Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pack Searching 2014 Topps Platinum Football: Back for More

Well, it's been a long hiatus. In the past three months I've only went pack searching a handful of times. It has actually been easier than anticipated. Being super busy really takes your mind off of pack searching.

But last night I just so happened to be out and about with nothing to do and lots of time to waste. 2014 Panini Contenders Football has started to show up in Walmarts across America so I decided to go out and try to search those.  I ended up at my nearest Walmart at 11:30 pm. I like pack searching late at night because nobody is around.

Unfortunately I had already been beat to the cards. I could tell immediately. All the Contenders rack packs were strewn around the card section, and all the 2014 Topps Platinum Football rack packs were off the hangers and sitting in piles on the shelf.  I picked up the Contedners rack packs and inspected them.  I could see the fingernail marks on the wrapper left by the previous pack searcher in their attempts to search them.  I knew that the chances of finding anything in the Contenders rack packs was slim but I checked them anyways. Nope. Nothing.

I then checked the Platinum rack packs.  I knew that finding hits in the rack packs is harder and so I had a chance at finding something that the other pack searcher missed.  After taking a few minutes to search the dozen or so rack packs still for sale, I came to the conclusion that one of the rack packs probably had a hit in it.  I wasn't entirely sure because I couldn't "see" the hit outright, but I was pretty sure.  I whipped out my phone and checked my notes on Platinum from previous years.  This is the good thing about keeping notes in my phone.  After reviewing the notes in my phone I was 95% certain there was a hit in this rack pack and it was a redemption.  I bought the rack pack.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
2014 Topps Platinum Football
Autograph Rookie Refractor
Odds:  1:37

It turned out to be Ha Ha Clinton-Dix autograph redemption.  Not bad. 

This brief return to pack searching was nice.  It was like dipping a toe back into the water.  But I also felt dirty in a way.  I was doing so well trying to no longer pack search.  The challenge of finding hits brought me back.  I get this weird satisfaction from finding hits.  I get more satisfaction from just knowing that I found the hit than the satisfaction of actually having the hit itself.  It's weird.  I know.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Is 2014 Topps Chrome Football the Toughest Product to Pack Search Ever?

2014 Topps Chrome Football finally hit retail stores around me this week despite it being out for about a week now.  I went to a local Target to pick up on blaster box (scans below).

While I was waiting for it to hit the shelves around me I did some research about the product.  I watched breaks on YouTube and read up on the product. 

I'm starting to think that 2014 Topps Chrome Football might be the most pack-searcher proof retail product to hit stores in a long time -- and maybe ever.  Here's why.

First of all, the retail version of the product only has autographs for hits.  There are no jersey card hits in the packs (except for the Walmart blaster boxes which each have a jersey hit in it but I'm not counting those).  This isn't like Topps Series 1 or Series 2 Baseball which has a plethora of bat and game-used hits in it to find.  And let's face it, we pack searchers know that those relic hits are always a lot easier to find than autograph hits.

Second, the autograph hits are pretty much all on-card autographs.  I've watched a ton of Chrome Football breaks online and Topps did a really good job this year getting the players to sign their autographs on-card.  So gone are the days of finding the autograph hits by searching for the stickers.  You can't feel on-card autographs!

Third, the retail product is only sold in rack packs and blasters.  I remember when I first started pack searching in 2012, Chrome Football that year was sold in retail boxes too.  So you had the opportunity to search individual packs to find autographs, die-cuts and minis.  But this year with the product only being sold in rack packs and blaster boxes it's a lot harder to search.  Rack packs can be searched for die-cuts and minis with a little work, but it is tougher and more time consuming.  You're not going to be able to find autographs at all in rack packs.  Blaster boxes are impossible to search for autographs. 

Fourth, the redemption rate in 2014 Topps Chrome Football is less than 1%!  So gone are the days of redemption-heavy products where you could easily find redemptions. 

Fifth, the pack wrappers are foil wrappers.  Even if you bought rack packs and blaster boxes, and opened them up to individually examine each pack, you still probably couldn't figure out if there was an autograph card in the pack since the wrappers are foil and the autographs are on-card. 

Retail 2014 Topps Chrome Football is pretty much the most pack-searcher proof product that I've ever seen.  I'm not sure if Topps did this by design or not.  I'm actually of the belief that they did.  Chrome is one of their flagship brands.  Making the product as difficult to search as possible makes it a more attractive product to purchase on retail shelves since the chances of a hit being there is a lot higher than those products which are easy to search.

So if you're a non-pack searcher reading this blog post, I would say that it's pretty safe to buy retail 2014 Topps Chrome Football without any worry of it being searched dry of all the hits. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Why I Pack Search & Why I'll Have to Stop

It all started in July 2012.  That's when I googled baseball cards, saw some pictures of 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter, and got hooked on cards.  I loved the retro old school design of Allen & Ginter.  The cards were beautiful, the insert sets were odd yet incredibly interesting, and the autograph checklist in the set was spectacular. 

At that time, I knew I had to buy some of those cards.  The town where I lived didn't have a card shop.  So, where would I go to buy cards?  I had no idea.  So again, I googled for more information.

It turns out that Target sold sports cards.  I didn't know that.  And at about that same time, I also came across something interesting.  I saw something on the internet referring to "hot packs."  What were those?

I googled some more.  It turns out that "hot packs" were packs of cards which were guaranteed to have a "hit" inside of it.  I never knew that you could tell what was inside a pack of cards without opening it, but clearly some people had figured out how to do so.  

I found that intriguing.  

This time, I searched on YouTube and found videos of people opening up hot packs.  Pack after pack which was opened had hit after hit.  I was in awe.  How did these people do it?  

And that's how my hobby, nay, my obsession started. 

