Friday, January 14, 2022

BEHIND THE MASKS - The Ups & Downs Of Intimidation Nation

Heads up everyone…I’m on a roll. 

Heads up again…likely won’t last. Ha ha.

Goalie mask sets have been pretty much off the production plate for about the past 5 years. The most recent set to be released (that was on my radar) was 2017-18 Leaf Masked Men....and it was quite underwhelming. Not the greatest checklist and some of the masks were altered in order to align with proper copyright and usage agreements.

Still, I chased the set. Built it with ease as many of the cards weren't overly desirable. What's the saying..."One man's trash is another man's treasure." OK, the cards aren't trash...but you get my drift.

This year, Upper Deck returned to the mask inserts table by pushing out a 32-card release in the Skybox Metal Universe product. Upon first hearing of this, I was quite excited. I was still pumped to build the set when I saw the first couple of cards, but slowly, the rollercoaster ride of this set started to reveal itself.

2020/21 Upper Deck Skybox Metal Universe
Intimidation Nation
#IN-22 Elvis Merzlikins

I really appreciate that UD put actual player shots on these Intimidation Nation cards. A lot of the photos are very crisp (unlike some of the past mask sets where the image was pushed just a little too much...creating some blurriness). There have been too many products that have come out where the image is just a floating mask. To me, there's no reason why you shouldn't show an actual player wearing the actual mask these days. If you can't....don't make the set.

I like the 'sheen' that the card gives off in the light. It's not a full-on glossy vibe, but I like how the background catches when you tilt the card.

It's a great checklist with most of the 'A' goalies in the league featured.


2020/21 Upper Deck Skybox Metal Universe
Intimidation Nation
#IN-17 Tuukka Rask

BUT...I can't stand how Upper Deck slapped the 'Intimidation Nation' title smack dab on the crown of the mask. It completely destroys the design appreciation of the goalie's lid. I really was disappointed by this.

For years, magazine covers have been able to fit the title of the magazine and the photo into place so both marry aesthetically. Heck, sometimes, the title of the magazine takes a backseat to the image and is tucked in the background.

Not here though.

2020/21 Upper Deck Skybox Metal Universe
Intimidation Nation
#IN-16 Jacob Markstrom

Yeah....I can't get past it.

But...these cards were pretty reasonably priced on the secondary market. Normally, new mask cards would be on my radar once they dipped below five bucks apiece. I was surprised to see them go for a buck or two at a local card show a couple months back. I snatched up all that I could.

I somewhat regret that decision now.

2020/21 Upper Deck Skybox Metal Universe
Intimidation Nation
#IN-13 Martin Jones

I went on COMC before the end of the year and picked up a handful to continue my chase to build the set. At $2-3 per card, I thought I was doing pretty good.

Until recently.

I was made aware that Skybox Metal Universe was placed on Upper Deck's ePack platform (digital cards) and apparently that has created a massive influx on these inserts on COMC. To the point that the cards have plummeted in price.

2020/21 Upper Deck Skybox Metal Universe
Intimidation Nation
#IN-9 Pekka Rinne

Cards that were $2-$5 before Christmas are now sitting for as low as 0.35 cents - and there are dozens of copies available.

As soon as I found out, I hopped on the site and picked up the remaining cards to finish my set (I'll never see them for that price at the local shows). I didn't know if I should laugh or cry.

I'm still not sure how exactly the bottom fell out of these cards - I think it has to do with the ease that these digital cards on ePack can be moved over to COMC...and so everyone is doing it.

Regardless, if you are looking for a good, fun goalie mask set build that's cheap (knowing that the masks are covered by words), then head on over to COMC and build away. You could probably build the 32-card set for under ten bucks.

Ouch. Ha ha.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

WALLET CARD - Some Of My Oscar Pickups In 2021

I've said this many times, but it is worth repeating...

Finding a project to build that revolves around simple fun in the chase and the acquisition of cards has been an absolute blessing for me. Collecting Oscar Gamble cards for the past seven years has been awesome. A very manageable checklist of fewer than 200 cards, most of them ringing in under a buck, but also having some tough-to-find gems in's the perfect mix. Not to mention some of the fantastic era-driven photos - it has it all.

Much like my goalie mask cards, I've been patient in how I purchase my #WalletCards. I strike when I see a deal too good to pass up or when a rare bird is in sight. These are some of the pieces I've added this past year.

2019 Topps Heritage
#654 50th Anniversary Buyback 1970 RC

I really keep a close eye on the buyback cards that surface. It feels like that's been the bulk of Oscar Gamble offerings the past 5 years. To be honest, I don't really mind the chase. Most of the time, these cards don't command much of a price. 

