Sunday, June 30, 2013

Even Antiques Roadshow Knows How to Pack Search!

I'm sure many of you have heard of Antiques Roadshow.  It's that show where people take antique goods to a show to have experts appraise the value of the items.

Well, in the below video, a woman brings some baseball cards to be appraised and the Antiques Roadshow appraiser guy is basically telling her how to pack search them!  Pretty funny. 


(via Hot Pack Hunter on Facebook.)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Series 2 Baseball: Juan Pierre Camouflage Parallel

Hit up another Target looking for some 2013 Topps Series 2.  Found this cool card.

Juan Pierre
2013 Topps Series 2 Baseball
Camouflage Parallel
Rack Pack Odds: 1:57

Pulled a nice Juan Pierre camouflage parallel numbered to 99. 

Juan Pierre
2013 Topps Series 2 Baseball
Camouflage Parallel
Rack Pack Odds: 1:57

I'm still working on finding autographs.  Pulling an autograph from 2013 Topps Series 1 or Series 2 is on my bucket list. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Series 2 Baseball: Pink Parallel

I'm at my local Target hoping that I'm the first one there to search 2013 Topps Series 2.  Today is restocking day.  With a little bit of luck, I might be the guy with first dibs on fresh packs. 

But it only takes a moment to realize you aren't there first.  A glorious and gigantic gravity feed box is out filled with loose retail packs which... are all neatly stacked within the gravity feed box.  That is usually a tell-tale sign that somebody has been searching it.  Shit.  Guess I'm not finding a relic today.  I don't even bother searching the loose retail packs for relics even though I know it's possible I presumed wrong and the packs were unsearched. 

I glance around and see some hanger boxes and rack packs of 2013 Topps Series 2.  I've searched the hanger boxes before, but I tend to stay away from them.  They're more of a gamble considering it's a lot harder to molest the cards when they're encased in a stiff cardboard box.  But rack packs, I like rack packs.  I had pretty good luck searching rack packs of 2013 Topps Series 1.  I like finding parallels and it's pretty easy to find parallels in the rack packs of 2013 Topps Series 1.  I'm hoping it's just as easy to find parallels in rack packs of 2013 Series 2.

Last night I stayed up way past my bed time doing "research" on 2013 Topps Series 2 retail.  I hopped on YouTube and watched people break open packs, rack packs, and blasters.  I take notes on my phone regarding the cards and the packs.  I don't see anyone else hit anything crazy like an autograph or a super valuable parallel but I'm not bothered.  I think I know how to find parallels.

I grab all the rack packs off of the racks and start to search them.  The excitement of trying to "crack the code" of a new product, and finding cool cards is intoxicating.  It's a drug.  It's addicting.  I love it more than a fat kid loves cake. 

And in no time, I find a pink parallel.  I don't try to see who it is of.  I don't care.  I'm getting the pack anyways.  I'll save the surprise for myself.  I go to the cashier to pay for my rack pack. 

Phil Coke
2013 Topps Series 2
Pink Parallel
Rack Pack Odds:  1:111

When I'm in my car I rip the pack open and pull out a Phil Coke pink parallel!  Awesome!

Phil Coke
2013 Topps Series 2
Pink Parallel
Rack Pack Odds:  1:111

The card is numbered to 50.  Pretty cool.  There are platinum parallels in retail.  Maybe one day I should be so lucky to find one of those. 

Anyways, nice retail hit.  Pretty fun to find.  I'm hoping to find more! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Score Football: Phillip Thomas Autograph Rookie Card

I know I say it all the time, but it's so true.  You never know what you'll find unless you look.  So often I get lazy and I don't bother to search some packs and who knows what I might have missed.  But then there are other times when I decide to finally take those few minutes to do a little searching and I hit something.  Today was one of those times.

I'm out searching for some 2013 Topps Series 2 Baseball.  It's not out.  I'm slumming around Walmart like the pack searching addict I am.  The card inventory at this Walmart is severely depleted.  Everything they have in stock is down to the final few packs and rack packs.  But on the shelve is one of those mini gravity feeds of 2013 Score Football.  I'm not sure if they have been searched by someone else already or not.  They look far too neatly stacked to be unsearched, but who knows.

I could walk away, not search these packs, and save myself five minutes.  Or I can stay and search these packs for an autograph, a relic, or a printing plate.  I know all those hits are few and far between in retail but you never know unless you look.

I decide to search these packs.

