marlies and is playing center. I'm not sure how long his contract is for but I wouldn't be surprised to see Richmond move on to another organization this off season.

Richmond also took the time to send me back a short letter, which is always a nice touch. He thanked me for his letter and mentioned that he hopes to make it back to the NHL one of these days.

TTM Mail Day #28: David Keon

I'm very pleased to complete this trio photo of Leaf greats. Keon was the last signature I needed for the photo.

When it comes to Keon's signature many collector's frustrates me. They argue that he is tough to obtain and I've seen shop's sell 8 X 10's of his signed for $200+. I have had no problems getting Keon to sign for me through the mail as I've sent several times. Each time I've received my items back signed within a month.

I would love to display this photo some day although I'm not too fond of displaying any autograph for too long. I've seen many autograph's faded over time due to exposure from light. I would rather keep this photo safely tucked away.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

TTM Mail Day #27: John Tonelli

Another very good player success in the mail today: John Tonelli. As you can see he signed in dreaded ballpoint pen and I dying one to boot.

Tonelli played in 1000+ games and registered over 800 points. He hung on one season to long so he could play in 1000 games. In his final season in 91-92 he played in 52 games managing 3 goals and 11 assists. Not the greatest way to go out.

I'm sure most of you have noticed that some of my 90-91 Topps cards are not in the greatest condition. When I started my goal in 2008 of finishing the complete set, I decided that I would be using all original cards from my collection as a kid. Naturally, some of the cards are in rough shape but I don't mind. I think back to myself as a kid and how happy I would have been to have any of these cards signed.

I recently saw another collector complete the 88-89 Topps set, signed in full after pursuing the set for 24 years!! 24 years!! I really hope my set won't take that long to finish but with some tough signers, it may.

TTM Mail Day #26: Neil Broten

Neal Broten is one of the greatest American born players of all time, although he rarely gets mentioned. He was a high productive player through the 80's and early 90's, although his production dropped off quite a bit during the last few years of his career. He still finished with 1000+ games and over 900 points. If he had finished his career with 1000+ points I think he would have received much more recognition.

For a player who had a very good career, Broten features a very nice signature. You don't see players with half the credentials of Broten to take the time to sign a full name signature. For any TTM'ers who don't have Broten's signature in your collection, I highly reccomend that you send out a request to him.

TTM Mail Day #25: Paul Fenton

The requests have been pouring in lately and I can't keep up with  posting them given my work schedule! I really wish I had more free time to get some more posts up on the blog other then TTM successes. Hopefully some free time will come up for that in the near future.

Paul Fenton is another guy I don't know much about but needed for my Topps Set. Looking at his career he seemed like a guy who was mainly a third liner but could step up and play on the second line when needed.  He managed 32 goals for the Jets in the 1989-90 season and that was the best offensive output of his career.

I also threw in a 1991-92 Score card to be signed. I'm really liking the look of these cards signed and I will continue to send more out to be signed. I don't think I ever plan on getting the full set signed given the large set and all the different border color variations.

Monday, April 4, 2011

TTM Mail Day #24: Michal Pivonka

Michal Pivonka was a slightly above NHL player who recieved a huge boost from playing with great linemates. Pivonka is best known for being Petr Bondra's set up man. While he found success in the earlier half of his career, his talent seemed to escape him in his last few seasons when he provided next to no offense.

Pivonka finished his NHL career with almost 600 points in over 800 games. As mentioned above his offense output was minimal in his last few NHL seasons. He finished off his career in the minors averaging almost a point per game in his final season.

TTM Mail Day #23: Don Edwards

The mailing has really been coming in lately thanks to sending out a stack of requests when I was away on vacation.

Don Edwards was an above average NHL goalie for 11 seasons. While he did win a Vezina during his career, I think he is best remembered for giving up Gretzky's record setting 77th goal of the season in  81-82 breaking Esposito's record of 76.

Edwards found the most success in his career with the Buffalo Sabres but was never able to get the Sabres deep into the playoffs. A shake-up had to be made and Edwards was shipped to the Flames where he never posted a goals against average below four. He finished his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs and then continued to play senior hockey through the rest of the 1980's.

