That many dreams within dreams is too unstable!

Some of the new high-end product these days could only be dreamt of five years ago, and for those of you who identified that the title of this post as a quote from the 2010 movie Inception, you might now have an idea of what’s coming. A “main set” of all autographs was something I dreamt of back in the late ’90s as auto cards began making their arrival indreamswithindreams subsets. To me, auto cards are a special kind of “dream” because unlike with jersey/relic cards – which are awesome, don’t get me wrong – the on-card autos (and to a lesser extent the sticker autos) make me feel like I might be right there in the room with the player. Call it quirky, but knowing my favorite players held, touched and signed the cards that I now hold in my very hands gives them a dream like quality and fills me with that warm and fuzzy love of the game, the hobby, and the players. Thus, a little box of autos, is very much akin to the title… dreams within a dream… and there’s more to come on the “unstable” tie-in later as you’ll see where these high-end sets can go wrong.

As you may have by now guessed, today I did a break of 2 boxes of Inception. The first was 2014 Bowman Inception (baseball), and the second was 2014 Topps Inception (football). Soon we will get to the cards, but first, I wanted to lay the groundwork of just what I was getting into…

bowmaninception toppsinception

Bowman Inception is a “super premium” baseball set. Each box can be had for ~$80-$90, and by box, we really mean pack as it will contain 5 (mine had 6) cards. Each pack has 4 on-card autographed cards and one auto+relic card. There are a various assortment of varieties therein, including parallels of almost all of them. Like any Bowman set these days, you’ll notice the player lineup is HEAVILY skewed toward prospects. My autos were nearly all of people I had never heard of before today, so you may be in for a wait before you know what you really got out of your purchase. That said, if you’re okay with everything I’ve said thus far, you’re in for a BEAUTIFUL set. The cards are on 100pt card stock (nice and thick), the autos are all sharp and crisp, and the card design is outstanding (though perhaps 2013 Bowman Inception was a little better). To the cards…

Prospect Autographs Luke Jackson
Drafted in the supplemental 1st round (#45 overall) in 2010 by the Rangers, Luke is a power pitcher. Ranking as the #7 prospect in the Rangers minor league system at the start of the year he’s probably been bumped down a few pegs thanks to a horrific 10.35 ERA in 40in of AAA in Round Rock this year. Averaging 9.5 K/9 he has the heat, but with 4.5 BB/9, he’s clearly wild at times too. Probably at least a year away from call-up, if he makes the bigs, I would guess it will be spring training 2016 that he gets his shot and it seems likely he’ll be converted to a reliever.

A nice card with a wacky signature which recently sold on eBay for $3.00

Prospect Autographs Jason Hursh
Drafted in the 1st round (#31 overall) in 2013 by the Braves Jason was honored as the Braves organization’s “Minor League Pitcher of the Year” this week. Ranking as the #5 prospect in the Braves minor league system currently, he knows how to handle a game going 12-8 in 36 games between Low-A and AA this year. The Braves will be stacked at SP next year, if everyone they lost gets past their Tommy John surgeries, so I don’t expect to see Hursh in the bigs next year, if at all with the Braves; he is likely to garner some trade attention and the Braves will be looking for trades this off-season.

As a huge Braves fan I loved pulling this card, especially on the same day he received the award. I might go get this one graded on the off chance he does make it to Atlanta and continues to pitch well. Several have sold on eBay for $3-$10.

Prospect Autographs Eric Jagielo
Drafted in the 1st round (#26 overall) in 2013 by the Yankees and ranking as the #5 prospect in the Yankees minor league system at the end of last year, he seems to be a modest hitting third baseman. Being in the Yankees minor leagues is akin to always being a bridesmaid, never a bride… they don’t develop players generally, preferring to go buy them on the market. His .259/.354/.457 line in the minors doesn’t do much to disuade that idea here either, though with Jeter leaving, maybe Prado moves to SS and Jagielo certainly can’t play much worse than Headley has…

The first Yankee pulled, just wait until you see what develops here… Recently sold on eBay for ~$1.75

Relic Autographs Taijuan Walker
Drafted in the supplemental 1st round (#43 overall) in 2010 by the Mariners, Taijuan is honing his skills and made it to the bigs this year. Ranked as Baseball’s #11 prospect and the Mariners’ #1 prospect he’s definitely got some potential to live up to. He seems up to the challenge though having started 4 games and gone 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA and 28Ks in 30IP. He’s made a few relief appearances too which is a little disconcerting to his card values, but I think he’ll stick as an SP and likely be an everyday starter next year for the M’s.

Nice card, I like the Mariners too, will hold this one, unfortunately the auto is on a sticker and his rookie year was last year… Recently sold on eBay for $2.25-$8.21

Black Collection Autographs Gary Sanchez
Signed out of Santo Domingo Sanchez was thought to be the Yanks catcher of the future, unfortunately he’s actually managed to get worse the longer he’s played in the minor leagues. Likely a middling talent, the Yankees have 4 catchers on the ML roster right now, and certainly no reason to bring Gary up until he shows improvement. He’s also stuck behind the awesomeness that is Brian McCann who if he stays healthy could hold the starting job for years to come.

Not a particularly interesting card from a collector standpoint, the Black Collection inserts are kind of a waste as they too closely resemble the Silver Signings subset just with a larger print run. Recent eBay value: $7.95-$22.55 (mostly because they are #/25 I think)

1989 Bowman is Back Gary Sanchez
You again Gary?!?!? This is a 6th card in the pack, so I guess because they are normal stock cards they insert them with the standard 5 cards; not going to argue about free cards! Instance one of too many dreams within dreams being unstable!

Recent eBay sale of $1.95… why???

