Sunday, December 29, 2019

Richie Allen 1969 Transogram

Here's another white whale I snagged recently. A Richie Allen 1969 Transogram. I generally try keeping my collection cards-only, but stuff like Dick Allen toys convince me to make an exception sometimes.

Earlier this year, I picked up a loose figure without the stand or anything, but had been keeping an eye out for an upgrade, or even just a cut-out card from the back. This new-in-box figure popped up from a seller who had a decent selection of these things, and I snapped it up.

Kinda looks like they put some eyeliner on Mr. Allen here, though I checked and all copies are like that, so it wasn't the work of some kid. They don't say "Topps" anywhere, though Topps definitely had a hand in them. Many of the cards feature a tighter-crop of the same photo as that player's standard 1968 or 1969 Topps card, though Richie here does not feature a recycled Topps photo (--however this photo was also used on his 1969 Sports Collectors Photostamp which I picked up a few months ago.)

This yellow-tastic card design saw a bit of a resurgence lately thanks to being used as an insert in 2018 Heritage, where they were generally referred to as "1969 Collector Cards". I guess Transogram doesn't fly in today's social climate. LOL.. "transogram" sounds like a singing telegram from a transvestite. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Nah, Topps probably just didn't want to use the name of that other company they're no longer affiliated with.

There's what could be considered a "mini" card on the top box label. Sometimes these are cut out and sold separately. I've even seen graded specimens of box top pictures, which seems silly to me. Though yeah, if I were to cut out the card on the back, I'd save the "mini" too before trashing the rest of the packaging.

Here's the bottom. See, no mention of Topps. Made in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong. Wow, fancy. Notice the 1968 copyright, though I guess they weren't on shelves until after the calendar had changed, as I've only seen them referred to as 1969 online. Looks like there was another series that came out in 1970 that is very similar, but less players (No Richie Allen in the 1970 series.)

Oh wait, here's a pretty informative article from a few years ago shedding some light on these things at Sports Collectors Daily.

For some reason I had it in my head that the boxed figure would be kinda large, similar to a Starting Lineup. But nope, it's a small package, about the size of a juicebox. It's pretty cute, honestly.

I'm glad I already have a loose figure so I won't be tempted to open the box. I might be able to make the case that the figures are actually variations: check out the right sock. The boxed figure is wearing an ankle-guard (or, you know, more likely it was just a little hiccup in the painting process on that one.)

I wouldn't mind scoring a cut-out card someday to file away in the PC. But for now, owning the card as part of an intact package is just fine.

So yeah, very happy to finally get one of these things. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

got a Mickey Mantle autograph!

Regular readers of the blog might know that the past few Christmases I've asked for high-end boxes of cards for Christmas from my mom and mother-in-law, who are both nice enough to throw some real money at my silly hobby despite their better judgement. Ripping results have been mixed over the years, with some duds but also some nice Trouts.

This year, I'm a little tired of Topps and the state of modern cards in general, so I decided to keep cards off my Christmas/Birthday wishlist. My mom gave me a fat check, and although I technically made the purchase before the check was deposited, in my mind I'm considering the card a gift from her, putting the majority of the check towards a "dream card" for me. A 1992 Score card, if you can believe it.

.... (ka-BOOM!).

Oh man, I love this card.


In the past few months, I decided I wanted to try targeting a Mantle auto one of these days, and started keeping an eye out. As far as pack-certified, on-card autos from the time before The Mick passed, the two best options available are the 1994 Upper Deck painted card he shares with Ken Griffey Jr, or his insert in '92 Score. Seeing as I've never been a huge fan of mass-produced art cards (that Mantle/Griffey included, sorry), I gravitated towards '92 Score. And well, this one had its BIN price creeping down over the past few weeks. Add an eBay Bucks offer to take some more sting out of it, and I ended up pulling the trigger.

In watching such cards over the past few months, I noticed many of these '92 Score Mantles feature a signature that is very faded. Gotta assume it's due to the ink being susceptible to fading in sunlight and the fact that many owners of these cards proudly displayed them for all to see, which eventually caused the signature to fade over the years.

But this one still looks good! I'll have to resist the urge to display it, at least anywhere bright, so it'll maintain the bold, blue signature from Mickey, deftly placed in a lighter area of the photo to help it pop.

Numbered 1859 of 2000 personally autographed cards. I didn't have much luck attaching an "eBay 1/1" meaning to this particular number, but the best I can do is that the year 1859 saw the first intercollegiate baseball game ever played. Oh wait-- here's one: old-time baseball HOFer Mickey Welch was born in 1859. Mickey W. was a New Yorker.. so that's kind of fitting. (Of course Mantle was named after Mickey Cochrane, not Welch, which would have been cooler, but still.) Yes, it's the Mickey Welch Birthyear eBay 1/1! That's twice the Mickey!

