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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Opening Day

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Opening Day

Posted on 22 April 2013 by Tim Danielson

BikeSpokes

Per Box Items:
36 Packs per box
7 cards per pack

The standard sized 220 card base set cards feature a full color action shot of the player. Bordered in white, the card fronts have the player name and team logo at the bottom. The card fronts are trimmed with the team’s primary color. The card backs are photo-less and are horizontal in design. The card fronts also have teh Opening Day logo. The backs include moderate biographical information, a ‘career chase’ statistic, complete career statistics, and brief career highlights or a player quote. The backs are also trimmed with the team’s primary color. This is the same design as 2013 Topps Series 1 and 2013 Topps Stickers.

What I pulled:
252 total cards
1 duplicate
211/220 base set cards = 96% of the base set
7 serial numbered parallels
33 other inserts

Base card front and back:

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Insets and parallels: (not all scanned)
7 Superstar Celebrations
7 Playhard
7 Ballpark Fun
4 Team Mascots
8 Opening Day Stars (3D card, incl. Strasburg, Darvish, Trout, Miguel Caberea)
7 Sparkle Blue parallels #/2013

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I really like the design of this year’s Topps cards. The very simple clean design is very appealing. I think that the photography from Topps has really improved over the past couple of years. Topps again uses occasional horizontal card fronts when the shot dictates. Topps really appeals to younger collectors with the Play Hard, Mascot, and Ballpark Fun insert sets. There are 10 variations available. Most of these subjects are star players on there new teams at a press conference. There are not many rookie cards, but again this product is made with a younger fan in mind. The Topps Opening Day set set is loaded with inserts and parallel sets. I would have liked to see a few less inserts to get that many more base set cards. That being said though it will not be difficult to complete the base set and some of the inserts look pretty cool!

The Bottom Line:
I give 2013 Topps Series 1 a buy rating. It will be very easy to complete a base set with a box, and some light trading. There are lots of inserts and parallels to chase.

The Final Score:
Final Ratings (Out of 10):
Base set collect-ability: 9/10
Big-hit Hunter: NA
Prospector Hunter: 6/10
Value: 10/10
Overall Quality: 10/10

Overall: 35/40 (88% = B)

Thanks to Topps for making this review possible!

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Stickers

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Stickers

Posted on 16 April 2013 by Tim Danielson

BikeSpokes

Per Box Items:
50 packs per box
8 stickers per pack

Topps sell sheet

What I pulled:
406 cards (6 came with the book)
107 duplicates
313/315 cards of the set
15 stickers make a SF Giants puzzle
The 30 team logo stickers come 2 to a sticker card.

The 2013 Topps sticker cards have a color action shot of the named player, Bordered in white the sticker cards have a simple graphic at the bottom with the players name and team logo. The graphic is trimmed in the teams primary colors. The card design is similar the 2013 Topps base set card design. The sticker card backs are photo-less and void of any statistics and player information. The plain white backs just have the sticker number and copyright information.

Sticker card samples:

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O. My. Gosh! I love Topps stickers books! It has been years since I completed one. I eagerly busted the packs as memories of my childhood came flooding back to me. This is the perfect product to get your kids into this great hobby. My sons and I had a couple of hours of fun while we sorted and placed the stickers. Nine players per team makes them really easy to sort. Most of the teams have either a mascot and or a veteran player sticker card. The team logo pages in the book also have a post season tracker bracket. I absolutely love the mix of retired stars and current players.  My oldest son got excited when he recognized a name he saw.  I had the same twinkle in my eye when I saw a player that I recognized from when I was his age.  No rookie cards or hits, but overflowing with value and awesome fun!. The only negative thing I have to say is that with over 100 duplicates I was still 2 cards short of completing the book. Really Topps? I know this is an entry level product, but you can do better than that!

The Bottom Line:
I give 2013 Topps Stickers a strong buy rating. You should be more than able to complete a base set with one box with lots of doubles to spare. Buy a box a trade me #34 Ben Zobrist and #172 Bryce Harper because I need them for my book and your extra Rickey Henderson and Tigers stickers!