Overall Summary: For someone who spent 7 years growing up in Boston I’m genetically disposed to HATE the Yankees, thus getting 3 of them in one box, and two of the same guy was more than annoying; it would have been a dream for a Yankee TC. That said, I did get that extra card, so I can’t complain too much. This set on whole is beautiful, the cards are nice looking and the parallel colors quirky and fun but most importantly used judiciously, and well executed. There are some multi-thousand-dollar insert cards available in this set, so good luck in your pulls. I would say that I didn’t get anywhere near $80 worth of value in this box, so I would call this one a dud… but I’m determined not to hold that against this set. An essentially all autographed set is a dream come true to me, and that’s what you’ll get here.
Overall Recommendation: Strong buy! Just hope you have better luck than I did.
Overall Grade: A

Well, that was fun, if also a little disappointing. Time to turn our eyes toward the pigskin though, as we bid adieu to the regular season, week 3 of the NFL is in full swing. Thus comes my first major football purchase of the season, 2014 Topps Inception. I would usually go over the set here, however there’s not a lot to add as it really isn’t that significantly different from the baseball offering. The price is about $10 lower per box but where the baseball offering has several $1,000++ cards, from what I’m seeing on eBay, the football high end hits are topping out around $800-$900. I’ll never understand why they don’t go ahead and make this a Bowman title as that alone could probably boost the value here. The card design isn’t as elegant as the baseball offering; the base cards and parallels almost look poorly printed to me. Lastly, this set isn’t nearly as autograph packed; football sets don’t have the quantity of players to offer autos the way baseball can though, so this is to be expected. You’re guaranteed 2 autos and a relic card, plus one parallel. On to the cards…

Silver Signings Derek Carr
I was quite happy when this was the card right on top of the pack. Carr is a promising rookie QB who will get the immediate chance to learn behind center. The problem is that he’s stuck in Oakland… Carr is off to a decent start to the year though, so if he can keep improving, he could be able to bring Oakland back to relevance in the NFL. I also pulled #2 of 50 which is the lowest insert number I’ve ever pulled (still waiting on my 1/1 or 1/xxx).

Recent eBay sales between $33.33-$78.00 (upward trending, so this card may have been value enough out of the pack to break even).

Green Danny Amendola
Here’s a guy that I was sure was going to be a monster with Brady throwing to him. Unfortunately he’s been hit in the head too many damn times and can no longer figure out when to just go down so he can live to play the next play. This is the green parallel set version which is not serial numbered, and honestly the colors on the card clash pretty horribly.

Never been sold on its own on eBay… based on the bundles it has sold in, I’d guess about $0.25 in value here

Magenta Jordan Cameron
A stud of a tight end, this guy is going to leave the game with some records I expect, and this is a nice short numbered (5/75) card of his. Again though, I’m not sure what Topps was thinking with the color combinations here, they did so much better on the baseball side with their color scheme. Any bets on how many Johnny Football to J-Cam TDs next year?

Last eBay sale was $2.00

Rookie Autographs De’Anthony Thomas
Still healing from a pre-season hammy injury, no one really knows what to make of this guy. He’s stuck behind the HOFer JC and a surprisingly stellar Knile Davis so who knows what he’ll get or when. Another card that something is just wrong with… they “bleached out” the area where the players sign and in so doing they made the card look faded and less crisp than the baseball product. I have to believe it was different design teams that created the two inception products at this point.

Last eBay sale was $2.99

Rookie Patch Purple Brandin Cooks
I liked seeing this card come out, the purple parallel is numbered to 50, and I’m a believer that Cooks will be a difference maker on a high powered Saints offense. However my joy was quickly turned to sorrow when I realized that the card was damaged during packing. It appears that another card caught the edge of the patch window and tore it a bit (you can tell it’s swelled up and torn a little in my scan to the left). Anyway, this will be my first chance to try out the Topps replacement policy. I didn’t even know a replacement method existed until I went looking after getting this card. I’ll definitely be writing up another blog post on this topic as I’ve been collecting for 20+ years and didn’t know this was there for me; need to get the word out more! We’ll see what Topps replaces this with as this card was going for $8.50-$11.50. Another case of too many dreams in dreams being unstable!
Inception Main Set
Closing out the pack were two base cards of Ryan Matthews and Cecil Shorts. The design colors actually work with the base set I think, so that was a nice surprise. Would be nice if Matthews or Shorts could get back on the field though as I think both their teams need them dearly (though SD did a good job against the BiLLLLs today). Just wanted to give you a view of the cards here, not much special about them, but not a bad base set.
Overall Summary: A much closer to even return on value out of this pack, the Carr auto was a nice pull. That said, the base card design is severely lacking compared to the baseball versions of this set, and you’ll be seeing a lot of them since most of this set is parallels of the base design. The inserts are quite well thought out though, and do keep it interesting with a good chase for the top rookies this year. Overall, I expect more effort and attention to detail on a set of this cost to collectors from Topps. It seems hastily thrown together, and maybe it was considering its early season release. A decent mix of cards/players was had, so that’s good, however the damaged Cooks puts a bit of a damper on things. A mediocre offering all things considered.
Overall Recommendation: Honestly, I’d avoid. I think there will be better high end sets coming and I don’t expect this one to hold its value once they do. I won’t be buying any more.
Overall Grade: C

Well that was a fun day of cards! Hope you enjoyed following along. As I wrote this article over three days, I had a chance to let the Bowman Inception beauty sink in, and in reviewing quotes for the title of the article I came across this one:

dreambigger

“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”


Taking the advice of Eames, I went and ordered a case (8 boxes/packs) of the baseball Bowman Inception (40 autos!). I really loved the set that much that I’m basically plunking down my next 4-6 months cards budget on this one purchase. Wish me luck, and if you’re interested I’ll write about it here. Happy Hunting All!

Zistle’s Top 10 Most Common “Commons”

Here at Zistle we’re all about “every card”, not just those 1-of-1-triple-signed-threaded-embroidered-platinum-refractor-book cards (though they are pretty sweet to behold too). Increasingly it seems we forget the main set; almost tossing aside those cards in our feverish pack-searching for hits. What has happened to the base sets of the hobby? We would love to hear your opinion in the comments. Granted, no one wants to go back to “The Great Cardboard Flood” of the 1980s; however those base cards of the every day players and stars are still interesting to many collectors, they are not just pack filler! So, in an effort to raise awareness for the little guy, something we at Zistle are currently quite familiar with, here is our tribute to the main set!

