Saturday, January 28, 2017

Old School Box Breaks: 98-99 Topps Finest Series 1 Basketball Jumbo

 photo 20170127_215835_zpswjyeqnyb.jpg 
We're going backwards a year with Finest, this time getting the 98-99 Series 1 version of the product. 98-99 was a weird year for basketball as a lockout  ended up wiping out 32 games of the season. Due to the lockout, rookies were not included in most Series 1 releases and if they were it was only in redemption form. Nevertheless, Finest still remained one of the top products of the season and even with the absence of rookies, collectors still chased refractors and the hard to find inserts in the set. This is actually the Jumbo Box that I'm breaking so instead of the usual 24 packs, 6 cards per pack format, it's 12 packs with 13 cards per pack and more generous odds at the inserts.

What To Look For: Well, as stated above, no rookie hunting in Series 1, as that was saved for the Series 2 release. Despite that though, you have MJ's last Bulls Finest Base Card here (along with the Refractor and No Protector Refractor version) along with the Hardwood Honors insert set (which includes MJ) and the super tough Centurions (and refractor versions). The double sided Mystery Finest and refractor parallels are here as well.

 photo 20170127_220245_zpsck6cawsd.jpg 
Basic Set Info
98-99 Topps Finest Series 1 Basketball (Jumbo)
125 Base Cards
12 Packs Per Box
13 Cards Per Pack

Inserts
No Protector (1:2)
Refractor (1:5)
No Protector Refractor (1:10)
Double Sided Mystery Finest (1:14)
Double Sided Mystery Finest Refractor (1:59)
Centurions (1:42)
Centurions Refractor (1:281)
Hardwood Honors (1:14)

Let's get to rippin!

Box Topper Refractor
Shareef Abdur Rahim

Pulled a Jordan Base so happy about that!

No Protector (1:2)
David Robinson
Sherman Douglas
Armon Gilliam
MICHAEL JORDAN!
Christian Laettner
Charlie Ward


Refractor (1:5)

Blue Edwards
Allan Houston


Non Protector Refractor (1:10)

Travis Knight

Double Sided Mystery Finest (1:14)
Scottie Pippen/Keith Van Horn (First thing I saw was the Bulls Logo and thought pleeease be MJ lol)

Hardwood Honors (1:14)
Rik Smits

Centurions (1:42)

Zydrunas Ilgauskas (#286/500)

Overall Thoughts: I pulled the tough to find Centurions insert, but it was one of the weaker players on the checklist. I'm a little disappointed in the inserts, even 20 years ago, insert cards of Big Z and Rik Smits don't exactly scream excitement but I'll tell you what made this break for me. Michael Jordan. I'd say it's basically been 20 years since I've opened packs of cards with the chance to pull MJ cards when he was an active Chicago Bulls players and back then, just pulling a base card was considered a win. That's the exact feeling I got here when I not only pulled the MJ base, but the MJ No Protector Parallel card. Just a great feeling and though the rest of the "hits" weren't great (the Van Horn/Pippen is still cool, and though the players aren't good, I LOVE the Hardwood Honors and Centurions inserts) it was still a fun box to open thanks to MJ! Here's pics of the hits!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Top 5 Pulls of 2017

#1- 2016 Donruss Optic Gold Vinyl Cam Newton 1/1
#2- 2016 Donruss Optic Derrick Henry Rated Rookie Autograph (#43/150)
#3- 2016 Donruss Optic Kenneth Dixon Rated Rookie Holo Autograph   Redemption (# to 99)
#4- 2016 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS Devontae Booker  
#5- 2016 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS Paul Perkins



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Old School Box Breaks: 99-00 Topps Finest Basketball Series 1

 photo 20170124_160413_zpswcneql5s.jpg 
Time for Round 3 of Old School Box Breaks and it's time to bust open an old box of Basketball this time. Topps Finest has always been a favorite in mine, with the refractors and inserts and rookies. Although by 1999, Topps Finest had certainly lost a little bit of its luster with more and more super premium brands coming out, it's still in my opinion one of the better products out there for the 99-00 season.