I'm going through these packs.  There must have been about 40 of them in there or so.  None of them really stand out that much and I'm nearing the final five packs or so when one of them stands out.  It's nothing which really sets off huge alarms within my mind, but I know there's a chance.  I know there is a chance this pack has an autograph.  I be sure to molest this pack real good like the dirty pack searcher I am.  Again, I'm not 100% sure but I'm pretty sure that if there is anything good in this pack it's an autograph.  I decide to buy it.  And am I happy I did.

Phillip Thomas
2013 Score Football
Autograph Rookie Card

My first autograph from 2013 Score Football!  Woo hoo!  It's a Phillip Thomas autograph rookie card.  Nothing crazy but still, it's an autograph for only $2.00.  Can't complain at all. 

Now I can't wait to go out and search the rest of the Score inventory in the retail stores around me.  The thing about hitting your first hot pack of a product is that it gives you so much information.  You know exactly what to look for now and it should make finding hot packs for that product a lot easier. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Bowman Football: Fresh Retail Boxes

Pack Searching 2013 Bowman Football: Picking Through Leftovers (Part I)
Pack Searching 2013 Bowman Football: If You Never Look Then You'll Never Know (Part II)
Pack Searching 2013 Bowman Football: Depleted But Unsearched (Part III)

2013 Bowman Football has been really slow to hit the shelves in my area.  Some of my local retail stores still don't have the product out.  I've been visiting every couple of days to check if it's out.  One day I had an errand to run in the next town over.  There was a Target there.  I like that Target because they have a lot of cards.  I dislike that Target because I know other pack searchers hit that store a lot too.  But I figured that since I'm out there I might as well stop by.

When I arrive in the card aisle I'm so busy looking at the cards on the shelves that it isn't until literally a whole minute later that I notice the boxes of Excel boxes behind me.  There are four of them.  One has been opened.  I glance inside.  No football cards.  Surely, there must be football cards in the other three boxes.

I glance around to see if there are Target employees around.  There are a lot.  And a Target Security guy.  In the past I've opened up sealed Excel boxes with mixed reactions from the Target people.  Some don't even notice.  Some have stopped me.  On one occasion when I did ask for permission the Target employee said it was cool.  On another occasion when I asked for permission the Target employee said he'd open it for me and that he would have to "look over my shoulder" as I picked out the cards I wanted.  (He clearly knew I was a pack searcher and wanted to make sure I wasn't damaging the product or outright stealing the cards.)

I go back and forth between opening up the boxes.  I don't come out to this Target very often.  I'm here now.  I should do it.  But I get a bad feeling and decide not to.  I can't describe why or what convinced me to not open them but I just felt like someone was watching me.  I'm sure the eyes-in-the-sky had their cameras trained on me.  Anyone who spends more than a few minutes looking at sports cards is probably a pack searcher.

I leave.  I'm a little disappointed I didn't open the boxes.  I feel like I chickened out.  But getting kicked out of Target or accused of shoplifting isn't worth the problems it might cause.  The one bright spot in all this is that if this Target just got some Excel shipments in, that means the Target closest to where I live -- which still hadn't put any Bowman out for sale -- most likely got an Excel shipment too.  I tell myself I need to check that Target tomorrow.

The next day on my lunch break I check the Target closest to me.  Indeed, they have a brand new retail box and some value packs out on display.  The retail box is untouched.  The value packs are untouched too.  A quick search of the value packs turns out fruitless.  No autographs.  Now for the retail box.

I like these Bowman retail boxes because they promise one autograph or relic per box.  I'm really not that interested in the relics; I'd rather have an autograph.  But the fact that there is a guaranteed hit (either a relic or autograph) per retail box makes it very easy to search the box.  All you need to do is search for a relic hot pack.  This takes all of 20 seconds.  If there is a relic hot pack, then you're done.  If you don't find a relic hot pack, then you know there is an autograph hot pack in this retail box and you can go through your usual autograph-finding techniques to locate it.

I'm all about finding hits quickly so I like the fact that I can determine what hit is in these retail Bowman Football boxes within 20 seconds.

I search this new retail box for a relic hot pack.  I find one.  Darn.  I mean, it's cool that I found a relic but was hoping I wouldn't because that would mean there was an autograph in this box.  Oh well.  I buy the relic hot pack.  It's another Alfred Morris foil relic.

I'm still bothered by the thought of leaving those Excel boxes at other Target unopened.  I take the rest of the day to weigh the pros and cons of driving back to that Target to see if they put the Excel box contents out on display.  I decide to go back.

