Thursday, January 31, 2013

Toughest Baseball Products to Pack Search in 2012

So now that 2012 has come to a close, I figured it might be interesting to take a look back at some of the easiest and toughest baseball products of 2012 to pack search.

Why am I making this list?  Well, from a pack searcher's point of view, obviously, the easier a product is to pack search, the more likely you are to search it, buy it, and hit something.  On the other hand, tougher products are ones which pack searchers stay away from because they represent the unknown and a much higher of whiffing.  So I suppose a pack searcher might find this list somewhat useful to target sets which other pack searchers (such as myself) have found to be easy to search.

Below, I have compiled a list of products which I've rated on a five point scale from: (1) Easy to Search; (2) Moderately Easy to Search; (3) Moderate to Search; (4) Moderately Hard to Search; and (5) Hard to Search.  My method for choosing the product's rating depends mostly on how easy or hard it is to find hits, specific rookies, and specific inserts (such as short-prints or numbered inserts).

I've also included a rating for a product's cache -- meaning how often you can find either a hit, a specific rookie card, a special insert, or parallels.  This rating is also on a five point scale from: (1) Very Stingy; (2) Moderately Stingy; (3) Moderate; (4) Moderately Plentiful; and (5) Plentiful.

There are some caveats to the list below, though.  First, I just jumped back into the hobby mid-2012.  Thus, I did not have a lot of exposure or experiences searching products from early 2012.  Second, this rating guide is only for retail products.  I don't search in hobby.  Third, I'm only including products which I've bought numerous times and spent a decent amount of time searching.  There were some products where I bought a few packs, and gave mild attempts at pack searching it, but for whatever reasons -- such as there wasn't enough of the product around me or I just didn't like the product -- that I didn't buy a lot of it to really get a good idea at how easy or hard it was to pack search.  For example, I didn't buy a lot of Topps Opening Day or Bowman Baseball so those won't be on the list.

Keep in mind these are only my opinions.  Some others may find some sets easier or harder to search than I do.

2012 Baseball Products

2012 Bowman Chrome Baseball
- Ease of Searching:  Moderately Hard
- Cache:  Stingy

Comments:  2012 Bowman Chrome Baseball, in my experiences, was a moderately hard set to search.  Autographs are on-card making them extremely hard to find.  Die-Cut inserts are easy as cake to find, but are relatively rare with only one per retail box.  Finding refractors is possible but it takes a lot of work.  Chrome cards tend to stick together and thus fanning the cards can be difficult and tiring on the fingers.

The odds of finding cool refractors in this set is beyond dismal.  While basic refractors are 1:4 odds, the next most plentiful refractor is the blue refractor at 1:73 odds.  After that is the purple refractor at 1:90 odds.  Then it only gets worse with 1:350 odds for gold refractors and 1:700 for orange refractors.  Other inserts were unnoticeable to me through the pack wrappers and very hard to differentiate from base cards.  Autographs are at a near 1:93 odds and are not guaranteed one per retail box.

This product is definitely one product which I would suggest avoiding unless you are absolutely determined to find stuff, and you have a lot of time to search.

2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball
- Ease of Searching:  Hard
- Cache:  Moderate

Comments:  2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball is perhaps the hardest set to search of 2012.  I spent a lot of money on this product because I like the cards.  You'd think that with all the money spent on this product I'd have a lot to show for it and unfortunately I don't.  All retail packs come with decoys.  Lots of autographs are on-card.  Unless you're lucky enough to find the rare autographed jumbo relics which are fairly easy to identify, finding the other regular autograph cards is extremely hard.  Searching for numbered parallels is a little easier but still hard as since it is very hard to differentiate a numbered parallel from a regular un-numbered parallel.  Redemptions are found here and there and can be easy to find if you know what to look for.

The cache of this product is moderate.  There is a guaranteed autograph per retail box to be found, but like I said earlier, they are hard to find.  Finding specific inserts is possible as they are plentiful.  Finding numbered parallels is possible too although rare.  Die-cuts come at 1:10 odds so you can usually find two in a retail box.  Searching for specific rookies is pretty much impossible unless you're buying rack packs for the special purple parallels.

Overall, I'd much rather search Bowman Platinum than Bowman Chrome but beware, this set is one of the hardest ones to search for hits.  In fact, with the amount of on-card autographs and decoys in this product, 2012 Bowman Platinum is definitely one of the front-runners for my 2012 Toughest Baseball Products to Search award.

2012 Topps Allen & Ginter
- Ease of Searching:  Easy
- Cache:  Plentiful

Comments:  Allen & Ginter is the favorite set for many baseball and non-baseball collectors alike because of its eclectic mix of cards within it.  It's also the favorite set of many pack searchers because hits are plentiful and easy to find.  Just look on eBay after Allen & Ginter comes out and you'll probably see hundreds of "hot packs" for sale.

When it comes to pack searching, 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter was probably about as easy as it gets.  I first started out learning how to pack search on this set.  I thought this set was hard to search at first because I wasn't finding any hits.  The reason why I wasn't finding the hits wasn't so much because I didn't know what to look for but because everyone else had beaten me to the store and found the hits before me.  Once I actually found a "hot pack" on my own, I was finally absolutely sure what to look for and had a lot more success finding hot packs.  There are no decoys in Ginter, but Topps does have a few anti-pack searching countermeasures within the packs.  You may get fooled by Topps' tricks once but you'll probably never fall for them again after that.

