Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Pack Searching" vs. Pack Searching

I've noticed a disturbing trend in my area over the past few weeks.  When I've gone to the local Targets and Walmarts, I'm finding more and more packs of cards which have been slightly ripped open, or packs which have been completely ripped open and searched by true Pack Searchers. 

Now, I suppose that hearing me, a "pack searcher," call other people true Pack Searchers may be weird, so I want to take a moment to differentiate between what I do, and what true Pack Searchers do.

Yes, I "pack search."  I will pick up packs.  I may move cards around within the packs.  I may feel them.  I may give them a light flex test.  But I do not, have not, and will not ever tear open a pack's wrapper to peek inside the pack.

Vance Worley
2012 Topps Heritage
Chrome Refractor
Odds:  1:77
Found without ripping open packs in the store.
These true Pack Searchers who have started to show up in my area do tear open the packs to peek inside.  They will either discreetly make a small tear in the wrapper going front to back, so they can see all the cards inside, or they will discreetly open up the entire top or bottom of the pack wrapper to just slide ALL the cards out to view them.  And in some instances, I've come across some packs with cards missing from them meaning that those true Pack Searchers have also stolen cards.

The difference between me and true Pack Searchers is those true Pack Searchers are quite literally, in the very basic meaning of the words, are truly searching the packs, and in some cases outright stealing cards.  Again, me on the other hand, I "search" by feel, touch, weight, flex, and sometimes sight (if the pack wrapper is see-through).  My methods are mostly indirect methods of searching.  The pack wrappers always stay intact, and the packs are still purchasable by other people.  Packs which these true Pack Searchers have searched are mutilated, ripped, and otherwise unfit for purchase by another consumer. 

So yes, I do "pack search" but I don't pack search.  People can rightfully hate me all they want for what I do, but at least I'm not destroying products or stealing products.  Every single hit you've seen on this blog has been paid for with my money -- never stolen, and found using non-intrusive indirect search methods.  No pack wrappers were harmed, ripped or opened during my "pack searches." 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pack Searching: 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball

Another errand and another trip to that local Target that had just put out that brand new retail box of 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball.

I'm back to re-search the same retail box I searched just one day prior.  I want another crack at finding the refractors.  I already plucked two die-cuts and one refractor from the box yesterday but I think I might have missed a few more refractors.  I want to try out my search methods again to find those refractors.

There are only nine packs left now.  A lot of packs have been bought since I was last there only 24 hours ago.  I would say at least 11 packs were bought.  I wonder if the people who bought those packs got anything good.

I search the remaining nine packs.  I use the same method I used yesterday, but also utilize another method on a few suspicious packs.  I find two packs which I think contain refractors.  I found them using my original search method.  I didn't find anything using my secondary search method.  Indeed, it seems as if my second search method isn't quite as accurate as the first search method.

WhenI get home I open up the packs to see if my search methods were accurate.  They were.

Gary Sanchez
2012 Bowman Platinum
Odds:  1:20
First up was a Gary Sanchez X-Fractor.  I love these X-Fractor cards.  I think they look awesome.

Jake Odorizzi
2012 Bowman Platinum
Chrome Refractor
Odds:  1:4
And next was a Jake Odorizzi Chrome Refractor.  Not a great card but it is a chrome card.

So yeah, my search methods are accurate.  Since devising this new search method I'm gone 3/3 on packs which I thought had refractors in them.  I'm highly confident I can find refractors in any loose retail packs.  Again though, the challenge I still haven't conquered is finding an autograph.  I'm not sure if the method I use for finding refractors will work for autographs too.  I think it will, but I can't be sure until I find an autograph using that search method.  So either my search method doesn't work for autographs and I've passed over packs which contain an autograph, or the method does work and I just haven't found a pack which contains an autograph.  Hmm... which is it?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Okay, I Do Feel A Little Guilty

The last few times I was hitting up Target to do some pack searching I felt guilty about it.  Two separate times a little kid came by the card section to pick up some packs -- packs which I had already searched for relics or memorabilia.  So I knew they probably weren't going to get any of those in the packs.  Perhaps they might have pulled an on-card autograph though.  Those are incredibly hard to find and I never really take the time or effort to try and find them.

Yeah.  I felt guilty.  I felt like I had robbed those kids of their chances at getting a cool card.  But then again, I didn't find anything in the packs they grabbed anyways so it's not like I was taking something which they otherwise would have gotten.  I think they had grabbed some 2012 Topps Opening Day and 2012 Topps Series 1 Baseball.

One kid was a child.  His parents let him run over and pick out some packs.  He didn't really know which ones to grab.  I think he just chose the Opening Day packs because they were shiny.  Kids like shiny stuff, you know.

Another kid was a little older.  He wasn't a child, but he wasn't a teen either.  I felt more guilty about him than the other little kid.  Why?  I guess because this kid was old enough to have more appreciation for the good cards.  He grabbed the Topps Series 1 Baseball.  Again, I hadn't found anything in those packs so it wasn't like I was taking a hit away from the kid but I still felt bad.  I felt so bad about it I almost gave him a 2012 Allen & Ginter hot "jumbo pack" rack pack I had found.  I don't think he even wanted the Allen & Ginter set though.  He just went straight to the Series 1 Baseball.  I'm not sure how I would have explained that to him if I had given him the hot "jumbo pack" rack pack. 

