Exit, Pursued By A Bear

I’ve put this off for a long time…

Sadly this will be my final post for The Wax Fantastic! You probably saw this coming for some time but I just wanted to go and make it all official!

When I first started this blog off just over two years ago it was with the lofty aim of uniting UK-based sports card collectors. Along the way I’d like to think we’ve got some way to achieving that somewhat ambitious and over-sized goal.

I say ‘we’ as it’s certainly not something that I’ve been solely responsible for. Over time I’ve met dozens of of like-minded collectors, both here and overseas, and I’d like to think that we’ve made some huge strides in bringing together our somewhat fragmented collecting community here in the UK.

I’ve also been blessed to have made several new friends through this blog – contact via the wonders of Social Media, or even in person, has meant that I’ve been able to reach out and share in the anecdotal lives of numerous other card collectors. Building relationships in this way has simply highlighted what a great community we’re all part of. The levels of trust, honesty and integrity that I’ve come across on my travels have had an incredible impact on me over the last couple of years, and I’m proud to have been accepted into this community; accepted as one of you!

However I’ve now decided to move on from baseball cards.

Over the last 12 months my interest has slowly waned in the modern baseball card and what it stands for. I no longer see any innovation in what Topps is producing. The same products seem to get released year after year with nothing more than a fresh lick of paint and a couple of extra bells and whistles. If we do get ‘new’ products more often than not they’re of the over-priced, high-end variety… Out of reach for those of us with the more modest of card budgets.

It’s easy to blame this stagnation on the exclusive licence agreement that Topps has with MLB, and many will. It’s incredibly simple and straightforward to bash Topps over the perceived state of the hobby, but to what end? Back in 2010 Topps stated that their aim was to bring kids back to the hobby – I’ve never seen nor heard of any evidence of where this has happened. The most ‘innovative’ of the products that Topps has given us recently is Topps Bunt. Thousands love the idea of digitized card collections and flocked to it in droves. Personally I thought it was all a pile of shit, but that’s just me 🙂

I like a lot of what Panini has done with baseball cards but feel they are shackled by a lack of licence with MLB. Without that in place I don’t feel that collectors will ever truly embrace Panini as a baseball card manufacturer. That might be why their business model has taken them down the route of an exclusive licence with the NBA and the NFL.

However please don’t misunderstand. I still think that Topps produce some beautiful looking cards. It isn’t all about the ‘evils’ of Topps and the current state of the hobby. Other factors such as increased overseas shipping costs from the US and a general lack of disposable funds have both played their part in this decision to leave the hobby right now.

One day I may well come back, but if I do I feel that I’ll only be looking at cards and products that were released prior to 1980. Old cards still grab my attention and who knows when I might dip my toe once more into the waters of vintage card collecting?

So for now I’m gone. Stick a fork in me, turn me over… I’m done!

All that remains is to thank you all for your support. Your comments, critiques, honesty and good humour will be something that I’ll treasure for a long time.

The Wax Fantastic will still live on as a blog! It still gets around 30-40 views a day and there’s still a lot of interest in some of my old posts around the pitfalls global shipping and dealing with eBay. I just won’t be posting anymore.

The Twitter account – @TheWaxFantastic – will also still be active but I’ll probably end up deleting that in due course. 598 followers as well! Who’d have thought it?!

I won’t be leaving the world of blogging completely though. I’ve had too much of a good time putting voice to my inane ramblings over the months, and I have too many interests that occupy my thoughts on a daily basis, that I still wanted to share some stuff with anyone out there that’s prepared to listen. And with that in mind my new blog was born…

Andy’s Big Blog O’Stuff 

I’ll be covering pretty much anything from popular culture – films, books, TV, games, sports, and so on, and so on! Hell, we might even squeeze in some baseball cards from time to time – stranger things have happened 🙂

So if you feel like dropping by to shoot the breeze, chew the fat and crack the wise then click on the above link and hit the follow button (top right at the moment, until it no doubt moves). I’ve not posted anything just yet, and the design format may well change, but you’ll get a notification through each time I put up something new.