On my drive back to the Target in the next town over, I vow to myself that I'm opening those damn Excel boxes whether those Target employees like it or not.  Screw 'em.  I want another autograph!

I arrive at the Target.  I stroll into the card aisle.  Dammit!  They still haven't out the Excel boxes yet.  The boxes are still sitting there waiting to be opened and put on display.  Again, I look around.  Tons of Target employees are around and walking by.  I loiter around the cards for a good 10 minutes waiting for the right moment.  I pretend to shuffle through the packs laboring over the decision on which one to buy.  Just when I think I have a moment when none are around, I quickly glance around to make sure the coast is clear.  But I see the Target Security guy by the exit craning his head up over the cash registers to see what I'm doing.  He's watching me.  Like I said earlier, when you loiter in the card aisle for more than 10 minutes it looks pretty suspicious.

Fuck.  I decide to put the guy at ease.  I've done this little trick before a few times.  I don't know if it really works but I haven't been stopped from opening boxes once I do it.  I begin picking up the card aisle.  I put packs back in their correct retail boxes, and straightening the blaster boxes.  I do this for a good five minutes so the Target Security guy watching me doesn't think I'm stealing shit.  I mean, would a thief really spend the time to straighten up the card aisle before he steals something? 

Next, I grab a few things out of one of the Excel boxes which had been already opened and put them out where they're supposed to be.  I grab some Magic the Gathering booster packs and put them in the correct spot on the racks.  I grab some of those other weird Japanese looking card packs and put those with the rest of them on the racks.  Over the next ten minutes I take my time and put out the entire Excel box on display.  If anybody is watching me now, surely they must not be thinking I'm stealing stuff.  I imagine one of the Target Security guys sitting in his office watching me on his spy cameras in the ceiling and chuckling to himself, "What the fuck is this loser doing putting stuff out on display?  He doesn't work here!"  But I figure it's better to look weird rather than suspicious.  And frankly I don't give a crap if the employees think I'm weird for doing their job for them.

Finally, I get out my keys and quickly cut open one of the boxes.  I don't look around as I'm doing it.  I just do it like I have every right to open those boxes.  I listen for the approaching footsteps of a Target employee coming to stop me.  Nothing.  I see that there is a fresh retail box of 2013 Bowman Football inside.  I grab a few other items first and put those out on display.  I grab a few blaster boxes of 2013 Topps Archives Football which are in the box and put those out on display too.  Finally, I grab that 2013 Bowman Football retail box and rip the shrink wrap off.  Screw it, let's just do this!

I quickly search the fresh retail box for a relic pack.  I'm hoping there isn't one.  I want an autograph.  But less than half way through the box I hit the relic hot pack.   Damn.  Another relic.  I put the retail box out on the shelf with the rest of the cards and go the cashier to pay. 

Mikel Leshoure
2013 Bowman Football
Foil Relic
Odds:  1:27

In my car I open the pack.  It's just a regular foil relic of Mikel Leshoure.  Oh well.  These relic cards are still nice.  It would have been cool to hit one of those foil relic parallels but the odds of hitting those are pretty long (blue 1:2,200; gold 1:3,800; orange 1:8,300).

So that was a lot of time and work for just a relic card.  I feel silly for taking so much time and effort to open those boxes without a Target employee stopping me.  Only a seriously addicted and deranged pack searcher like myself would go through so much effort to search for hot packs.  Yeah, I'm addicted to pack searching.  I got problems. 

... The End ...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Bowman Football: Depleted But Unsearched

Pack Searching 2013 Bowman Football: Picking Through Leftovers (Part I)
Pack Searching 2013 Bowman Football: If You Never Look Then You'll Never Know (Part II)

It's only been a day since I last searched 2013 Bowman Football.  I hit an autograph yesterday.  That quelled my pack searching urges for all of about half a day.  The sun has set and risen again.  It's a new day and I'm facing new pack searching urges.  I'm succumbing to these urges.

I feel the need to search out my whole town.  There's a Walmart on the other part of town.  It's really not that far away, but it's sort of a pain in the ass to get to.  I want to search it but I don't want to drive there.  I have to drive there though to search it.  I wish there was a way to just transport myself there instantly so I can search it.  Life would be so much easier.

I finally gather up the motivation to get in my car and drive to the Walmart on the other side of town.  I know that 2013 Bowman Football has been out for about a week now and there is probably little chance that any remaining product there has been unsearched, but I have to try.  You never look then you'll never know.

