Friday, July 20, 2018

A Panini Press Triple Break!

The hype train is making stops at Arbitrary Nation thanks to another Triple Break, headed up this time by Kevin from The Card Papoy. Kevin shared 2018 Diamond Kings and also tossed in a box of 2016 Donruss Optic.

Diamond Kings has found a comfortable niche with their inserts-  each one exploring elements of different art movements - It would be cool to see them take that even further like some of the older 90s Topps Gallery sets, for instance. Now that Topps brought back Gallery, however, it might be a missed opportunity. The texture of Diamond Kings cards has a canvas-like feel. I think the Aurora insert is my favorite style.

The base cards again alternate between all-time greats and current players, including a handful of rookies. They seem to have a steady checklist from year to year now, Luke Appling fans rejoice! Jokes aside, it is refreshing to see some of the lesser known Hall of Famers in new sets.

Just one Twin in the bunch, but he's a good one!

On to Optic! Panini's answer to Chrome.

I do like the vibrant colors on these parallels. Fielder is numbered to /299 and Sale to just /99.

Beyond the base cards, Optic has the same inserts as the regular set. I was happy to get the Juan Gonzalez card, he was one of my favorite players of the 90s.

These were the most interesting base cards in the bunch - It's not just that the logos are gone, but it seems like Panini is reluctant to even show the player's faces on most cards! Escobar and Perez were the only position players that weren't shown in the batter's box.

Optic was much kinder on the Twins, however! There were 10 total, including a Purple Dozier parallel. Overall, Panini does a decent job of making the most of a difficult situation.

Thanks for the break, Kevin!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Alas, All-Star!

The scan is a little off, but I think it will underscore the point I want to make about the All-Star game. Let me clarify, not the game itself, but the way it is represented on cardboard. Topps used to make a point of having a different design for the All-Stars, and we can look back 30 and 60 years to prove the point.

Red White and Blue dominate the design, with AL All-Stars getting a red background and Blue lettering. The NL All-Stars do the opposite, with a blue background and red letters. The photos are more conservative head shots rather than in-game action.

The backs have a relevant leaderboard with the All-Star somewhere in the top ten. Add in a little season highlight blurb, and you've got yourself a clean and classy tribute to the game's best.

Guess what? The '88 Topps set was no stranger to good ideas from past Topps sets. The base cards owed a bit of their look to 1967, with big bold colors for the team names. The All-Star Sub-set in '88 went back even further, with a nod to the 1950's.

The backs have a longer run on sentence / paragraph about the player, and then a breakdown of each player's performance by opponent, a grid that would resurface in 1989 with Topps' resurrection of Bowman.

The Topps Update All-Star cards of the last decade or so aren't terrible - I just think they could learn a bit from their past successes. It would be great for the cards to have a unique design (they could even be an insert, you know how Topps loves insert sets) compared to the base cards, and celebrate the event a little more than a logo. I do like the event specific photography, and I do like that the backs usually talk about what made the player an All-Star.

What do you think? Should the All-Stars get their own design?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Set Building Sunday

Commishbob of 5 Tool Collector lists the 1959 Topps Set as his favorite. Over the years he's accumulated a stack of duplicates from the set, which I happen to be building right now. Generous Bob sent me 30 cards, all needs, to give my set build a little boost.

Billy Consolo's card mentions Ted Williams, who is omitted from the 1959 Set because of his exclusive contract with Fleer.

Some of the more notable position players in the stack include Rocky Colavito, veteran slugger Jungle Jim Rivera, sure handed fielder Chico Carrasquel, and Braves starting Shortstop Johnny Logan.

On the pitching side are Knuckleballer Fred Kipp, the 28 year old Rookie; Red Sox Ace Tom Brewer and the Phillies' innings eater Curt Simmons.

I call this group "The Stoplight Gang." Thanks so much for the set build assist, Bob! I hope to return the favor shortly.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Coin-nys Vargas

It's been a while since I've been able to find affordable and rare Kennys Vargas cards, but in the last few months I've started to see some of the cards that I missed out on when Vargas was a big prospect. 2015 Topps had these Birth Year coin and stamp cards for several players. I finally saw the penny version come up on eBay and pounced on it.

The nickel and the quarter were also listed by other sellers recently - the nickel came via auction and the others were reasonable buy it now prices.

I already had the dime version of this card, which I purchased back in 2015. I kept losing auctions for the others and they eventually just stopped being listed. This gives me renewed hope that the 2015 Topps Clear Kennys Vargas card will finally resurface- There hasn't been a listing on eBay in 3 years for the card, numbered to just 10 copies. The only other version of this coin/stamp card I know of includes a signature, and is a bit out of my price range right now.

I was also able to nab another Vargas parallel, this one numbered to 25. I'm hoping to take an evening to re-organize the Vargas collection and figure what's left.

Vargas was included in Topps Series 2 this year, so I'll be looking for all those parallels, but his minor league career is starting to overshadow his major league one. This 2018 card might be the only other card issued in 2018 for Vargas.

Of course, any time I add some rare Vargas cards there has to be one numbered to 10, even if it's not the one that I've been chasing.

Thanks for indulging this player collection post, there'll be a heavy dose of vintage tomorrow thanks to Commishbob!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Transatlantic Triple Break - 2018 Stadium Club

Kevin (The Card Papoy) and Matt (Bob Walk the Plank) and I are still breaking boxes and this time I picked 2018 Stadium Club. I was lazy about scanning, so all that's left is my share from the NL East and the AL Central.

The main event in Stadium Club are the base cards.

As has been pointed out already, the backs have color coded seats - the design does a nice job of providing the basic info about each player, and a headshot.

The inserts by comparison seem tacked on. The base card design is so stellar that the inserts have a hard time competing. Each box has a couple black parallels and several red parallels.

I mean, look at these great cards!

Since the Twins made the Wild Card last year, that meant a spike in the number of cards on the checklist. Even guys in Single-A like Sano, or guys like Felix Jorge who was released and then re-signed last week.

Rosario's cap has "Fuerza Puerto Rico" (Puerto Rico Strong) written on it. Buxton, like Sano, is down in the minor leagues trying to re-tool his swing and get back on track after another disappointing first half.

Everyone likes the Hits! In addition to Ramirez, we also pulled a Rookie Auto of Tomas Nido, which I've already sent out to complete an earlier trade. 

This was my favorite card from the whole break - this reminds me of the Elmer Valo from '57 Topps, and of course of the Wes Covington card from '61 Topps. Stadium Club is always a highlight each year, and the 2018 version is no exception.