Hey kid, buy this pack ... just trust me.  

And would he?  Who knows.  Would you buy a pack of cards that a complete stranger told you to buy?  Probably not.  I wasn't about to tell the kid about pack searching either.  If I tell him, perhaps he starts pack searching himself.  All the people who hate pack searchers definitely wouldn't like this.  If I don't tell him, perhaps he stays ignorant of pack searching and never does it or at least doesn't do it for a while.  But then of course, that entire time he's ignorant of pack searching he's probably buying retail packs which have been searched and is wondering why he never gets cool hits.  Shit.

It was like a no-win situation.

I either warn the kid and possibly empower him to pack search, or I don't tell the kid and hope he never finds out about it but all the while gets screwed over by pack searchers -- people like me. 

Man, I'm just a wonderful individual, aren't I?

Buster Posey
2012 Bowman Platinum
Cutting Edge Stars Die-Cut
Odds:  1:10
I don't quite feel so guilty about it when adults come by to pick up cards.  The first time it happened a guy picked up a blaster box.  I can't feel guilty about that because it's not like I searched that blaster box.  But then, of course, perhaps the dude is buying the blaster box because he knows the retail packs might have been searched.  Perhaps.  But generally you get a better deal on blaster boxes in terms of price-per-pack so maybe that was the real reason why he grabbed a blaster box instead of retail packs.

Another time a guy picked up some rack packs.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure I had searched those rack packs.  I think they were some 2012 Topps Football rack packs.  Granted, I was only looking for relic and memorabilia cards in those rack packs which are extremely rare.  I didn't find any, and I didn't search those packs for anything else such as autographs or other interesting insert hits.  So the guy was basically getting a normal 99% unsearched rack pack.  I didn't quite feel guilty about that.

The one time I did feel guilty about an older guy picking up some retail packs was when he grabbed some just after I had finished searching them.  The packs were retail 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball.  I had just finished searching the box like ten minutes earlier and had plucked out two die-cuts (odds: 1:10), and one chrome refractor (odds:  1:4).  When the guy grabbed a few packs it did cross my mind that he probably wasn't going to get anything great from those packs and might be a little disappointed.  But then again, I'm not great at searching 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball.  It's quite possible I missed the on-card autograph card or a relic card and maybe he'd get it.  Maybe.

Bryce Harper
2012 Bowman Platinum
Cutting Edge Stars Die-Cut
Odds:  1:10
I'm not sure why that guy who bought some 2012 Bowman Platinum just didn't go for the rack packs.  I think he picked up two to four retail packs.  For the same price the dude could have gotten a rack pack with those three purple parallel chrome refractors, and three packs of 2012 Bowman Platinum which are more or less pack searching proof (okay, maybe not 100% pack searching proof, but I think 2012 Bowman Platinum rack packs are much harder to search than loose retail packs). 

Seeing the kids buy retail packs is probably the #1 reason why I might stop pack searching.  I used to be them.  Or, maybe I'll just continue to pack search but give the kids some of the hot packs I find if I find any.  Or maybe I'll just buy the kids some packs with my own money.  That would be kind of weird though.

Or maybe I should just stop pack searching.  Or maybe everyone should pack search and then I wouldn't be faced with these moral dilemmas. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 Topps Chrome Baseball

I wasn't planning on buying any 2012 Topps Chrome Baseball.  Why?  Well, first of all, the odds of hitting anything interesting are pretty slim.  Sure, basic chrome refractors are 1:3 odds, and X-Fractors are 1:6 odds.

But the good stuff?  The odds are ridiculously low. 

Blue refractor?  Odds are 1:300
Black refractor?  Odds are 1:760
Sepia refractor?  Odds are 1:930
Gold refractor?  Odds are 1:1,525
Base card variation?  Odds are 1:13,500
Rookie Base Card Autographs?  Odds are 1:187
Dynamic Die-Cut Autographs?  Odds are 1:19,675

Unless you're buying a hobby box (which is guaranteed to contain two autographs), most people who buy retail probably won't hit ANY of the above cards.

I'm not asking that Topps put refractors in at 1:10 odds, or autos in a 1:50 odds, but geez.  Most retail card purchasers will probably only buy themselves two or three blaster boxes of cards (8 packs each).  That's like 16 to 24 packs of cards.

What are your chances at hitting any of those above cards with three blaster boxes?

Blue refractor:  7.97%  (24/301)
Black refractor:  3.16% (24/761)
Sepia refractor:   2.58%  (24/931)
Gold refractor:  1.57%  (24/1,526)
Base card variation:  0.18%  (24/13,501)
Rookie Base Card Autographs:  12.77% (24/188)
Dynamic Die-Cut Autographs:  0.12% (24/19,676)

How do those probabilities look to you?  They look pretty crappy to me.  Like I said, I'm not asking for rare inserts or autographs to just drop in my lap, but dang, those are pretty stingy probabilities.

So that's why, when I hit up my local Target, I didn't even bother searching the fresh retail box which they had just put out.  Well, not initially.

The only insert which really interested me are the die-cuts.  Those are 1:24 odds -- in other words there is only one pack in 25 packs which contains a die-cut.  Considering that a retail box only has 24 packs, the retail box isn't even (theoretically) guaranteed to contain a die-cut.  The probability of a retail box having a die-cut is (24/25=) 96%.

