Wednesday, October 22, 2008

So what do 25,200 hockey cards look like? *

I'm trying to do a little fall cleaning. Windows open with the breeze flowing through the house, the Autumn-colored place-mats already out on the table. Kind of a refreshing feeling to be honest.

The place that keeps getting more clogged than a fat man's arteries is my office. I'm saving myself the embarrassment of showing pictures of that. However, one place that could really help out is my closet. In it remained the boxes full of hockey base cards, from my many years of collecting.

So where can the veterans like Howe, Plante, Roy, and Gretzky rub cardboard elbows with the new kids like Brust, Dawson, Smid, and Price? In my trash can, of course.

A veritable plethora of dead trees and ink, gloss and great action photos, stats and pronunciations, holograms and logos. All gone. **

It was fun flipping through them, but depressing thinking about how much money I sank in box costs in hopes of hitting those big cards. But it evened out. For every good box I opened up 4 bad ones.

So what sets did these thousands of cards come from?

Topps, OPC, BAP, BAP All-Star, UD Foundations, H&P, Artifacts, Trilogy, Ice, Between the Pipes, Invincible, Prism, Crown Royale, SP Authentic, the Chrome quadruplets (Bowman CHL, Topps, OPC, and Bowman), Classic Portraits, SPx, SP Game Used, Parkhurst Retro, Topps Premier Plus, Bee Hive, Hot Prospects, Black Diamond, Franchises, Vanguard, Original 6, Victory, SPx Top Prospects, Leaf Preferred, Bowman's Best, Omega, Gold Label, Paramount, Pinnacle, Score, OPC Premier, Revolution, Dynagon, Donruss, Donruss Preferred, Gold Reserve, Greats of the Game, Stadium Club, Private Stock, Titanium, Legacy, MVP, Vintage, Young Stars, Top Shelf, Heads Up, Stanley Cup Champs, Topps Total, Archives, Challenge for the Cup, HoloGrfX, UD3, and plain old UD.

Notice I didn't break them out in years, as the list would be terribly long.

And I'm not even sure what sets are in the other boxes.

So goodbye Gretzky checklist card, later Iginla Hot Prospects, see ya' Datsyuk Parkhurst. It was fun.

With no further delay, this is what 25,200 cards look like:

Next up, what ever shall I do with all my complete sets?


* The 25,200 total was a safe estimate based on the full boxes and some added in for the stacks tossed, as well.

** OK, so they're not all gone, I just ran out of those small plastic bags. I find those bags have a nice balance of card volume versus weight. I have a couple more 3200-count boxes and s few stacks tucked away in my closet.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The problem with sketch cards

It seems that non-sports sets these days are pretty much required to include sketch cards. There are the obvious Batman Archives-type sets that are based on comic books. Those scream "sketch me", but do we really need sketch cards for something like CSI?

In any event, someone on a message board I frequent is in love with Heroes cards. I've seen a few sketch cards of Hiro that I really liked, so I hopped over to our friendly neighborhood pimp, eBay. I came across a couple that are terrible as far as sketch cards go.

No disrespect to the artists, as they can clearly do better than I ever could have, but who are these people supposed to be? (Images shamefully ripped from the auction descriptions.)

The above is supposed to be Claire. Again, it's better than what I could attempt, but it looks a lot like a character on one of my wife's soap operas who most certainly isn't Claire.

The next example is:

This is Niki? According to the description it is, but I'm not seeing it. I understand there are intentional stylized renditions (see Mark McHaley from Batman Archives), but faux-Niki is pretty bad. I can only imagine the look on the person's face who pulled that one.

So is this an easy way to differentiate between high-end sketches and the "rest"? High-end sketches actually resemble the person they are supposed to?

Sorry, but a crappy sketch card by a great artist is still a crappy sketch card.

UPDATE: The soap opera "Claire" gal is, after some investigation, Leven Ramblin from All My Children. Here's a small pic:

Thanks to my wife for pointing me in the right direction on that one.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New items on eBay

Rittenhouse's Batman Archives set was recently released. Now as a somewhat recent convert to non-sports (at least full time) I was eagerly anticipating this set. I have a healthy infatuation with anything Catwoman, so the sketch cards were a big draw for me (pun intended).

What I'm noticing is that a lot of sellers on eBay are starting their items at a high starting price. I recall in the sports world this was not as much of an issue with new releases, but it may have been more with the particular player I collected.

There is a certain psychology that goes with bidding in an auction-style format. That said, I think the sellers are missing out. Example? I'm less likely to bid on a card with an opening bid of $49.99 than I am to set a snipe of $50 for a card currently at $15 or more. It's weird, but I do it time and time again.

I also think sellers need to do a better job researching what they think their cards are worth. Sketch cards values are determined by a plethora of factors:
  • Popularity of character - Spider-Man will always sell better than Kraven
  • Relative rareness of the artist - someone who sketches 300 cards will probably not go as high as a comparable card for an artist who turns in 100 cards
  • Uniqueness of the sketch - do a quick search on "waterhouse sketch"
  • Black & white vs color
  • Level of detail - NAR
There are obviously others. For me, though, I am seeing opening bids for Catwoman sketch cards that are just ok starting at $69.99 or more. In a lot of cases they are ending unsold, which doesn't surprise me, but oftentimes they are relisted for the same price.

As a collector, I have a strong "gotta have it" mentality. So when I see cards relisted I wonder if some yahoo is going to happen across it and say "oooh, I want that" and win it. I have some remorse about not being able to get it myself, but then I think, hey, I had the same opportunity.

With all that said, I guess I have no point. Well, maybe one. I wish I were rich and $69.99 for a so-so sketch wouldn't be a bother.