Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Quick study on Jagr stick usage for 19-20 Engrained Remnants

(also posted on Hobby Insider)

I fully admit this should be filed under "internet pedant". However, I was looking at the recent Jagr cards in 19-20 Engrained. I know it is no mystery that there are oftentimes mismatched player uniforms and the game-used equipment in the card itself.

For Engrained, Jagr is pictured in Pens jerseys. However, based on the images on eBay thus far, UD used basically two sticks, neither of which he used as a Pens player.

The card images I nabbed from eBay, so they may very well belong to some of you here.

From the regular /100 Remnants--

These came from a CCM Vector model Jagr used with the Rangers. CCM appears a few different places, so they had several choices depending on how the stick was cut up:

Stick sections:

Upside-down "M":


Bottom with shield and warranty:


Bottom just by the nameplate:


And this particular pattern appears under the handle area, so it seems they removed the tape as the white line is near the top:

Stick: (sorry, not removing my tape!)

They also used a Pure Combat stick, a model he used during his Dallas/Bruins/Flyers days.

The "P" and juuuust a touch of the "U":


A gold line:


The Auto Remnants are /35. There are a few very generic stick pieces, so it is hard to tell where they came from. But these two came from the Pure Combat stick again:

Gold line:


The "U" and a bit of the "R":


EDIT: There is one copy of the Flexures that has some distinguishing letters, but I forgot to look for it on my sticks. Maybe later...

So some questions:
1. Does this mean UD only has these two sticks in their possession at this time?
2. Did they simply use Pens pics because Jagr collectors tend to be more interested in his earlier career? Was it licensing?
3. If they had pieces of old Christian sticks or the old Koho models he used with the Pens, would they sell better?

Just random things I think about these days!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Making some sales on the ol' Jagr collection!

So after joining a couple more Facebook groups, I have been selling a handful of my Jagr cards. I think only 20 or so have been sold, but I am thankful for having some good Facebook Messenger conversations with a few collectors.

For the most part I have gotten what I have wanted out of them. Maybe I'll drop $5 off an auto or $15 because you are buying four or five cards, but it's pretty close. To be honest I am basing a lot of my asking prices on what I paid for them, but a lot of it is gut feelings.

But there is a growing sense sadness and regret. I guess because a hobby I have enjoyed for 25-years is leaving, bubble mailer by bubble mailer, magnetic one-touch by magnetic one-touch.

For now the rush is fun, seeing what people are interested in. But I realize that will die down. A couple of Jagr collectors are picking over my collection like a buzzard over a dead opossum, but at least they are respectful of my prices and I know the cards will "go to a good home".

But what I once held as a sort of bragging point is falling away. Coveted cards are only coveted because people want MINE. When I sell them off that no longer applies. I can no longer post those same cards in a "see what I have?" manner anymore.

So was all this just to get the largest collection? The best cards? I don't know. But I'm glad to sell off what I can.

Unfortunately many sales have fallen through because shipping costs are so high these days. For a $70 card does it make sense to spend $15 or more on shipping to get it to Europe? Nevermind that it is over $35 to some countries just to get a tracking number. I am fortunate, though, that some are utilizing US-based services like COMC Mailboxes or Get it Shipped International. Those may be my saving graces!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Collecting cardboard - is it over?

Bittersweet to say the least. I have collected Jagr cards for the better part of 25-years, with a break in there somewhere. I have spent an embarrassingly large amount of money on Jagr cards. I sold off some of the better cards years back (including a ton of 1/1s that I wish I had today), then when he returned from the KHL I started in full force again, focusing on game-used, autos, and plates. I picked up some 90's eye candy and some other lower-numbered cards along the way, too.

But I think I'm done now.

As soon as I saw Jagr did not get picked up for the 18-19 NHL season, and that he had moved back home to his Kladno team, I knew the end was probably in sight.

Then the new sets starting coming out with few or no Jagr cards (with the exception of the superb Jagr Years subset in UDs1).

I still picked up the cards I wanted for my collection. Unfortunately as of late, those have been mostly printing plates, and I seem to be the only person picking them up. Then I picked the full set of four Leaf Distinguished Series plates for like $14. Oof, that was sad. Yeah, it's Leaf, but a lot of collectors like the "rainbow" set of cards. But not this one. Maybe because it's Leaf? Who knows.

Over the 6-months I have tried to sell some of the duplicate Jagr cards. Message boards, Facebook. Facebook is an odd place to try and sell things off. Knowing there are a ton of thirsty Czech collectors, the only people I have been able to sell any Jagr cards to are in Canada. Facebook groups love razzes, but I can't bring myself to do them. People pay for a chance at a card? No thanks. I'm sure that is hurting me, though.