Naturally, I was interested in seeing if there was one in this retail box... so I searched it.  And yes, this retail box had a die-cut. 

David Ortiz
2012 Topps Chrome Baseball
Dynamic Die-Cuts
Odds:  1:24
And this scan of it does not do the card justice.  These die-cut cards are nice.  The design is very intricate.  It's hard to see in the scan, but on the two chrome bows framing David Ortiz, it says "Boston Red Sox".  Furthermore, the red chrome background appears to be texturized (although it feels smooth on the face of the card).  And finally, because the card is a chrome card, when the light hits it just right the card lights up in a gorgeous array of rainbow colors.

These cards are freakin' sweet.  I have to admit, if I have the chance to search for more die-cut cards... I'd be hard pressed to resist the urge.  

2012 Topps Chrome Baseball
Tyler Pastornicky
Rookie Card
As for the rest of the base cards, I wasn't sold on the idea of Topps taking its typical Series 1 and Series 2 baseball cards and simply chroming them.  The joke is that, "everything looks better in chrome."  And you know what?  Once I had opened up the pack and was staring at the chrome cards right in front of me.  I have to admit, the chrome look is kind of cool.  The cards definitely look better in-person than they do from the scans. 

Overall, the 2012 Topps Chrome Baseball set isn't horrible... but I still wouldn't say it's great.  The set needs some better low-odds inserts and low-odds hits to make it more appealing to consumers.  $3.19 per retail pack is already a little expensive for only four cards and crap odds at a cool hit. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pack Searching: 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball

Okay, finding die-cut cards in 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball is easy.  Ridiculously easy.

The challenge, for me at least, is finding the autographs and refractors.  But, I think I've realized a way to find the refractors (and maybe the autographs too).  No, I'm not going to divulge the secrets here for all to see.

My methods may have already been thought up by those who are much better pack searchers than I am.  After all, I'm certainly not a genius or an expert on pack searching.  The methods and clues on how to find autographs and refractors can't have been something only I have realized.

But, on the off-chance that perhaps nobody else has thought up the ways to find these cards, then of course I'm going to keep my methods secret.  For now though, I think my method works.  The last time I went pack searching I went out to a local Target and was pleasantly surprised to see a fairly new retail box of 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball out for sale.  I tried my new search methods out on the box, and sure enough, I found the two die cuts (easy to find) and one chrome refractor (harder to find).

Tyler Skaggs
2012 Bowman Platinum
Chrome Refractor
Odds:  1:4
I'm pretty sure there were probably a few more refractors in the box that I might have missed.  I acknowledge my method has its limitations based on the various individual characteristics of each pack, but hey... my method did work just like I thought it would.  Now it's just a matter of refining it and making it better.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Amateur Status

There is a reason I call myself the "Amateur Hot Pack Hunter."  It's because I'm an amateur.  I'm still amateur status.  Yes, I pack search.  It first started off just as an experiment to see if it could be done.  Yes, it could be done. 

But here's the real question for me: could I be any good at it?

Well, I'm okay.

Some sets I'm better at searching than others.  That's mostly because I buy those sets (without searching them) and I know the cards very well.  Other sets, which I don't really buy, I'm much worse at pack searching.  For example, I'm just about deadly now with searching Allen & Ginter.  I blew a lot of money learning how to pack search that set.  And while it hurt the wallet, it made me pretty good at finding what I wanted in that set too.

Gordon Beckham
2012 Topps Series 1
Golden Moments Relic
Odds:  1:72
On the other hand, I suck at Bowman Chrome and Topps Archives.  I rarely touch those sets and on the few occasions that I've decided to give it a look and bought a pack or two that I thought I was hot, I didn't get crap.  Serves me right, yeah?

A few weeks ago I completely whiffed on three "hot" packs I had bought.  One was a Panini Prestige Football, and another was a pack of 2012 Bowman Platinum.  I hit decoys.  I should have detected the Panini Prestige Football decoy.  They're pretty easy to spot.  But I was in a rush, I got careless, and I thought I had determined it was a hit when it really wasn't.  As for the Bowman Platinum pack, I knew it may not have been a hit, but I decided to get it anyways out of curiosity (the pack had characteristics which made it very unusual).  It of course wasn't a hit, and instead was a decoy.  Yes, there are decoys in retail packs of 2012 Bowman Platinum!  Serves me right, again, huh?

Gordon Beckham
2012 Topps Series 1
Golden Moments Relic
Odds:  1:72
I'm certainly not a pro at this stuff.  I'm not using that to justify my actions.  No.  I'm just saying I'm not a pro.  I'm not like DeanofMean86 on Youtube who nails hit, after hit, after ridiculous hit.  Nope.  I'm still in the minors.  With every hot pack I do successfully find, I suppose some poor innocent kitten dies a horrible horrible death somewhere on this Earth for the truly immoral act I have committed.  But then for every "hot pack" I whiff on -- which is just like buying a pack of retail anyways -- I'm supporting the hobby card industry.  Pack Searcher haters, rejoice.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

If You Buy Baseball Cards, You Must Be Rich

I was at one of the local Targets a few days ago picking up some packs when I had one of the strangest conversations with the cashier. 

I handed her two rack packs I was buying, and she scanned them without much thought.  But while I was swiping my credit card, she then picked them up out of the bag and gave them a closer inspection.  "What are these?"  She asked. 

