Tuesday, April 15, 2014

OUTSIDE THE BOX - Bubba Lightning

I spent a bit of time last weekend watching The Masters golf tournament.  I enjoy breaking out the sticks myself and smacking the ball around and every once in a while I'll catch some golf on TV.  But The Masters tournament is something to really behold.  Everything is kicked up a notch.

From the manicured greens to the pristine fairways.  Cameras that are so hidden it makes it seem that you are out there with the competitors.  Gorgeous ambience and of course the green jacket.

It's an amazing event.  So much so that I've added it to my bucket list.  I'm going to go to Augusta one day to watch this spectacle in person.

So what does this have to do with cards?

Well, I dug this out of my trade box.....the only golf card I own.  And I thought it would be a fitting show.

2011 Goodwin Champions
Lightning Parallel
#29 Bubba Watson

Bubba Watson.  The lefty with one of the more unorthodox swings on tour.  But boy can he rip it.  Now a two-time Masters champion after besting the field last weekend.

He cracks the mold when it comes to what a golfer is.  He's creative in his swings, fiery with his emotions and cool when it counts.

I saw this card a while back and added it as a toss in to a trade I made.  I had (and still have) no clue what the card even is.  I know it's a lightning parallel of his base card.  No hard numbers given on scarcity...but it appears to pop up around one per case.

It's got a artist painting feel to it and Bubba almost looks like 70's science fiction robot alien......who golfs.  And the lightning in the background just adds to the drama.

I would think that now's the best time to move it as his popularity would be as good as it's ever been.  But I don't do ebay selling.....so this might be the only chance you have at it.

Not that I'm looking to shuffle it out of here.  I'm quite content keeping it too.

Bubba!!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - Brought To You By The Letter "D"

I mentioned a couple days ago that there was a package waiting for me at the post office.  There was one card that was still in transit from my recent ebay binge and I was pretty sure that the card was waiting for me.

I was right.

There are times when I get pretty excited to see a new Linden card hit the desk.  New concepts like the Captain C top and bottom half, tough finds like a quad patch /5 from a decade ago and even simple cards with a cool photo.  There's a lot out there that gets me pumped for the quest (and the conquer).

Recently, the frequency of exciting purchases has diminished.  I think part of that is the sheer number game when it comes to Linden cards.  The past four years have seen a virtual explosion of Linden cards come onto the market.  It's tough enough just keeping my list up to date.

Trevor Linden Cards Produced
2008/09 - 14 cards
2009/10 - 1 card
2010/11 - 85 cards (first year of Panini & ITG inclusion of Trevor as a retired player)
2011/12 - 103 cards
2012/13 - 167 cards
2013/14 - 58 cards (so far)

While the 10/11 season changed my collecting habits considerably, it was in a new and exciting way.  There had been a few years of little to none.  It was the 12/13 season that changed my attitude towards my player collection forever.  When there's too much stuff out there, the 'wow factor' goes down.  Even when you have low numbered cards.  Heck, even 1/1's aren't what they used to be.

I'm now a lot more patient when new products come out.  I'm a lot less pumped for the new waves of cards being thrust into the secondary market.  And I'm not going to pay high-end prices on cards that don't give me that 'wow factor' - even if it's a 1/1.

But today I can say is a day that I was excited for.

A few months back I landed my first Trevor Linden Nameplate.  Again, when it's the first of something in my collection - I get a big grin going.  Would I like to land all six letters?  Sure.  But realistically that's not going to happen.  I'm content with just the one letter from the set.

Today, I landed a second letter.

2013/14 In The Game Used
#NP-426 Nameplate "D"  1/1

This letter just happens to be from a different jersey.

I realize his days as a Hab were limited (about as much as most of his cards out there these days), but fact is - Trevor Linden wore one of the most iconic jersey in the history of pro sports.  And nothing will take that away from him.

To obtain a nameplate letter from a game used Montreal jersey....yeah, I'm excited.

Again, am I looking to get all the letters?  Sure.  Will that happen?  Not likely.

But I do think I'd like to build a "career" nameplate.  And so far I've got a "D" and an "N".  I'm a third of the way there.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

BEHIND THE MASKS - Masked Men 4 Finished

Part of my big bulk ebay purchase a couple weeks ago included a number of Masked Men cards.  When I can pick them up for a buck a piece, I'll jump.

What I didn't realize at the time these came in were that they would finish off my Masked Men 4 set.  50 cards....and I've got them all now.

It's weird.  It's been a little while since I finished off a set.  Feels good.  Feels like I've accomplished something.

Shall we take a look at the final pieces of the puzzle?

Kirk McLean.  Can't go wrong here.  His simple skate logo mask was one of my favorites back in the 90's.  I'm sure my allegiance to the Canucks might have made my decision a little biased.

