Friday, April 21, 2023

Steven Universe box finally busted

Back around 2017, some of my co-workers were really into a Cartoon Network show called Steven Universe. Ben, a guy I'd affectionately describe as a "cool nerd", would talk about what happened on the most recent episode, and it was such mind-bending craziness that it was hard for me to wrap my head around the words coming out of his mouth. 
But yeah, they all seemed to love it, and I eventually checked it out and got into it too. It's a weird kids' show at its core-- some good conflict/action parts and silly/cute parts-- entertaining for all ages and with a lot of positive messages regarding gender and race not hidden too deep below the surface. Not sure I should even bother trying to give a synopsis, but basically the characters are sorta like superhero aliens who can combine with each other into other characters (called "fusions") and have adventures while living in a quaint beach town that frequently attracts space monsters that need to be dealt with. There's a big wikipedia entry if you're curious to learn more. It's currently streaming on HBO Max (and Hulu?), I believe.

Back in summer of 2020, inspired by a baseball-themed episode I had just watched, I whipped up a few Steven Universe customs in Photoshop. After teasing them in a tweet, Shawn (aka Corky on the cardsphere) let me know the show had real cards released in 2019. Not long after, I pulled the trigger on a box from Dave & Adams via eBay for $60. Summer '00 was a crazy time and so when the box arrived, I set it aside for a rainy day.. and eventually decided to wait until I finished watching through the show to bust it. (I even started drafting this here post back in 2020 where it sat basically blank until now.)

And hey, guess what, I finally finished watching the show just this month! Well, there's the main show (5 seasons), then a movie, then a final/epilogue season (under the name "Steven Universe Future") to kinda wrap things up. Full disclosure, I'm still watching through the Future show, but the cards only cover seasons 1-5, so I didn't see the point of holding off the box break any longer.

This box was the only "unopened product" I've been sitting on for the past few years (ie, the covid-induced hobby bubble era), pre-dating my big move to the new house 2.5 years ago. (That's the big milestone for me keeping track of my recent past: life back at the old house vs. new house.) Kinda sad to open it... especially seeing that the cheapest box on eBay now has an asking price of $375. lol. I should have stocked up back when they were $59.95!

But no, if I buy a box to bust, I will bust that box, my friend. #collect

Cryptozoic did a great job with collation. I got a full complete base set (featuring a gold foil star in the corner), a few base parallels (pink foil star), and 3 complete insert sets. I actually ripped several packs while watching the Steven Universe Movie, and it was serendipitous for me to be able to look at the cards to help figure out what's going on (I was wondering about a fusion on screen, and bam, I pulled the card that explained on the back how that particular fusion was made).

The die-cut vinyl record theme cards don't have parallels, but the other 2 insert sets also do the pink foil parallels gimmick ("pink deco"), netting me one each.

I wasn't aware of the whole pink deco parallel thing at first, and when I first pulled the Rose Quartz, I was like "oh, that was cool of them to do Rose's card in pink," but no, that was just a coincidental lucky pull, evidenced by the base gold pulled later.

My sketchcard was a solid one. Looks to be pen & colored pencils with a fair amount of work put into it. Taking a quick look at the 200+ sketch cards from this set on eBay, I'd say this is among the more desirable. And check it out, this character is named Ruby. Ruby isn't exactly a main character, but is one of two gems who combine into Garnet (who is a main character.. yeah, it's confusing if you don't know the show. [There are actually several different Rubies in the show, adding to the confusion.]).

My dog is named Ruby, so the sketch is right up my alley, but it's a coincidence-- Steven Universe didn't contribute to her naming, at least not consciously. But funny enough, another former co-worker of mine (who joined later but had independently been a fan of the show already) has a cat named Peridot after a character on the show.

Irma "Aimo" Ahmed seems to be a popular, respected sketch card artist, with lots of cards featured in products for Star Wars, Marvel, and DC. So yeah, nice pull there.

Sketch cards and autographs are seeded about 1 per box, but not guaranteed. As I picked up the final pack having not yet pulled an auto, I was feeling bummed about my box lacking any ink. But thankfully the last pack delivered the goods.

The Rutile Twins aren't main characters either-- I'm only vaguely familiar with them-- but hey, still a nice card. Gotta love a heart doodle. Ashly Burch has done a lot of cool stuff in her career, mostly video game voice acting, such as The Last of Us Part II and the Borderlands series.

Wikipedia tells me the Rutile Twins-- a Gem with two conjoined bodies from the waist up-- are a part of a group called the Off-Colors consisting of "fugitive Gems from Homeworld, first appearing in season 5, who lived in hiding underground because they are regarded as defective or do not conform to Homeworld's expectations."

A crazy thing is I couldn't find any copies of this card on eBay while taking a curious look at market value. Not in completed listings either. Despite being numbered to 225, it's evidently a tough pull. Compare it to the similar auto in the set of Kate Flannery (who was Meredith on The Office, so not exactly a nobody), also numbered /225, and that card has several examples available to buy online. Weird.

There are a bunch of autos from the set that I'd love to add to my collection-- keep in mind I have completed the autograph set from the only other Cryptozoic product I ever busted (Ghostbusters)--, but other than that Kate Flannery, they don't seem to be very plentiful/affordable, so I probably won't hit that mission too hard, but may keep an eye out for cheap outliers that might pop up.

There's one specific voice actor of a recurring character that sadly doesn't have an autograph in the set which would otherwise be a no-brainer for my collection. Joel Hodgson, best known for Mystery Science Theater 3000, plays Bill Dewey, Beach City's mayor for most of the show's run. Guess what, I made a custom for the card-that-should-have-been.

I purposefully made the signature look "off" in case anyone missed the "Inauthentic" edit. Not trying to trick anyone, just making a fun card. I grabbed the signature image off the internet.. off one of my own old blog posts actually-- it's from a signed DVD from Joel to me personally (I didn't meet him, but had an acquaintance facilitate). So that's a little easter egg for me. (Speaking of dusty drafts I'm [still] working on, chances are I finally finish my big MST3K post sometime this year too, by the way, where I'll show off all my [real] MST autos and stuff.)

Now here are the customs that I originally designed in 2020, but only finished and printed the other day.

It's a simple original design using screenshots from that one baseball-themed episode. Welp, technically Garnet didn't actually play in the game but rather it was her component characters Ruby and Sapphire (note Ruby behind the dish), so I fudged it to get her a standard card. Backs are kept simple but with an additional screenshot. I'm happy with how these turned out and think they complement the Cryptozoic cards nicely.. would have made a fun insert set! (FYI to anyone at Cryptozoic, Fanatics, or whoever.. I'm freshly on the job market and would love to find a creative role of employment in the hobby. Hit me up!)

As with all my customs, they're not for sale, but feel free to talk me into a trade if you want.

That about wraps up the post. Any of you readers into Steven Universe? I'm considering doing a rewatch after I finish it up since I feel like I didn't really "get" the show sufficiently till the latter seasons. Now that I know what's going on better, I think I'd pick up on more stuff happening in the earlier seasons. But yeah, fun show.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, everyone!


  1. Never heard of the show... and a little worried that if I do watch it, I'll like it and want a box myself. But no way I'd pay that much. Very cool of you to rip yours. I've bought a bunch of boxes over the years that have shot up in value that I just can't get myself to open. But the majority haven't gone up in value... which means I have a bunch of stuff to rip for that rainy day.