Anyway, so yeah, I'm done. Last week someone on Facebook contacted me about buying ALL my Jagr cards, and he assured me he was a "serious buyer". Eyebrow raised. I told him it'd take me a few days to come up with a number, so he comes back with 70 or so cards specifically. Of course it's all mostly high-end. I tell him to give me some time, but I'm not looking to dump the cards. He seems fine with it. I create a shared Google doc with the cards and prices, then I hear nothing. Nothing. Thanks, big guy. He appears to be a flipper, so it doesn't surprise me.

Another of the many things I collect are Billy Dee Williams cards. That said, they are 99% Lando cards from Star Wars sets. The most recent set to come out is Star Wars Black & White: Empire Strikes Back. That set is not doing well, but it presented me the opportunity to chase numerous parallels (too many, really) of Lando. I grabbed a few, the /25, the /10, some others. But I think I'm done with all the parallels. I believe I am cutting back on Billy Dee to only auto cards.

The worst part about all this? I KNOW I will lose money, but that's not the point. The kicker is that people who collect individual characters are almost to themselves. No one will want to pick up a lot of Lando cards. I have some decent low-numbered parallels, but who's going to want them? Star Wars is such an odd non-sport area to collect. Maybe I can sell off some of them, but there are a lot of those purple or copper parallels that will sit in my office doing no one any good.

That's the worst part of collecting--when you are done, you know you will have a ton of things left over that you will still own. My wife never understood why I collected cards. I guess because I started when I was a kid, back when '86 Donruss baseball was all the rage; back when my uncle gave me a stack of '87 Topps baseball cards, rubberbanded together; back when my dad used to tell me stories about collecting Yankees team sets when he was young, growing up in New York City. Collecting cards has been in my blood for 30-plus years.

I would do anything to get back only what I put into all the cards. Sort of a zero-interest savings account, I guess. Not gonna happen. Now I have a ton of webpages to update, more message board threads and Facebook group posts.

Maybe I'll get lucky. I doubt it, but maybe.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Leaf Invictus - you gotta do better than this!

Note: This is entirely my opinion, but this is NOT a good product. I will never buy a pack/box of this, so all images below are courtesy of eBay or Hobby Insider. And sadly, as a huge Jaromir Jagr collector, there is not a single card of his from this release I will own. There is only one subset that I half-way like, and they even screwed up the Jagr card for that one.

So, Invictus, huh? The 2009 rugby film directed by Clint Eastwood? The poem published in 1888 by William Ernest Henley? The international games (held this year in Sydney) for servicepeople? The Latin word meaning "unconquered" or "undefeated"?

Nope, 2018 Leaf Invictus Hockey. Now let me get a few things out of the way. Leaf does not have a license for NHL cards, so most shots of modern players are shoulder-up, logos airbrushed when needed. This is nothing new. Some players have no agreement at all with Leaf, so their pictures are represented by cartoony jerseys representing the player. Notably on this list are Gretzky (exclusive with UD), Roy, Orr, and a handful of others. So overall it is hard to knock Leaf for including cards of these players. They're at least getting the memorabilia cards out there, right? They did they best they could, right?

All excuses.

I watched as people busted this product on Blowout Cards and Hobby Insider. People loved it. I did not. I commented on HI that some of the designs looked like custom cards made by amateur Photoshoppers, and I stand by that. For the most part the cheers came from the vintage pieces, so maybe that's the strong suit. I do know that the Upper Deck releases are a little thin on vintage items.

Before we jump into the cards, I will admit that some of these seem like minor and petty complaints, but some of the overall design choices and memorabilia pieces are baffling. This is not the most expensive product out there, but it's not a blaster box from Target, either. I would expect more from a company who doesn't have a license, meaning their standards should be higher.

First up let's look at the terrible designs of some of the card sets. Now this is a professional company putting out tons of products every year, not just for hockey, but for many collectors. So what makes them think they can get away with designs that looks like my 11-year old used GIMP to some up with some home-made cards?

This one is a Carpe Diem card for Newsy Lalonde. Kudos for the decent size swatch and vintage player. But remove the picture, remove the memorabilia, and really look at the layout:

There are at least five different fonts, and the text of "SINGLE" is running into the halo of white surrounding the swatch window. The spacing is uneven at best. And I guess Carpe Diem ties us back to the Latin usage of Invictus?

This Unconquerable Duos card of Scotty Bowman and Guy Lafleur looks ok at first glance. A decent job at airbrushing the Lafleur logo, and the word "Unconquerable" a meaning of "Invictus", so yeah, I see what they did there. But wait, is that chain mail covering the entirety of the background? Sheesh.

This Rocket Richard card for the "Ice in His Veins" insert set is quite special. I'm not sure what the background is supposed to be, but look at those effects put into the title. So awesome.