The cache of Allen & Ginter is plentiful.  Retail boxes guarantee one hit per box.  Gravity boxes should have a couple of hits in them too.  Finding hits in value packs (double packs) is insanely easy.  Finding hits in rack packs (those hanger packs with 3 packs and bonus gold-bordered minis) is fairly easy too.  The ease of searching this product and the cache of hits make this set a favorite to search for pack searchers.

2012 Topps Gypsy Queen
- Ease of Pack Searching:  Easy
- Cache:  Plentiful

Comments:  This set is very similar to Allen & Ginter.  The look of the cards is similar.  Pack searching it is similar to that of Ginter.  The set is easy to search like Ginter.  Gypsy Queen hits feel just the same as a Ginter hit.  Rack packs can be searched for hits just the same as loose retail packs.  There are no decoys in this set.  Autographs are rare but are easy to find.  Overall, a pretty easy product to search.

The cache of Gypsy Queen is plentiful.  Retail boxes should each have some sort of relic or autograph card in it.  Usually it seems to be a framed mini relic -- which although not particularly valuable -- is still a nice hit for $3 and change.  I also believe there are numbered blue-bordered parallel card in each retail box too.  I've come across several of those in packs which I know other pack searchers have searched.  It seems like most pack searchers either don't care about those cards or just don't know how to find them.

2012 Panini Cooperstown
- Ease of Pack Searching: Moderately Easy
- Cache: Moderately Stingy

Comments:  First things, first, good luck finding this product in retail stores.  Most of the retail stores around me only had one retail box and a few blasters for sale and it looks like their stock never got replenished.  But if you do manage to find these in stores then it is worth a quick search.  Searching this product easy.  There aren't decoys.  The waxy packs make pack searching it a joy.  But searching this product can also be a little time consuming.  This product has a lot of inserts within it.  A lot.  Often you may think you've found a hit but instead it's just an insert.  If you do your research you can weed out the inserts from hits, but doing that takes a little time and perhaps a little more effort than most pack searchers are willing to put into a product.

The real problem with this set is that finding wood cards and autographs is fairly rare.  Retail boxes have no autograph guarantees.  So that fresh retail box you see sitting on display might have nothing in it at all.  Furthermore, there are no guarantees that there are any wood cards in the retail box either.  I managed to find one after searching a couple of stores but that's all I ever found.  This set is definitely one of my favorites to search just because manipulating the cards within the pack is so easy, but the scarcity of hits and the scarcity of the product makes finding anything in this set uncommon.

2012 Topps Series 1 & 2 & Update
- Ease of Pack Searching:  Easy
- Cache:  Moderate

Comments: Topps' Series 1, Series 2, and Update are quite the staple for the baseball collecting community.  For that reason it also seems to be one of the most abundant products you'll find in stores.  There are no decoys in this product.  Because this product is so abundant, if Topps were to put in decoys it would greatly increase their cost of production.  Thus, finding relics ridiculously easy.  But good luck finding relics.  Because relics are so easy to find you have to beat other pack searchers to the store.  And even if you do get to the cards first, there often isn't a guarantee that a relic will be there to be found.  There are no relic guarantees in a retail box and relics fall only one in every 72 packs of cards.

Autographs are harder to find since they are not always on thicker card stock and autographs are just extremely rare to begin with.  I never found one autograph in all my searching.  Short print cards are searchable within rack packs but I rarely find them worth the time or effort.  This product is a low-risk and low-reward effort from a pack searching point of view.  It never hurts to quickly search these packs when you see them in stores but if you do find something, don't expect it to be much more than a $4 relic card.

Final Thoughts

And thus, the award for Toughest Baseball Product to Pack Search goes to 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball.  This product was by far the hardest to search.  I know this from my own experiences.  I spent many many hours searching this product with little success.  Although I did find some autographs, the amount of autographs I did find in comparison to the amount of hours I spent searching this product did not make searching this product all that worthwhile.

Bryce Harper
2012 Bowman Platinum
Cutting Edge Stars Die-Cut
Odds:  1:10

I also know this product is hard to search based on how many packs of it I found which had been discreetly ripped open in stores by other pack searchers.  Basically, this product was so hard to search that other pack searchers gave up and just ripped open packs to see what was inside.  I saw this numerous times at the various stores I search.  It's a shame.  It's disgusting.  It's illegal.

And I also know that other pack searchers have found this product hard to search because I've found the hits they've missed.  A couple of times I've come across retail boxes which clearly have been searched.  You can always tell based on how the cards feel.  I search the product anyways just in case they missed anything and sure enough, I've found a few autographs they've missed.

So what makes 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball so hard to search?  The answer is very simple.  It's simply because they put decoys in every pack.  A lot of card companies will only put decoys in 10% of their packs to help hide which packs have the thicker jersey cards in them.  But because there aren't any decoys in every pack, everyone and their mother knows to just grab the thicker packs and start your pack searching there.  Even if you don't know how to pack search, if you only bought thicker packs you know that you'd have a higher probability of getting a hit than someone who wasn't only buying thicker packs.  Thus, by only putting decoys in some of the packs, card companies (like Panini) are clearly signaling to collectors which packs have a higher probability of containing a hit -- the thicker packs!

