July 23, 2014

Chicago Comic Con 2014 Dealer Update 1.

Filed under: General — webjon @ 6:47 pm

Good news and bad news in the dealer department for WW Chicago . . . Dave Moulder won’t be attending this year, it’s been a few years since Dave made the trip, hopefully he comes back again soon. . .

Juniors cards will be back though and that’s awesome news. Hopefully they’ll be loaded with boxes this year as I’ve barely bought anything in 2014 and I’m itching to crack some wax!

More dealer updates as I hear them — if you are a dealer or have tips on who is or isn’t coming let me know!

Thanks,

Jon

July 15, 2014

. . . five years on the want list. . . now what.

Filed under: General — webjon @ 8:52 pm

Prince Namor you elude me no more! This single card has kept me from my Marvel Masterpieces 2007 holofoil parallel set for 5 years!

Admittedly I wasn’t specifically looking for old princey that whole time he just sat on my want list. . . but it’s kind sad (well, actually it’s kinda like whatever look Namor has on the card) that not a single trader offered that card up in half a decade. . .

Now that I’ve parted ways with my trove of commons and vast majority of my partial sets I’m batting clean up on the stragglers. . . I guess there is a reason so few people call the hobby ‘trading cards’ any more as trading is kinda dead. Killed off by the massive devaluation of base sets/commons as well as the rise in postage.

Thankfully we have eBay (unfortunately there are few other options) and I was able to pick up Namor for $1.85 shipped. Paying nearly 2 bucks for a card like that sucks, but what sucks more is that the post man got about 25% of the money . . . eBay/paypal got about 25% of the money and the seller probably wound up with a whopping $.85 for his effort. . . It’s kind of a pain to list stuff on eBay, and it’s a pain to drive to the post office. . . I’m glad someone is willing to go through all that effort for $.85, but wouldn’t trading be a better/cheaper/easier way? I guess it would if there were traders around, but in looking it seems like if you aren’t trading vintage or the latest release you are gonna have a tough time finding traders. . .

Guess that’s the reality of the hobby today — while I love the evolution of the hobby the death of trading feels like the death of the community aspect of non-sport cards. . .

Now. . . where can I find a couple of 1966 Batman. . . guess it’s back to eBay.

Jon

July 2, 2014

Charisma Carpenter fakes. . . sleuthing like Veronica Mars. . .

Filed under: General — webjon @ 7:17 pm

Way back in February 2010 this Charisma Carpenter Veronica Mars autograph from Inkworks graced the pages of webjon.com courtesy of NonSportsCardForum.com member JerS86.

A couple of months ago JerS86 contact me and offered to send me the few fakes that were uncovered when he went through his collection, it was very gracious and I was happy to be able to take a closer look at these cards.

The Charisma Carpenter autograph really stood out. Everytime I looked at it I had this twinge of doubt that JerS86 was right — it looks good. I always believe when people bring information about questionable cards to me, but I also always double check to come to my own conclusion.

All by itself this card really had me stumped. . . but when I put it side by side with a Charisma from my own collection issues started to become apparent. That said — here are two Charisma. . . can you tell which one is fake?

Look close. . . I’m sure you can see differences in the cards. Side by side the differences are subtle, but apparent. Still, even with the differences can you tell which one is fake?

From the scan it’s pretty obvious that one Inkworks logo is more bold than the other. The bold logo — the card on the right is real. In person the logo differences aren’t quite so apparent. . . The color it slightly off as well as you can see one card is more gray while the other is more blue. This is especially apparently in the ‘Veronica Mars’ logo. The trouble is that printing differences including variations in the Inkworks logo can happen over a print run.

In person if you compare this card side by side with another Veronica Mars autograph card the printing quality is clearly better in the legitimate cards. Beyond the chipping that the fake card exhibits the lines aren’t as crisp.

To me the place it is easiest to see printing differences is along the left side of the card where fairly faint vertical lines run from the top of the card to the bottom.

Check it out here:

Even in this scan it isn’t entirely obvious, but the card on the right — the real card, has much better defined vertical lines than the fake card, also the blue color between the lines graduates out from blue to white then back to blue as you move from the ‘c’ to the lower left corner of the card. The fake card has a far more muddled appearance in this area.

As with any card you are concerned about I highly recommend comparing it to another autograph card in the set in person. While it is fantastic we can tell this card is fake from my scans it wouldn’t be difficult to sell fake versions of this card using a bad scan.

Thank you again to JerS86. . . run along now and check your Veronica Mars cards. . . I’m sure there are more of these fakes out there as well as Kristen Bell fakes from Veronica Mars. . . too bad we can’t get Veronica herself on the case. . .

Good luck!