For the next few months, I immersed myself in figuring out how to pack search.  I searched the internet for information and free tips.  I watched lots of YouTube videos.  I took notes.  I thought about it in my free time.  I theorized.  And I went out searching to try and see if I could validate all that critical thinking and theorizing by finding the hits.  It was fun.  It was interesting.  And pack searching was thrilling.  

While most people only pack search to find hits (whether to keep in their personal collection or to sell as "hot packs" on eBay), I searched because I enjoyed the challenge.

To me, it was fun to figure out how to pack search each product.  Every card company has its own tactics they use to try and thwart pack searchers.  As a novice pack searcher, you'll fall for them.  I did, a lot.  It's tough on the wallet, but it made me more determined than ever to get better, and get good enough to where the card companies weren't beating me any more, but I was beating the card companies.  To draw an analogy, I wanted to be like a card counter in a casino.  I wanted that edge.  I wanted to be that guy who can beat the house at their own game.

I'm generally too humble of a person to call myself an expert at anything, but after two years of pack searching I do believe I am reaching that point.  If I'm not an expert, I'm at least extremely experienced.  I've dedicated a lot of time and money to this obsession.  I have over 100 notes in my phone about how to search various sports card products which has come out in the last two years.  I meticulously take notes about every product I search, and the product of every store I visit.  It sounds crazy, and I suppose it is.  Remember, I did call this an obsession.  But information is powerful.  The more you know about a product, and how the card company manufacturer likes to try and hide hits, it becomes easier -- a lot easier -- to find hits.  

I do believe I reached that point where I am constantly beating the card companies.  Rarely, any more, do I get fooled by decoys and the other tricks that card companies use to hide hits.  Hell, depending on the product, I can even find hits in rack packs and blaster boxes.  They're harder to search, but I can still find hits in those too.

I started this blog to chronicle my journey from novice pack searcher to pro pack searcher.  At the time, I saw it mostly as a journal to write down memories and stories, for my own amusement.  I thought that in the future, it would be fun to look back at these blog posts to remember these times; to remember when I was once that young padawan pack searcher yearning to be a jedi master pack searcher.  I honestly did not expect anyone to find this blog, and for me to gain a small following.  I thought it would just be me, myself, and I.  

But it turns out that pack searching is intriguing for a lot of other people too.  People were Googling "pack searching" and started running across my blog.  (And I'm sorry for choosing the name "Amateur Hot Pack Hunter" because when I first started the blog and you Googled "Amateur Hot Pack," the top search results would all be porn sites!)  Within a month I had my first comment, and within four months I was getting regular comments.  People were even asking me for tips, and asking me to teach them how to pack search.  Like the old pack searching pros on Youtube (such as deanofmean86 and Tut) had inspired me to try pack searching, I think this blog inspired others to try pack searching too.  At the time, there were no other pack searching blogs on the internet.  I was on the only one.  Now there is one other, and another which has come and gone.  Pack searching seems to be a regular occurring topic on the Blowout Cards forums, and YouTube videos of hot pack openings are still fairly common.  While I certainly can't take all the credit for the surge in pack searching popularity, I can't help but think I played a role in its rise over the past couple of years.  

The rise in pack searching's popularity probably is what led to this:


This might be the first time, at least that I know of, that a card company has actually acknowledged pack searching on such a large scale public platform such as their own Facebook page.  Pack searching must be becoming more prevalent.  

How about that picture?  Wow.  That's some serious pack searching right there.  That guy is, almost literally, camped out in the card aisle to do some searching.  I'll admit I've done similar.  I've brought a fold-up camping chair to sit down while I search, head phones (to help me get in that deep pack searching zone), Gatorade to stay hydrated (pack searching is a sport too!), and some Icy Hot for the arthritis and muscle strain from finger banging all those packs.  Sometimes, when I'm at Target for a really long time, I'll get a couple of those hand carts, flip them upside down, and use them as a foot rest while I'm sitting in my chair doing my searching.  

I don't know if the guy in the picture knew he was being photographed.  Maybe he knew and didn't care.  Maybe he didn't know.  Either way, it got me thinking, have we pack searchers all started going too far?  Are we really only concerned about the hits or making a profit by selling hot packs, and not interested in the base cards or insert cards any more?  What ever happened to just buying packs of cards, because you liked the cards?  Remember the old days when there were no autographs or relic cards in packs?  You just bought cards because you liked looking at the pictures, reading the stats on the back, or for just plain old collecting.  

Collecting.  Isn't that what the sports card industry is about?  Perhaps we've lost sight of that.  I certainly have.  I can admit that.  Although the beauty of the Allen & Ginter set is what initially hooked me on cards, I went through a period after that where all I cared about were the hits.  I was barely looking at the base cards, and was throwing them away.  I only kept the hits. 

But then a strange thing happened after a while.  I almost became jaded to the hits.  When you're not used to getting hits all the time, getting hits is a big deal.  But when you start getting really good at pack searching and you get hits all the time, they sort of start to lose their specialness.  It got to the point where I almost started leaving hits on the shelves after I found them, and even considered joining the ranks of many of my brethren who sell hot packs on eBay.  But instead of going down either of those routes, life went on, priorities changed, my life changed, and I started pack searching less.  Perhaps this change was inevitable.  Perhaps it is what I needed.  

During that brief time away from pack searching I realized I had changed.  I was a different person.  I didn't want to pack search just to find the hits any more, I wanted to buy cards just because I liked the cards.  In a sense, I had regressed back from that pack searching crazed maniac, back to that kid who just wanted to buy cards because they looked so cool. 