Background: So a little background on why I'm busting 99-00 Finest. Back in 1999, my aunt and two cousins moved from San Angelo, Texas down here to Corpus Christi and ended up living with us for a few months until they got settled in. One of my cousins, was 3 years younger than me, and I basically got him collecting cards and Starting Lineup Figures because honestly, I spent every Saturday hunting for SLU's and going to our local cardshop in town, The Dugout. With my cousin's new found hobby my Aunt went bonkers and would only by him the "best" boxes i.e. more expensive. So for Christmas of 99, I'll never forget his mom getting him a box of 99-00 Skybox Premium AND a JUMBO BOX of 99-00 Finest Series 1. I was insanely jealous, because the box of Finest was just a pipe dream for me. Not because my parents couldn't afford it, there was just nooooo way they'd drop $150+ on a box of basketball cards. I was "stuck" with retail boxes, which was cool, but man was envious of someone who had barely started collecting, getting to bust a super expensive box. I remember him pulling a Lamar Odom rookie (which honestly was the BEST rookie you could pull at that timeframe as Odom was a pretty hot rookie out of the gate) and a Sweet looking Kobe Bryant Dunk Masters insert. So fast forward all the years later and since I've gone on this nostalgia kick, 99-00 Finest was a box I had targets. I didn't get a jumbo box, but I got a regular 24 pack box for $66 shipped. It took me 17 years, but I'll FINALLY get the thrill of opening a box of Topps Finest Basketball, lol.

What To Look For: So let's put our 1999 glasses for this. Obviously the big hits at the time are the rookies, refractors, and gold refractors. Despite a promising start, the 99-00 class actually isn't that great of a class. You've got solid guys like Elton Brand, Ron Artest, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Baron Davis and guys that had super hot starts but fizzled out like Steve Francis or had a ton of personal problems that destroyed his career like Lamar Odom. At the time though, Brand, Odom, Marion, Francis, and Baron Davis were pretty hot sellers. To my knowledge, Steve Francis rookies were held over to series 2, so you can't pull them in this series. To me, the best insert in this set (and one of the best insert sets of this era) is the Dunk Masters insert. They also have a refractor counterpart. I'm definitely hoping one of these pops up in my break. 

 photo 20170125_180340_zpst7unqbqp.jpg 
Basic Set Info
99-00 Topps Finest Series 1 Basketball
100 Base Cards 
33 Bonus Base Cards (1 Per Pack)
24 Packs Per Box
6 Cards Per Pack

Inserts
Refractors (1:12)
Die Cut Gold Refractors (1:62)
Double Feature Non Refractor/Refractor (1:26)
Double Feature Refractor/Refractor (1/78)
Dunk Masters (1:73)
Dunk Masters Refractor (1:364)
New Millenium (1:55)
New Millenium Refractor (1:273)
Future's Finest (1:73) 
Future's Finest Refractor (1:364)
Finest Producers (1:22)
Finest Producers Refractor (1:109)
Leading Indicators (1:30)
Finest Salute (1:108)
Finest Salute Refractor (1:5,054)
Finest Salute Gold Refractor (1:16,992)
Team Finest Blue (1:55)
Team Finest Blue Refractor (1:546)

Alright time to rip!

