Something Old, Something New, Something Game-Used, Something Blue

Guess what?? Time for another giveaway!!

A few days ago I hit 300 followers on Twitter, and I promised a giveaway to commemorate the milestone. I wanted to make it a theme – hence the title of this post – and this time, rather than a single giveaway, I’ve dug out four different items from my collection that I’ll be dishing out over the next four weeks!

— Please note that this is a Twitter giveaway only —

To have a chance at getting hold of any of these four cards you’ll need to be following this blog on Twitter! Now while I can appreciate that some of you might not be MASSIVE fans of Social Media in its various forms, Twitter is something I’ve really embraced over the last few months and I don’t think that this blog would have grown in the way it has without me reaching out into the Twitter-verse and meeting a huge number of dealers, collectors and other industry odd-bods – all joined in a shared love of our great Hobby!

Have a read of this great article from The Pack Gambler, Social Media within the collecting community, and see if that sways you!

Anyway, I guess you want to know what’s on offer over the coming weeks?

Something Old

1975 Topps Bob Gibson

Something New

2012 Bowman Bryce Harper Chrome Prospect

Something Game-Used

2012 Panini National Treasures Josh Hamilton Jersey #’d/99

Something Blue

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Jim Palmer and Brooks Robinson #’d/499

I’ll be drawing the first winner from whomever is following me on Twitter next Monday 20th May at 9.00pm GMT (4.00pm EST). I’m not interested in all of this ‘need to hit 1000 followers’ business before I make the draw. I’ll just make a random selection through TwitterDraw and whoever is following me on Twitter at the time will be in with a chance of winning!

It’s as simple as that!!

First up next Monday will be Something Game-Used!!

Good luck!

Review: 2012 Panini National Treasures

OK, for starters I DID try and do a video for this, but gave up the ghost after four different attempts to gauge lighting, sound and distance.

Whoever knew these videos would be so bloody difficult to put together?? I even had a picture of Christopher Walken up on the iPad in the background, in an attempt to channel my inner Chris Justice – but to no avail!!

So, I took a few pictures of the ‘opening’ instead. It doesn’t quite generate the same excitement that a video does but at least you don’t have to put up with listening to my voice droning on 🙂

So here goes with the opening of the box –

As you can see it’s a lot like peeling back the layers of an onion!

The tin that the mini-box comes in is nice and solid although you can see a little internal damage on the internal inlay (top-left) which looks as if it was done during the packaging process as there’s no external damage to the tin.

This isn’t a big deal and doesn’t detract from the overall experience!

You can see from the final image that the mini-box is also sealed, which is a nice touch!

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Well, with all that opening stuff out of the way it’s now time to look at the cards themselves, in the order they were seeded in the box, starting with –

Card No. 137 – Josh Hamilton ‘Base’ (Jersey) #’d 42/99

First off, these are nice cards made from a good, solid cardstock with a nice glossy finish. I’ve said this before but the all-white background coupled with a fair-sized, mono-chrome image of the player make these base cards absolutely glorious to behold!! My hat goes off to the guys at Panini for coming up with such a striking card design!!

I tell you, these are thick cards and will take a fair amount of bending to inflict any kind of damage on them (not that you’d ever want to, of course)!

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Card No. 15 – Willie Kamm ‘All Decade’ (Bat) #’d 22/99

There are several ballplayers in this product that are getting their first ever memorabilia cards, and Willie Kamm of the Chicago White Sox is one of them!

The ‘All Decade’ subset is one of my favourites in the whole set so I was very please to get hold of this little beauty! Made from the same cardstock as the rest of the base cards I just love the design on the front of this card, especially the pencil thin border that frames all of the detail within!!

Very nice indeed!!

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Card No. 43 – Miguel Cabrera ‘Treasure Materials’ (Jersey) #’d 88/99

Another jersey card, this time from the ‘Treasure Materials’ set, and featuring none other than 2012’s Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera!

Not a lot to say about this one really. The ‘Treasure Materials’ set features all images of current players, courtesy of Panini’s license with the MLBPA, and isn’t one of my favourite in the set. Not because it’s a poor design, far from it, its just that I tend to gravitate towards the cards of the older ballplayers and HOF’ers!

