Saturday, June 29, 2013

My First "Valuable Card"- 1994 Fleer Ultra RBI King Frank Thomas

When I was a kid and collecting, I always wanted to own a card that was considered a "big hit". My collection was modest, and honestly in the early 90's there wern't many "high ticket" cards to own. As inserts got increasingly popular and became a staple of packs though, the demand for some of the harder to find insert sets grew and "high dollar inserts" were very desirable. I bought pack after pack hoping to pull the "motherload". One of those hard to find 1 out of bazillion packs insert cards. I had little to no luck until I finally hit the "big one" but not in a traditional way. Everyone remembers the card cubes that retail chain stores like Wal Mart used to carry. You got like 200 cards, mostly junk, but they'd always put superstar base cards in the front to entice you to buy them. 95% of them weren't really worth what you paid for, but this particular cube had this Frank Thomas insert card displayed. My heart jumped when I saw it, I then grabbed a Beckett and saw what they had it priced at. $75.00!!! I couldn't believe it. My lucky day!! I vividly remember a cube that had the exact same insert but of Carlos Bearga. I quickly snatched my find (I don't remember the price point, but it had to be no more the $5.00) and ripped open the cube to touch my beauty. Frank Thomas was one of my favorite baseball players to boot (even liked him over Griffey who was my 2nd) so this was beyond awesome. The insert itself is very nice looking. Makes me miss the days when companies put actual thought into their insert sets. This was my first "big card' as I'd never had a card worth more than $20.00 at the time. It was my favorite card for years. Unfortunately, I honestly don't remember what I ended up doing with it. I either traded it way down the road or even sold it but I no longer had it. Maybe one day I'll buy it again and relive the memories that card brought.

Friday, June 21, 2013

This Week's SLU PIckups

I'm really diggin finding SLU's on Ebay on the cheap. It might not be as exciting as it was when I was a kid, but it's so awesome to pick up pieces that I never owned because they were so expensive at the time. Now, I can pick those pieces up for a couple of dollars. Here are this weeks pickups

1993 Barry Bonds Pirates
Love the old school Bonds while he was still a member of the Pirates. 

1995 Marshall Faulk FP
Another one of those "must have" first pieces from back in the day. Another piece I definitely couldn't find in stores. First piece of the hall of famer

1994 Chris Webber FP
This along with the Penny were THE rookie pieces to have in the 1994 set.

1995 Grant Hill FP
I remember wanting this piece soooooo bad. I was even willing to settle for the K-Mart Exclusive which is the exact same figure just with a big K-Mart Sticker on the piece. I never found nor bought it. Feels awesome to FINALLY have it now!

1992 Larry Johnson FP
This piece came out during my pre packaged days. I was still opening SLU's and playing with them. LJ was the hot rookie piece at the time, and as easy as SLU's were to find I never had this one. I dunno why, but it's easily become one of my favorites.

Total Cost with Shipping for all 5 pieces? $18.08. I don't think that's bad at all. Very happy with these purchases and the memories that come with them

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Today's SLU Pickup: 96 Grant Hill Extended Series

I remember being STOKED that Basketball was going to have an extended series in 1996. Extended series had always been in staple in baseball releases but for some reason never branched out to other sports. Until 1996 that is, when Basketball was rewarded a 2nd series. The checklist was awesome, First Pieces of Kobe and Iverson were the main chases but I always love the 96 series because of their inclusion of players in their throwback uniforms. Larry Johnson was featured in a throwback Knicks jersey, Damon Stoudemire in a Toronto Huskies jersey, Shaq in the awesome Powder Blue Lakers Jersey and this piece right here, Grant Hill in a throwback Ft. Wayne Pistons jersey.

Grant Rockin' the Throwback Jersey. Always a favorite of mine

In 1996 Grant Hill was STILL a HUGE DEAL, so this was a popular piece and it's one I never owned during my original run of collecting. I was browsing Ebay Saturday and found this and decided to throw a bid on it hoping I could get it on the cheap. Final price? $2.50 with free shipping. How can you beat that on Ebay! Figure is in great shape and I'm really having fun searching Ebay for bargains like this!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My History with McFarlane Figures: It Just Wasn't the Same as SLU's

The McFarlane Figure that started it all

At around the same time the Starting Lineup Era was ending, there was a new Sports Collectible Figure franchise starting up. Todd McFarlane decided to come up with his line of Sports Collectible Figures. He initially came out with baseball figures in 2000 that were licensed by the MLBPA  and NHLPA but not MLB or NHL respectively. The details on the figures were amazing to say the least. Nothing at all like the Starting Lineup Brand and the quality of the figures blew everything else out of the water.  For me though, I just wasn't interested at all due to lack of MLB licensing. I didn't want to buy a Barry Bonds figure in some generic Giants knock off jersey or home run challenge jersey. I never bought any inital run of McFarlane's as I was still collecting SLU's at the time and honestly thought the product would be a bomb without featuring players in their official major league jerseys.