I'm not sure why more card companies don't put decoys in every pack.  It's such a simple countermeasure but it works.  Because every pack has a decoy, it defeats the most common pack searching technique used by pack searchers: the flex test.  Every pack feels like a hit.  It makes searching loose packs in gravity boxes and retail boxes harder.  It makes searching rack packs harder too.  I wouldn't say it's going to completely stop all pack searchers from finding hits -- it won't because there are other ways to determine if the pack you're holding is a hit or decoy -- but it will make it hard enough for enough pack searchers to search that it might deter them or frustrate them enough to avoid searching the product.

Actually, I do know why more card companies don't put decoys in every pack: because it raises their cost of producing the product.  Higher costs means less profit.  So as long as card companies are committed to keeping their costs to a minimum, I would expect them to keep decoys to a minimum too.  That is good news for pack searchers.

So go forth my fellow pack searchers.  Go pack search.  My advice to you though: stay away from 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pack Searching: 2013 Topps Series 1 Baseball

 Monday, January 28, 2013

10:37 p.m. - I'm perusing eBay and BlowoutCards for information on 2013 Topps Series 1 Baseball.  The product doesn't street in hobby until Wednesday but it's finally starting to show up in retail and on eBay.  I had spent the entire weekend hitting up the Targets and Walmarts around me on the thin hope that they would hit here early.  They didn't.

10:52 p.m. - I'm trying to convince myself not to go out and pack search.  Part of the reason is that I'm trying to save up money for some other sets coming out soon.  I want to hit Topps Magic Football pretty hard, as well as Panini Prizm Football.  Prizm will be out in a week or so.  Magic will be out in a month. 

10:56 p.m. - I tell myself to keep thinking about the kids who want to buy cards and how they'll never get anything good if I (and other pack searchers) hit the cards before them.  That thought as a deterrent only works for a little bit.  Soon I'm thinking about how it's the kids' own unfortunate situation that they don't know how to pack search.  When you go into a grocery store to buy some fruit and you see someone else buy one which isn't ripe, you don't tell yourself you can't buy any of the ripe fruit any more because then other people won't be able to buy ripe fruit, right?  No.  You just buy your damn ripe fruit and it's tough luck for everyone else.  Shouldn't it be the same way for cards?

11:07 p.m. - I imagine all the other grubby pack searchers hitting the cards before me and taking all the relic hits and rare parallels.  It bothers me.  It bothers me despite the fact that I know most of those relics are probably only $5 cards.  I want those hits and it is horrifying to think that I would allow some other pack searcher to get those cards when they could be mine.  I decide to go pack searching tomorrow.

11:25 p.m. - I do a 180.  I convince myself to not go pack searching tomorrow.  I think about the children.  The poor children.  It's sort of sad, but that's not what convinced me to not go out.  I thought about my money and how I'd rather spend the money on Prizm and Magic rather than Series 1.  I go to sleep content with the thought of just buying Prizm and Magic. 

Want these cards sooo bad.

Tuesday, January 29, 2012

4:58 a.m. - I wake up.  I try to go back to sleep.  I can't.  I'm thinking about 2013 Topps Series 1 Baseball.  I'm thinking about all those eBay listings I saw last night.  I'm thinking about all the pictures people are posting on  I want those cards.  I have to have those cards.  I have to have those hits.  I can't let other pack searchers get those hits.

5:25 a.m. - I still can't go back to sleep.  I devise my plan.  I'll sleep until 7 a.m., then I'll get up, hit up two Walmarts, then hit up two Targets before work.  Yesss.

6:00 a.m. - Still awake.  Wasn't able to fall back asleep.  Too excited thinking about the cards, which cards I want to search for, and how I'm going to find those cards.  I want to find die-cuts and relics.  Relics, like always, will be easy as pie to find.  The die-cuts should be easy to find too.  You never know how easy or hard certain cards will be until you get the packs in your hand, but I've done my research.  I know the characteristics of the chrome die-cut cards.  I know how I'll find them.

6:06 a.m. - I'm up.  I'm getting dressed... for work.  But I'm going pack searching.

6:35 a.m. - I'm in my car driving to a Walmart across town.  It's open 24 hours.  I'm hoping that the cards aren't too picked over by the time I get there.

6:55 a.m. - I arrive at the Walmart.  It's dead quiet.  I stroll over to the card aisle.  I know this Walmart is not regularly replenished with cards so there is a chance that they probably haven't received their cards yet.  Yup.  The card aisle is looking destroyed.  Cards and packs are everywhere.  But no 2013 Topps Series 1 is in sight.  Looks like they didn't get any.  I have a little time to kill so I pack search some 2012 Panini Absolute Football and find a relic.  A Walmart lady is refilling the Magic the Gathering card display by me and sees me feeling up the rack packs.  "What are you doing?" she asks curiously.  I tell her I'm finding the good cards.  She looks at the cards, then at me, and gives me look which can only mean she thinks I'm a weirdo. 

7:15 a.m. - I'm off to the other Walmart now.  It too, is open 24 hours.  It's a newer Walmart so there is a better chance they got their card shipment in.  I know other pack searchers love to hit up this store.  I hope the cards aren't too picked over by the time I get there.

7:30 a.m.  - I'm at the second Walmart and there is no 2013 Topps Series 1 to be seen.  This Walmart hasn't gotten their shipment either.  I pack search some 2012 Panini Absolute Football rack packs and find another relic card.

7:45 a.m. - Go gas up my car while I wait for Target to open up.