So it’s goodbye from The Wax Fantastic for now! If anyone arrives here looking for details on UK-based card collectors then please head on over the the Yahoo Group that’s looked after my good friend, Glenn Codere. Here’s the link – UK Sports Cards

I’ll still be stopping round there occasionally, just tell Glenn I sent you 🙂

My new Twitter account is @50ShadesOfBates

Give me a follow and I’ll follow you back!!

Take care all and thanks for the ride. It’s been a blast!



“WTF?!?!? Did you know José Bautista BLOCKED me on Twitter?”

This very morning saw me taking a ridiculously early train for a business trip down to London. As per usual I use such trips to take full advantage of the world of Social Media, in particularly to catch up with what’s happening on Twitter.

Much to my disappointment I noticed that I was no longer being followed by well known Twitter lover and Blue Jays stalwart, Mr José Bautista. Admittedly I stopped following José some weeks ago myself so this came as little surprise (although given the fact that José will follow pretty much anyone, as his 217K+ follows clearly demonstrates, maybe I should have been worried?!)

So I decided to give him a Follow back, you know… rekindle the love that we once shared for one another… But NO!!!! This is what greated me!!! –


BLOCKED!!!! By José Bautista?!?!? Say it ain’t so, Joe-sé (see what I did there 🙂 )

Was it something I said José??? Actually, I guess it was pretty much something I said but more on that in a moment!

A few weeks a go I wrote about my ‘delight’ about being followed by everyone’s favourite Jays outfielder. At least everyone’s favourite Jays outfielder that isn’t Melky Cabreara, Anthony Gose or even Colby Rasmus. I even ran a little caption competition to honour the great man… You can click here to read all about it if you missed it first time around.

And now this!!! Why José, why?!?!? OK… I may have called you a “media whore” in the past, but it was only meant in a good way!! It came from a place of love José, a place of love! Why have I been ostracized?? Why have I been exiled to the Social Media wilderness?? You’ve made me a veritable Twitter pariah, José!! A pariah I say!!! What makes me so different to the other 217,000+ individuals that you love and care so much about that you deemed them worthy of a Follow? How is it you can clasp them to your somewhat overworked torso and yet leave me out there… cold and alone?? The shame José, the shame!!

How can I turn to my 8 year old daughter, Hettie, and tell her you’ve turned your back on me? You were her favourite, José!! She absolutely adored you, looked up to you!! Well, I imagine she would have done if she had any love or appreciation for baseball and known who you were in the first place. I suspect she’s drawn to paternal figures with immaculately managed facial hair, although she’ll never admit it!

So where does this leave us now ‘old friend’??

No longer can I read those numerous quotes you tweet, from individuals far greater than yourself, in a vain attempt to somehow pass yourself off as profound or well read, or perhaps both. How can I track the progress you’re making with ‘Booster Juice’ (#BoosterJuice)? How can I live without those crazy-ass tweets that you used to do in Spanish? Sadly, due to my inability to understand the language I could never really follow what you were writing, although I always imagined it was some really funny shit.

Sniff… (Wipes single tear from eye)

No time for sadness or recriminations… No hard feelings… Just some great memories! Like when I used to rip into you for using those random quotes! Or when I used to kid you over your insipid talent for self-promotion!

Ahhh… Good times José, good times!

I know that you might not have any love for me anymore José, but I’ll never turn my back on you. For me you’ll always be the same abject Face of MLB (#FaceOfMLB) failure this year that you were last year. You know what though? Keep trying kiddo!! Never give up! Everyone loves a tryer! In the immortal words of Eric Cartman…

“Follow your dreams. You can meet your goals. I am living proof. Beefcake! BEEFCAKE!!!”

I guess that’s all I’ve got for now. I guess… It’s just… I…

(Throws himself on the floor and pounds fists into the ground, sobbing uncontrollably in an overly theatrical fashion)

WHY José, WHY DAMN YOU?!?!? Please have me back José! If you don’t want to do it for me José, then think about the kids, man!! THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!!!

(Picks himself up off the floor and sheepishly dusts himself down)

Ahem… Well that’s all I’ve got for now José. Take care dude!

Love and hugs, Andy


(Exits stage left)


FYI – You can follow José on Twitter – @JoeyBats19 – just don’t tell him I sent you 😉

2014 Topps Tier One Baseball Preview

June is a busy month for Topps Baseball releases.

