Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Prime Football: Close Encounters of the Professional Kind

I open my eyes.  Bright sunlight is shining through my bedroom window -- much more sunlight than I am used to seeing when I wake up.  It's clearly well past 8 a.m.  It takes me a moment to realize that it's my day off, I've slept in, and I don't need to be at work right now.

I grab my phone and catch up on all that I've missed while I was asleep.  I check emails, Facebook, the news, eBay, and then Blowout Cards forums.  I spend the next twenty minutes lying in bed, slowly waking up as I read various threads of interest on the forums.  I'm specifically looking for talk on 2013 Topps Prime and 2013 Panini Prizm Football which have officially released to the public.  Of course, the information I'm seeking isn't just your general information which your average card collector might be seeking.  No.  I'm looking for specific information regarding the retail versions of the products.  Stuff like where the retail versions are starting to hit in the United States, how many cards are in each pack, and how I can find the hits in each pack.  Hah, even twenty minutes into my day I'm already doing prep work for future pack searching.

There isn't much information to be found right now on either Prime or Prizm retail.  Prime is a Topps brand, and Topps releases its retail at the same time as hobby.  Retail Prime should be in stores now, but surprisingly I'm seeing very little talk of it on the forums or many hot packs on eBay.  Prizm is a Panini brand and Panini has been holding back the retail versions of its products about two weeks after hobby releases to give the hobby-only collectors an advantage on the re-sell market.  There is are no signs on the internet that Prizm Football retail has officially hit the streets yet.

Well, what to do on this wonderful day off?  Oh, how about a little pack searching?  I've been pretty busy the last week with family commitments and so I haven't been able to get out much.  In fact, I've missed out on 2013 Topps Update Baseball because I've been so busy.  So this one very rare day off is a welcomed gift, and an opportunity to go out and do a little searching.

I get dressed and plan the day.  I decide that I'll start with the closest Target.  If they have Prime, then there is a good chance that all the other retail stores in town probably have Prime too and I'll make my rounds.  I doubt any Prizm is here yet.  But you never know.

It's only a quick seven minute drive to the closest Target.  I listen to the radio on my way over.  Katy Perry's Roar is on the radio.  I think about how the Cincinnati Bengals were considering using that song as the team's intro music until the fans shot down that idea faster than a hijacked jet on its way to the White House.  I get a chuckle imagining the ferocious feline Cincinnati Bengals running out onto the field with Katy Perry belting out her song over the PA.  That would have been hilarious.

When I arrive at the first Target I take a look around at all the cards in front of me.  It's been well over a week since I've been to this Target.  A retail box of 2013 Topps Prime sits out on the shelf in front of me.  It doesn't look searched.  All the packs are stacked neatly, facing up, and not upside down.  I quickly count how many packs are in the retail box.  There are 25.  That's odd.  Because there are supposed to be 24 in a retail box.  I'm puzzled.  Perhaps there was a second retail box and someone bought 23 packs, and then a Target employee consolidated the remaining packs into another new retail box?  Or perhaps this is a weird retail box with 25 packs in it?  I don't know.  It doesn't matter really.  I quickly search the box for a hit.  Nothing.  The box doesn't say anything about a guaranteed autograph or hit per retail box.  Oh well.  Moving on.

I see that there are some 2013 Topps Update rack packs hanging from the racks.  I'm sure those have been searched by now.  I decide that I'll search those last.  In the mean time, the rack packs of 2013 Topps Prime have caught my attention.  I grab a bunch of them off the racks.  I am literally just about to get my search on with them when I hear a child's voice off to my left.  The child is declaring his desires for some Magic or World of Warcraft cards which are adjacent to the sports cards.  A woman's voice responds to the child, telling him that he can't have this or that.  I only hear that brief sentence spoken by the woman, and my head jerks to my left.  My eyes glance at the child, but immediately go to the woman.  I recognized her voice.  It's a client of my employer.  Holy shit.

It's not every day that I run into someone I know from my professional realm.  In fact, it's very rare.  Actually, it's never happened ever.  Well, there is a first time for everything, right?

I'm very surprised to see this woman here at Target.  I know where she lives.  She lives a good 20 minute drive from this Target in a small town south of here.  There is a newer, bigger, and better Target much closer to her house.  It seems very odd to me that she would come to this older Target when there is a much better one only five minutes from where she lives. 

