1958 Topps Uncut Sheet Baseball Cards Mickey Mantle

Ever wanted to create your own baseball card? Topps Contest can help with that!

Now this is innovation I can get behind & it is great for our hobby! Topps will be accepting submissions of pictures from fans this year and will select up to 30 of them to be included in 2015 Topps Opening Day flagship product as inserts!

APTOPIX Rays Yankees BaseballEvery one who attends a baseball game ends up taking a picture or two – all of us hoping to capture a fleeting moment of our memory on film (or in today’s age in pixels).

Winners will be judged on the photo’s creativity and originality and submission are to be posted to Topps’s official Instagram @toppssports with the hash tag #ToppsLive. More information about the specific rules can be found here at Topps.com.

Baseball Fight
Baseball Fight

So what are you waiting for….get to a game and start taking pictures! If you are selected let us know as we will secure a copy of the card and want the whole story (and a signed copy as well for our Card Wall of Fame!) Is anyone else hoping that the first “Fight” baseball card is created?

Until Next Time….Happy Collecting!


2014 Upper Deck Marvel Now Box

Did Upper Deck add an unannounced parallel to the Marvel NOW! set?

It appears that there is an unannounced parallel in Marvel NOW! by Upper Deck. It has been know that that there are silver foil parallels to the basic cards in every pack and a red parallel variant that is handed numbered to 10 on the front with the back of the card having the word “variant” next to the card number. The unannounced parallel seems to be a combination of silver and red parallels – front of the card has silver foil and the back of the card has the word “variant” next to the card number.

2014 Marvel Now Superior Spider-man Silver Variant Front
2014 Marvel Now Superior Spider-man Silver Variant Front
2014 Marvel Now Superior Spider-man Silver Variant Back
2014 Marvel Now Superior Spider-man Silver Variant Back

These “Silver Variants” parallels aren’t “one-of-one” as there have already been two Superior Spider-Man cards on eBay. They might be just as limited or more as the red parallel variants by comparing the amount listed on eBay as a comparison. For characters that have multiple red parallel variants, a couple have already had three on eBay – Iron Man (# 4, 5, & 7) and Rocket Raccoon (# 2, 3, & 4).

Just because the “Silver Variant” might be as limited or more as the Red Parallel Variant, collectors tend to gravitate towards cards that are numbered (even hand numbered) so prices will probably be higher for the red versions. But they are still limited so until Upper Deck releases more information on these “Silver Variants” there might be some bargains floating out there in common boxes … especially in they are indeed limited to a handful.

Here are some of the “Silver Variants” that have sold on eBay compared to their Red Variant counterparts:

2014 Marvel Now Emma Frost Silver Variant Front
2014 Marvel Now Emma Frost Silver Variant Front

Emma Frost
Red – #3/10 (item #370995690830) $89.94
Silver – (item #360854034176) $50.00

Superior Spider-Man
Red – #7/10 (item #251438437034) $101.01
Silver – (item #371018931389) $49.99

Red – #2/10 (item #33113906936) $64.53
Red – #1/10 (item #141187479182) $42.00

2014 Marvel Now Emma Frost Silver Variant Back
2014 Marvel Now Emma Frost Silver Variant Back

Silver – (item #371011390340) $25.67

We would love to hear your thoughts on these parallels and if you have any luck finding them in the common boxes.

Kevin St JacqueContributing Author Kevin St. Jacque has been collecting cards, comics and watching baseball and basketball since the late-1970′s. He has over 1,100 Marvel sketch cards and just as many autographed and memorabilia sports insert cards. Raised in the LBC, he’s an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan. Recently he spends time with his young daughter hunting stores for Monster High dolls for her collection. You can find him contributing various hobby happenings on www.forloveofhomeplate.com

1956 Topps Roberto Clemente PSA 6

To Grade or Not To Grade? A Baseball Card Collector’s Dilema

1986 Fleer Michael Jordan RC PSA 8 - Pulled from a pack back in 1988 when I was a kid!
1986 Fleer Michael Jordan RC PSA 8 – Pulled from a pack back in 1988 when I was a kid!