Jon

PS. . . before someone asks — yes the counterfeit card has an Inkworks watermark on the back — the watermark is not a reliable method to determine a card’s legitimacy.

May 24, 2014

Digging out. . . parting ways with 100,000 cards.

Filed under: General — webjon @ 2:23 am

This picture is a failure. Higher, lower, closer, further, I tried everything I could think of to capture the sheer volume of cards that were partially spread out on the floor. I wasn’t too motivated as these were going to a new home. . . for a brief moment I contemplated pulling the top tiers of cards out of the two back rows of boxes. Cards in those boxes are stacked 2 and 3 tiers tall. . . But I didn’t — I was just happy to reclaim the space.

Sad, when I think about it. . . certainly a pile of money was spent acquiring the cards that lead to what amounts to waste show in the picture above. I don’t doubt thousands of hours were spent sorting cards, pulling commons, moving boxes, etc. . . It’s sad to think of all that time and money when at the end of the day 100,000 cards walked out my door for the equivalent of a couple of boxes of Game of Thrones. . . sad, but I couldn’t be happier.

At one point I was proud of my vast stash of commons — it was great to be able to trade to fill sets, and even fill my own partials when new cards came in . . . It started with a small box, then a big box, then a monster box. . . then a dozen monster boxes. . . and more.

Unfortunately the hobby evolved, the world evolved. . . Plastic prices jumped making supplies far more expensive. Postage costs increased significantly. The quantity of sets produced for a given release decreased by an almost unimaginable amount. . . Today sets are printed in far lower numbers than they were 20 years ago and in that time costs of everything have gone up. . . everything, except the value of that base set.

Figure that one out — sets are rarer, production costs are higher, shipping costs are higher, supply costs are higher, yet nearly any recent set can be found at a show for about four bucks.

At some point I stopped trying to make a lot of trades to complete sets. . . Postage costs weren’t cheap, and most of the time it would take a few trades to complete a set, it wasn’t long before postage + supplies cost more than I could just buy the whole set for. At some point after that I started not even bothering to sort cards from releases I bought several boxes from — after all, how many sets do I need? How much of my time is it worth to sort a set that I could just go buy for four bucks?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know . . . I could do x, y, and z with my extras, and I have. . . but it’s never as simple as it seems. Donating cards sounds great in theory, until you get an upset parent that discovered a card of a scantily clad babe, weapon they didn’t approve of, or who knows what else. I stopped trying to donate cards in that way when I was scolded for donating sets of ‘All My Children’ — somehow a set based on a daytime network TV show was offensive to people. I started donating massive amounts of cards to Goodwill, which works out ok, except I have heard the cards typically just end up in a landfill, which is a shame. . .

Realistically though many of the cards in that picture, even though they are now with a new home, will ultimately likely wind up in the garbage. The new owner will complete sets, will do some trading, and one day will be in the same position I was in. . . except I had tons of time and money tied up in those. . . he doesn’t.

Sadly as quickly as I’ve gotten out of the commons ‘business’ I’m right back in it. I picked up two boxes of cards recently and now have a nearly 2 inch stack of loose commons. For more releases this is a never ending cycle. The boxes did yield 2 base sets. . . If I were so inclined I could sell them at a show for about $4 each. Considering they are each stored in a $.75 slide box that’s a net on the cards of $3.25. . . ouch. I haven’t even taken my time into consideration, or what it would cost to set up at and travel to a show, and that is assuming they would actually sell. . . based on what I’m seeing on eBay I probably would have a hard time selling these sets. I could try to sell them online, but the postage costs make it really difficult to sell sets.

It seems to me that base sets have been slow to catch up to the rest of the world. . . It doesn’t make sense that while all the costs of producing, protecting and procuring sets have increased the value of the set has become pathetic. Solutions are here but a small, yet vocal group of collectors seem to balk at the idea of not getting all these cards in their boxes. Many of which — like the cards in my picture are likely to wind up in a landfill.

Personally — I’m all for premium packs. . . and in looking at the premium packs the base and chase cards — in my opinion are still cheap — usually a buck or two. Sure you’re not going to be able to buy a 90 card set for under $.04 a card, but at least every card is worth something, even if it’s only a buck or $.50. I know — people want their $4 sets. . . but I think about my 100,000 cards. . . and how I don’t even buy that much — there are certainly LOTS of people out there with far more cards they consider worthless than I had. . . I shutter to think about how many of those cards are already in landfills, or will be in the coming years.

Another option that I don’t like quite a much as premium packs, but I like a whole lot better than wax boxes are set boxes. The set boxes take up far less space than even a regular base set of cards because they don’t require the space or cost of a bulky plastic storage box. They sell for about the same as a standard wax box sourced set, but come in a great storage box, and are already presorted.

