Saturday, April 30, 2016

WALLET CARD - A Trifecta Of Buybacks

A new batch of #WalletCard pickups arrived a few days back and I still get a big smile on my face when I see the new adds.

This Oscar Gamble project of mine has really been fun.  Inexpensive too which makes it all the better. If I did have one beef it would be that I'm not really able to pick up many cards here locally.  It's hockey town in this neck of the woods.  But that's ok because I've got other ways and means as well as some great people to help me out.

This most recent batch came from both COMC as well as eBay.  I had a friend of mine (who has a US address) do my dirty work to save substantially in shipping costs.  Much thanks Kevin.

All three of these cards are buybacks from recent Topps releases.  I've kept an eagle eye out for these cards because I feel like they are much rarer than most other Gambles.  And once they're gone....they're gone.

So let's take a look at the pickups.

2015 Topps
#152 Topps Original Buyback 1974

I see Richard Pryor more and more when I come across a lot of Oscar Gamble cards.  This one for sure.

In addition to the killer cap and elastic waistband, I can't help but notice the great backdrop for this card.  Lots of blue feels like this stadium is in the middle of nowhere.  No concrete jungle to compete with.

2014 Topps
#74 Topps 75th Buyback 1976

I call this card the "Half-fro".  I don't know if he could get all his hair into a helmet with two ear flaps.

Another great Indians logo, this time on the jersey.  And the stirrups are king in my book.

It's weird, I've been blabbing on about Linden buybacks for some time now, but these Oscar Gamble offerings feel different.  I don't mind the few that get sprinkled in with each flagship release.

Does that make me a hypocrite?

2016 Topps
#23 Topps 65th Anniversary Buyback Blue 1971

Still trying to figure out how all these stamp colours work and such, but I just chase them when I see them...and the price is right.

I really like this set from '71.  No doubt it would killer to get a complete build with sharp corners and no frays.  The black border makes that a tough task.

I'm thrilled that this one is not only in decent shape, but is nicely centred.  A rarity for cards of that vintage.

Well, that adds three more to the project box with the hopes that there are more to come.

So heads up Kevin.  Ha.

Friday, April 29, 2016


The later in the season we go, the less exciting the card shows become.

True or false?

For the past few years I would go with true.  Too many months of seeing the same ol' stuff and the nice weather (especially here) makes going to a stale arena to look at cards just a tad less exciting.

Still though, any chance I get to go to a show....I'm in.  And I'm glad I did last month.

For those of you who know me, I'm a sucker for a deal.  But I try not to cave as bad as I once used to.  I'm happy to splurge on some low $$$ cards if it can help my trade box or I can flip them for a little something extra.

I'm not sniper like some others though and often I'm just happy to break even.

But I did land a couple cards that I think will lend me a little profit down the road - always nice to add cards like that.  But that's for another time.  Today, I'm showing off the other card I picked up.  It's one more off the list of my newest project.

2014/15 Upper Deck Premier
Signature Champions
#SC-RB Rob Blake  /99

When it comes to cards in this set, Rob Blake would be on the lower end of the price scale...and maybe even the desirability scale.  Works for me though.

I really like the photo in this shot.  Big smile, nicely framed and it just brings back memories of that great Avalanche team.  The signature is a little on the scribbly side, but c'est la vie.

I saw it in the discount box a couple months ago (when I bought the Datsyuk and Fuhr cards) but held off hoping it would go down in price.  And guess did.

Not much though, but enough to make it worth the trigger pull.  Considering that it was priced in Canadian dollars (which all the cards are at this show obviously) it compared very well to those that had sold recently online.

Scratching off the easier ones early....fine by me.

Current Collection - 5 of 24

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Let me just start by saying life is just that much more back to normal.  My computer issues are now completely in the past.  My trusty desktop system that has served me well for a great number of years has officially been retired.  A new Mac Mini and a new scanner later and I can show off some of my recent hobby pickups with way more ease (I'm not much of a cameraphone guy).

So what has come in the mail lately?  Well I've got a few new #WalletCard pickups (gotta love Oscar) and a bunch of goalie mask pickups...set killers too.  I caved and picked up a few cards via COMC (thanks Kevin for helping me with the whole thing).

Lastly, in addition to a few Linden cards here and there, I found this little big gem on eBay a few weeks back.  It's really caught my eye...and I'd never seen one before, so I have no idea if it's rare or not.

It looks to be a handout from a game in 2000 (the logo in the top left is a dead giveaway).  I really like that logo.  It's a great piece from Trev's short stay with the Habs.  Based on the other logo in the bottom right, it looks as if the Canadiens were celebrating 90 years as well.

It's a thicker paper stock but not like a trading card thickness.  Has a really nice glossy finish so it doesn't look or feel cheap.  And it's good quality photos....if you consider dreamy headshots as "quality".