This rookie card offering was a little more than the average buyback, but I still snagged it for well below what I thought I'd have to pay for it. It's his first RC buyback that I've seen.

Would've been nice to see the stamp on the right-hand side instead of covering up Oscar's name. But...I'll survive.

2020 Topps Heritage
#23 50th Anniversary Buyback 1971
(stamp in the lower right corner)

Speaking of selectivity with the placement of the stamp, this is my second 50th Anniversary buyback copy of this card. Why? Well, the other copy has the stamp in the upper left corner. That was a variation worth the purchase.

I know...I know...but I'm a completist, and I'll find ways to justify adding one more card to the mix.

1974 Topps
#166 Stamps

This is a great item. It's super-tiny. It's about an inch wide and an inch-and-a-half tall. My niece would say it's the cutest item in my collection.

It's a little more off-centered than I'd like, but I can always upgrade when the time comes. It was a good price, is clean on the back (never licked) and the image is iconic Oscar.

Couldn't pass it up.

2016 Topps Archives Snapshots
#AS-OG Autograph  /300

Finally able to cross this one off the list. I definitely went about this chase backwards (or maybe I did it the right way). I crossed off the rare black&white auto /10 and the negative signature /5 before pulling the trigger on this hard-signed offering /300.

It's a great image. Certainly reflective of the era, but has a crispness to it that feels current (it's the same photo used in his 1974 card...but you can tell the quality of what can be done with images on cards these days). And side note...I've really grown to enjoy Oscar's signature. 

The Archives Snapshot rainbow is complete.

2016 Topps Archives
#106 Printing Plate Black  1/1

Last, but certainly not least, This printing plate was an absolute no-brainer when I saw it pop up on COMC. For ten bucks, I couldn't hit the 'buy' button fast enough. 

It's the second printing plate from this release that I now have and the fourth 1/1 in my Oscar Gamble collection. I'm really enjoying how much progress I've made over the years.

Just sifting through the cards I have of his in my PC box (I keep my cards in toploaders), I'm at about 120ish (there are a few oversized offerings and such in the closet) and I can say I'm really proud of how the collection looks. I'd love to add a few more tougher-to-find cards of his over the next year...maybe I'll jump on more baseball-centric sites to see what can happen.

Regardless, and as I said off the top, this is a really fun project and I am enjoying every minute of it.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

PARKIE PROJECT - A Pair Of Pickups From My B.C. Trip

It's been 8 years since I pulled the trigger on this Parkie Project. This past year saw me add a couple more cards to the collection and has me near the 25% completion mark.

So at this rate...I might just finish this project in my lifetime.  :)

Seriously though, this has been a passive pursuit at best. I've been very hesitant to pick anything up ungraded online and am finding that graded copies are a little more money than I'd like to spend (especially for common players). So when the opportunity was staring me in the face a couple months back, I decided to throw a bit of caution to the wind and just have some fun.

I was out in British Columbia at the end of October and was thrilled to find out that there was a monthly show happening on the same weekend I was there. It was a beautiful day, sun shining, and I had a nice car I decided to make the 45-minute trek to check it out.

I was so excited to go to a show that would have new tables, vendors, boxes and showcases for me to explore that I made the trip out there on the Saturday...and the show was on Sunday. Undeterred, I enjoyed the car ride back and made the trip again the following day.

I was hoping to pick up some Linden cards primarily but was surprised to find that he was not a prevalent player on the tables. The new crop of Canucks were reigning supreme. I did find one auto card of his...but forgot that I already owned a copy of it. Sometimes you just gotta laugh.

But I did come across a few 51/52 Parkhurst cards that were in the condition range that I was looking for. Unfortunately, the prices on the toploaders weren't what I was hoping they'd be.

I had gone to the show with a budget in mind...and I was well under that I decided to splurge a bit.

1951/52 Parkhurst
#27 George "Red" Sullivan RC

This is the kind of card I like to see when chasing my Parkies. The centering is nice, the colours seem decent, clean back, no creases. Sure, the corners are not great, but there's a feeling of consistency and symmetry that I find appealing.

When I place it alongside the other cards in my PC, it fits in perfectly.

So when I say that I decided to splurge, this card had a pricetag north of $40. I've only paid more than that once in my Parkie pursuit...and that was for a very nice Turk Broda copy. No way was I going to spend $40. 

Let's see if I can get a bundle price.

1951/52 Parkhurst
#51 Pete Joseph Babando RC

I think pretty much all the cards from this set are rookie cards.  :)

Second verse same as the first. A nice aesthetic to the card, had everything I want...except the price.

