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Monday, September 30, 2013

2013-14 Panini Prizm Hockey Box Break (Finite Prizm 1/1!!!)

2013-14 Prizm is Panini's latest offering in the hockey market, and the line's first opportunity at a full release. Prizm made its debut during 2012-13 as a three-card-per-pack box topper for Rookie Anthology. Prizm is Panini's answer to Topps Chrome, except that it sports its own unique design, and somehow Panini figured out a way to solve that horrible warping problem that Topps just can't seem to master.

Anyway, a hobby box of Prizm delivers 20 packs of six cards. Each pack will contain one rookie, delivering 20 of the 100 rookie cards produced for the set. Each box promises two autographs, which can be a mixture of rookies and veterans. The big draw, though, is the Finite parallels, which are black superfractor parallels numbered 1/1.

I'll admit. I was VERY reluctant to purchase a box of this product. At around $100 and only promising two autographs, it can be very risky, especially with the amount of leftover stickers from 2012-13 rookies who haven't seen any action since their one game in 2011-12. There's the potential for some really bad breaks, and when looking on-line, I've seen plenty of them.

Still, there isn't much else out quite yet, as the hockey season hasn't even started, so I figured I'd try my luck with this product, just once. Here's how I did.

My base cards only gave me one out of seven Penguins, with Chris Kunitz, but it did give me three UND alumni with Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, and Travis Zajac.

When you consider just how many rookies are included in the product, I'd say I did pretty well, pulling guys like Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeau, as well as Justin Schultz, Viktor Fasth, and Tyler Toffoli, among others.

I managed to pull two refractors from this box, of L.A. Kings captain Dustin Brown and Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green. The base cards of this set look really nice, but putting the rainbowy foil on these refractors makes them look fantastic.

With Prizm, not only do the base cards contain a bunch of parallels, but the inserts do as well, as can be seen with these two Pivotal Players cards. I pulled a base of Nazem Kadri and a refractor of Henrik Lundqvist.

My last two inserts were of Ryan Miller and Guy Lafleur. The Miller is from Net Defenders, which focuses on the game's best goaltenders, and the Lafleur comes from Endless Impressions, which focuses on the legendary players of hockey's past.

My first autograph was of Dallas Stars rookie goaltender Christopher Nilstorp. He is currently stationed with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, but made it up to the pro team for five games during the 2012-13 season. He ended up with a 1-3-1 record, a 3.09 goals against average and a .987 save percentage.

Now, going into this, I was worried about the quality of the players whose autographs I would be pulling. Well, those worries seemed to go away when I pulled my second autograph, of Pittsburgh Penguins left winger James Neal, who has been lighting things up for the Penguins ever since joining the team during the 2010-11. I'm a huge fan of his, so this was a pretty massive hit for me.

But we're not done.

While flipping through the cards in one of the packs, I could see some color poking through with the second card from the bottom. It was a black parallel of some kind, and featured Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson.

With everything being silver, I could tell from the coloring that this was something special. Then when you factor in the circular pattern on the card, I could tell that this was something REALLY special, so I turned the card over to look for a serial-number, or something that would tell me what I had. 

Look closer...

That's right. I had, in my hands, one of the Finite Prizm 1/1s!!! And not only that, but one of a pretty good player, too. Karlsson is just two years removed from a Norris Trophy win, and after being sidelined for a majority of the 2012-13 season, he is expected to return to form for the 2013-14 year. Considering all the other players in this set, it's nice when you pull a big hit, for it to be somebody of such a high caliber.

Well, it looks like my incredible luck with Panini hockey products continues. My last three boxes have given me a Chay Genoway Prime Ties 1/1, a Gordie Howe/Mark Howe dual auto /10, and this Erik Karlsson Finite Prizm 1/1.

