Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Preview Images: 2012-13 Panini Prestige Basketball

Panini began their 2012-13 basketball releases with NBA Hoops hitting the shelves recently, now they turn their attention towards their next basketball release, 2012-13 Prestige Basketball.
Prestige will be released September 12th; boxes will run $95-100 and contain 24 packs (8 cards per pack). With each box you will pull 3 autographs and one memorabilia card plus 24 rookies (one rookie per pack).  Like the Hoops release there will be rookies from both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 NBA seasons. Do they still consider delayed rookie cards as XRCs? I have not heard that term used in years.
The base set consists of veterans and rookies with the vets having an action shot of the player and the rookie cards using staged shots (for 2012-13 rookies) or an action shot from last year’s rookies. The rookie cards have dual images, a black and white background image of the player’s face and a full color shot of the player in the foreground. There is also a vertical “Rookie” bar along the right-hand side. The base cards will also have a parallel- Bonus Shots. Some of the parallels will have a different image from the base card version.
There are three autograph sets; Old School Autographs and Distinctive Ink are both on-card autographs and the Prestigious Pros Autographs are sticker autos:
There are two memorabilia sets; Inside the Numbers Relics and True Colors:


Additional inserts include Stars of the NBA, Hardcourt Heroes and Connections:
A final thought, I really liked the way that Panini worked the colors on these cards. If you pay attention you will see the subtle detail in the hue used in many of the cards where the team's colors are worked in to the backgrounds and name plates. I know this is a small thing but as a graphic designer I notice deatails like this, it makes the images pop off of the card.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Preview: 2012 Topps Star Wars Galaxy Files

Schedule Release Date: September 24, 2012
Box Configuration:  12 cards per pack/24 packs per box
SRP: $95/box
Box Break:
1 Sketch card
1 Autograph or Manu-Patch card
1 Poster/Checklist back
24 Inserts (Not counting "Hits")
My Thoughts:
As a kid who grew up in the 70s and 80s I had one thing on my mind, Star Wars. I collected the cards, I had the action figures and I read every comic book that came out. The Galactic Files set was created for people like me; the set covers the entire Star Wars Universe including all 6 films, the Clone Wars television show and the Expanded Universe (Books, comic books and various television shows).
The set is huge at 350 base cards total; each base card also has three parallels: Blue (#/350), Red (#/35) and Gold (1/1). The set covers a large selection of characters, vehicles and creatures/aliens. An interesting addition is the backs contain stats as if it were a card game along with a bio/write up about the subject and along the bottom is a list of character connections and their card numbers.
The sketch cards are all 1/1 each and while I do not know the artist checklist I would expect some of the artist who have done prior Star Wars cards like Charles Hall, Veronica O’Connell, Rhiannon Owens and Katie Cook.
The autograph checklist seems pretty solid with biggies like Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Ray Park and Peter Mayhew. I am disappointed to see Topps used sticker autographs instead of on-card autographs. I would think that since the actors were able to sit down and sign stickers they most likely had the time to sign on-card autographs. Actors would probably be easier to work with than most athletes too, especially if the actor is not on a set somewhere filming.
No information has been announced about the embroidered patch (Manu-patch) cards and only one card image has been released so nothing can really be determined. Topps has stated that autographs cards and patch cards are evenly dispersed so you would have a 50/50 chance of pulling either an auto or patch card out of a box.
Besides the hits (sketch, auto and patch cards) there are five inserts that cover the Star Wars Universe (From the sales sheet it appears as if all 5 inserts are connected only to the 6 films):
Duels of Fate: A 10-card checklist covering Light Saber duels
“I Have a Bad Feeling…”: An 8-car checklist documenting each time the phrase was said through the movies
Classic Lines: A 10-card set that covers memorable quotes
Heroes on Both Sides: A 10-card set featuring key battles. The winners are on the front and the losers on the back of the card
Foil Cards: A 20-card set with black and white photos from the original 3 movies

I am a bit surprised with the sales materials that has been released because there is information you would expect to be passed on to reps and dealers only and not meant for collector’s eyes. It includes info bites about requiring multiple purchases to complete a set (2 boxes if perfectly collated), requiring 3x the amount of packs to complete a set versus the Star Wars Galaxy releases and the Topps marketing strategy (Sales POP posters in boxes, social media use, PR program and outreach and advertisement specs). I suspect that Topps did not intend for the sales sheet to be released to the public by their dealers. As a collector, if I was planning on building a set I would be a bit upset about requiring two perfectly collated $95 boxes just to complete it.
Sketch Cards
Solid Autograph checklist
All-encompassing base set
Nice variation of inserts
Manu-patches (which could take the place of an auto)
Sticker autographs
Are you kidding? A huge Star Wars set with sketch cards and an awesome autograph checklist, this is a 5 out of 5 rating easily even taking in to consideration the Manu-patches and sticker autographs (OK… maybe a 4.75/5)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Leave It To Upper Deck To Have Some Fun

There have been some interesting relics included in cards over the past decade like shoes, hats, gloves and even a corked bat (Thank you Pacific, you may be gone but we will always love you) but now we can include a flpppy disc in that checklist. Upper Deck inserted a Steve Wozniak relic and dual-relic cards in the Goodwin Champions release that includes pieces from floppy discs. There are both red and black discs with some of the dual-relic cards containing one of each color. The dual-relic cards do not appeal to me, I prefer the vertical style that is used on the base card and single relic cards.