Don't get me wrong, I still think pack searching is fun.  I still enjoy thinking about it, thinking about the challenge, and thinking about how Topps (the card company who I believe actually takes the most effort to thwart pack searchers) will try to confuse us pack searchers.  To draw another analogy, I see myself as a code breaker, and the packs of cards like the Ginter Code -- just waiting to be cracked.  

Frankly, I think this code has been cracked.  I learned how to pack search on Allen & Ginter.  I've given the most time, thought, and effort into pack searching Allen & Ginter, and I can definitely pack search the shit out of the product in every form that it comes packaged.  

Now that the code has been cracked, the question now becomes: can I quit?

I already tried.  That was that period when the blog went silent for about three months.  It was extremely hard not to pack search.  When you shop at Target and Walmart regularly for things other than just cards, it's all too easy to stop by the card aisle and see what's available.  Every time I went to Target and Walmart, temptation was eating away at me.  

I'm only human, and eventually I gave in to the pack searching urges.  The appeal of cracking new codes, was just too much.  I missed taking down all those notes in my phone.  I missed having a product I was working on pack searching to think about during my free time.  Pathetic, I know.  Like I said, it's an obsession.  It's a puzzle.  It's a puzzle that I can't help but want to crack.  The hits are a nice bonus and reward for my searching, but my greatest joy comes from the satisfaction of knowing that I've cracked the code when I can successfully find hit after hit in some of the tougher products to search.  

The time has come for me to try quitting again.  The past two years have been a lot of fun, but life goes on.  My life must go on.  I need to concentrate my efforts elsewhere.  As we all grow up, we have to give up things.  I have to give up pack searching.  

It will be hard.  I know that.  I may have a relapse.  Or two.  Or three.  Or four.  Or more.  Obsessions and addictions don't stop overnight.  They don't always stop right away, or even after a handful of tries.  It might take me a year or a few years, but I do think that I have to put this behind me.  

If anything is going to keep me from pack searching, it will probably because I am now more in the camp of collecting cards just to collect cards.  While I still would love to get hits, I also don't mind just getting nicely designed and good looking base cards or inserts.  As somebody who doesn't have a hobby shop nearby, I'll be buying retail.  That being the case, it would be nice if I could buy retail and still have a chance at getting hits.  In a way, I'm almost like those people who say pack searching ruins it for everybody.  

Note how I said "almost" in that previous sentence.  That's because I'm also still of the belief that pack searching isn't illegal, it's not stealing, it's not wrong (as long as you're not damaging the cards while you search them), and buying cards is first come first serve (earlier patrons owe no duty to later patrons to not pack search).  I view buying cards just like buying anything else at the store: you want the best one available and if you can figure out which might be the best one then buy the best one.  So if I go to a store and I see someone pack searching, I will feel no ill-will towards them.  I believe they have the right to do what they're doing.  The fact that they're pack searching may prevent me from buying cards, but so be it.  That's just the way it is. 

So for all my fellow pack searcher readers who have followed my blog for the past two years, I hope you don't think I'm turning my back on you or that I'm the enemy now.  I'm not.  I don't care that you guys are still pack searching.  I wish you all good luck in finding hits.  I just have to quit this fun and addicting habit. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

How Much 2014 Allen & Ginter Have You Searched?

When I go out and pack search, sometimes I'll keep notes in my phone about how much product a store has on its shelves.  I do this to keep track of how much product is being purchased by other card collectors in between my visits to each particular store.  It also helps me know if any restocks have occurred since my last visit.  Yes, this is completely nutty.  It's a product of my pack searching obsession and my psychotic desire for having as much information at my fingertips as possible. 

So this year I kept an approximate count of how much 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter packs I've searched.  Based on my estimates, I think I've searched approximately 625 retail packs of 2014 Allen & Ginter. 

Is that a lot?  I don't know.  For the regular collectors it probably seems like some crazy amount.  But for any other pack searchers reading this blog maybe they don't think it's a lot.  Maybe they have searched even more packs.

Based on the retail print run of 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter, 625 retail packs is approximately 0.35% of the entire retail stock that Topps made.  Maybe some year I'll try to search a whole 1% of the retail stock.  While that is not a lot in the grand scheme of things, it would be an amazing feat to accomplish. 

I think that had I had more time on my hands, the number of 625 retail packs could have actually been bigger.  Sometimes when I was in stores I just didn't have the time to search all the product there.  If I didn't have a job and had more time to drive to all the Targets and Walmarts within a 2 hours drive of me, I probably could have doubled that number. 

So what should I have found in those 625 packs?  Well, based on the retail odds I should have found approximately 26 full sized hits (either full sized relics, framed mini relics, or autographs).  Of those 26 hits, 4 of the hits should have been autographs.

I actually found 15 full sized hits, and of those only 1 of the hits was an autograph.

So what gives?  Why is there this disparity?

Most of it is due to me searching a lot of retail gravity feed packs which have already been searched, and didn't have a hit because other pack searchers had been there before me.  This is typical, and to be expected.  Unfortunately, it also skews my results. 

If I ignore the retail gravity feed packs which I know had been searched before me (and I can safely know and assume this because I didn't find any hits in those packs) then I think the actual number of unsearched retail packs that I had searched was approximately 481 packs. 

What should I have found in 481 packs?  I should have found approximately 20 hits, and 3 of the hits should have been autographs.  That leaves me about five total hits short, and two of which should have been autographs.

What does this all mean?  Most likely I missed some hits.  Hey, it happens.  Sometimes I searched some products and I wasn't 100% sure there was a hit in it so I didn't buy it.  A couple of times there might have been hits there that I ended up missing because I didn't make the purchase, i.e. a false negative.  On the other hand, I had very few false positives this year - meaning times when I purchased packs which I thought had hits in them but didn't.  I think out of all the Ginter I bought this year it only happened to me twice.  The first time I was in a rush and mistakenly thought I had a hit when I didn't.  The second time was a packing error by Topps so that's not entirely my fault. 