Next week (11th June) sees Series 2 of the flagship set hit the streets and you can read all about that in my preview right here!

The following Wednesday sees the prospect heavy Bowman Inception hit the shelves, and more on that to follow soon!!

Tomorrow brings us the third release of June in the form of Tier One Baseball. Click on the link below to check out the details and to get an idea of what you’ll be getting for your hard earned cash –

2014 Topps Tier One Baseball Sell Sheet

When it comes to previewing new products I’ll always try and be as honest as I can, usually concentrating on the positives over the negatives, but if there’s something worth saying about a new release I’ll happily share with any of you who are interested.

The problem is – I don’t like Tier One Baseball!

Pretty straightforward really… Never been a big fan!

You see I’m not a huge fan of high-end products anyway, I might have mentioned that before 🙂 but I’ll happily acknowledge that high-end products have their place in the Hobby. I do think that Topps produces far too many of them each year, and they’ve only gone and increased that number this year, but I guess that they’re a feature of the Hobby that’s here to stay for the long term.

For me high-end equates to flipping for profit. Don’t get me wrong, Topps does produce some lovely looking cards in their high-end releases but they can be the scourge of player collectors as singles of even the most obscure and little-collected players will often reach silly levels on the secondary market due to dealers/collectors trying to make a return on their original investment.

Products like Tribute, Museum Collection and Triple Threads are particular favourites as they have some nice looking base cards to back up the autographs, relics and autographed relics that you’ll find in their thousands! However Topps Tier One is an odd beast as it doesn’t actually have any base cards in the product, it’s just pure relics through and through!!

For me it’s got to be one of the most unnecessary sets of the year! I’ve never owned a Tier One card and most likely I never will! I guess I’ll be spending my money elsewhere. Try not to lose any sleep over that one Topps!

Anyone else out there a big fan of Tier One? Let me know as I’m intrigued as to what you see in it.

Waxing Cynical

There’s a well known and often used quote from Oscar Wilde that goes as follows –

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”

This was one of the first quotes that I ever read as a (much) younger man that actually got me thinking about what the author was trying to convey to the reader.

The notion of ‘price’ and ‘value’ are intrinsic to the universe of collectibles, and never more so than in the world of baseball card collecting. You see, ‘price’ and ‘value’ can mean very different things to a lot of different people. For some there is a clear distinction between the two ideas; some will see a slight overlap, while for others they are virtually interchangeable.

I’ve written a fair few pieces since I started this blog concerned with why we collect baseball cards and what means to be a collector. I’m fascinated by the ‘philosophy’ of collecting – what drives us to collect in the first place and what our collecting goals actually are, and one of the most interesting things about the Hobby over the last couple of decades is how there’s been a shift in emphasis in how we perceive the ‘value’ of the baseball cards that we all love!

Last week I read this really fascinating article by Rich Klein over at Sports Collectors Daily regarding our expectations around what we find when opening a box of baseball cards. Please give it a read by clicking on the link below and I’ll see you when you get back…

Rich’s Ramblings: Do Consumer’s Have a Right to Expect Secondary Market Value?

All done? Great stuff! So what did you think about some of the ideas that Rich plays around with there?

Personally I think he hits the nail on the head! As collectors we’ve become a group where the prospect of scoring that big ‘hit’ from a box of cards has become paramount. I wonder how many collectors out there bust open boxes wax and don’t even see the cards for what they are, instead they scour through each pack in eager anticipation of the treasures that lie within, with each card they come across automatically being given a $ value based upon past experience and anticipated secondary market value?

It reminds me of an old episode of 30 Rock called ‘Apollo, Apollo’ where we get to see the world through each character’s eyes. Tracy sees everyone as himself, Kenneth sees everyone as Muppets, while Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy sees everything with a price tag attached to it highlighting its monetary value.

Is this what collectors are becoming? Or maybe this is what they’ve already become? Sure we shell out a fair amount of money for a box of baseball cards in the first place, but if your main expectation is to get a solid return on your purchase then surely you’re opening that box for all the wrong reasons?!? I know that all collectors don’t fit this model but I get the impression that it is becoming more and more commonplace for collectors to behave this way.

