Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Year in Review and a look ahead in 2012

Well another year has come and gone, and once again it's been a great fulfilling year collecting-wise. Card-Wise some of my bigger adds included rookies of Pistol Pete Oscar Robertson, Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, and George Gervin, Autographs of Derek Jeter, and Albert Pujols, and Bowman Chrome auto rookies of Felix Hernandez, Ryan Braun, and Evan Longoria. I also sold my first ever Michael Jordan card, something I thought I'd never do (it was the 96-97 Slam Cam for a almost $180). I also added quite a bit to my game used collection and decided to part ways with my McFarlane Sports Figures Collection. Here's a few main events that took place in 2011.

Emergence of my Game Used Collection/De-emphasizing my Card Collection- These two go hand in hand pretty much. My card hobby has survived many different "diversions" throughout the years. Coin collecting, Starting Lineup Figures, Pogs, but at the end of the day, my main focus would always return to cards and those other hobbies faded away. After 21 years though, I'm really feeling like my excitement for cards has dwindled down considerably and there are many factors for this. The first is Panini and their exclusive NBA License. The NBA is my bread and butter, because basketball is my favorite sport. The majority of my collection focuses on basketball, and when Upper Deck and Topps lost their basketball license to Panini, I couldn't be more upset. I've tried, but I'm just not a fan of Panini. To me their cards seem cheap (there are a couple of exceptions of course) and I just can't get into any of their products. No MJ and Lebron is huge too. At first, it forced me to go back in to 90's and vintage, and I was still full force cards the first half of the year. Then I started really to expand my game used collection and it took a life of it's own. I ended 2010 with a bang adding three awesome additions to my collection.not one of them was a card. Two game used jerseys (Shaq and Dirk) and a Ty Cobb PSA/DNA certified signed check.  In late 2009, I got my first taste of Game Used Memorabilia, which was a game used Yankees/Mariners baseball from the 2000 ALCS. In 2010, the Alex Rodriguez game used bat, became my first full piece of memorabilia, followed by a Kevin Garnett Game Used Jersey. In 2011, I really started adding more pieces, including some amazing pieces like a Miguel Cabrera Autographed Game Used Bat, Albert Pujols Game Used Bat, Dwyane Wade Autographed Game Used Jersey, Paul Pierce Game Used Jersey, and more. The more I get into Game Used, the less cards excite me, because the majority of cards are based on game used swatches and patches and logomen etc. How can I get excited about a tiny swatch when I can get the full thing? The only game used cards that interest me now are still your hall of fame players that I'll never be able to afford full size memorabilia of (i.e. Mantle, Ruth, Chamberlain, etc). I really scaled down the 2nd half of 2011 on cards, in fact since August, I've bought maybe 6 cards total, a far cry from what I am used to buying. Will cards stay second fiddle in 2012 or will my game used hobby subside like other hobbies have before? Only time will tell.

Selling Off My McFarlane Collection- I'm currently doing a series of posts on my Starting Lineup collection, which is ironic, cause I'm getting rid of my McFarlane Figure  collection which is basically a modern version of SLU's. Starting Lineups were such a huge part of my childhood, that I think I really tried hard to make McFarlane Figures be my new SLU's. It was just never the same though. One, was the price point, SLU's typically retailed for $7.99 at the most, while McFarlane Figures range from $9.99 all the way to $14.99 or even more depending on what Toys R' Us you go to. The cost at retail was so bad, I just started buying cases online, which totally takes the fun out of it. "The Chase" is what made Starting Lineups so awesome, the thrill of the hunt so to speak. Also, when I collected lineups EVERYONE carried them. Target, Toys R' Us, Wal Mart, K-Mart, hell even HEB. Today, not every Wal-Mart carries them, and really the only store that does around here is Toys R'Us and they are so overpriced it's not worth buying them. I tried but couldn't recreate the magic so I decided to jump ship and sell off my McFarlanes. Outside of chase pieces, they don't really have much secondary value, so I figure to recoup what I can and move on. It just proves that nothing really can ever take the place of Starting Lineups.