To fill out this list we dug through the Zistle db of your collections and found the top 10 most widely held “Main Set” cards, and while they aren’t by the strictest definition “commons”, it does seem like any “Main Set” card these days could be considered a common. Yet, I believe there is hope for these cards; and so to prove the point that there is a home for every card out there, we’ve also done a bit of trade matching for you (something you could get more of with the Zistle Gold subscription).

So let’s get some trading going and find these base cards their proper homes.

num10
Population Report
PSA BGS
10 - 1
10/9.5 61 2
9 39 5
8.5 2 6
8 27 4
7.5 0 0
7 6 2
6.5 0 0
6 4 0
5.5 0 0
5 0 1
Writer’s Comment: A few years removed from Don’s rookie season, this is certainly one of the more popular non-rookie cards of the late 80s flood as he was a star from the moment he set foot on the diamond. Unfortunately literally millions of this card probably exist out there. That said graded population reports are surprisingly low, so I see a good opportunity if you have some nicely preserved specimens to get high grades with low populations.

Recent Prices: $3.59 (PSA8) – $14.99 (PSA10)

Copies Owned By Zistlers: 107

Wanted By: drewscards, AnaLuABC, merker
Available From: halos17, jkgrice, BucCollector, lindenmb, stevienicks77, somethingcreative, curl192000, cebartz, docsimmons, mpalcc, bjames95

num09
Population Report
PSA BGS
10 - 4
10/9.5 346 129
9 503 112
8.5 9 112
8 363 8
7.5 1 30
7 55 13
6.5 0 7
6 21 8
5.5 0 2
5 15 2
Writer’s Comment: The Larkin card every Reds fan needs and they can be had cheaply across all grades. Unfortunately this (in this writer’s opinion) quite literally the worst main set of baseball cards ever produced by a major vendor due to its massive print runs and attempt at interesting design that really isn’t interesting at all.

Recent Prices: $1.79 (PSA6) – $19.99 (BGS9.5)

Copies Owned By Zistlers: 107

Wanted By: wwfcblogger19, CaptKirk42, Manc_Dawg, cardscrush99, aelb10
Available From: calicokid18, halos17, mkruger743, pb68, BucCollector, stevienicks77, colors, somethingcreative, hpennington22, curl192000, docsimmons, bjames95, ToppsTradeKing, eeewee

num08
Population Report
PSA BGS
10 - 0
10/9.5 282 44
9 325 38
8.5 4 25
8 289 27
7.5 1 20
7 53 8
6.5 0 5
6 10 5
5.5 0 0
5 8 1
Writer’s Comment: Another of those oh-so-wonderful 1987 Topps cards appearing on the list. I am a pretty huge fan of The Ryan Express so maybe this card is one I want in my collection. There is major financial gain out there on the table if anyone can find a BGS 10 of this card, maybe not today, but in the future for sure. Strong trade lists on this card, definitely should see some movement between Zistlers here.

Recent Prices: $7.19 (PSA8) – $10.99 (PSA9)

Copies Owned By Zistlers: 108

Wanted By: joe, CaptKirk42, wiastrosfan, matt406, twestl114b, lordofchance, HaaCha
Available From: pennystockgold, mkruger743, bdlehman18, stevienicks77, colors, somethingcreative, hpennington22, curl192000, cebartz, yemrot, ToppsTradeKing, TheProspector, clutchcity52, kho7000, richardsonpilot

num07
Population Report
PSA BGS
10 - 0
10/9.5 26 0
9 11 1
8.5 1 1
8 8 0
7.5 0 1
7 1 0
6.5 0 0
6 0 0
5.5 0 0
5 0 0
Writer’s Comment: One of the stranger appearances on this list, not because there aren’t many of them out there, but because it’s rare for the “All Stars” variations cards to be so clustered in collections. Nothing particularly great about this card, however there is a serious dearth of graded versions of this card, so if you have a good one, might be worth a send in.

Recent Prices: Unknown or N/A

Copies Owned By Zistlers: 108

Wanted By: drewscards, AnaLuABC, Tazz, lordofchance, shoebox
Available From: mkruger743, jkgrice, SDre31, JaysFan, whytyger, stevienicks77, somethingcreative, hpennington22, curl192000, cebartz, Rsgreen55, Bumfan, docsimmons, JDTilley, mpalcc, 1carddawg, Hittinaway

num06
Population Report
PSA BGS
10 - 2
10/9.5 601 160
9 2416 220
8.5 1 383
8 1719 320
7.5 0 162
7 158 65
6.5 0 28
6 21 22
5.5 0 11
5 20 7
Writer’s Comment: Oh 1987 Topps how I love thee… Anyway, Rafey’s rookie card is a solid one for collection. Not sure he’ll ever make the hall because of his PED accusations, but a great player over a great many years. Definitely strange seeing him in a Cubs uniform. Oh, and if the normal card for this set wasn’t bad enough, the “Future Stars” heading on these is about as bad as they come for card design choices.

Recent Prices: $5.95 (PSA9) – $34.99 (BGS9.5)

Copies Owned By Zistlers: 109

Wanted By: cubbyblue34, CaptKirk42, lordofchance, EArnold1983, supertom
Available From: Brock, calicokid18, BucCollector, colors, hpennington22, curl192000, jd2k2003, docsimmons, ToppsTradeKing, lsufanatic, richardsonpilot

num05
Population Report
PSA BGS
10 - 0
10/9.5 71 2
9 70 4
8.5 3 9
8 50 5
7.5 0 2
7 11 1
6.5 0 2
6 5 0
5.5 0 1
5 4 1
Writer’s Comment: You know, I will say this about the late 80s Topps sets, you can almost watch them put progressively more and more into the designs. 87 had a border background, 88 had more colors and action shots, 89 had curved lines and color fills, 90 went overboard with the colors, but if I think back, it was an impressive set at the time. Anyway, this Ripken is also lacking a BGS10, so if you might have one, get it in.