8:00 a.m. - I arrive at Target.  They still haven't opened yet.  A few people wait outside for the doors to open.  I look to see if I recognize any of the people as pack searchers.  One guy looks like he might be a pack searcher.  I'm not sure though.

8:02 a.m. - Target has opened.  I'm in the card aisle.  No other pack searchers are here.  And no 2013 Topps Series 1 cards are on display.  Damn.

8:03 a.m. - But wait.  Parked in the card aisle are two Target shopping cards.  They contain big cardboard boxes.  Boxes half the size of the shopping carts.  Boxes... full of cards.  One box is already open.  It looks like an employee had started to open it and put things out but got distracted and left.  Inside are Magic the Gathering cards.  These aren't the cards I'm looking for.  But another box... it's a special box.  It's a special color.  It has special wording on its side.  That's the box I'm looking for.

8:04 a.m. - The box is still sealed.  I know it has the cards inside.  I know from the words on the outside of the box which -- without actually saying "brand new baseball cards" -- pretty much say "brand new baseball cards".   I debate for a full minute what to do.   Do I start ripping open the box?  I get out my keys to start cutting the tape.  But I stop.  I don't want a Target employee or security guard to see me and think I'm destroying property or trying to steal anything.  It's not worth it  I tell myself I should walk out and wait for them to put the cards on display.

8:05 a.m. - No.  This is a prime opportunity to hit all these cards in this box before anyone else has touched them.  This is a pack searcher's dream.  I have to open this box.  I start looking around for a Target employee.  Oddly enough, I turn around and not too far away one of them is looking at me.  He probably saw how indecisive I was about whatever I was doing by that box.  I ask him if he can open up the box because I'm looking for some new cards.  He says sure and cuts open the box.

8:06 a.m. - There are few moments in a pack searcher's life when he or she has these kinds of opportunities.  They truly are our "golden moments."  The box opens up and I'm staring at a whole box of rack packs, a retail box, a billion loose retail packs which appear to be strewn around randomly within the giant box, and a whole big sized gravity box of retail packs.  In my estimation, I am looking at easily 150 packs worth of product.  The Target guy asks me if these are what I'm looking for.  I smile.  I'm so happy I even offer to put them out on display for him.  He shrugs and goes off to do something else.

8:07 a.m. - Boom.  I've searched the rack packs for relics.  Nada.  Which is surprising because I saw a lot of people hitting relics in rack packs on YouTube last night so I figured I would at least find one relic in this fresh box of rack packs.  Nope.  I wonder if all those people I saw in those YouTube videos last night were in-the-closet pack searchers.  I suppose I could search those rack packs for numbered parallels or SPs but I don't care too much about those at the moment so I let it go.

8:08 a.m. - I've ripped off the shrink wrap for the retail box.  I've put it up on display next to all the other cards and start searching it.  I'm not looking for autos or even the die-cuts at the moment.  I'm purely on a relic hunt.  And nothing turns up.  Disappointing. 

8:09 a.m. - Now for the loose retail packs.  I realize that the loose retail packs are from the gravity box.  The gravity box opened up during shipping and a ton of the packs fell out.  I gather them all up and start searching them.  Some packs feel like hits but I know they're not.  They're something else.  I'm going through the gravity box and I'm getting towards the end of it.  Still no hit.  I'm getting a little concerned.  I know the odds of finding relics is rare and I wasn't truly expecting to find one, yet I was.  I'm down to the final 10 packs.  Literally.  And then boom.  I find a hit.  The pack stands out from all the rest.  Clearly a hit.  I put that pack aside.

8:10 a.m. - I grab 20 other retail packs and do more detailed intelligence gathering.  I'm no longer doing a frenzied search for relics.  Instead, I'm closely and carefully inspecting the packs to identify their contents and the packing patterns.  I find two die-cuts and set those aside.  I find a few other packs which are unusual, although, I'm pretty sure they don't really contain anything that special.  I decide to buy two of those packs anyways as a part of my "information gathering." 

8:30 a.m. - I hustle to my car.  All in all I was in Target for about half an hour.  No other pack searchers arrived and I successfully pack searched the entire 2013 Topps Series 1 cards for relics in minutes.  That's the way I like it.  (I don't even bother searching for autographs because they are so rare and so time-intensive.)

8:33 a.m. - The first hit is ... a Dee Gordon Chasing the Dream bat card!  Awesome!  I was expecting a cheap fabric relic so to get a bat relic was a very nice surprise. 

Dee Gordon
2013 Topps Series 1
Chasing the Dream Relic
Odds:  1:374

The card isn't numbered, but I'm okay with that.  I like getting bat relics since they're rarer than fabric relics. 

Dee Gordon
2013 Topps Series 1
Chasing the Dream Relic
Odds:  1:374

Unfortunately, Topps is still sticking with the lame disclaimers regarding the authenticity of the relic.  It says "the relic contained in the card is not from any specific game, even or season."  All that it really guarantees is that it was game-used.  It's not even entirely clear that it's Dee Gordon's game-used bat memorabilia -- although one would presume so since it's on his card.

8:35 a.m. - Next up were the die-cut packs.  I absolutely LOVE these cards.  I think they are the best looking cards perhaps I've ever seen.  I love die-cuts.  I love the design of this die-cut.  I love the colors.  I love the chrome.  I love the gloss.  I am definitely going to put together a set of die-cuts for this year. 

