State Of The Hobby Roundtable

April 20, 2010

Topps recently asked for input from various hobby enthusiats and bloggers. We were lucky enough to be one of the 15 bloggers ot participate in Topps first “State of The Hobby” roundtable.
Essentially this was an opportunity for Topps to throw out a series of questions and hear what we had to say about those questions and topics.
The questions that they asked us and our complete answers are below. You can find the complete roundtable discussion here on Topps Blog where you will also be able to find the answers of the other bloggers that participated.
Warning..answers are long so be prepared for some long reads!
Play Ball America!
Cesar

1. How long have you been collecting? What are your favorite players, teams, sets, etc. to collect? Which card in your collection means the most to you and why?
I’ve been collecting since 2004. I collect any and all Mets cards but I have centered my main attention around David Wright and Jose Reyes. I also like to collect one set each every year of all 3 topps flagship products as well as one each of Finest, Topps Chrome and Allen Ginter. Currently the one card that I would not sell is the BGS 9.5 2007 Topps Derek Jeter error card with Bush/Mantle. That was the card that really fueled my love for the hobby and since then I have gone from a casual collector to a more serious collector.

2. In the time that you have been collecting, what is your favorite story, memory, experience, etc?
Every case rip that I go through has its own memory or experience. There are so many pulls and stories I’ve shared with other hobby enthusiasts. One memory stands out the most for me and it didn’t have to do with a high end pull or anything in my personal collection. My memory was when the late Corey Lidle’s wife purchased all of his singles from my store. She said she wanted keep sakes for her kids. That struck me and I obtained more singles for her. To me, it just showed how life can even be remembered and preserved through baseball cards!

3. What are the effects on the hobby of major card companies moving toward exclusivity deals with sports leagues? Given that this could be the direction that the industry is headed, what should card companies do to continue to provide a quality product to collectors?
I will focus on baseball since that really is my only interest. Since Topps now is realistically the only company liscenced to print baseball cards many hobbyists think that Topps will try to monopolize the hobby and put out products that won’t really interest or dazzle collectors. Its a tough position to be in I must admit because since there is no competition, Topps must be very careful of not doing just this. If collectors start to get this impression they will more than likely simply stop collectors cards and the hobby may very well fall into a serious decline. Now more than ever Topps will need to step it up in terms of innovations and fresh new ideas. A couple of unadvertised surprises could only help the situation as well. Now more than ever Topps truly holds the fate of the hobby in their hands!

4. Pick a timeframe- 5, 10, or 20 years. In that timeframe, what has been the single best and worst development in the hobby?
In the last 5 years the inclusion of cut autos has been the best thing that I have seen. Autographs are cool but cut autos just make a collector feel all the more special about pulling one. Typically they are from a historic document so the fact that not only do you have an autograph but some piece of nostalgia makes it all the more enticing. Also in the last 5 years, two things stand out, the over saturation of game used jersey swatches in cards and the devaluation of bowman prospect cards. Topps should really step back and see how many jerseys they should be inserting and how they select prospects into a product. True a class may be weak but maybe instead of cluttering a product with no names, just limit the checklist and production for that year? No one want to pay good money to open up a box of older prospects who will never break in.

5. What are your thoughts on prospecting? Do you do it personally? Why? Has the clamoring to find the next big rookie affected the quality of products, either positively or negatively?
I personally do not prospect as I tend to be an impatient person on waiting for prospects to blossom. But I don’t think prospecting effects the quality of a product. I go back to my point on an earlier question that its the quality of the checklist that will make or break a prospecting product such as Bowman Chrome or Bowman Draft. If you worry about future value of cards and you purchase boxes and cases you should do so knowing whether or not your paying a fair price for the boxes based on the checklist that the product has. To me at the end of the day prospecting is like playing the stock market. I remember Alex Gordon’s Bowman Chrome Auto in 2006…its was red hot! People were paying well over $100 for his autographed chroem card. Alex has yet to make an impact after being called up in 2007. Today you can pick up his card for about $50. I sold about 5 Jason Heyward 2007 Bowman Draft cards back in 2008 and probably got about $3 for each of them. Today…i could’ve sold them for $20 and maybe even more. Prospecting is a gamble and at the end I think that the hobby needs both sides…the flipper and the collector to keep prospecting alive. Once one of those start to disappear then prospecting will die all together.