I decide to go to this Walmart late at night before I go to bed.  This Walmart has its cards right next to a cash register and so when I go search it there are tons of people in line with a perfectly good view of me.  Although I know I'm not doing anything illegal or stealing cards, to them it might not look at it as I search through the packs.  I'd prefer it if nobody was around me so I can go about my business in peace.

When I arrive at the Walmart it's nearly 10:30 pm.  I go over to the cards.  I'm excited to see a mini gravity feed box of 2013 Bowman Football out on display... but then my heart sinks as I look inside.  It's empty for all but two packs.  Wow.  I'm stunned.  I figured the place might have been pack searched already, but I wasn't expecting it to be practically cleaned out of the product.  Dammit.

I quick search the two remaining retail packs.  To my utter amazement, one is a relic hot pack!  Hah.  So this place had nearly been cleaned out of the product, but it hadn't been pack searched yet.  I searched the other loose retail pack.  It had a foil parallel in it.  Eh, I guess I'll but it too.

I take a look around for what else is around.  There are about six remaining value packs of Bowman too.  I search those.  Incredibly, one of the value packs is a relic hot pack.  Either other pack searchers are leaving behind the relics or this place wasn't pack searched at all!  I examine the two retail packs and the value packs for signs of searching.  Nope.  None.  This Walmart hadn't been searched.  Lucky me.

I pay for my packs and go home.

Alfred Morris
2013 Bowman Football
Foil Relic
Value Pack Odds:  1:15

I open up the value pack.  Out pops a sweet Alfred Morris relic.  Nice.  I really wish I had some of this guys' rookie cards too but I don't.  I might have to pick a few of those up before the 2013 NFL season starts.

Stedman Bailey
2013 Bowman Football
Green Parallel
Value Pack Odds: 1:51
In that same value pack is a green parallel of Stedman Bailey.  Nice.  The St. Louis Rams sure have stocked up on skill position players in the last two drafts.  Last year they nabbed Isiah Pead (RB), Brian Quick (WR), and Chris Givens (WR).  They added to that WR corps this year with Tavon Austin (WR) and Stedman Bailey (WR).  They're going to have a lot of young guys.  It should be interesting to see these guys develop and play.

Next I open up the loose retail pack with a foil parallel.

Sam Montgomery
2013 Bowman Football
Purple Foil Parallel
Odds:  1:8

It's only a purple foil parallel of Sam Montgomery.  I guess I shouldn't have bought the pack.  I should have examined the pack closer to see what color parallel was inside but sometimes I won't just to surprise myself a little more.  This time it backfired.  Oh well.

Finally, I open up the retail pack hot pack.

Cecil Shorts
2013 Bowman Football
Foil Relic
Odds:  1:27

Out comes a nice Cecil Shorts foil relic card!  Nice.  Can't complain.  I had Cecil Shorts one of my fantasy football teams last year.  He was a decent player for a 3rd wide receiver in fantasy.  If only Jacksonville can get themselves a good QB then Cecil Shorts could really start putting up some big numbers.

Overall, not bad for a late-night trip to Walmart.  I was totally shocked to see that the place hadn't been searched out despite the fact that people had bought up most of the product.  I can't help but wonder what was in those other loose retail packs which people had bought before me.  Was it an autograph?  Did I miss out on another autograph card because I just didn't bother going out days earlier to search?  I hope not, but I'll never know.

... To Be Continued ...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Bowman Football: If You Never Look Then You'll Never Know

Pack Searching 2013 Bowman Football: Picking Through Leftovers (Part I)

As I'm in my car driving to Walmart I remind myself how you can't expect to find good cards while pack searching if you never go out to check stores.  I had just left a Target in my town.  It had already been hit by another pack searcher.  I knew that the pack searcher also probably went to a Walmart just a couple minutes down the road to check that store too since it's so close by.  I knew that going to this Walmart would probably just mean more wasted time picking through another pack searcher's leftovers.  But I had to be sure.  I had to check.  What if for some reason the other pack searcher did not go to this Walmart?  Or perhaps Walmart put out the cards after the pack searcher had been there to search them.  You can never just assume the store won't have the cards and convince yourself not to look. 

I stroll into the Walmart and approach the card aisle.  2013 Bowman Football is out.  It's been picked through though.  A couple of jumbo packs are lying here and there, while others are on the racks.  I scan the display for more cards... and I see a mini gravity feed box smashed in a corner slightly hidden from view.  Ah hah!  I pull the loose packs out of the gravity feed box.  I count them.  There's not enough.  Somebody has bought some.  I examine the loose packs for signs that they've been searched.  There are none!  This could be some fresh, unsearched 2013 Bowman Football!