Notable Rookies
Elton Brand
Shawn Marion
Wally Szczerbiak
Baron Davis


Refractors (1:12)

Rex Chapman
Gary Payton


Double Feature Non Refractor/Refractor (1:26)

Tim Hardaway/Alonzo Mourning

Double Feature Refractor/Non Refractor (1:26)
Karl Malone/John Stockton


Double Feature Refractor/Refractor (1:78)

Mitch Richmond/Juwan Howard

Leading Indicators (1:30)
Jason Williams


New Millennium (1:55)

Paul Pierce (#882/1500)

Finest Producers (1:22)
Grant Hill

Future's Finest (1:73)
Cal Bowdler (#213/750)

Finest Producers Refractors (1:109)
Shareef Abdur Rahim 
Overall Thoughts: Basketball breaks have always been my favorite out of all sports and this was no different. Again, just like the two other Old School Breaks I've done...SO MUCH FUN!! Grading this on the 1999 curve, I really think this was a solid box. Finest Rookies were still popular and when this product came out, Elton Brand and Shawn Marion were definitely two of the best rookies (along with Odom and Steve Francis) in this class. Baron Davis was also solid too and I think people forget about Wally Szczerbiak and his potential on that T'Wolves team (where he did make 1 all star team). Insert wise, beat the odds big time with the Shareef Producers refractor. The Pierce New Millennium is my favorite card out of the break, and the White Chocolate insert is pretty cool considering J-Will was coming off a hot rookie season and his cards were still in pretty high demand. Grant Hill was also a heavy hobby hitter at the time, so it's nice pulling a 1:30 insert of him. Overall I LOVE the Finest Inserts and designs, just so cool looking (even the Future Finest Bowdler). Another slam dunk break from back in the day! Here's the hits!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Top 5 Pulls of 2017


#1- 2016 Donruss Optic Gold Vinyl Cam Newton 1/1


#2- 2016 Donruss Optic Derrick Henry Rated Rookie Autograph (#43/150)


#3- 2016 Donruss Optic Kenneth Dixon Rated Rookie Holo Autograph   Redemption (# to 99)


#4- 2016 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS Devontae Booker


#5- 2016 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS Paul Perkins


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Old School Box Break: 1998 Topps Finest Series 1 Baseball



 photo 20170121_144100_zpsuxahf4bz.jpg 
So, here is box #2 in my trip down memory lane. 1998 Topps Finest Baseball Series 1. Again the price was right to me ($35) and it'll be fun busting what was a premium product back around the height of baseball's popularity. 

What To Look For: What I love about these kind of breaks, is there are no memorabilia hits or autographs to chase. The cards you are looking for are insert cards. Obviously hitting a key player's refractor would be nice, and even better in the no protector version. Mystery Finest cards are always fun and there's the refractor counterparts of those too. Power Zone inserts are tough to find but the sequentially numbered Centurion inserts seem to be the hardest to pull. Even harder to pull are the Centurion refractors. Hitting one of those would definitely be super sweet.

 photo 20170121_144300_zpspeni1tge.jpg 
Basic Set Info
1998 Topps Finest Series 1
150 Base Cards
24 Packs Per Box
6 Cards Per Pack

Inserts
Box Topper (1 per 3 boxes)
No Protector (1:2)
No Protector Refractor (1:24)
Refractor (1:12)
Mystery Finest (1:36)
Mystery Finest Refractor (1:144)
Centurion (1:153)
Centurion Refractor (1:1,020)
Power Zone (1:72)

Here we go!

Box Topper (1 Out of 3 Boxes)
Nomar Garciaparra

No Protector (1:2)
Brad Radke
Ken Griffey Jr
Checklist
Willie Greene
Scott Erickson
Charles Nagy
Jeremi Gonzalez
Jeff Kent
Lance Johnson
Cal Ripken Jr.
Wally Joyner
Todd Jones

Refractor (1:12)
Livan Hernandez
Butch Huskey

No Protector Refractor (1:24)
Ugueth Urbina

Power Zone (1:72)
Jose Cruz Jr. (Would've been a really nice pull back in 98 lol)

Mystery Finest Refractor (1:144)
Tony Gwynn!!