That said, it’s a nice card of one of today’s greatest sluggers, so it’s not all bad!!

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Card No. 18 – Bob Feller ‘Triple Crown Winners’ (Jersey) #’d 81/99

So from one Triple Crown winner to another with this awesome jersey card of Indians Hall of Famer, Bob Feller!

I like the ‘Triple Crown Winners’ set as it features a whole variety of old and new players, pitchers and hitters alike, all brought together under the same design as you see above! The simple use of blues and greys on the white card really accentuates the overall look of the card, and this is another set that I’d like to get more cards of.

Very happy with this one, and the fact that it’s a card of Bob Feller!

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Card No. 214 – Tyler Pastornicky ‘Rated Rookies’ (Jersey/Auto) #’d 71/99

Not a player I’m familiar with but I do like the design, with a huge jersey swatch and an on-card autograph of the Braves 2012 Opening Day shortstop. This design is definitely my favourite of the ‘Rated Rookie’ cards and the jersey swatch is huge!!

Although it’s classed as a ‘rookie’ I’m still a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to a players first card and always look to Topps’ Bowman cards for my rookies and prospects. Call me old fashioned, but it’s just me!!

Still, these cards may well be overlooked by collectors and they make an interesting alternative for rookie and prospect collectors who are looking for early player cards to add to their PCs

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Card No. 94 – Matt Harvey ‘Treasure Signature Materials’ (Jersey/Auto) #’d 40/99

Now I like this!!

The ‘Treasure Signature Materials’ set is not one I’d paid a lot of attention to before, but I like what I see. Made up of 100 cards and featuring a mixture of HOF’ers, retired players, current players and rookies, this is a really sharp looking cards. Even better that it features one of the Mets top young pitchers in Matt Harvey!

The autograph is of the sticker variety but this is something that doesn’t particularly bother me as it does some collectors. What does stand out with this card is that the signature is nice and clean, and the whole card has a nice structure to it! Again, another set that I’d like to add to my own collection!

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Card No. 32 – Harry Heilmann ‘Greatness’ (Bat) #’d 10/99

Another old-time ballplayer finds its way into my collection in the form of Harry ‘Slug’ Heilmann. Another awesome set featuring several of the older Baseball greats, this card has a much simpler design than some of the others in National Treasures!

Nonetheless, I’m still very happy with this one. Heilmann himself was one of the best right-handed hitters to ever play the game, hitting over .300 in 12 seasons and finishing his career with a .342 lifetime batting average.

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And last, but not least –

Card No. 73 – Mike Schmidt ‘Legends Cuts Jumbo Nickname’ (Cut Signature Book) #’d/5

Sorry guys, but it’s a redemption!! Certainly not a bad one from the looks of things, but a redemption all the same 😦

This is a Mike Schmidt ‘Legends Cuts Jumbo Nickname’ Book card, and I’ve had a look at the checklist for this and found out that it’s limited to just five copies!! Now that’s more like it!!!

I can’t tell you any more about it than that, I’m afraid!!

I guess that will have to be another post for another day!

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And that’s all folks!!

Shame about the redemption but I’m looking forward to getting my hands on that Mike Schmidt book card whenever it arrives!!

I was slightly disappointed I didn’t pull either a Cardinals player or one of those Button inserts (don’t know why but I would have just loved one of those), but the Mike Schmidt Legends Cuts Jumbo Nickname Book card will go a ways in making up for that!

Would I consider that I’d made my money back on the box? I doubt it!

Does it matter that I didn’t make my money back on the box? Not in the slightest!!

I got this box for the experience of opening a high-end product, not to necessarily look for the big hits! I loved Panini Treasures before I got hold of the box and I love it just as much now! So I’d like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to everyone at Panini for all the hard work that’s gone into this product, and in making it such a great pleasure to open!

What would I have done if I’d pulled a big $$$ hit? Who knows?!?! If it wasn’t a player I was interested in, like Harper or Trout, I would have probably put it on eBay and ended up getting more National Treasures cards with whatever I would have made from the sale!

In summary –

Best Card – It has to be the Mike Schmidt Book, but as it’s a redemption I’ll also put forward the Matt Harvey card. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how much I like that card ‘in the flesh’! Great design with a nice, clear autograph!