I decide to search the jumbo packs first since they're quick and easy.  I find one which contains a paper parallel numbered to 99.  I'll take it.  Another jumbo pack contains a paper parallel too.  I'll take that one too.

Now for the loose retail packs.  Immediately a few stand out.  One is definitely a relic hot pack.  It stands out like a sore thumb.  Another pack is die-cut pack for sure.  I set that one aside to buy.  Another is a little weird.  I think it's a paper parallel.  I decide to get that one too.  And a third one... it has to be an auto!  I take my find to the cash register and pay.

Let's start with the relic pack and then work our way from worst to last...

Demaryius Thomas
2013 Bowman Football
Foil Relic
Odds: 1:38

Got myself a nice looking Demaryius Thomas foil relic card!  I really like the foil board treatment on these cards.  Bowman was sort of going for a futuristic and metallic look with these relics and the foil board really helps achieve that look.  Nice looking cards. 

Sean Renfree
2013 Bowman Football
Purple Foil Parallel
Odds: 1:8

One of the two jumbo packs I bought had a Sean Renfree purple paper parallel.  Who???  He's a quarterback but I haven't heard of him.  Oh, no wonder why.  He's a 7th round selection out of Duke.

Le'Veon Bell
2013 Bowman Football
Red Foil Parallel
Odds: 1:64

Next up is a nice red paper parallel of Le'Veon Bell numbered to 199.  I do know who he is.  He got a lot of early season hype as a possible 1st round draft pick but I knew he wasn't.  I figured him to be more of a 3rd round selection with the possibility of being a 2nd round selection, and sure enough I was right.  He was selected 48th overall in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Russell Wilson
2013 Bowman Football
Purple Parallel
Odds:  1:8

That same jumbo pack also had a nice purple parallel of Russell Wilson.  It's not numbered and it's only a crap purple parallel but it is Russell Wilson.  Perhaps this card won't meet my trash can.

Matt Elam
2013 Bowman Football
Green Parallel
Odds: 1:128

Next up was a green paper parallel of Matt Elam numbered to 99.  Not bad.  That ugly green border doesn't really match the card well.  Maybe this guy will be just as good as Ed Reed was for the Ravens?

Maurice Jones-Drew
2013 Bowman Football
Odds: 1:27

Got a nice die-cut of Maurice Jones-Drew, and...

Matt Scott
2013 Bowman Chrome
Autograph Rookie Card
Odds: 1:99

Got a Matt Scott Bowman Chrome autograph!  Sweet!  I knew that pack had an autograph in it.  The regular base Bowman cards feel pretty cheap with their really thin card stock, but these Bowman Chrome autograph cards feel and look much nicer due to the Chrome technology and plastic gloss.

So... that was another $20 spent.  I think I did a little better this time.  Although none of the cards I got were all that valuable, I'm just glad I got an autograph and was able to pick up some more color.  2013 Bowman Football is okay.  I don't think I'm going to go nuts searching it but I am totally jonesing to go search for more of it tomorrow.  So much for my one month of pack searching abstinence...

... To Be Continued ...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Bowman Football: Picking Through Leftovers

I'm on a one-month pack searching abstinence.  I think it's been about two weeks since I've gone pack searching.  I'm trying to hold out but it's hard.  2013 Bowman Football just came out and I'm dying to go search it.  I've been reading about everyone's box breaks on and I've been looking at cards on eBay.  The cards themselves aren't that impressive to me, but it's just the excitement and fun of going out to find hits that has me itching to grab my car keys and bolt out the door.

I know I shouldn't search Bowman though.  The cards, while they do look fairly nice for Bowman, probably won't have much value considering its a weak 2013 NFL draft class and the players aren't in NFL uniforms.  Bowman is likely a money-pit without much return on your investment.  I should stop looking at the cards online but I can't.  Sports cards are a non-stop addiction.  Pack searching is a non-stop addiction too.

I'm at home taking care of things around the house, trying to take my mind off of cards but I just can't take it any more.  I have some spare time to burn before I need to go do other stuff, so I decide I'm going out.  I'm going out to just look at the cards.  I remind myself I'm abstaining from pack searching for a whole month.  No buying.

As I get in my car, the little devil on my shoulder whispers in my ears that it's okay to buy some cards if I find something good.  He gives me a devilish grin and winks at me.  The angel on my other shoulder shakes her head and gives me a disapproving look.

