Friday, January 21, 2022

It wasn't that bad

Every card company has made their share of dumb cards over the years, but to my knowledge, none of them have ever publically admitted to doing so before. At least that's what I had thought...

Personally, I don't see why Upper Deck was so down on this card. Sure, the autographs are on stickers, but it's hardly the worst looking stickergraph I've ever seen. And yet, Upper Deck, for whatever reason, felt the need to let everyone know exactly how they felt about it -- even going so far as to print their critique right on the back of the actual card itself!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Difficult, but far from impossible

It's been two or three years now since I decided to switch from mostly set collecting, to mostly player/person collecting. For the most part, I have no complaints, and still feel like it was the right thing for me to do.

I do occasionally miss the thrill of the hunt that comes from collecting sets, but on the flipside, don't miss the long stretches of not being able to find, or afford, needed cards for certain sets. 

Right or wrong, I was never, or couldn't ever be, content to leave sets inactive for very long, and felt a lot of pressure to always be seeking out missing cards. I suppose even this wouldn't have been too bad if I had been able to limit myself to just a couple of sets. Unfortunately for me though, once I took up collecting cards again, I just kept starting more and more sets - mostly of the vintage variety - and things just got out of hand. It was making collecting feel more like a chore than a hobby, and my interest in said chore started waning... hard!

Speaking for myself, there seems to be a lot more flexibility with player collecting, and certainly less pressure. I don't feel like I always have to be adding new cards to the player collections, and am completely okay if any of them end up going dormant for months at a time. And unlike sets, I don't feel like I have to try and complete every single player collection, which is a good thing, since it would be darn near impossible to do so with anyone who's appeared on a piece of cardboard in the last decade or so -- that is unless you, or someone you have an in with, have a very deep pocketbook. 

I've started quite a few player collections over the last few years, spanning across the three major sports (there's even one from the fourth major sport). I also have a rather robust number of celebrity/character collections going as well. Not only do these collections provide the variety I crave, but they also insure that I'll always have something that I can collect. This way, if somebody I collect appears in some dumb Netflix documentary that inspires the masses to start collecting them, i.e. driving up their prices, I can just set that collection aside and focus on other folks until everyone loses interest in my other guy (or gal); which the majority of them undoubtedly will.

One thing that I haven't been able to figure out so far, though, is the arbitrary manner in how I go about deciding which cards I want to collect for each player/person. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it, and it varies greatly from person to person. Very little time or research is spent making these decisions either, with most being almost instinctual. More often than not, I know from the moment that I start collecting somebody whether or not I just want stuff from their playing days, or if I'd be happy to just get anything I can from them, or even, and this is a much more recent development, if just one pages worth of cards will do. And then there's those folks who's entire catalog is on my want list. 

For anybody who's entire catalog consists of say, a hundred cards or more, trying to collect them all can be quite a lofty goal. If they played into the late 90's, you'll likely have to contend with inserts and parallels galore (PMG's, Star Rubies, etc.), not to mention possibly some of the rarest pack inserted printing plates in existence (if they even still exist; I have my doubts on some of them). And if it's anyone who's played in the last two decades, or even had the ever present, tribute cards, printed up in the last two decades, well, then you're really in for a challenge, what with the endless amount of 1/1's and all. No, deciding to collect someone's entire oeuvre is not something that should be taken lightly

There are a few players who I'm trying to collect every single 'card' of, but of the guys with a hundred cards or more, there's really only two that I think I have a genuine chance of achieving that goal for. If you've been unfortunate enough to have been coming around here for at least the last couple of years, then there's a good chance you already know that Reggie Roby is one of these two guys. 

I'm not sure what my current count is, but I do know that I'm past the halfway point as far as his catalog goes. I haven't spent a lot of time looking for base cards in the last year or so (those can be gotten anytime), but do spend some time each week seeing if any of his slightly harder to find cards have popped up anywhere. Not surprisingly, people aren't going out of their way to send his items into COMC, but a few do show up occasionally, and more often than not, I'm the one who ends up buying them.