Media such as Twitter doesn’t necessarily help as you will often see collectors showing off their ‘hits’ for everyone else to see, like some kind of badge of honour. In itself there’s nothing wrong with this and it’s great to share in other collector’s success stories. However no-one ever gets to see the ‘smaller’ cards as no-one is ever interested in that sort of thing. Personally I’d much rather see images of several cards of lesser stars that are going straight into someones lovingly built PC, as opposed to a single big hit like a BGS slabbed orange refractor autograph of the latest top prospect!

In fact I often feel that prospect collectors are among the worst culprits for this sort of thing. And before you say it, NO I don’t hate prospect collectors in the slightest. I’ve met some truly wonderful prospect collectors out there in Hobby-land, through either my ramblings on Twitter or through this very blog itself. Chasing prospects just isn’t a type of collecting that’s for me, however I feel lends itself perfectly to the point I’m trying to make!

I appreciate that we all have different ways of collecting, but whenever I see those high value prospect cards in their PSA, SGC or BGS slabs I can’t help but think of them as commodities rather than valued collectible pieces, and I often wonder if that’s how their owners view them as well. The simple fact that these cards are graded often speaks volumes as to how these cards are perceived by collectors. Lets face facts, the higher the grade the greater a cards potential value.

For me the true ‘value’ of a baseball card comes from the collector having a ‘connection’ to their card or their collection. Whether that connection is grounded in some sort of emotional context (the love of a team, the love of a specific player), or simply because the collector has an appreciation of a card itself (such as the its overall aesthetic, or perhaps its historical significance to the game or the Hobby), I can’t help but feel that a card or collection should mean something that goes beyond the perceived monetary value.

Has the hobby embraced the view that unless you somehow get a return on the initial cost of your box then the box itself and its contents are in some way judged to be a failure? For the Hobby to thrive collectors surely have to look beyond the notion of flipping their hits to make money. We’re all guilty of wanting the big ‘hit’ from our Hobby boxes and often I’m no better than anyone else in this respect, but it’s important to remember that there are probably somewhere between 200-300 other cards in a Hobby box that aren’t ‘hits’, and these cards are worthy of your love and attention just as much as the ‘hits’ are!

Of course I could well be totally off-base with this, but the more high-end products I see entering the market (the upcoming Topps Supreme or Topps Dynasty anyone?) the more desperate I feel. These types of products provide the perfect outlet for flipping cards for profit, propagating the notion of the ‘collector-as-a-dealer’ (or EADS as described by Rich in his article), for anyone who can afford to buy these often ridiculously priced products in the first place.

Have collectors become the type of cynics that Oscar Wilde wrote about all those years ago, knowing the ‘price’ of what they collect but failing to see any ‘value’ other than what it might be worth on the secondary market? Maybe one day soon we’ll see another shift in the Hobby, a shift away from this ‘collecting for profit’ mentality that seems to have emerged slowly over the last several years? Or maybe I’ve got it all wrong to begin with? Perhaps this type of  ‘collector’ is the norm now and the Hobby will grow and evolve around them.

Maybe it’s just me that’s being a little bit cynical?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue and any personal experiences you might want to share. My door’s always open and thanks for taking the time to read this!

2014 Topps Archives Baseball Preview

OK, I know I’m woefully behind on my product previews… Humblest of apologies!! My attention to the blog over the last few months has been somewhat lax but I hope to get that rectified over the coming weeks. However as I’m behind on my previews I’ll do my best to play catch up from now which is why you’ll probably see a glut of them appear over the next few days or so.

And to kick us off here’s the first – 2014 Topps Archives!

Now this is a bit of a non-preview really as the product itself was actually released Stateside yesterday and cards are already starting to pop up all over eBay.

Still, if you want an idea of what’s in the set then take a look at the promo details in the link below

2014 Topps Archives Baseball Sell Sheet

Now in its third year I have to confess I have a soft spot for Topps Archives. It’s one of those retro products that doesn’t feel as if it takes itself too seriously. There’s a small(ish) checklist of 200 base cards along with 50 SPs, a plethora of different inserts and a huge checklist of on-card autographs of numerous players from the 70’s and 80’s who you wouldn’t ordinarily see gracing the auto checklists in the majority of Topps’ other baseball card releases!