As our hobby has matured over the years the card grading phenomenon has exploded. Within weeks of a new product being released you will find graded versions available on ebay for sale, with the higher grades commanding a respectable premium. There is a whole subset of collectors who monitor the various population reports pursuing the highest graded examples and adding an additional dimension of rarity. (*Of course in the new card market there could be identical examples of high grades waiting to be graded around the corner so tread carefully over-spending on modern high grade cards).

I see two very strong plays for endorsing purchasing graded cards and/or getting your key cards graded. As the hobby has evolved into a major business combined with the advances in technology (software & printing capabilities) there is an increasing risk around counterfeits. There has been an increase in very talented individuals offering to make “custom” cards for collectors. Think of a “1989 Upper Deck Babe Ruth RC” or a “1920 Tobacco Ken Griffey Jr RC” as cards that never were being produced. I have actually held some examples in my hand and they are very impressive – we will leave the whole copyright issue alone with this article….but to stay on point imagine that same individual creating a “1986 Fleer Michael Jordan RC” that looks pristine to the naked eye in a magnetic one touch…only to find out years later you purchased a fake.

1955 Topps Roberto Clemente RC PSA 3 - Even  low grade key cards carry value as the buyer knows it is legit.
1955 Topps Roberto Clemente RC PSA 3 – Even low grade key cards carry value as the buyer knows it is legit.

The second major endorsement to leveraging graded cards is liquidity. Our hobby has long been advised as not to be an investment vehicle and the majority of us collect out of a connection to our pasts, but at the same time we recognize there is actual monetary value in some of our collection. Personally as a father of four and a wife who doesn’t collect I told her if something ever happened to me to just take a picture and write verbatim the heads on my graded cards and put them on eBay. Even if she started out auctions at $0.01 the fact the cards are 3rd party authenticated and graded will at least get them a “fair” market value in return and my family could use the money for something they need/want.

1980 Topps Larry Bird RC Magic Johnson RC - Tagged with a (ST) qualifier for Stain
1980 Topps Larry Bird RC Magic Johnson RC – Tagged with a (ST) qualifier for Stain

This of course leads us to “who” to use or purchase. You will find many opinions on this topic but my perspectives and rational are as follows:

Vintage – PSA (Professional Sports Authenticators) They have a very large following of PSA Set Builders that compete for the highest graded collection or set which makes their market in vintage pretty stable and very strong in cases of rare cards. I also like that you can look at their FREE Population Report and FREE Price Guide to get a feel for how rare your graded cards are and what they are worth.

Modern – Beckett Grading Services Which have a more aesthetically pleasing encapsulation including showcasing sub-grades and Autograph grades. Many of the collectors of modern cards (i.e. Bowman Prospect Rookies, etc…) tend to favor these holders and I find there is a slight premium on items sold here as well.

1959 Topps Bob Gibson RC PSA 5 - A middle grade card can still add great visual appeal in a collection, save money and hold value.
1959 Topps Bob Gibson RC PSA 5 – A middle grade card can still add great visual appeal in a collection, save money and hold value.

My last comment is to not get your hopes up on your grades. I know we all think we have Mint cards that are perfect….but nothing is more humbling than opening a box returned from professional grading and seeing a card you thought would be a 9 come back a 7…..or a vintage card you thought would be a 7 come back a 4. It happens to all of us as the professionals use magnification, black lights, etc and scour every possible angle of your cards. My advice to save money is to purchase some graded cards you like and use them to compare to what you are going to submit to get proper expectations.

Let me know your grading experiences or opinions.

Until Next Time…..Happy Collecting,


2014 Topps UFC Knockout Alexander Gustafsson Fighter Worn Glove 1/1

2014 Topps UFC Knockout Product Review – A Collecting TKO! Buy Now!

Our first official Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Break as we gingerly stepped into the Octagon and quickly found ourselves beaten into submission….We are quickly becoming fans of this fast rising sport so add us to the growing number of UFC hobby collectible enthusiasts.