The Winters Past cards have roughly 3/4 shots of the players, which means the airbrushing is more obvious. The layout is fine, but the background of the card is an almost holographic tree. A tree. And the reverse has... more trees and some (presumably) snow falling.

Now having multiple players on a card can either be a thrill or a curse, depending on who or what you collect. Having some of the best 8 players of all time? Probably a win overall. But when you get nitpicky, it falls apart. This particular "8" card (I have to assume that is the name of the subset?) has some of my personal cardinal sins for hockey cards. First off, we know that UD has the rights to Gretzky and Orr, so fine, but I guess they can't even put their names on the back of the jersey pictures? Fine. But with a quick glance, it looks like Vezina is wearing Gretzky's jersey. Also, it looks like the Gretsky depiction is of an Oilers jersey, but the swatch is clearly a Rangers piece.

For this one, look at the swatches. Messier has a cool patch or label piece; Bourque's is obviously a patch. Francis, Coffey, and Oates are probably patch pieces simply from the density of the fabric. Gretzky and Jage are jersey pieces (and Jagr's is likely from an All-Star jersey though he is pictured in a Pens uni). There is a lot of inconsistency with the swatches chosen. And design--the Invictus logo isn't at the top!

I'm not sure what to call this one. First off, I like the general design--we don't usually see multi-swatch cards where the pieces are that large and elongated. It does lock you into a certain design, but Leaf pulls this one off. And the patch pieces are fantastic. However, the lack of licensing bites them. What's weird about this one is that they have Jagr pics in numerous cards, but they chose to put a jersey mock-up in his spot, likely so that it "matched" Hamrlik and Bonk (players we don't see much game-used cards of anyway, so yay?). Unfortunately the Jagr jersey is a Pens jersey and the patch piece is (likely) a Rangers piece.

Next up are what I will call the multis. They are cards that have many swatches, but with little selection to the individual pieces. For my money, the best single-player multi-swatch cards ever done were the Complete Jersey cards, because there was a patch, a jersey, some fight strap, whatever--some variety. The ones below happen to be from the Ice Age subset, but there are other examples. Not a great design, and again, the "Ice Age" looks like my son did it, but whatever. And don't worry about the fact that the subset is literally about the start and end dates, so the ice age, of the players. But really, what is the point of having six (!) memorabilia swatches on the LaFleur if they look exactly the same?

And this Jagr. A couple of patch pieces, fine. Then four burgundy swatches from an All-Star jersey (nevermind he is in a Pens jersey again):

The Lemieux is basically the same. Four identical swatches along the bottom:

While I think the burgundy swatches at the bottom only appear to be different because of lighting, at least this one is mostly acceptable:

Again with the name--Undefeatable Fabrics is just a dumb name for a subset, but it goes back to the whole Latin Invictus meaning. We get it. This design is far too similar to the Carpe Diem one, and looks like more Gimp-skilled kids did it. This subset also has a ton of "let's put three swatches that look identical!". And poor Roy--not only is he nameless, but the pictured jersey is Habs while the swatches come from (probably) an Avs jersey. Examples:

Lastly, the one subset I actually like, the International Ice ones. Decent pics chosen to minimize airbrushing, the row of flags, the globe in the background. Sounds like a winner. See? Some good examples--Bure and Salming.

Then, uh-oh... Jagr and Golzig are from the US? Naslund is Canadian?


Jagr is famously from the Czech Republic.

Olie the Goalie was born in South Africa to German parents who moved to Canada. He never applied for citizenship which allowed him to represent Germany in a number of appearances at the Olympics and World Cup. He did play a couple of seasons for the Tri-City Americans and later the Capitals, so maybe that qualifies him to have a flag from the US shown?

Mats Naslund--not Canadian. Tons of international play for his native Sweden. He was drafted by the Habs, though, so I guess he can get a Canadian flag for that?

There are other examples, but you get the point.

So I'll stand by my opinion. Invictus is garbage. It's not meant for everyone, and clearly I am not their target audience. I'm glad they have a market for some die-hard collectors. I'm just not one of them.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wow, it's been a while!

Woowee, I can't believe it's been 2-1/2 years since my last post. Honestly I had forgotten about this blog until I started up my other one.

By the looks of it I missed A LOT!

I amassed a collection of roughly 1,800 sketch cards, built a couple more Lost sets, and didn't really ever sell off much hockey.

Well, there was one guy that spent a decent amount on some of my leftover Jagr collection, and a few small sales here and there. But for the most part those same hockey cards are still in boxes in my office. Stowed away in the closet hidden amongst boxes of comics and other items now.

But back to the sketch cards.

After being a very active member of the Scoundrel message boards I called sketch card collecting quits. The short version is that I simply got tired of waiting too damn long on too many artists to come through. Chris Gutierrez, Justin Vandemark, Jim Kyle, Jeremy Treece, and a few others.