One of my concerns this year is the further increase in number of SPs that set-builders will have to chase. 2012 had 40 and last years product saw the number rise to 45, but 50 seems a tad excessive to me, coupled with the fact that there are several key rookie cards in amongst the SPs, including the sure-to be scorching hot debut cards of Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka!! That’s sure to piss a few people off!

This year’s base card designs are made up as follows –

1973 Topps # 1-50
1986 Topps # 51-100
1989 Topps #101-150
1980 Topps #151-200

Big fan of the ’86 style cards myself, but I know that everyone will have their own favourites, those particular designs that will trigger some long-buried memory from their card-collecting youth! And that, in a nut-shell, is why this particular product works as well as it does!

And all this before I’ve even mentioned this year’s special autograph inserts!! 2012 had the oddly conceived, oversized boxtopper autographs of two actors from the original Karate Kid, including Martin “Sweep the leg” Kove; last year we were underwhelmed by 80’s Heavy Metal stars; and this year Topps gives us the rather awesome prospect of several stars from Major League!! They’ll be pretty limited so expect to be paying top dollar to get your hands on one!!

In all honesty, as with the majority of their baseball output so far this year, Topps hasn’t done a great deal to re-invent the wheel with 2014 Topps Archives. As is usually the case they’ve added more ‘value’ to the product which only server to further complicate the collecting process. But as I’ve got such a soft spot for Archives I’m prepared to let that slide on this occasion 🙂


I’ve been away from the blog for a while so thanks to anyone out there who’s been sticking around.

I just wanted to take a break from my self-imposed exile to share a little anecdote based around a recent adventure on eBay.

You see for the last couple of weeks I’ve had my eye on this piece of cardboard awesomeness…


For anyone who recognises the player – kudos!! For anyone who doesn’t then this particular card is from the 1939 Play Ball set and features New York Giants screwballer and Hall of Famer, Carl Owen Hubbell.

Hubbell was one of the most dominant pitchers of the 1930’s and played his entire career with the Giants from 1928 to 1943. He even remained on their payroll long after their move from New York to San Francisco, all the way up until his death in 1988.

Among his numerous accolades he was perhaps best remembered for an incredible pitching feat in the 1934 All-Star game where he struck out five of the AL’s greatest hitters –  Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin – in succession!!

The above card was listed on eBay for $32.50 BIN with pretty cheap postage to the UK. I didn’t have the funds in PayPal at the time so I decided to keep my eye on it. A few days later a few items did eventually sell and my PayPal coffers swelled. I went back to the Hubbell but still didn’t pull the trigger. I think it was because there was another Play Ball card from the same set that I had my eye on that was stopping me fully committing myself to the purchase.

So I kept it there, checking every few days! I loved the card… Really loved it! The wear and tear is perfectly acceptable. The rounded corners and slightly frayed edges are part of the inherent charm of this type of card, and in no way were holding up my decision to ‘Buy-It-Now’ it!! But I kept holding off… and holding off… and holding off…

And then two days ago I promptly went and dropped $34.88 on this…



Even now, less than 48 hours later, I’m still having trouble working out my thought process behind this one.

There’s nothing wrong with the Appel auto… Far from it! Around $35 is pretty much what this card is fetching at the moment so I can’t even say I snagged myself a bargain. It’s a nice looking card with a sharp sig, so no complaints there!

The thing is I’ve never had Mark Appel on my radar from a collecting point of view. I’ve done no research into what his cards were shifting for when I arrived at my decision to bid on the card 2 minutes before the auction ended. I didn’t know if I was paying over the odds or not. I just saw it and felt I had to bid on it! I didn’t think for one minute I’d win… But I did! And now I’m the proud owner of a (yet to be received) 2014 Bowman Mark Appel Prospect Autograph!

The stoooopid thing is I’m not even sure that it’s a card I even want! I wasn’t sure at the time, and I’m not sure now! Some crazy notion crossed my mind that I needed that particular card and the damage was done! Pretty much all of my eBay purchases are usually thought through with a great deal of care and I’ve never done anything like it this before.