Topps brings the first UFC product to market this year which you can find here at Steelcity Collectibles for $140 a box. Each box is guaranteed to hit 2 Autographs, 2 Autographed Relics and 4 Relics overall….basically a hit in every pack.

2014 Topps UFC Knockout Ultimate Inscription Cain Velasquez /25
2014 Topps UFC Knockout Ultimate Inscription Cain Velasquez /25
2014 Topps UFC Knockout Cat Zingano Autograph Red Parallel /8
2014 Topps UFC Knockout Cat Zingano Autograph Red Parallel /8

Granted we definitely hit a major HOT BOX right out of the gate featuring the Alexander Gustafsson Fighter Worn Glove Book Card 1/1. As well as the Cain Velasquez Ultimate Inscription Autograph signed UFC Champ /25 – and as if that wasn’t enough we found a Cat Zingano Auto Parallel /8. We are not ones to ever take an outstanding break for granted but just keep in mind this box would more than likely be the outlier of the standard 8 box case as the book card is the case hit. (*We are very happy to have beaten the odds this go around!)

2014 Topps UFC Knockout T.J. Dillashaw 1st First Autograph
2014 Topps UFC Knockout T.J. Dillashaw 1st First Autograph

In the second box we did pull a couple of 1st Autograph cards which are collected similar to “Rookie” cards in other sports so they tend to hold their value if you hit the right fighters. Our best was a T.J. Dillashaw who will be fighting for a UFC Championship later on this month – so we will hold that one for the moment!

Overall I really liked the design of the base set….the cards have a black matte finish and the fighters are glossy making them pop. The insert (autographed & relic cards) are varied in design some borrowing from Topps Triple Threads designs and others beign fairly straight forward.

In general if you are a fan of the UFC and can afford a $140 box….then in our opinion it is worth the chance to step into the Octagon.

Until Next Time….Keep on Bustin’



Bowman Auto Prospect collection

How to Collect Baseball Prospect Cards – 1st Inning Interview of Tom Bucci Jr

2014 Bowman Chrome Jose Abreu Green Auto Refractor /25
2014 Bowman Chrome Jose Abreu Green Auto Refractor /25
I have been mulling over collecting a Baseball Prospect in the Minor Leagues and tracking their journey (ideally) to the Big Show! Early in my search I found some astronomical prices for Bowman Prospect cards that made my head spin! After reviewing a bunch of recently drafted prospects I came across a player that I decided to begin collecting (more on that player in a future article!) but even better I met a very friendly prospect enthusiast, Tom Bucci Jr, who was kind enough to help me get my collection started as well as parse out some advice I would like to share.
1989 Hoops David Robinson RC
1989 Hoops David Robinson RC

1. When did you first start collecting baseball cards?

I first started collecting when I was about 13 or 14. The first set my dad ever bought me was a Hoops set with the David Robinson rookie card. I still own it too. 

2. What got you into collecting “Prospects”?

Collecting prospects is all I have ever really done. I never got into the inserts and parallels that came out. I always like having the first card of a player. I think because when I was younger and would read a Beckett I would see that the RC was normally worth the most and I thought it would always be the best one to own.

Curry PSA 103. Who are your favorites or players you collect today?
My favorite players to collect are Chase Utley and Stephen Curry 
I have a couple real nice Utley’s I have his 2002 Bowman Auto BGS 9.5/10. It’s the only one graded a BGS 9.5 and a Stephen Curry National Treasures AUTO/Patch PSA 10. Its the only PSA 10 as well. 
1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan RC PSA 10
1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan RC PSA 10

4. Holy Grail Pieces you would like to own? 

A Jordan RC Fleer PSA 10 or BGS Pristine…Maybe even a Durant Exquisite BGS 9.5 or PSA 10
5. Why do you think prices are so high for prospects that may never make it professionally? What is the Appeal to you?

