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.

2014 Topps Series 2 Baseball Preview

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s Topps Archives preview comes our second visit of the year to Topps’ flagship product with Series 2 Baseball!

I always see Series 2 as the weaker of the three flagship releases, with just a smattering of new rookies and everything else coming across as a re-hash/extension of what we found in Series 1. And to be honest that’s pretty much what we’re getting here… However there are a couple of factors that may well make Series 2 an even hotter commodity than it’s Series 1 counterpart. Here’s a link to the sell-sheet for further details…

2014 Topps Series 2 Baseball Sell Sheet

Now, where was I? Oh yes… Those two factors that I mentioned are none other than the crazy-hot rookie cards of Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu!! Now if they aren’t enough of a draw I don’t know what will be?

When I first saw the first previews for Series 1 I have to admit that I wasn’t overly impressed. 2013 Topps flagship pressed all the right buttons for me, from the inserts all the way down to the all-important design of the base cards. 2014 Baseball didn’t have anywhere the same impact for me, although when I finally got my hands on a few of the cards I had to admit that my initial thoughts might have been on somewhat hasty side.

To be honest the design of the base card wasn’t as bad as I first feared although I was still a bit non-plussed by the inserts on offer.

So with Series 2 less than two weeks away from hitting the shelves you pretty much know what to expect! Pretty much the same as before… just with added Tanaka!!

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 🙂

Random!

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…

hubbell

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…

appel

WTF?!?!?!

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 🙂

“…And It’s Goodnight From Him”

So, it’s with a heavy heart that I write this as I’ve finally decided to step away from collecting (again) for the foreseeable future! This also means I’ll be stepping away from the blog for a while to.

It’s a mixture of a couple of things really, firstly not having a reliable source of ‘card funds’ to keep my own collection going, and secondly I’ve been steadily developing a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the Hobby over the last few months. This has spilled over into the blog as well as I’ve been finding it harder to muster the energy to post anything new and relevant. It’s almost as if it feels like I’ve said all I’ve wanted to say at this stage!

I went through the same thing back in October and thought I’d come out of the other side, but it didn’t take long for similar feelings to set in again, and this time I decided to be a bit more proactive in my decision making!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Baseball cards and Baseball card collecting, it just isn’t a good fit for me at the minute. So rather than string it out and hope I get my mojo back it just seems to make more sense to take a break for a while.

I’ll still be active on Twitter, keeping an eye on what’s happening across the Hobby and the industry, and I’ll still be monitoring the blog on a regular basis so feel free to leave a comment or two if you feel the urge!

But before I go and place The Wax Fantastic on hiatus I just wanted to say a big “Thank You” to all of you out there who have taken the time to read, and comment on, what I’ve been writing about over the last year and a bit! The card collecting community is an amazing thing to be part of and I feel truly blessed to have made some great new friends since I started this blog up!

I’ll be back again soon enough, so rather than “Goodbye” I’ll leave with a “See you later”! And who knows when that random urge might just overtake me and I feel the need to crack open a box of wax at some point in the not-too-distant future? Some things never leave you I guess 🙂

And just so you’re aware I’m not turning me back on the blogging community either. I’ll soon be setting up another blog about another of my life’s great loves, this time from the world of television – Doctor Who!

So I’ll sign off now and wish you all a very merry Christmas and an even happier New Year!

Take care, God bless and see you all again soon!

Andy

Collectors Without Borders

You know, every now and again there are certain occurrences in the crazy world of Baseball card collecting that constantly surprise me.

That Prospect cards have taken over the venerable old Rookie card as THE player card of choice is one such oddity that I’ve always had trouble wrapping my head around! That people still go out and buy boxes of Topps Tier One is another! Come on guys, will someone please explain that one to me?

There are others that crop up from time to time, but the one thing that consistently blows me away is the friendliness and generosity of our fellow collectors!

On a personal level I’m always happy to give away cards – always have been! I’m well aware that there’s a thriving trading community out there, both online and at the grassroots level, and I dare say that there are few unscrupulous types who will only entertain a trade if it suits them, if they get the best end of the deal!!

However that isn’t the way Patricia Bates raised her only son, and I’ve always been of the opinion that I’d rather give cards away as long as I know they’re going to a good home. It’s just the way I’m wired! I’ve done it several times in the past and no doubt I’ll end up doing it again in the future!

