Saturday, October 14, 2017

OPINION - Tim Horton's Hockey Cards

I apologize in advance...but I'm going to get a little ranty this afternoon.

A few weeks ago we saw the latest release from the Tim Horton's trading card release put on by Upper Deck.  These have been a fun chase for many over the past three years (3??...4??...anyways) with a simple base set to build, some nice insert sets, tougher hits and a few impossible pulls (this year it's the Crosby signed card /87).  I've fancied a few packs over the years when I've gone to buy a cup of hot chocolate on a cold morning as I head to work.

A couple weeks ago a co-worker and I got into talking about hockey cards (and the ever-popular "I have a whole bunch I should bring in"...only to be early 90's junk wax base).  It was a lot of fun to just reminisce about players from that era, bad photography, overproduction and cheesy inserts.  It was awesome.

He asked what kind of products were out there these days and I told him that the landscape has completely changed.  But a good starter product could be these Tim Horton's cards.  I talked about how you can go about buying packs, what kind of stuff to expect in them and their initial wave of popularity.  He was genuinely excited.

Over the next week he was showing off some of the cards he had picked up and I helped him out by giving him the pack or two that I had bought (obviously I didn't hit the big inserts.  Ha ha.)

Fast forward to a few days ago when I went to the Timmy's by my house.  I placed my order and asked for a pack of cards.  "Sorry, we're all sold out".  What??!!  I couldn't believe it.  Hundreds of packs gone in a matter of a couple weeks?  Gotta say, I was pretty bummed.

But as I drove off I thought about it.  I really shouldn't have been surprised.  Why?  Seems as though you can now buy unlimited amounts of packs in one shot if you have the cash.  And where there's an opportunity, there are people looking to take advantage of it.

I get it.  There are cards out there....it's clearly pointed out that if you want to buy additional packs it'll cost a little more.  But boy it sure sucks as a person just trying to have some fun with the product to now have to go to the secondary market to get my fix.

And it was out there in spades today at the local card show.

Pretty much every table had a selection of Tim Horton's cards - from the umpteen dozen packs they must have opened to get the sheer volume of product on their table.  I went up to one guy and he asked what I was on the hunt for and I brought up the topic of Tim Horton's cards.  He said he "has it all" - and he sure did.  Boxes upon boxes of unopened packs - cases even.  The guy must have bought out stores of the stuff (probably the Timmy's I go to).

What.  A.  Turnoff.

I mentioned that it was frustrating to go to a Tim Horton's hoping to buy a pack and find they are all sold out.  He didn't even flinch.  He asked if I was looking for anyone in particular.  Yeah...some packs so I can have fun opening them and maybe help someone build a set.

I get it.  There's a pocket of time where people can binge on a product and have a good chance on some return.  But boy does it suck the life out the hobby when a person can't even buy a stinkin' pack of the product because they're all sitting on dealers table at the local card show.

Yes, we all look for those opportunities to make a buck.  I do it myself.  Heck, I did it at the show today.

I bought this card for the single purpose of maybe being able to flip it for a card I will want for my pc later - or yes, even sell it for a bit of a profit.  I have no idea who this guy is or if he is still playing in the league.  But for five bucks.....I'll take a chance on a Cup rookie auto patch gold /40.

But I refuse to be put in the same category as the guy who is hoarding unopened packs of Tim Horton's cards.

What sucked even more is going to the next table and being told the best way to build the set.  "Don't buy a pack here...buy a pack there....you'll never build the set that way.  Buy a box and you'll have basically two full base sets.  That's the way to do it."

Bull.  Shit.

How about buying packs, opening them and then maybe....MAYBE trading for the cards you need - especially the base.  After all, that's what it says on the friggin' wrapper.  Trading cards.

Guy looked at me like I was an alien.

And then he had the gall to complain because there were guys who had last year's product and couldn't get rid of it.  Are you kidding me???  You want pity because you over-purchase the product and then can't sell it?

Brutal.

This is a hobby I love - and will defend until my dying breath.  But it really takes the wind out of me when I see this kind of approach to "collecting".  Upper Deck and Tim Horton's have a really good thing going but they blew it when the opportunity to buy in mass happened.  Like I said, put an opportunity out there and someone will abuse it.

I'm curious to see what kind of reaction my co-worker will have when I share this info with him on Monday.  Will he want to race out and buy packs at a Timmy's that might still have the product?  Will he want to go to the next card show with me and gobble up everything in sight?  Or will he just give up on the chase and toss the cards aside because the fun of buying a pack might not be there.