So I’m throwing this one over to you guys! Has anyone else out there made a purchase based on pure impulse? A purchase with simply no thought or prior-planning? Even though it’s an odd experience for me I’m sure that there are others out there in collecting-land who have done something like this!

I’m intrigued! Is it something you’ve later regretted?? Or is it something that has turned out to be overwhelmingly positive?

And please let me know what I need to do to stop it happening again 🙂


OK then!!

Favourite thing I’ve seen today has to be this picture of New Zealand teen songstress Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor (or Lorde to the rest of us) meeting up with former Kansas City legend, Hall of Famer and overall bronzed adonis, George Brett!


My initial thought was “WTF?!?!?! Random!!!”

However what I first considered to be a completely fabricated PR stunt designed to get two individuals together who had absolutely no idea of who the other was, tenuously linked only by a song and a baseball team, was soon put to bed when I read this story from the Kansas City Star

George Brett, who inspired the song ‘Royals,’ finally meeting Lorde

So there you have it!! Who’d have thought it?!?

Consider me schooled!

I would like to add that I hope I look as good as Brett does when I turn 60… Although somehow I doubt it!



Coming Soon… Topps Aluminum?!?!?!


Mmmmmm… Where do I start?

Just over an hour ago Topps posted this image on Instagram with the tagline – ‘Topps Aluminum. Coming Soon’


Now I’m assuming we’re looking at another new set maybe? A metal set??? Perhaps a limited release? Or online only? Reprints?? Who knows?

I’m having a hard time figuring out what to say about this one to be honest. It all feels a little bit out of left field, and given the material that the card seems to be made from I’d envisage that it’ll be another high-end product. Something we’re all clamouring for I’m sure.

Well Topps, you’ve piqued my curiosity so far… Lets see what else you’ve got!!

Review: 2014 Topps Heritage Baseball

Ever since returning to the Hobby a few years ago I’ve been constantly on the search for a set to collect. My fickle and ever-changing moods have made this a far more difficult task that it’s needed to be, but a couple of years ago I set my sights on a specific set-building goal.

1965 Topps Baseball is my favourite vintage set from the 60’s. I can’t really put my finger on why this is, it just think that it’s one of the intangible things that is, simply because it is! I think that there are better looking vintage sets out there – 1957 Topps being top of my list (somewhat controversially, maybe) – but from the 60’s the ’65 set has always stood out.

So when I knew that we were only a couple of years away from Heritage’s take on the ’65 set I decided that was the one I was going to aim for. It looked as if I was finally ready to take on the Heritage challenge, with its 425 card base set and several dozen SPs!! Bring it on!!

Now, I may have told you before that I have a very limited budget for cards. This is one of the things that’s always frustrated me about being a baseball card fan, this inability to buy a constant stream of up to date product! So with a huge amount of patience I started putting away my pennies from various eBay sales and started stockpiling my Heritage fund. About a month before the official release date I pre-ordered two boxes off eBay and then settled down to wait for the release itself… and wait… and wait… and wait!

When the product was delayed it didn’t go down too well with Patricia Bates’ favourite son, but eventually the boxes did arrive on my doorstep… Heritage Day was finally here!!

This was a bit of a first for me as I don’t recall ever opening more than one box of the same product in the same sitting (negligible budget, as I said), so I was going to make a big deal out of it – milk it for all it was worth. You know? Make the moment last… Stretch it out as looooonnngg as I could… Savour every… single… moment…

15 minutes after starting, I’d finished! Sigh…

Here’s a breakdown of what I got from the two boxes –

Box toppers : 2 Advertising Panels (not opened yet)
Base (1-425) : 233/425
High number SPs (426-500) : 16/75. No dupes
Action Image Variation SPs : 3 – Bryce Harper, Derek Jeter, Matt Kemp
Logo Variation SPs : 0
Chrome Parallel (#’d/999) : 4 – Giancarlo Stanton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Yadi Molina, Patrick Corbin
Chrome Refractor Parallels (#’d/565) : 1 – Alfonso Soriano
Black Chrome Refractor Parallels (#’d/65) : 1 – Michael Wacha

Black Back : 1 – John Danks
New Age Performers Inserts : 6/20. 0 dupes
Then and Now Inserts : 4/10. 0 dupes
Baseball Flashbacks Inserts : 4/10. 0 dupes
News Flashbacks Inserts : 4/10. 0 dupes
1st Draft Inserts : 2/4. 2 dupes (both the Johnny Bench’s)
Hits : Clubhouse Collections – Bryce Harper, Wilin Rosario

In terms of the hits I’d say I punched well above my weight with some nice Action variations; a black refractor that any Cards fan would be happy to own; a very rare black back parallel and an awesome Club House collection jersey card of Mr Bryce Harper! Was I happy with those inserts?? That’s a clown question bro!!