How many Ginter packs do you guys think you've searched?  What is the most packs you've searched of any product? 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pack Searching 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter: The Last Hurrah

2014 Topps Allen & Ginter has come and gone.  It's been out for a really long time and been heavily searched.  Everywhere store I go to is barren and not a single hit can be found.  Here are the last two hits I found.

Miguel Cabrera
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Full Sized Relic
Odds:  1:79

I found a nice Miguel Cabrera bat relic.

Phelps Sweatt
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Full Sized Relic
Odds:  1:79

And a Phelps Sweatt relic. 

I was hoping to hit some crazy stuff this year but I really can't complain with all the hits I was able to find in retail.  With that, I'm done.  No more Ginter for me.  Time to move on and concentrate on something else.

Friday, August 15, 2014

I Spy Another Pack Searcher

A few weekends ago I was out on a little day trip, and decided to stop by a Target on the way.  By this point in time, Topps Allen & Ginter had been out for over three weeks.  I knew there were slim chances at finding hits but I figured I'd give it a shot anyways.

As I walked into the Target and started approaching the card aisle I could see the back of a person's head by the cards.  It was a man.  Wearing a hat, looking down intently at some packs of cards in his hands.

Instantly, I knew.  It was another pack searcher.

For a moment I considered strolling right up next to him and finger banging those packs with him.  (Would that make it a pack searching three-some?)  But then I decided against it.  While he and I are very much the same, I like to operate alone and in anonymity.  Instead, I decided to discreetly watch him from a few aisles over.

He looked to be searching Bowman Baseball.  He had some rack packs in his hands, and seemed to be checking out a few loose packs from the gravity feed too.  I haven't even tried to search Bowman this year.  The cards don't really interest me and I'd rather spend my money searching Ginter.

It was interesting to see what techniques he was using.  They were your usual techniques.  Nothing new or groundbreaking.  I wondered if he reads this blog.  I was pretty sure he probably was a subscribing member to one of the two major pack searching websites.  I wondered if I've ever been watched like I was watching this dude.  Probably.  When you've pack searched as much and as long as I have you've probably been noticed... oh, a lot.

I watched him for about ten minutes.  He seemed satisfied with one pack of cards, went to the cash register and paid for it.  I even watched him bust the pack on his way out.  He didn't seem crazy excited about whatever was in the pack but he also seemed satisfied.  I wonder what he pulled.  An autograph?  A numbered parallel?

Now that he was gone it was time for me to search.  I swooped into the aisle and started searching the Allen & Ginter packs.  Lucky for me, there was one hit to be found.

Ian Desmond
2014 Allen & Ginter
Full-Sized Relic
Odds:  1:79

It was an Ian Desmond relic!  Another nice looking card. 

This was actually one of the first pack searchers that I've come across in a very long time.  When I was first starting out, I seemed to run across at least one other searcher every few months.  Now though, I think it's been over a year since I've seen another pack searcher.  Maybe it's because as I've become more proficient at pack searching I don't spend as much time at the stores as I used to.  I have a mental picture of that guy in my mind.  I'll keep an eye out for him again.  He must be local.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pack Searching 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter: My First Autograph

I've actually been keeping track of how much 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter I've searched.  I've been doing that to see how many hits there should be versus how many hits I'm finding.  This sort of gives me an idea of how many hits other pack searchers are finding who have beat me to the stores and how many hits I may be missing.

Based on my how many packs I've searched, I actually figured that I should have come across approximately 2.5 autographs so far.  I hadn't hit a single one yet, so either I was getting a little unlucky, or I had missed the autograph hits.

The fact that I'm due for an autograph has been killing me.  It's been making me want to go out farther and farther on pack searching road trips to find the hits.

One night, when I had some free time and no obligations, I finally gave in.  I hopped in the car and made a 30 minute trek to a Target a couple towns away.

I've had good success at this Target before.  I know it gets searched by other pack searchers, but I've also found hits there from products which have been out for a long time too.  That means that the other pack searchers who do search this store don't visit it very often.  I was hoping that they hadn't visited this store in a while.

When I finally got there and checked out their Ginter stock, I could clearly see that it had been searched.  Much of it had already been purchased too.  Even so, I came all this way to search this Target so I wasn't about to leave before searching it myself. 

I've said this a million times before on the blog, but you never know what you'll find unless you look.  So I looked.  I finger banged the shit out of those packs and came across a hit.

It was the only hit in the store, and it was my first autograph... finally!

Andre Rienzo
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Autograph
Odds:  1:144

It was a framed mini autograph of rookie Andre Rienzo!  This card isn't worth a lot, but it doesn't matter.  To me, it has a different value.  It represents all the critical thinking, research, and effort I've put into searching and finding the hits where other pack searchers don't want to search. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pack Searching 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter: All One Target

The Target closest to where I live is usually the last Target on Earth to get in new cards.  Sometimes, I have to wait two weeks or more after release day before the new product starts showing up on the shelves.

I had actually stopped visiting this Target on a daily basis because I figured that it would be a long time before they'd get their stock of 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter.

But after not visiting the store for a whole five days, which is a really long time to not visit a store when it comes to pack searching, I went back to take a look.

And to my complete surprise, there it was!  Only one and a half weeks after release day it was here!  Sitting on the shelves was a plethora of Allen & Ginter.  It looked like the Ginter fairy just shat rainbows full of Ginter across the shelves.  I hadn't seen so much Ginter at any of the other Targets I visited.

But the question was: was it already searched?

After calmly taking stock of the situation, and giving things a preliminary once-over, I realized it hadn't been searched, and hits were abound. 