Sadly, it's the third option that happens more and more.  And people wonder why we can't get new blood into this hobby.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

CARDBOARD PHOTOGRAPHY - Show Me Your Crown

I have a lot of cards sitting on my desk.  A lot.

Cards manage to find their way there when I get stuff in the mail, but stuff at shows, open packs at trade night or just do some random cleaning of my closet.  I'm literally looking around my desk right now and see cards that have just been sitting for likely a year.

I don't know why I can't keep things more organized.....or don't.  Somehow it just feels comfortable to have cards sitting out in my office.  Every once in a while I'll flip through a pile and think "oh yeah....I remember that one."  Most of the time I forget I even had the cards on the desk to begin with.

That said, when it comes to my various collections.....those get the organized treatment.  Rarely will I let a pile grow of more than 6 or 7 cards like my Lindens or goalie masks.  Those get documented and put away pretty quick.

When I was sifting through one of my random piles a couple weeks back, I noticed a trio of cards that I knew I wanted to share for their unique photos.  So here we go.

2000/01 Upper Deck Reserve
Golden Goalies
#GG8 John Vanbiesbrouck

This cards screamed out at me for two reasons.  I love the mask Beezer is wearing here (a very underrated Islanders offering).  He's known for some pretty iconic masks but this one gets overlooked easily.

I also like this card because it shows the top of the mask and the clear 'NY' that is automatically associated with the Islanders.

As you all know by now, I like my goalie mask cards.  I like goalie masks period.  So it's nice to see a part of the mask get photographed that normally doesn't make the cut.  I feel like the crown of the mask and the backplate are the two areas that get little hobby love.  Shame.

2001/02 Topps Stadium Club
#100 Marc Denis

Remember when Topps used to do hockey cards?  Remember when Marc Denis played in net?  Remember his mask?

Awesome.

This perfectly framed horizontal offering is one of my favourite cards.  I love the pic of him just gobbling up the puck.  His monstrous equipment drowning out the background just creates the feeling of action....yet somehow time stands still when I see this pic.

Heck, I like his mask so much I feel like doing a 'Rate My Mask' for him (remember those posts?).  Heck again, after seeing this piece of cardboard I feel like starting a little mini collection of crown mask photo cards (clearly I would have to come up with a better title than that).

A card like this really gets my collecting juices going.

2000/01 Be A Player Memorabilia
#48 Trevor Kidd

When it comes to design and flare, Trevor Kidd might just take the cake.  His pads, his masks, his hair, he's never one to be boring.

It's cards like these that make me go "Oh yeah....he played in Florida."  It was the third of four stops in his NHL career.  In looking at his stats, he had a very lacklustre career (from what I thought he had).  Clearly the hockey card industry was stronger for Kidd than his actual play on the ice.

I don't even know what's going on with Kidd's mask but the metallic, robotic motif clearly says Florida to me.  But I always got the sense he was a guy who preferred the road less travelled.


So what do these three cards have in common?  Puck gobbling, horizontal layouts, mask crowns and early 2000's explosion of goalies.  What's not to like about that?

Have you come across any others that would fit this description?  What goalie mask crowns catch your eye?

I'm sure if I sift though the piles on my desk I'll find one or two more.  :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

BEHIND THE MASKS - Topps Pristine Minis

Years ago......DECADES ago when I fell in love with goalie mask sets, I decided to chase anything and everything that had closeups of masks.

As a result, I've got a mishmash of base cards and inserts with nice full mask designs on them as well as some borderline insert sets that at the time I felt were worthy of the chase.

Over time I've whittled down these selections (and my wantlist) to include only that which I feel is truly worthy of my collection.  One of those is the great 2003 product - Topps Pristine....specifically their mini cards.

I don't know much about the product but quick research says that the mini cards were inserted one per box.  There is a checklist of 40 cards (about half are goalies) and they all use headshots as photos.

Sign.  Me.  Up.

I began scouring monster boxes at shows trying to locate a few singles and did manage to build a nice start to my goalie mask "mini set".  Over the past few years though....the well has dried up.  I guess not actively pursuing them hurts my chances of finding them.

But at the big card show here in town a couple weeks ago I decided to dig a bit - not specifically for these cards, but because I really had nothing better to do.  I had already exhausted my Linden search and was more or less just enjoying the day at the show.  So why not hunt.

I managed to track down a couple of these elusive mini cards and I was thrilled to see them.  So much so that I didn't even care if I needed them or not (I assumed they were priced cheap since they were in a massive box labelled "Hockey Cards - Cheap".

I really like the looks of these.  There's just something about the simple design, Lite-Brite background pattern and thick, shiny foil-type card face that had me sold.