Here’s a better look at some of the goodies –


As I said, VERY happy with the inserts!! But I was never in this for the inserts to be honest… Nope, for me this was all about the set building! Get as many base as I could and then pick up the rest through trades and such-like. It’s helped a lot that there’s been a pretty high level of interest for this set over here amongst my fellow UK-based collectors, so it looked as if things should be pretty straightforward!

Shouldn’t they?

Well take a look at this next picture!


The stack on the right are the unique base cards while the stack on the left are the duplicate base cards! 147 base dupes to 233 unique base! Can you maybe see where I’m heading with this?

I’ll come straight out and say that I love the product, nothing changes there. Great fun to open and a great range of inserts! Lovely looking cards and a decent quality card stock! But those dupes?? Man… those dupes!!

I never laboured under any illusion that two boxes would have netted me a full 425 card base set, but 233 unique base?? Come on!! That’s only just over half!! (54.8% if you wanted to be specific). I managed to pull the same cards at a ratio of almost 2 dupes to every 3 unique base! 2:3!!! Is that right? Is it acceptable from just two ‘random’ boxes?? My friend from north of the border, Glenn Codere, opened two boxes of Heritage just before me and ended up with 79.3% of the 425-card base set! Now that’s more like it and what I’d have liked to have seen myself.

However I guess the boxes weren’t that random after all. I went back over my packs and noticed that some of them were almost identical, except for the inserts. Same seller and I assume (although I haven’t verified) the same case! So what happened?!?! How did I manage to get cursed with such lousy collation?

I immediately went to my go-to-guy on Twitter, case-breaker extraordinaire Mr Brent Williams, who verified that this can be quite a common occurrence, with roughly every three boxes often being the same in terms of content. Another Twitter user advised that Topps don’t randomize their packing sequence, so that when dupes come they come in droves! So maybe it was just my bad luck that I ended up with two boxes that had similar content? If it happens, it happens, but I can’t help thinking that I somehow got the raw deal here.

The thing is boxes of baseball cards aren’t cheap these days. I’d saved for a good while, letting other desirable cards that I would happily have picked up just pass me by… Steadily building up the excitement for the release of this years Heritage! Only to be faced with a high number of dupes that I wouldn’t have expected to get from such a small sample of packs!

The aftermath of breaking down these two boxes has pretty much soured my whole experience with this product. I’m incredibly wary about buying another box, just to chance my hand at filling the gaps. In some ways the enthusiasm I’ve had for 2014 Heritage over the last couple of years has all but evaporated and has left me with a really bitter taste in my mouth. Yeah, I guess I was just unlucky and yeah, maybe I should quit bitching about it and appreciate the cool inserts that I pulled. But as I said earlier, it was never about the inserts in the first place. It was always about the base, about the set itself, and in that area Heritage has come up severely lacking!

Please Topps, do something about the way those boxes get packed to avoid something like this happening to other collectors. To get this level of duplication from just two boxes is woefully unacceptable and simply shouldn’t happen. It creates bad feeling and adversely affects those individuals who invest their hard-earned time and money into you and the Hobby!

I know that it’s too late now but I really wish I’d held off the this year’s Gypsy Queen, although potentially the same thing could have happened there too I guess! The worst thing is it looks as if I won’t be going back to Heritage again anytime soon, and to me that’s a lot sadder then any stack of dupes ever will be!

In Defence Of… The Relic Card

With the recent release of the ‘game-used’-heavy 2014 Topps Museum, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time mulling over the relative merits of memorabilia cards.