I think prices are so high because everyone hopes to hit the lottery with one of them. We all think we know who the next Mike Trout is going to be or the next player that we can get in on really cheap and make it big when he goes off. I think that is the appeal for a lot of people. I just like being able to root for someone and know that you might be able to make a few bucks on them as well. I mean we have all owned a Jerome Walton

1989 Upper Deck Jerome Walton RC
1989 Upper Deck Jerome Walton RC

1989 Upper Deck and either made some cash on it or never sold it because we thought he was going to bring us more then we thought. Therefore, those are still sitting in our closets somewhere..LOL!!

6. What are the thoughts around paying for grading on modern cards? Worth the investment?
I really like graded cards. I like knowing the condition of it and the protection of a nice holder so you can display it. I do think it is worth the investment. I also think it’s a little shady sometimes when it comes to grading companies and receiving grades that aren’t deserved but if I spend enough money with you I will get a pass on something so I can make some cash. 
2001 SPx Mark Prior Auto RC
2001 SPx Mark Prior Auto RC

7. Any tips to new collectors of prospects about identifying players to collect? I assume a lot of research is done before hand?

I really don’t have any tips..LOL!!! Pray that they don’t get hurt…HAHA!! I do not like collecting pitchers personally because I got burned during the Mark Prior era. I made some money, but not what I spent on him. I think pitchers are too expensive for the overall profit that you make on them. I really don’t do much research. I have liked guys and got lucky by them doing well. Yet at the same time, I have lost money on guys that I thought would do something and they never did a thing. 
8. How do you feel about all the Rainbow parallels many Prospectors seem to chase?
I like the rainbow parallels, but they are just insane to own if you want a top prospect or even a middle of the road guy. Their reds, oranges, superfractors and now purples even are just way too expensive way too quickly. Bowman Chrome rules the market for rookies though. I mean platinum and other products are nice, but it doesn’t mean anything until the player has a chrome. Jose Abreu’s comes out soon and it will be an absolute joke at what his prices will be, especially given the fact that he is playing so well. Again people are thinking he is the next trout or might be and we never really know.
Big shout out & Thanks to Tom Bucci Jr….this is what I love about our hobby…start out seeking a collectible and come back with a friend of shared interest. That my friends is prospecting you can’t put a price on!
2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Mike Trout Auto RC BGS 9.5 10
2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Mike Trout Auto RC BGS 9.5 10
Let me know if you have an interesting prospect story or perspective you would like to share.  Until next time…..May your next PC prospect blow-up like Mike Trout!
2014 In The Game Past Present Future Sale Sheet Baseball

2014 In The Game Past, Present, Future Baseball Sales Results – Swing & A Major Miss

1969 Topps Craig Nettles RC
1969 Topps Craig Nettles RC

This was a product with great potential that I feel took a cheap way out to fulfilling it’s orders. The Sale Sheet showed the promise of “vintage” Buy-Back Rookie cards and HOF Buy-Back Autographs, but the end results were a bit deceiving. The oldest Buy Back card we hit in our break for instance was a 1969 Craig Nettles RC PSA 9 (MC) or Miss Cut which only brought back $20.

Box Avg Price Sold Profit/Loss Key Hits
1 $145 $11 -$134 2011 Plates & Patches $83 ; Y.A. Tittle Auto $15
2 $145 $37 -$108 2011 Topps Chrome $129 ; John Mackey Auto $10
3 $145 $70 -$75 2007 UD Premier $100
4 $145 $64 -$81 2008 SP Rookie Threads $129
5 $145 $25 -$120 2012 Panini Black $147 ; Jimmy Johnson Auto $34
6 $145 $79 -$66 2013 Playbook $99 ; Maxie Baughan Auto $21
7 $145 $145 $0 2012 Topps Supreme $113 ; Herb Adderley Auto $22
8 $145 $44 -$101 2011 Playoff Contenders $114 ; Joe Namath Auto $51
9 $145 $44 -$101
10 $145 $19 -$126
Totals $1,450 $538 -$912