Just an interesting note.....there's a JS Giguere autograph version of this in the product - the only mini that gets the signed treatment.  I believe they use a different photo for it too.....so it's on the list.

To find one was pretty cool.  Locating a second forced me into a full monster box search.  Surely there would be dozens of these in the box....right?  Nope.  Not another one showed up.  I should be glad that the two I found were both goalies.

When I got home, I was even more pleased to find that I had both of them on my wantlist.  Bonus!!

These cards book for a few bucks a piece, so I was cautious to see what the asking price would be.  I was stunned to hear "a buck" come out of the seller's mouth.  I even had a cheap Linden insert included in the mix.  Needless to say, I couldn't get the loonie out of my pocket fast enough.

No question....these two cards were my favourite pickups of the show.  It's got me reinvigorated to track down some of the other cards that still sit on my wantlist.

Gotta love mask cards!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

WALLET CARD - A Rare Card Show Find

I love finding cards locally that I never thought would surface in my home town.

Normally when I say that I'm referring to higher-end offerings that might....might only pop up on eBay or the online hobby boards.  But there are times when a simple base cards fits the description.

Last month's local card show (the first of the season) brought with it a rare find.

1971 Topps
#23 Oscar Gamble

You see....living in Canada usually means hockey cards rule the shows....and baseball, football and the works play second fiddle to the fastest game on Earth.  Sure there's excitement when new baseball product comes out but not nearly at the level hockey brings.

So it's rare to find baseball on the tables.  It's rarer to find baseball I need (Oscar Gamble) on a table.  But every once in a while a gem will appear.

This card, which is just a little older than I am, was a great find a few weeks back.  I saw a handful of these black-bordered beauts and quickly sifted through them thinking to myself "maybe an Oscar".  I didn't have high hopes as I don't think most people feel Gamble is in the "star" or "semi-star" category.  Definitely nothing anyone could possibly be interested in.  But you don't find 'em if you don't go digging for 'em.

I love this kind of pickup.  Not expensive in the least and really quenches my thirst for the chase.

Now that I think of it, I haven't shared with many people my Oscar Gamble pc in the same way most know I collect Trevor Linden.  I wonder if that would change things?  Would people start bringing more to the shows?

Maybe I'll try getting the word out a little more this year.  See what happens.

For the record, this is card 67 in my #WalletCard collection.  That put's me about a third of the way in to his entire card output.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

SIGNATURE CHAMPIONS - Brett Hull

The big card show last weekend yielded little in terms of personal pickups for my various collections.  While that's not my main priority when going to shows like this, I did find it interesting that there weren't more cards in the numerous monster boxes on the dozens of tables there that would pique my interest.

Sure there were a ton of cards there that I would have loved to buy, but I try to go to shows nowadays with a more streamlined approach.  My wallet thanks me for that these days.  But with all of the recent Linden cards released or insert cards from various sets now in it's initial wave of the open market, I found it surprising that there was little to be had.

When the odd time came that there was a Linden card in a showcase....it was just priced to the point that I didn't even bother making an offer.  I knew we wouldn't come to any sort of middle ground.

There was one card I took a stab at though...

2014/15 Upper Deck Premier
Signature Champions
#SC-HU Brett Hull  /25

One of the nicest insert sets in my opinion (and right up my Stanley Cup alley) reared another offering.  This Brett Hull auto is limited to just 25 copies so finding a realized price on it was not easy.  In fact, I couldn't find a quick answer to "how much has this card gone for in the past".

So the price that was on it was all I had to go on....and I knew I didn't want to spend that much.  I managed to get the seller to budge a bit, but I still felt like I overpaid.  I justified it by saying that the price was in Canadian dollars, there would be no shipping costs and I had just won a small chunk of change playing poker the night before.  It's like the card was just begging me to buy it.

So I did.

I like the fact that I've now added a card of this print run to my project.  I've still got a long ways to go (as I've noticed that Premier has inserted this set for the third year in a row).  Lots of cards now to chase.

But I'm a patient guy.  The card show last weekend was proof of that.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

BEHIND THE MASKS - Leaf Masked Men (again)

It's the first night of the new hockey season and I'm hanging out and enjoying the early games before the Battle of Alberta revs back up.  I've got a pair of hockey pools going this season so I'll be extra-invested (gotta love a hockey pool) and I can't wait to see what the Canucks do this season.

Seriously.

Sure they'll be not good and likely battle for a lottery pick, but I think there's some youth that can provide excitement and energy.  That's what I'm focusing on.

Tonight's also a chance to get a few blog posts set up to share over the next couple weeks.  While it was clearly a hiatus for me over the summer, I wasn't completely immune to a few card pickups.  Especially over the past couple weeks as both the local monthly show kicks into gear as well as the big semi-annual show that really had me excited this past weekend.