6. We are collecting tangible products in an increasingly intangible world. As our lives move more and more online, what will the effects on the industry be? Will the next generation of kids be as excited about collecting cards as we are? How should the major card companies respond?
No matter how much we utilize the interent I personally will never be able to replace the feeling of ripping open wax with anything on the web. When you redeem codes on ToppsTown.com, its pretty boring for me. You can’t flip through the cards, see the stats, etc. Ripping wax I feel will be kept very much alive by the folks who are into the hobby. As far as the next generation, I don’t know that kids will be as into it as yesterday’s kids were. I think topps should already recognize that a majority of its sales are from adult collectors. Somewhere along the line topps should really get a true feel of how much of its sales is from kids and from adults. Doing so may help shift its marketing focus and help produce more meaningful products.

7. How has new media changed the way you collect? How should the major card companies utilize new media to connect with their consumer base? How can new media change and/or revitalize the hobby?
Twitter and Facebook have helped in big ways. The fact that I am talking to someone from Topps is truly amazing and should be applauded by those in the hobby! Twitter, Facebook and blogs have helped me interact more with my customers and thus generate more interest and sales in cards that I offer. But just as Twitter and Facebook were new, tomorrow there will be a new media outlet. Its important for Topps to stay cutting edge.

8. How has the recent rise in counterfeits and scams affected the way you collect? What advice would you give the major card companies to help combat this? Hasn’t really…you make note of the counterfeits and avoid them. Pretty much a non issure for me.

9. The poor economy has affected all of us in recent years. In what ways would you like to see card companies respond to provide interesting, affordable products for collectors?
In my opinion Topps would be better off if they stopped producing high end products for now (ie Triple Threads, Sterling, etc.). This would solve two issues. A) The main draws of these products are HOFers relics which as a result of multiple releases are starting to lose their high value since they aren’t as rare anymore. You can find Gehrig and Ruth relics in so many products! By elimintating higher end products for a couple of years, their value and appeal might increase in a few years. B)the second way this would help is by not excluding a large population of the hobby. Lets face it, very few peopl can afford to put down $200 plus on a box of cards. I’ve spoken to many people that say they feel alienated when Topps puts out one of these products…even worse now in this economy!

10. We’ve done autographs. We’ve done just about every kind of relic/game used product you can think of. What’s next? Where do we go from here?
I think the recent Hat Logos were great ideas…but those that were in 2010 Topps Series 1 weren’t actual game worn hats. Game worn hats logos would help and be a big hit. Inserting more vintage cards as hits would help as well in my opinion! Maybe even an autograph redemption program where you can meet a certain player at a stadium via a Topps table would attract interest. I’ve always thought inserting manager’s scorecards in product would be cool. Also, Topps has done booklets of cards, It would be interesting to see Topps do a booklet with a mini mp3 player built inside the card that plays the players walk up music when you open up the booklet. Similar to the way some greeting cards do today. Imagine opening up a Derek Jeter booklet card and hearing Jay-Zs Empire State of Mind! Awesome!!

11. If you could say one thing-anything- to Topps and know that the CEO will read it, what would you say?

Don’t forget what you’re known for- baseball cards. Don’t forget who has always loved baseball cards – kids. Be careful not to lose that market!

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OFFICIAL IKE DAVIS WATCH!

April 20, 2010

So aside from being an avid card collector, many of you might know that I am alos a die hard Mets fan. Of course, as optimistic as I might want to be, the truth is there probably won’t be much to cheer about this year in Citi Field. But I hope to be surprised and be wrong!
In the meantime, I will enjoy the fact that the Mets finally produced another farm product not named Wright or Reyes! From time to time I will be updating Ike Davis’ call up in 2010. Last night of course was his first game and he was rewarded with some pie in his face! Keep the hits and the pie coming fellas!

Ike Davis Watch:
Last Night:
2 for 4, 1 RBI

2010 Stats
AB R HR RBI BB KO SB BA
4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.5000

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The Rookie Call Up!

April 20, 2010

We are in week three of the baseball season and already we’ve seen the prices of two rookie cards take off. Most notably is by all means Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward.
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His base Bowman Chrome card from the 2007 Bowman Draft set is still pulling in at the very least $15 or more if you’re lucky! When was the last time you saw a base non auto card pull in $15? Its been a while folks!
His first autograph from the 2008 Bowman Chrome Set…its fetching no less than $150! A huge sigh of release to many out there who were probably hoarding his cards for a while!