Recent Prices: $6.29 (PSA9) – $24.99 (PSA10)

Copies Owned By Zistlers: 109

Wanted By: MiamiCane07, beadedsports, alrajul, jlynch83, ToppsTradeKing
Available From: cubbyblue34, mkruger743, shelliebee, royals, whytyger, stevienicks77, somethingcreative, hpennington22, curl192000, pointaken, Rsgreen55, bdruss, docsimmons, alindenman, tcsffan, Hittinaway, aelb10, trerobinson1

num04
Population Report
PSA BGS
10 - 0
10/9.5 29 4
9 35 8
8.5 0 17
8 107 16
7.5 0 12
7 15 3
6.5 0 3
6 2 3
5.5 0 0
5 4 2
Writer’s Comment: Another card on this list lacking a BGS10. Does no one out there have a perfect one? Then again, one might never have been printed with how printing tech was in those days. Not really sure why this particular McGwire makes this list, it’s not his rookie card, nor really a prime example of him. Guessing someone out there bought a “brick” of these along the way.

Recent Prices: $4.55 (PSA8) – $7.99 (PSA10)

Copies Owned By Zistlers: 111

Wanted By: RoofGod, CaptKirk42, Tazz, lsufanatic
Available From: mkruger743, royals, beadedsports, Cameramano, stevienicks77, somethingcreative, hpennington22, curl192000, cebartz, docsimmons, ToppsTradeKing, 1carddawg, clutchcity52, Hittinaway, glassnickels, mikeyj

num03
Population Report
PSA BGS
10 - 3
10/9.5 710 58
9 1720 268
8.5 8 474
8 973 432
7.5 2 199
7 125 100
6.5 2 31
6 27 24
5.5 0 16
5 17 7
Writer’s Comment: The Big Unit makes his Topps debut. This is a card everyone should be loading up on in their collection as Randy is almost certain to be a Hall of Famer next year. He’ll be in elite company likely getting 97%+ of ballots which only Seaver, Ryan, and Maddux have done. Definitely a lot of graded ones floating around, but strong trading availability too as seen below. Go get some!

Recent Prices: $5.99 (PSA9) – $24.50 (BGS9.5)

Copies Owned By Zistlers: 115

Wanted By: BomboRivera, cardscrush99, 1carddawg, amadormax, FilteredShot
Available From: mattr, mkruger743, jkgrice, Cluedsy35, wilson, whytyger, stevienicks77, somethingcreative, hpennington22, Tazz, curl192000, docsimmons, shoebox, JDTilley, tidalwav90, TheProspector, BoBreaker, opierocks

num02
Population Report
PSA BGS
10 - 16
10/9.5 765 213
9 2379 612
8.5 8 1132
8 4667 896
7.5 0 529
7 579 241
6.5 1 108
6 109 62
5.5 0 28
5 107 28
Writer’s Comment: McGwire’s first card in an MLB, some still call it his Rookie Card (though the ’85 Team USA card really is). Not a lot interesting about this card other than its abundance. It does have the largest quantity of BGS10′s out there of any of the ’87 Topps cards, which is impressive. Not sure if he’ll ever make the hall, but just about every child of the ’80s owns this card just in case.

Recent Prices: $0.99 (BGS7) – $149.99 (BGS10)

Copies Owned By Zistlers: 116

Wanted By: RoofGod, CaptKirk42, beadedsports, wilson, scotch106
Available From: Brock, halos17, pb68, royals, BucCollector, colors, hpennington22, curl192000, pointaken, tidalwav90, ToppsTradeKing, lsufanatic, TheProspector

Drum-Roll Please!… And the most widely held card on Zistle is!…

num01
Population Report
PSA BGS
10 - 8
10/9.5 952 598
9 3642 1510
8.5 14 2760
8 5111 1912
7.5 6 1097
7 1036 559
6.5 1 280
6 254 196
5.5 1 102
5 117 61
Writer’s Comment: There was an absolute explosion in this card during Bonds’ chase for 71 as Beckett labels it his RC (though I think really his XRC 1986 Topps Traded will go down as his actual RC). Conveniently at the same time grading was really catching on. Combine the two and you have the numbers you see above. Not a bad card to own, but personally I much prefer his ’86 Topps Traded.

Recent Prices: $0.99 (PSA8) – $16.49 (BGS9.5)

Copies Owned By Zistlers: 126

Wanted By: mariner1, mjdt375, beadedsports, twestl114b, tedstrange, JetLife, ToppsTradeKing
Available From: Brock, pennystockgold, pb68, shelliebee, MOFNY, buccodrew, BucCollector, westendcards, carter86, colors, somethingcreative, ZinnBeck, hpennington22, rookieb, curl192000, zac247s, jasonp12, pointaken, lpb331, petethan55, bdruss

In summary, there’s a lot of late ’80s cards out there… who knew? (yes, that’s sarcasm)… I will say I’m a bit disappointed no Football, Hockey, or Basketball cards appeared on this list. Since it was coincidentally all baseball, I’ll look into putting together similar articles for the other 3 sports in the near future. I know there are enough collectors of those out there, so get adding to your Zistle collections already! Anyway, it was a fun romp through these cards, and I hope I’ve proven to you out there there there is a trading market for these cards. I hope you’ve had fun reading along, and as always, comments/feedback are always welcome below.

Happy Hunting!

Out for milk, back with cards!

Hello all! First off a brief introduction, my name is Chris Gill (KarmaPolice is my nom-de-zistle, and just about everywhere else on the web for that matter) and Ashley and Josh have graciously allowed me to start contributing some blog content here. You'll (hopefully) start to see regular posts from me and I hope you'll be both entertained and informed. I'm not foolish enough to think I know it all here and being that I am new to this craft (published writing, not collecting: I've been collecting for ~25 years) I heartily encourage you to post in the comments at the bottom what you think. What I could do better, what I did just right, and what other topics you'd like to see covered. To break me in (pun intended!) it seemed like a box break was a good place to start my blogging tenure, and so below, you'll find my weekend haul, hopefully with a helpful and informative reviewers slant. And so, without further ado... the story begins....