Surprisingly most of the single relic cards can be picked up for a couple of bucks with the dual-relic cards hitting the $15-20 range. If Upper Deck were to have included Steve Jobs version I would bet the price would be sky high right now instead of a few dollars. I know this is kind of a gimmick but no worse than Topps and the Gypsy Queen's jewel relics and Gypsy King's bat relics.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

That Did Not Last Long

Owens released by Seahawks
Back on August 6th the Seahawks signed Terrell Ownes to a 1-year contract, at that point I expected the whole thing to go badly and T.O. to be gone in Week 1 of the NFL season. I will admit that I was wrong, he didn't even make it to the regular season but was cut today when the Seahawks made their first round of cuts. He was cut for his inability to play at a consistent level and not for being T.O. as I initially expected. He will end his triumphant return to the NFL with 2 receptions for 41 yards.
In other Seahawks news another Pete Carroll project, Tarvaris Jackson, is being traded to the Buffalo Bills. Not everything has been finalized but it is expected that the Bills are sending Seattle a late round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
I had high hopes for Jackson, I think he is another player that has been hurt by Pete Carroll's coaching style. Hopefully Russell Wilson, who was just names the starter for the final pre-season game and for Week 1 of the regular season, is not another footnote in Carroll's destructive coaching ways.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Goodwin Champions Museum Collection Flag Relics Hit The Bay!

There has been some buzz about Upper Deck’s decision to include a Union flag as relics in the Museum Collection insert in the recently released 2012 Goodwin Champions set. The flag that is being included was a Union Flag that had actually been carried in to battle, though I have not found any information verifying which battle or even which unit carried the flag.
The problem with the inclusion of the flag has bothered some collectors, they feel that cutting up a flag and inserting the pieces in to a card is straight unpatriotic, sacrilegious and in poor taste. Many of the collectors who have made these statements are supporting it with the legal description on how to properly retire an American Flag. They point out that our flag should never be used in such a manner and that Upper Deck will receive bad press and negative reactions if they followed through with the decision to include the relics in the set.
Some of the responses in defense are just as spirited and seem to be more detailed as to the technical definition of American Flag. One point that seems to be pretty prevalent is that the flag is being described only as a “Union Flag” which could be a national flag or in many cases States and even individual units created their own version of the Stars & Stripes to be carried in to battle as their identifying marker. Others point out that even if this was the flag of the Union Government, it was not the same country, and it was a country divided and therefore is not the same as the United States of America as we know it now.

Upper Deck has stood by their decision to include the relics, they want to introduce American history to a generation of collectors and that from the beginning the inclusion of the flag was with respect and this was there way of giving the flag a second life. Rob Ford, UD Sports Coordinator, pointed out that the vendor they bought the flag from was actually cutting pieces from the flag and selling them to his customers so the flag was quite fragile and shredded by the time they purchased it. When you see how it was received you can see that it is not a museum quality piece and it would not be ideal to give it complete to one lucky collector.

A portion of the flag as received by Upper Deck

This is a tough ethical question and while the subject is very different, this is still a similar debate to the arguments we hear when a company cuts up a Babe Ruth bat to insert the chips in to cards. There will always be some for it and some against it. In the end, it is your collection and if you want it (and can afford it) why not own it?
With 2012 Goodwin Champions being out for almost two weeks now the big hits are starting to show up for auction. The Union Flag relics are inserted in to standard relic cards so they were inserted in to the packs. I have come across four auctions so far, two are currently active and two have ended. This includes the three-colored flag relic card that Upper Deck has been using on their website/blog and in advertising materials for the Museum Collection.
In all honesty I believe that most collectors would be excited to pull one of the flag relic cards. I think Upper Deck took a chance and it may work out well.
I rarely talk about my personal beliefs on the blog but to give a little insight in to the man known as "Corky", I believe in ghosts/paranormal activity and I feel that personal items like uniform buttons and insignias carry over energy if the person died while wearing them and I want nothing to do with those button and insignia Museum Collection relics unless I knew for a fact (which is almost impossible to prove in this case) they came from a soldier who did not die on the battlefield. Not that I expect to pull any of these, I am more interested in the It Came From Outer Space Meteorite cards anyway.
Current Auction: $449- Auction Link