Worst Card – I don’t really have one, but if pushed I’d probably say the Miguel Cabrera ‘Treasure Materials’ jersey as it’s not one of my favourite designs from the set

Overall Box Rating – 7/10 – Apart from the Schmidt #’d/5, I was surprised I didn’t get any other cards that were serially numbered less than 99. That’s not me being greedy, it’s just based upon observations I’ve made from all the other box breakvideos I’ve seen online

Overall Product Rating – 10/10 – No question one of the best Baseball releases in ages

I’d be interested to hear all your thoughts!!

Once Upon A Time…

I’m going to share a story with you. Please bear with me as it will lead somewhere card related!

Just over a decade ago I started working for the UK side of Capital One, the credit card and loan company. As it was a new job I signed up for all the usual benefits and insurances, including a private health care plan, which after 12 months I cancelled as it was costing me extra money each month that would have been better placed in my pocket, especially as my first daughter was due in October of 2001.

Fast-forward to 2006 and I leave Capital One to work for a small IT company (about 25 employees at the time) that provides fundraising software for charities and the Not-For-Profit sector, a job that I love and which I still do today!

Last November our company was purchased by a larger software company (around 400 employees in various offices dotted around the UK) which specialises in financial software! This isn’t going to be a massive change in terms of the job I do but the buy-out triggered a mix up with my Tax Code that is given out by the Inland Revenue (the IRS to our cousins over in the US).

So back in January I contacted the Inland Revenue and explained the situation and they corrected the details over the phone. They advised me what my proper code was due to the private health plan I was paying for as an employment benefit.

SAY WHAT?!?!?

So, basically, it turns out that I was still being taxed on the private health care plan that I stopped paying for back in 2001. This prompts me to write to the Inland Revenue to review my case and three weeks ago I receive a cheque in the post for monies that I had been incorrectly been charged tax on!

As this wasn’t something I was expecting to receive I decided to buy myself a box of cards as a treat (I had to promise to get the wife something nice as well, just to sweeten the deal) and two days ago, Monday 18th March, said box of cards arrived!

I had to do it!!

This is probably the first, and only, time that I’ll ever spend such a large amount of money on a box of cards like this, but as I’ve been so impressed with Panini’s National Treasures from what I’ve seen so far, I just couldn’t resist!!!

As I said, this was on Monday. It’s now late at night on Tuesday and I still haven’t opened it. I’ve got to admit I’m a bit nervous about the prospect!

But I have a day off work tomorrow so I’ll go at it then! I might even do a video of what I find inside, although I tend to get all tongue-tied when I talk on camera so heaven only knows how something like that will turn out 🙂

I’ll post the details of the contents in due course, so stick around if you want to see what’s hidden within this little box of delights!

Wish me luck!

UPDATED I’ve posted the review for your viewing pleasure! Click on the link below to see what I pulled!!

Review: 2012 Panini National Treasures

‘Victori Spolia’

I always wanted to put a bit of Latin into one of my posts so I thought now was as good a time as any. In case you were wondering what that actually translates to it’s ‘To the victor the spoils’.

Last Thursday Panini ran a competition that would net one of the three potential winners a box of 2012 National Treasures Baseball (you might have heard me mention this product before)!

To have a chance at winning you had to find three minuscule images of National Treasures boxes that had been scattered throughout several of the product galleries on the official Panini blog, The Knight’s Lance.

Yours truly had a go, found the correct location for each hidden box, and then in time ordered tradition, failed to have my name drawn 😦

However there were three winners whom I assume are very happy right at this minute! Snagging one of these $400 boxes in a free competition is a collectors dream, so a special shout out is due to Tracy Hackler and the rest of the team at Panini for putting such an awesome contest together!

And special congratulations to the winners of the contest, one of whom posted the contents of his box/pack on Twitter earlier today. So I thought I’d share his ‘spoils’ right here just so you have an idea how a pack of eight, super high-end Baseball cards breaks down!