Friday was a rough day in the GillArticle Header Img household and a trip to Target was in order for Advil, Claritin, and milk… you betcha, I was hurting! While there (and thinking of spending the evening on the sofa), I figured why not have a little retail therapy as well: grab some cards and let that oh-so-sweet sound of wrappers peeling away from shiny new cards heal me. We all know Target is nothing to write home for about for their card selection but I happened to notice they had freshly stocked some 2014 Baseball Bowman Platinum and, having some good luck with a couple blaster boxes earlier in the month, I opted to purchase two more. Of course, there was also a very lonely looking box of 2014 Baseball Panini Prizm that was just begging for a home, so I snatched that up too.

So now, back at home, and ripping away, pack-by-pack, hit-by … wait… No, it’s a blaster box, no great hits will be had (maybe some okay ones). Anyway, maybe we can share a little enjoyment in these cards and learn a thing or two together.

Let’s start with the 2014 Baseball Panini Prizm set.

For a quick summary, this is one of the weirdest box opening experiences I’ve had in quite a while; that said, I think the card design is pretty good with slightly heavier than normal card stock, solid border design, and a nice lineup of players.

Main Set Card: Panini Prizm Main Set Example Panini Prizm Main Set Example

Moving on from here is when things start to get weird though….

To start with, ripping into that first pack, you’ll notice a fine white powder coats all the cards. My heart skipped a beat when I opened the first pack simultaneously thinking I’m being poisoned with anthrax (how did they know I would buy that box?) or perhaps the Arizona heat had ruined the cards in shipping, the wax coating dried out and the cards were starting to disintegrate (yes, it gets that hot down here that we actually worry about that kind of thing). In fact, it turns out it’s a “harmless organic press powder” used because the new signature-friendly UV coating on the cards was causing double-feeding and damage during card packaging. You can read more from Panini’s official blog post, however I personally wish they had delayed the release to fix the issue as I have no idea how this stuff is going to hold up over decades in penny sleeves (especially since it’s organic). In the end, it is fairly easy to clean off however quite time consuming to get it all.

Once I got past that, and got into a pack I quickly noticed that this isn’t an MLB licensed set (as with anything other than Topps), so you won’t see any team logos or insignia or even printed team names; just “Boston” or “San Francisco”. It is licensed by the MLBPA though, meaning they get to – and did – go old-school on us and give us some nice throwback players. I find it ridiculous for the hobby that only Topps can get the logos; there just aren’t enough manufacturers out there anymore to justify this, though that topic is for another post. When all is said and done, except for one or two very odd looking pictures, I’m not sure the lack of logos is a deal breaker for the set visually, but it definitely puts me off buying more. I’m also not sure it has a strong enough lineup to consider chasing cards via box breaks.

One final odd note before we get into the packs, the insert ratios/odds for the subsets aren’t printed anywhere on the pack or box (or even anywhere I could find on the web). The pack gives you the serial number count for the subsets, but no sense of scarcity beyond that and none at all for cards without serial numbers. Kind of unfortunate as I am always checking the backs of packs to see how rare that “Topps Gold” card I just pulled is. I guess in this case, if it is serial numbered you know the scarcity; and if it is not, well then, just assume there are a million of them.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s get into the packs and I’ll provide some comments as I pull things.

Pack 1:
Base Cards: Victor Martinez, Mike Napoli, George Brett

Inserts/Parallels: Golden Leather – Dustin Pedroia (Not serial numbered)

Summary: The George Brett made me realize quickly that I was in for some throwbacks. I actually appreciate this in sets as I believe collecting is often about connecting with your childhood as much as the sport and the players, and seeing my childhood stars coming out of packs does put a nice smile on my face. Not to mention it’s kind of “cool” to have some newer tech cards of players from the beige cardboard era.

  
Pack 2:
Base Cards: Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver, Wilmer Flores (RC)

Inserts/Parallels: Red Prizms – Marlon Byrd (#18/25)

Summary: Not a bad pull on the Red Prizm considering they are of 25. I do like the Red Prizm coloring (the picture at right makes it look VERY pink, it’s not, it’s more of a blood red), very sharp and eye catching. One note I do like here is that the serial numbers have been printed on the back. They belong there, not on the front screaming “look at me” the way many sets have moved to these days.

Pack 3:
Base Cards: Mark Trumbo, Mike Schmidt, Andrew Lambo (RC)

Inserts/Parallels: Autographs Prizms – Kevin Seitzer (Not serial numbered)

Summary: Yes, you read that right. Do not adjust your dial, this is not 1987 all over again… that is a real Kevin Seitzer auto in a 2014 set… wow… the Auto is on a sticker which detracts a bit from the cards I think, but I love the anachronistic nature of this card, so it’s a keeper. I wonder if this isn’t the only Kevin Seitzer autographed card ever released? (Follow up: A quick Zistle search tells me, nope, there are in fact 10 of them.)

Pack 4:
Base Cards: Derek Jeter, Jason Grilli, Coco Crisp

Inserts/Parallels: Prizms – Chipper Jones (Not serial numbered)

Summary: Sweet pull for me as a collector considering my love for Chipper Jones. That said, I’m not sure the Prizms set (just a slightly rainbow/shinier version of the base) is distinctive enough to make a really attractive parallel set, nothing like the Red Prizms anyway. I’m sure there is some trade appeal for the Jeter… make me an offer!

Pack 5:
Base Cards: Koji Uehara, Chris Archer, Logan Watkins (RC)

Inserts/Parallels: Top of the Order – Jose Bautista (Not serial numbered)

Summary: Pretty blah pack… though I think this is my first Uehara card. Not a huge fan of the Top of the Order inserts, too boring.

Pack 6:
Base Cards: B.J. Upton, Jeff Bagwell, Jose Fernandez

Inserts/Parallels: Chasing the Hall – Ichiro Suzuki (Not serial numbered)

Summary: I like the Chasing the Hall card design, and of course a Jeff Bagwell card is always nice… pretty good for a “common pack”

Pack 7:
This is a special blaster box only pack of Camo Prizms

Inserts/Parallels: Camo Prizms – Elvis Andrus, Max Scherzer, Marlon Byrd, Jon Lester, Nick Swisher, Ehire Adrianza (RC)

Summary: I hate these blaster box parallel sets, I would much rather another normal pack instead of these any day.

