Monday, July 23, 2012

2003 Topps Blue Chips Autographs

Set Size: 24 autographed cards

Design Notes: This set features all on-card autographs in a large box at the bottom of the card. While the box removes space for the photo, the design seems to work good enough. The players are all younger stars at the time of release, so the set's focus was on providing an autograph of a HOF hopeful.

Parallels and Similars: None - Topps has never done many parallel versions of inserts.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs of several different Topps products, mainly Bowman and lower-cost Topps flagship and Total. Apparently the cards were issued in 2003 and 2004 products.

Thoughts: While the design isn't outstanding, for an autograph collector I feel this card provides a nice, large, clean space to feature the on-card signature. There are no major stars in the set so it wouldn't be too expensive to complete.

Additional Images: card back

Sunday, July 22, 2012

2004 Fleer Showcase Grace Game Used

Set Size: 10 cards, mainly with jersey relics (Jeter has a bat card instead)

Design Notes: The fairly simple design has a parchment-style border, a photo, and lots of foil printing - colors change depending on the player's team. A circle contains a relic piece, while the back has a certificate of authenticity.

Parallels and Similars: This card is a parallel of the Grace insert set, which has a team logo where the relic window appears on this card. There are Gold #/150, Reward #/23-55 depending on the player, and Patch #/50 parallels (Jeter doesn't have a patch parallel, since his relic is a bat).

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into the mid-high range Fleer Showcase packs. One Grace relic card appeared in every two boxes (1:48 packs).

Thoughts: In the mid-2000s parallel/relic craze, the Showcase release is one of many forgotten soon after it hit shelves. The Grace set doesn't break any design grounds, and it hardly stands out, but if your favorite player has a relic in the set, it displays well, with a classy feel.

Additional Images:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

2011 Topps Heritage Minors Real One Autographs

Set Size: 50

Design Notes: The cards are designed to look similar to 1962 Topps - you know, wood borders - with the small addition of a gigantic off-white stripe for a stickered autograph to go. The backs still follow the 1962 Topps design, but have an RA- prefixed card number.

Parallels and Similars: The set is a parallel of the base 2011 Topps Heritage Minors base set, which is nearly identical to the 2011 Topps Heritage set, which is nearly identical to the 1962 Topps set. Yeah. There's a lot of reuse of card designs going on here. The autograph set has blue, green, and red tint variation parallelss, black border parallels, and printing plates.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into boxes of 2011 Topps Heritage Minors. Two autographs are found in each box of Minors.

Thoughts: I understand the interest in the Heritage line, and while I don't collect the set I like some of the basic ideas behind it. Heritage, with minor leaguers, though, just doesn't interest me. Especially when a gigantic swatch of off-white wood grain shows up for a sticker autograph. There isn't much interest in minor league cards anyway, and Bowman has Topps' prospect bases covered. I like minor league issues, but I wish Topps wouldn't take their MLB designs and stick them on MiLB sets. Tekotte made his MLB debut last year, but the statistics just aren't there. He's currently at .133 for the year, though he's only had 15 at-bats.

Additional Images:

Friday, July 20, 2012

2006 Bowman Sterling Prospects

Set Size: 110 cards, of which 59 are autographed (stickers).

Design Notes: The high-premium set has an ornate design, bright glossy foil, and fairly empty fronts. There's a photo, a giant autograph frame, and the player's last name. The black and white backs have some more details.

Parallels and Similars: There are regular, black, gold, and red refractors, plus encased printing plate parallels. The regular Bowman Sterling set has the same design.

Distribution: Cards were sold in packs of five, with six packs per box. Each box contained at least five relic, autograph, or autographed-relic hits.

Thoughts: As I stated in my last post, I could do without Bowman Sterling. Steven Evarts is probably the worst card in the set at this point - he was a promising pitcher in 2006 but was found using performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Charleston RiverDogs - yes, that's low minor league ball. I think the 2006 design was one of the better Bowman Sterling releases to date, as it's at least a fairly bright design and it scans well. The 2006 release has a few big names, including Evan Longoria and Prince Fielder.

Additional Images:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2008 Bowman Sterling Prospects

After a six month absence, I finally return to the Zoo! It's not that I haven't wanted to write. It's that I'm just too busy or tired to write, and to be honest three blogs is a lot. However, I am still interested in this project, so we continue again... (three more posts are written for the weekend already!)

My Japanese card collection is moving along nicely, but for now I'm going to stick with US issues. I have plans...

Set Size: 85 cards

Design Notes: This is a premium release, with several of the base cards having autographs or memorabilia (as you can see with Brad Hand's card). The card is covered in a shiny foil and most of the card has a silvery background, which my scanner can't handle. The backs are basically black and white with the same picture as the front, and cards are identified by players' initials instead of card numbers.

Parallels and Similars: There are four refractor parallel sets, plus four printing plates. The design is identical to the regular 2008 Bowman Sterling set.

Distribution: Cards were sold in packs of five cards (six packs per box), with two autographs, one relic or autographed relic card, one rookie, and one prospect.

Thoughts: I'm not a fan of Bowman products, and I'm even less of a fan of Bowman's premium offerings. Sadly, most Bowman cards are forgettable and worthless - the only selling point is the chance of pulling a big hit (either now or in the future). I guess some people enjoy hoarding the cards away for a few years hoping for the next Pujols. Brad Hand got his cup of coffee in the middle of the 2011 season, but is back playing in the PCL this year.

Additional Image (Card Back):