I told her they were baseball cards. 

Roy Halladay
2012 Topps Baseball Series 1
Golden Moments Relic
Odds:  1:72

"What do you do with them?" She asked again.

And here's where I sort of paused to think about things.  What do I do with baseball cards?  I generally just keep them.  I put them in boxes.  They sit around.  I collect them.  Surely, this must be obvious to the cashier, right?  What else does a person do with baseball cards other than collect them?  Was she really that oblivious or was she truly of the belief that people did other things to baseball cards than collect them? 

I decided to keep the explanation simple.  "I collect them." 

"Oh, but for $10?  You must be rich to collect baseball cards." 

Roy Halladay
2012 Topps Baseball Series 1
Golden Moments Relic
Beckett Value: $12
I must have had the biggest dumbfounded look on my face as I processed what she said.  Really?  I'm rich because I buy $10 worth of baseball cards?  Am I rich?  I thought about my personal finances.  Nope, not rich.  I thought about how much money I've spent in the past month since this card addiction has kicked in.  I've spent far more money than I should have but nope, I'm still not rich.  If only she knew the amount of money other people put into this hobby.  I mean, if you go on youtube you see people breaking up boxes, or multiple boxes, or even cases of cards like money isn't a concern.  You'll see $100 boxes being ripped apart in seconds.  Those people, I presume, are the rich ones.  Me, I'm just some card addicted bum who slowly gets sucked dry of money in $10, $20, and sometimes $40 increments. 

"No.  I'm not rich," I tell her, "It's just $10 ... that's like ... lunch."  That's all I could come up with.  I almost started laughing at myself.  Lunch.  Imagine, a person using their lunch money to buy some baseball cards.  That is a card addict right there. 

And with that, my purchase was complete and I walked out still befuddled by that conversation.  That was definitely one of the oddest conversations regarding baseball cards I've had in a long time -- perhaps ever. 

I must be rich because I buy $10 worth of cards.  Hah.  Imagine how "rich" I would be if I had walked up to the cashier with a $100 worth of cards.  If only.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter Retail Box Break

Allen & Ginter is probably one of my favorite baseball sets.  I like the old school look of the cards and the other oddities contained within the set.  Recently, I caved into buying a retail box of 2010 Topps Allen & Ginter.  I was hoping to get an autographed mini, Buster Posey RC/Relic/Auto, or a Stephen Stasburg RC/Relic/Auto.  I wasn't quite so lucky.  Instead I got...

Brian Roberts
2010 Allen & Ginter
Bat Relic
Odds:  1:30

... a Brian Roberts bat relic.  The card is in great shape.  I like these plastic relic cards in Allen & Ginter because they have tough, and sharp, edges and corners.  Thus, these cards have pretty high BGS grading potential.  Too bad this card is just about worthless.  I think there were some on Ebay for $1 and they couldn't even sell.  If this card were worth something I'd probably send it in to get graded.  This particular card has flawless edges, corners and surface.  The only problem is that the centering on the front is pretty bad.  The card is cut quite low and off to the left.  I'm pretty sure I could get 9.5 or 10s on the card's edges, corners, and surface, but the card would probably only get a 7.5 for centering.  I suppose that the overall grade would probably be a 8.5 then, which still isn't bad... Hmm... maybe I'll send it in for grading anyways, just for kicks.

As for the rookies, I got Madison Bumgarner, Esmil Rogers, Jenrry Mejia, Ruben Tejada, Adam Moore, Dustin Richardson, Chris Pettit, Sergio Santos, Craig Gentry, and Tyler Colvin.

Madison Bumgarner
2010 Topps Allen & Ginter
Rookie Card
The Madison Bumgarner rookie card is the best one of all the rookie cards that I got.  I was hoping that it would be worthy of BGS grading, but it has slight surface damage on it from the factory rollers.  I'm guessing it could probably get 9/9.5 on its edges, 9/9.5 on its corners, 8.5 on its centering, but maybe only 8 on its surface.  So the total grade would probably be something like 8.5.  Again, not horrible, but I want those 9s and 9.5s!

So overall, this retail box of 2010 Allen & Ginter turned out to be quite the dud.  No huge rookie hits.  No Buster Posey RCs.  No cards which would probably get a 9, or 9.5 if sent in for BGS grading.  I still enjoy the product, but it would be much more enjoyable with some bit hits and BGS worthy cards!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What do You Call a 1:20 Case Odds Hit?

I keep thinking about that Phil Simms Silver Quarterback Milestones hit I had last week.  I was pretty lucky to pull that.

Phil Simms
2012 Topps Football
Quarterback Milestones: Touchdowns (Silver)
Odds:  1:5,900

Often, I'll hear other hobbiests talking about getting huge "case hits."  What they mean by that, is that the card they pulled is only inserted once in a case.  For example, in Topps 2012 Allen & Ginter, rip cards are inserted at a rate of one per case -- one case contains 12 boxes.  So only one of those twelve boxes has a rip card.  If you pull that rip card, that would be a pretty epic "case hit."  Bottom line, "case hits" are rarer, much rarer, than your typical box "hits" (which which probably have odds around 1:24 or 1:30 on average). 

So I began wondering exactly how much of a "case hit" was my huge Phil Simms Quarterback Milestones coin card.  It was my feeling that this hit was much rarer than even a "case hit."  After all, the odds of pulling a silver coin card out of a pack is 1:5,900.  But how much are those odds in terms of cases?  That's what I wanted to know.