 

Overall Summary: Fun box to break, probably not much long term value in this set and the lack of licensing probably limits collector appeal. It looks like you can expect one insert card per pack and approximately one rookie or retiree. I expect that a lot of people won’t like this set, though it does have some merits (elegant, well rounded, decent insert/parallel lineup, and those damn sexy Red Prizms). The throwback guys are going to be a treasure trove for PC collectors, which I suspect is about the only thing that will keep collectors buying these. For me, the Kevin Seitzer auto was a weird enough pull that I have a quirky admiration for the set, but I don’t think I’ll be buying more of it.
Overall Recommendation: Collectors should avoid buying quantities. Trade/buy for singles you want. Perfect blaster box for a kid or niece/nephew’s birthday present though.
Overall Grade: C

Moving away from Panini and into Topps territory. I have bought 2 blaster boxes of 2014 Baseball Bowman Platinum before today and I have to say this is probably my favorite set of 2014, and probably in my top 10 all time (which sounds like a good post for another day). Today I added two more blaster boxes to my collection, and I am almost certain I will buy more, maybe even going for a proper Hobby box.

Main Set Card: Bowman Platinum Main Set Example Front Bowman Platinum Main Set Example Back

The card design is beautiful and simple, the player pictures are generally in-action and very well taken. The card backs are even nicely made, but perhaps the flaw here is that they are too simple (more stats/info please!). The nice logo and coloring on the fronts are what make me love this set design though. For these reasons, when I saw Target had restocked these, I threw some more money at them.

To start with, I don’t expect super hits in any blaster box, and to that end I really wasn’t disappointed with these as that belief held true. However this set is so wonderful in its base design (and the parallels) that I am seriously considering trying to complete this one. With 200 base cards (100 rookie/veterans and 100 prospects) it should not be particularly difficult to do.

The knocks against this set are pretty broad strokes though. First, a general complaint that I have with all sets these days, but is especially relevant to this one: Do we really need 4 or 5 parallels of every card in every set/subset? I don’t mind one or two… but beyond that it just waters down the set as a whole I believe. The most major complaint I have of this set though is that it has taken the rookie/veteran set and numbered it 1-100 and the prospect set and numbered it BPP 1-100… WHY?!?!… Just give it one set of number 1-200 please and save us the organization challenge!

Anyway, you can see those are fairly minor complaints in the grand scheme and so we move along to the meat of the matter and see what we can pull. Let the blaster boxes be opened:

Pack 1.1:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Taijuan Walker (RC)

Prospect Base Cards: Lucas Sims, Luis Sardinas

Inserts/Parallels: Cutting Edge Stars – Wil Myers (1:10)

Summary: The Cutting Edge Stars is a nice card, definitely would look slick for the auto or relic versions. Taijuan Walker leads off the set as card #1, that seems an odd distinction for a fairly unheralded player.

Pack 1.2:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Ryan Braun

Prospect Base Cards: Stryker Trahan

Inserts/Parallels: Refractor – Kohl Stewart (1:4), Top Prospects – Eddie Butler (1:5)

Summary: The Top Prospects is a nice looking card, they are all die-cut despite the packaging listing the “die-cuts” as a parallel of the Top Prospects. The “die-cuts” parallel mentioned on the pack is actually the refractor die-cuts and they are serial numbered to 25. The prospect refractors are a nice card, in fact I kind of wish the whole set were made of the same material as it’s a bit glossier and even more elegant than the base with its smoother background look (compared to the slightly “crinkled” version on the base card).

Pack 1.3:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Matt Davidson (RC)

Prospect Base Cards: J.P. Crawford

Inserts/Parallels: Sapphire Parallel – Taijuan Walker (1:10), Blue Refractor – Michael Ynoa (1:153, #57/199)

Summary: A nice Blue Refractor, though I’m not sure Ynoa will ever amount to much. More impressive was the Sapphire parallel set’s blue sheen, it’s very nice looking and fun to watch glisten in the light.

Pack 1.4:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Adam Wainwright, Prince Fielder

Prospect Base Cards: Rosell Herrera, Billy McKinney

Summary: First commons pack. Not much interesting here.

Pack 1.5:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Jon Lester, Cole Hamels

Prospect Base Cards: Courtney Hawkins, Chris Anderson

Summary: Another commons pack. Again, nothing interesting, though still beautiful cards.

Pack 1.6:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Yadier Molina

Prospect Base Cards: Taylor Guerrieri

Inserts/Parallels: Refractor – Roberto Osuna (1:4), Gold Parllel – Alex Guerrero (1:5)

Summary: The gold parallel looks almost like a tarnished version of the base card… considering how hot the sapphire ones looked, the gold ones left me on the other end, definitely wanting more.

Pack 1.7:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Nick Castellanos (RC), Matt Holliday

Prospect Base Cards: David Dahl, Alen Hanson

Summary: Another commons pack. Nothing to say here.

Pack 1.8:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Andrew McCutchen

Prospect Base Cards: Domingo Santana, Colin Moran

Inserts/Parallels: Top Prospects – David Dahl (1:10)

Summary: Another nice looking Top Prospects card… This is a nice insert set.

Pack 2.1:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Pedro Alvarez

Prospect Base Cards: C.J. Edwards, Brandon Nimmo

Inserts/Parallels: Top Prospects – Austin Meadows (1:10)

Summary: More Top prospects love, and I don’t mind…

Pack 2.2:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Jay Bruce, Jean Segura

Prospect Base Cards: Devon Travis

Inserts/Parallels: Refractors – Hak-Ju Lee (1:4)

Summary: The more of these refractors I get, the more beautiful they look, and the more I wish it were just a refractor base set.

Pack 2.3:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Aroldis Chapman

Prospect Base Cards: Daniel Robertson, Kyle Zimmer

Inserts/Parallels: Ruby Parallel – Billy Hamilton (1:20)

Summary: The sapphire parallel is gorgeous, the Ruby parallel is that times 100, truly a breathtaking card in my opinion… really makes me feel bad for the gold parallel. I think the Reds uni of Hamilton even adds to the look of the Ruby background as this is one sumptuous card.