As far as this product goes, I did pretty well, but it really is a hit-or-miss product. The rookie line in this product is so expansive, that it's tough to pull a good rookie auto, and a lot of the leftover stickers from last year are being used as well, giving you second-year autographs from a relatively weak rookie class. Still, if autographs aren't the only thing you are looking for, there are tons of great things presented here, from parallels, to inserts, to a great-looking base set. If you aren't too hung up on the price-per-hit ratio (about $50 per hit), it's a great product that will give you some really cool looking cards.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2012 Panini Limited Arian Foster Limited Threads Patch /13

One of the most deceptively rare inserts out of 2012 Panini Limited is Limited Threads. I use the term "deceptively," because They look just like any other memorabilia card, with a player's photo right next to a swatch of fabric. These cards, though, have a severely limited print run once you get into the patch variations, with cards numbered as high as /49, and as low as /1. I bought one box of Limited earlier this year, and pulled a Ray Rice /15 from this very set, and was thrilled when the opportunity came up to get my hands on an Arian Foster /13 to add to it.

The patch on this card appears to come from the numbering on the shoulders. It features a white base fabric, with a red number and blue bordering the number. The back of this card has a short write-up on Foster, showing how reliable he is on a game-to-game basis when it comes to putting points on the board. It also has the serial number of 13/13 right above the Texans' logo, just to make sure you don't miss seeing just how rare this card is.

Here we have a card of one of the stars of my favorite team, and a guy who I like as an individual player, as well. We have a low serial number, a three-colored patch, and a card that just looks great to begin with. The best part is, though, just how great of a deal I got on this. I'm not sure if I lucked out, or if people just aren't looking at Foster for their collecting needs, but this fantastic card was mine for just $5.05+$1.99 shipping. Seriously, just 8 bucks for this card. Though to beat a deal like that.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fargo Force 2013-14 Season Opener

I had my 33rd birthday last week, and overall, I'd say I did pretty well. All my presents were hockey-related, as my girls bought me NHL 14 on Xbox 360, and I pooled my birthday money from everyone else to purchase the NHL Canter Ice package from DirecTV. My wife also purchase tickets for the two of us and our 4-year-old, Caroline, to go to the Sept. 20 USHL season opener between the Fargo Force and Sioux City Musketeers. The two-year-old was shipped off to my aunt's house for the evening.

When we go to the games, we usually take the shuttle service. The team rents out a couple school buses to ship people from a nearby bar, The Bulldog Tap, to the arena and then back once the game is over. We usually take it for two reasons. One, we park for free, and two, Caroline loves riding the school bus.

We had a great time at the game. Caroline is turning into a big hockey fan, although she isn't interested in playing, because she doesn't want to "fall down." She really is getting better about sitting through a game without getting too bored. She is, after all, only four. Although, I must say, I was impressed that we only had one potty break in the middle of a period, so that was nice. It turned out to be a really good back-and-forth game, with the Force pulling out ahead for a 3-2 win.

At the end of each game, they have one player, who is featured on that games scorecard, signing autographs. The player for this game was winning goaltender Cam Johnson.

Unfortunately, they had run out of scorecards, which featured a closeup of Johnson wearing his mask, but I did pick up an official Force hockey puck to get signed. Caroline had him autograph her Force cowbell.

When that was all finished, we went outside to wait for the shuttle bus. Apparently, there weren't any other shuttle-riding autograph seekers, because it was just us out there. We were hoping that someone would be on the way soon, but 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes passed without a bus in sight. My wife went back in to ask somebody if another bus was coming and was told that the buses are supposed to run for an hour after the game ends. We made it out within 20 minutes, so we didn't miss the deadline. We waited another 10 minutes, which was taking us close to that 1 hour mark, and she went back in.

Well, she found us a ride, as one of the team's staff members was willing to take us back to the Bulldog Tap, which was 3 or 4 blocks away. They also gave us three complimentary vouchers for another game to apologize for the mistake, and gave Caroline a Fargo Fore hockey puck. Really, it wasn't necessary. I'm not the kind of person who gets upset when things don't go my way, and I'm not the kind of person who demands free stuff when things don't go wrong. I'll certainly accept them if offered, though, but I don't demand it. After all, I'm not going to let one little issue ruin an otherwise fun night. I did, however, really appreciate that they gave Caroline a puck. She was doing just fine with the wait, but even if it's just a cheap $5 item, those little things will REALLY make a kid happy.

