Wednesday, October 19, 2016

RATE MY MASK - Robin Lehner

I was at the Calgary Flames game tonight and was struck by what I saw in the opposition net.

I usually am curious to see what goalie masks are being sported and if I like them or not.  To me, a good looking goalie mask should be one that can be appreciated both up close and from a distance.  But in Robin Lehner's case, I had to do a little more digging as you will soon realize.

No, I didn't desaturate the photo, this mask is completely black and white.  Can something so devoid of color be considered bold?  Possibly.

My first thought was that of another goalie who went sans color in their mask design...Tim Thomas.  In fact, he was my very first "Rate My Mask" card and a quick peek shows that I gave it a 4 out of 5.  But many of you didn't feel so kind to it at the time.

We'll see how you feel about Lehner's.

Drawn up by mask design guru David Gunnarsson, this creation is entitled "The Cradle of Creativity" and is inspired by Robin's favourite band - In Flames.  We will get to some of that detail in a moment.

You can clearly see the Buffalo text running down each side of the mask with the In Flames logo on top.  The Sabres logo is on each side of the chin with the number 40 smack dab in the middle.

On the left side around the ear you will see what looks like a crow.  That part is inspired from In Flames' album cover for 'Sounds of a Playground Fading'.  It's quite small and doesn't really have the killer detail that the album cover has.

I like the artwork of this album.  And seeing this makes me understand more why it would work on Lehner's mask as a sketch.  I just don't know if the mask detail is as solid as it should be.

Now before I go any further, can you guess what music genre In Flames belongs to?

I'll give you a're right.

It's kind of catchy but it doesn't really do it for me.  But then again I've only listened to about a minute of their stuff.  First impressions....they can be a killer.

Anyways, back to the mask at hand.

The right side design, again by the ear, guessed it, more album artwork inspiration.  This time from the 'Come Clarity' title.

Again, I can see why Gunnarsson went the sketch route.  But just like the other side, the detail of the album cover isn't quite as effective on the mask.  It just comes up short.

I don't know if that is because the artwork is so small (and actually pretty insignificant) in the overall design of the mask or that is really does look like a rough sketch drawing of it.  Regardless, it doesn't work for me.

Lastly, the rear panel sections of the mask showcase the mascot for In Flames.  This time, the detail is pretty effective.  It's got that maniacal laugh vibe that really puts some character into the mask.

While I enjoy masks that have an inspiration, theme or direct tribute, I do feel like there needs to be some character to the lid or it's nothing more than plain artwork.  And as detailed and impressive as it might be, if it lacks that really doesn't do anything.

The mascot depiction definitely adds to the mask.  In fact, I'd almost say that it saves it from really tanking in my overall rating.

So how did Gunnarsson and Lehner come to the decision to go with a sketch look?  It seems that the pair just got talking about how much they liked sketches and then Lehner mentioned that he wanted his mask to be like nothing ever done before.  He wanted to be completely unique.

He's got points in that category.

But is it enough to really impress?  When you pair it up with his dark jersey colours, the mask seems a little out of sorts.  Tonight when I saw him in net, the Sabres were wearing their road whites so it worked a little better.  That said, from a distance you couldn't really appreciate any of the design.  He looked more like a goalie who had to resort to the "I just got traded" white mask (now those are some sweet mask looks).

Overall, I like the attempt and the reasoning, but I just can't give it top marks.  It's not as detailed as I'd like in some areas and the "wow factor" is just not there when sitting in the stands.

2.5 out of 5

Now it's your turn to RATE MY MASK!!

BTW.....German Heavy Metal is the right answer.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

MY COLLECTION - 87/88 Canucks Puck...Candle

It was yet another trade night this past week (I always look forward to those) and while I wasn't too active a buyer I did walk away with a neat item.

The shop owner mentioned he had spotted this on his most recent trip out to BC and immediately thought of me. (Aw shucks)  He also noted that while it was not anything Linden related, I might just appreciate it.

He was right.

First off...hello yellow!!

I really think the NHL should use pucks like this all the time.  Could you imagine one of these flying into the crowd?  Now that would be a souvenir.

Now I'm sure you see it (as did I) - why isn't the puck quite round?

Well, this is the 87/88 edition of the puck candle.  I don't know if there are any 0other editions of it, but this one does the trick.

I'm choosing to not unwrap it in case it has some nasty 30-year-old wax stench.

Plus it is hard as a was dropped on more than one occasion and I can't believe it didn't break something - like my toe.

I can make out quite a few of the names like Stan Smyl, Petri Skriko, Jim Benning and good ol' Frank Caprice.

But one manufactured sig had me grinning.

If I'm not mistaken, that's Kirk McLean.

And I've got to think that it's one of his fist "appearances" on any sort of Canucks memorabilia.

That's pretty cool.