If you factor in all the faded autographs (seems like roughly a third of them have significantly faded), this becomes even more scarce as far as viable Mantle autographs go from 1992 Score.

This particular card was priced very competitively, no doubt thanks to being in less-than-mint condition, particularly the corners, including a crease. But honestly, the condition only made me want it more. Let's imagine a likely backstory of this card based on its condition...

December 25, 1992. Little Timmy Jones receives a few packs of 1992 Score in his stocking from Santa. But Timmy is more interested in the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that Santa left under the Christmas tree. By early January 1993, Timmy eventually beats Super Mario World and is looking for something else to spend his time on. Little Timmy pulls the '92 Score packs out of his closet and begins tearing them open. He's thrilled to pull cards of his favorites Ken Griffey Jr and Jeff Bagwell.. even a special card of some old dude he heard his dad talk about once or twice. Timmy wants to give it a closer look, but a new Darkwing Duck episode is about to start and so he throws the cards into a box with with other cards for the time being. Cut to a few weeks down the line. Timmy gets a copy of A Link to the Past (Zelda 3) and pretty much forgets about those baseball cards.  
Many years later, after Timmy has gone off to college, his mom wants to tidy up the house a bit and gathers up some old stuff Tim surely wouldn't have use for any longer. Among a Battleship game and a few TMNT figures is the shoebox with the baseball cards. She makes a Goodwill run, where an employee tosses the cards into a ziplock bag and slaps a price tag on it. A week later, local man Joe Smith is sorting thru the lackluster options at his local Goodwill when he finds the lot of junk wax for $5. While the price is a little steep for some near-worthless cards bouncing around the ziplock bag in rough shape, Joe notices a Griffey "Rated Rookie" visible through the bag and figures there might even be an early Jeter or something in there too, so he takes a chance and ponies up a Lincoln for the lot. Later that day, while quickly flipping through the cards-- taking out the likes of Nolan Ryan and Cal Ripken while tossing the rest-- Joe is frozen in his tracks when he comes to a card of Mickey Mantle that seems to be autographed. "Holy crap! This can't be real, can it?!" Joe talks to a buddy of his who is a little more knowledgeable about the hobby. Joe isn't sure what he's found.. is it even real?? His friend suggests he send it in to be graded by PSA, notable authority on card grading. Joe sends in the card, and a few weeks later, it comes back with an "authentic" grade. Wow!, Joe thinks. He puts the card away with his few other good cards and goes about his life.  
A few years later, Joe wants to raise a couple hundred bucks for a Nintendo Switch and decides to list some of his cards on eBay. While browsing newly-listed Mantles on eBay, a guy named Kevin Johnsen notices the card and snatches it up to flip. A few weeks go by and Kevin puts the card back up on eBay. It doesn't sell at his original asking price, so he eventually lowers the price a few bucks.. and then a couple weeks later, hoping to move the card by Christmas, he lowers it a little more.. then boom, some schmoe in Portland, Oregon pulls the trigger on the card, embiggened by a birthday check from his mother and a generous eBay Bucks promotion, achieving his dream of owning a Mickey Mantle autograph.

Ok, maybe it didn't go down exactly like that, but might not be too far off.

And so here we go. I've got a slabbed authentic pack-pulled Mickey Mantle autograph. Wow.
The beat corners only add to the appeal in my eyes, drastically lessening the likelihood that it's counterfeit or trimmed, and you can tell it's got a story to it. Just beautiful.

A dream card, no doubt! Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

A completed Star Wars custom booklet + a surprise sketch

We just got back from seeing The Rise of Skywalker. I thought it was great! Apparently much of the internet didn't like it, though I haven't read anything about it, trying to go in with untainted expectations. I'm glad I was able to avoid any spoilers. I loved it.

Speaking of Star Wars, here's a custom "booklet" I've been working on for a few years. Recently got the final piece to consider it completed.

Here's the front. I made this overlay for a James Earl Jones auto card (shared with Martin Short under there).

The other side features David Prowse, the actor in the Darth Vader costume most of the time in the original trilogy.

Opening the booklet reveals a photo of Prowse with his helmet off.

Opening it up further reveals some more. The Jake Lloyd auto checks off childhood Anakin. Picked that up a year ago.

Here's the last card I needed to finish the booklet.. Hayden Christensen, Anakin as a young man. Snagged this card a little while back. I targeted this particular card because it's an on-card signature, plus take a closer look at the serial numbering...

Christmas Card!

And with that, I consider my Darth Vader / Anakin Skywalker custom autograph booklet complete!