This particular pack was won by Kevin Landry (@kevinlandry) and here’s the picture he posted –

The cards he received are as follows (from top to bottom) –

  • Signature Series Rated Rookies Patch – Jeff Locke #’d/99
  • Base Prime – Willie Stargell #’d/25
  • League Leaders – Paul Waner #’d/99
  • Rated Rookies Silver (Autograph) – Nick Hagadone #’d/99
  • All Decade Quads – Nap Lajoie, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Miller Huggins #’d/25
  • Rated Rookies Silver (Jersey) – Bryce Harper #’d/99
  • Signature Jumbo Die-Cut – Mike Trout #’d/25
  • Star Jumbo Jersey Book – Roy Halladay #’d/99

This is a GREAT pack! The All Decade Quad is worth the price of the admission alone, but throw in the Harper jersey, the Trout die-cut jersey/auto and the Willie Stargell patch then you’ve got a pretty hefty collection of cards!

So nicely done there Kevin! A veritable feast of card collecting greatness you’ve got yourself there. I’m trying hard not to hate you, but I’m failing miserably 🙂

And remember, dear friend, if you ever tire of appreciating that All Decade Quad Bat card, there will always be a home for it over here in the UK!!

Button It!

As the week winds to a close it’s time to pay one final visit (for the time being at least) to my fave product-of-the moment, 2012 Panini National Treasures!

I know I’ve written quite a lot about this set recently, and with due cause! As a set it’s taken collectors by storm, with it’s mix of the old and the new, coupled with some of the best card design I’ve seen in ages.

One of the things that impresses me about how Panini approaches Baseball products is that, due to a lack of an official MLB licence, they have to be much more creative with the way they put their cards together. This was showcased brilliantly with last years Cooperstown Collection (click here to read my review of that particular release), and it was taken up a further notch with this release.

So for this final look I’ve decide to concentrate on one of the insert sets – the button cards!

When I read the advance details for this years Topps Gypsy Queen release, one of the inserts that jumped out at me was the mini with a button embedded in the card. Here’s an example –

Pretty smart!!

I remember being intrigued by the idea and thought it was a novel and original idea from Topps… But it looks as if Panini beat them to it!

These button cards are proving to be incredibly popular and, due to the player selection and the limited number produced, are fetching some fairly heavy coin on eBay at the moment! Here’s a few that are either currently live or which have recently been sold –

And just so you know that it’s not just Hall of Famers and ballplayers of the past, here’s a few current stars –

I absolutely love these cards – the sheer novelty value is immense and they look amazing!

One of the other things I like about what Panini have done with their jersey relics is that they’ve recycled pretty much ALL of the uniform. So as well as the usual swatch pieces, we also have the buttons and even laundry tags!

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this is hands down one of the best Baseball releases in years. The closest comparison I can make is with last years Topps 5-Star Baseball – itself a gorgeous looking product but hindered with quality issues, especially around the chipped edges!

The secondary market is pushing already high box prices even further skyward and you can click on this link to access one of Panini’s sales reports. It makes for some interesting reading around just how well National Treasures has done since its release!

A Panini America Special Report: Wild Sales from 2012 National Treasures Baseball

I’m hoping to pick up a few singles over the next few months of some of the older ballplayers and I’ll report back with what I manage to get my hands on! In fact last night I just missed out on a base jersey card of 30’s Pirates HOF’er, Arky Vaughan which was limited to only 25 copies! It might be the case I never get hold of one of these cards at all, that’s how cool and limited this product is!

Get ’em while you still can folks!!

Continuing what I’ve now christened ‘National Treasures Week’ I thought you’d like to read this story! A once-in-a-lifetime pull under really special circumstances!! This sort of thing is great when it happens and I’m glad we’ve been able to share in it!

The Knight's Lance

One pack. Eight cards. Sometimes that’s all it takes. So when North Carolina collector Peter DeLorme and his 12-year-old son, Spencer, got their pack of 2012 National Treasures Baseball in the mail from Atlanta Sports Cards on Monday, they knew they had eight opportunities to make collecting history. And on the eighth and final card in that pack, they did.

With Dad opening the pack and Spencer filming the break for posterity’s sake, all Peter knew for sure when he initially set eyes on that final card was that it was a 1/1 booklet of the legendary Honus Wagner. That would’ve been more than enough to qualify as the DeLormes’ greatest pull ever. But you can’t judge a booklet by its cover, so Peter opened it up to discover something much, much greater.