In the two seconds it took me to recognize her voice and see her, I quickly turned away from her and left the card aisle.  I had to.  I didn't want her to see me.  She'd definitely recognize me and if our eyes met, I'd have to acknowledge her.  I've helped her before.  In fact, we're pretty much on a first name basis.  I did not want to go through explaining why I wasn't at work today, and what I was doing in the sports card aisle.  I walked around Target, mindlessly, sort of lost, carefully but casually peeking around aisles to make sure she wasn't there.  What to do?

I didn't want to leave Target.  I wanted to pack search!  Today is my day off and I was planning on using it to get some quality search time in.  I decide to mindlessly wander around Target for about ten minutes waiting, giving her time to possibly leave the store before going back to the cards.  So I spend ten minutes looking at food, cleaning supplies, kids toys, car stuff, and then mosey on back to the sports cards.  As I walk through the store, I'm still careful, casually peeking around aisles and corners.  When I reach the sports cards, I grab a hand basket, stuff it full of all the Prime rack packs, and leave the aisle.  I don't want to search the cards in the card aisle.  If she was there once before with her grandson, then there is probably a decent chance she might be back.  You know how kids are these days, always gravitating towards toys and the things they want.  Plus, the cash registers are by the cards so I didn't want to park myself over by the cards and have her see me if she was in line checking out.

I take my hand basket into a secluded aisle towards the back of the store and get my search on.  I know I'm taking a risk.  I know that any moment, she could randomly come down the aisle and run into me.  It's a risk I'm willing to take.

I find two rack packs which might contain something good.  I'm 90% sure one has a hit.  The other either has a hit or it could just have an extra base card in it.  I probably shouldn't risk buying it, but I decide to get both anyways.  It's been a while since I've bought some cards.  I decide that I might as well treat myself to a few packs.

I make my way back towards the front of the store to the checkout lines.  Still no sign of her.  Maybe she left.  I get into the shortest line I can find, and hope it moves quickly.  Thankfully, it does, and I'm out of the store in a few minutes.

In my car, I check out the goods.  I start with the rack pack which I wasn't sure about.  And I was right.  It was nothing.  One of the packs just had an extra base card, just like I thought.  I should have listened to my gut and not bought that pack.  Oh well.

I open up the second rack pack.  Now that the packs are free of the outer plastic wrapper, I quickly give each individual pack a quick search.  Yup.  A hot pack!

Ryan Nassib
2013 Topps Prime Football
Quad Relic /99
Odds:  1:2,650

I tear into it to find... a Ryan Nassib quad relic!  Pretty cool!  I'm a bit surprised to find a fairly low print hit (/99) in retail.  The odds of a quad relic in retail is 1:2,650!  Wow, pretty long odds.  Too bad this wasn't a quad combo relic.  I guess I shouldn't complain too much though.  I'm lucky to find hits nowadays since I'm so busy.  I'll take what I can get. 

Energized and excited, I know I must continue my search.  I decide to hit up the Walmart on the other side of town.  I'm already 1/3rd of the way there, so I might as well hit up now rather than another day.  I put my car key in the ignition and drive off.

... To Be Continued ...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pack Searching: 2013 Topps Chrome Baseball

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Chrome Baseball: My Target Friend (Part I)

I quickly search the retail packs to confirm I have a hit.  Yes, there is a hit.  I decide to save the hit for last and open up the other two packs first. 

Desmond Jennings
2013 Topps Chrome Baseball

The first pack has a Desmond Jennings X-Fractor.  Lordy, these X-Fractors sure do scan very nicely.  In fact, I think the card looks even better in the scan than it does in person.

Robinson Cano
2013 Topps Chrome Baseball

Next was a Robinson Cano die-cut. 

Alfredo Marte & Brandon Barnes
2013 Topps Chrome Baseball
Rookie Cards

And a pair of rookies to go with it.  I have no idea who these guys are or whether they're any good, but I'm guessing they're not exactly the rookies that everyone hopes to hit when they open up a pack of baseball cards.

And then the hot pack.  It actually turned out to be a fairly decent little hot pack!

Tony Cingrani
2013 Topps Chrome Baseball
Autographed Rookie Variation
Odds:  1:200

The hit itself was a Tony Cingrani auto rookie variation.  He's apparently a starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, and holds a 1.10 WHIP, a 2.92 ERA, a 10.32 K/9, and a .196 BAA.  I'm not a baseball expert, but aren't those pretty solid stat lines?  Anyway, maybe Tony Cingrani isn't the biggest name guy to get a redemption for but the fact that it was a rookie variation is sort of cool.  Odds of hitting a rookie variation is 1:200 retail packs. 