Both of my semi-recent shipments from the site had cards of his in them, some harder to find than others. I did overpay for the Stadium Club card, but since I could see that it was problem-free, I didn't mind ponying up 50¢ for such a clean copy. The McDonald's orange and '86 Police were the better two of what's been seen so far, but the real prize was a card that I showed two Black Friday's ago when I won it.

I don't like to show the same cards over and over, but I'll make an exception for Reggie's only certified autograph, besides last time it had the COMC watermark over it, and that's not a good look.

The front for anyone who cares. Note the stamp in the lower right corner.
Two more of these Pro Line autos have shown up, and are both currently still sitting on the site, since I bought this one; thankfully neither are cheaper though. There are really only two hurdles to clear for someone trying to put together Reggie's entire run, this one, and his Wild Card 1000 stripe. The 1000 hasn't appeared anywhere for sale in quite awhile, and I'm sure if it does during this boom, it'll most likely be out of my price range. I did get that 20 stripe up above, which was my first of the 5 striped denominations. I'd really like to get that 1000 out of the way though.

The only other player over the hundred-card mark that I think I have any chance of getting every card for is Dennis Smith, and wouldn't you know it, I just so happen to have knocked a few of his cards off the checklist, too. 

With Reggie, I knew without even looking at his checklist that I wanted everything, Dennis I had to look up first before deciding. I had to make sure that he wasn't appearing in a bunch of modern sets before I committed myself, thankfully he wasn't. As a brand, Finest has never really done a lot for me, and I know I'm in the minority, but refractors, especially the early ones, don't really excite me either. Because of this, I'm almost never willing to pay the going rate for them. I had been watching this one for almost two years before it finally went on sale for a buck (I think), and even though that was more than I wanted it for, I didn't want to wait any longer for a cheaper copy, so... here it is!

They're not as highly regarded as refractors, but I find Pinnacle's Trophy Collection (Museum Collection for baseball) cards to be the more interesting of the two parallels. Dufex just looks cooler, to me. And if that wasn't enough, the Dufex parallels can be had for considerably less as well, and that's never a bad thing.

I'm not sure how far along I am with Dennis' collection either, but do know that I don't have any of his big 3 cards, those being the Pro Line autograph, the Wild Card 1000 Stripe, and some crazy rare thing that came out in 1987 called an "Ace Fact Pack". It's a card of some sort, but that's about all I know.  [Edit: There's also the 1994 Pro Mags autograph, but from what I've read, it's entirely possible that not all of the advertised signatures made it into the final product; Dennis Smith being among them.]

Reggie's last playing days card appeared in 1996, Dennis' in 1994, so both were able to avoid having cards made during the craziness that was the late 90's. Both guys have only appeared on a couple of tribute cards, and aside from a pair of Score buybacks three years ago, neither have appeared in a modern Panini set. Because of this, I feel like I have a very good chance of completing both of their entire runs. though with Topps (under Fanatics) coming back into the football card fold sooner than later, there's at least a slight chance that my plans will be foiled at some point. Topps is going to need plenty of bodies to flesh out their dozens of football sets that I'm sure will be coming each year for the foreseeable future, and I'm just hoping that given how unpopular both guys are with modern collectors, that Topps will leave these two bodies alone (And I see you lurking over there in the dark, Panini, you stay away too!).

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Starting the year off right

This season's La Niña is proving to be quite the little minx. The daytime highs were in the 60's for two straight weeks to close out the year, culminating in a wonderful, albeit very windy, 72° day this past Saturday. Fast forward about 30 hours, and it started doing this:

It's only a couple of inches, but still, it was just 72 DEGREES like a day earlier! As of Monday morning, when I took this photo, we were sitting at a much less comfortable 25º, with a real feel of 14º. This dramatic change in temperatures brought all of the usual goodies with it, high winds, torrential downpours, tornado watch's, and minor flooding. As sucky as those things are, I'd still take them over snow. In case I haven't mentioned it enough times in past years, I really hate snow! And if this isn't bad enough, we're supposed to get more later in the week, huzzah!

Thankfully for you, this post isn't about Miss Niña, or the kooky weather that she's bring here to middle Tennessee. No, it's just another "Check out this crap I bought in Knoxville" post. I do have a few traveling pics to sprinkle in this time though, so hopefully that'll spice things up a bit.