What does the future hold in 2012? Who knows really? Here are some predictions I believe will happen.

More focus on vintage cards- I did more than I usually do last year, but I think with my current disinterest in current cards for the most part, I might focus on picking up some hall of fame rookies. Guys like Wilt, Johnny Unitas, Nolan Ryan, etc.

More Selling off of my Cards- I definitely think I'll be doing more selling, and looking to consolidate my collection. For example do I need 5 Carmelo Anthony autos? I might look to sell them and pickup one of Melo's best rookies like his Ultimate Collection/SPX. I definitely think I'll be making less card purchases, but the ones I do will be worthwhile. Quality over quantity might be my collecting motto of 2012.

More Expansion on my Game Used Collection- I think my main focus will still be Game Used in 2012. Unless somehow UD gets their BBall license back, I just won't be too interested in current cards and I really love the closer connection you get with full game used memorabilia.

Every year I ask if this is the year where I grow tired of collecting, where I just sell everything and be done with this hobby. I'm not there yet by a long shot yet, but I do think I'm slowing down a little, especially on the card side of things. Who knows though, we'll see what 2012 brings.  Hope everyone had a great 2011, and here's to a great 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sports Cards and Memories Presents: My History With Starting Lineups Part 1: The Beginning Years

My first foray into Starting Lineups began when I was about 7 years old. At the time to a kid like me, Starting Lineup figures were toys, period. I never once thought about them being collectibles, and my introduction to them was the Christmas of 1991 when my parents bought me the 1991 lineups of Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, and Joe Montana. Now at the time, it was very common to find superstar Lineup figures as they hadn't taken off as collectibles yet. I did what any normal kid would do...I opened them. 
The 1st three lineups I ever received. No, they didn't last in those packages!
Not only did I open them, I...gasp....PLAYED with them! In fact, when I was kid, I used them as wrestling figures, along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and my WWF figures. Imagine, Hulk Hogan vs Michael Jordan in a WWF ring! 1992 would be no different. For Christmas I received a lot more Starting Lineup Figures. I vividly remember, Scottie Pippen, Barkley, Bird, Dee Brown, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Coleman, the list goes on and on. Another accessory my parents bought me this time were the collector display stands. These were discounted in the bargain bin at Toys R Us. My parents ended up buying me display stands for all 3 sports. Little did I know, how valuable those would end up being.
Starting Lineup Collector's Stands. They initially didn't sell well at all and ended up in bargain bins. Later during the Starting Lineup boom, the Stands were very sought after.

Again in 1992, I opened every single lineup I received. Again, lineups were readily easy to find, even here in South Texas, finding Emmitt Smith, and Troy Aikman was not a problem. The first lineup I actually kept in the package would be one I found at a local card show in 1993. I bought a 1989 Legends Oscar Robertson there. The reason I kept in package was kinda strange. It looked like an old figure and it was of a Hall of Famer and the Cincinnati Royals were a team that didn't exist anymore so I kept it in the package. It had nothing to do about it being valuable. I was still buying figures and opening them in 1993, like the Griffey Jr, Jack McDowell, Horace Grant etc.
   1st unopened lineup in my collection

It was in 1993 though, that I did learn that as a collectible, Starting Lineup figures were more valuable if they were kept unopened in mint shape. The days of opening them up and playing with them were over. I started regretting opening them up and it made me sick to my stomach that what were once so easy to find, were now becoming very hard to find. No more finding Jordans, Emmitts, Nolan Ryan's by the bundle. Starting Lineups were beginning to take off as collectibles now. Now, at this time, I wasn't a huge collector, I would buy them here and there, but it was spread out for the most part. Starting Lineups were still behind cards in the hobby department. It would basically be one of those things I would look for only if we happened to go to a Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Toys R Us. The first lineup I bought at a store that I kept unopened was the 1993 Frank Thomas which I found at our local K-Mart. I thought I had hit the holy grail, and imagined that this piece had to be worth a ton of dough, lol.