Carlos Gonzalez
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Full Sized Relic
Odds: 1:79

Starting things off was a Carlos Gonzalez bat relic. 

Carlos Gonzalez
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Full Sized Relic
Odds: 1:79

And then I hit another!  The same card!

Yadier Molina
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Full Sized Relic
Odds: 1:79

And then a Yadier Molina relic!

Aroldis Chapman
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Full Sized Relic
Odds: 1:79

And then a Aroldis Chapman relic!

Edwin Encarnacion
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Odds:  1:240

And then I finally hit a framed mini bat relic!  These are a lot tougher to pull this year since Topps has now made the full-sized relics the more common relic.  This one is of Edwin Encarnacion!

Kyle Seager
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Odds:  1:240

And the other was a framed mini bat relic of Kyle Seager!

After pulling all these hits, I was simply in awe.  I just sat in my car for a few moments, thinking about how lucky I was.  Since I hadn't visited this Target in five days, I had no idea how long this was all sitting here.  Maybe it was only put out today and I was the first one to find it.  Maybe it had been out for five days and nobody else came by to search it.  Either way, I just couldn't believe my luck that it was here, I was clearly the first to find it, and there were so many hits here.  Unbelievable.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pack Searching 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter: Tanner Foust

Another relic hit.  I'm still looking for my first autograph. 

Tanner Foust
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Full-Sized Relic
Odds: 1:79

I have no idea who this guy is.  But from doing a quick Google search, I see that he's a professional race car driver, stunt car driver, and talk show host.  He's done stunt driving for The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift, Iron Man 2, and Dukes of Hazzard.  Pretty cool.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Pack Searching 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter: Dr. James Andrews

Another relic hit. 

Dr. James Andrews
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Full-Sized Relic
Odds: 1:79

I guess it's pretty cool to have a Dr. James Andrews relic since he's a famous orthopedic surgeon whose client list includes Jamaal Charles, Tom Brady, Albert Pujols, Michael Jordan, Emmit Smith, Drew Brees, Roger Clemens, Bo Jackson, Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre, and Rob Gronkowski.

He's also the team doctor for Alabama, Auburn, and the Washington Redskins.  He must be good!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pack Searching 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter: Sportsman's Park

2014 Topps Allen & Ginter is finally all around me.  Every single store I go to has it. 

Sportsman's Park
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Fields of Yore Relic
Odds:  1:1,190

Picked this Sportsman's Park relic up from a Target to the south of me.  The Fields of Yore relic odds are 1:1,190.  I feel pretty lucky to have found this one. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pack Searching 2014 Bowman Football

Another day, and the same dilemma.  No more 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter, but plenty of 2014 Bowman Football. 

In my desperate search for more Allen & Ginter I hopped in my car and did a little pack searching roadtrip to other towns to the west and the south.  To my complete agony, none of the Targets and Walmarts I visited had it out yet.  I swear, the place that I live must be the last place in America to get new products. 

I did find another Bowman Football hit though.  This one came from a rack pack.  I was truly shocked to have found it and that it was still out on the shelves. 

Ra'Shede Hageman
2014 Bowman Football
Rookie Autograph
Rack Pack Odds: 1:45

It was a Ra'Shede Hageman autograph.  I'm still dreaming of the day I find a Johnny Manziel autograph in retail... 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pack Searching 2014 Bowman Football

The weird thing about the Targets in my town is that one seems to get new products on time or even early, and the other doesn't get new products until like two to three weeks after release.  I had found 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter at one of the Targets in my town, and was hoping that the other one had it too.  But it didn't.  Instead, it had just received its first shipment of 2014 Bowman Football!

2014 Bowman Football has been out for at least three weeks now, and this Target was finally getting it in stock!  I wish I knew why they get stuff so late.  Better late than never, I guess. 

Was I the first one to search the Bowman stock?  No.  Some other pack searcher had searched it already.  I could see the same greasy fingerprints they had left behind on these packs as I've seen on other packs at the other Targets and Walmarts in this town.  Yuck.  Sometimes I feel like I need to wear gloves when I touch these packs.

I searched the cards anyways.  The prior pack searcher missed the hit.  It was clear they knew some of the different pack searching techniques, but they also hadn't done enough research about the product.  They didn't know which packs have potential for hits, which packs can be easily dismissed, and which techniques to use.  Perhaps they're new, or perhaps they just don't usually search Bowman and they weren't quite 100% sure what to look for.  I've been there.  I know the feeling.  When you know the keys to the puzzle, pack searching can be extremely easy.  When you don't know the keys the puzzle, you feel lost and it seems extremely hard.

Damien Williams
2014 Bowman Football
Rookie Autograph Blue Parallel
Odds:  1:810

The hit was a pretty rare one.  It was a blue parallel rookie autograph of Damien Williams.  I like the fact that the card is blue, but the player could have been a lot better.  I shouldn't complain though for only $3.

Still waiting for more 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter, but finding Bowman Football hits is nice.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pack Searching More 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter

After finding 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter at a Target in a nearby town, I knew I needed to check the Targets in my city. 

The first Target I visited in my city usually has a very well-stocked card section.  It would not surprise me if they also had Ginter in a little early.  As I walked in through the doors, I looked over towards the card aisle and could see Ginter rack packs on the wall.  It was here!

As I approached the card aisle I could also see a fresh gravity feed box on display too.  I had to search that!  But as soon as I turned the corner to enter the card aisle I stopped cold in my tracks.

Crouched over, looking at some of the blaster boxes towards the bottom of the card display was a guy.  He was clearly a card collector, and he was looking at cards to buy.  I even recognized him.  I had seen him before at this Target. 