A 2012 Topps Football retail case contains 12 boxes.  Each box contains 24 packs.  That means each case contains 288 packs (12 x 24 = 288).

Again, the odds of pulling a silver Quarterback Milestones coin card out of a pack is 1:5,900.  That is, one pack out of 5,901 packs will have a silver Quarterback Milestones coin card in it.  5,901 packs is a LOT more than the 288 packs in a case.  But how much more?

5,901 packs / 288 packs per case = 20.49 cases

20.49 cases!!!  In other words, there is one silver coin card per 21 cases of 2012 Topps Football (I rounded 20.49 up to 21).  Damn.  That is crazy.  That is much more than a "case hit."  I don't know of any words to describe a nearly 1:20 case odds hit.   Would it be worthy of the title "lifetime hit"?  When I think of a "lifetime hit" I think of something like pulling a DNA Relic card from a Topps Allen & Ginter pack, because those cards are 1/1 and only like 10 are made per year.  Getting that hit would be all sorts of ridiculousness.  That would truly be a "lifetime hit".  But what would this 1:20 case odds hit be?  Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?  It's surely more than "case hit".  Perhaps I'll just call it a "21-case hit".

Sunday, August 12, 2012

2012 Bowman Platinum Blaster Box Break #2

So, after the first Blaster Box's pathetic contents, I couldn't resist buying another blaster box.  My hope was to get an autograph, redemption, or at the very least some sort of sequentially numbered card.  Here's the breakdown...


  • 4 Bowman Platinum Prospects 
  • 3 Bowman Platinum Prospects Chrome Parallel (1:4) 
    • (Trevor May, Jean Segura, Bubba Starling)
  • 1 Bowman Platinum Prospects Blue Chrome Parallel (1:198, #/199) 
    • (Tim Wheeler)
  • 2 Top Prospects (1:5) 
    •  (Tim Wheeler, Robbie Erlin)

  • 1 Cutting Edge Stars (1:10) 
  • 1 Veteran Base Card Gold (1:5) 
  • 1 Veteran Base Card Emerald Parallel (1:10)
  • 15 Veteran Base Cards
  • 4 Rookie Cards 
    • (Bryce Harper, Devin Mesoraco, Leonys Martin, Tyler Pastornicky)

Bryce Harper
2012 Bowman Platinum

This is a better blaster box than the first one.  First of all, I got a Bryce Harper rookie card (see above).  That was nice.  But who am I kidding?  I was really hoping for an autograph, redemption, or sequentially numbered card(s).  While I didn't get my autograph or redemption, I did get a sequentially numbered card.

Tim Wheeler
2012 Bowman Platinum
Prospect Blue Chrome Parallel
Odds:  1:198
This is a pretty nice card.  The odds of pulling a blue chrome parallel are pretty slim, 1:198 to be exact.  So this is a nice minor league "hit".  I'll probably keep the card and hope that Mr. Wheeler turns into a big shot.  There's little use trying to sell this card, anyways.  Despite being sequentially numbered, this card is only selling for $1 on Ebay.

Jean Segura; Bubba Starling; Trevor May
2012 Bowman Platinum
Odds:  1:4
I did get three Prospect Chrome Parallels.  The odds of pulling these are 1:4.  Since the 2012 Bowman Platinum blaster boxes come with 8 packs of cards, you can usually expect to only get two Prospect Chrome Parallels -- but instead I got three.  So I beat the odds.  I'm happy about that.

Overall, this was a better blaster box than the first one.  I still haven't pulled an autograph or redemption despite everyone else on Youtube doing it time after time.  I must have horrible luck.  And when I have horrible luck, I tend to keep playing the game (buying more boxes) until I win (pull a hit).  It's highly foreseeable that I will probably give in and buy a third 2012 Bowman Platinum blaster box in pursuit of that elusive autograph and/or redemption.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Frustrated With 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter

I'm sort of frustrated with my luck when it comes to card searching 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter.  I've pulled five framed relic minis, and haven't gotten a single framed autograph mini.

Phil Pfister
2012 Topps Allen & Ginter
Game-Used Relic
Odds:  1:28

The odds for relic minis are 1:28 packs.  The odds for framed autograph minis are 1:193.  I know that the odds of pulling any sort of autograph are much tougher than a relic -- 6.9 times tougher (or 590% tougher) to be exact, but hell, I was sort of hoping to have an autograph by now!

This must be the bad karma I'm getting for succumbing to pack searching.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012 Bowman Platinum Blaster Box Break #1

I gave into my pack ripping urges and picked up a blaster box of 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball.  I was pretty excited about this set because the cards look awesome.  I'm digging the futuristic look.  Ultimately though, I decided to buy some of these cards because I'm hoping for some autographs.  One can hope.  Right?

The first pack I opened, and the very first card staring at me was...

Yu Darvish
2012 Bowman Platinum
Rookie Card
Yu Darvish Rookie card!  Awesome!  What an awesome way to start this set!  I wish this card was actually worth something, though.  Most of these seem to be selling on Ebay for only $1 each.