One such giveaway happened a few weeks ago when I butted in on a Twitter conversation between two Cardinals fans. Don’t you just love that the existence of Twitter somehow allows you to bypass the standard social conventions and rudeness associated with interrupting a conversation in a real world environment? One of these Cardinals fans was my good friend James Ruffin, and the other was Shannon Smith from Sterling, Illinois!

I found out that Shannon had a Yadier Molina PC so I enquired as to whether he had the Gold Parallel #’d/199 from this year’s Topps Archives! He said he didn’t and – BLAM – the card was his. I got his address details and off it went. No fuss and no discussion of a trade. I had a card that another collector wanted and as far as I was concerned the card was his (it didn’t hurt that he was a Cardinals fan either 🙂 )!

A couple of weeks later he found out that I have a fledgling Bob Gibson PC and he sent me a couple of pictures of Gibby singles via Twitter, but I had nothing else to trade so I let him know it was cool and didn’t bother pursuing it further.

Now there’s a popular adage across the sport that the St Louis Cardinals have the best fans in Baseball. On this occasion I’d like to extend this just a bit further and say that they’ve quite possibly got the best card collectors in Baseball as well, as around three weeks later a package turned up from Shannon containing the following –

IMAG0413 IMAG0414 IMAG0415

Wow!! What can I say??

My Gibson collection suddenly jumped by 50% from 40 cards to 60 in one go, and he also threw in a few extra goodies as well including an X-Fractor of Adam Wainwright from 2013 Topps Chrome!

This is a shining example of the generosity of spirit of my fellow collectors! Without any selfish agenda Shannon was happy to part with 24 cards from his own collection, sending them overseas to help to help a fellow collector in a far-off land! It makes my contribution of a single Yadi insert look a bit lame, all things considered! But if you weigh up the fact that we’re looking at a 24 card to one trade, then I guess you’re missing the point to begin with!

James perfectly summed this up recently when he called it ‘collectors without borders’! You see, I love being part of an international community of collectors, and I love that we all watch out for each other – helping out wherever we can to build upon our collections! Sure, getting cards for your own collection is great, but what’s wrong with spreading the love (and the cards) every once in a while too, eh?

Collectors without borders, long may it continue!!

Thanks Shannon!

Introducing My New PC

firstbase

I’ve been toying with this idea for some time and now that the off-season’s here I figured it was as good a time as any!

You see, Paul Goldschmidt excites me!! As a young hitter with incredible potential he was one of only 13 players to smack over 30 Home Runs this last season!! Only 13?!?!? That’s crazy, but if this is any indication of the post-steroid/PED era then I guess we shouldn’t be surprised!

So Goldschmidt has become my new collecting goal, and I’m pretty stoked about it!

And while you’re there, please bear in mind he was completely robbed of this years NL MVP award, probably due to the fact that Andrew McCutchen got to see some post-season action with the Pirates for the first time in like 200 years, or something! Have a read of this article from Captain Canuck over at Waxaholic, who sums up this injustice so much better than I ever could! It’s an awesome read with a great bit of research behind it!!

The A&G auto you see above is so far the only Paul Goldschmidt card I own (acquired in a trade a few months ago from fellow Brit, Jeff Vernon) so the sky’s the limit folks! I’m keen to set up some trades for any of his base cards/inserts and I’ve updated my ‘Trade Bait’ list that you can find at the top of this page!!

Let me know if there’s anything that interests you and maybe we can work something out!

Cheers!

Andy

5 Reasons I Love This Card

baltimore3b

Reason #1

2013 Topps Triple Threads

I have to confess – I’m a little bit in love with this years Triple Threads!!

There, I said it!

From the design of the base cards to the numerous autographed and relic-based inserts, Topps have put together a truly classy looking set of cards!! And while I’ve been vocal in the past regarding my ambivalence towards high-end card sets, I’d happily make an exception in this case!

Reason #2

Themed Insert Sets

You can see from the above image that we’ve got a theme going on with the players depicted. Topps appears to have made a great effort to apply these types of themes across many of it’s multi-player relics in Triple Threads, categorizing by both team and position (or sometimes both as in the above card)!

This is a nice touch and is especially good for team collectors as they can often get three players from the same team on a single, great looking card!