Other “notable” Buy Back Rookies we hit in our 10 box case were a 1974 Topps Dave Winfield RC PSA 4 ($10)and a 1985 Donruss Kirby Puckett ($10). After that the Buy Back signed “vintage” cards were a 1994 Ted Williams Card Co. Bobby Doer Auto ($5), 1984 Fleer Bert Blyleven Auto ($10) and a 1975 Topps Goose Gossage Auto ($10).

2014 ITG Past Present Future 1/1 Cut Auto
2014 ITG Past Present Future 1/1 Cut Auto

From the Buy Back perspective these are all cards that could be had in the bargain bin section of any local card show or auction on eBay.  One advantage of repackaged products “should” be the packager/manufacture can leverage volume in their purchasing power to procure a number of quality cards for a better price than an individual collector buying a single. I did not feel or see that with this product and simply having PSA create a custom slab label does not make the card under the plastic any more desirable.

2014 ITG Past Present Future Robin Yount Patch /5
2014 ITG Past Present Future Robin Yount Patch /5

Even our 1/1 Cut Auto which I assume was the case hit of Johnny Sain sold for a meager $18. The cards that seemed to be the most popular from the “Special” hits in the box were the patches which we hit Robin Yount and Duke Snider….they were very large swatches and fetched decent prices. I think two areas of potential improvement would be to remove the Die Cut PPF letters to reveal more of the Game Used Patch since they appear to be one large cut. Also just adding a head shot photo even without logo would increase the value for collectors.

As you can see the numbers were pretty brutal with over 16 Autographed cards remaining unsold that were listed for 7 days at $3 each. When collectors are paying $145 a box at sites like Blow Out Cards you expect more value, but as you can see 6 of our boxes from a sealed case lost over $100 each! That is practically no return. The “Best” box we hit broke us even, but the drop-off was major from that anomaly.

With an overall negative Return On Investment (ROI) of -62.9% we are advising you avoid opening this product at all costs.

2013-14 Panini Intrigue Sale Sheet

2013-14 Panini Intrigue Basketball Break Results Not So Intriguing

Disappointment and surprise are two adjectives I would use to describe the sales results on these two boxes.  I was relieved I listened to my intuition on not breaking a case as that could have been absolutely brutal. The card designs themselves were fun but the overall value per box left much to be desired.

Out of two boxes that retail for $135 a box….not one card sold for more than $20! You can catch the break here and in my opinion the two coolest cards (O.J. Mayo Prime Patch & Kyrie Irvining Die Cut Gold /10) sold pretty cheap.

2013-14 Panini Intrigue Basketball O.J. Mayo Top Flight Prime Patch /25
2013-14 Panini Intrigue Basketball O.J. Mayo Top Flight Prime Patch /25
Box # SRP Sold Profit/Loss Key Sales
1 $135 $57 -$78 Kyrie Irving Gold/10 $20, Robert Parish /15 Auto $6, Teague/10 $5, Draft #10 $18
2 $135 $38 -$97 O.J. Mayo Prime Patch $20, Draft #13 ($10)
Total $270 $95 -$175
ROI -64.8%

Two of the autographs I pulled didn’t even sell (i.e. Kenyon Martin which I listed for $2 and Spud Webb which I listed at $5). It just doesn’t seem the hype or demand is/was there for this product.

2013-14 Panini Intrigue Basketball Draft Redemption Cards
2013-14 Panini Intrigue Basketball Draft Redemption Cards

The Draft Redemption cards actually sold for much higher than I thought. Getting $18 for the 10th pick in the draft (i.e. not knowing who it will be) seemed excessive….but not even those surprise sales could save me as I ended up losing $175 on the two box break for an ROI of  -65%.

Oh well…they can’t all be good….on the to the next break & Catch you next time!