We always have so much fun at the Force games, and circumstances like this it just show how well they treat their fans.

Friday, September 27, 2013

One More Prime Card + A Bunch of Limited Football

Lastly, at least as far as this group of Prime purchases go, I have just one more card from the 2012-13 set: a Cal Clutterbuck Prime Signatures card, numbered 86/99. I know that he is no longer with the Wild, but man, he has a great looking signature.

In addition to that card, I also picked up a few football cards from 2012 Limited. The first two are redemptions for autographed Phenoms patch cards of Bernard Pierce and TJ Graham. I actually pulled a Pierce from a pack of Limited earlier this year, but after getting impatient, I requested a replacement. I would still like the card, but I get so picky about my redemptions, that unless it's something epic, I like to clear it out every now and then. Pierce has been returning cards to Panini every month or two, so I'm sure this one will get filled at some point.

This autographed Matt Flynn card, numbered 35/75,  makes me realize just how god-awful those Seahawks jerseys are. Yuck.

Cyrus Gray, numbered 172/249. It was a buck. That's about it.

Lastly, I also picked up this Limited Threads jersey card of Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, numbered 62/99. It's very similar to the Ray Rice patch /15 that I pulled from the same pack of Limited that I got the original Pierce redemption from, only it's the non-patch version.

All of these cards are up for trade, except for the Clutterbuck, and the redemptions which I don't have in hand yet. Even if these don't strike you, at least check out my trade bait and see what we can do.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Five Prime Autographs

Here's a few more singles purchases of 2012-13 Panini Prime, all of which are autographed.

This is one that isn't a rookie, a Prime Signatures card of Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd, numbered 38/99. While I tend to go after the Pittsburgh Penguins primarily, and Minnesota Wild secondly, the Winnipeg Jets are actually just as much of a "home team," if you go by proximity, as both are about a four-hour drive away from me. The only difference is that one is in the same state as I am, while the other is in a whole different country.

While this is more of an insert than a true rookie card, this Philippe Cornet autographed jumbo jersey card numbered 49/50, looks just as cool. Like the quad jersey cards, they were really smart with the item placement, as none of the three elements seem to be overshadowed by any of the others.

This Chay Genoway card (8/249) goes not only to my Minnesota Wild Collection, but my UND Alumni Collection, as well.  It also reminds me that Panini still hasn't sent out their Prime Ties cards, despite having them in-house to do an August 29 blog post on the Knight's Lance.

Really, I got this Mark Stone autographed quad jersey card, numbered 27/249, mostly to trade to Sportscards from the Dollar Store the next time he gets together some of my set needs. Most of my Senators end up in his hands at some point.

Lastly, I got a Colby Robakautographed quad jersey card numbered 97/249. He's a Panthers rookie not named Jonathan Huberdeau or Nick Bjugstad, so we'll see what happens with this kid.

That's it for this group. Five autographs. Five great looking cards. And they were all purchased for a total of $15 shipped. Not bad at all.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2012-13 Prime Matt Stajan Seams Incredible /6 + A Couple Other Prime Cards

While a lot of the 2012-13 Panini Prime singles I have purchased have been of the base rookie auto/jersey cards, here's something completely different: a Seams Incredible card of Calgary Flames center Matt Stajan, numbered 5/6. This card features one of the more unique pieces of memorabilia found on Prime cards, a piece of the Reebok-logoed fabric found on the inside of the jersey that reinforces the seam that connects the collar to the shoulders. With such a limited amount of fabric available to be used, all of these cards are very rare, with only six of these Stajan cards produced!