Hopefully set boxes, and premium packs are the wave of the future. . . The only hurdle I see is the the point of sale terminal. . . I don’t see mass merchants or even comic shops stocking product that can’t be bought a pack at a time. . . Perhaps wax packs should be used only for retail releases.

While I wait for the hobby to catch up to the ways the world has evolved I’m just happy to have all those cards out of the house, it is fantastic having all that space back.

As an added bonus when moving all the commons I found a really cool wrestling card:

Ahh, Miss Elizabeth — one of my first crushes. . .Not sure what the origin of this card is, but it definitely looks like a food premium of some sort. I have some semi-romantic notion in my head that this was in popsicle box or something and I pulled the card, but it’s more likely it was in some stack of cards someone else was throwing away. . .

I hope all those cards I spent so much time sorting find a good home completing sets or winding up in a collection like Miss Elizabeth did, but realistically even if 20,000 of those cards wind up in collections or in sets 80,000 cards are still just orphaned waste. . . it’s kinda sad when you think about it.

Jon

May 9, 2014

Waking from Hibernation with Vampirella. . .

Filed under: General — webjon @ 10:47 pm

I’m in a bit of disbelief it’s been 2 months since I’ve posted. While I anticipated a decrease in activity after my purchasing slowed I didn’t think it would be as long as it was. Then again there was a lot happening in the background. . .

Back in March I started to see sustained attempts to hack webjon.com. While nothing changed on the front on the website — no content was posted, there were many many hours put in to learning about what I could do to enhance site security, then actually making lots of changes to secure the site — and testing to make sure nothing on the site broke. It was such a pain that I contemplated pulling the site. A few weeks after that I received a notice from the company hosing TCM that some module on TCM was found to have a vulnerability and the defective module was being used to attack other websites. Lots more hours were spent researching and fixing those bad settings.

It was really annoying, and eye opening to see that lowly sites like mine were being attacked. . . I’m certain it wasn’t personal — most likely some bot on the internet just programmed to find vulnerabilities. Sadly you nearly need to be a system administrator to keep up with all the vulnerabilities and fixes.

While researching and beefing up security I was still watching auctions and bidding from time to time with a dismal success rate. . . Ultimately I really started to feel disconnected from non-sport cards. 2013 was a pretty brutal year for me in terms of small press releases. Many releases were delayed, advertising was dismal, interest was very low, and quality for many sets suffered. I guess my new years resolution was to be picky with pre-orders. . . so far in 2014 I’ve passed on at least 3 releases I would have ordered heavily on last year. I’m not interested in sending money to a manufacturer to fund the production on a set that is just an idea and hope that eventually they come through with product that I actually want. I could write at length about this topic, but won’t. . . I’m in a strange position — I’d like to be a buyer of many of these products, but I feel that either: The products are sub par, the demand is sub par (generally due to lack of production promotion), or the buyers aren’t being valued by the manufacturers (generally shown with massive delays and poor communication about the delays). So for now, I’m on the sidelines picking up some old favorites.

My first auction win in quite a while was a pair of Breygent Vampirella boxes. I really love these Breygent set-box products, and wish I could still find deals on Red Sonja as she is one of my favorite characters. The Vampi boxes are great though, and I really like that the ‘hits’ are packaged separately from the base and chase. I always hope to hit 2 sketches in a box of Vampirella, but didn’t manage that in either of my most recent boxes, which yielded 1 sketch and 1 autograph each:

The Scott Blair sketch is really nice, but for some reason doesn’t scan well at all. The Cleveland is obviously part of a puzzle, which is a bummer since this pose looks kinda goofy stand alone.

Beyond some Vampi I’ve got a couple other wins I’ll post about when they come in. . . I’ve been looking for C2E2 reviews, but I haven’t seen a thing. I didn’t make the show this year either due to other commitments, but I have to say — from my perspective the show wasn’t as compelling in 2014 as it was in 2013. . . I was hoping to read reviews to see that I was wrong, but I’m only hearing crickets from the non-sport community. Odd.

In other news I see Marco keeps pumping out some really cool autograph cards over at 258 West Authentic Signatures. I wish he’d advertise a bit more, but he does have the cards posted on 258west.com, including some great autos from Dr. Who. I really like the design of the cards he had as Facebook exclusives last year — I wish he’d use that design for all of his cards. The regular design is fine, but I don’t feel like it reflects the premium quality that his cards are.

Guess that’s it for now. . . I’m planning on having more regular updates again as I am emerging from my bit of hibernation, and I’m itching to go to a show. . . anyone make it to Spectrum Live? I was contemplating going to that show, but it’s really pretty far. . .

Jon

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