So a hearty 'Thank You' to Darren for thinking of me (he also included an old Linden food issue card). The puck candle is much appreciated.....and dare I say wick-ed.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

PACK RIPPING - 2016 Canada Post Souvenir Sheets Forwards

For the third year in a row, Canada Post got their hook in me.

Back in 2014 it was the Original Six stamp collection.  In 2015, the goalies took centre stage.

This year it's a great set of forwards that has me digging in the wallet for my extra change.

Canada Post has done a great job of putting together a progressive set - they work as individual products but marry well when you put them all together.  Six card-sized stamps of the best in the biz.

Let's stop with the chit chat and get to some scans.

I love the wrapper concept.  Makes it feel like there's an air of the unknown.  And actually ...there is.

Sure, you get six stamps (and you know which six you are getting since there are only six in the collection), but one in every 40 packs have a signed stamp.  Sah-wheet.

Sid the Kid is a great way to kick off this product.  Could you imagine hitting an auto of this gem?

Apparently the Crosby is a short surprise there.

I really have enjoyed the stamp design used each year.  Nothing groundbreaking, but that's what I want in a product like this where there should be a hint of tradition and simplicity.  And....well, it's a stamp. Stamps just look cool.

But I dare not peel these to expose the coolness.  These sets will stay intact.

Yes!!  Finally, a photo of Lafleur that is more in line with the guy I remember tearing up the league in the late 70's/early 80's.

No helmet, no Rangers jersey, nothing but simple Montreal greatness.

Hoo boy.  From the penthouse to the outhouse.

Thankfully he's in an Oilers jersey.  I really don't know if I could have supported a product with this guy in a Rangers jersey.

Would've been a cooler stamp if he was in his blues.

Fantastic Phil.  Same deal here.  Why not in the black and gold?

Still, a great selection.

Helmet fail!!!!

At least he's not wearing Cooperalls.

Last but definitely not least, Stevie Y.

A great collection of players - and an even more fantastic chase for those autos.  Any of those would be gems in a collection.

Gotta think the defencemen are next up in 2017.  I'll be looking forward to it.  But where to go after that?  Could you do expansion or defunct teams?  How tremendous would this be.....

I.  Am.  In.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

HHOF AUTOS - La La La LaFontaine

It has been nearly eight months since my last Hall Of Fame auto pickup.  Part of that is due to me not really chasing them, part of that is due to many of the local guys trading just don't have any (or they have a Gretzky that is way out of my range....remember, I have to trade for them).

But when I opened up a dynamite box of CFL football ( heard me right) recently, I thought I would have a good chance of turning some of my hits into some new signature additions.

And the online trading world just happened to be calling.

I don't normally go to the football section of the hobby board I frequent (judging by the lack of posts, neither do many others) but I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the thread title "WANTED: 2016 CFL Jonathon Jennings High Gloss /10".

Are you kidding me?

So I did the only thing I could and sent him a message.  It was a quick back & forth and within no time we had a deal finalized.

My card arrived in the mail today.

Pat LaFontaine
(Inducted in 2003)

I really like this add to the collection.  My memories of Pat pretty much start and end with his OT winner in the 90th overtime against Washington when hockey was everything.  Yes, he was a leading scorer in the league (say for some guy named Mario and his season for the ages) but those years get tainted in my brain by one unfortunate hit and his subsequent years dealing with concussion issues.

A 5-time All-Star, his career numbers are impressive...but deceiving.  He really could have...should have been a whole lot better.  Over a 15-year career, Pat finished with 468 goals and 1013 points (a 62-point output in his last season vaulted him over the thousand point plateau) but point totals of 27, 18 and 8 over his final few years really ended his chance of putting up numbers that would have had him amounts the all-time greats.  He didn't struggle it seemed when he was able to go....he was a point a game in those last few terms.

The autograph on the card is right down the middle for me.  Not slick and sleek like a Beliveau but certainly not a scribble-scrabble like today's marker masters.  It's got some style to it and I can make out his name.  It actually reminds me a bit of Linden's sig...messy legible.

With this card I can now long will it be before my next pickup?

I guess I should open more CFL.

(A kind thank you to Mark for the great trade...and for sending along a couple extras in the envelope).

Current Collection - 69 HHOF Autos

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

WALLET CARD - Cleveland...We Have A Problem

I've been building my Oscar Gamble player collection for a good year and a half now and it's been a really fun chase.  Most of the cards are cheap base cards and even the autos and tougher inserts are quite reasonable (compared to the Linden Tax I pay for my other pc).

Recently the challenge has been stamped redemption cards.  Tough to track and exciting to land.  I've gathered a good little collection of them and they've really filled in the bottom portion of my master checklist.

And while #WalletCard has been added in some new products this year it was my most recent discovery that has me pondering how I should move forward.

At first glance you might think this is the simple base card version of the Topps Archives Snapshots.  A nice photo on a simple card design.  Should be fun....right?