Despite how good looking these cards look on the front, one thing that did bother me was the fact that the card stock for these cards does NOT cut cleanly.  If you look on the back edges of the card, you'll see tons of frayed edges.  It's pretty bad.  And it was pretty disappointing to see this gorgeous Yu Darvish rookie card with such horrible back edges.  It looks like it will be extremely hard to get a good grade on these cards if you send them in for grading.  

Dustin Ackley
2012 Bowman Platinum
Platinum Report Die-Cut
Odds:  1:10
What I do like about this set is the huge amount of variety.  It seems like almost every pack has one non-base card in it.  You're going to get a Prospect Platinum Report every pack, but aside from that you're also going to get a few different color base parallels (gold, emerald, ruby). 

John Hellweg
2012 Bowman Platinum
Platinum Report X-Fractor
Odds:  1:20

And then, of course, the prospect cards come in a bunch of different varieties: chrome, X-Fractor, green, blue, gold, red, atomic, and superfractor -- all of which are very cool.

Blaster Box Breakdown:
8 Packs, 32 total cards

1 Platinum Report X-Fractor (odds 1:20)
2 Platinum Report Chrome Refractors (odds 1:4)
2 Top Prospects (odds 1:5)
1 Cutting Edge Stars Die-Cut (odds 1:10)
2 Base Gold Parallels
5 Bowman Platinum Prospect base cards
19 Veteran Base Cards                                           
32 total cards

All in all, I thought this was a pretty cool blaster box.  I was happy because I got two rookie cards (one of which was Yu Darvish), and I got some cool inserts.  But then, I hop on the internet, and I see that tons of people are getting redemption and autograph cards from blaster boxes!

Dave's Sports Cards got a redemption!
Dave's Sports Cards gets an autograph!
Card Buzz gets an autograph!
And more autographs from a blaster box...
And NewOneification gets a redemption too.
Gburgercardshow has hit two redemptions out of three blaster boxes!  Disgusting.

Crap.  Seems like I totally got a crap blaster box then.  I haven't pulled a single autograph or redemption since this card addiction has restarted a few weeks ago.  Why am I having such horrible luck?

Trying to fight back a really strong urge to go buy another blaster box...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Topps Free Card Giveaways

Ever read the fine print on the back of Topps boxes, blaster boxes, and packs?  If you have, you probably know that Topps supposedly gives away free cards.  All you have to do is send in your name and address printed on a 3x5 index card, in a No. 10 envelope, to a certain address.

Doesn't seem that hard.  So I tried it.

Today I sent away for 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter, 2012 Topps Football, and 2012 Bowman Platinum.

We'll see what I get, and how long it takes to get something.  Supposedly, you have the same odds of getting any of the cards in the set that are listed on the box/pack.  Thus, if I understand things correctly, you could potentially get a relic card from 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter, for example.  That's kind of cool, especially if it only costs you a stamp, an index card, and an envelope.

It should be noted though that you're probably not going to get some crazy sequentially numbered hit.  Why?  Because Topps states in more fine print that:

"Topps has authorized only the packaging and distribution of the number of sequentially numbered and/or hand numbered cards stated on the card, but cannot guarantee that counterfeit or other unauthorized cards will not exist."

This nice disclaimer is Topps basically covering their ass against lawsuits by people who have bought sequentially numbered cards (from a third party), who later found out that the card was a fake, who are pissed, and have decided to sue Topps for misrepresentation. 

But for our purposes, this statement also means that Topps isn't giving out sequentially numbered cards via this free card giveaway thing since all those sequentially numbered cards have been packaged and distributed in packs.

So don't get your hopes up that you're going to get a John F. Kennedy DNA Relic

John F. Kennedy
2012 Topps Allen & Ginter
DNA Relic
Odds:  You're Not Getting One in the Mail.
Nope.  At the most you're probably going to get some 1:10 or some other low odds insert.  Like I said, we'll see what I get and how long it takes to get it.  When I do get something, I'll be sure to post the results here for every one to see.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

2012 Topps Football Blaster Box & Retail Pack Recap

It's August 4, 2012.  I'm at a local Walmart bumming around because I have some free time in between errands.  Of course, I make my way to the card section. 

I look at all the packs, blaster boxes, and rack packs in front of me ... all of which I want.   I'm fighting back urges to buy "just one more blaster box of ___(insert practically any football or baseball card set)____."  That's what I tell myself all the time.  "Just one more." 

No, I tell myself.  I'm not here to buy.  I'm just here to look.  And maybe pack search a little.  I go through the 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter.  Nothing.  I go through some 2012 Topps Series 1 and Series 2.  Nothing.  I'm not expecting to find anything.  I've been through these packs before and it doesn't look like anything new has been put out. 

I go through the 2012 Bowman Platinum -- which is hard to search, by the way.  And there's nothing there either.  On a sidenote, good for Bowman for making a product that is hard to search.  Even though I do pack search, I don't mind it when companies make their packs harder to search.  In a way, I enjoy the challenge. 

I'm just about to leave when something catches my eye.  It's the new 2012 Topps Football.  This product isn't supposed to officially "street" (another new term for me which means when the product will go on sale) until August 8, 2012.  It looks like this Walmart had put out the product a little earlier than they were supposed to.

All in all, I'm looking at two completely full racks of rack packs, two retail boxes, and dozens of blaster boxes.  This product has JUST been put out.  It looks completely untouched.  This is a pack searcher's dream.