I never publicly aired my grievances much with these guys, as they finally came through (eventually, some after 15-months...). The last incident is still open and is with Jeremy Treece. He had an artcast that I knew about ahead of time. I paid for three 8x10-size items he was doing live. I paid him, I saw two of the three being worked on live, but then had to leave.

I still don't have the 8x10s.

I paid in April.

I have not gotten responses to emails--sent to a couple of different addresses--or PMs through Scoundrel or DeviantArt. I even responded in a journal entry that he had put up the previous day in one case.


I used to wonder why collectors got all up-in-arms over artists taking so long. Toward the end of my collecting, which was probably finalized in April, I easily understood.

One artist had $300 of my money for several months that was to cover a few cards. Over time only one card, an Artist Proof, was left over. It was $150 of that original total. He had been working on it, had something roughed out in pencils, etc. When I pushed for an update, at the 11th hour he wasn't feeling it and refunded my money. It was months after the initial payment.

Oh wait, that was Jeremy Treece, too. Oops. Either way, I felt that in good faith he could have the live artcast items mailed out.

Still waiting.

So what's going on today? I still have a ton of sketch cards available for sale.

Take a look at my sketchcollectors.com list for the cards and prices.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Razor Cut autos - should they be numbered?

I'm not one to cry foul often, but I've noticed a few people in the two Razor Cut products that could easily have more out there...

Quick backstory, I'm trying to pick up the Cut cards of anyone attached to the TV show "Lost". So far I have six or seven, but that's besides the point. I have a daily search that gets emailed to me for the cards listed in the last day or so.

I've had this search in place since the first Razor Cut product hit the shelves.

Back then I noticed that Janet Leigh always seemed to pop up, as did Joe Namath. the latter was easy to spot because most, if not all, of the cards came from those Bammer tags (or was it Bammo?).

With the Encore release I'm seeing numerous Leigh cards again, but now Namath has been replaced by Pete Rose. It's great to see so many Charlie Hustle cards getting out there, but can there be more than 10 in Encore?

Who knows, because none of the non-1/1 cards are numbered...

Also, on a side note I wish Razor would have named their minor league baseball release something different--my eBay search gets junked up with those cards and it takes me more time to weed through the search results each day. I know, boo hoo, right?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The problem with sketch cards (Part 2)

This is spin-off of my earlier post from October 5th.

So what's in a name?

In the case of Topps' Indiana Jones Masterpieces, not a lot. The draw, no pun intended, is the tiring inclusion of sketch cards. But what more did we expect? People would feel cheated without them. And I know George Lucas and his crew probably aren't letting props or costumes loose for cards.

There are some great sketch cards, but it would be no fun to show those off, now would it? Instead, I wanted to get four or five bad sketches and show them off. All images courtesy of eBay, and unfortunately it only took me a few minutes to locate them.

1) Indiana Jones silhouette - basically just a blob of ink. I'm assuming it is supposed to be Indy himself, but based on the sizable "lump" on the back it could be Joseph Merrick wearing a Castro Hat, with a hint of Abraham Lincoln's chin thrown in.

2) Sankara Stone from Temple of Doom - I think. It could be the top of a beetle from Raiders for all I know. The point is, it's an oval with three amorphous shapes. No shading, nothing. Really a poor excuse for Masterpieces.

3) I call this one "Test Tube With Squiggles". I think it's from Temple of Doom as well. It's pretty lousy. At least it has some color. Maybe sellers will get a premium for this one.

4) The Grail - this one isn't good enough to be the cup of a carpenter, much less THE carpenter (or even someone from The Carpenters). It has a nice symmetry to it, but c'mon, a Masterpiece? Far from it. No shading, nothing. I realize it's just a cup, but even a cup wants to be something more than this.

5) I was on the fence about this one. It has a certain style to it that looks intentionally sloppy, and I'm all for that. It has a sort of kinetic motion that reminds me of Pigpen's "filth cloud" on Charlie Brown. However, the German pugilist in the sketch has no legs, and his right arm looks like something from a video game that would shoot poison darts or something. An "A" for effort, a "D" for execution.

It is worth noting that Topps did try something a little different by including press plates in Masterpieces. Some collectors like them, but coming from a hockey background where there was a huge glut of them, I see plates as little more than a novelty. Some sellers have crazy BINs, so needless to say, those plates aren't moving right now.

Topps also had fold out "panoramic" sketch cards as well. When I get a chance I'll see how long it takes to find four of five questionable sketches of those, too. I got quite disgusted by the above, so I haven't been looking for Indy sketches much these days.

Also, I will admit that the base set for Masterpieces is quite beautiful. But should that really be a bragging point? Shouldn't base sets be nice anyway? I'll just wait and pick up a base set for $2 pretty soon and leave it at that.