Archive for the ‘Upper Deck’ Category


Retail Hobby Boxes–Say What?

Posted: June 9, 2013 by Crackin' Wax in Upper Deck
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If you’re anything like me, then a stop at the card aisle in your local retail store is a must. If I’ve wandered off during a grocery shopping trip with my wife, she never needs to wonder where I am. She knows. Card aisle. Even in years that I’ve been on collecting hiatus, I’d still stop by to see what’s new.

My latest trip to the downtown Minneapolis Target yielded something I had not seen before. Sitting on the shelf next to brand new blasters and just beneath new rack packs were two hobby boxes–both 2004 Upper Deck Series 2.

A hobby box at a retailer? That’s odd. Stranger still is the particular product being sold. It’s a late series edition of mid-00s Upper Deck baseball–not exactly a stellar set. The box contains two hits on average, both jerseys. Perhaps we’ve been a bit spoiled since 2004 with the types of hits offered in standard hobby boxes. Knowing that the ONLY hits I’d be pulling would be jerseys is less than thrilling. Not only that, the price point seems a bit high. Yeah, it’s a hobby box at a retail store. Sure, it’s about $30 cheaper than it was in ’04. None of that is enough to make me want to slap $40 down on an overproduced and, frankly, boring product–especially when, if I really wanted to buy a box of ’04UDS2, I could buy it for much less online.

So, what’s the deal, here? Why in the world is Target selling hobby boxes? The answer is given away by the shelf price tag. The label lists the manufacturer as EXCELL, a distribution company out of Iowa. As far as trading cards are concerned (these hobby boxes in particular), Excell purchases unsold cards from hobby shops, other distributors, etc. and sends them out to retailers like Target and Wal-Mart to be sold. Target does not order any specific cards and the products stocked there by Excell are pay-per-scan–which is to say that no one makes any money off of these hobby boxes until someone buys one.

If I were an uneducated parent of a young collector who didn’t know better and saw what seemed to be a good deal on a hobby box, I might be tempted to buy one. However, knowing that any hobby boxes I find at a retailer are likely junk being resold by a distributor at (what I believe to be) an unreasonably high price, it’s a good bet I’ll never buy one.

While I believe that this type of hobby box reselling is relatively harmless (and practically pointless), it does make me wonder if NEW hobby sales at retailers is just around the corner? My guess is that, if this were to happen, retailers would have to have their card shelves stocked by distributors in much the same way they do with old hobby boxes thru Excell. The reason for that being that I highly doubt Topps, Upper Deck, Panini and other card companies will cease production of retail exclusive SKUs. Not only that, I really don’t feel that people want to spend high dollar amounts on one box of cards at a Target or Wal-Mart (my opinion, of course). I just don’t see new hobby boxes moving very well in these types of stores. So what would make anyone think that old junky hobby boxes would do any better–even if they are a bit cheaper?

Would or have you purchase(d) a re-distributed box at a retailer like the 2004 Upper Deck Series 2 baseball that I found at my local Target? What are your thoughts on the possibility of retailers carrying new hobby products?

Some of my Twitter followers may remember me mentioning that I had never received any trading cards of any kind for Christmas. Firstly, I just remembered that I in fact DID recently receive some trading cards from my mom a few years ago. Remember the Topps/LJN Baseball Talk Collection? My mom had bought the player and a few of those cards for me for Christmas when I was a kid and did so once again a few short years ago. So, other than that, I’ve never received any trading cards of any kind for Christmas.

Of course, that was until this past Christmas.

While most of my family is well aware that I run a trading card company, very few of them are aware that I am back into collecting and run a trading card blog. One of the lucky few possessing such knowledge is my father-in-law.

First, a short story about my father-in-law that is completely relevant to this post. He’s a retired principal. Throughout his years running schools, he had confiscated a small collection of trading cards of all sports, brands and years from little troublemakers. One year for my birthday, he passed that small collection down to me. I still have them sitting in my office in the 9-pocket pages in which they came.

Last year (and I do mean 2012, not 2011), my father-in-law went out of his way to attend an auction to pick up some cards for his favorite son-in-law–me! I can say that because I’m his only son-in-law. *wink wink* The box was entirely filled with what you might call junk wax, and, indeed, most of those cards were from that era. They range from 1978 Topps to 1986 Sportflics and 1990 Classic to 2003 Opening Day. It ended up being quite an assortment with two unexpected gems mixed in the rough. There was even a football card inexplicably tossed in!

Can anyone name the year and brand of the Tom Paciorek?

The cards, as shown in the first image above, were and continue to be contained within a shoebox. The cards themselves were in no way shape or form organized. With the exception of a few stacks being separated by brand, all of the cards were sorted and collated by hand by me. It took me the better part of a day to go through each of the appromixately 1000 cards therein. Normally it wouldn’t take me quite so long, but there were over 30 different products to sort through, and I had a good time sitting back and actually studying some of the cards.

1986 Sportflics. Who doesn’t love Sportflics?

When I ran across the 1986 and 1987 Sportflics, I got all giddy like Dave Grohl in a classic rock hall of fame get-together that he wasn’t invited to but still decided to crash. What is it with him hanging out with the legends lately? I mean, I love Grohl and, seriously… good for him, but… I just hope it’s Paul McCartney and Led Zeppelin seeking Dave out and not the other way around. We all know it’s the other way around, though.

Who am I to criticize? You think Led Zeppelin and any of the Beatles, as much as I love ’em, would even consider giving me the time of day?

