Monday, October 12, 2015

Crate o' Cards

Last holiday season was pretty heavy for me on the card front. There were a few generous trades, the Moon Mars set from my mom that I just posted about, as well as a subscription box from Collector Crate.

I saw a few Collector Crate posts in the blogosphere many months ago, and after watching a few unboxing videos of non-baseball subscription boxes with my girlfriend a few weeks ago, I thought I'd finally document the loot from a Bronze baseball Collector Crate. I also considered starting up the subscription again, but it turns out that they're no longer in operation. Their Facebook page hasn't been updated in months, and their website doesn't exist any longer. Given that my geekdom is not limited to baseball, I did end up ordering 3 months of the 1Up Box, and am thinking about making a debut on YouTube. Chris and Daniel both have card content on their YouTube channels, I wonder how their experience has been.

2014 Collector Crate #BU-MT Mike Trout
The big draw for some of these subscription boxes are the exclusives, commonly t-shirts. Collector Crate did this as well, and I wonder how many there are out there besides this soon-to-be oddball Mike Trout, as I have no idea how long they were in business.

In addition to packs, there were a few other baseball goodies, like a Yankees mini pennant that I gave to my dad, a little baseball Christmas ornament with a Santa hat on it, and a hard plastic mini baseball with the Angels logo that I think I sent to The Angels, In Order. They let you pick up to three teams for the non-pack goodies, and the "hits" matched that selection too.

2002 Bowman Autographs #BA-GA Garrett Atkins (AU)
My Rockies autograph collection continues to grow, and this is the treasured on-card variety with a hologram Topps sticker on the back. Atkins hadn't yet made it to the Majors when this card was printed, making it a somewhat unusual Bowman card of a guy we've all heard of. Atkins ended up having a solid career with the Rockies, being part of their two most recent playoff appearances.

2002 Bowman Heritage Relics #BH-TS Tim Salmon Uni C (MEM)
Here's another Bowman hit, a relic of Tim Salmon. The 1993 AL Rookie of the Year was nearing the end of his career by this point, but a pinstripe is a pinstripe!

For me, the draw of these boxes were the unopened packs. and this one came with nine, including a few from products I'd barely seen before.

Pack 1: 1999 Bowman

1999 Bowman #148 Russell Branyan
This has been a Bowman-heavy post so far, and it's never been one of my favorite brands, especially from the everything-has-a-black-border era. At least this one has an actual numeral for the card number. I remember Branyan as a Cincinnati Red, but it turns out that he only spent a couple seasons with them during his journeyman career.

1999 Bowman International #183 Calvin Pickering
Calvin Pickering played for a few Major League teams too, but I must admit that I've never heard of him. You might notice that he's not pictured inside a baseball stadium, meaning that this is a one-per-pack International parallel. Usually the background is the flag from the player's country of birth, but for 1999, Bowman took a page from Metal Universe and instead used a bit of local photography.

Pack 2: 2010 Topps Update

2010 Topps Update #US-178 Jim Edmonds
If you're into unfamiliar uniforms, Update is the place to be. I have zero recollection of Jim Edmonds on the Reds, which makes sense, since he only played thirteen games with them before hanging 'em up.

That looks like Chase Field to me, which would put this game on August 18th, 2010, the only game in which Edmonds scored in Arizona while playing for the Reds.

2010 Topps Vintage Legends Collection #VLC-26 Johnny Mize
The presence of all these packs means inserts and parallel will pop up with zero warning! Topps inverted the Heritage formula for the Vintage Legends insert set, placing old-time players on recent designs, like New York legend Johnny Mize on 1992 Topps. You'll recall that Mize appeared on a recent vintage pickup, but then as a Yankee.

This was an interesting insert set, as they didn't just use 1992's design and leave it at that. They compare how his real-life stats from 1947 would have stacked up in 1992, and he would have been a Triple Crown contender, falling a bit short on batting average. Not surprising for a man with five consecutive World Series rings.

Pack 3: 2014 Topps Update

2014 Topps Update Gold #US-146 Neftali Soto /2014
Neftali Soto has yet to make much of an impact in the Majors, but a gold parallel out of a single pack is pretty cool. He hit a couple home runs in AAA this year, but I don't know whether we'll see more of him.

2014 Topps Update Fond Farewells #FF-MR Mariano Rivera
Rivera, on the other hand, is an absolute legend, and like other Yankee greats in recent years, received plenty of attention as he made his final stops in various Major League cities. I'd love to see this set become a regular thing, especially since the well-loved legends don't always get the recognition they deserve on a card. Jeter and Konerko, yes, but Tim Hudson? Chipper Jones?  No wonder Nick is so into Sunset cards.

Pack 4: 2012 Panini Prizm

2012 Panini Prizm Prizms Green #195 Hector Santiago
I don't get it. I really don't. Why does everyone seem to hate Panini Prizm? They're shiny, feature good photography considering they can't use logos, and come in nice, colorful colors like green. And in my experience, they lack that godawful curl that plagues many of Topps' premium products. Even that RC logo is pretty unique. It's no Stadium Club, sure, but does it really deserve its reputation?