I also picked up a few other cards from this same seller, including a Jake Allen jumbo jersey card numbered 68/99. The rookie crop for 2012-13 products may be a little weak due to lockout-based restrictions, but Allen is one of the rookies this year with the biggest potential to make it in the NHL. He played in 15 games during the 2012-13 NHL season, picking up 9 wins and 4 losses, with a .905 save percentage and 2.46 goals against average.

Even though he did not make the impact in 2012-13 that Jake Allen did, this card of Matt Donovan, numbered 31/50, is still a cool addition to my collection.

I know I'm not a big Matt Stajan fan, or even a big Calgary Flames fan, but that seams card is just too cool to pass up. And that seems to be a pretty common theme with Prime. I find myself buying cards of players I don't care about, who play on teams I don't care about, simply because it's just too cool of a card to pass up.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2012-13 Panini Prime: Multiple Colors, Patches, and Autographs

Here's a few more cool looking cards that were pulled from packs of 2012-13 Panini Prime. Now, I wasn't the one pulling these cards. I was the guy buying them on the secondary market at some very low prices.

Now, being not only a fan of Panini Prime, but a resident of Minnesota as well, I had to get my hands on this card. It features Wild rookies Jason Zucker and Tyler Cuma, with the team name cut out for the memorabilia spaces. This version is numbered 5/50 and each swatch is a multicolored prime jersey piece, and fortunately, is positioned in a way that at least two colors are shown on each space.

Before I moved up to the Fargo/Moorhead area, I lived in Texas, so even though I'm not a massive Dallas Stars fan, I like to pick up the occasional card at the right price, like this autographed Dominion patch card of goaltender Richard Bachman, numbered 40/60. Even though Bachman no longer plays for the Stars organization, it is still a cool collectible to me. I'm a big Stephen King fan, and in order to prevent himself from over-saturating the market early in his career, he published five of his earlier novels under the pseudonym "Richard Bachman."

Lastly, we have a case of a midseason trade going unnoticed in the memorabilia department. Lane MacDermid began his NHL career with the Boston Bruins, but was traded in the middle of the 2012-13 season to the Dallas Stars. The four clack jersey swatches on this autographed rookie card numbered 201/249, are most likely from a Boston Bruins sweater, but since it matches the Dallas Stars home sweaters, most collectors would be none the wiser.

That's all for now, but stay tuned, because we have much more Prime on the way.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Group of 2012-13 Panini Prime Cards from Ebay

In what is going to turn out to be a common theme this week, I picked up a few cards off of Ebay from 2012-13 Panini Prime! I wouldn't exactly say that I went overboard individually, as most of these are cards of lesser players and unproven rookies, but I did get quite a few of them.

The Dominion autographed rookie patches are still a bit pricey right now, but most of the Prime rookies are very affordable, which is what I found myself going after. This six-card lot only set me back $19 shipped, and four of these cards were only $1.

-Dalton Prout/Shawn Hunwick Quad Prime Jersey 41/50
I'm not sure what will end up happening with these guys, but I don't really care, since this is an AWESOME looking card. It features two pieces of prime jersey swatches, and all four are different, which is pretty cool. Also notice how Hunwick must have gotten the call so quickly that he must not have had any time to get his Michigan Wolverines mask changed.

-Matt Watkins/Matt Donovan Quad Jersey 126/200
Okay, really, I only got this card because it spells out my first name. If I can find one with all four pieces of jersey being a dark color that's easy to see, I'd like to use it as my profile pic, but so far, every one I've found has at least one piece of white fabric.

-Cody Goloubef Quad Jersey Rookie 71/249 & Jeremy Welsh Quad Jersey Rookie 241/249
I pulled Panini Limited Phenoms autographed patch cards of both of these guys earlier this year, and both were redemptions. I have since gotten the Goloubef redeemed, but the Welsh is still "pending." At least he found time to sign his Prime cards.