Yes, there are still more names I could theoretically add who've portrayed the character in some official capacity, such as Bob Anderson (Episodes V-VI lightsaber battles), Sebastian Shaw (unmasked in Episode VI), Spencer Wilding/Daniel Naprous (Rogue One), as well as voice actors Ben Burtt, Brock Peters, Matt Sloan, David Birney, Mat Lucas, and Matt Lanter.

But I'm content calling it good with the 4 main actors known for being Vader/Anakin. I don't think auto cards are readily available for those other guys anyways, but who knows.. maybe someday I'll try adding on.

Yes, the "booklet" is just 4 penny sleeves taped together, but hey, a real Topps booklet card featuring autographs of James Earl Jones, David Prowse, Jake Lloyd, and Hayden Christensen would likely cost you a couple thousand bucks or more. My custom creation ran me significantly less than that. I'm pretty happy with it.

-   -   -  - - --o

Bonus Star Wars content!

Wes, the Pancake King, was kind enough to include me in his Lucky 13 holiday mailings. I had patience and put the package under the Christmas tree, waiting a week or so to open it.

Boom! In addition to the '92 Bowman-style Pancake King, check out the sketch card!

Nice! This is Bossk, a big green bounty hunter who briefly (yet memorably) appears in The Empire Strikes Back. I remember having the action figure back in the day. Looks like he got some more backstory in the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars. We just signed up for Disney+ as a bonus birthday present for me, so I'll have to watch through Clone Wars one of these days. Very cool card!

And Wes didn't surprise me with just any random Star Wars sketch card...

It's also a card for my Greatest Gavins minicollection, by artist Gavin Williams. Awesome!

Thank you, Wes! Glad you like the stuff I recently sent you, too.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Birthday/Christmas Cards

Birthday post! I've got a few 12/24 and 12/25 cards to show off that I've added to my collection over the past few months.

Here's a nice one to kick off with. 2014 Topps Tribute Xander Bogaerts auto. There's no "RC" logo, but it is in fact a rookie-year auto, for what that's worth. Wish the signature was on-card, but beggars for 12/24 cards can't be choosers. Got a good deal on this from eBay a while back. Bogey's a fun player to watch and collect.

I don't know anything about Dakoda Armstrong, but this 12/24 autograph popped up with a low opening bid and I ended up winning it for a few bucks.

Serial-numbered on the back.

I also don't know anything about Mac Guscette, but again, ended up scoring this 12/24 auto for a good price. Looks like he graduates high school in 2020 and has committed to become a Florida Gator. I'll store this one away with my other 12/24 cards and check on him in a few years, hoping he's eventually the next Mike Trout. LOL

Newman! He had a solid 2019, one of the few bright spots for the Pirates last season. Kevin attended Poway High School, same as Tony Gwynn. (Update: Whoops, I mean Tony Gwynn Jr!) The Archives sticker label got a little messed up on this encased card, but I don't mind too much. It was a good price, likely kept down by the wrinkled label.

Topps Archives Signature are good products for finding 12/24 cards since their buybacks are typically numbered out of random quantities, depending on how many Topps has bought back and gotten signed. Sandy Alomar had a very respectable career; happy to add an autograph of his to my collection.

A closer look at the Xmas Eve numbering.

Now we're moving on to the 12/25 cards. I forgot to show off this Gavin Lux when I posted my Lux PC a few months back because it was stored with my Christmas Cards, not my Gavins. That's the problem with "double bullseye" cards like this for me.. sometimes I can't decide which subcollection to store them in, and I'm not consistent about it. But anyways, in addition to the festive numbering, this seems to feature a "g" from "Dodgers" ("g" as in Gavin! eBay 1/1!) and an on-card autograph of baseball's #2 prospect.. Sweet.

Another Gavin Christmas Card. I already had this orange ice parallel in my Gavin LaValley 2014 Bowman Draft rainbow (only missing some 1/1s), but didn't have the 12/25 orange ice parallel. But now I do!

I believe it was a COMC find.

Michael Conforto 12/25 patch card (if this piping counts as a patch). Another card from my latest COMC order.

We're coming to the end now, and here's a girlie card auto that Zippy pointed me too. Honestly I don't really hunt down Benchwarmer Christmas Cards too often because that could get out of hand quickly. There are a lot of /25 parallels, and so, a lot of 12/25 cards out there. I've got a few, but I don't need them all. But I put in a bid on this one and won it. I don't know much about Andrea Lowell. Looks like she's been in Playboy and on VH1's The Surreal Life. Cool.

Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman takes us home. I was very happy to score this framed 2019 Ginter X mini auto. I've got a couple Hoffman autos from his playing days, but this is my first post-career autograph of his. As a Padres fan, I really love this card. I think it ran me about the price of a blaster on eBay. Not too bad.

That'll do it. Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Holiday Card Exchanges

Time to check out the holiday generosity of the cardsphere with some incoming cards from the past week or two.

Murray Christmas!

The first bunch of cards is from Dennis. As he was prepping a package for me, he asked if I'd be interested in a less-than-mint Eddie Murray rookie, a card on my Desperate Double Dozen. I said heck yeah, and now I've got this big card checked off in my 1978 Topps setbuild. Wouldn't mind an upgrade someday (crease around the helmet), but it's totally cool for the time being. (I've got a worse-conditioned copy in the Steady Eddie PC already, which I believe was a surprise from the Junior Junkie a few years back.)

There was a big lot of Padres, with plenty of keepers among them.

A pair of sweet Marcus Giles parallels, each numbered to 200-something!

Oh my! A near-complete set of 1990 Donruss! This is a set I've felt I needed to add to my collection for a while now, for sentimental reasons if nothing else. If I recall, 1990 Donruss were the first pack of baseball cards I ever opened... might as well bring that to its natural conclusion.

Flipping through it, it's short these few cards: 20, 241, 270, 276, 326, 337*, 347, 470*, and Yaz puzzle pieces 10+11+12, 16+17+18, 19+20+21, 28+29+30. (* upgrade wanted)
It also doesn't include the many error cards the set had. I might try adding these at some point, so if anybody has any available, I'd be up for them.

Gavin hits! I think that's my 8th Gavin Floyd printing plate now.. wowzers!

And just in time for Christmas! Sweet 12/25 Gavin Escobar auto/relic!

Thank you so much, Dennis! Awesome stuff.

 -  -  - -- ❄️

Next up is a surprise PWE from SCC.

It's a half-dozen Michael Sam refractors! Shiny!

Thank you, Matt!

 -  -  - -- ❄️

Earlier this month, I helped Chris The Collector out with Starting Lineup custom cards for a blog series regarding NHL guys he was doing. He sent me back a nice bunch of cards to return the favor.

A couple '57 needs!! And Yankees at that, often pesky to track down.

Nice batch of cards for my Early 90s Black Gold collecting project.

Chris sent in this 1993 Leaf Gold Rookie for consideration for the project.. but I don't know. That's more of a Charcoal Gold than Black Gold. Don't think it quite counts. But appreciated all the same!

And a few Xanders round out the package. Very cool.

Thanks again, Chris!

 -  -  - -- ❄️

Lastly for today, a one-card envelope from Matt Prigge. He had a special custom made of Bob Uecker on the Rookies App and I was lucky enough to score one.


Thanks again, Matt! I plan to get some thank-you Brewers sent your way soon.

Thanks again to Dennis, Matt, Chris, and Matt for the wonderful cards.

Happy Holidays, everybody!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

1/1 Jim Kaat 2005 Retired Rainbow parallel!

Got a pretty cool 1/1 Jim Kaat card today. 2005 Topps Retired Rainbow Foilboard parallel.

I've already got the full base set and many of the autographs, but this is my first of these. The couple of previous times I've seen any of these available, they were very pricey. This one popped up at a decent price-- marked down a bit due to some weird surface issues-- and I jumped at it. Kaat is a guy I kinda collect anyways, so it was a no-brainer to snatch it up. I actually kinda like the surface issues, as they give the card a weathered, old-timey look like from an old newsreel. An autograph would have really been sweet, but not a necessity. (Though if I ever end up going to a Jim Kaat autograph signing, I would probably have him sign it for me. ...No, I definitely would.)

2005 is the only year out of the 3 Retired sets that had these parallels; the 2003 and 2004 sets were more meat and potatoes.

Technically not a refractor (but instead refractive foilboard), but fits right in with my Retired refractors.

Jim Kaat for the Hall of Fame, I say. All those numbers, plus a ton of Gold Gloves.

Hopefully the next time the old-timers' committee for his era does a vote, it will finally be the...

One of the coolest parts about if he were to get inducted is this smooth-ass 70s classic might see a spike in popularity! Ha, sorry, I've been saving my music blogging for my 1991 MusiCards blog. By the way, I've got a birthday coming up this week and my birthday wish is for you to add that blog to the list of blogs you follow and your blogs' blogrolls, and maybe catch up on some of the old posts you missed. It's a fun project, though I'd love to get the number of comments and views up a bit.

Adding a 1/1 to the collection is always a thrill, especially something less common than printing plates. And I'm very happy to add the rarest parallel available in what is perhaps my all-time favorite modern product line of cards.

Thanks for stopping by!