The Final Score:
Final Ratings (Out of 10):
Base set collect-ability: 9/10
Big-hit Hunter: NA
Prospector Hunter: NA
Value: 10/10
Overall Quality: 10/10

Overall: 29/30 (97% = A)

Thanks to Topps for making this review possible!

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Heritage Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Heritage Review

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Tim Danielson

Per Box Items:
24 packs per box
9 cards per pack
one autograph or relic per box

The 2013 Topps Heritage set features today’s stars in the 1964 Topps design. The standard sized cards feature a color head or posed shot of the player. Bordered in white, the cards list the team name on the top of the card. The player’s name and position are on the bottom graphic. In most of the pictures and poses, the players are not looking at the camera. The card backs are photo-less and have a two tone orange and cream color to them again in the 1964 design. The backs list moderate biographical information, complete career statistics, brief career highlights, a trivia questions and spot for an autograph.

What I pulled:
215 cards + one box topper
201 base set cards
8 duplicates
11 inserets
2 Heritage Chrome
1 ‘Real One Autograph’

Base card front and back:

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The inserts: (not all scanned)
Memorable Moments: Trout, Miguel Caberera
New Age Performers: Cespedes, Kershaw, Granderson
Flashback: Robinson, Jeopardy!, Yaz, World Fair
Then and Now: Aparicio/Trout, Mathews/Dunn
Heritage Chrome #/999: Scherzer, Jones

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Box Topper:

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The Hit:
Tom Brown autograph

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Personally, I have never been a big fan of throwback style and designed cards. 2013 Topps Heritage really is not that bad though. the first thing I noticed was that in most of the pictures the players are not looking directly at the camera. This is typical for the design however. Manager, league leaders and World Series highlights cards are sprinkled throughout the base set. The inserts are pretty cool and should provide some fun in chasing. The autograph is ‘on-card’ and looks good. the Heritage Chrome cards are real sharp. This is the first Topps product that I have received in a long time that has this many duplicates. Obviously no duplicates and a few less inserts would get us that much closer to a complete set.

The Bottom Line:
I give 2013 Topps Heritage a buy rating. You will need at least two boxes plus some light trading to complete the base set. Shop around for the best price on your boxes!

The Final Score:
Final Ratings (Out of 10):
Base set collect-ability: 4/10
Big-hit Hunter: 8/10
Prospector Hunter: 9/10
Value: 9/10
Overall Quality: 9/10

Overall: 39/50 (78% = C)
the biggest reason being that you will need 2+ boxes to complete the base set

Thanks to Topps for making this review possible!

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – SGC Grading Service Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – SGC Grading Service Review

Posted on 13 March 2013 by Tim Danielson

I have already discussed the reasons to have your cards graded and cited some examples from different companies.  This week I will provide an in-depth look at the card grading service offered by Sportscard Guaranty, SGC.

SGC has long been a popular choice for card grading with collectors, especially for vintage cards.  One of the most popular features SGC offers is their detailed grading scale.  Their 1-100 scale offers accurate and consistent grading of all cards.  For collectors more comfortable with a 1-10 scale, they also offer the equivalent grade.  Other popular features SGC offers are their guarantee and unique holder.

SGC does offer several different tiers of grading fees, based on the type of card and desired turnaround time.  SGC also offers many different monthly and themed grading specials.  SGC allowed me to send in four cards under the ‘EXPRESS’ tier (10 day turnaround time) for purposes of review.  My cards were returned in six days.

When starting the on-line submission form, the first thing I noticed was that the form was buried and required lots of clicking to get to.  I did have to create an account and sign-in, but even with expecting that, the from was not right there.  The form itself is very easy to use and complete.  The form has fields to input very detailed information about the cards you are submitting and charts to calculate the service fees, return postage and insurance required to send your cards back.  There were a couple of broken links and fields that did not allow me to complete the on-line submission form though.  In the defense of SGC, at the time  of my submission, I do know that they were in the process of creating and up-loading new monthly specials which may have created the broken fields.  Collectors can hand write an invoice for cards they are submitting or request a submission form/kit.