1987 Donruss. Leaf? Purple? What?

Looking at the three cards above and find yourself scratching your head? Maybe you’re thinking that Donruss invented the parallel card? When I was sorting through the box of cards, I originally filed all three sets into one larger stack. That’s because I didn’t pay close attention to the differences. The “purple” version is actually from Donruss’ 1987 Opening Day, a smaller set than the more familiar 1987 Donruss flagship set. The “Leaf” version was licensed and sold in Canada and features French translation on the back. Leaf produced all three sets.

Way to go, 80s. Way to go.

The 1980s, in almost every single facet, is the decade of ugliness. Some of the ugliest set of baseball cards were designed in the 1980s. They had to have looked good to someone at the time or I seriously doubt the lead designer at Classic would have allowed that pile of pink and grey vomit to circulate. Fleer, on the other hand, pretty much dominated the 80s in trading card ugliness. It’s a crown that Donruss would happily take up in the 90s.

See what I mean? Way to go, Donruss… I mean Leaf!

See what I mean? At least by 1993 the Donruss set started to take a cue from Topps and Upper Deck and started to clean things up. The designs before that, though? Just a horrible reminder of the sign of the times.

What’s the matter, Welch? Afraid to be seen on a Score baseball card?

That’s not to say that there weren’t some cool concepts being used in the 1990s. Score started experimenting with artistic photography in their trading cards and, at least for me, it paid off. Some of the more memorable and striking cards come from Score in the 90s. Of course, some of the more disturbing images also come from Score in the 90s. Now, Donruss wasn’t ALL bad in the 90s. Much like the Yaz above, I always thought their puzzle cards were amazing and fun. What’s that? Trading cards? FUN??

The most abundant product in the shoebox full of old junk wax is by and far the 1991 Upper Deck set. A simple thumb-through of this set alone gives you a good idea of just how picked over this box was. As I sorted and collated and stacked and separated, it became very clear to me that whoever put this box together was smart enough to pull out anything significant. That doesn’t mean this box was a dud. Not by any stretch. Maybe I’d only be able to sell it on ebay for a couple of bucks, and maybe I’d only be able to trade it for one item off of my Want List, its real worth was in the thought and effort by my father-in-law. The real value was in the fun I had digging through the memories that these cards brought back to me.

Of course, there did end up being a couple of surprises sitting in the middle of one of the sets. I didn’t even notice them on first sort. It wasn’t until I was organizing the sets back into the shoebox that I realized what I had.




We’re now down to just 4 teams! Still available are the A’s, Mariners, Reds and White Sox. Full slots are now discounted!

This is not a rare problem in the trading card collecting community. We’ve all been there. We’ve all gone through it. With so many ways to collect, so many different companies producing cards of all kinds, so many different products offered each year and countless other factors each collector must weigh, who could blame us? In fact, I am willing to bet that at least one of you reading this right now is suffering some form of Card Collecting Attention Deficit Disorder.

Of course, my collecting concentration has narrowed and become more focused over the last few years but that does not preclude me from future bouts of “ooh, shiny” distraction. I’ve gone from wanting every single Twins card ever made to collecting anything that Beckett said was worth anything. I’ve gone from digging a hole of debt to scrounge up as many Twins hits as I could afford to trying to put together the ’09 A&G set. I’ve yet to see any of those collecting routes through to fruition (although I got VERY close with the A&G set–in fact, I may still put that damn thing together yet).

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The one collection, if you can even call it that, that has escaped my attention with the least effort features, naturally, a Minnesota Twin–Joe Mauer. While scouring eBay for Twins hits and Joe Mauer autographs, I came across a (still to this day) gorgeous 2007 Upper Deck SP Authentic Joe Mauer “By The Letter” autographed manupatch “U” numbered 25/25. I paid up a cool $50 or so for it with the thought that I would find and buy the remaining letters (M, A, E and R) a few months at a time. However, after sealing the card up inside a mag-case, I basically forgot about the rest of the cards. I somehow got distracted.

There it still sits, on my display case with none of its other signed manupatch companions to surround it. I haven’t given much thought lately as to whether I will FINALLY seek out any of the other letters. At this point, the card is well enough on its own. It may even serve as a reminder of a much more disorganized day in my collecting life.

While this Joe Mauer card represents the chaos in my baseball card collection, there is another Joe Mauer card in my possession that defines my currently much more focused collecting habits.

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Perhaps the most sought-after Joe Mauer card on the market, the 2002 Bowman Chrome RC AU sits comfortably close to the Mauer BTL on my display case. It was this beauty that gave me some real direction. Knowing that I had just landed likely the biggest RC AU I’ll see in some time, that Mauer card inspired me to begin collecting other Twins RC AUs. I’ve since stopped hoarding every Beckett listed card I come across, I’ve temporarily abandoned my quest for every Twins card ever printed, I’ve been on an ’09 A&G hiatus and Twins hits have become an afterthought. I’m currently up to 35 Twins RC AUs–37 if you count the two signed game-used rookie cards also in my collection. The great thing about collecting Twins RC AUs is that there is a very manageable list of cards for me to go after, not many people collect them so they’re typically easy to get and, as long as the Twins are still around and card companies keep making Twins RC AUs, I’ll always have a reason to keep chasing.

If you happen to have any Twins RC AUs that you neither want nor need, give me a shout. If you’d like to trade, please see my Trade Bait page at the top of the blog.

Look what I got in the mail today!

To tide us all over until I bust into this sucker next Wednesday, I’ve ripped into 4 packs of 2010 Upper Deck. In the video, I’m pretending to play BoBuBingo for those of you who aren’t quite sure how the game will work. I’ve worked out different scenarios that may play out, so please, print out your assigned Bingo cards, give it a watch and learn!