Wednesday, July 16, 2014

5280 Monthly Card Show: Adam's Table

It's the day after the All-Star Game, which observant fans will note as the only day during the regular season with absolutely no major league activity.

In order to avoid a complete lack of baseball today, I thought it would be good to do a follow-up post to look at what I bought from Adam's table at last month's card show.

2007 Topps Opening Day Gold #167 Ubaldo Jimenez /2007
Adam used to own a card store in the local shopping mall, which closed last year after the management company didn't renew his lease. He's been trying to open a stand-alone store for some time now, but has been bogged down by lots of red tape. That's a shame, as he is one of my favorite dealers in the Denver area. He'll always cut a deal on recent singles from a wide variety of brands (though there is an awful lot of Bowman to get past), and he is a great source for unopened boxes from the overproduction era. Remember those sealed 1993 Topps Stadium Club packs I sent to Nick at Dime Boxes? Adam's store.

But it's not all just base singles and old wax. That Jimenez parallel at the top of this post was from his special Rockies box, and set me back a dollar or two. But even the ten cent boxes contained some real gems.

2013 Finest Green Refractors #60 Yu Darvish /199
Such as the stack of 2013 Finest. In addition to thirty or so base cards, there were a few of these Green parallels numbered to 199. In addition to this Darvish, I also found Mike Olt and Edwin Encarnacion. I'm sure a Mariner or Athletic would look great with this color scheme.
2011 Topps Diamond Stars #DS13 Jason Heyward
I've probably mentioned this before, but I don't generally buy Topps base cards until the factory set is released each year. In fact, I swung by Target on lunch today specifically for that purpose. Thus, I don't end up with a whole bunch of duplicates, but that also means I miss out on these great inserts until they migrate to the discount bins after a couple years. Topps' diamond anniversary was in full effect in 2011, leading to this excessively sparkly card that works quite well with a Braves uniform.

2014 Topps Museum Collection #80 Hank Aaron
I've heard of this set before, but certainly never expected to find it in a discount box. Topps Museum Collection is one of the most obnoxiously expensive products available, as you'll be set back well over $200 for just twenty cards. Yes, that box does promise several autograph/relic "hits", but for a month's worth of groceries? I'll pass, and will happily give up my shiniest Roosevelt dime to look like a high roller.

2013 Topps Chasing the Dream #CD17 Addison Reed
If Apple designed a baseball card, it would look something like this. It has a pretty simple design, but somehow it just works perfectly. The colors all match, the dots framing the picture remind me of the previous Mac Pro model, and the player's name complements the dot theme as though it were cut from aluminum. The most distracting element is the Topps logo itself, in the upper left. Quite an aesthetically pleasing card, and I'd like to find more from this insert set.

And finally, a non-baseball baseball card, of course from that wacky crew at Allen & Ginter.
        2012 Topps Allen and Ginter World's Tallest Buildings #WTB5 1 World Trade Center
Commonly known as the "Freedom Tower," this building near the site of the former World Trade Center twin towers was featured on a recent PBS miniseries called "Super Skyscrapers." I've always enjoyed engineering-focused TV documentaries, and I'm as fascinated by tall buildings as much as people were a century ago.

My one criticism of this insert set is that only four of the ten cards show buildings outside of New York. Of course, dissertations have been written about how New York is synonymous with skyscrapers, but there are plenty of other interesting buildings around the world that could have been chosen, like The Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, the John Hancock Center in Chicago, or the under-construction Shanghai Tower, also featured in an episode of "Super Skyscrapers."

I'll be missing this month's card show on Saturday since I'm helping my sister and her husband move into their new house (congratulations!), but Christian promises to have a box just for me once August rolls around.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

5280 Monthly Card Show: Christian's Table

​A dozen years ago or so, card shows at malls were still a regular (or at least an occasional) thing. I used to visit the Westminster Mall north of Denver for a show every so often, and it was at one of these shows that I first stumbled upon Christian's table.