Cards that I submitted for grading:

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC – SGC Grade 84 – NM

Topps Henderson

This card came back graded pretty much exactly what I thought it would.  The card is just a touch off center, has one rough spot on an edge and a very small amount of fraying on one corner.  For cards from 1980 and earlier, the industry standard expects them to be in Near Mint condition.  Price guides have their high book price meant to be for cards that are Near Mint.  Vintage cards with a higher grade than Near Mint can easily command prices several times that of the high book price.

1979 TCMA Rickey Henderson Minor League card – SGC Grade 20 – Fair

TCMA Henderson

I was a little surprised at the grade assigned to this card.  The centering is comparable to the Henderson Topps RC but the edges and corners or much cleaner and in better shape.  I will admit that there is a small blue ink mark on a back corner of the card.  I thought based on the physical condition of the card, especially the front, that this would have graded in the 50′s or 60′s.  After reviewing SGC’s grading scale though this grade is accurate and consistent with the descriptions of a 20 grade.

2003 Magic the Gathering Lone Wolf Foil – SGC Grade 88 – NM/MT

Lone Wolf

One of my geeky pleasures, Magic is a collectable card game in the genre of  Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and other non-sports cards.  Magic players often put more weight on the playability of their cards rather than the collect-ability of them.  The super rare and valuable cards are usually put in a case never to see the light of day and  a “proxy” card is used to represent them in a deck.  If you actually want to play with your cards, people may just put every card of a deck into a penny sleeve and use them that way.  All this in mind though I sent in a foil version of a card in my signature deck to illustrate that SGC also grades non-sport cards.  I was pleased with the grade of this card knowing that it had been shuffled and played out of my deck a couple of times.

2008-09 Upper Deck Champs C373 Gray Wolf Mini – SGC Grade 96 – MINT

Gray Wolf

This is another non-sport card even though it was packed out in a Hockey card product.  The illustration here is that SGC grades and has holders for 206, Tobacco, and Allen & Ginter sized cards.  I selected this specific card as it was recently pulled form a pack and presumably in Mint condition.  I was correct in my assumption of a grade as this came back graded as an almost perfect example of the card.

I highly recommend SGC’s grading service for a few reasons.  SGC’s prices for both the per card grading and return postage are much more reasonable compared to other similar grading services.  I really enjoy the 100 point grading scale.  I feel this gives you a more accurate description of the condition of your cards.  Many other companies only use a 10 point scale or only use half grades like 8.5.  I absolutely love the black frame SGC puts around the card.  It really highlights your card and makes it stand out.  The very quick turn around time was a nice surprise and the customer service is top notch.  Keep an eye out for SGC’s monthly specials for submission.  Depending on the amount and type of cards you want graded, these specials can save you a few dollars.

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

 

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – ISA Grading Service Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – ISA Grading Service Review

Posted on 05 March 2013 by Tim Danielson

We have already discussed reasons for having your cards professionally graded. Continuing this week we will look at International Sports Authentication ISA.  ISA Grading is a relative new-comer to the card grading industry.  Some ISA graded cards have already realized auction values that rival cards graded by other companies however.  ISA was founded to be a customer focused company that strengthened the hobby and promoted fun.  Offering the best submission prices and turnaround times in the industry, ISA is a rapidly growing grading company catching on with collectors and dealers alike.

BikeSpokes

ISA’s website and submission form are very user friendly and easy to use.  ISA does grade most licensed sport and non-sport cards.  It is recommended that you contact them first if you have any questions about getting something graded.  ISA offers custom encapsulation of cards from tobacco to standard sized cards up to 40 points thick.  ISA will be adding slabs for “tallboy” and 80 point thick cards soon.

Cards I submitted for grading:

1996 Topps Sean Casey RC – ISA grade 9 Mint

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This was the easiest to identify card I submitted to be graded.  I was expecting a grade of 8 due to the slight yellowing of the card.  I was very surprised that the corners, edges, and surface of the card are all in outstanding shape which held this card to the high grade.