Within 20 minutes I'm at one of the Targets in town.  Today is the day they usually restock the cards.  If I'm lucky, some new 2013 Bowman Football will be out and unsearched.  I'm not that lucky.

Bowman Football is out.  There is a retail box out on display but it's been thoroughly picked through.  There must only be about 15 packs remaining.  I pick up the packs and immediately start examining them for signs that they've been searched.  Yup.  I see numerous tell-tale signs that another pack searcher has been here.  Dammit.

Some damn pack searcher in my area has really stepped up their game.  For a while I was the king in my area.  But lately someone else has been consistently beating me to the cards.  I swear, this person must visit Target like every freakin' day.  It's annoying and starting to piss me off.  This is my town.

I take some time to pick through the other pack searcher's leftovers.  I search the loose retail packs and only find one worth buying.  "Worth" buying... such a relative term.  The pack contains a die-cut.  I know it's not worth a lot but I'm a sucker for die-cuts.  I'm getting it.  Fuck my one-month pack searching abstinence.

I look through the jumbo packs.  Doesn't look like there are any autographs.  It looks like they all have numbered parallels in them.  Most are pretty high numbered parallels that I decide not to buy.  But I choose one jumbo pack to buy anyways because it has a numbered card in it to 299 instead of 399 like all the rest.  This previous pack searcher beat me to the punch.  I imagine he got the auto from the retail pack and probably got another auto from all the jumbo packs.  Bastard.

I pay for my cards and go to my car to see what I got.

Eli Manning
2013 Bowman Football
Odds:  1:27

The die cut was of Eli Manning.  These die-cuts are pretty nice looking cards.  I'm sure they're pretty worthless though.  I still want more of them.  I'm like a child sometimes.  I just want everything I see.

Daryl Washington
2013 Bowman Football
Purple Parallel
Odds:  1:8

Next I opened up the jumbo pack.  Inside was a purple paper parallel of Daryl Washington.  Purples aren't numbered and they're probably just about as worthless as the base cards unless you pull a big name.  Daryl Washington isn't a big name.  This purple parallel will likely meet my trash can very soon.

Bjoern Werner
2013 Bowman Football
Orange Parallel
Odds: 1:42

Finally, the rack pack also had a orange paper parallel of Bjoern Werner numbered to 299.  Not great.  Not a lot of value in this jumbo pack.  I'm sort of regretting buying it.  Oh well.

So that was like $10 down the drain.  I broke my two week streak of not pack searching for $10 worth of cards in which I didn't even hit anything good.  Ugh.  I knew I shouldn't have gone out to look at the cards.  You can never just go out to just look at cards.  Looking turns into buying. 

As I start up my car I know I should go home.  I pretty much burned $10 for nothing.  That's not a lot of money but it would be $10 in my pocket if I had a little more self control.  But there's a Walmart just down the road from this Target!  The little devil on my shoulder is speaking to me again.  And he's right.  There is a Walmart just down the road.  It's minutes away.  Since I'm so close by, I should check it.  They might have some 2013 Bowman Football too.  Of course if they did and the previous pack searcher hit this Target then he surely would have hit that Walmart too.  That's what I would do if I were him.  So I know that if I go to the Walmart I'd be picking through more leftovers from the previous pack searcher and it would likely be a huge waste of my waste of time.  I don't want to go.  I can be so lazy at times.

I start my car and begin to pull out of the parking lot.  Ahh, screw it!  Let's go to Walmart.

... To Be Continued ...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Analogy: Pack Searching Is Like Finding Gold

I often think of how I can explain my actions and justify why I pack search.  I imagine that I am explaining what I do to somebody who is not in the hobby.  Would that person agree with me and think that pack searching is okay?  Or would that person disagree with me and say that pack searching is unethical?  So I'm often thinking of analogies to justify how pack searching really is no different than... whatever other day-to-day activity we do.

I've already discussed the fruit analogy.  In my opinion, that's a strong analogy.  I've also thought of another one.  This one is more distant than the fruit analogy, but I think it helps explain why so many of us pack searchers justify our actions.

Pack searching is like finding gold.

Imagine you're a 49er.  For those of you that don't know, or for those of you who didn't pay attention in your American History class, a 49er was a gold prospector that would travel to California during the gold rush of 1849 in hopes of striking it rich by finding a lot of gold.  These are the same 49ers that the San Francisco 49ers are named after.  Now, if you're a 49er arriving in California during the famous California gold rush and you're trying to find gold how are you going to do it?