I've said it many times about these Masked Men cards....I love the die cut set.  I love that the regular (non-limited) set is the one that got the die cut treatment.  Not the silvers (which have become the "ignored middle brother" IMO) and not even the limited gold parallels were given the 10th anniversary cut.

Ok.....these Patrick Roy's were not a buck a piece.  But I didn't pay too much more to pick up this pair.

As for which mask is better....I'm going with the Montreal bleu, blanc et rouge.  It's just how I remember him from his playing days.

A trio of Toronto players with Reimer sitting at the bottom of the pile.  Sadly, much like his career has been going of late.

I don't see too much Eddie The Eagle cards with him as a Leaf.  Lots in Chicago (naturally), but many with Dallas and even some San Jose.  Nice to see him get some Toronto love.

The last on the list, and the card that finishes the set off, is this Scott Clemmensen beauty.

Scott has had a number of great masks in his career.  Forever a backup, I don't think he was ever really given a true shot at being a number one on a team.  It's a shame too because I think he could've done the job.

But that hasn't stopped him from donning some sweet masks.

And with that.....we have a completed set.  Woo hoo!!  And just in time too as the latest Between The Pipes product is coming up quick and it'll have Masked Men 6 ready to roll.

I'll be waiting - literally.

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - Striking The Patch

A big package arrived in the mail yesterday.  Massive bubbler.  Overkill if you ask me.....and a recipe for disaster.

A handful of toploaders just jingling around inside.  Thankfully none of the cards were damaged as the toploaders were taped at the top.  But still....dicey.

I won a Linden card on ebay a few weeks back and I knew that the seller had a number of other cards up for auction.  I started picking off auction after auction - many of the cards were $1 Masked Men (I'll pay that price all day long).

I even picked up a second Linden (not worthy of scanning), a Decades 90s jersey card....again for a buck.

But the main card was absolutely not a dollar pickup.  I wish it were.  But it's worth the few extra bucks I paid.

2012/13 In The Game Decades 90s
#M-44 Game-Used Patch Black

Limited to just 6 copies, this patch card was the second or third copy I've seen pop up.  I was calm and cautious on the outside but inside I really wanted this item.  Like I said, it was sitting at a pretty fair price and I knew that this might be my best shot at landing this piece.

It's a great three color patch, matching the jersey shown in the photo.  It's small things like that which really make a card complete.

And while I still have a number of cards left on the Decades 90s wantlist, it's nice to strike off one of the tougher items.


On a side note, there are a couple new Trevor Linden cards going on the wantlist.  Panini's latest offering - Playbook - has included Trev in just one insert set.  AUTObiography is a signature card (out of 99) so it should be a fairly easy snag.  There's also a gold 1/1.....meh.

Now I'm off to the post office.  Me thinks there's a very big Linden card waiting for me.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

RAISE THE CUP - I Think I Need To Trademark My Project

I was taking a peek at ITG's newest release - Lord Stanley's Mug - and couldn't help but notice a sweet little insert set that reminded me of something.....oh I don't know.

Hoisting The Cup looks like a pretty cool concept (I'll take a small fee for that thank you).   :)

In all honesty, I love the idea of players hoisting the Cup over their head.  Capturing that lifetime dream moment on cardboard forever.

But this latest take on the concept is not the first we have seen of this.

Panini Contenders had a subset called Contenders Legacies which shows (or almost shows) players raising the Cup in celebration.

I would have loved to have seen a more comprehensive checklist on this one.

But there is one release that really had me thinking that I was on to something.

The very first hockey product put out by Panini back in 2010/11 had an insert set called Certified Champions.  In it, a nice selection of players past and present celebrating the pinnacle of hockey excellence.

At first I decided to chase the set, but didn't pursue it with a whole lot of gusto.  I think I even need a couple cards still.  Things multiplied when the following season another round of Champions were released.

I'm still on the fence as to how to approach these cards.  Part of me likes what I've built because (for the most part) the cards are unique to the product.  They aren't parts of sets or anything.....they just fit together nicely when in my binder.

These purposeful product releases would mean that I have a checklist to babysit.  I don't know if I want that.

Don't get me wrong.....they're nice cards and all, but are they what I want for my collection?

That's the question.


By the way, this is the one time I think I'll ever say this.....

I'm really happy that my guy didn't win a Cup.  It's one less bit of checklist adding I have to do.  That Lord Stanley's Mug product looks really nice.  The auto set looks amazing.

CUSTOM CREATIONS - By Request

I love talking about hockey cards.  I love remembering the things that make the hobby fun.  I love hearing from those who are an influence and inspiration to my collections.  I love discovering new ways to do things, new sets, new cards, new debates, new friends.

A response to my post by the man himself got me a little nostalgic this afternoon.  I went back and did some digging in my custom card archives.  I found this little gem.