I guess it was about two weeks ago now that I made my monthly trip to Knoxville. As per usual, McKay's was the primary reason for going, but I also planned ahead of time to go to Bargain Hunters  again too. 

As one might expect, heading towards a decent sized city two weeks before Christmas, much traffic, and many crowds were encountered throughout the day. I survived though. No Rona either. 

Since McKay's is the closer of the two places, and is the one that would see the most people as the day went on, I stopped there first...

Anthologies of this sort are usually very hit-or-miss for me. Given the lineup for this one though, I'm pretty confident that it'll be a hit. And I don't usually judge a book by it's cover, but do give this one a few extra points for it's rendering of American Gothic.

Not much to say about this one. It's the second book in this trilogy, which I should've already gotten at some point in the almost two decades since it came out, but I didn't, so I'm buying it now.

And that was it for books this time, more on that in a second though, first...

When it comes to CD's, compilations are pretty much my bread and butter these days. It's getting harder to find ones that contain enough tracks that I don't already have on other albums to justify the price. This one had 11 songs that I don't already own for $1.95. That's not too bad. Even if I knew how to download songs, I don't think that I could 11 of them for $1.95. I always enjoy seeing old price stickers from other places too. Judging by the "Firm" being added to this sticker, I'm guessing that this particular album spent some time in an antique mall at some point in it's past. I'm gonna go out on a limb too and say that this didn't ever sell for $7.98, and that the person brought this one, and probably some other overpriced CD's, to McKay's to get what they could from it/them.

Here was 15 that I didn't have for $1.95. Even better! Both of these CD's had just recently been marked down from $3.95. I don't think that there'd be a big demand for either of them at this point, but still feel like I was there at just the right time to get them.

And that was this times McKay's haul. Four whole items. On any other day, I would've been a bit annoyed over going all that way and only getting four things, but I still had one more stop to make, so there was still hope that the trip could be salvaged.

I never expect anyone to remember posts that have appeared on this blog, or at least not any that are more than a couple of days old, so even though I did cover my first trip to Bargain Hunters on here, it was over two years ago, and I'd be kidding myself to think that anyone remembers it. With that in mind, Bargain Hunters bills itself as a flea market/antique mall, and is located about 15 minutes from the McKay's. It's in a fairly large building, and if I had to guess, houses a couple hundred booths/stalls.

When traveling to Bargain Hunters via McKay's, you have to skirt along the edge of downtown Knoxville, and even though I don't like being in any cities downtown, this particular trek affords one of my favorite Tennessee sights:

I'm sure that to most people living or working in the area, the Sunsphere is old hat, but to this particular blogger who's only now seen it in person twice, it's still pretty awesome. And for someone who doesn't travel, I think it's kind of neat to be able to say that I've seen two World's Fair structures in person. Seeing this one again, reminds me though of how unimpressed I was by the Space Needle as a kid. Of course, other than Key Arena, I was never very impressed anything Seattle. The best part about going to the Space Needle was the keychain, which has long since disappeared, that I got. It was of the Space Needle, and was one of those deals where it's filled with some kind of liquid, probably baby oil, and depending on which way you turn it, the elevator goes up or down. I'd like to go to the top of the Sunsphere one of these days, I think they let people do that, but I'll have to look into that some more.

Having not been to Bargain Hunters since the Rona got going, I didn't really know what to expect. Obviously much has changed (none of it for the better), and with a place like this, I expected some of those changes to be reflected in the prices. I'm happy to report that there's still a shit-ton of stuff to be found there, no empty booths that I saw, but it did seem like a lot of the prices had escalated since I was last there. Apparently some folks are the under the impression that every single item that falls into the "vintage" or "antique" categories have become hot again, and therefor must be priced as such. It's funny, sort of, but in recent years I find myself walking around places like this, and mentally picking out items that will never sell, no matter the price. There's no shortage of things that people once collected that have since fallen out of fashion, things that will never be in vogue again, and are almost certainly destined for a landfill somewhere down the line. Until then though, you'll continue to see people pricing these things like they're still in their heyday of collectability. It's at both times kind of funny and depressing, with a touch of sad mixed in for good measure.