Ryan Braun
2013 Topps Series 1
Cut to the Chase Die-Cut
Odds:  1:14

I pulled a sweet Ryan Braun die-cut.  I love that the colors on the card are team-specific.  Blue and gold look nice together.

Nelson Cruz
2013 Topps Series 1
Cut to the Chase Die-Cut
Odds:  1:14

And I also pulled a nice Nelson Cruz die-cut.  Again, I love the team-specific colors on the card.  Such an awesome set.

8:37 a.m. - The other two packs I bought just contained some minis.  Bleh.  Hate minis.  

8:38 a.m. - No time to go to the 2nd Target like I had planned.  Off to work.

9:00 a.m. -- I'm at work now.  And I'm already planning to go to that other Target during my lunch.  I want more relics.  I want more die-cuts.  I want them all.  I told myself that I wasn't going to buy 2013 Topps Series 1 but I succumbed to the desire -- the desire for more cardboard. 

This.  Addiction.  Will.  Not.  Stop.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pack Searching 2012 Panini Rookies & Stars: Isaiah Pead Jumbo Relic

Another oldie that I'm just getting around to scanning. 

Isaiah Pead
2012 Panini Rookies & Stars
Crusade Jumbo Relic

I pulled this nice Isaiah Pead jumbo relic from either a retail pack or rack pack.  Pretty sweet.  I'm not sure I'm diggin' the whole "Crusade" and medieval lion look of the card but it certainly makes it ... unique.

Isaiah Pead
2012 Panini Rookies & Stars
Crusade Jumbo Relic
And wowzers.  This card is worthless.  Even his autographed cards are only selling for $5 on eBay.  He's only rushed for all of 33 yards on five attempts this season.  Yeah.  It's not like he was a low draft pick either.  Drafted out of Cincinnati in the 2nd round (50th overall), it's clear the Rams think he has some talent.  Perhaps he'll blow up in a few years once Stephen Jackson retires and Pead sees more snaps.

Friday, January 25, 2013

When Does Target Re-Stock Football Cards?

The title to this post is a question that someone asked on the forums.  It's a really innocent and honest question actually.  It's something many of us pack searchers want to know -- and need to know -- to be really successful at searching.

The original poster posed this question:
"I was just wondering about this because when I go usually they are out of better brands and no thick packs left"
Oh yeah.  It sucks when Target is out of the better brands.  And the thicker packs.... whoops!  The original poster just exposed himself as a pack searcher.  As usual, the conversation turns into a big pack searcher bash-fest.

The original poster gets one honest answer:

"no set day, they do it when the workers get around to it."

But then... everyone starts making fun of the guy.

"Ive had luck searching packs between 4-6 pm right before the kids can get there after school. If one or two beat ya just knock them outa your way, or if they already got the pack follow them until they turn down an aisle alone and "get your packs" you wouldnt want to miss out on that ryan fitzpatrick jersey or super sick mojo rific kyle orton patch card" -- ccrab1984
I find it's best to just hang out at target open til close until they stock it. Totally worth the time. -- mmbtvs
1) set up survelliance at target to determine when the truck comes2) approach driver and offer him a massage3) finger bang all the packs before they get off the truck4) profit   --  bigbensbff 
A) Your an idiot.B) stop searching packs, buy hobby boxes.C) learn to multi quote   -- DanShakespeare
(I think there is a lot of irony in DanShakespeare telling the original poster that "your an idiot" when DanShakespeare can't even be grammatically correct himself.)

The poor original poster tries to defend himself a bit saying:
ok so all you guys tell me, that u never go to a card store for example and look for a thicker pack lets be honest and not looking for the skinniest pack and wasting 6 bucks on a panini pack that you get a 7th round pick rookie
I think the guy has a point.  A lot of the people on don't buy retail.  They only buy loose hobby packs at their local card shop (LCS) or they buy hobby boxes.  But I wouldn't be surprised if most of the same people criticizing this outed packsearcher also look for the thicker packs when they buy hobby packs too.

Sure, some hobby products have decoys in them so buying thicker packs isn't a sure thing -- just like buying the thicker retail packs isn't a sure thing either.  But buying a pack of cards purely because it's thicker than the rest of the packs is pack searching.  I know a lot of people on probably won't agree with me but they're wrong.  Pack searching is using any means available to identify which packs of cards have a hit in them without opening up the packs.  Your eyes count.

I don't mention this thread on Blowout Cards to completely bash a lot of the morons insulting the original poster or to defend the original poster.  There are actually some responses worth talking about and addressing.
I don't pack search , but sometimes I feel fruits so I know which one is the best and ripest. -- metsplaya123 
Can't tell if your serious, but either way I'm really sick of hearing that argument. Packs of sports cards and fruit are not the same thing, so why do you compare them?  -- drew306
MetsPlaya123 brings up the fruit analogy.  The fruit analogy is, in my opinion, a strong argument and one which I have yet to find a strong counter-argument which defeats it.  The analogy is basically that when you go buy fruit at the store you probably sniff it, squeeze it, rub it, or do whatever you need to do to determine if the fruit is ripe or not before you buy it.  Nobody criticizes you for doing that.  Many people do that.  If you saw someone else doing that you wouldn't consider it wrong in any way.  But then when people feel up packs of cards to determine if there is something good in it or not (like a ripe fruit), it's for some reason considered wrong.  Why?