Now yesterday we saw another prospect’s cards start to shoot up. The Mets called up their 1B prospect Ike Davis in hopes that we will add some offense to a somewhat anemic line up!
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At the beginning of April you could have gotten Ike’s autographed rookie card for $20. Last night…that same card was going to run you $50. Of course going 2 for 4 in your MLB debut and knocking in a run will help. Will Ike’s cards follow up Heyward’s spike in price?
Who will the next big prospect be? That’s the joy of prospecting!
Play Ball America!
Cesar

2010 Topps Pro Debut Is Live!

March 31, 2010

Today Topps launched their first official Minor League product – “2010 Topps Pro Debut”. Sales of singles have already hit ebay.
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I opted not to open this stuff as I was personally skeptical about this product as it looked very similar in nature to Bowman Draft. Plus, there were way too many names on the checklist that I had never heard before.
But there are alot of people that did bust it. Share your thoughts on the product – what did you like? What were your dislikes? Money maker or bust?
Here are links to some listings already up on ebay:
2010 Topps Pro Debut MANNY BANUELOS 1/1 FLAG PATCH

Master set of 337 cards and 17 autographs!

2010 Topps Pro Debut MAT LATOS GW JERSEY GOLD /25

2010 Topps Pro Debut JASON HEYWARD GW JERSEY /139

2010 Topps Pro Debut MICHAEL MOUSTAKAS AUTO GOLD /50

The Vintage Dream You’ve Waited For…

March 30, 2010

We have all heard the talk about the “cards your mom threw out”. Many of us were probably drawn into Topps ongoing ‘”Million Card Giveaway” that gives you an opportunity to obtain some of these cards via a redemption program. But after redeeming 200 redemption cards those 1950s cards still alluded you huh??
No worries…here is your cure. Memory Lane Inc just opened an auction for a complete set of 1956 Topps Baseball Cards…but wait, its just not any 1956 Topps set, its a complete set where each card is graded a PSA grade of 8!
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Imagine how difficult it must be to put together a 1956 set let alone build one where each of the cards earn a grade of 8!! I won’t let you know what the current bid is on the auction, you can view that right here…better yet, put your bid in!
Play Ball America!
Cesar

4 Cases Reviewed – 2010 Topps Finest!

March 29, 2010

The very reasons why I like Topps Finest every year are the very reasons why I like it yet again this year:
A) great way to pick up tons of potential rookie autos via the letter patches
B) pulling multi-color refractors is always fun!
C) Base set is not that big so sorting is not that much of a headache!

With that being said, I went for 4 cases this year. Many people say I am nuts because I won’t turn a profit but I will re-iterate my 3 reasons above and rave yet again – this product is fun! .

Topps continues to baffle me with their allocation. I picked up 2 cases each from 2 different distributors and check out the following occurences:
-plenty of base refractors of course #d /499, however could not complete one set! Of course instead I got duplicates of several cards, just amazes me that I couldn’t complete the set in 4 cases….and I wasn’t even close to be honest
-gold refractors are #d to 50. Pulled 2 Ryan Howard gold refractors..no complaints as that’s a good pull! but wait it gets better. Red refractors are #d to 25. I pulled to John Lannan Red Refractors? What are the odds of that???!?
I will say that I am a big fan of the purple refractors. Something about metallic purple that looks nice! This year purple refractors are all 1/1s. I was lucky enough to pull a purple refractor of Manny Ramirez! Not sure what the odds are on pulling these but I will say that it was a sweet pull indeed!
My next big pull was a Madison Bumgarner red refractor auto #d /5. I was thinking that this might be a big pull but when you think about it, there are 9 letters in Bumgarner. When each of those are #d to 5 this might just be ehhh….who knows, still a nice pull!
The other quirk was pulling about 8 Tyler Colvin patches. With my luck he will get officially named to the roster the day after my auctions end on those patches…lol. The Cubs keep hinting that he might make the roster….hurry up, make the move. Other notables of course are a couple of Posey autos, a Jeter gold refractor, Prince Fielder! Dustin Pedroia, and Jeff Francour Finest Moment autos, the Francouer of which was a red refactor and #d / 25! All pictures of the hits are below and of course most items can be found in our ebay store here.
Play Ball Amrerica!
Cesar

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Case Break Day! – 2010 Topps Finest

March 24, 2010

2010 Topps finest releases today and we will be ripping cases this afternoon! There will be tons of autographed letter patches as well as Finest Moments autographs! Don’t forget the 2010 rookie redemptions as well!
Check our store for all of our listings!
Play Ball America!
Cesar