A set that I hope will finish one day.  Sixteen cards - commemorating Linden's career.  From Draft Day all the way to the final game.

This one's my favorite though.  What a great photo.

Thanks again Eugene.  Stay in touch.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CUSTOM CREATIONS - A Special Linden Set

Just giving you all fair warning....this post has a lot of words.  But it will also have a lot of cards.  And more important than anything, it will have a great story of the enjoyment of the hobby.

When I started this blog almost five years ago, one of the first posts talked about custom card creations.  I love the art of design, observing techniques, dissecting layouts and trying my hand at it.

The first custom card I ever made was this Ilya Kovalchuk offering.  I look at it now with a sweet smile and a bit of a gawk.  I can see where ny ambition level was at the time but I can also see what I have improved on over the years.

For those of you who remember the days where the Beckett Boards were the place to hang out and talk cards, you may remember some of the custom card contests that were set up.  The rules were pretty simple.  A head-to-head knockout tournament.  Each person developing a new card for each round with the board members submitting their votes.

I always enjoyed these contests because they were nothing but fun.  No egos or prizes, just creating for the joy of it.

What I also enjoyed about those contests was the simple, but important, organization brought by one certain individual - a fellow custom card creator.  At the time his handle was WingzOfKyiv but I got to know him as Eugene.  A person passionate about creating new and exciting cards...in addition to seeing what others could offer in the same respect.

For years after the great Beckett Battles, Eugene drifted away from the hobby.  I moved on to another forum once Beckett made some changes (it's never been the same since).  But a few months back I noticed some new customs pop up from a guy names Wingz198.  They had a flavour and style that I instantly recognized.  Sure enough, Eugene was back to show off some new creations.

I offered a hearty hello and enjoyed what he had created.  I mentioned how much his designs and overall attitude towards the hobby had an impact on me.  To this day, I think very highly of his efforts.

A couple months ago I received an e-mail from him asking for my address.  I didn't know what to expect but happily forwarded it to him.  Not long after, I received one of the coolest gifts I've been given in this hobby.

Here's where the cards begin.
Customs.  Trevor Linden customs.  Sixteen of them to be exact.

Each unique and done with the attitude and essence of enjoyment.  I can sense it in every single card in the set.

And make no mistake....this is a set.  I have already proudly put them in toploaders and placed them in amongst my other Linden cards.

Part of the collection, they will be a strong reminder of those great memories and of a solid hobbyist.

I really enjoy the fact that Eugene hunted down many different photos.  Rather than just reuse the same one over and over again.

Each design built with a vision in mind.

These scans do not do the cards justice.  I have seen the digital version of these cards and the vibrancy is much greater (he mentioned that he was still experimenting with the printing process (I think we all are).

This is one of my favorites.  A great photo from a fantastic season.  It also has a similar look to a set that I have er, was designing.  I feel like a little revisit is in order.

I like that each card has something new to it.  Always trying new things.  One of the biggest lessons I learned from my early days of creating.

When you find something you like, keep it in the arsenal.  But always look to do more.  Expand your horizons.

Eugene often had an international taste to his concepts.  Even though he lives in Omaha, his roots are in Kyiv.  And I have no doubt that the world of international hockey was a part of his life growing up.

Mmmmmm....Trevor at the Olympics.  What great memories of that.

I'm just glad Rob Zamuner was on that team in 1998.....made Trev's inclusion a little less critical.

He scored a big goal in the game against the Czech team late to send it to overtime.......

where they botched it in the shootout.  No Gretzky?  Why no Gretzky?  I think he's still pondering that one on the bench.

Colors, cutouts and a cool title.  That's what customs are all about.

Well, back in the day they were.  Did you see my Kovalchuk?

Recognize that jersey?  Bonus points if you do.

And double bonus points if you know the set that was the inspiration for this card.

I like the fonts used in this one.  The photo is great too.  I love how it fills the frame up fully.

Oh yeah!  Some junior hockey goodness.  I love when a person does some digging.  Another great photo.

A parallel.  An auto parallel.  I hope there aren't a bazillion different colors to chase now.

Again, always trying different things.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.  But if you never make a bad card......don't expect to ever have a good one.

Not that this one is bad.

Bonus points times three for the name of the player who was drafted first overall just ahead of Trevor.

Last, but certainly not least, one last card.  Commemorating Linden's two Memorial Cup titles with the Tigers.  I can still remember back to those days fondly.

Just like I can remember the wonderful times spent creating cards in those early days.  Hours spent just trying to figure out how to use the photo editing program.  Discovering new textures, colors, fonts, techniques.

Eugene....thank you very much for the absolutely wonderful gift.  I will cherish these cards and include them in my collection forever.  Thank you as well for your efforts in making the hobby a more enjoyable place for me to visit and be a part of.

Thanks to everyone who stuck with me until the end.  These cards are worth it.