What really topped off this pack for me was also the fact that it contained not one rookie card... but two!

Trevor Rosenthal
2013 Topps Chrome Baseball
Rookie Card

First was a Trevor Rosenthal rookie card.  Now, I actually do recognize this guy's name, and the fact that I can must mean he's a somewhat decent player.  But the real hit of the pack was the second rookie card.

Manny Machado
2013 Topps Chrome Baseball
Rookie Card

A Manny Machado rookie card!  I do know who this guy is, and I know he's a good rookie to get!  Not bad for a hot pack!  One rookie auto variation, and two rookie cards -- one of which was Manny Machado!  I'll take it.

So after a lackluster purchase at the LCS earlier, I was feeling a little better about the day and it made for a happier drive home.  Pack searching can be therapeutic in a way.

... The End ...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Chrome Baseball: My Target Friend

On my long trip home from my business trip (and my first visit to a LCS in over a decade), I decided to stop by a Target for some rest and food... and pack searching.  I was a little disappointed with the cards I got from the hobby shop.  I had purchased three packs of 2013 Panini Elite and got two rookie cards, and one glorious decoy card.  All that for like $21 plus tax.  Even though $21 isn't that much money, the experience was a brief reminder of why I, and other people, pack search.  Getting crap cards for the money you spend sucks!

And so I was invigorated with the determination to turn my luck around, and find some good cards by pack searching. 

The Target I decided to stop by was one I've been too before.  It's actually the one where I was once caught pack searching by Target security and sort of befriended the Target security guy.  I've been to this Target on multiple occasions since that last encounter and never saw that security guy again.  I figured he must have gotten a new job.

When I strolled into the Target ready to get my search on, I was surprised to see how busy it was.  It was bustling with people.  I have no idea why.  Today was like any other typical day.  And then I noticed the two tall darkly-clothed figures standing by the checkout counters and facing the exits.  Target security dudes.  They were tall and clothed in those dark Target security outfits, ready to fight crime and stop shoplifters!  One looked familiar.  It was my Target security friend!  I recognized him immediately.

I wondered if he recognized me.  I doubt it.  It's been over a year since I last saw him and he saw me.  He probably forgot about our little encounter last year.  I debated whether going over to say hi and to see if he would remember me.  Thinking that he wouldn't, and because I don't like to announce myself to others as a pack searcher, I decided not to.  I just walked by him nonchalantly and went over to the card section. 

The presence of not one, but two, Target security guys sort of made me nervous -- even though I knew that the one I had met before didn't care about whether people pack searched the cards or not.  The other Target security guy looked like he meant business, and he was watching people going in and out like a hawk.  Even though I was over in the card aisle, I was still within his view if he just glanced this way.

I took a look around at the cards in front of me.  This Target is heavily visited and it's always pretty thoroughly searched by other pack searchers.  I knew that finding hits here would be a stretch.  All the loose packs look liked they had been searched.  I figured the rack packs had been searched as well.  And so I did what I rarely ever do.  I just walked out.  Yup.  Didn't touch a pack and didn't search anything.  I just got a bad feeling about getting my search on in this Target on this occasion.  When I get those kind of bad vibes, I just don't search.  Maybe it was all nothing and it was just in my head.  I'll never know.  But getting my pack search on isn't that critical to risk having my picture taken or a confrontation with Target Security.

So I left without saying a word to my old Target security buddy and went to my car.  There were a few more Targets on the way home, and I promised myself I'd hit those up to search them.

Twenty minutes later, I was at another Target.  This one is one of my favorite ones.  It's located in a dumpy shopping mall in a really small town.  I don't think a lot of pack searchers hit up this one and I've had pretty good luck finding hits in this store when I do come to it.

One the racks were a crap ton of 2013 Topps Chrome Baseball rack packs.  I grabbed all of them.  Yes, all of them to search.  It looked as if another pack searcher had been here before to search the orange refractors in the packs for Puig RCs; all the orange refractor cards were pushed up in the packs.  That's okay, that's not what I was looking for anyways.

I searched the packs for any autos and one pack stood out to me.  Based on my previous research, I knew that this had to be a hit.  Had to be.  I put it in my hand basket.