The seller had a few others, but they weren't as nice (had creases and such) so I finally asked what he would do for the pair.

"$70...$35 a piece."

I wasn't interested in them at that price. So I did a few laps around the show, checking out other tables, other cards for my collections. Near the end of the day, I went back and offered $60 for the two. I wasn't thrilled with the price...but I didn't think I could get them for any less than that.

He accepted.

By no means do I have 'buyer's remorse'. I am really happy to add a couple more cards to the Parkie Project and in looking at what these cards sell for these days...I think I did ok. Not a steal of a deal by any means, but progress on a project.

And a couple nice pieces of cardboard that will remind me of my time in BC...when I drove out early to a card show.

Can't put a price on that.

Current Collection - 25 cards

Friday, January 7, 2022

BEHIND THE MASKS - 96-97 Pinnacle Masks

 It has been OVER FOUR YEARS since I have posted anything goalie mask related.

Wow!...just letting that sink in for a second.

Goalie mask cards have been a main pillar in my collecting world for 25+ years. I loved what Pinnacle did with their Masks sets in the 90's and appreciated what ITG did with the mask theme throughout the 2000's. I am a real sucker for goalie mask design and history in general and slapping those images on hockey cards is a true no-brainer.

The excitement for new goalie mask-themed cards has been slim to none over the past 5-6 years. Airbrushed lids and lack of robust checklists have really put a damper on things. But that doesn't mean I don't have an active wantlist...and I do make occasional searches online.

But the card I picked up a couple months back at a local shop might just be my favourite piece of cardboard acquired in 2021...and it cost me just five bucks.

1996/97 Pinnacle Masks
#5 Jocelyn Thibault

This might seem like a pretty unassuming card...but it has been on my wantlist for decades.

Let me explain.

There are many collecting projects that I'm pursuing at a pretty pedantic pace. It's less about obtaining the cards and more about finding them when the time is right. I could have very easily picked up a copy of this card years ago (and probably for a half-decent price) but I wasn't in the mindset to be aggressive to grab a copy.

Patience and opportunity are a huge part of my collecting foundation.

I love finding cards that I need locally. There's just something about sifting through boxes and showcases trying to find something to cross off of one of my wantlists. To find a card - and then to see it for a great price - nothing beats that. I'm very happy to hold off on making purchases online in the hopes of finding some of these inexpensive gems in person.

This T-Bo mask card was wavering in and out of that realm for years. The 96/97 Pinnacle Masks offerings aren't the easiest to track down (nor are they the cheapest) so I needed to employ good patience. Sure, there have been a few times when I've jumped on COMC and stared at this copy...but I wasn't about to spend $25 for the card (nor was I interested in the copy with a chipped corner). I'm in no rush.

So to stroll into my local hobby shop a couple months back and see this card staring at me from the showcase...I was gobsmacked. And the $5 price tag made me absolutely gleam. I couldn't pay for the card fast enough, nor could I brag enough about how happy I was to land it. I was subsequently ridiculed for not having a copy in my collection already...but that's what makes collecting so much fun.

It felt like this piece was found at the right time, in the right place and for the right price. There's no better way to land a card than that. find the Ron Hextall to finish the set.  :)

I've got plenty of time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

LINDEN CARD(s) OF THE WEEK - Year-End Pickups

Raise your hand if you are glad to see the calendar turn over to 2022? too.

It's been a challenging year on many fronts, but I am grateful to have what I have, know who I know and have the chance to step away from work (among other things) during this holiday season. These past couple weeks have been ones I've patiently waited for and am doing my best to make the most of it.

Speaking of patiently waiting....I finally received my COMC order that I was hoping to see about a month ago. Better late than never I guess.'s a 'show & tell' post showcasing some of the Linden cards that have crept into the collection over the past few months.

2010/11 In The Game
Ultimate Memorabilia 10th Edition
Stick Rack  1/1

I'm just gonna start with the number one pickup of the year...I couldn't believe it when I saw it surface on COMC. A little higher priced than I wanted to pay...but I finally caved when I thought about just how few cards I've bought this year. I knew I'd regret it if I let it slip by.

I've had this card on my master checklist since its release in 2010...but I questioned its existence as it was the only card of Linden's not to surface in all these years. Sure, it's a one-of-a-kind card...but this was a fairly limited product release...and a lot of it was cracked open. All of the other Linden 1/1s in UM10 were spoken for (I've got two of them myself...including what I consider to be the pinnacle piece in my Linden collection) so to add this one was huge.

I've looked at the card a number of times this's fun to find a piece of cardboard that really gets the excitement going.