Overall Thoughts: What a fun box to open!! The refractors weren't great, but the Gwynn hit more than makes up for it to me! Also that Cruz hit would've been a pretty solid hit back in the day, and the box topper surprised me as well, one of 3 boxes!! Also love pulling the non protectors of Cal Ripken and Griffey too! I like looking this from the 1998 perspective and to me this was a super solid box. It might not look like it from today's standpoint but regardless it brought back the fun of opening packs, ESPECIALLY the Mystery Finest insert, one of my favorite ideas. Peel the film to see who you got and I got a pretty good one! Overall, just like the SPX Football box, nostalgic alone made it worth opening this box, and to add to that fun, I love beating the odds on the inserts!! Here's pics of the cards!

 photo 20170121_154355_zpsxcn8r6iu.jpg 
Just a look at some of the base cards of the Superstars of the time

 photo 20170121_144201_zpsxd4btrun.jpg 
The Nomar Box Topper, larger than a standard card. You got one of these out of 3 boxes

 photo 20170121_160932_zps8elkja2c.jpg 
More Superstar Base Cards

 photo 20170121_160937_zpssrrhln3r.jpg 
More Base Superstar Cards 

 photo 20170121_151206_zpshv4y2xzk.jpg 
Front of the Griffey No Protector Parallel

 photo 20170121_151218_zpsekgecg4x.jpg 
Back Of The Griffey No Protector Parallel. The back of the No Protector Parallels have  a chrome finish

 photo 20170121_155347_zpsbftzal5b.jpg
 The refractors I pulled

 
One of the tougher inserts to pull. Power Zone's are pulled at a rate of 1:72 packs, or 1 in 3 boxes. At the time, Cruz was emerging superstar and his stuff sold pretty well. This would've probably been considered a pretty nice hit at the time.



Front of the Mystery Finest Refractor of Tony Gwynn. Each Mystery Finest card is double sided and either features two players on each side, or one on both side. The refractor parallels are hard to pull at 1:144 packs. The card is first covered with a black film on both sides of the card as to hide who's on the card thus the "mystery" aspect of the set.

 
Back of the Gwynn Mystery Finest Refractor

Top 5 Pulls of 2017

#1- 2016 Donruss Optic Gold Vinyl Cam Newton 1/1

#2- 2016 Donruss Optic Derrick Henry Rated Rookie Autograph (#43/150)

#3- 2016 Donruss Optic Kenneth Dixon Rated Rookie Holo Autograph   Redemption (# to 99)

#4- 2016 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS Devontae Booker

#5- 2016 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS Paul Perkins








 



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Old School Box Break: 1996 SPX Football


 photo 20170117_162144_zpsxso1fzbm.jpg 
Well, after getting a little fed up with today's current product, both the price of boxes and content, I decided to go a little old school and pick up a box of 1996 SPX Football. Why SPX Football? Well, one it was relatively cheap, and two, the SPX brand was one of my favorite brands of the 90's and I thought it'd be fun to bust a box of something that back then when I was a kid, could only afford a pack or two of at a time. We'll start with a little background history on this product.

Some Background: When Upper Deck came out with it's SPX brand across all sports in 1996, it definitely was a game changer and to me, one of the predecessors to the Super High End cards that we see today. At the time when super premium products were just starting to gain traction (products like SP, Topps Chrome) here came an offering that was an all holographic base set with the kicker being, the packs having one card per pack. This was relatively unheard back then and some people scoffed at paying $5 or more for a 1 card per pack product. I thought it was an awesome concept, and I couldn't wait until Basketball hit the shelves so I could try a pack. I've always been a sucker for Upper Deck's holograms, and that combined with a slick die cut design sold me on the risk of buying a 1 card per pack product. I remember paying $6 for a pack of basketball at my local shop and pulling a Hakeem Olajuwon base. I ended up buying the Penny base at a card show (still have it) because the cards were soooo cool. I never bought football and baseball SPX packs (though I do have a couple Griffeys I bought off Ebay) and the SPX series basically lasted 3 years before evolving into to something else (SPxFinite) but it definitely left a lasting impact on the hobby.