I've been on a 2013 Topps Football pack searching kick lately, so I grabbed a bunch of loose packs and started searching those for parallels, SPs and autographs. It's a slower process and I guess I started to look a little suspicious.  Out of nowhere, I hear a female voice behind me.  "Can I help you find anything?"  I turn around.  It's a Target employee.  She's not even looking at me.  She's looking at the packs of cards in the hand basket and the packs of cards in my hand.  I quickly tell her I'm fine with a tone that says "go away."  She goes away, but I can clearly see a look of concern and suspicion on her face.  Dammit.  Why can't Target employees leave me alone?  Do I really look that suspicious like I'm stealing shit?  I'm still wearing my work meeting clothes and actually look pretty nice compared to my normal homeless looking self.

I decide to just leave before I draw more attention.  I imagine that the Target employee was off somewhere on her walkie talkie notifying Target Security that there was a suspicious dude fondling packs of cards and they should keep an eye on me.  Bastards.

I pay for my one rack pack of 2013 Topps Chrome Baseball and leave.  In my car I evaluate the goods.  I start with the orange refractor pack.

Chase Headley
2013 Topps Chrome Baseball
Orange Refractor

First up was a Chase Headley orange refractor. 

Bruce Rondon
2013 Topps Chrome Baseball
Orange Refractor

Then a Bruce Rondon rookie card.

Alex Colome
2013 Topps Chrome Baseball
Orange Refractor

And then an Alex Colome rookie card.  Eh, at least I got two rookie cards although I have no idea who those guys are or whether they're any good.

On to the retail packs...

... To Be Continued ...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

First Time in Hobby Shop in Over a Decade

So I went to my first hobby shop (local card store/shop a.k.a. "LCS) last weekend.  I was on a business trip and there just so happened to be a card shop not too far away.  After all my business was said and done, I ventured over to where the card shop was.

I didn't know what to expect.  I hadn't been in a card shop in over a decade.  I imagined that there would be lots of singles available to buy, lots of loose packs to buy, and hobby boxes to buy. But I didn't know if the packs of cards would be behind the counter or on the counter.  Would the store owner watch me carefully when I picked the packs I wanted to buy to make sure I wasn't searching them?  Would he be busy doing something else and not care about watching me?

As I got out of my car and walked into the store I played it cool.  The store owner (or employee) was busy talking with another dude about cards.  The dude looked like he had just busted a box of Panini Prominence Football.  Based on the personal attention that dude was getting from the owner he must have been a regular.  While they talked, I took a look around the shop.

There was a lot more jammed into the little shop than I had imaged.  There were lots of signed pictures on the wall, signed baseballs, signed mini helmets, tons of card supplies, old retail and hobby boxes for sale, and more current hobby boxes for sale.  Everything was pretty neatly organized by sport.  I was surprised to see some fairly current blaster boxes of products which you could easily find and buy at Target for $20, being sold here for more than $20.  Then again, there were also some blaster boxes of products marked down to less than $20 which Target was still selling for $20.  Weird. 

I got a laugh about how small so many of the hobby boxes are.  I've watched tons of group breaks and personal box breaks of stuff on YouTube, much like everyone else in this hobby.  And usually the hobby box and cards are close to the camera so the cards can be easily seen by the viewers.  Because of that, the hobby box and cards often look big on camera.  But in person, the hobby boxes and cards are much smaller.  In a way, I was shocked that some of these little tiny hobby boxes of cards -- even smaller than some cigar boxes -- were priced at $100 or more.  If I were to spend $100 on a box of cards, I expect it to be decent sized.  I swear, some of those hobby boxes were like the size of my phone! 

As I listened to the conversation between the dude and the owner, I started to get the feeling that the guy was a whale -- one of those guys who can easily drop hundreds of dollars on a LCS visit.  Not me.  I think he paid for two or three hobby boxes before I left.

Being the poor debt-laden fool that I am, I just decided to buy about $20 worth in hobby packs.  I was really hoping for some 2012 football products but the store only had out 2013 products.  I basically had the choice between Rookies & Stars, Score, Press Pass, Sage Low Series, Sage High Series, Elite, and Prestige.

I wanted something which was pretty much hobby-exclusive which basically meant going with Elite.  I've never purchased Elite before.  The box of Elite was just sitting on the counter.  Packs were about $7.00 each.  Is that a decent price?  I don't know.  I decided to buy three of them.

The store owner was still talking with the whale when I picked my packs.  I had to remind myself not to gently flex them as I picked them out.  I'm so used to doing that when I buy retail.  I just took the first three packs from the top.  I didn't dare touch the packs too much out of fear that the owner would come over and accuse me of pack searching.