Pack 2.4:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Madison Bumgarner

Prospect Base Cards: Bubba Starling, Clint Frazier

Inserts/Parallels: Cutting Edge Stars – Andrew McCutchen (1:10)

Summary: I’m salivating for a Cutting Edge Stars with an auto or relic… it would be such a nice looking card and without it this card design suffers from a lot of negative space… and the auto and relics do exist (and both infact), though very scarce at 1:6850 & 1:4100 respectively

Pack 2.5:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Max Scherzer

Prospect Base Cards: Justin Nicolino

Inserts/Parallels: Gold Parallel – Jacoby Ellsbury (1:5), X-Fractor – Zach Lee (1:20)

Summary: My first X-Fractor… a little strange looking, not nearly as nice as the other parallels, though still better than the gold of which I got another here.

Pack 2.6:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: David Price

Prospect Base Cards: Eddie Butler

Inserts/Parallels: Refractor – Nick Travieso (1:4), Toolsy Die-Cut – Joey Gallo (1:20)

Summary: Another beautiful refractor, a shame they only exist for the prospects. A Toolsy Die-Cut card in this one, and I need to take a minute on this insert, mostly to avoid tearing the card to shreds trying to get it into a penny sleeve. In their infinite wisdom, Bowman has made this card have 4 sharp corners down the left side of the card, making it a nightmare to get into a sleeve without splitting a corner. Also, the die-cutting on this card is pretty wonky, very reminiscent of the 90s when die-cuts were going crazy. I think I’ll put this in with the gold-parallel and just say it’s not a great card design or a particularly interesting insert subset, needs a rework for next year.

Pack 2.7:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Alex Guerrero (RC), Tony Sanchez (RC)

Prospect Base Cards: Tyler Glasnow, Dorssys Paulion

Summary: Commons pack, but such nice cards to look at that I don’t mind.

Pack 2.8:
Veteran/Rookie Base Cards: Oscar Taveras (RC)

Prospect Base Cards: Christian Arroyo, Jake Barrett

Inserts/Parallels: Gold Parallel – Matt Moore (1:5)

Summary: Another of the ugly gold parallels, but a nice Taveras RC to add to my collection… pretty sure that guy is gonna be a staple for STL for years to come.

 

Overall Summary: In review, you can expect one insert/parallel per pack, several packs even had multiple. The “hit” ratio is pretty scarce on the blaster boxes, obviously my pull here wasn’t great. But I’ve now bought 6 blaster boxes of this product and have gotten 3 autos, no relics, so they are fairly scarce in this format, and even the hobby boxes look to be scarce in auto/relic cards. Another interesting note on these is that they are going to be VERY hard to keep in good condition. The foil runs straight to the edge of the card on the front, and the black-ish backs are equally fragile and as such both are easy to flake off. Just putting them in penny sleeves can be disastrous if you hurry. This means that Mint graded versions of these cards will likely have a super premium. Lastly, in looking at my piles of cards, I can see that it’s a pretty even split between rookies/veterans, prospects, and inserts/parallels. So you can expect about even mixes of each.
Overall Recommendation: Very solid collectors set, a beautiful one for set builders. I expect a strong trading market for the parallels, and an ok resale market, though there are only a few “super premium” cards that will attract the high end chasers.
Overall Grade: A-

And that is that folks. Two blaster boxes of Bowman Platinum and a box of Panini Prizm. Let me know what you thought of this format, do’s and don’ts for my next column, and any feedback you may have on breaks of these sets.

Happy Hunting!

Zistle goes to the National

nsccshow

The Zistle team will be at the National this year and we couldn’t be more excited.

If any Zistlers are going to be there we would love to meet you in person. We will be cruising the floor on Wednesday night and Thursday all day.

We are also planning a get-together after the show on Thursday night. If you are interested in attending, check out the details.

We’ll be tweeting our location throughout the day. If you have trouble finding us, send us a message on twitter if you want to meet somewhere on the floor.

We can’t wait!

Forum Improvements: Markdown, Emoji and BB Codes

We’ve made some improvements to the forum by implementing markdown with BBCode and Emoji support. Oh yeah – EMOJIS!

Markdown

Zistle now supports markdown in the forum. Markdown is a popular text to HTML tool that is used on many popular websites to help format text for web publishing. It allows some pretty sophisticated formatting options without requiring any HTML writing. However, It is completely OK if you are not that familiar with markdown or don’t want to spend time learning the syntax. Our text editor buttons will give you the shortcuts automatically and of course, plain text will work just fine.

BBCode

We will also have BBCode support which is particularly helpful for inserting images into forum posts.

The text that you enter may look a little strange but there will be a preview space before your post so you can see what your post will look like.

ForumPostPreview

Images will not display in the preview panel – so don’t worry if your image does not appear in the preview pane. It will appear in your post and look Oh So Awesome.

Forum_Post_With_Image

Since you can edit your posts on Zistle, if you have an issue or make a mistake, you can always edit it after publishing.

EMOJI

Emoji Compilation

We’ve also added emoji support – because – well because why not?! Can anyone truly express themselves without these lovely little icons? Here is an Emoji Cheat Sheet for you to peruse while deciding what truly expresses your mood today.

 

 

Automatically add all duplicates to your Tradelist

We are excited to announce that it is now possible to automatically add all duplicates to your tradelist on Zistle. If you enable this feature, Zistle will add any duplicates currently in your collection to your Tradelist. In addition, anytime you add more than one card to your collection in the future, it will automatically be added to your Tradelist.

This feature is located in settings > trading.

Add dupes to tradelist

You can stop adding all dupes at anytime. However, this will not remove any cards from your tradelist, so please enable this feature with caution.

 

Trading Cards Online: More accurate tradelists including condition and grading

We’re happy to announce some improvements to our online trading system. We’ve added the condition and graded information to all trade proposals. In addition, we’ve made tradelists more functional by allowing you to designate the exact cards that you wish to trade. This should make trading cards online with Zistle more accurate and enable some exciting features in the future.