In my mind, all sorts of alarms went off.  I quickly veered off into another direction, pretending to look at something else by the cash registers. 

Fuck.  What to do now?  Wait this guy out?  I decided to wait him.  I wandered around Target for a little bit, looking at things to buy.  Finally, after about ten minutes I came back.  He was gone and nowhere to be seen. 

I checked the gravity feed of loose packs.  They definitely looked like they had been ruffled through.  That guy, or somebody else, must have searched them before me.  I searched them anyways.  It was worth a shot and it only took a minute.

Lucky for me, I found a hit. 

Jordan Zimmerman
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Full Sized Relic
Odds:  1:79

It was a Jordan Zimmerman relic.  Another nice looking card.  I was hoping I'd find an autograph but those are pretty rare at 1:144 odds.  Oh well, I really like this product so I'm happy with my basic full sized relic.  Another Target down.  One more to check.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Searching for Allen & Ginter and Found Some Allen & Ginter

It's always a bit of a rush when you find new product on the shelves and you're pretty sure you're the first one to get to it.  I forgot that feeling.  It's a good one, and I felt it when I walked into the Target in the town north of me and saw 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter on the shelves.

A factory fresh gravity box full of loose retail packs sat hanging from the wall in the card aisle.  A quick search of it, and I had found a hit.

Craig Kimbrel
2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Full Size Relic
Odds:  1:79

It was a full sized relic of Craig Kimbrel.  Awesome card.  I really like the design. 

I was so excited about seeing Allen & Ginter on the shelves I actually forgot to search what Bowman Football was still on the shelves.  Oh well.  Allen & Ginter was finally making its way to the area where I live and so it was time to really amp up my searching.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Searching For Ginter But Found Some Bowman

I've been searching my local stores in hopes of finding some 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter.  I was actually so desperate to find some that I made a dedicated pack searching road trip to another town north of me.

This town has a crappy Walmart and a Target.  I decided to search the Walmart first.  It didn't have any Allen & Ginter but it did have some 2014 Bowman Football.  To my complete amazement, nothing appeared to be searched and I actually found a hit still on the shelves even though the product has been out for weeks now.

Antone Exum
2014 Bowman Football
Rookie Autograph
Odds:  1:97

It's nothing special, just a Antone Exum autograph but I'll take it.  These are such cool looking cards, there was no way I was going to leave it there.

Having searched the Walmart, I made my way to the Target...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I'm Back!

After a long hiatus from the blog, I am back.  Some day maybe I'll elaborate on my absence, but for now let's just say that pack searching is a little more addicting than I thought and it was tough to not be searching for such a long time. 

So what brought me back?

First, I hit a big time card.  Although I had stopped searching for a while, one day I was out and about at a Walmart and -- like usual -- stopped by the card aisle to see what's good.  I honestly had no intention of searching when I stopped by the card aisle.  I really did just want to see what was there for sale.  But one thing led to another, I started doing a little casual searching, and BOOM, I had found a monster hit.  This hit is so big that I don't want to show it off here on the blog.  I've only seen one of these cards pop up on eBay.  It's a super rare card, of a top player, and worth over $100.  Since finding that hit I was totally hooked again.

Second, I just couldn't pass up the the thrill of chasing 2014 Bowman Football autographs.  I really like the Bowman Football set.  I had a lot of fun last year trying to search it.  And once I saw other people's videos on YouTube, and realized how there was some pretty easy pickings out there I just had to try my luck. 

So here's one of my first hits in a long time.

De'Anthony Thomas
2014 Bowman Football
Rookie Autograph
Odds:  1:97

I picked this one up from a local Walmart.  I was actually super surprised to find it because another pack searcher had already searched this store.  I could see the evidence and signs of searching that the other pack searcher had left behind on the packs of cards.  They missed this hit though.  Their loss, my gain.  These cards look sick.  I think it looks better in the scan than it does in person.

Anyone else find any good Bowman Football autographs?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2012 Panini Contenders Football Blaster Box Break

And here is the 2012 Panini Contenders Football blaster box that I found on discount.  I saved it for last.

Trumaine Johnson
2013 Panini Contenders Football
Base Rookie Autograph

I was hoping to pull something crazy but it looks like a base autograph of Trumaine Johnson will have to do. 

Robert Griffin III
2013 Panini Contenders Football
Rookie of the Week Insert

And I also got one of those Pepsi Rookie of the Week insert cards too.  These are pretty cool cards.

Overall these discounted blasters that I found were a bit of a disappointment.  I wish I could say I got some super short print card worth $100 from a $12 blaster but not this year.  I'll keep my eye out for more discounted blasters as I do think Targets get a few shipments of them throughout the spring. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

2012 Topps Magic Blaster Box Break

Busted open that 2012 Topps Magic Football blaster that I got on discount.  Unfortunately for me, the blaster was pretty crappy.

Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson
2012 Topps Magic Football
Base Rookie; Mini Rookie

The best rookie cards were a Robert Griffin III, and a mini rookie card of Russell Wilson.

Brock Oswiler & Stephen Hill
2012 Topps Magic Football
Rookie Enchantment Inserts

The only good inserts were two Rookie Enchantments, one of Brock Osweiler and the other of Stephen Hill.

Even though this blaster was on discount for $11.99, I am still feeling like I got screwed.  Definitely one of the crappiest blasters I've opened in a while.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pack Searching 2014 Topps Heritage Baseball

I've been super busy lately.  I haven't had much time to go out searching at all.  I did manage to find one chrome card in a hanger of some 2014 Topps Heritage Baseball though.

Paul Goldschmidt
2013 Topps Heritage Baseball
Chrome Refractor Parallel #/565
Rack Pack Odds: 1:38

It was just a Paul Goldschmidt chrome refractor.  These chrome cards look awesome.