As I stood in line to pay, I instantly knew I had two thin packs and one thick pack.  This could mean the thick pack was a hit.  But I also knew that there were still decoys in some hobby products, and it could be nothing.  I told myself to not get my hopes up.  It was tough to buy these packs knowing full well that if I just had about 20 seconds alone with that thick pack outside the eyes of the owner I could figure out whether it was a decoy inside or a hit. 

I paid for the packs and left.  In my car I ripped open the packs.  Thin packs first...

Le'Veon Bell
2013 Panini Elite
Rookie Card #/899

First thin pack was just a regular pack with a Le'Veon Bell rookie card.  These cards look nice in person with the mirror-like foil board.  Not bad, I guess.  Le'Veon Bell looks decent so far this season.  I remember getting into an argument with some idiot on Twitter once about whether Le'Veon Bell would be a first round draft pick.  I knew he wouldn't be.  But some Michigan State homer thought he was the next Adrian Peterson and kept saying he would be first round for sure.  Yup.  How did that one turn out?  Le'Veon Bell can truck fools pretty good, but he's not as fast as he should be to be a first round talent. 

Jasper Collins
2013 Panini Elite
Rookie Card #/899

And the second skinny pack was a Jasper Collins rookie card.  Who???  He went undrafted, and got signed by the Miami Dolphins as a free agent.  Later he was waived and now he's on the Cleveland Browns.  This pack sucked.

With some anticipation of good things, I ripped open the third pack.  And...

My first hobby decoy card.
I'm putting it in a one touch for sure!

it was a decoy!  Dammit.  All base, no rookie card, and just a decoy.  And in case you're wondering, yes, this is the actual decoy card I got.  Look at how awesomely white and stiff it is!  What a great card. 

So of the three hobby packs I bought, only one was good.  Oh well.  Not every pack has a monster hit, I know that.  But I was hoping for a little more luck. Maybe it's a good thing there isn't a hobby shop near me.  Because if there was, I definitely would stop buy every week or so and probably buy some hobby packs.  Man, this hobby can be addicting.

The base cards are pretty nice looking.  Here is a scan of some of the more notable ones...

2013 Panini Elite
Base Cards

Special thanks to packsearcher4ever! for a few suggestions and tips on what to buy and how to search hobby.  I was a little too timid to try and subtly pack search the packs while in the shop.  Maybe the shop owner wouldn't have noticed, but I didn't want to risk making an altercation of it either.

Hopefully this post will be the first of many posts about some of my hobby purchases.  Don't worry, I'm not turning my back on the dark side.  I'm not turning into one of those I-only-buy-hobby snobs on BlowoutCards.  I'll still search retail, but I think I'm going to treat myself to some hobby when I can afford it. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Previewing 2013 Panini Prizm Football

You know what's sort of funny about the hobby?  How some sets which are widely loved by collectors are absolutely detested by a few select collectors, and other sets which are widely hated by collectors are absolutely loved by a few select collectors.   There will always be someone who goes against the grain and will either love a hated product or hate a loved product. 

I think Panini's Prizm might fall into the category which a lot of collectors hate.  It's considered a knock-off of Topps' Chrome set.  Which, I think it is.  But can you blame Panini for copying Topps?  Chrome is a proven concept and set which works.  Why not build your own set which is similar to Chrome?  Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?  And so while Panini puts out a product which is a knock-off of Chrome and everyone hates, I have to admit, I actually like Prizm.  Well, I liked 2012 Prizm Football.  Prizm Baseball is blah without the team logos or team names but I kinda think it's a neat set. 

And so every since 2012 Prizm Football released, I've been looking forward to 2013 Prizm Football which officially streets on October 23, 2013.  (Retail should hit stores about one to two weeks later.)  But after seeing some of the quality control images of the cards, I'm cringing a little.  The cards don't look as good as last year.

The base are fine.  It's similar to last year with a little bit of a parallelogram look.  Okay, sure.  Whatever.  But then Panini went crazy (in a bad way) with just about everything else.

Funky orange prizm die cuts?  Umm... not doing it for me.  I like symmetry and asymmetrically cut die-cuts make me sick.

Look at the huge "M N H" at the top of the Monday Night Heroes cards!  I feel like I'm back in high school with that blocky font. 

And then check out the Decade Dominance set.  HUGE LETTERING EVERYWHERE!!!  And then they put the actual player's name in ultra thin and small font.  I always thought the bigger fonts on the card should be of the player's name, and not of the insert set's name.  Seems a little counter-intuitive.