TTM Mail Day #22: Mike Smith

For a bottom tier NHL goalie this return took a long time! This card had been out a year and a half before I received it returned this morning.

Smith is another guy that NHL brass had high hopes for but it has never materialized for him. He was sent down to the minors this season and only found his way into 5 games thanks to two other goalie prospects who Tampa considers their goalies of the future now (Tokarski and Desjardins). For now he will backup Dwayne Roloson but don't expect to see him in the NHL come next season when Tampa will most likely change their goaltending situation.

TTM Mail Day #21: Craig Wolanin

Craig Wolanin is another guy I knew very little about but needed his card signed for a set. Wolanin played in the NHL for 13 season and played in over 600 NHL games.

Wolanin was actually a highly touted played going 3rd overall in the 1985 NHL entry draft to the New Jersey Devils. The Devils were a very weak team and needed the help right away, so at the age of 18 Wolanin entered the NHL. He managed a career high in points with 31 in his second season and then never produced as hoped he would. He settled in as a stay at home defenseman for the rest of his NHL career.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April Game Pick-Ups!

It's been a while since I've posted anything on my blog other then hockey related. As the weather starts to get warm my thoughts start changing to vintage video games. While many people play games during the winter, I find that I game the most in the summer time. I grew up with this habit during my public and high school years. My sister and I would game heavily in the morning and later at night.

I found these games at the local Goodwill on 50% off day! I arrived a little after noon and while the store is usually picked through by then, I was lucky to find the game counter more stocked then usual!

I'll start with my Sega finds! This game is a must own for any video game hockey fan! I really enjoy the old Sega hockey games. I have yet to play this one and might not get to it for a while thanks to the next game..

NHL 97! I have wanted this game for a long time! I tracked one down last summer for $5: cart only and it was in rough shape. I passed on it and I'm glad I did. For a $1.50 I got the complete version of the game with a working save battery! I have already created my own player and started a season!

Another MUST have for any Sega collector! This is character that launched the Sega craze! I own Sonic and Knuckles 2 but have not yet owned the first version of the game until now.

X-Men was HUGE in the mid 90's and this game was tough to find, especially to rent as it was always out. I'm really happy to pick this game up and I'm excited to try it out!

The last of my Sega game pick-ups is Tazmania. I always wanted to play this game as a kid but never got the chance. I really liked the Warner Brothers produced cartoons as a kid, so this makes it a nice add for my collection.

Moving on to NES, this is a GREAT pick-up for me and a must have in any NES collection. The Super Mario/Duck-Hunt is the most commonly owned version of this game. The Super Mario only cart can sometimes be tough to find in shops for under $10.

Cool looking game cart, terrible game. It's really, really bad although I only played alone. It could be fun playing with a few other people. This one will most likely sit on the shelf for as long as I own it.

The last of the Goodwill pick-ups, Heavy Shreddin' for NES. I've never seen this game before and that alone makes it a sweet pick-up. I have yet to play this game, although I have seen screen shots and it looks like a lot of fun to play.

It's very rare to find a large amount of games like this at the Goodwill, so it was a huge thrill to find a haul like this. My day was not done though and my next find topped all of the above finds!

I was at Sears (not in my area) looking at washing machine's with the girlfriend when I wandered over to the electronics section. Surprisingly they had a video game cabinet (most Sears don't anymore in my area) and I spotted this game:

Released around Christmas of this past year, this limited edition bundle includes Super Mario 1-3, the lost levels, a CD with Mario Music and a book on the making of Mario. This limited edition game sold out in most areas within a week of release and at one point was selling for around $70-$80 on Ebay when the game retailed for $29.99. I quickly bought the game for the $29.99 and although it only sells on Ebay for around $40 it was a great pick-up and something I have really wanted to add to my collection. When I asked the sales associate he told me that they had been sitting around since Christmas!

Some great pick-ups to my gaming collection and I hope to continue to find vintage games like this at rock bottom prices!