Reason #3

Different Materials

At times you’ll often find a certain amount of laziness when it comes to the manufacture of relic cards! Often you get a single, drab-looking swatch that’s never the most attractive of cards to look at or own. But the thing about this particular card is that once again Topps has taken the time and effort to put together something worth owning.

Imagine how easy it would have been to put three separate jersey swatches together, but instead we get three distinct materials, with a nice differentiation of colour to really make the card stand out

Reason #4

Three of a Kind

Perhaps my favourite aspect of this card is that it features three of the best position players ever to play the game of Baseball! OK, the jury may still be out on Manny Machado (maybe we should revisit this in 10-15 years time), but from what we’ve seen of him so far he’s not given us any reason to doubt that he’ll be up there amongst the greatest defensive third baseman* in Baseball history!

And what makes the card even better is that they all herald from the same team! A perfect example of Orioles past and present!

Reason #5

All Of The Above

Manny Machado, Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr! All on one card!!

Even if you’re not an O’s fan surely you can’t help but get excited at the prospect of a card like this? With it’s gorgeous and varied design, along with its great player selection (TWO Hall of Famers and one potential future member of Cooperstown), this really is a card that stands out from the crowd and would make an awesome addition to my anyone’s collection!!

* OK, I do concede that Ripken Jr is known primarily as a shortstop, but he did move over to third base in 1996 where he remained for the final five years of his career!

*

And if you like the look of this card, why not check out this beauty as well!!

pirates

Let me know which one of these two would you like in your collection the most? Or is there another from Triple Threads that’s caught your eye??

Where Have You Been All My Life?

Some of the more eagle-eyed readers of this blog might have notice a distinct lack of presence on my part over the last couple of months. Apart from a re-blog back at the start of October I’ve not put fingertips to keyboard since mid-September!!

Now, I can appreciate the sort of impact this could have. Hearts have been broken for less!! Stock markets have crashed… Nations have even gone to war, damn it!!

But fear not!! I’m still here, I’ve not gone too far!

The truth is I became a bit disillusioned with the whole Baseball card collecting malarkey! I just wasn’t being as inspired or getting as excited about the Hobby as I had been over the previous 12 months.

Topps’ upcoming 2014 output was starting to look insipid and uninspired! A lack of funds at my end meant that I wasn’t able to get hold of any new boxes or singles, which in turn meant that my own PC wasn’t progressing as quickly as I’d have liked! I was even feeling a bit burnt out trying to maintain the frenetic posting pace that I’d imposed on myself, trying to bring you something new and worth reading on a regular basis!

The thing is, I’m not a writer!

Now while some of you may laugh at this and happily point out that that particular bombshell hasn’t come as that much of a surprise given my prior output, what I’m trying to say is that I’m not a trained writer. I have no previous experience doing this sort of thing. Nothing to tell me what’s great syntax and what isn’t. No idea of how best to structure paragraph upon paragraph of inane ramblings and half thought-through musings about cardboard! Most likely the above criteria applies to 90-something percent of the blogging community!

So when I hit a ‘wall’ in terms of coming up with something new and exciting to continue writing about I ended up stopped in my tracks! Could I/Should I just continue writing just for the sake of keeping The Wax Fantastic going on a daily basis? Or maybe it was time to regroup and take a timeout!! (Or maybe I’m overthinking it all)

So I decided to step away and take a bit of a break! Recharge the batteries, and all that!!

And now I’m back – kind of!

I remember reading something somewhere (I forget where or when) that likened the Hobby to ‘cardboard crack’! And they weren’t far wrong. However off-kilter I feel about it at times I always keep coming back for more! I just can’t help it!! So what if Topps’ 2014 brands are looking all ‘been there, done that’?!?! There’s still a load of other cards around right now that are just as deserved of our time and attention! And then there’s also vintage as well!!!

So while I feel in a good place to go back to blogging again I’m purposely going to cut back on how often I post. I always knew that the rate I was going at was going to be unsustainable for me – as a father and husband, with a full-time job and a host of other responsibilities!

But I can’t turn my back on it completely, I enjoy it too much!!

So for The Wax Fantastic, normal service (or at least what passes for normal round these parts) will be resuming – albeit in a slightly diminished capacity!

Feels good to be back, and thanks for sticking around!!

Andy