1931 John Player and Sons Wild Animals Heads #48 Wolf – ISA grade 7.5 NM+

1937 Ogden’s Ltd. Zoo Studies #49 Wolves – ISA grade 4.5VG-EX+

W.D. & H.O. Wills Birds Beasts and Fishes #40 The Wolf – ISA grade 2 Good

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These were the cards I was hoping would stump the research department.  Only one card proved to be a little difficult however.  The 1931 wolf head card is probably my favorite of the three.  Four sharp corners, clean edges, and a clean back free of glue and tape common in tobacco cards, this card is in great shape for a card over 80 years old.  The 1937 Zoo Studies cards is another favorite card of mine.  I really like the horizontal layout and picture of the wolf pack.  Three of the four corners have a slight touch of wear and the card is a little off center top to bottom.  I thought the card would have graded at a 5, but I am not disappointed in the final grade.  The last card proved to be the most challenging to identify.  I was told that there are several different versions of this card printed from 1938 to 1942.  Some have a blank back, some do not have the scoring to have the card stand up.  Even though this card does have a printed back ISA was still unable to pinpoint the exact year.  This is similar to T series cards which were printed from 1909-1911 for example.  The slight off-centering and dirty appearance aside, the biggest reason for the grade of 2 is the big area of dried glue on the back of the card.  Any pencil, pen ink, tape, glue or waxy stains on cards from the era are pretty much unilaterally graded a 2 from all third party graders in the business.  The black inserts really make the cards pop.  Also notice the different size of inserts used to accommodate different sized tobacco cards.

2012 Magic the Gathering M12 core set Hunter’s Insight – ISA grade 10 Gem Mint

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ISA also grades collectable gaming cards like magic, Pokemon and Yi-Gi-Oh.  The interesting part this this card though is that it graded at a perfect 10.  Gaming cards often are played and show the signs of being handled and shuffled in decks.  Black border cards are especially difficult to get good grades on as the black edge on both the front and back of the cards is almost always chipped or dinged.  Even taking these cards out of the package, a lot of these cards get damaged enough to not be a perfect gem mint copy.

2011 Panini Adrenalyn XL Superbowl promo Tim Tebow – ISA grade 9 Mint

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This is another example of a game card only with a twist.  These cards were only available at the Fanfest event at the Superbowl.  The only thing keeping this from a grade of 10 is that there is a slight raise or bump in one of the corners.

1988 NWA Superstars #102 Sting – ISA grade 7 NM

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Though not necessarily hard to Identify, this is definitely an oddball card.  Pretty badly off-center left to right, this is the exact grade I was expecting for a 25 year old possible rookie card of the professional wrestler Sting.

2008 Upper Deck Champ’s Hockey Natural History Collection Dire Wolf – ISA grade 8.5 NR-MT+

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If you have not guessed by now, I like wolves and wolf cards, a lot.  To my naked eye, I would have graded this as a 9.  The right edge and bottom right corner of the card both have a slight ding in them.  This is just another example that ISA grades all types and sizes of cards and has the inserts to match.

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC – ISA result, not graded due to being trimmed.

1908 International Tobacco of Canada Silk Animals and Country Flags, Wolf, Siberia – ISA graded, ungraded.

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The edges and corners of the Henderson looked perfect to my untrained eye.  The only flaw being that it is severely off-center, almost mis-cut.  It turned that the edges were too perfect as it was determined that all four were trimmed.  Cards from the early 1980’s are near impossible to find this clean.  The card also measured slightly smaller than industry standard sized cards.  I am disappointed that the card is altered, but happy with the quality of work from ISA to determine that it is.  The silk card was my fault for sending in.  I did not completely research what cards ISA could and could not grade, nor did I call first.  It is always recommended that you contact ISA first with any questions you have about unusual cards.  There is also really no standard to grade silk cards against.

I really like the custom holders ISA uses.  They have combined popular elements from other grading companies into their slabs.  This makes for a very eye appealing and unique protective holder for your cards.  To date, similar cards with similar grades have shown that auction prices are higher between other third party grading companies and ISA.  It seams that dealers and “flippers” are waiting for ISA to become more established before using them.  As a collector who will never get rid of his graded cards though, ISA’s prices and turnaround times cannot be beat! Looking to have your personal collection cards graded and protected for display?  I encourage you to use ISA Grading services!

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

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