What the heck did they say to Linden before they took that photo?

When I saw this pop up on eBay there was only a scan of the front so I did a little research and some question-asking.  Note to all of you....ask questions.  You tend to get answers that way.  I wanted to know if the back was blank or not.

Nope.  There's lots of stuff on the back.

The Atlanta Thrashers definitely do not have a french sounding name, but there are a few guys on the team that ring well in the language.  A close look at the roster for Montreal and I can't help but notice one name on the injured list...Trent McCleary.

This line-up card was issued just over a month after that freak injury which ended his career.  I remember being at work (news editor) and seeing the footage come in on the feeds.  Scary stuff blocking a shot with your throat.

Sorry about that.....back to the actual item on hand.

I've always struggled with these more "oddball" items in terms of what to chase and what to pass on.  I don't go after game-used jerseys or sticks or any other equipment.  But every once in a while I'll see a poster or figurine that just says "Buy me".  If the price is right....I'll usually listen to that little voice in my head.

And the price was right on this oversized card.  It looks great and I was really happy when I opened up the envelope.  I also like that I can add some non-Canucks Linden stuff to the closet.  Gotta celebrate those days too.

Now......what else can I scan?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - Program Of Excellence

There have been just a handful of cards to pass my way so far this year that have really made me stop and do a double take.  My white whale from a couple months ago would most definitely be one of them.

But last month I came across a card that honestly made me completely stop everything and go into full research mode.

After collecting a player for so many years and really gaining a knowledge of pretty much all of the cards he has out there - especially the ones I still need, rarely am I stumped when I see a new item pop up on the open market.  Most of the time it "Oh....there it is".

Not this time though.

When you look at the card you may think "What's the big deal?"  Well, let me explain.

This Linden card comes from last season's high-end juggernaut The Cup.  It's a beast should Linden have a few cards in the mix.  It's been a decent blend of "That'll never end up in my collection" and "Hey, I got that one for a good price."  I've tried to keep things fun with it and for the most part - it has been.

In the most recent release, there was a simple (if you can call it that) base card, a gold parallel /5, the obvious 1/1 black parallel, some printing plates and a juicy shield card (which I almost landed).  There was also a nice Program of Excellence triple auto card of Linden with Joe Sakic and Curtis Joseph all wearing Team Canada garb.  It was a redemption card and only 3 copies were made.  I have yet to see one actually redeemed.

So where does this individual Program of Excellence card come in?  Good question.

It doesn't.

According to the official Cup checklist, there is no Trevor Linden individual card released.  But as you can plainly see...they had one mocked up and ready to go.

This is a "proof" version of the card which I believe came from an uncut sheet.  It is slightly bigger than a normal card and is blank backed.  It does have the gold foil on the Cup logo and around the signature box along with the bottom Program of Excellence name and bottom border.  Not the most crisp Linden photo used, but I like it.  It's original.  And maybe it would've looked better in the final batch.  Or maybe that's why it got cut from the production line.

Anyways, this would have ended up being hard signed, but since it never left the shop...

When I saw this card pop up on eBay a few weeks back I knew exactly what I was seeing.  I knew the seller as well - sells a lot of "proof" cards.  A nice addition if you don't want to spend the money on the real thing, but it's pretty much not for me.  They aren't official releases and don't include jersey pieces of signatures....or backs.

But I definitely could make an exception in this instance.

I was even able to get the seller to come down on the price a bit.  Not sure they knew the whole situation with this card.

The stressful part came in the shipping.  Coming from the United States, I knew that it would take a little extra time to get here, but after a good month and a half went by I was getting worried.  A simple note to the seller explaining the situation - and the fact that I was not panicking led to a good door of communication being opened.  Patience wins out in the end though as it arrived safe and sound today.  I was thrilled to see it in the mailbox when I got home from work.

It's one of a very few "unofficially released" cards I have in my collection and in my opinion, this one is most definitely a worthy add.

In fact, I think it's quite excellent.

Monday, April 25, 2016

OPINION - Digital Cards

Digital cards.  It's a subject that I really haven't had impact my collecting directly - yet.  My guy hasn't been added into any digital card products - yet.  I haven't really had to decide if I'd put money into cards I can't touch - yet.

But the concept of digital cards has been one I've thought about many times...and for many years.  And so I thought I'd share my opinion(s) on the topic since my scanner purchase hasn't happened quite yet.

What are digital cards?  To me, I've only experienced them as an outsider looking in.  I would consider what Topps has done with their Star Wars, what Upper Deck has done with Upper Deck (and others) to be true digital trading cards.  That is - opening "packs" online or through apps or other means to then reveal cards which are yours in the sense that they are housed under your name....but they aren't truly tangible in that you can't hold onto them physically.