What To Look For: Remember that this is 1996, so the "chase cards" might not seem that awesome 20 years later. To me though, the "chase cards" were the base cards themselves (along with the gold parallel that falls 1 per 7 packs). Remember you only got 1 card a pack, so to me you're chasing the base cards of the superstars of that era. Emmitt Smith, John Elway, Dan Marino, Barry Sanders, etc. There were also two tribute cards that were seeded high, one of Joe Montana and one of Dan Marino. The "biggest" and most hard cards to get are autograph versions of the Marino and Montana, one of the earlier examples of early to mid 90's products having autographs inserted into packs. There's also a HoloFame insert set that falls at 1 in 24 packs. All in all though, the inserts are limited to the 1 per pack format of the set and the key base cards in the set seem to me at the time to be just as "coveted" as chase cards themselves.

  photo 20170118_095748_zpsrk6rlgey.jpg

Basic Set Info
1996 SPX
50 Card Base Set
36 Packs Per Box
1 Card Per Pack

Inserts
Gold Parallel (1:7)
HoloFame (1:24)
Dan Marino Record Breaker (1:91)
Joe Montana Tribute (1:95)
Dan Marino Record Breaker Autograph (1:433)
Joe Montana Tribute Autograph (1:433)

Alrighty...enough typin, time to see what I got!

Notable Base Cards
Emmitt Smith (Cowboys fan so happy about this!)
Shannon Sharpe
Marshall Faulk
Warren Moon
Drew Bledsoe
Tim Brown
Steve Young
Jerry Rice
Joe Montana
Joey Galloway
Isaac Bruce

Gold Parallel
Kerry Collins
Sherman Williams
Ki-Jana Carter
Frank Sanders
Darnay Scott

Holofame Collection

Jerry Rice
John Elway

Overall Thoughts: So much fun...so many memories. Seeing guys like Ki-Jana Carter, J.J. Stokes, Tyrone Wheatley brings me back to a time where those were considered "hot players". Huge fan of the set design and the HoloFame cards (which I beat the odds and got 2!) are super nice. This is exactly why I bought this box. The memories and nostalgia alone make it worth it. I pulled an Emmitt Base which makes me happy! This was basically $1 a pack so it was well worth the price of the box. Here's some of the better cards as we stroll down memory lane! 

 
 
 
 photo 20170118_101138_zpsvyw14epj.jpg 
 photo 20170118_103732_zpsucycsvpq.jpg 
 photo 20170118_103910_zpsvbvvnd10.jpg 
 photo 20170118_104116_zps0qrgex03.jpg 


Top 5 Pulls of 2017
#1- 2016 Donruss Optic Gold Vinyl Cam Newton 1/1
#2- 2016 Donruss Optic Derrick Henry Rated Rookie Autograph (#43/150)
#3- 2016 Donruss Optic Kenneth Dixon Rated Rookie Holo Autograph   Redemption (# to 99)
#4- 2016 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS Devontae Booker
#5- 2016 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS Paul Perkins




 


Friday, January 13, 2017

Box Breaks: 2 Boxes of 2016 Panini Contenders Football

 photo 20170112_143035_zpsazngzk88.jpg 
One of the most hyped products of the year, Contenders is popular year in and year out, but with Dak and Zeke leading the way this year, this year's offering was as hot as ever. Boxes quickly escalated from $130 a box to nearly $170 a box. I had to give into the hype and bought a couple of boxes at the $130 price (luckily I got mine at still pre sale price). The boxes came in yesterday and I got to open them today and here's what I got.