First of all, you have to know WHERE to find gold.  Do you look by the beaches?  Do you go inland?  Where inland?  Do you go to the mountains?  Most of the gold which was found in California was in the mountains.  So if you were a 49er, you would head to the mountains.

But once you got to the mountains, you also have to know HOW to find the gold.  Do you just get down on your hands and knees looking on the ground?  Do you just stick a shovel in the dirt and start digging?  Or do you pan for gold?  Or mine it?  If you're a 49er you probably panned for gold since that was the easiest option or you could also mine for it.

And if you're a 49er, do you just go out looking once for that giant gold nugget or do you look multiple times?  You look multiple times.  You don't just spend one day panning for gold.  You spend a year looking for gold or you go out regularly looking for gold.  Why?  Because finding gold is hard, it takes luck, and you can always increase your luck by increasing the number of times you go looking for gold.

Pack searching is no different.

A pack searcher, like a 49er, must know where to find the gold (the cards).  This part is easy.  The gold (cards) are at Target, Walmart, K-Mart, Meijers, Toys R Us, etc.

A pack searcher, like a 49er, must know how to find the gold (the cards).  This part is a little harder.  But just like a 49er would pan for gold, a pack searcher must "pan" for hot packs (use various techniques to find them).

And finally, a pack searcher, like a 49er, probably isn't going to strike it rich by giving it one attempt.  No.  A pack searcher, like a 49er, persists.  He will try multiple times to strike it rich.  They'll search once a week or more to find that gold (the cards).

In my opinion, pack searching is really no different than looking for gold.  You just have to know where to look, how to find the gold, and go out multiple times to find it!  It takes a little bit of luck, but it also takes knowledge and hard work.

Knowledge and hard work.  That part is key for why I, personally, can justify my actions.  In my opinion, I don't view my pack searching as unethical because my success in pack searching is a product of my own knowledge and hard work.  And anyone can do it.  Anyone can do what I've done.  Anyone can learn how to pack search themselves with just a little bit of effort, internet sleuthing, and hard work.  What I've done is not some magic trick or violation of the laws of physics.  It's every-day intellect and effort.  I've put in the hard work and there is no reason why I shouldn't reap the rewards.

That sounds a lot like the "American Dream" doesn't it?  Taken straight from Wikipedia, the American Dream is:

The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work.

The key phrase I'm illustrating in this post is: "Opportunity for ... success, ... achieved through hard work."  All throughout our lives as American citizens, we've grown up being told, and being taught, that we can be whatever we want to be, and we can be successful at whatever we want to be successful at, if we just put in the hard work.

We're told from a young age to study hard.  Do your homework.  Do well in school.  And if you do all that, you'll be successful at whatever you put your mind to.

Well, I put my mind to pack searching and finding out how to identify good cards within packs of sports cards without opening them.  I put in the hard work by thinking about how to do it, doing research, doing my own trial and error, and putting in the hours traveling to and from retail stores.  I did it.  I did it like the 49ers of 1849 did it; through knowledge, hard work, and persistence.

Pack searching is like finding gold.  And you know what?  Everyone else can do it too -- some just choose not to. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

2013 Score Football Review

Even though I'm not pack searching for a month, that still doesn't mean I'm not going out to look at cards.  This last weekend I had some time to kill, so I hit up my favorite Target to see what was new.  Out on display was a gravity feed of 2013 Score Football packs.

I hadn't planned on buying any 2013 Score Football.  While the cards looked fine from what I had seen in previews, I was quite turned off by the new $2.00 price point up from $1.00 per pack last year.  I know $1.00 isn't a huge increase but Score is that cheap go-to pack when you need to bust some packs and don't feel like spending a lot of money.  A 100% increase in price, for Score, is a lot.

Nevertheless, I was like, what the heck?  I bought a couple of packs.  To my surprise, I actually liked the cards a lot.

2013 Score Football
Base card (front and back)

The front of the cards are simple.  It's just a nice full color photograph, the player's name, the team, the brand, and a little bit of foil (which looks black in scans).  It's simple and elegant.  It works, and it looks nice.    Some of the base cards feature horizontal photography which actually does not look good.  The design of the card is vertical so mashing it together with a horizontal photograph looks pretty bad.

The backs of the cards are simple too.  It gives a quick biography of the player, his physical attributes, college, draft pick, and statistics.  Again, simple but it works.  Quite frankly, despite Score being Panini's cheap brand of sports cards, it seems to have one of the better base card designs than a lot of Panini's middle to higher end sports cards.

All the cards are also finished on the front with a nice gloss.  It's a nice touch which really completes the card.