I think the streamline process of concept to completion of a set, the ability to get them out to the public and in turn be traded through the digital world is so fast and exciting...I can see it being a part of collecting for the foreseeable future.

People live in a world where things happen quickly, reactions happen almost instantly and yesterday's news is just that.  The ability to access "now" quicker can most definitely be a good thing.

That said, and I think I feel this way because I haven't yet been faced with dealing in the digital card world directly - yet, the elimination of the brick & mortar store - the local card shop in this process is definitely concerning.  I worry that the more digital cards become popular, the fewer shops in town and shows locally there will be.  If there was one single thing about digital cards that I don't would be this.

I don't know if I want my hobby to be completely done from the chair in front of my computer (it takes up a lot of time there as it is).

There are some fuzzy areas for me as well when it comes to digital cards (and maybe you out there could help in clarifying).

I've heard that with some product releases (Upper Deck Series I hockey), cards that would have been released into the set (parallels, subsets, etc.) were not printed in full numbers to be put into physical packs.  For example, UD Exclusives /100....there would not be 100 of each card that could be obtained in physical packs.  Some of these numbers were reserved for the digital version of the release.  Truly creating a hybrid effect with the production numbers.

Also, with digital cards there are the opportunities to obtain physical versions of certain cards - or even special variations only obtainable through the digital collecting process.  For example, if you get a certain number of digital cards of a certain player, you can trade them in to get a special card mailed out to you.

Another interesting twist to the concept.  Still on the fence with this one.  I feel as though this is creating a new landscape of how to collect.

What if Linden gets a card?  Do I add it to the list?  How would I feel once I obtain the digital card?  Where do I keep the card?  Where do these additions land on my overall wantlist?  After all....I am a completist.

Do I equate it with music?  I buy off of iTunes but never really have a physical copy of the song.  Am I ok with this?  (Actually....I still buy most of my music through cd or vinyl.  I'm definitely old school like that).

Lots of questions, lots to iron out.  I'm sure things will be less volatile over the next year or two once companies find something that works in terms of a template.  I don't think digital cards are going away anytime soon.

One concept that has me intrigued is Topps Now.  A baseball digital release that coincides with the games being played on any given night - and new cards being mocked up the day after.  Instant satisfaction.....right?

This Trevor Story card was made and shown off literally hours after his debut.  That's pretty exciting.  And it's been 2-4 different cards on a daily basis being shown off - all documenting the baseball season and the exciting moments it has.  Slowly building a robust set as the season goes along.

I feel like I've seen this concept somewhere before...

Ha.  The Year In Cards....circa 2009/10.

For those who have followed my blog since the beginning, you may remember this daunting experiment I started....and then abandoned after a couple months.

I would grab a photo from last night's action, make a card and then at the end of the week I would share them all on my blog.  A recap of the week's action.

And yes, I did make card backs too.

At the end of the day it was just too much work to keep up with creating cards and writing up the backs.  But I did like the concept.

What Topps Now has done, in addition to building the excitement of what is created on a nightly basis, has kept collectors interested and engaged in the next cards to come out.  Even going so far as participating through social media in hopes of swaying the next day's decisions.

It's a very immediate, inclusive and interactive product that is being built.

Now, my understanding is that if you want a physical copy of the card, you can order one through Topps.  Once the deadline to purchase any single card has passed, they will print only that number of cards and then ship them out.  Truly the essence of "demand and supply".  No waste and no leftovers.

I don't know if the cards are numbered or if the production numbers for each card is announced.  I'm on the fence as well with the price point for the card.  I believe it is $10 per card.  Again, it's such a new venture that I'm in more of a spectator from a price point I can't really say if that's good or bad.

I don't even collect baseball cards and I find myself looking at what the newest Topps Now releases are.  I think that can only be a good thing moving forward...interest in a concept can be huge.  Keeping collectors engaged.

What will my thoughts be on digital card moving forward?  What will my thoughts be once Linden gets his first digital card?  I don't know.  But I'd be naive to think that it will never happen.

Lastly, a question was posed on an online chat board asking what can the hobby do to attract the younger collector....the next generation of hobbyists.  While many feel that, like stamp collecting, sportscard collecting will fade with the current crop of collectors....eventually dropping off completely a few decades down the road, there are some that feel there can be a bit of a resurgence.

I am one of them.

And I believe the concept of digital trading cards will be a part of it.

I think that if a company can come up with a concept where trading cards are merged with the world of digital communication and social media, creating an EXPERIENCE for the collector that will engage them...then there might be something there.

I look back to when I was a kid.  7, 8, 9 years of age.  Just getting into hockey cards.  What made them special to me?  Well, I could trade with my friends - it was a social experience.  Participating in it was fun.  Watching others rip open packs was fun.  Adding to my collection was fun.  Finishing a set was fun.