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What’s In A Name?

Now before you start saying “Oh no, Andy’s going on about Panini National Treasures again” just hear me out!

There’s a hell of a lot to like, if not love, about this particular release. None more so than copious amount of relic cards of ballplayers from the 1900’s to the 1930’s – many of whom have never been widely available in Baseball card sets prior to National Treasures.

In case you weren’t aware ALL of the base cards is this set are relics #’d/99 or less! So while it’s NOT impossible to put a complete base set together – it IS pretty much impossible to put a base set together, especially when you consider there’s a Walter Johnson relic #’d/4, a Stan Musial #’d/2 and a Richie Ashburn #’d/1!! IN THE BASE SET!!!

Click on this link to visit Cardboard Connection for a complete breakdown of the product and the checklist!

However with all the various subsets to choose from there is one in particular that has stood out for me as a lot of fun – a variant set based on player’s nicknames.

Throughout the history of the game there have numerous monikers attached to different players, the majority of them very familiar to fans of the game and to the public in general – Joltin’ Joe, Iron Man, Hammerin’ Hank and Catfish, to name but a few! Some were a little bit more obscure – Old Aches & Pains (Luke Appling), Beauty (Dave Bancroft) and The Heater from Van Meter (Bob Feller), are just a few that spring to mind!

Here’s a few examples from National Treasures –

and my particular favourite

‘Big Poison’!!! What an awesome nickname!!

Paul Waner, along with his brother Lloyd (‘Little Poison’), both played together in the same Pittsburgh outfield for 14 years during the 20’s and 30’s. They still rank as the best-hitting brothers in major league history with a combined 5,611 hits – 517 more than the three Alou brothers and 758 more than the three DiMaggio brothers. Paul amassed 3,152 hits, and his .333 lifetime average ranks among the highest ever in the game. Lloyd, a lifetime .316 hitter, collected 2,459 hits, and had it not been for health problems, he might have cleared the 3,000 hit milestone as well.

While the origin of this name has never been properly pinned down, popular Baseball folklore attributes them to the distinctive pronunciation of fans in New York City. Allegedly at a game at Ebbets Field  a Dodgers fan described ruefully how the Pirates’ “Big Person” and “Little Person” were hurting the Dodgers team that day. In “Brooklyn-ese’, the names came out sounding like Big Poison and Little Poison.

So there you go!! Do yourself a favour and check out some of these cards!

I can’t stress enough that you won’t regret it!!

Please Be Upstanding – For 2012 Panini National Treasures

You know it’s not very often that I get completely flawed by a set of sports cards!

Occasionally there’s the odd element of surprise…

“Ohhhhh… Look what they’ve done with 2011 Topps Heritage, it’s just how I originally remember” (had I been collecting cards in 1962… and actually been living in the country where they were produced)

The last time I can actually remember being taken aback by a set was when Fleer first released their Greats of the Game product back in 2000! It was just at a time when I was really starting to appreciate the history of Baseball, and all of a sudden WHAM!… A whole set dedicated to that one topic with the most awesome autograph checklist ever committed to a Baseball card product!

It wasn’t difficult to appreciate that particular release, and while others have come and gone since then it’s not until now that something has come along that’s made me sit up and take notice!

Last week I wrote all about my initial thoughts on Panini’s National Treasures Baseball. Click the link to read all about it!!

Well now the cards have officially hit the streets and the secondary market has been flooded with them…

And WHAM!! There I go again…

Personally I think that these are some of the most beautiful cards I’ve ever seen! The design is transcendant!! Truly awesome looking cards!!

I know that they aren’t officially licensed by MLB… but who cares??

These are cards for collectors!

They won’t come cheap, but Panini should be applauded for the job they’ve done with them. There is pure Baseball history in these cards, and there are many players in the set who don’t normally appear in regular Baseball releases… Names such as Dave Bancroft, Lloyd Waner, Chuck Klein and Nap Lajoie might not be household names outside the world of the Baseball historian or the avid Baseball fan, but here they are immortalised on card courtesy of Panini! And for that we should be grateful!!