Pack 5: 1994 Flair

1994 Flair #373 Andres Galarraga
For a brand produced at the height of the baseball card bubble, 1994 Flair is downright scarce. One pack doubled its representation in my collection. The packaging was quite impressive, as it came in a shrink-wrapped paperboard mini-box. Up until then, I'd only ever opened wax or foil.

1994 Flair #447 William Van Landingham
The design is a bit busy and ostentatious, which isn't helped by Van Landingham's exceptionally long last name. It has as much trouble fitting on this card as it did on his uniform. But hey, 1994.

Pack 6: 2013 Gypsy Queen

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen #29 Cole Hamels
I am mostly indifferent about this brand, though I do like this year's "onion dome" design. Like Bowman, I just can't seem to get into a brand that looks the same year after year. Even Topps Flagship was getting a bit repetitive before the splash of color we saw this year.

Cole Hamels has looked impressive in the playoffs thus far, raining on the Blue Jays parade and giving the Rangers 2015's first opportunity to advance to the Championship Series, although Toronto lived to fight another day, thanks in part to Tulowitzki's three-run home run.

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Mini #344 Tim Hudson
As advertised, a one-per-pack mini fell out, and it's of recently-retired pitcher Tim Hudson. I don't have many of these, but I ought to invest in a few 15-pocket mini pages, since they look a heck of a lot better when they're not swimming in a holder five times too big.

Pack 7: 2008 Upper Deck X

2008 Upper Deck X Die Cut #17 Carlos Zambrano
Most cards in this pack were a standard rectangle, but a brand like Upper Deck X just begs for a die-cut variety. This one's from the previous time the Cubs made the playoffs, though Big Z didn't get it done that year.

2008 Upper Deck X Xponential #X-KG Ken Griffey Jr.
Of course, a World Series win isn't the only indicator of a great career. Griffey never even appeared in a World Series, but he still had countless awesome cards, arguably becoming a modern Mickey Mantle in that sense. Xponential cards came in four...powers(?) of increasing scarcity, this being the base Xponential (to the power of 1), which, like in math, isn't noted.

Pack 8: 2010 Upper Deck

2010 Upper Deck #570 Washington Nationals BP
Upper Deck's baseball card business was in dire straits by this point, and taking a picture of a stadium was about the only way they could get a team's name on a card that year. The back of the card mentions the presidential foot race, but the front just shows the stadium facade, pretty much what you see in the House of Cards intro.

2010 Upper Deck Supreme Green #S-90 Adrian Gonzalez
Adrian Gonzalez is elsewhere in the NL West this season, but had a resurgent year and helped the Dodgers reach the playoffs. Upper Deck put him on one of my favorites, a green card, and didn't really take efforts to hide the SD logo on his helmet like they were legally supposed to do that year. See Topps' 2010 design above for how proud they were to display team logos.

Pack 9: 1995 Select Certified

1995 Select Certified Mirror Gold #115 Mark Grudzielanek
This is only the second time I've run across 1995 Select Certified in my collecting career, which is a shame, since it's right up there with Flair as a super-premium set. Grudzielanek's card is a Mirror Gold parallel, which has a refractor background, and is seeded 1:5 packs. Clearly, he was competing with William Van Landingham for the longest surname in the Majors.

1995 Select Certified #32 Eddie Murray 3000th Hit
Eddie Murray's base card got some special treatment, as is warranted when you reach 3,000 career hits. It's a highly exclusive club, with slightly more members than the 300-win club. Ichiro is likely to reach it next year, and if he does, he'll also pass Pete Rose for most career hits, assuming you count the thousand-plus he got during his Japanese career.

Not a bad haul for $30, right? I'm always up for a surprise look at brands I've rarely seen before. It's unfortunate that Collector Crate folded, since I'd totally get another one of these.

The 1Up Box is unlikely to contain baseball cards. There might be Magic: The Gathering or Heroes of the Storm in there or something, but it's just not the same. Of course, the subscription box industry is hot right now, so maybe someone else will fill the vacuum. If they do, don't keep it a secret!


  1. It looks like this was basically a repack box, but those mid-1990s packs saved it. Great cards, Adam.

  2. Ah, Upper Deck X...another in the long line of UD's odd fascination with the letter X in the late 2000s.

    Looks like a great selection of packs! I've never opened anything of Select Certified before, and that Eddie Murray looks spiffy.

  3. I just signed up for the Star Wars subscription box (called Smuggler's Bounty) and look forward to receiving it. As for Collector's Crate, I almost subscribed to it. I'm glad I didn't. From what I've read... people paid for their boxes and they closed up shop without shipping the product. Not sure how many Collector's Crates were actually shipped... but that Trout might be attractive to collectors who PC him. On the other hand... maybe the previous owners of Collector's Crate have a giant stash and are waiting for the right moment to flood the market.

    P.S. Sweet Mirror Gold. Loved that product and parallel back in the day. Can't believe it's already been 20 years since they were originally released.

  4. I remember Jim Edmonds as a Red and was actually pretty excited when they acquired him for some bench help from the Brewers in exchange for Chris Dickerson. I like those other Reds cards as well, always nice to get a card of Griffey in a Reds uniform.

  5. I got a couple of the Collector Crates, but for $30 I felt like I didn't really come away with $10 more value than a $20 Target repack box. Maybe the Silver and Gold boxes offered better value. I am glad I cancelled my subscription before they cut and ran away with people's money.