-Mark Stone Jumbo Jersey 32/99 & Dalton Prout Jumbo Jersey 71/99
While the quad jersey autos are the "official" rookie cards from this set, there are also inserts of those same players, featuring a jumbo jersey swatch. Both of these are colorful, and look fantastic, but if you can get your hands on a patch variation, those are pretty incredible. 

I'm really loving Prime this year, as you will see.  Like Rookie Anthology, I didn't do too much of it last year, but Panini really pulled out all the stops to make those products so much better than their predecessors, and my dollars have spoken. I went from buying zero boxes of those two products in 2011-12, to buying four boxes of Rookie Anthology and two of Prime in 2012-13. So, yeah, I'm liking what I'm seeing with a lot of this stuff.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Trade with My Cardboard Habit

After seeing a want list from J.Meeks at My Cardboard Habit of 2013 Allen & Ginter that I could do some damage on, I sent off some cards, just looking to help a fellow blogger out. I didn't expect anything in return, but when he decided to send me some cards for my Allen & Ginter set, I certainly wasn't going to turn the gesture away.

In total, he sent me 43 cards for 2013 Allen & Ginter and one card for 2013 Gypsy Queen.
I'm getting closer and closer to completing the Allen & Ginter set, so if anyone else has any to send my way, keep them coming! A link to my needs list is on the right side of the page.

Thanks for the trade!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

2011-12 Dominion Matt Frattin Autographed Patch Rookie

The  most recent addition to my 2011-12 Dominion Autographed Patch Rookie collection, actually also fits into another collection of mine: UND Alumni. This card of former North Dakota forward Matt Frattin is numbered 182/199 and features what looks to be part of the letter "O" on the jersey's crest.

Frattin was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fourth round (99th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but did not turn pro until after he finished four years at the University of North Dakota, and was named as a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 2011. He played one game fort he Leafs at the very end of the 2010-11 season, and spent the next two years splitting time between the Leafs, and their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. His most productive season offensively was in 2012-13, when he scored seven goals and six assists in 25 games. His stats almost matched those of 2011-12, despite playing in less than half the amount of games, due to the lockout-shortened season. On June 23 of this year, Frattin was traded to the Los Angeles Kings along with goaltender Ben Scrivens and a conditional second-round draft pick in exchange for goaltender Jonathan Bernier.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Reacquiring a card: 2012-13 Certified Jaden Schwartz Autographed Memorabilia

A few months back, when 2012-13 Panini Certified was released, I picked up a couple of boxes and was lucky enough to pull an autographed jersey card of Jaden Schwartz numbered to 499. Next to New York's Chris Kreider, Schwartz was considered one of the top rookies in the limited 2012-13 rookie class, and his cards were in high demand. Being the enterprising collector that I am, I decided immediately to flip the card on Ebay and got a cool $20 bucks for it. 

A few months went by, and after going through some of my posts, I kind of actually missed the card. I'm not a blues fan, nor am I a Jaden Schwartz fan in particular, but something kept drawing me back to it. The card does look cool.  The jumbo swatch sits behind a die-cut "rookie" and the foil is done just the right way to make the card stand out, without going too far over the edge.

It might also be that with the "Dual Rookie Class" upon us, the steam has simply cooled off on Schwartz, but either way, I was fortunate enough to pick up this copy of the card, numbered 241/499 for just 10 bucks, half the price of what I sold my original one for.

A lot of the attention that Schwartz garnered from collectors had to do with his limited 2011-12 hockey season. The 2010 14th-overall draft pick played in just seven regular season games, but scored two goals and one assist, which is pretty impressive for a newcomer. During the 2012-13 season, Schwartz was on the pro roster full time, scoring seven goals and six assists in 45 games.He didn't have quite the same pace, but he still found a way to contribute. Only time will tell whether the hype coming into this past collecting year was warranted. Either way, this is a great-looking card that I am happy to re-introduce to my collection.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Birthday, According to Allen & Ginter

At first, this Gio Gonzalez Across the Years card from 2013 Allen & Ginter looked like any other meaningless insert card that would eventually be placed in a 5000-ct. cardboard box and be forgotten about.