Paul Goldschmidt
2013 Topps Heritage Baseball
Chrome Refractor Parallel #/565
Rack Pack Odds: 1:38

And I love the old school backs on these cards.  I'm definitely keeping this card in my collection.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

2012 Topps Strata Football Blaster

Well, here are the results from the 2012 Topps Strata Football blaster that I got on discount. 

Russell Wilson & Robert Griffin III
2012 Topps Strata Football
Base Retail Rookie Cards

The results are pretty sad.  The best rookies were Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III.  Nothing else of worth to really note aside from a Chris Givens die-cut.

Can't win 'em all.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2012 Press Pass Football Blaster Break

Well, I wasn't able to hold out very long.  I busted open that 2012 Press Pass Football blaster that I got from Target at a discounted price. 

Dan Herron
2012 Press Pass Football
Base Autograph

Inside was a Dan Herron autograph.  I like the nice big autograph.  Not bad for $12.99.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Strata Football & 2014 Donruss Baseball

The Target Security guard stood by the entrance looking around.  Why, I'm not sure.  But I had to walk right by him.  I hadn't even walked into the store yet and he was already waiting for me outside.  Or... so it seemed.

I had just completed the 10 minute drive to this Target after successfully searching another Target in town.  The previous Target had just been restocked.  I knew this one would likely be restocked also.  The only thing -- or person -- that stood in my way was this Target Security guard.

It wasn't Jacob, the one who always does flybys on me when I'm searching.  It was a different one.  Nevertheless, I wondered if he knew who I was.  I wouldn't be surprised if they had a picture of me in their office as somebody whom they should keep an eye on.

I tried to keep my head down as I approached him.  I should have whipped out my phone and pretended to look down at it as I walked by.  He looked at me as I approached.  I casually glanced back at him and gave him one brief nod as a mere innocent and innocuous sign of acknowledgment.  He made eye contact with me and slightly nodded back.  Not a word was said between us.  We were foes.

At least if he was outside of the store then he wouldn't be inside to bother me.  After I entered the store I went straight for the card aisle.  It had just been restocked like the last Target.  Everything was neatly arranged, and the shelves full of products.  There were only two empty spots on the blaster box shelves where someone had bought a blaster of 2014 Sage HIT, and 2014 Topps Opening Day.  Clearly, someone else had been here since this Target had been restocked.  But the question was, did they search out all the good stuff?

I looked low on the shelves for a discount blaster box tray.  And to my gleeful surprise there was a new one down there.  I pulled it out and my eyes widened in surprise.  There before me was a discounted blaster of 2012 Topps Magic, a discounted blaster of 2012 Strata Football, a discounted blaster of 2012 Leaf Football, and ... a discounted blaster of 2012 Panini Contenders Football!!!

I'm pretty sure the exact words running through my mind when I saw the Contenders Football blaster box were "OH FUCK YES!!!"

Those 2012 Panini Contenders blaster boxes -- which have a guaranteed autograph -- normally retail for $30, but instead it was on sale for a lowly $12.99.  I've been dreaming about finding one of these and now I had.  Lucky for me, it looks like the only other lone card collector who visited this Target before me was a baseball fan and not a football fan otherwise had they seen that discounted blaster tray at the bottom shelf then they would have bought this Contenders blaster.

Like a three year old child, I grabbed all four of those blaster boxes and threw them into my handcart.  At that moment, I knew tonight's efforts were worth it.  So worth it.  It didn't matter -- it wouldn't matter -- even if I got a crap autograph in the Contenders blaster.  Just the mental euphoria of finding it was enough for me.  I was in disbelief.  Pure disbelief of my luck.

With eager eyes, I scanned the retail boxes on display.  A fresh box of 2014 Press Pass Football was out.  It hadn't been searched.  I searched it but couldn't find a hit.  Nothing.  I'm pretty sure Press Pass Football doesn't guarantee a hit in each retail box.

Another fresh Strata retail box had also been put out on display.  Within a minute I had located the hit.

And finally, I searched a retail box of 2014 Donruss.  No hits were in the thick packs.  Could this retail box have an autograph in it?  I gave the retail box a good searching but I was pretty sure there wasn't a hit there.  Oh well.  I had a bunch of awesome discounted blasters so I wasn't too disappointed.  I grabbed one pack anyways and then went to the cashier to pay. 

The cashier rang me up.  Four discounted blaster boxes, and two retail packs.  The cashier looked at me.

"$60 on sports cards?"  She asked innocently.

This cashier has chatted me up before in the past.  I wasn't sure if she was trying to do that again or if it was a genuine question.  Actually, it was probably a genuine question.  I fumbled for a response to justify this spending.  I've rarely spent this much on retail all in one visit.  I guess I had gone a little overboard.

"Um, yeah, I just got paid last week."  That's all I could manage.

I don't think she realized it, and I don't hold it against her, but she sure did make me feel guilty for buying all these cards.  Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have a decent job which pays enough for me to pay bills and (occasionally) splurge on cards like this.

"What do you do with the cards?"  She asked innocently, again.  She was purely curious.  I guess she doesn't see many guys buying cards.

I took a moment to think about how I wanted to respond.  Well, I typically keep them and hope that the guys whose cards I get turn into Hall of Fame players and the cards are worth a lot of money.  Basically, that's what I do.  Searching for a shorter explanation, I told her I just hoped to hit something good.

"I collect them.  I keep them and hope I have someone good."  I hoped my abbreviated answer satisfied her.  But she seem puzzled.  I don't think she understood why someone would collect... cardboard.  Hah!  When you think of it that way, this hobby sure does sound lame.  Doesn't it?