I do like the Brilliance insert set, sort of.  There is a lot of wasted space in the bottom left and bottom right of the card because Panini chose to put a giant ass Prizm logo in the bottom middle of the card.  But aside from that stupendously stupid design error, I kinda dig the two spotlight effects in the background.  The pulsar prizm effect is super cool, although I'm pretty sure that's another ripoff of Topps' pulsar refractors.

And the autographs.  They're basically the same design as the base cards aside from some giant "ROOKIE" text and an area to place a sticker autograph.  Okay, so what's wrong with this card?  First of all, having the word "ROOKIE" in giant ass letters is a little unnecessary since there is already a rookie card logo in the top left corner.  I don't see any need to remind the consumer twice on the front of the card that this card is a rookie.  Second, the parallelogram card design doesn't bode well for the stickers.  As you can see in the picture above, the right and left edge of the sticker autograph clashes with the diagonal parallelogram design where they meet.  Bad design.

Anyway, enough with the bashing of the cards themselves.  Let's get on to the real question: how easy will this set be to search?

I'm thinking if it's anything like last year's Prizm, then it should be fairly easy.  Inserts should be cake to find.  Redemptions should be cake to find.  Autographs will be fairly easy too.  Die-cuts will be easy to find.

What about the green prizms and all the other colors?  Those will likely be hard.  I remember that finding greens in 2012 Prizm Football was tough!  I'm guessing things shouldn't be any different this year.

If Panini chooses to wrap the product in cellophane wrappers instead of foil wrappers, then this should be stupendously easy to search.  But that's a big if.  2012 Panini Prizm was in foil wrappers so I'm guessing it'll be the same as last year.

Am I going to try and pack search this set?  Well, despite crapping all over the design of the cards in this post, yes, yes I am going to try pack search this set. And the funny thing is, once I get the cards in my hand and am dazzled by all their shininess, I'll probably start liking the set!

Anybody else looking forward to (or not looking forward to) 2013 Panini Prizm Football? 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Football: Pink Parallel

Does anyone actually check stuff like 2013 Topps Football or 2013 Topps Baseball Series 1 or Series 2 for anything other than relic hits?   In other words, does anyone actually go through those huge 96-count gravity feeds and search each individual retail pack for the super rare auto or numbered parallels? 

I'll sometimes search rack packs for autos (still haven't found one) and for parallels when I have some time since it's usually easier to find those kinds of hits in rack packs than single packs.  But I rarely actually go through the huge gravities of single packs to search for autographs and parallels.  I think I'm going to start doing that though.  

The reason for this is mostly because all the other products which are worth searching, like Platinum, Prizm, Prestige, Press Pass, etc., have already been searched to death.  There is so little unsearched product out there around me (due to me and other pack searchers finding all the big hits) that there isn't much left to search other than the cheap low-end 2013 Topps Football and Baseball Series. 

Kenny Vaccard
2013 Topps Football
BCA (Pink) Parallel #/399
Odds:  1:40

I'm also thinking it might be worth searching 2013 Topps Football or Baseball Series retail packs because I don't think a lot of people actually take the time or effort to search all those loose single packs for anything other than relic hits.  I know I didn't for the longest time.  The reason why I didn't was obvious: finding those kinds of hits (autographs and numbered parallels) are rare since they're so few and far between (the good ones, at least), and because finding those hits takes more effort than finding relic hits.  If those presumptions are correct, then there could be some decent hits just lying out in plain view merely because nobody has bothered to search that pack. 

Hey, who knows?  I could be wrong and perhaps this is just another waste of time and energy.  But then again, you never know what you might find unless you look. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Series 2: C.J. Wilson Camoflauge Parallel

Have any of you run into people you know while you're out pack searching?  I always seem to.  I live in a smallish city (it's a city but everyone here calls it a "town") and if you live here long enough, you get to know people, and you seem to run into them when you go out.

Sometimes these chance meetings can't be avoided.  When you see them or they see you, you have to go talk to them.  Other times if I see them but they don't see me, I try to avoid them.  I guess I try to avoid them because inevitably, when you talk to someone you see in a store, the question always arises: "what are you doing here?"  And then I have to make some lame excuse about how I'm out picking up something at Target/Walmart (or where ever I am) when I'm really not and am just here to pack search. 