National Chicle Starting To Heat Up…

March 17, 2010

….for me at least! The more I look at the previews of this set and the details of what is incuded, the more excited I become about it. Additionally, Topps put out a note yesterday that mentioned a few players that had already fulfilled their autographs. Ryan Howard & Evan Longoria were a couple of the notables, but what struck me was that Tommy Hanson and Nate Mcclouth signed as well. What’s so special about this? Well they weren’t on the original checklist. Does this mean Topps is going to throw in a bunch of other autographs as well? If I hear of more signings for this product I will let you know. For now enjoy some of the product details below as well as preview images! Release date is 4/29/10!
Play Ball America!
Cesar

TOPPS INTRODUCES ALL-PAINTED SET TO BASEBALL
Topps has commissioned 12 top sports artists to create the upcoming and much-anticipated 2010 Topps National Chicle Baseball.
The gorgeous 330 base-card set will include yesterday and today’s stars and even a fusion of the two. In addition, every box will guarantee 2 on-card Autographs and 1 Relic.
Artists include: Monty Sheldon, Jeff Zachowski, Dave Hobrecht, Paul Lempa, Brian Kong, Chris Felix, Don Higgins, Mike Kupka, Brett Farr, Jason Davies, Chris Henderson and Ken Branch.

Here’s a closer look…

BASE CARDS (330)
Veterans, Retired Players and Rookies (275 subjects) The likes of Ken Griffey, Derek Jeter and more Major League stars beautifully captured. (see Griffey image attached)
Retired Stars Revisited (25 subjects): See what legends would look like if they were playing today. Find Babe Ruth in Atlanta Braves uniform (retired with Boston Braves). What would Lou Gehrig look like in today’s Yankees uniform? (see Gehrig image attached)
Vintage Veterans (10 subjects): And what would today’s stars look like in yesterday’s uniforms? How about Manny Ramirez in Brooklyn Dodgers gear or Albert Pujols in the old St. Louis Browns threads?
Rookie Renditions (20 subjects): 2010 Rookies featured on classic Topps Rookie Cards. Look for Tyler Flowers on the famous no-name Frank Thomas RC and find Madison Bumgarner in the style of Gaylord Perry’s 1962 Topps RC.

PARALLEL CARDS

·National Chicle Back (330 subjects)
·Bazooka Back (330 subjects)
·Topps Umbrella Black Back (330 subjects) sequentially numbered to 25.
·Topps Umbrella Red Back (330 subjects) sequentially numbered 1/1. Hobby Only
·Artist’s Proof (330 subjects) sequentially numbered to 10. Hobby Only
·Chicle Cowhide (330 subjects) sequentially numbered 1/1. Hobby Only
·Printing Plates (330 subjects) sequentially numbered 1/1 Hobby Only

ON-CARD AUTOGRAPHED & RELIC CARDS

·National Chicle Autographed Cards (2 PER BOX!)
ØNational Chicle Back – sequentially numbered to 199.
ØBazooka Back – sequentially numbered to 99.
ØTopps Umbrella Black Back – sequentially numbered to 25.
ØTopps Umbrella Red Back – sequentially numbered 1/1. Hobby Only
ØPrinting Plates – numbered 1/1. Hobby Only
·National Chicle Dual Autographed Cards sequentially numbered to 25. Hobby Only
·National Chicle Relic Cards
ØNational Chicle Back – sequentially numbered to 199.
ØBazooka Back – sequentially numbered to 99.
ØTopps Umbrella Black Back – sequentially numbered to 25.
ØTopps Umbrella Red Back – sequentially numbered 1/1. Hobby Only

BOXLOADER CARDS

·National Chicle Cabinet Cards (25 subjects)

·National Chicle Cabinet Cards Signature Series (25 subjects): Autographed versions, signed by the Artists and sequentially numbered to 50.

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Allen & Ginter Details – A Classic!

March 16, 2010

Its coming..get ready for it again in June!!! There is something about Allen & Ginter that gets me and alot of people I know in the hobby excited! This year is no different, can’t wait for June already! Here are some details, more pictures to follow later this week!

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BASE CARDS (350)

Base Cards (300 subjects)

Short-Printed Base Cards (50 subjects) Inserted 1:2.

MINI PARALLELS (350)

Mini Parallel (1:1; short-prints 1:13)

Allen & Ginter Back (1:5; short-prints 1:65)

Allen & Ginter Black Bordered (1:10, short-prints 1:130)

Allen & Ginter No Number No card number (limited to 50)

Bazooka Back (hand #’d to 25)

Allen & Ginter Wood (hand #’d 1 of 1) HOBBY ONLY

Printing Plates (1 of 1)

Allen & Ginter Cloth Cards (Sequentially #’d to 10) HOBBY ONLY

INSERTS

Allen & Ginter Relics

Allen & Ginter DNA Relics Numbered 1 of 1.