Drew306's argument is that it's wrong because fruit and sports cards are not the same.  He is right.  Fruit and sports cards are not the same -- physically.  But even so, why can't the fruit analogy be applied to sports cards?  What makes sports cards so different from fruit that the analogy is inapplicable?  Drew306 provides no justification for his claim.  I wish he would.

In my opinion, fruit and sports cards are really not that different.  If it's okay to search fruit for ripe fruit before you buy it, then I think searching packs of cards for the better packs before you buy it is fine too.

Here's another shopping analogy.  Let's say you go to the grocery store.  You need some eggs.  So you go to the aisle with the eggs and pick up one of those cartons which has a dozen eggs in them.  Before they buy the eggs, most people open up the carton and make sure the eggs within it are still intact and none are broken.  If there are broken eggs, the person puts back that carton and gets another one.  In my experience, many people do this.  And in my experience, nobody criticizes each other for doing that.  Isn't buying eggs the same thing as buying sports cards?  In my opinion, it is.  If you're not going to criticize someone for searching eggs before they buy them, then why is it so bad that someone search some packs before they buy them?

I don't think Drew306's argument is complete or at all convincing.  Yes, fruit, eggs, and sports cards are not the same in terms of physical characteristics, but they are not sufficiently different enough to not warrant application of an analogy between them.

One other good comment is worth addressing.

Whats the point of opening a pack when you already know youre going to get a hit? It ruins the fun and the surprise. Might as well just hit up ebay and buy singles if youre going to packsearch. Plus packsearchers make it impossible for normal collectors who buy retail to ever get some thing good. That is why people go insane over packsearchers OP. -- MarshallCutler6
This is a fair question that deserves a response.  I can't speak for the original poster on the Blowout Cards thread, but for me personally, I still have fun buying packs even though I already know what's inside of it.  I have fun because I enjoy the search.  I have fun because there are other cards in the pack which I will enjoy or collect too.

The surprise isn't lost on me either.  The surprise comes when I'm searching and I find that hot pack which has the hit in it.  In other words, my surprise comes not when I open up the pack but that instant I realize the pack that I'm searching contains a hit within it!

So, in my opinion, there is a point to pack searching.  For me it's fun, and I still get surprised even though I already know what is in the pack when I'm buying it.

In regards MarshallCutler6's comment that pack searchers make it "impossible for normal collectors who buy retail to ever get something good," I disagree.  If you want to buy retail and want to buy something which probably hasn't been searched, then buy a blaster box.  Even if you don't buy blaster boxes, you can still get something good from retail.  I've pulled plenty of good hits from loose retail packs.  While I did find those hits by pack searching, that doesn't change the fact that someone else could have bought that pack before me just by randomly selecting packs.

Look, hits in retail come from both thick and thin packs.  You can still get good hits from retail if you're lucky.  (Just take a look at my own Hit List.)  While pack searchers are out there, if you want to buy some retail packs then just beat them to the stores and buy the product before you think anybody else has had a chance to search it.  If you're really concerned about buying loose retail packs, then buy a blaster box.  While there is not a 100% guarantee that blaster boxes haven't been searched (some really unscrupulous people buy blaster boxes, take out the fresh packs, put crap cards or decoys in it, put new shrink wrap on the blaster box and return it) there is a better chance the product hasn't been searched.

Anyway, as for the main question of this whole post: when does Target re-stock its football cards?

My answer: It depends.  Each Target is different.  Ask an employee or just watch the displays to see when they look re-stocked.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Desired: 2012 Panini Prizm Football (Part II)

The more I've been looking at 2012 Panini Prizm Football the more pumped up I'm getting.  Panini put up another blog post revealing some quality control images, and once again I'm left saying: "these cards look sick."

Wowzers these cards look good.  I like the colors.  I like the chrome.  I like the refractors.  I like the die-cut.

Now, a lot of people have been saying Prizm in football won't be nearly as popular as in basketball due to lack of international appeal.  That is probably so.  I'm really not here to debate that point or not.  But if there is less demand for Prizm football, then that's fine with me because that just means there will be more for me!

I'm really regretting buying $80 in Topps Strata retail about a month ago.  That stuff was straight junk.  The clear cut autographed relics and the strata autographed relics in that set is by far some of the coolest cards of the year, but aside from those cards, the rest of that set is pretty much junk.  I guess I got caught up in all the hype over Topps' new product, and the presumption that Topps would really heavily front-load the product to drum up appeal.  I ended up only getting two autographs from four blaster boxes -- both of which were pretty crap autographs.  I wish I had that $80 back so I could spend it on 2012 Panini Prizm Football.

I'm already gearing down my pack searching in an attempt to save up money for Prizm.  It's helped that I've been super busy lately and have only been out pack searching like twice in the past 1.5 months.

I think pack searching Prizm Football will be hard.  I briefly pack searched 2012-13 Panini Prizm Basketball just for kicks.  I thought it was hard.  Really hard.  Perhaps some people were beating me to the packs and finding the green bordered hits before me.  Or, I just wasn't finding them.  I think I wasn't finding them.  I definitely came across a few untouched retail boxes of Prizm Basketball and I couldn't locate anything good.  If Prizm Football is any similar to Panini Basketball, then this should be some tough stuff to crack.   As always, being proficient in pack searching means sometimes spending a lot of money buying packs to "research" the product.  I'll probably do that.  Of course, I won't mind "researching" the product as much since I really like the cards anyways.