In a way, it is sometimes a little embarrassing that I collect cards.  It's not something I really go out and advertise or tell others that I do.  I tend to keep it to myself.  I'm not one to judge another person if they told me they collect sports cards (or any other semi-frowned upon collectible) but I know others will judge me.

When I've run into people I know, some are quick to look into my basket or shopping cart to see what I'm buying.  Others, having a little modicum of respect for my privacy, don't look.  But I have had a friend I've run into totally just take a gander into my basket once and be like, "sports cards?!?!" with a shocked look on their face like they could not believe I would buy this stuff.

I've mostly just run into random old high school friends.  Being that we rarely see each other, the conversation flows enough to where they're not quizzing me about what the heck I'm buying.  I've run into neighbors a few times.  They don't ask questions about what I'm doing. 

C.J. Wilson
2013 Topps Series 2
Camouflage Parallel
Rack Pack Odds:  1:57

I haven't run into any co-workers yet.  Well, I did run into a former co-worker once.  It happened at a Walmart.  I was getting my search on.  I found something to buy and got in line to pay.  As I did so, I had to squeeze between an empty cash register stall and a woman's shopping cart.  The woman had her purse in the cart where the child's seat is -- easily accessible to me as I maneuvered by.  I think the woman realized this, and was a bit concerned I might swipe her purse.  I saw her take a pause from unloading her goods onto the conveyer belt and eye me cautiously.  I tend to dress down (a lot) when I go out pack searching so I can look a bit like a slob and your stereotypical greasy pack searcher.  Of course, I'm not a crook and I had no interest in swiping the woman's wallet, or phone and so I didn't touch her purse. 

She went back to putting things on the conveyer belt and that's when I realized she looked familiar.  It took me a whole minute to place her, but then I finally realized she was a former coworker that I worked with like six years ago.  I think she recognized me but was having a hard time placing me too.  In any other circumstance, if I wasn't pack searching, I probably would have said hi to her and talked to her.  But with a pack of cards in my hand, I didn't want to.  There was no way I'd be able to hide the pack.  I didn't say anything to her and she didn't say anything to me.

To avoid running into people I know, I like to go out searching late at night or early in the morning.  But even then, I've still run into people I know.  And the fact that I'm hitting up the card aisle at like 8 a.m. or 10 p.m. makes the encounter even more awkward.

One of my other fears is running into a professional colleague or a customer of my employer.  Now that would definitely be awkward.  My current job seems to connect me with a lot of people around town.  I'm actually pretty surprised I haven't run into a professional colleague or a customer of my employer yet. 

Anybody got any interesting stories to tell about people you've run into while out pack searching?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Going to a Hobby Shop For the First Time in Over A Decade

Well, I've decided to go to a hobby shop (a.k.a. a local card shop or "LCS").  I actually haven't been to a hobby shop that sells sports cards in over a decade.  In fact, I think it was probably around 2001 when I last was in a LCS -- not since I was a little tyke. 

Wow, yeah, it's been a long time. 

I used to go to a local LCS all the time back when I was a kid.  I'd go in there and buy a few packs of cards always hoping to hit an autograph or a jersey card.  I remember fretting over spending more than $20 because that was a lot of money to me back then.  I usually could only afford three to four packs of something.  And I don't remember ever hitting anything good from the packs that I bought.

And then I got busy with school and life.  I kept up with sports cards for a few more years and then stopped collecting for a long time.

Fast forward to 2012 when I got back into the hobby.  It all started when I was cleaning out my room and going through all my old stuff.  I came across the sports cards from when I was a kid.  It was a total blast from the past to go through them, seeing which players were now Hall of Famers and which guys were now flops.  I found all the cards of my favorite player who I PCed (personally collected) as a kid.  And I even found some cards which I forgot I had, and to my surprise, were actually worth some money.  This was all it took to get me hooked again. 

But now, I was older and smarter.  I learned about hot packs.  I learned how to pack search.  I learned that there is a difference between retail pack and hobby packs.  I learned how, theoretically, pack searching for hits was more cost effective than just buying hobby boxes.  My life as a pack searcher began, and provided much of the material for this blog.