But the problem is, I don't really know a lot about the product.  By that I don't mean what the set consists of.  I know there are medal cards, coin cards, and autograph cards in the set.  No.  I'm talking about the characteristics of the cards (such as the autograph cards) so that when I search them, I will know what I'm looking at and looking for.

I debate whether to buy a blaster box right then and there to open so that I can gather some intelligence on the product.  I know that if I had some packs to open and I got a glimpse at the cards, I could easily, easily, easily search the rack packs.

For now, I decide to search the retail boxes and the rack packs for the relic, medal, and coin cards.  After all, those will be easy to find and I don't need to know any information about the cards beforehand to find them.

The rack packs seem dry.  A few packs seem to have more cards in the bottom parts than the top parts, and a lot of the packs have cards which seem to be slightly bigger than the rest of the cards, but nothing jumps out at me enough to think there is a hit in them.

I search the retail packs.  One box has nothing in it.  As I'm going through the other box, I come across the hit.  Boom!  I can feel it immediately.  Oh yeah.  This is definitely a hit.  My guess is that it's a medal card.  I grab the hot pack and debate whether to buy a blaster box too.  The blaster boxes advertise that they all contain a special commemorative patch card.  That's kind of cool.  I'm interested to see what these patch cards are so I give in, grab a blaster box, and pay for the cards.

I take the cards to my car to open them and to gather some intel.  I don't want to leave the Walmart just in case I learn something about the cards from these packs and I want to go back inside to re-search the rack packs with this new knowledge.  

I start with the blaster box.  As I open the packs, I am fairly unimpressed by the cards.  They are clearly a middle to low-level product.  The cards are printed on a fairly flimsy card stock.  The card design is simple.  It's not great, but it's not horrible either.  Each pack has a rookie card in it which is nice. 

Robert Griffin III
2012 Topps Football
Rookie Card
I open the ten packs in the blaster box.  I don't get anything great.  I get the following inserts: one camouflage-bordered base parallel; one gold-bordered base parallel; two QB Immortal Inserts; three 1965 style mini cards; and some other crap inserts.  Really, it's nothing that great or interesting. I like the camoflage-bordered base card parallel the most as well as the two QB Immortal inserts.  I may keep those. 

The best card I got was actually a Robert Griffin III rookie card (see above).  It's a very well cut card and perhaps even worthy of BGS grading. 

DeAngelo Hall
2012 Topps Football
NFL Captain Patch
I saved the patch pack for last.  I open it up and I see that I've got a DeAngelo Hall patch card.  These cards look really nice and are a great perk for buying a blaster box of the product.  The cards are not numbered though, unfortunately.  This, of course, means that the patches were probably mass produced just for this set.  I check the back of the card, and yup, it says that the patches were specially made for this set and aren't actually game-used patches or anything.  Bummer. 

Finally, I get to the hot pack.  I saved the best for last.  I rip it open and...

Phil Simms
2012 Topps Football
Quarterback Milestones: Touchdowns (Silver)
Odds:  1:5,900

Boom!  It's a Phil Simms Quarterback Milestones Touchdowns card (silver edition)!!!  Holy crap!  And it's numbered out of 50!  (I've photoshopped out the card's individual number in the picture above.) 

This is a sweet looking card.  The coin is huge, heavy, and very finely detailed.  Totally awesome.  Totally, totally awesome. 

Phil Simms
2012 Topps Football
Quarterback Milestones: Touchdowns (silver)
Odds:  1:5,900

This is probably the rarest hit I've ever had in my life.  The odds of pulling this card is 1:5,900!!!  Wow.

I'm just stunned by this card.  Totally awesome.  Truly a unique card.  Bravo to Topps for making such a great card.

I want more of these coin cards as well as some medal cards.  I just might have to buy a some more  of this product...

2012 Topps Football

I've been on the fence about whether to buy some 2012 Topps Football.  It's a low quality set which doesn't appeal to me that much, but the product also has some cool looking medal, coin, and autograph cards which I wouldn't mind owning.  Do I, or don't I buy?  Hmm...

But when you're at your local Walmart looking at the card display, and you see some fresh blaster boxes, retail boxes, and rack packs of 2012 Topps Football -- which technically doesn't start selling until August 8th -- I just couldn't help myself. 

And so I bought some 2012 Topps Football.  I bought a blaster box and one retail pack.  I don't normally buy loose retail packs for a reason (pack searchers, duh.), but I had a good reason to do so this time.  ;)

Breakdown to come later.

2012 Bowman Platinum

I succumbed to the urges and bought a blaster box of 2012 Bowman Platinum.  A breakdown of the blaster box will come later.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Heat  /hēt/

Noun:  Casino "heat" means to be under the scrutiny of casino personnel while you are in a game.

Heat.  For those of us who gamble, and use tactics that the casino deems to be "cheating" (such as counting cards), we all know what "heat" is. 

Surprisingly enough (or not!), heat can apply to card searching too.  Let me explain.

It all started out with me card searching another Target.  I was on my way to another city for some commitments and there was a Target on the way there, right off of the freeway.  So, I decided to stop, take a brief break from driving, and search the place.  Because why not?  I hadn't searched this Target before, and it was located in a slightly more remote area where I figured there wouldn't be a lot of other card searchers there to clean it out. 