I've come across some other interesting news from BlowoutCards forums and Panini's blog regarding Prizm.  Specifically:

- Prizm Black Finite 1/1s will be in retail too!
- There will just be retail boxes of Prizm Football and no blaster boxes.
- Retail will hit stores about one to two weeks after hobby is released.
- Panini guarantees it will be out before March.
- Autos are sticker.
- Regular Prizms will be in hobby and retail.
- Gold Prizms will be in hobby and retail.
- Red Die-Cut Prizms are hobby only.
- Green Prizms are retail only.
- Retail boxes will contain one regular prizm and two green prizms.

A few thoughts...

Black Finite 1/1s in retail?!  Holy cow.  I didn't think Panini would do that.  Amazing.

No blaster boxes?  That sucks.  I like buying blaster boxes.

Retail will supposedly hit stores one to two weeks after hobby is released.  If I can get my hands on some hobby to research it before retail comes out, that would definitely give me an edge in searching retail.  Of course, everyone knows retail always hits stores earlier than it's supposed to so I wouldn't be totally surprised if retail starts showing up at the same time as hobby or only one week after hobby.

Sticker autos mean that autographs should be on the somewhat easier side to find.

I like how Panini is being generous with the parallels by including a lot of them in retail.  The hobby buyers hate this, but Panini said they're doing this to give everyone -- especially those people who don't have a lot of money or a LCS (local card shop) around them -- a chance to buy some of the cards and hit something big.

Just like in Prizm Baskeball, I'm sure the green prizms in retail will be hot hot hot!

Save your money folks.  Get ready to hit this product HARD.  I sure as hell am.  Can't wait!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pack Searching 2012 Topps Platinum Football: Andrew Luck Rookie Card

So often when I pack search I get so caught up in finding relics and autographs that I forget to just find the good rookies.  One of my favorite sets to pack search for good rookie cards is 2012 Topps Platinum Football.  Searching the loose retail packs for good rookie cards is pretty darn easy.

I've hit a Robert Griffin III rookie card just from buying some retail packs for kicks (without searching them) but I never managed to find an Andrew Luck.  It's sort of bothered me, so I made a promise to myself to search any Platinum retail packs that I came across until I found an Andrew Luck rookie card.

Well, it didn't take me long.  On the first retail store I hit up in town I found one.

Andrew Luck
2012 Topps Platinum Football
Base Rookie Card

I love the base rookie cards in 2012 Topps Platinum Football.  The design is so clean and simple.  I love the refractor look.  I love the dimples in the refractor towards the bottom sides of the card.  I love the high gloss front of the card.

I'm thinking about sending this card in for grading since it's in pretty good condition. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Desired: 2012 Panini Prizm Football

It's been about 10 years since I've bought a hobby box of a product.  That dry spell might be coming to an end soon.

When I got back into this hobby about 8 months ago, I only bought retail.  At the time I was learning how to pack search.  Pack searching was fun.  Learning how to pack search was a welcomed challenge.  But I soon learned (via the internet) that card companies were now loading retail packs with different hits than hobby packs.  In essence, there were almost two different products for each product -- there was the retail version of a product and a hobby version of a product.  For example, with 2012 Topps Prime Football, the retail cards are on thinner card stock.  The hobby cards are on thicker card stock.  The hobby cards also had different pictures on them than the retail cards.

I think I'm like most people when I say that I want the best.  To me, the better products tend to always come out in hobby.  You get cards on thicker card stock.  You have better odds at getting hits.  You get certain hits in hobby that you can't get in retail.  And so I started to feel like I was missing out.  I'm tired of missing out.  I want the chance to land a crazy 1/1.  You can't hit those crazy 1/1 of in retail most of the time.

And so I'm seriously thinking about crossing over from the dark side and dabbling in a few purchases of hobby boxes.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to stop pack searching retail.  I'm just going to supplement my pack searching of retail with a few purchases of hobby.

One set I'm thinking about buying some hobby boxes of is 2012 Panini Prizm Football.  I'm a big fan of 2012 Topps Chrome Football.  Prizm looks pretty similar to Topps Chrome.  For some people that might turn them off, but for me, it makes me want to buy the product.  I guess I'm a sucker for the chrome look.  Just take a look at some of these Prizm cards:

These are the base cards and they look sick!

Like Topps Chrome, there are refractors too.  Again, pretty sick!

And then one of the coolest features of this set is probably the chrome dimples on the card.  A very nice touch.

And then there are awesome looking gold bordered parallels.

And awesome looking green bordered parallels.

And awesome looking red parallels.  I like the different colored parallels.  But I also like how Panini has't overdone it with the different colored parallels too.  Having four to five different colored parallels is fine, but once you start having more than that, I think it gets a bit ridiculous.  Topps is getting close to crossing that fine line with Chrome.

And then finally, Prizm has these pretty sweet looking Finite Black Prizm 1/1s.

Do you want to have one?  I do.

Pretty awesome stuff, in my opinion.  I'll probably try and save up for a hobby box... or two.  No word yet on whether this product will also be available in retail.  I'm betting it will be though since 2012-13 Panini Prizm Basketball is in retail.  If it is in retail you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be there searching it.  Of course there won't be any Finite Black Prizm 1/1s in retail, but I'll be there trying to pack search it anyways for whatever else I can find.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pack Searching 2012 Panini Rookies & Stars: Lamar Miller Autographed Relic

This one is an oldie.  I've had it for months now and finally just got around to scanning it and putting it up on the blog.