This is a continuation of the recent improvements to allow condition tracking, adding grading information to cards as well as keeping notes for separate items.

Adding individual cards to your tradelist will work the same as it does now. With one click, you will be able to add those cards to your tradelist. However, if you have more than one card, you will be prompted to indicate exactly which items are are available for trade.

update_trading

For example, if you have three of the same card in your collection but you decide that you want to just trade one, not only can you specify that information, now you can choose the exact item that you wish to trade.

When trading, each card will now be listed as an individual line item rather than having a quantity. So if you have more than one of the same item for trade, it will be listed twice.

trade_explorer

Grading and condition information will now appear in the trade explorer and trade proposal flow. If a member has not indicated the condition, you can always ask about it in the message. This is a fairly new feature so it this will be common at first.

Please double check existing trades for accuracy

This is a significant change from our previous system so it is possible that existing trades may need to be adjusted. If you have active trade proposals, please make sure that your trades appear accurate and make any adjustments before completing the trade.

Trade only duplicates coming soon!

What is really exciting is that this change in our trading platform will allow us to deliver one of our most requested features: the ability to trade all duplicates. With one click, you will be able to mark all of your duplicate items for trade – Look for this update soon!

If you want to edit this information right away, you can go to collection, select “cards on my tradelist” and edit your trading information in list view by selecting the trade icon. However, we plan on releasing this feature very soon.

Stats Update: Contributor Weekly Leaders for April

Just a quick post to thank our awesome contributors who continue their awesome work with building the Zistle Library.

A big thanks to hofmichael who has taken the top spot over the last few weeks. In addition, if you haven’t already be sure to say hi to some of our newer members including Biminy, seal006themakreriktheviking01TradingCards4every1clutchcity52, and cherrypicker22.

Weekly Leaders for April 7th to Apr 13th

  1. bdlehman18 – 765,108 points
  2. buckstorecards – 286,245 points
  3. LatentMoths – 271,775 points
  4. hofmichael – 205,528 points
  5. Summertopp – 136,333 points
  6. Chinmusic – 118,975 points
  7. kolektorz – 82,650 points
  8. Rosenort – 65,031 points
  9. cubbyblue34 – 64,804 points
  10. d3x – 46,102 points
  11. jkirst – 28,641 points
  12. chonk34 – 26,866 points
  13. kazi – 26,391 points
  14. BucCollector – 25,954 points
  15. CardMarkets – 24,045 points
  16. tprivitor – 22,100 points
  17. dswanjr – 21,464 points
  18. 1carddawg – 10,927 points
  19. AUTaxMan – 10,429 points
  20. yntatny – 8,326 points

Weekly Leaders from April 14th to April 20th

  1. hofmichael – 919,000 points
  2. buckstorecards – 248,496 points
  3. bdlehman18 – 212,020 points
  4. 1ranger1 – 192,360 points
  5. dswanjr – 112,871 point
  6. Chinmusic – 106,825 points
  7. cubbyblue34 – 62,252 points
  8. Rosenort – 41,938 points
  9. Biminy – 41,794 points
  10. chonk34 – 33,555 points
  11. yntatny – 27,774 points
  12. mkaz80 – 26,639 points
  13. d3x – 24,400 points
  14. seal006 – 23,858 points
  15. clutchcity52 – 21,140 points
  16. bjbernier78 – 19,987 points
  17. BucCollector – 16,740 points
  18. underdogcollector – 15,090 points
  19. 1carddawg – 13,951 points
  20. jesse22 – 11,259 points

Weekly Leaders from April 21st to April 27th

  1. hofmichael – 1,077,700 points
  2. LatentMoths – 557,476 points
  3. dswanjr – 539,551 points
  4. 1ranger1 – 258,679 points
  5. bjbernier78 – 220,406 points
  6. TradingCards4every1 – 138,063 points
  7. cubbyblue34 – 82,827 points
  8. Chinmusic – 75,275 points
  9. Rosenort – 70,115 points
  10. buckstorecards – 50,248 points
  11. themakr – 49,693 points
  12. eriktheviking01 – 48,105 points
  13. jkirst – 45,934 points
  14. BucCollector – 42,485 points
  15. d3x – 36,826 points
  16. clutchcity52 – 30,639 points
  17. kazi – 25,691 points
  18. Biminy – 21,148 points
  19. mkaz80 – 12,736 points
  20. bdlehman18 – 11,257 points
  21. corockies – 10,980 points

Weekly Leaders from April 28th to May 4th

  1. hofmichael – 572,250 points
  2. dswanjr – 302,620 points
  3. LatentMoths – 229,933 points
  4. tprivitor – 192,975 points
  5. 1ranger1 – 126,554 points
  6. Chinmusic – 120,265 points
  7. cubbyblue34 – 114,650 points
  8. Rosenort – 102,912 points
  9. TradingCards4every1 – 80,949 points
  10. themakr – 70,858 points
  11. clutchcity52 – 64,501 points
  12. BucCollector – 59,537 points
  13. yntatny – 50,901 points
  14. bdlehman18 – 47,767 points
  15. eriktheviking01 – 40,268 points
  16. buckstorecards – 28,385 points
  17. Biminy – 26,651 points
  18. cherrypicker22 – 19,988 points
  19. mkaz80 – 19,765 points
  20. d3x – 15,400 points

Collection Management Made Easier: Preview Images in List View

We are excited to announce that we’ve added preview images to list view in Zistle Collect. Having images makes it easier to categorize cards quickly as well as help identify which items in your collection don’t have an image.

As we add more capabilities to our collection management tool, we have had to alter some of the functionality available in the gallery view. List view is really the view for making bulk changes and for editing your collection quickly. However, many of you have told us that images are very central to how you organize your collection and being able to see them quickly is an important aspect of Zistle. So we decided to add a preview image to list view to help make your organizing tasks easier.

Updates to List View in Zistle Collect

 While it is a small change we hope that it will have a big impact in helping you organize your collection more effectively.

Thanks for your support while we continue to improve Zistle’s collection management tools to make it even easier to organize your collection online.