The set is absolutely stuffed full of relics and autographs! There are big hits and there are HUGE hits! There are modern stars sitting alongside HOF’ers, Prospects alongside Veterans! There should be something for absolutely everyone!!

Naturally, I concede that these cards won’t be to everyone’s taste, but if you take one look at these cards and fall in love with them in the same way I have then go do yourself a favour and pick a few up… Somehow I don’t think you’ll regret it!

You may want to wait for a while until the heat dies down and some of the prices start dropping off. I did see a 1/1 Patch-Auto of Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario going for a Buy It Now price of $860 earlier… which is both unrealistic AND obscene in equal measure!

You can check on eBay for a good section of cards, but here are a few of my favourites that I’ve found so far and just wanted to share with you… Enjoy!!

This Ozzie Smith ‘Laundry Tag’ card #’d/3 was spotted by my fellow Cardinals fan, James Ruffin (@jamesmruffin), so thanks for that my friend!! I can’t take the credit for that one!!

Pushing All The Right Buttons

Oh Gods of Baseball Card Collecting, why do you tempt me so???

What have I done to deserve such torment??

Ok… I come out and say that I’m taking a step back from collecting for a while. Surely that’s not unreasonable?? I would have come back into the fold at some point in the future.

But you can’t just let it be, could you? Oh no – you have to go and throw Panini’s National Treasures Baseball in my face!

I’ve only just spotted these pieces of cardboard perfection today and (as I believe the kids all say these days) OMG!!

I’ve made it clear on a couple of occasions that I’ve never been the biggest fan of non-licensed cards but Panini really blew me away last year with their Cooperstown Baseball set. I collected my thoughts on it in this semi-review last December. As a result of that set I’ve slowly been coming round to non-Topps Baseball cards as a viable collecting alternative!

I’d love to see what Panini would do with an official MLB license, I really would! This isn’t meant to be any anti-Topps rhetoric, I just think that, given the opportunity, they’d knock it out of the park… And given the over all look of 2012 Timeless Treasures Baseball I’ve got no reason to doubt it!

Check out some of these images from the official Panini America blog, The Knight’s Lance –

2012 Panini National Treasures - Lou Gehrig Button
2012 Panini National Treasures – Lou Gehrig Button

2012 Panini National Treasures - Buster Posey Button/Autograph
2012 Panini National Treasures – Buster Posey Button/Autograph

2012 Panini National Treasures - Bryce Harper Button
2012 Panini National Treasures – Bryce Harper Button

2012 Panini National Treasures - Miguel Cabrera Button/Autograph
2012 Panini National Treasures – Miguel Cabrera Button/Autograph

2012 Panini National Treasures - Pee Wee Reese Button
2012 Panini National Treasures – Pee Wee Reese Button

2012 Panini National Treasures - Mariano Rivera Button/Autograph
2012 Panini National Treasures – Mariano Rivera Button/Autograph

2012 Panini National Treasures - Satchel Paige Button
2012 Panini National Treasures – Satchel Paige Button

You can click here and here for more details about this product that hits the shelves next week (don’t quote me on that but that’s when Tracy Hackler believes it’s happening so that’s good enough for me).

UPDATED – I’ve now added the sell sheet for you to cast your eyes over.

At around $340 a box, which contains a single pack of 8 cards, this won’t be a product for everyone. And given what I’ve written about over the last couple of days concerning the ‘big hit’ mentality it’s a wonder I’m bringing these to the attention of anyone at all…

But the cards look so damn pretty!!! The mono-chrome image design set off against the clean white backgrounds really sets these cards apart from other high-end releases! Panini have really gone to town on these cards and the results are simply stunning!

And they’ve got buttons on cards!!! How cool is that?!?!?!?!?!

It might be the case that you’ll be able to pick up some singles from the set, along with some of the inserts and relics, at cheaper prices after a short while. Who knows, maybe the non-licensed aspect to it will scare some collectors away?

I certainly hope so… More of the good stuff for the rest of us if that’s the case!

I’ll be keeping a close eye on eBay over the coming weeks to see what sort of prices these are going for.

Hold on a sec, I’m not supposed to be collecting at the minute!!

Oh, screw it… that didn’t last long!