She wished me a good night.  I could tell she just didn't get it.  I tried to think of what a woman might collect for which I could analogize sports cards to.  Shoes?  Jewelry?  Eh... oh well.

In my car I opened up the loose packs.

Tyrann Mathieu
2013 Topps Strata Football
Base Rookie Autograph
Retail Odds:  1:69

This was a sweet hit!  I don't have a Honey Badger autograph so I'm pretty stoked to add this one to my collection.

Ozzie Smith
2014 Donruss Baseball
Career Stat Line #/400

And the loose 2014 Donruss pack had a Ozzie Smith 580 Career Stolen Bases Career Stat Line insert.  Pretty cool card. 

And here are the discounted blaster boxes!  I haven't opened them yet.  I'm actually thinking about saving them for a little bit just like I did with those nine blaster boxes of 2012 Topps Chrome Football.  We'll see how long I hold out for, though.  Of course, when I do open them, I'll be sure to publish the contents of the boxes here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Strata Football & 2014 Donruss Baseball

Ah, the joys of not having anything to do.  It's rare that I have one of those nights but tonight was one of those nights.  No responsibilities.  No chores.  Nothing.  Being that I hadn't had much to really do some thorough pack searching in, oh... seemingly two months, I decided to go out and check my local stores.

Lots of stuff was hitting the stores right now.  2014 Topps Baseball Series 1 had just started showing up in Targets around me.  I knew that 2014 Topps Heritage Baseball should be showing up soon if it wasn't already out, and that 2014 Donruss Baseball should be hitting retail also.

My expectations were low.  I figured most of everything had already been searched out by now since I haven't been spending time to defend my territory.  But, you never know until you look.  I hopped in my car, dropped the windows down, and enjoyed the crisp cool evening air on my drive to the closest Target.

Today also happened to be (the usual) re-stocking day for the Targets around me.  With a little luck, I might have a whole bunch of new products to search.  When I walked into the card aisle I was greeted by the beautiful sight of an absolutely pristine -- and I mean pristine -- card aisle.  It looks like it had -- literally -- just been restocked.  Everything, and I mean everything, was neatly arranged.  All the retail boxes in the shelves were lined up nice and straight.  The packs within the boxes were all nicely sorted into the correct boxes and all face up.  All the blasters were stacked and evenly spaced like a machine had done it.  I have never, and I mean NEVER, seen the card aisle ever look so pristine.

I actually took 15 seconds to just stand there admiring the entire aisle.  This Target is such a freak-show usually, with all types of weirdos running around in the Target, and kids throwing shit around and making a mess, I've gotten used to seeing the card aisle very trashed.  It was just a shock to see it so impeccably clean and organized.

So what was here to be searched?  I took my time to look around.  A new discount blaster box tray had been put out.  I checked the discount blasters for anything good but it was all racing, basketball, and crap baseball blasters.  Moving myself over to the retail boxes, I saw what looked to be a fresh retail box of 2014 Press Pass Football, and some 2014 Donruss Baseball.  Sweet.  Just the good stuff that I was looking for!

I grabbed the 2014 Press Pass Football retail box to search it.  I only had to pick up one pack in the box to realize it had been searched.  I checked all the other packs in the box.  Yup, searched.  The previous pack searcher had left the packs in a manner where I could easily tell someone had finger banged the shit out of them to look for an autograph.  Nuts.  Oh well.  I put the retail box back and then grabbed the 2014 Donruss Baseball box.

I hadn't done any research on this product.  None at all.  I've been so busy lately I haven't had time to watch videos online or read up on the checklist.  Without much to work on, I just gave the packs a casual half-assed search.  The retail box had a lot of thick packs in it.  Hmm.  I slowly searched each of the thick packs and found a hit.  Pretty easy.

I searched the rest of the thin packs.  Not sure of whether there was an autograph card among them or not, I just grabbed one pack which seemed to stand out a little bit more than the others.  I started to put back the 2014 Donruss Baseball retail box.  As I was doing so, a retail box of 2013 Topps Strata Football caught my eye.

The packs in that retail box looked a little too... factory fresh than normal.  I knew this product had come out a long time ago and that it was easy as cake to search.  So even if it was a fresh retail box, if another pack searcher had seen it before me they surely would have pulled the hit.  You never know until you check, right???

Well, it was my lucky night.

It was a fresh retail box with a full set of 24 packs.  I could tell it was completely untouched too based on how all the packs' wrappers were wrinkled in the same way.  It only took me a minute to find the hit.  Believe it or not, this is my first 2013 Topps Strata hot pack.  I had always been beat to the stores when the product first came out so I never found a hot pack.

I paid for the packs and went to my car to check out my goodies.

Tavarres King
2013 Topps Strata Football
Gold Autograph #/150
Retail Odds:  1:176

In the 2013 Topps Strata Football pack was a Tavarres King gold rookie autograph. 

Stepfan Taylor & Markus Wheaton
2013 Topps Strata Football
Base Retail Rookie Cards

And the other two base rookie cards were of Stepfan Taylor and Markus Wheaton.  I was actually very impressed with these cards.  While I had seen pictures of these cards on the internet, they actually look very nice in person -- a lot better than the 2012 Strata base cards.

Anthony Rizzo
2014 Donruss Baseball
Game Gear

Inside the thick pack of 2014 Donruss Baseball was a nice Anthony Rizzo Game Gear jersey card. 

Mike Trout
2014 Donruss Baseball
The Elite Series #/999
And finally, in the skinny pack of 2014 Donruss Baseball was a nice Mike Trout The Elite Series insert numbered to 999.   I think I did pretty well on those Donruss packs considering I hadn't done any research on the product. 

Not content with what I had, I started up my car.  Off to the other Target in town...

... To Be Continued ...