Monsters of the Mesozoic Relics Numbered to 10.

Allen & Ginter Autographs

Allen & Ginter Red Autographs (hand #’d in red to 10).
RIP CARD (100 Subjects) 1 per case HOBBY ONLY.

Allen & Ginter Originals (1 of 1) –actual mini paintings found in Rip Cards. HOBBY ONLY.

Allen & Ginter Mini Exclusives (50 subjects) – Numbered 351-400 and found only in Rip Cards HOBBY ONLY

Allen & Ginter Mini Wood Exclusives (50 subjects) – A parallel to the exclusives and found only in Rip Cards.
Lords of Olympus (25 subjects) – Featuring gods and creatures from Greek mythology. 1:12

Monsters of the Mesozoic (25 subjects) Featuring the most famous and ferocious dinosaurs. 1:12

World’s Greatest Wordsmiths (15 subjects) – Featuring writers from around the world who have come to be seen as a voice of their nation. 1:24

Sailors of the Seven Seas (10 subjects) – Featuring some of the greatest explorers from the golden age of discovery, e.g., Magellan, Columbus, etc. 1:24

National Animals (50 subjects) – Mini cards featuring the flag of a nation and an animal that represents or is associated with that nation, not necessarily the official national animal. 1:8

This Day in History (75 subjects) – Pairing 75 MLB stars with a historical event that occurred on their birthday. 1 per pack.

Baseball Highlights Sketches (15 subjects) Full-size cards featuring reproductions of sketch cards featuring some of the greatest baseball highlights of the year and all time. (1:10)

Allen & Ginter Book Cards (1 of 1) HOBBY ONLY

Cut Signatures (1 of 1)

The Ginter Code

BOXLOADERS (1 per box) HOBBY ONLY

N43 Boxloader (15)

N43 Boxloader Relic (10) Hand #’d to 25.

N43 Boxloader Autograph (10) Hand #’d to 15.

N43 Boxloader Autographed Relic (5) Hand #’d to 5.

Cabinet Boxloaders (10) – Cabinet card sized featuring 2-4 subjects (mini parallel cards) involved in a 2009 baseball highlight or great engineering achievement (e.g., building of the Brooklyn Bridge, construction of the Panama Canal).

Cabinet Relic Boxloaders (10) – Cabinet card sized featuring an over-sized, complete relic, such as a jersey nameplate or jersey-front number.

Ebay Will Soon Be A Tax Concern!

March 15, 2010

This weekend I started to read blogs about what my tax accountant would soon be an inevidible -> The IRS is coming after income made on ebay (see proposed form below).

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Starting with 2011, Paypal and other third party merchants will be required to report to the IRS details on any seller that pulls in more than $20,000 in sales/year and has more than 200 transactions in the same year. If you don’t meet one of theses pre-requisutes then nothing is required. In baseball card terms, this means if you sold your Mantle rookie card for $30k and that was the only sale on ebay you had all year…lucky you, no reporting to the IRS! The big guys who rip and flip all year will obviously have to report their paypal transactions thanks to this rule.
Articles here:
Article on Auction Bytes
Taxgirl

This will most definitely seem daunting to may hobby enthusiasts as they are now possibly faced with the fact of “Do I really have to report to the IRS my baseball card sales”?
The rules around a hobby and income are in the tax code and they most likely will require a tax accountant to decipher and translate the specifics. However each hobby enthusiast must look at their own habits and ask themselves if they will fall into the category of reportable transactions to the IRS. If so, now might be a good time to actually start keeping track of your spending amounts as well as sales on ebay. While it might be annoying and time consuming it will definitely save you alot of time if the IRS does come looking for your numbers in 2011. There is no worse person to bump heads with than with uncle Sam the tax man!
Some folks are thinking about only taking checks and money orders from now on and not dealing with paypal any longer because of this. Another dilemma is giving paypal your tax ID# which will now be a requirement as per this rule. Not doing so will make your sales subject to a withholding tax…as if their fees weren’t enough!
What are your thoughts on this topic? What do you plan to do if you feel you will be forced to report your income to the IRS? Give me your thoughts in the comment section and enjoy your last year outside of the IRS radar!
Play Ball America!
Cesar