He had a great assortment of Topps inserts and parallels, and was always happy to cut a deal. That was when I first learned of the existence of serial numbered cards, and I still have the scarce 2003 Topps Chrome X-fractors I purchased during that first visit.

2003 Topps Chrome X-Fractors #183 Aubrey Huff /50
This was issued as a box topper in 2003 Topps Chrome, and is supposed to come in a sealed plastic case with an "Uncirculated" sticker over the top seam. This one is loose, but the cases on the others in my collection are so thick that they don't scan well.

With cards like this, I'd make a beeline for his table during subsequent shows, and was always able to find cards from stellar sets like 2001/2002 Topps Archive Reserves various Topps Finest sets.

Given that mall shows don't really happen anymore, (in fact, the Westminster Mall was torn down several years ago), Christian took it upon himself to start setting up his own card shows in a rented hotel conference room on a monthly basis. A couple weekends ago, I spent a few hours at the June show and walked away with plenty of great cardboard, as well as a Carlos Gonzalez OYO mini-figure, which is now on my shelf at work.
There's a miniature ball and glove, too
Christian always has a box or two of bargain-priced relics and autographs, some dollar boxes, and a couple of interesting display cases, but what really drew me in were the 15-cent boxes packed to the gills. And like all great card dealers, the 15 cent box wasn't really 15 cents. Wink.

I didn't have a ton of time, as there was another table I wanted to visit (more on that in an upcoming post), but here are some of the highlights I picked out.

2004 Bowman Heritage #158 Randy Johnson
2004 in the Topps Heritage cycle (just count back 49 years) meant the 1955 designs were replicated. 1955 Bowman, of course, was the ultimate wood-grain set, with pictures framed by a cabinet-style television. My dad was eight years old that year, and remembers this design well. If only he had saved a few!

2007 Topps Moments & Milestones #12-6 Greg Maddux (Wins 6) /150
I hadn't seen this set before the show, and some research on Beckett and the BaseballCardPedia indicates this is seriously weird. It seems even stranger than Topps Tek - the set with up to 90 design variants per card. Remember that 2008 Mickey Mantle set with a different card for each one of his 565 536 home runs? This is the same idea, but the only way to tell the cards apart is from the numeral on the front. Thus, there are 20 variants of this card, one for each of Maddux's wins in his 1992 Cy Young season. But we don't even get details of the 6th win on the back, just this indication that he had a 6th win on his way to 20. Now, 20 isn't so bad, but he had 199 strikeouts that year, so there are 199 variants of card #13. Add them all up, and 2007 Moments & Milestones is a 12,475-card set.

But hey, serial number. If you want a /1 in your collection, this would be the set to go for.

Anyway, how about something a bit easier to explain? Like a metal card.

1996 Leaf Preferred Steel Gold #50 Charles Johnson
Not much else to say. It's a metal baseball card. Though it did have one of those pesky protective peel-off coatings, which I promptly peeled off. I'd better make sure to take this out of my shirt pocket when I go through airport security.

2000 Upper Deck MVP Scout's Choice #SC6 Nick Johnson
The shininess of this insert card doesn't come across so well in the scan, but I will give kudos to Upper Deck for listing baserunning as one of the fundamentals on the right side of the card. I think that gets overlooked quite a bit. That's appropriate, as Nick Johnson was one of my favorite under-the-radar players during his career.

Besides all those singles, I spent just $15 on one of my favorite collectiblesa complete factory set, this one of 1994 UD Collector's Choice.

1994 Collector's Choice #96 Scott Erickson
I've liked this set ever since the first packs I opened at ten years old. It's almost a continuation of 1993 Upper Deck, arguably the most revered set of the overproduction era. Just look at that photography. And there are a ton of these horizontal cards, to boot.

Of course, Christian's table didn't have the only discount boxes in the room. Come back next time for a look at Adam's table.