Current Auction: $305- Auction Link
Auction Ended: Card Sold $465- Auction Link

Auction Ended Early, Not Re-listed Yet: Card Did Not Sell $999- Auction Link

Friday, August 24, 2012

Surfing Champion In Upper Deck's All-Time Greats

There are some sports that have a strong fan base but will rarely see the light of the television screen; surfing is one of those sports. Surfing is Zen and you either surf or you do not surf, rarely do you find a surfing fan who has never paddled out. 
With limited media coverage comes limited collectability. Most collectors would be hard pressed to even name a surfer, past or present and so surfers have only made rare appearances in releases. Upper Deck seems to be the most supportive by including surfers in a number of releases in the past 3 years, usually in the Goodwin Champions and World of Sports sets. They are taking it up a notch by including Kelly Slater (11 World Championships) in both the 2012 Goodwin Champions and the 2012 Upper Deck All-Time Greats releases.
The Kelly Slater Shining Moments booklet card from the All-Time Greats release is an amazing card. Upper Deck designers did a beautiful job with this card; personally this is easily one of my favorite card designs. The Shining Moments booklets are limited but I am unable to find any specific release numbers. My best guess, based on the photos Upper Deck has posted of him signing, is that Slater has 35-40 booklet cards.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vintage Card of the Month- Gene Kelly's Legend Turns 100!

The Vintage Card of the Month this month is more for the person, Gene Kelly, who would have turned 100-years old today. When someone says “Dancers” a couple of names come to mind, Gene Kelly is one of those names, along with Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Michael Jackson, Mikhail Baryshnikov and maybe Michael Flatly The list is pretty short so it takes someone special to make it.
From the 1940s onward Gene Kelly was everywhere, if there was dancing involved he was one of the men who appeared, even dancing with Jerry (from Tom & Jerry) in Anchors Aweigh (later the scene was brilliantly re-created by Seth MacFarlane to include Stewie in Jerry’s place). In the 1950s and 1960s he made a number of appearances in various Hollywood related card sets but did not show up again until the 1992 Hollywood Walk of Fame set.

But then there is the seedy side of card manufacturing… (Queue mysterious detective music)

 In 2008 Donruss included Gene Kelly in their Celebrity Cuts release and this led to a problem for them when Patricia Kelly (Gene’s widow) filed a lawsuit in 2010 claiming that her signature was forged on a licensing agreement and they had used Gene’s likeness in a way that she would not have approved.
As the story goes Patricia Kelly stated that Stephen Bogart, Humphrey Bogart’s son, was the President of a management/agent company (MODA) and had approached Patricia in 2008 with a contract from Donruss, who wanted to include Gene Kelly in the upcoming 2008 Donruss Americana Cinema Stars. The contract stated that Patricia would be required to approve any images or text of any cards containing Gene Kelly before they were included in the set. Donruss never released the insert set but did in fact use Kelly’s image in the Hollywood Icons insert from the 2008 Celebrity Cuts set, which Patricia never agreed too.
When Patricia approached Donruss to complain she was told that while her agreement with them only covered the unreleased Cinema Stars they had an open agreement with the Gene Kelly Trust that allowed them to make Gene Kelly cards without her approval. So what is the problem? Patricia Kelly is the Gene Kelly Trust, she is the sole trustee and makes all of the decisions and signs all of the contracts for the Trust.
Even though what would seem like an obvious situation where Donruss had a questionable contract they decided to stand by their statement that they have an agreement with the Trust and continued to produce Gene Kelly cards.
To add to the “Dafuq?” situation Stephen Bogart filed a lawsuit (and won by default) against MODA claiming that the CEO of the company assaulted Bogart after he overheard a discussion regarding Patricia Kelly’s forged signature on the questionable contract. 
 Interestingly I am unable to find any further information regarding the Patricia Kelly vs. Donruss case since mid-2010, without knowing the facts I am guessing that when Panini bought out Donruss they made things right with Patricia Kelly and agreed to not include any other Gene Kelly cards in their sets. To note, there have been no other Gene Kelly cards included in Donruss/Panini sets since the 2008 releases.


No matter what, in my eyes, Gene Kelly will always be singing in the rain.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cryptozoic Tarzan 100th Anniversary Set

In October 1912 Edgar Rice Burroughs released Tarzan to the public in the pulp magazine All-Story Magazine. The success of this short story led to Burroughs releasing his first Tarzan novel two years later. Since then there have been 24 novels, 8 movies (including Disney’s 1999 version), numerous comic books/graphic novels and weekly comic strips.
Base card
Base card printing plate

Cryptozoic Entertainment has worked with Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. to complete the Tarzan 100th Anniversary set that was released last Friday. The set consists of a 54 card base set featuring cover artwork of Tarzan comics, there are foil parallels and printing plates of each base card, plus two 9-card chase sets; one featuring artwork from Burroughs’s novels and the other featuring Tarzan movie posters. Each box will also contain a 1/1 sketch card from a variety of artists. Lucky collectors can also find special redemption cards that will award the redeemer with cut signatures autographs or original artwork.

Each $70 box contains 24 packs, 5 cards per pack, and 1 sketch card. There are no specific odds for the subsets and inserts besides the 1-per-box sketch card. This is truly a set designed for the Tarzan enthusiast.

9-card Movies sub-set

9-card Book Cover sub-set