That is, until I flipped the card over to discover that the former All-Star was born on my birthday! Looking to educate myself, I then began to discover some information about this day.

I was born on September 19, 1980, and Gonzalez came into this world right as I was turning five. These cards point out a significant world event from the specific day and year of the player's birth, and on this particular day, Dee Snyder, Frank Zappa, and John Denver testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee about lyrical content in music. This committee would eventually lead to many music producers placing the black and white "Explicit Lyrics" label on albums deemed to be obscene.

Also sharing a birthday with Gonzalez and me are Tonight Show Heir Jimmy Fallon, Basketball Coach Rick Pitino, Beatles Manager Brian Epstein, and actor Randolph Mantooth (No relation to KQHS Channel 9 Evening News Team Lead Anchor Wes Mantooth, or Wes's mother Dorothy Mantooth, who is "a saint.")

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013 Topps Platinum Football Box Break

I don't always go all in on a hobby box of football, but while I was out looking for products to spend my money on, my LCS owner convinced me to give the newly-released 2013 Topps Platinum a shot.

Platinum is definitely a rookie-centric product. The big per-box guaranteed are two on-card rookie autographs and one autographed patch card, most of which will be of first-year players. There will also be some rookie parallels, including five x-fractors and one black refractor.

What drew me to this product in particular was how cool the base cards looked. They have a lot of shine to them, which gives it a nice, sleek look, but it's a little bit different from what they do for Chrome. The shine is still there, but there isn't that etched look around the player, and the cards are much thinner, without a glossy back, which eliminates the bowing that is usually seen with Chrome. I was able to pull four Houston Texans cards, fallling one J.J. Watt and one Owen Daniels short of a team set.

The back of the card just shows the most recent statistical year, as well as talking about a player "Going Platinum," which describes some highlights in the player's year. There was, however, one thing I noticed that I have not seen on any other football cards before this one.

Taking a closer look at a player's vitals, that's right, important personal information now includes a player's Twitter handle.

Each pack includes one parallel printed on a thick card stock. The player photo and the shine of the card are the same, but the background is changed slightly. Two out of 20 were Texans, so I definitely got lucky there.

Each pack also contains one rookie card, of a number of different varieties. The base cards look more similar to Chrome in what they do with the detailing on the front of the card. Unfortunately, also like Chrome, there is some bowing to the cards, but due to the lack of bowing in the base cards and the presence of a thicker parallel in each pack, the bowing is kept to a minimal.

The most common rookie parallel is the x-fractors, which come at a rate of five per box. They are just like the base versions, but have a squared pattern to the chrome surface.

Each box also contains one black rookie parallel. Luckily for me, mine was of Texans' first-round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins, who I also pulled a base rookie card of.

I was also able to pull one more rookie parallel: a die-cut military ribbon card of Jacksonville Jaguars fifth-round draft pick Denard Robinson. These cards are only found at a rate of 1:240 packs, or 1:12 boxes.

Lastly, the hits. Each box of Platinum is guaranteed to contain one autographed patch card, which I did in the form of Dallas Cowboys rookie tight end Gavin Escobar, numbered 858/1000. Escobar was a 2013 second-round pick in 2013, and the three-colored patch is actually screen-printed, as it likely comes from the striping on the jersey's sleeves. My two guaranteed on-card rookie autos were of St. Louis Rams third round pick Stedman Bailey and Kansas City Chiefs third round pick Knile Davis.

Platinum is a fun product to open. The cards all look fantastic, so no matter what, you'll be able to walk away with some great-looking cards. The rookie content is high, though, so those looking for hits of established stars might want to stay away, as the likelihood of pulling autographs of players you've never heard of is pretty high. See above. Still, it's a product that can bring a great deal of satisfaction for most football collectors.