I arrived just after 8 a.m., right when they opened.  There was hardly anybody in the store -- both employees and customers.  In fact, I prefer it this way when I search.  I hate having tons of customers around, walking by me, and wondering what I'm doing while I card search.  And I also hate the idea of all these Target employees suspiciously eying me, wondering what the heck that dude is doing over there in the card aisle for like 30 minutes. 

So, I searched in blissful peace.

I searched the 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter gravity box.  Another card searcher had been there.  I could tell based on the way the cards felt within the packs.  It was perhaps the same card searcher that has been hitting up a lot of the stores in my hometown.  The similarities in the way the cards felt were too coincidental to be coincidence.  Nevertheless, I found a hit in the gravity box.  It was a hit that the other card searcher missed.  This other guy really isn't that good at pack searching.  And in fact, despite the short amount of time I've spent pack searching, I think I'm probably better than him/her.

I discreetly hid the hot pack amongst the shelf display of retail boxes.  Sometimes I hide them under retail boxes, between retail boxes, behind boxes, or underneath packs in a different retail box.  I do this just in case I get interrupted and for some reason I have to leave the store immediately (perhaps I get confronted by a hobbiest or a store employee).  Then, I can always come back and get that pack later -- assuming nobody finds the packs I've hidden.

There were also some fresh 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter jumbo packs too (two-pack rack packs).  These are RIDICULOUSLY easy to search.  And lucky for me, there was another hit in one of those.  Again, I discreetly hid that pack amongst the display.

I checked the 2012 Topps Series 1 & 2, but those were dry.  Nada.

I then found a 2012 Topps Heritage chrome refractor hit.  I hid that hot pack too.  I then began the very laborious task of pack searching 2012 Topps Heritage for on-card autographs.  In fact, of all the cards that I search for, these are by far the most time consuming.

Michael Bourn
2012 Topps Heritage
Heritage Chrome Refractor
Odds:  1:77

All in all, I must have been there for a good 25 minutes.  And I do realize how suspicious it all may seem.  The store just opened at 8 a.m.  I'm pretty much there right when they open, and I park myself in the card aisle for nearly 25 minutes to pack search.  I'm feeling up the cards.  I'm moving entire rack packs off the racks to feel them, then putting them back on the racks.  I'm taking cards out of boxes to search, and then putting them back into boxes.  I'm emptying the gravity boxes, then putting cards back in there.  Yeah, it's totally suspicious.

And I know that Target has eyes in the sky (just like casinos!).  I just never figured anyone was, you know, actually watching the videos feeds!

Until now.

"Excuse me, sir.  Can I help you find anything?"

I look to my right.  It's a Target security officer.  He's some tall (not that I'm short) beefy dude, wearing a dark, cop-like Target uniform.  He's giving me a slightly suspicious look.

I know I'm not doing anything illegal or wrong.  I don't cut open boxes or discreetly rip open card packs like other card searchers do.  So I decide to stand my ground and play it cool.  "No, I'm fine, thanks."  That's all I say, and I just look back at the packs I'm searching like no big deal.  His move.

And he moves on.

I'm not sure if he really thought that I was legit, but he probably didn't have enough reason to kick me out.  After all, I hadn't put anything into my pockets as if I were going to steal it.  All I've been doing was feeling up the packs, and carefully hiding a few of them around the sports card displays.  That security guy must have been watching me on the eye in the sky.  And it all makes sense why he would.  Card packs are seem fairly easy to steal if you really wanted to.  (I've never tried but if I really had to, I think it could be done.)  There were very few customers in the store at that time.  I'm sure I was probably one of ten customers in the store.  And I definitely was the most suspicious looking since I was just standing around in one aisle for a good 25 minutes.  But what are they going to kick me out for?  Rearranging their card displays?  Heck, I even fixed up their displays for them.  There were so many cards in the wrong retail and gravity boxes.  I even did them the favor of putting the packs into the correct boxes.

Michael Bourn
2012 Topps Heritage
Heritage Chrome Refractor
Odds:  1:77
 Despite knowing that they had no reason to kick me out, the situation still kind of unnerved me a little bit.  I felt like leaving.  I didn't want to push my luck.  But at the same time, I didn't want to just get up and leave right then and there.  Then it would definitely seem like they got to me and they scared me into leaving.  So, I forced myself to pack search for another five minutes.  Quite interestingly, during those five minutes, I overheard some of the Target employees at the front talking about who was going to be the "hobby monitor" for the day.  I guess they've had problems with hobbiests in the past -- perhaps stealing cards or maiming cards -- that they nominate someone to sort of keep an eye on things in the card aisle.  Very very interesting.  After a while though, that five minutes more is all I could take.  I grabbed those hot packs I hid around the displays, and walked to the cash registers to pay.  I wondered if the security guard guy was still watching me on the cameras.  If I was truly trying to steal some sports cards, why would I be paying for them?

I paid for the cards without incident, and began walking towards the exit.  I imagined the alarms going off as I walked through the magnetic sensor things.  I knew the card packs I had didn't have alarm tags in them, but I just couldn't help bracing myself for the alarm to go off anyways as I walked out.  And as I walked out, nothing happened.  No alarms went off.  No security guards jumped out to tackle me.  Nothing.

Target got its money for selling some sports cards, and I got my hot packs.  Getting some heat for pack searching was a little unnerving, but it's not to be unexpected!  I hope it doesn't continue happening to me, though.  Why can't people just let me card search in peace?!