It's now 2013.  I've been back in the hobby for about 15 months now.  I am now much wiser than I was back in 2012.  I'm a fairly seasoned pack searcher.  I would say I'm proficient, although not an all-pro.  I can find easy hits, the moderately difficult to find hits, and sometimes the tough to find hits.  I've hit a few cool things here and there.  But I also think I'm at the point where I'm ready to dabble in some hobby packs and boxes again.  Pack searching is fun, but lately I've been feeling that it can be overly time consuming for what you get, especially when you only come back with game-used relic hits.  I'd rather hit autographs.  And as we all know, autographs are rarer and usually harder to find in retail versus hobby. This, of course, is the allure of hobby packs and boxes.  While the price tag is higher for hobby, you're getting better odds on a per-pack basis of getting a hit.  And not just any hit, but the quality of hits in hobby is higher than retail too.  The superfractors, the 1/1s, the better relics, the super low printed cards and cut signatures almost always lie in hobby boxes exclusively.  And I want to try my hand at getting those. 

I really haven't had much of a chance to buy myself any hobby packs or hobby boxes since I've gotten back into sports cards a year ago.  The one LCS that I used to visit as a kid is now closed.  There are no other LCSs near where I live.  The closest one is around a 45 minute drive away.  I've never visited it although I'm not opposed to visiting it.  The next time I'm in that area and I have the time I most certainly would.  And, actually, those two very two factors is what is bringing me into a hobby shop this upcoming weekend.

I'm actually going on a business trip.  Yes, a business trip!  Imagine that.  I feel far too young to be going on business trips, but I am.  And it just so happens that there is a hobby shop in the area of where I'm going.  I've already done some research on the place to make sure it's legit, and have read reviews on the place.  Yes, they sell sports cards (and not just all those customizable card game things that all the little kids play).  People say it's a fairly good place to go to buy sports cards.  So, I've decided to go there (time permitting) and buy myself my first real hobby packs from a LCS in over 10 years.

So, are there any suggestions on what to get?  What would you guys get yourself if you hadn't purchased any hobby packs in over 10 years and you were finally going to a LCS to buy some?  

When I get back, I'll be sure to share the results of these hobby packs.  Hopefully I get something good.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pack Searching The Walking Dead Dog Tags: Lori

I don't normally search many other sports cards outside of football and baseball cards.  And I rarely search really random stuff like The Walking Dead Dog Tags either.  But on a trip to Target, I just couldn't help myself.  Excel boxes were out, and employees had already started putting out some of the new stock.  Nothing had been touched or searched yet.

I gave the dog tags a quick search and found a hit.

The Walking Dead Dog Tags
Odds: 1:24

Pulled a Lori relic.  That's kind of cool.  Anybody watch the show?  I do.  I actually found Lori to be extremely annoying in the second season.  So annoying to the point where I actually wanted her to get killed.  How ridiculous was it in that one episode when she drove off to find Rick and the others, and was looking at a map while driving, and hit a zombie?  Stupid.  And then at the end of season 2 when Rick tells the group he killed Shane, Lori gets all upset about that despite the fact that just one episode earlier she was telling Rick how dangerous Shane was and how Shane was obsessing over her.

Anyways, these are kind of cool to hit.  I don't know what I'm going to do with it though.  I'm not one to wear a Walking Dead dog tag.  Also, I have to give a little shout out to one of my followers for giving me info on this product.  You know who you are.  Thank you.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter: Mat Latos Framed Mini Relic

Well, my random luck with finding Ginter leftovers continues.  I was at another Target and I saw a bunch of Ginter rack packs way back behind some other rack packs.  I figured that the racks would have been searched, but I searched them anyways because... you know, I'm a Ginter addict. 

Mat Latos
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Rack Pack Odds:  1:39

And what do you know?  I find a hit.  It was Mat Latos framed mini relic.  These framed mini relics sure are nice looking.  I imagine the framed mini autographs look even better...

2013 Allen & Ginter Relic Count:  A bagillion
2013 Allen & Ginter Auto Count:   Zero

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter: Jason Heyward Framed Mini Relic

Well, I still haven't hit an autograph from Allen & Ginter.  It's a bit frustrating, I have to admit.  And sort of pathetic.  I really didn't think I'd get out-hustled this bad by the other pack searchers around me.  For a while I was owning the territory.  I was going out like four times a week to search.  But then life started to catch up to me and it dropped down to one to two times a week.

Jason Heyward
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Rack Pack Odds: 1:39

I got pretty lucky at a Target last week.  Some more rack packs had been put out and I guess I was the first one there.  Ended up pulling a Jason Heyward framed mini relic.  Nothing spectacular, that's for sure.  But it's a hit, and I'll take it.

So for those of you keeping score, I have like a bagillion relics and zero autographs.  Hah!