Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2001-02 Vanguard Hockey

Well, well, A Pack A Day is still alive, look at that....

Today we bust a pack of 2001-02 Vanguard hockey from Pacific. At the time, it was a high end set, selling for, as you can see, $6.49 a pack. Today? .50 cents. We'll blame it on the economy.
 3 cards per pack...
Jeremy Roenick. These cards are super thick and very glossy. Kind of like a paint job on a '49 Merc.... 30 layers of candy apple red and clear coat...
 Marc Savard when he was a Flame, and not concussed...
 and an insert! V-Team member Teemu Selanne! Too bad he's not in a Jets jersey....
There you have it. I'd have hated to try and put this set together at $6.49 a pack. 100 card base set and 50 SP rookies. Ouch.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

2007-08 In The Game Between the Pipes (Arena Version)

Thanks to Thorzul for providing some motivation to start posting here again. The NHL season is heating up, so what better time to post a hockey pack. Today we have a pack of 2007-08 Between the Pipes hockey, produced by In The Game. This is the "Arena Version", which I'm pretty sure means the "you won't be pulling any hits" version. Hey, for 99 cents what can you expect? 2007 was the year I got back into collecting, but I purchased Upper Deck hockey only that season, so I am interested in seeing how these look. In case you couldn't tell by the name, the Between the Pipes sets are dedicated to goaltenders. 5 cards per pack, here's what I got:

#75 - Terry Sawchuk - Greats of the Game

The 100-card base set is actually broken up into a few different subsets. At least in terms of what I pulled in this pack, the Greats of the Game subset is the one I like least. Nearly half the card is occupied by the gigantic border and it's just not very flattering. In the Game isn't licensed to produce NHL cards, so the photo of Sawchuk is cropped oddly to avoid showing the Red Wings logo on his sweater.

Sawchuk is a great start to the pack though. A fitting choice for the Greats of the Game subset. Unfortunately, he suffered a bizarre fate, passing away from internal injuries resulting from a drunken scuffle with a teammate over living expenses. He died just weeks after what would be his final NHL season.

#100 - Ed Mio - The Rival League

We go from the subset I like least, to the one I enjoy the most. The Rival League subset pays tribute to the World Hockey Association, a competitor to the NHL who would eventually fold, with the NHL absorbing a handful of its teams. This subset has everything going for it, former legends, great team logos and a nice retro design. I mean just look at that Indianapolis Racers logo. If The Rival League were an entirely separate set, I'd be buying it up by the box.

#65 - Kari Lehtonen - Stars of the Game

Lehtonen was taken second overall in the 2002 Entry Draft by the Thrashers. Doesn't seem like the greatest pick, but that wasn't a very strong draft in all fairness. Nonetheless, Carolina took Cam Ward 23 picks after Atlanta... After a few solid seasons, and some injuries, he's now with the Dallas Stars. He didn't look that great last Thursday when the Bruins scored 5 times against him.

#90 - Gerry Cheevers - The Rival League

Best card in the pack, hands down. In fact, without seeing a checklist, I doubt there's a card in the entire set I'd rather have. Gerry's sporting his classic "stitches" mask. Another cool WHA jersey, this one belonging to the Cleveland Crusaders, who Cheevers played 4 seasons with before returning to the NHL.

#4 - Antoine Lafleur - Future Stars

The final card comes from the Future Stars subset, containing the game's top prospects. I think there's a Cary Price to be had in this subset, but I was unfortunate enough to pull an Antoine Lafleur. I knew it was bad when I searched his name on Google and the first result that came back was a thread from a hockey forum entitled "Is Antoine Lafleur Still Playing Hockey?". As far as I can tell he's never seen action in a single NHL game.

My one complaint about this product is the backs. Even though the set is comprised of a few different subsets, I wish the backs would've been just a bit more standardized. Each subset has a completely different back. Here are the first 3 cards from the pack:

If you stumbled across these 3 cards in a box you wouldn't even know they're from the same set. The numbers are in completely different spots on each card even.

All in all that's a pretty small gripe, and as 99 cent packs go I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I would buy more of these at that price, and would love to build The Rival League subset.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

2011 Topps Baseball

Yes, the time has come. After being cooped up in the house for the better part of two days, I needed to break free. Finally the alley got plowed, and at last I could drive somewhere, anywhere. Driving down the alley now feels like the trench run to the Death Star, but instead of finding an exhaust port measuring two meters wide, I made my way to Target, coming home with a few packs of 2011 Topps, the first product of the year. As of right now, I have only opened one pack, and every card in it so far has been a first for the year.

Let's tear in.

Top to Bottom:
First Card of the Year
140 Brett Anderson
Whenever foil comes into play on the front of a card, particularly the name, there's reason to worry. Allay your fears, readers, for the player names are almost instantly legible, from nearly every angle. A slight drop shadow prevents the foil from overpowering the eye. I also love the baseball behind the tea logo in the corner. This is a clean, classy design that has instantly become my favorite since 2007. (Yes, I will proudly defend 2007 Topps. It gets a bad rap.)

The backs of the cards contain the requisite stats. The arc motif is continued from the front. Unfortunately, the inset photo is recycled from the front. This should never, ever happen. Minus one point for laziness. However, the extra-large checklist number more than makes up for the repeat photo, so plus two. Set-builders such as myself will appreciate this feature.

First Card of a Dude of Whom I Am a Supercollector (If He Appears As a Brewer)
102 CC Sabathia

First Card of a Player Whose First Name Ends With the Same Consecutive Vowel
255 Torii Hunter

First Topps Rookie Cup
198 Buster Posey

First MVP Award Card
29 Josh Hamilton

First Horizontal Card
329 Brett Wallace

First Diamond Giveaway
I'm not sure how excited I should be about this. One thing's for sure, I'm not hopping on that website the first day it's operational.

First Mini Insert
KC-16 Aroldis Chapman Champions of Games and Sports
A Target-only insert, perhaps? I don't know enough about this set yet to make that judgment. The 50-card checklist is on the back, and it looks like the type of insert set I'd like to complete. No actual champions of games, though, unless Andrew McCutchen dominates at Hi-Ho Cherry-O in a way of which I have not yet been made aware.

First Toppstown to Probably Go In the Garbage
TT-44 Ubaldo Jimenez
Actually, these feel more like inserts than last year's. Very shiny.

First Guy Whose Last Name, When Pronounced, Includes a Phantom Syllable
180 Paul Maholm
How the eff does he get Muh-hol-lum out of that? Veteran character actor Ian Holm's last name has just one syllable. All Paul does is put a Ma in front of it: Ma-holm. Right? Now I'm starting to sound like George Costanza explaining how manure is just Ma and nure.

First Closer
13 Billy Wagner

First Card to Contain the Phrase "Double-Digit Dinger"
276 Miguel Olivo

There you have it folks, my first pack of 2011 baseball cards. Good luck on putting this set together.