I remembered there being multiple sellers with booths made up of nothing but books, but didn't remember that most of these booths have their books priced at "collector" prices. Some of these sellers have multiple booths linked together, and almost feel like a library as you're walking through them. It's kind of nice. I noticed plenty of books that I'd have wanted, but after picking up a few and checking their prices, I stopped pulling any more off of the shelves. I did however find one booth right before I was getting ready to leave that had it's books marked at "reader" prices (that's my price range). There were a lot of empty spots on the shelves, but I did find this nifty reference book. It has a few dust jacket issues, but after looking through it, and seeing how well it's contents were laid out, I figured it was worth the $2.50 price tag.

There are number of booths selling comic books, but only one that sells nothing but comic books. I remember this seller from last time I was there, but they switched booths, and added a lot more boxes of comics to their new booth. The majority of the booth is taken up by 30-40 $1 boxes, and then maybe another dozen "priced as marked" boxes. Everything is in alphabetical order, which is nice, but it was already getting late by the time I happened upon the booth, and I did not have time to go through a couple thousand books, so I just tried to hit some of the high points. I should've taken a picture of the booth for this post, but I'm thinking about going back later this month just to spend more time searching through the cheap boxes. If I do, I'll get a picture then. Anyway, I did find a few books, including this seasonal offering from The Punisher.

I should've probably taken these out of their old bags and scanned them, what with all of the glare and all, but I didn't. I think you'll live though. This is one of the series' that I've been meaning to go back and read for years, but always forget to look for it anytime I'm somewhere that has comics.

Here was the find of the day for me! This is one of the first comics that I ever remember getting, and reading. It's cover, which features Crossbones and Bullseye coming to blows over a prone Captain America, is basically THE cover that I associate with reading comics as a kid, and because of that association, is my favorite comic cover of all time. My childhood copy got damaged in a move about ten years ago (my fault for not having it in with the rest of my comics), and I've been trying to replace it off and on ever since. It's not a 'key issue', nor is it even that great of a story (it's part of a multiple book arc), so I never wanted to pay silly online prices for it. I have seen copies in person a few times over the years, but they're usually beat up and still overpriced. This copy is very clean, and was 75¢ more than my original copy, but I don't think I'm gonna find another one for a dollar anytime soon.

This stop at the Bargain Hunters really made up for a lackluster outing at McKay's, and the day wasn't even done yet, there were still two more sights to see...

One more shot of the Sunsphere on the way back, this time behind that cool looking church who's name I can't remember.

And here's something that you really don't see everyday.

I can't remember how far outside of Knoxville this was, but I caught up to this helicopter on a trailer on the way home -- and of course had to try and get some pictures of it.

Even if you don't care about helicopters, can we all just take a second and realize how great this photo was. I had been waiting for this guy to get out of the fast lane for about ten minutes, and when he finally did, I got me one hell of a picture as I was passing. Oh, and for those who might be wondering, my eyes were on the road. When I take pictures while driving, I just point the phone in the general direction of the thing I want to get a picture of, and try to take as many pictures as I can, all with both eyes focused on what's ahead of me. More often than not, I get blurry pictures of partial objects, which obviously aren't gonna be added to posts, but this time, I got a good one. This was by far the best picture that I took last year.

This was next shot taken during my set of bling clicking (the next one after this was just the front of the truck). I don't know anything about helicopters, but this photo captured a clear view of the model. A quick Google search on the R44 Raven II, tells me that what you're looking at here costs in the neighborhood of $200,000 to $400,000. That's an expensive toy. The trailer had a Texas plate, and the truck was headed in that direction, so it's entirely possible that whoever this was came east to pick up their new purchase, and were heading back home when I took these photos. If so, it's a good thing that they've got some money, because I would've hated to see what their gas bill was for that truck even to have come from Texas to Tennessee and back.

Between this trip and the weather, last year sure closed strong. The weather's a bit iffy so far this year, but at least I'm starting things off right on the blog, what with these being my favorite kind of posts to do and all.