So what have I got to share?  A little bit of everything.

Let's start with some goalie masks.

So I posted a few weeks ago that I had officially started my quest for the latest Leaf Masked Men cards.  Looking back....I was incorrect.

It seems as though those cards are the Wave parallel offerings - and I am looking for the base versions for my collection.  At the time I had no idea and just assumed that "base cards" meant base cards.

So now I've got a couple more traders in the trade box.

This Belfour though is a nice first card to share.  His iconic Eagle mask never gets old.  It's a shame that we get too much of a head-on view and we don't really get to appreciate the mask design in its full glory.  But Google it if you've never seen it.

Mike Richter.  Nice.  I hate the fact that he was the goalie who cost my Canucks the '94 Cup but he's a solid tender.

His mask is also pretty recognizable....when it's not airbrushed.

Mike's chin looks a little to clean to be the real deal.  Shame that they had to alter the photo - especially after they had announced before the product was released that there would be no airbrushing.

Hence my lack of enthusiasm to start this set build.

Second verse....same as the first.

Only worse.

Why not just paint his mask pink or something....really make it look nothing like what he wore?

Yucky.

I've said it once, I've said it a million times.....

THIS IS NOT A MASK.

It's a helmet.  And it has no design element to it at all.

Thumbs up on this one.


So that's four down and I don't know how many more to go.  I've got a list somewhere so I'm officially building the set.

Yay me.

And Toronto just putting it to the Jets tonight.  Wow.  I should have picked up more Leafs in my hockey pools.  Zach Hyman is not going to cut it.  Enjoy the season everyone.

Monday, October 2, 2017

LINDEN CARD(s) OF THE WEEK - My Summer Haul

It's been a busy few months at work and things have slowly come back down to a pace where I can actually do some other stuff - LIKE CARD COLLECTING!!

While it was nice to take a few months away from the hobby again to replenish my collecting energy, I was getting antsy to buy a couple new cards for my Linden collection.  I had finally pulled the trigger on a couple eBay sales when I heard of this massive Linden collection being stolen.....definitely knocked the wind out of me.  I'm still not quite back to "full guns" yet....but I think the big card show in town helped me with that.

I love this time of year.  Hockey season is about to start, the monthly card shows are back and new product is out with all the new faces.  I'm excited at what the season will bring and I hope my various collecting projects will build nicely over the next few months.

So with that.....let's take a look a the "whopping haul" of Linden cards I've brought in over the past few months.

2014/15 Upper Deck Premier
#PMP-TL Mega Patch - Team Canada  19/27

This was the big add to the pc this offseason.  I'll admit....this 27-card mega patch project absolutely excites me.  I love the fact that it's a Team Canada crest, and I know that the odds of getting every card is astronomically small (since a few have already hit other collectors) but just documenting them all will be a great accomplishment.

This piece gives me 5 of the 27 pieces and I'm almost on the verge of putting together a pic collage of what has surfaced so far.  The shoulder logo and sleeve number patches....well that's another thing.

Love this set.

2016/17 Upper Deck Fleer Showcase
#222 25th Anniversary Auto Buyback  14/25

I don't know what it is about a two cent card being re-inserted into a product, but seeing these inserts had me chasing the Linden.  Must be the "junk wax" era design and great memories of what collecting was back in the early 90's.......ugly fun.

Much like the Score Recollection Collection inserts a few years back, these Fleer offerings are simple base cards with an auto and serial number - nothing more.  But I was thrilled to land this copy at the price I did (you don't want to know).  Amazing what a couple alterations to a card will do.

Excited to cross this off my list.

2016/17 Upper Deck
#C247 Retired Stars Canvas

When Upper Deck introduced the Canvas inserts I thought it was a great idea.  New stuff to chase, tougher sets to build and I loved the dynamic photography the cards employed.

A few years back when they started putting in short print retired stars, I was waiting patiently for my guy to be added.  This past year it finally happened.

I really like this card.  It has a throwback vibe mixed nicely with a new card feel.  Not the most spectacular photo, but I'll give points out to anyone using skate logo-era garb (and check out that awesome patch on his shoulder).

I picked this one up at the big card show this past weekend.  It was a lot of fun getting back into those surroundings, talking to fellow hobbyists and just digging through boxes of goodies.  It's all about the hunt.

There were a couple other Linden cards there that I was contemplating, but sometimes you gotta let cards go by if the situation isn't right.


So that's it.  Three cards are all that I've bought since about May.....for the Linden collection.  I've got a few more projects to update over the next couple weeks.  After all....it's hockey season.