But there was something else that made cards special at that time.  I felt as though I was getting a little closer to the players.  I felt like I got to know them a little more.  Remember, this was at a time before computers, before the internet and before social media.  Getting information on your favourite player meant watching Saturday night hockey on TV or reading the newspaper or hockey magazine.  There was a barrier between player and collector.  Getting closer to the player was exciting.

Today, there is almost complete transparency when it comes to player and fan.  We have cameras on them at all times it seems, they are able to communicate with their fans at a moment's notice on Twitter or Facebook and we see them and hear from them on a daily basis - even during the offseason. Hockey is everywhere (I'll use hockey for this example).

The media coverage has created a world where there is no separation.  Nothing feels special anymore, certainly not a new piece of cardboard that has to be bought at a card store.

But what if a company could take the concept of cards - trading cards and turn it into an experience that a kid could get nowhere else?  I don't know what that would be?  But I feel that the digital forum of both cards and communication will be key in getting kids - and keeping them engaged in hockey and hockey cards will be paramount.

The essence and simplicity of physical cardboard cards in a store might go by the way of the dinosaur, but digital cards might just become the portal for future hobbyists.

In the end, I do feel like there will be a lasting place for digital cards....and I lean towards the "I like them" side of the fence right now.

So what are your thoughts on digital trading cards?  Have you tried them?  Will you?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

OPINION - Final Vault...My Final Rant

Hello.  It's been a while.  I've been busy but that's not the only reason why I haven't been blogging as much.  My computer crapped out a few weeks ago (literally days before I was to retire it).  Of course I hadn't moved across all of my files yet so life was crappy while I had to try and fix it - for as little money as possible.

Anyways...problem solved.  I'm still getting the new system all set up and fancy, but in the meantime I can throw out a bit of a blog post.  I have no scanner yet (hopefully tomorrow) so I've resorted to stealing a scan this time.

Linden cards have been few and far between of late.  Other than the big white whale that arrived last month it's been slim pickings.  Some very nice gestures from other player collectors and people who have known me for a while have really been the majority of my new adds this year.

Not really as motivated.


ITG Vault cards.

Simply put....leftover stock in the In The Game warehouse, stamped with a unique coloured 1/1 stamp and thrown into a cash-grab of a product.

Recently - and hopefully finally - the Vault release of note is ITG Final Vault.  And it's loaded with Linden cards.  Not a good thing.

I really do hope it's the final offering of this "concept".  I'm growing tired of it - and I think others are too.  You can see it reflected in the secondary sales of these cards.  No longer are people asking $100 or even $50 for Linden cards.  Sellers are plunking them down with a low minimum bid and they pretty much sit there.

I've once again decided to boycott the product as I find it a jumbled mess of leftovers.

No checklist to accurately update my master player collection list (thanks for that ITG) and just keeping up with all the different stamp colours is I think quite ridiculous.

I've so far found over 30 unique Linden cards released in this product.  And based on the numbers associated with the mind-boggling stamp offerings, I calculate a minimum - MINIMUM of 60 different Linden cards to chase.  Most with a bogus 1/1 stamp on them to inflate the supposed desirability and thus the asking price.

Here's the hilarious breakdown of how the Vault stamp colours work...

Red 1/1 - at least 1 of that particular card exists
Blue 1/1 - at least 2 of that particular card exists
Green 1/1 - at least 3 of that particular card exists
Silver 1/1 - at least 4 of that particular card exists
Gold 1/1 - at least 5 of that particular card exists
Black 1/1 - at least 6 of that particular card exists
Pink 1/1 - at least 7 of that particular card exists
Purple 1/1 - at least 8 of that particular card exists
Copper 1/1 - at least 9 of that particular card exists
Teal 1/1 - at least 10 of that particular card exists

What kind of rinky-dink operation is this?  Pink?  Purple?  Teal?

And just try to figure it out from a crappy scan.  Good luck.  Can you tell me what colour stamp the Linden card above is?  I've sent many an e-mail off to sellers just trying to confirm what colour the stamp is on their card.  Too bad that's the extent of my interest.

Who is this product (and other Vault products) for?  Certainly not the player collector.  Most of the Linden cards have boring jersey pieces on them or just simply an auto.  Cards like these in this product are nothing more than cheap filler and I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the dollar box at the local show in the very near future.

Except for those that feel Linden cards with a Vault stamp on them still hold some sort of value in the secondary market.  Again...I'm confused as to what the purpose of these 60+ cards are?

Hopefully this will be the last of it and I can move on from this abysmal period in Linden collecting.  I look forward to seeing innovative and forward thinking designs and concepts that will attract my interest as a collector and my pocketbook so I can add some exciting pieces to my collection.

Vault does neither of these things.