Barry Bonds McFarlane Figure from the inaugural set. Awesome details, but lack of MLB licensing makes these bland in my eyes

When I got out of sports figure collecting I thought it would be forever. I had a nice run of hunting for SLU's, and thought it had run its course and that I would focus more on my card collection. During my hiatus, McFarlane did end up getting licenses from all 4 of the major sports.  Initially, it didn't faze me, I just didn't want to get back into that hobby again. Slowly but surely though my interest started up again and Christmas I got a Tracy McGrady Series 2 Orlando Magic figure and the bug had hit again. I was officially collecting McFarlane Figures. At first, just like with Starting Lineups, it started out very small. I would buy a couple here or there but nothing big. The big problem though was unlike Starting Lineups which you could find literally anywhere from Wal Mart to Target to even grocery stores, here in Corpus, stores that carried McFarlane's either didn't at all or carried them very inconsistently. Our local Wal Mart for example, would carry them for a while, stop, carry them again, and I never knew the rhyme or reason. The only store that consistently carried them was Toys R Us, who also happened to be the most expensive. That was another hurdle with McFarlane Figures, the prices. I was used to $6.48-$7.99 for SLU's. McFarlanes were usually $9.99 or up and here in Corpus it was basically "up" since if I found any it was usually at Toys R Us. Paying $12.99 per figure was way pricey especially for regular figures which brought me to another problem, "chase pieces". While collecting SLU's, there were very few variant pieces, the chase was in the superstar or rookie piece. Regular SLU's WERE the drawing power. Even finding a 1998 Ken Griffey Jr was awesome, because people used to gobble up pieces of superstars every year. McFarlane on the other hand bascially made variants of every regular piece, and worse in my opinion, later came out with a chase piece system where the figures were serially numbered and short printed. This basically made regular pieces worthless, as everyone just wanted to collecte the rarer variant/chase pieces and left the regular pieces to just sit there. Even first regular pieces didn't sell for as much as you think. There was really no value in collecting regular figures. For example shouldn't LeBron's first McFarlane figure be worth a king's ransom??
Shouldn't this piece be one of the most coveted basketball pieces ever?

These sell (or don't sell at all) for under 10 dollars regularly. If I bought this piece at Toys R US I'd actually lose money selling it on Ebay and it's LEBRON'S ROOKIE PIECE!  If you don't have the rare limited chase piece, you really don't have much. As I mentioned earlier, lack of stores carrying the product really hurt the enthusiasm for me. When I was collecting SLU's I could hit 3 or 4 Wal Marts, K-Mart, multiple HEB's, K-B Toys, Toys R US, Albertsons, and Target to hunt for SLU's. With McFarlanes? Like i mentioned, all Wal Mart's were very unpredictable as was Target, K-B was out of business and zero grocery stores would carry these. That  combined with Toys R' Us ridiculous price points,  let me to go through the internet to buy cases which was cheaper than retail. There was no hunt, I just bought a case, got a complete set with one variant and that was that. After a while, that became really boring for me. I wanted so bad to recreate the magic of SLU collecting, but it just wasn't cutting it with these figures. Even when I found some, I NEVER found a chase piece here, all regular figures, and while with SLU's I'd scoop up any superstar piece at retail level I could find, I couldn't justify paying $10 or more for a figure that I knew just wouldn't hold its value. Surprisingly I did collect McFarlane Figures from around late 2002-2011, but once again I decided to hang it up and I sold the majority of my collection only keeping my Dallas Cowboys and my Ken Griffey Jr. Clarktoys exclusive piece. I don't wanna sound like I'm dumping on the product. The figures are awesome, and make great display pieces and some of the early pieces and chase variants still bring in a pretty penny. For me though, I think I compared them too much to SLU's, and Starting Lineups brought me so much fun and memories that it was impossible to recreate that with McFarlane figures. McFarlane figures did made me appreciate SLU's more and my time with them, so it wasn't a total loss. To me though you can keep your autographed chase pieces numbered to 50, I'll take a Kobe 96 extended FP anytime, lol.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Game Used Greatness: Chris Bosh 12-13 Noche Latina Game Used Miami Heat Jersey

Well this came just in time as today is game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Spurs and Heat. Me, I'm a Spurs hater, well I should say that I'm a  Spurs fans hater as the people that I know that are Spurs fans are overwhelmingly obnoxious yet also clueless and uninformed about the game of basketball. It's a shame, cause I respect what the organization has done, I just cannot root for them so I'll be rooting on the Heat to hopefully beat the Spurs in what should be a great NBA Finals. This is a Chris Bosh Game Used Jersey from the Noche Latina games the Heat played this season. Bosh of course had a terrible conference finals against Roy Hibbert and the Pacers and he'll have to step it up big time if the Heat are to win back to back titles. Noche Latina jerseys aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I like them because they're different. Definitely a nice addition to the game used collection. Here are more pics

Saturday, June 1, 2013

SLU Pickups

It's rare but I was actually able to find a couple of SLU's on EBay for decent prices. Every once in a while I get curious and check out what Ebay has and for the most part the shipping by itself is enough to keep me from bidding. I picked up these two pieces the past couple weeks though for what I thought were decent prices

1996 Cal Ripken Jr
Only paid $3 total for this piece. It's one I never had in my original collection and I love the diving pose. Piece is in awesome shape as well.

1998 Emmitt Smith Classic Doubles College/Pros
This is a piece I always wanted to add to my Cowboys collection as it features Emmitt in his Florida Gators uniform. I have the Aikman Doubles as well so this is the perfect compliment to that piece. Paid $8.50 delivered for this piece. Didn't think that was too bad.