Box 1

Rookie Of The Year Contenders

Dak Prescott
Joey Bosa
Christian Hackenberg

MVP Contenders

Blake Bortles
A.J Green

Touchdown Tandems
Andrew Luck/T.Y. Hilton

Touchdown Tandems Gold
Eli Manning/Odell Beckham Jr. (#185/199)

Round Numbers
Corey Coleman/Josh Doctson
Jordan Payton/Rashard Higgins

Legendary Contenders
Dan Marino
Barry Sanders

Championship Ticket
Andrew Luck (#83/99)

Digital Contenders Gold Ink Signature
Jalen Richard

250 Panini Rewards Points (absolutely HATE this program and that these stupid things replace a hit)

Rookie Season Ticket Autographs
Vonn Bell


Rookie Playoff Ticket Autographs

David Morgan (#59/199)


Rookie Championship Ticket Autographs

Jonathan Bullard (#56/99)

Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS
Paul Perkins


Box 2


Touchdown Tandems

Tony Romo/Dez Bryant


MVP Contenders

Derek Carr
Todd Gurley

Rookie Of The Year Contenders
Jared Goff
Paul Perkins
Braxton Miller

Round Numbers
DeAndre Washington/Wendell Smallwood
Jordan Payton/Rashard Higgins

Legendary Contenders
Archie Manning
Brett Favre


Playoff Ticket

Tyrod Taylor (#66/249)

Digital Contenders Gold Ink Signature
Tavon Young

Rookie Season Ticket Autographs
Robby Anderson
Johnny Holton
Vonn Bell (Again..you gotta be kidding me)


Rookie Playoff Ticket Autographs

Nick Vannett (#61/99)

Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS
Devontae Booker

Overall Thoughts: Gross...pathetic....frustrating...yeah notice "fun" isn't an adjective I'm using to describe this break. Pardon my language, and honestly, this is all on me, I KNOW how this works, yet I give in anyway, but holy shit does Panini love to BUTTFUCK their customers. Two boxes...two boxes..that's all I opened, and the rookie autograph checklist is absurdly large, full of no name scrubs, and I get the SAME NO NAME SCRUB TWICE...that's inexcusable in my book. On top of that..a shitty Panini Rewards card replaces one of my hits. I bought these boxes for CONTENDERS AUTOGRAPHS..not Panini Rewards Cards..which are by far the biggest crock of shit there is in this hobby. Rewards cards should be bonus hits not replace hits in my opinion. I seriously don't get Panini's rationale..I know they gotta make money and for the billionth time, I understand not every box is a "winner", but when you spend this much on these boxes...just wow. I'm not blaming Panini for the spike in prices (that's not their deal, but THANK GOD I didn't pay $170 a piece for these shits), but even at $130...this stuff is god awful. I got my Optic and Contenders fix now, and I can honestly say this was the last football I'll be breaking in a long while (I don't break football much to begin with, so I know this is a promise I can keep, lol). These breaks are looking more and more like they are going to drive me to just going back to picking up singles and avoiding box breaking altogether, even though that's supposed be part of why I love collecting so much. I just can't keep taking these giant losses on these breaks at the prices I'm paying for this crap. Just beyond disappointed. Here's a look at the cards

 photo 20170113_134557_zpshfuvdlfn.jpg 
 photo 20170113_135436_zpsdhrmyerz.jpg 
 photo 20170113_141050_zpsaf7amejb.jpg 
 photo 20170113_142145_zps8ruva296.jpg 
 photo 20170113_144245_zpsxjvj4jmp.jpg 
 photo 20170113_155553_zpsbmt8r6pn.jpg 

Seems like I forgot to take a picture of the rest of the autos..but I'm NOT going back to do that..ain't worth the time.


Top 5 Pulls of 2017
#1- 2016 Donruss Optic Gold Vinyl Cam Newton 1/1
#2- 2016 Donruss Optic Derrick Henry Rated Rookie Autograph (#43/150)
#3- 2016 Donruss Optic Kenneth Dixon Rated Rookie Holo Autograph   Redemption (# to 99)
#4- 2016 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS Devontae Booker
#5- 2016 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs RPS Paul Perkins