Let’s face it, you can’t avoid them as they’re one of the standard insert sets that you stumble across in pretty much every sports card product that’s released these days. From the heady days of the late 90’s when Upper Deck first cut up ‘game-used’ jerseys of Griffey Jr, Tony Gwynn and Rey Ordonez to seed in random boxes of 1997 UD Baseball, to a year later when they committed the cardinal sin of sawing up a bat used by the Sultan of Swat himself, game-used memorabilia cards have become part of the sports card DNA over the last decade and a bit.

Of course, once upon a time these inserts were crazy hard to find and many of those early cards still fetch high premiums on the secondary market. However today’s game-used inserts (or ‘relic’ card as it’s started calling itself today) are virtually two-a-penny, and can easily be found littering pretty much every box of cards that gets produced. Such a high proliferation of these types of cards on the market has resulted in a laissez-faire attitude amongst collectors, and very few relic cards (apart from the incredibly rare short-printed versions of HOF’ers and superstars) seem to carry any kind of weight in the Hobby.

Naturally memorabilia cards have evolved over the years. Alongside those ‘pioneering’ jersey and bat cards we now have patches, buttons, laundry tags, bat barrels, bat knobs, gloves, and so on, and so on! Companies still seem to be pushing the boat out with regard to how they present these items in card form, but is the concept becoming tired after all this time? Maybe just a little bit stale?? Does anyone really care anymore when they pull a small piece of jersey once belonging to <insert the name of any semi-star you like… I’m going with James Loney only because he was the first to pop into my head> that’s cut up into a centimetre square and embedded in a 2″x3″ piece of card??

I’m guessing the answer is a big fat NO (unless you happen to have a James Loney PC)!

Certain news stories over the last few years have cast further doubt over the lowly relic card as a viable form of collectible memorabilia, as it has emerged that a number of different parties have been accused of passing on fake items to the major card companies as the genuine game-used article. Just Google the name ‘Bradley Wells’ for an example of what I’m talking about!

So where does that leave us now with the relic card?

I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know any collectors out there who exclusively pick up game used cards! Maybe there are the odd one or two who will chase them down to supplement their own PCs, but as a collectible in it’s own right the relic card just doesn’t seem to be near the top of anyone’s list as far as I can tell. In fact I know of a fair number of you out there in the Hobby who positively detest them, and avoid them at all costs!

Now, I guess it’s time to let you into a little secret… Are you sitting comfortably? Cool! Here goes…

… I have a little bit of a soft spot for game used memorabilia cards!

BOOM!! There we go… and it’s out there!!

I gave up many moons ago thinking that game used cards were a ‘link’ to the player depicted on the card. I dismissed the notion of ‘game used’ as being the overriding factor behind these cards existing in the first place and learned to start accepting them as a regular old insert, just like any other. Once I did this I felt like I’d made my peace with relic cards and became much more appreciative of them. After all, just look at what Topps has done with this year’s Museum Collection and you’ll see some absolutely stunning looking cards!! The same can be said year-in year-out with Triple Threads! I won’t bring Tier 1 to the table as I think it’s one of the most unnecessary sets of cards out there… Damn I loathe that product!!!

I’ve even gone down the route of considering collecting game-used relics of players in Cardinals uniforms but, as with most of my grand collecting schemes, the idea was aborted early on as I moved on to another fad!

So that’s what they are to me now – a quirky insert set. Certainly not my favourite in the pantheon of baseball card heaven, but certainly not the derided and under-appreciated card that they appear to be to many of my collecting brethren!

Let’s spend a few moments to have a think about the ‘lowly’ relic card then, eh? Is it really that bad? Can it be redeemed in the eyes of even the most vehement anti-relic collector?? Personally I think we should all give the game-used memorabilia cards another crack of the whip – another chance! Given the general feeling towards these types of cards there are often some real bargains to find on eBay and such like.

So the question is now – how do you all feel about relic and other game-used memorabilia cards? Do you collect them yourself? Maybe just a few of your favourite team or player? Maybe you even have a secret love for them just like I admitted to above? Or do you avoid them like the plague?? Worst baseball card idea ever? And if you really, really hate them – why do you hate them?

Feel free to leave your comments below! I’d love to hear your thoughts!