Lamar Miller
2012 Panini Rookies & Stars
Autographed Rookie Materials

I think I got this Lamar Miller autographed relic from either a retail pack or a rack pack.  Pretty sweet to find an autograph in retail.  Always is pretty rare to get an autograph from retail. 

Lamar Miller
2012 Panini Rookies & Stars
Autographed Rookie Materials

This card was even numbered!  Pretty sweet.  Man, I couldn't imagine being a player and having to sign 499 stickers.  I can definitely understand why some players just sign their initials or just barely scribble their name.  If I had to sign my name 499 times, It would probably take me hours and hours and hours since I'd try to make each autograph look good.

I don't think this card is particularly valuable.  Most of them on eBay seem to be selling for $10 to $15.  I guess that's understandable considering Lamar Miller only has rushed for about 250 yards and 1 touchdown at the time I write this.   Oh well.  Still a nice card though.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pack Searching 2012 Panini Absolute: Rock Osweiler Star Gazing Relic

Got this one a while ago while searching some 2012 Panini Absolute. 

Brock Osweiler
2012 Panini Absolute
Star Gazing Relic

Found a Brock Osweiler Star Gazing Relic.  Not a bad relic card to pull.  While Brock Osweiler hasn't played any meaningful snaps this year, it looks like he might have a future in Denver once Peyton Manning retires -- whenever that may be.

Brock Osweiler
2012 Panini Absolute
Star Gazing Relic

I really like how the hobby version of 2012 Panini Absolute has a refractor foil look to it.  Unfortunately, the retail version of these cards do not have the refractor foil look.  Nevertheless, for a $3 pack of cards from a retail store, I'll take it. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Player Signatures

Every once in a while I'll actually go hop on eBay and buy some single sports cards.  Usually I'm just looking for my favorite players to add to my PC (personal collection).

But one player, who isn't really a favorite player of mine, has an autograph so nice that I just might buy one of his cards anyways.

And that's Kirk Cousins.

Look at his signature!  Talk about the nicest signature you've probably ever seen from the 2012 NFL Rookie Class.  You can actually read his name!

It seems like the older generation took a lot of pride in their signature and making it legible -- the younger generation not so much.  I like people who take the time and effort to make sure their signatures are nice and neat.  When I sign my name -- not that I'm famous or anything, I'm talking about on a check -- I always take the care and effort to make my signature nice and legible.  I always imagine that some day if I were famous, perhaps this signature on this check could be a cut signature in a card.  Okay, silly thought but that's what I think.

Anyway, Kirk Cousins has a great signature.

Compare Kirk Cousins to... T.J. Graham.

Ugh.  Awful signature by T.J. Graham.  Talk about lazy.

Another bad signature... Cameron Jordan.

I actually pulled one of his autograph cards from 2012 Gridiron, and it's just as bad in that set too.  It's basically just a scribbled C and J.  And he didn't even center the signature on the sticker either!

I think the cool thing about autograph cards is not just the fact that the player actually touched and signed the card (or sticker if it's a sticker autograph), but the fact that their signatures are sort of like a miniature piece of art.  Signatures are something to take pride in, and something that people should make look good.  I think players who have signatures which are visually appealing and readable will sell for a slightly higher price than those that don't.  I mean, seriously, if you pulled the above Cameron Jordan card wouldn't you be sort of like... "eh"?  I would.

Finally, one of my favorite signatures in the sport is that of the 49ers-Great Steve Young.  I think he has one of the nicest autographs in football.  It's legible.  It's clear he takes the time and effort to make it legible.  It's not just a scribble of his initials.  It's good stuff.

Nice signatures are the best.  Illegible scribbles and initials suck.  Anybody agree?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Blaster Box Break: 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter

Picked up a box of 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter from a local Target because it was on sale.  I wasn't expecting to get much and was pleasantly surprised to see I got a hit!

Nick Swisher
2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Odds:  ???

It was a Nick Swisher framed mini relic!  Pretty sweet! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Star Wars Galactic Files

I think I'm going to try searching 2012 Topps Star Wars Galactic Files for sketch cards.  I've never searched a non-sports product before so it'll all be new to me, but I figure many of the same searching techniques which apply to sports cards can be used on Star Wars Galactic Files packs too.  After all, non-sports cards are really no different than sports cards.  And, Topps makes the Star Wars Galactic Files cards and I have plenty of experience searching their products.

Take a look at some of these Star Wars sketch cards.  Aren't they cool?

Who wouldn't want to get one of these cards?  Even if you're not a Star Wars fan, I think it'd be pretty hard to say you wouldn't think that pulling one of these cards would be cool.

At the time I write this post, Star Wars Galactic Files has been out for about two months.  By the time this blog post is published, it will have been out for at least three months by now.  I know that after a product has been on the shelves for even a few weeks it is most likely picked dry by pack searchers but it's worth a shot.  I have hit some good cards even though they've been out on shelves for over a month.  So, it can be done.  I guess it really just depends on how many pack searchers there are in your area and how good they are.

When I first started pack searching my goal was to just hit relic cards.  I accomplished that goal.  Then, my next pack searching goal was to start getting good at finding autographs.  Autographs are always harder to find because they are rarer but I've gotten okay at finding autographs.  I would consider that goal complete.  Now, my next pack searching goal is to find some sketch cards.  We'll see how long it takes for me to accomplish that goal.  Could be a long time.