I love the simple (almost obvious) design and ITG had always done a bang-up job of incorporating the memorabilia piece (or sticker auto) into the design of the card - it just made sense. 

This is my second nameplate (I also own a Cup 'Property Of' card) and I'm on cloud nine to have this one in the collection.

2007/08 Upper Deck Victory
#136 Black

Another card on the list for far too many years...never seen a copy of it surface until recently (now this year wasn't serial I don't know how many copies exist). But when a fellow Linden collector reached out to me to let me know one was up for grabs on a selling site, I grabbed it without much thought. I figured I had landed a fantastic deal.

I was shocked to find out over the next few weeks that a number of these Victory Black cards have magically appeared. Certainly odd. To not see one for well over a decade...then see 5 or 6 in a matter of weeks.

Sadly, the price I paid for mine was more than all of the other copies...but I can't be too down on it. You just make the best decisions with the information you have at the time. I thought I was in the company of a rare bird, but discovered a flock.

I do know that there are more than 5 copies of this card (which is what other year's Victory Blacks are numbered to).

2020/21 Leaf In The Game Used
The Captain's Log
#TCL-23 Relics Silver w/ Messier, Naslund, H. Sedin  /2

Oh man....let's get this one over quick.

It's a slick looking Linden patch. It's numbered to just 2 copies. It was a really good price. I bought it.

Yes, it has Messier. Yes, it's from a release that has 11 parallels all numbered to 12 or less. But I'm a into the collection it goes.  :)

2015/16 Leaf In The Game Superlative
#SE-20 Signatures Gold Etched  /10

This one surprised me a bit. I had always thought I owned a copy of it...but am glad I checked when it hit eBay a number of weeks back. I probably checked a half-dozen times to be sure...and then placed my bid. Right place, right time...and it was mine.

Love the hard-signed aspect, low numbered (for a product with just a couple parallels, it was nice. Another one that was nice to capture this past year.

2000/01 Be A Player Signature
#213 SHOW Sportsfest Platinum  /10

Out of all the cards I landed, this one might have put the biggest smile on my face. Yes, it's a simple show card...but it finished off an ultimate rainbow - 18 cards...14 of them show cards. I'm actually in awe that they're all accounted for in my collection. 

For some reason, the past year has seen a huge resurgence of early 2000s show cards...and I've been able to land a number of them for my PC. Of course, I'm doing it with an eye on the price tags, and have been able to pick many of them up for prices I'd have jumped on 15+ years ago...let alone today.

These are still tough to come by in my opinion...I'm chalking it up to being patient and keeping my eyes open.

2019/20 Upper Deck Chronology Vol. II
#CA-TL 18-19 Canvas Auto

Gold pen autos are really nice. I'll just put that out there. These Chronology signed cards are fantastic. I scooped up the red version early on and was waiting for the blue copy to hit a price I was happy with. 

This one comes via COMC...but because I had been building up my inventory before having it shipped, I forgot I bought it. I saw a copy at a card show in Burnaby when I was there at the end of October and snagged it.  Oops.

Oh well, I've got some Linden tradebait (which is never a bad thing). 

And again, it's a great looking card. Hard signed and with that canvas-type card feel. Gorgeous.

2020/21 Upper Deck Synergy
#67 Auto Purple  /35

I didn't go to many card shows this past year. In fact, I can count on one hand how many shows I hit up. But the biggest one of the season for me landed this great Linden copy. 

I was excited to see the checklist for Linden cards in this product. A number of sutos, some parallels, tough chases and simple finds. While I haven't been as aggressive with the pickups, I think it's a great mix of cards to chase for the PC.

I probably paid a little more than if I had picked up the card online, but there are times when finding the card in person, holding it before handing over the money, makes it worth it. Really happy to add this one.

2016/17 Upper Deck Premier
#PS-TL Signature Booklets

Last card to show off here in this post...and it's a first.

I've had my eye on this card since it first was released and I'm happy to now say I own a copy. To some, it might seem like "what's the big deal?" but to me, unique items on the collection are always very welcome.

That's right...booklet card. His first one (and I believe only physical booklet card...he has a digital booklet card on Topps Skate, but it's just not quite the same).

Once again, absolutely love the gold pen auto. Crisp signature and hard-signed to boot. It's a simple card, not serial numbered or anything, but I love the looks of it.

This card reinforces to me just how much I love honing in on what it is I want to collect...and then pacing myself to chase and purchase the cards I want to add to my collection. I'm very fortunate that I've found that in this hobby.

I hope everyone finds that in this great hobby.

Stay tuned...I actually got cards for some of my other PC projects as well and will share those in some upcoming posts.

All the best to everyone in 2022.