2013 Score Football
Base Rookie Cards & Parallels

The base rookie cards in the set are green.  Parallels come in red and other colors.  The photography is all head shots without helmets.  This is due to the fact that the players haven't played a single NFL game yet or really done any off-season workouts with the team.  While a lot of people may really dislike these cards because the players aren't in NFL uniforms or wearing helmets, I actually like it.  I think it makes the cards and the players very personable.  And since these players are still new to many collectors (since the players have only been "pros" for about two months now), I think that showing the players' full faces is a good way for collectors to sort of get introduced to the players so to speak.

2013 Score Football
Hot Rookies Insert

Rookies are also featured in the Hot Rookies Insert set.  These cards are bright, wild, busy, and in your face.  Some may dislike them, but I like them.  These cards do feature the rookies in pro uniforms which have been photoshopped onto the player.

2013 Score Football
Future Franchise & Franchise Inserts

2013 Score is pretty light on the inserts.  There are four total inserts (Hot Rookies, Franchise, Future Franchise, and Air Mail).  The Franchise and Future Franchise inserts are seen above.  They're basically just the same as base cards but with the wording "Franchise" and "Future Franchise" on them.  The cards look nice, but I feel like it's a bit of a cheap trick to call these inserts when they look substantially the same as base cards.  To me, inserts should differ more from base cards aside from some big words on the front.  It looks like each pack of 2013 Score Football comes with one Franchise and one Future Franchise Insert.

2013 Score Football
Air Mail Inserts

Finally, the Air Mail inserts.  And just like the Franchise/Future Franchise inserts look just like the base cards, the Air Mail inserts look just like the base cards too aside from the "Air Mail" language.  Still though, nice looking cards otherwise and it seems as if you get one per pack.

Overall, I actually think the 2013 Score Football set is a very good product.  It features a 440 card base set including 220 commons, 32 Franchise inserts, 32 Future Franchise inserts, 32 Air Mail inserts, 14 Road to the Superbowl inserts, and 110 Rookies.  There are autographs and even relics but they're pretty rare.  I think this set is a good product for set builders, kids, or anyone who enjoys cheap cards (12 cards per $2.00 pack).  I can't believe I'm saying it, but I almost want to buy myself a couple of jumbo hobby boxes of this stuff just to try and put together a set.  Crazy, I know.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Pack Searching 2012 Panini Gridiron Football: Nate Allen Autograph

(Author Note: This blog post was written a lonnngggg time ago.  I'm just getting around to publishing it now.  This pack searching adventure did not occur during my attempted one month abstinence from pack searching.)

Got this nice Nate Allen autograph at a Target in the next town over from me.  I was surprised to see some unsearched Gridiron rack packs out on the displays because the product had been out for a while now.

Nate Allen
2012 Panini Gridiron Football
Veteran Autograph

You know, as a collector I hate sticker autographs.  But you have got to think that as a card company you love sticker autographs.  They're cheaper to ship and send to an athlete than the actual cards.  You don't have to worry about the athlete damaging cards.  You don't have to worry about the athlete signing in the wrong place on the cards.  (See picture below.)

LaMichael James
2012 Panini Black
Rookie Patch Autograph

Doesn't that just make you want to smack your head in disbelief?  I can only imagine what the Panini people were thinking when they got these cards back from LaMichael James.  It probably wasn't complimentary though.

With sticker autographs you can slap those stickers on whatever cards you want.  You can save some of those stickers and even use them on a different product too!  For example, send an athlete 500 stickers to sign.  Use 300 of those 500 on one product.  Put the other 200 stickers into storage, and later use those stickers on a separate product a year later.

The invention of sticker autographs has probably been a dream for card companies.  But collectors have had their say too.  Most of us hate stickers.  We would much rather have an on-card autograph.  Thankfully, Topps has listened and is trying to keep most of its autographs on-card.  Unfortunately, Panini has gone sticker autograph overboard and it's been pretty disgusting.

One good thing about sticker autographs is that because they're cheaper to obtain and it's cheaper to produce cards with sticker autographs, it allows card companies to price cards at a lower MSRP and thus makes the cards more affordable to consumers.  Every collector loves on-card autographs, but not every collector is willing to pay higher prices to buy a product with more costly to product on-card autographs.  So there is a trade off.  When I first started out in this hobby I could only afford the cheap stuff like SAGE and Press Pass products.  They always had stickers.  I didn't care back then because I was just happy to get autographs but now I care.  Sticker autographs suck.  On-card autographs rock.