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 Gill 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:
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.
|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.
|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.
|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.)
|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!
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:
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:
|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.
|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).
|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.
|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
|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.
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.