Well, this is the "digital card" version.  It's selling on eBay right now.

So what would I win?  A link or transfer of file I guess.  No shipping that's nice.

But could I really be happy with a digital card?

I knew of the digital card craze with the Star Wars releases and some sports stuff but never really had it on my radar (seeing as my players didn't have a digital card until now).  With this new revelation, I feel a little hesitant to jump in.

Yeah, on a 0.99 cent base card I'm fine chasing one or two of them, but what if there was a magical red and yellow polkadot version /2....would I go after that?  What would the asking price be?  What would the demand be?

After don't physically get anything.

Heck, this screenshot is no different from the "card" itself in my eyes.  What's to say I wouldn't be just as happy keeping this scan for all of eternity?  (ok....deep down...I would know that it wouldn't be the same).

It's definitely created a dilemma that many have already resolved.

Where do digital trading cards live in my hobby world?

Right now.....they don't.  But I have a good feeling that will change.

Monday, October 3, 2016

RAISE THE CUP - Stanley Cup Champs...Duh

More sorting of cards on my desk.  Finally getting to these Stanley Cup Champs cards (yet another insert set that is piggybacking off of my tremendous idea).

The more I think about the Cup raising concept, the more I'd like to see more retro cards in these inserts.  Imaging some great Original Six guys in their glory, or maybe the Broad Street Bullies celebrating their accomplishment.  How about some of the all-time greats hoisting the holy grail.

I wonder how many of those moments actually have a good photo to capture the moment?

Anyways, I digress.  On with the show.

Marty Brodeur with the big grin.  Really epitomizes what this project is all about.

By the way.....these cards scan like crap.  They are a nice shiny red foil background, die-cut on the right to outline the Stanley Cup.

Patrick Kane representing one of the great dynasties in our current era.

Yup....I said it.  The D word.

Chicago is just that good, and have found ways to continue winning even with the struggles against the cap and with player turnover.  Impressive.

Case in point.....Brandon Saad.

That's a moment he better remember for a lifetime.

I really liked the "That 70's Line" of Pearson, Carter and Toffoli.  They really injected the Kings with some energy and spunk.

And Tyler has a spunky look on his face to celebrate.


Marty.  It feels like so long ago (I guess it has now that I think of it).

Amazing how time flies.

This 20-card insert set from the 2014/15 OPC Platinum product should be one to chase.  Now I have to prep some checklists of all the ripoff sets I have to go after.

Before any more pop up this year.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


It's not often that a Linden card I've never seen or heard of crosses my path.  Not to toot my own horn...but I feel like I've got a pretty good awareness of what all is out there.  I've built my master checklist over 20 years of knowledge, resources and help of fellow collectors and it's solid.  That's not to say that it's complete and 100% accurate.....there's always room for editing.

So when a fellow Linden collector threw a scan my way of a card that's nearly 20 years old itself, I did a double take and grew a huge grin.

In the 1998/99 season, Linden was off playing in New York for the Islanders.  Banished from Vancouver by the evil Mike Keenan and the (insert colourful metaphor) Mark Messy-eh.  Trev was still a hobby mainstay though and in the parallel heaven of Be A Player, Pacific, OPC, Topps and Upper Deck he had over 100 cards to chase that year.  I'm proud to say that other than a few show cards and ever-elusive 1/1's - I've crossed them all off that master list.

Which makes this new scan even more exciting.  It's been years since I've even thought of this set.

1998/99 Upper Deck
#124 Exclusive ERROR

The scan makes it hard to see but I can tell you that the foil on each side is gold in color.

The regular base offering has silver foil, the Exclusive parallel (/100) is bronze in color and has a serial number stamped on the back, the Gold Reserve parallel has (you guessed it) gold foil - but also has a gold shimmer to the photo...which the above card does not.  Finally, the never-seen Exclusive 1/1 is also gold in color, has a regular looking photo and is serial numbered on the back too.

So what makes this card so confusing and rare?

The back of this card.  No serial number.  I had no idea these existed.

So what's the deal?

Seems as though there was some overstocked un-numbered 1/1 cards that got leaked out into the market.  Said cards have/are being sold by someone (at relatively cheap prices...perhaps being unaware of what he has).  Said cards (of the Linden variety) were scooped up by a fellow collector and one made its way to my house as part of a recent package.

It was an awesome gift.  Huge thank you!!!!!

I was mentioning to a couple people that a card like this has me more excited than pretty much anything that has been put out by card companies this year.  Discovering something you had no idea existed is really cool and I love when I can go into my master checklist and scroll back a couple decades in order to do a little bit of modifying.

Yet another aspect of the hobby that I really enjoy...learning more about the projects you set out to chase.  Nobody is an expert, nobody knows everything.  And as long as you have an open mind and a thirst for knowledge, you can be quenched with information if you persist.