1st Lineup I found at a retail store and kept unopened. 1993 Starting Lineup of Frank Thomas

The addition of the Thomas had me officially "collecting" Starting Lineups. No more opening them up at all for me. Like I said, it started it off very small. In 1993, I only added like 5 pieces to my collection. The 93 Steve Young ,93 Michael Irvin, 93 Cal Ripken Jr, 93 Dominique Wilkins, 93 Larry Johnson . I curiously did end up opening the Wilkins for reasons unknown, and in 1994 bought and opened the Laphonso Ellis (of all players) as well. After that though, I would never open up another figure again. Still entering 94, Lineups were a distant secondary hobby, if I managed to find any great, but there was not a really big desire to hunt for them. I was so entrenched in cards and video games, that basically lineups would only come if I received them as gifts, like the 1994 Gary Sheffield, and 94 Latrell Sprewell and Shawn Kemp.
1994 brought in figures of players such as Shawn Kemp and Latrell Sprewell

As 1995 rolled around, it was still more of the same of the last couple years. I averaged around 3-4 new figures a year, so it wasn't that many. 95 only brought in figures of Alonzo Mourning, Jerome Bettis, Barry Bonds and Juan Gonzalez. 1995 would officially signal the end of the 1st phase of my SLU collection because starting in 1996 things really started to take off, and Starting Lineups slowly started it's ascension to the top of my hobby world.

  1995 was the official end of the "Initial Era" of my Starting Lineup Collections. It would be the last time I added less than 10 figures in a year to my collection.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Game Used Greatness: 08-09 LaMarcus Aldridge Game Used Home Jersey

It was a Merry Christmas indeed. I got my Paul Pierce in Friday, and my parents surprised me with this gem. Certified by Meigray and has the Kevin Duckworth Memorial Patch.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Game Used Greatness: 06-07 Paul Pierce Game Used Alternate Road Jersey

Had to take a break from the Christmas madness to post this beauty. I got this in today from Grey Flannel and it's awesome! It's an alternate game used road jersey of Paul Pierce. What makes it awesome is it had both the commemorative Red Auerbach Patch and also the Dennis Johnson (DJ) armband. Very cool indeed.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sports Cards and Memories Presents: My History With Starting Lineups; A multi-part series focusing on one of the biggest hobbies of my childhood

Sports Cards, Video Games, Basketball, and Starting Lineup Figures. Those 4 things basically defined by childhood. They were without a shadow of a doubt the most important things in my life (besides family and friends of course) when I was a kid. Starting Lineup collecting, though was for me one of the more interesting, unique, and more fulfilling hobbies that I had growing up. The "thrill of the  chase" so to speak. From 1991 until 2001, I collected these "sports superstar collectibles". At first, as just toys, then as I got older as collectibles, before giving it up for good right before the lineup crash. Over the next few weeks, I'll be doing a multi-part series on my history with Starting Lineups. The beginnings, personal stories, the heyday, and sadly, the end of what was truly a great hobby to be in. The series will be divided up as follows

Part I: The Beginning Years: 1991-1995
Part II: The Collecting Boom: 1996-2000
Part III: Kenner loses it's NBA License to Mattel
Part IV: Other Kenner influenced collectibles
Part V: The Fall of Starting Lineups

I will always have great and fond memories of Starting Lineup Figures and I hope you will find this retrospective entertaining and for those who collected or still collect Starting Lineups, interesting. It's a fun personal recollection of the little sports figures that ruled from my childhood up to my teenage years. Hope you will enjoy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Game Used Greatness: 2003 Albert Pujols Game Used Bat

Been sick basically all week, but this definitely made me feel a little better. PSA/DNA certified Albert Pujols Game Used Bat