March 22, 2015

The X-Games set that could have been. . .

Filed under: General — webjon @ 8:10 pm

I’ve always been a fan of the sports that have grown in to what is today the X-Games. Many of my grade school friends were into BMX, and I tried and tried — I wanted so much to be good at BMX, but truth be told I sucked. It didn’t help that my garage sale bike wasn’t up to the task. Eventually I got a bike from the store — probably Sears and I rode the crap out of that bike, but my trick repertoire was limited to jumping off of curbs. You could say I was more Napoleon Dynamite than Mat Hoffman, that’s fair. My attempts at any sort of trick riding ended the day I brought foot pegs home from Target. Somehow my step-dad managed to totally destroy my red and white Huffy’s rear wheel during foot peg installation. . . from then on I was riding his 10-speed, but I always retained my love for all things BMX (and skate for that matter, but my skating abilities are far more woeful than even my pathetic BMX abilities were).

When the X-Games started I was really stoked — finally the sports that I’ve loved had a legitimate platform, and in 2000 Press Pass and Fleer both jumped on the X-sports bandwagon with trading cards sets, and Rage and Adrenaline are excellent sets, the both have deep and exciting autograph lists and cool cards. Somehow even with great autographs neither on of these sets were well received. While dumped boxes were fantastic for the handful of people collecting the set it didn’t bode well for the future of action sports trading cards.

A few years later found myself working at the corporate offices of an enormous retailer. Undoubtedly the best perk of this job was the lovingly referred to junk room. The junk room was a teeny tiny store where all the product samples wound up for sale to employees. Most of the samples weren’t very interesting — candy and smalls sent to us by our suppliers to help determine shelf layouts, but we were also sent random stuff by manufacturers who weren’t in our supply chain hoping a random box of goodies delivered to the corporate office would somehow lead to orders.

One day I was scouring the junk room for interesting treasures and I found myself 2 promo packs of ‘2003 PRO CORE.’ The pack itself was a vinyl bag with a tear off strip and button snap sealing it. It boasted ‘Rider Autographed Cards,’ proclaimed itself as series 01, and explained there would be 4 sets of over 100 cards each for Motocross, Snowboarding, Skateboarding and Freestyle Motocross. For a card collecting X-Games fan this was the promise land in a vinyl pouch.

When I cracked open the packs the cards were everything I could hope for. The designs were awesome. Every card was die cut, foil stamping and matte UV finishes were made to excellent effect on each card. The chase cards were perfect, cards printed on wood, vintage style cards for old school legends, slide like cell cards, more foil, bigger die cuts. . . the package really delivered. The cards were slightly oversize which helped giving the set a larger than life feeling. Looking through those promo cards I thought about how awesome the set could be, and wondered who they would get for autographs. I was itching to add to my Rage and Adrenaline collections.

Ten years later I’d forgotten these cards until my memory was jogged one day as I spied the listing for Pro Core X-Games cards on my commons want list. Oddly there were three cards on my want list, but I couldn’t find the partial set anywhere. I remembered how much I loved these cards, and was just bewildered as to what happened. Then, as it often happens, I was going through an old box of random stuff and found them! Apparently at some point I picked up a box or so of these, cracked all the packs and unceremoniously stuffed them into a random box to be forgotten about for 10 years.

Excitedly I started going back through these cards, I even figured out they’d fit snugly in semi-rigid sleeves. Card after card I slipped them into sleeves trying to recapture that excitement from the day I plucked two packs from the junk room, but sadly before I got to the end of sleeving I started to realize why the set failed. . . the base and chase cards were devoid of all the awesome features that caught my eye in the promo packs. Sure the cards were die cut, and had foil and matte UV, but every base card had the same die cut, matte UV and foil. The chase cards weren’t even die cut, the designs were bland using the same bronze color foil in the base set. The Rock Stars chase set at least kept the slide like feature, but the radical die cut, vintage style, and wood printed cards were no where to be seen — worse — there weren’t any autographs in the set. The release was a tiny 46 card multi-sport set, so it didn’t even come close to the 4 100-card releases mentioned on the pack. The set did deliver what I believe are Shaun White’s first cards, so that is awesome, but in virtually every other way the actual release didn’t do justice to the promos — here is a scan of a base card, and each chase subset from the actual release:

Even today as I look through these cards I wonder what happened. The initial design was really awesome, and the goals of autographs as well as huge 100 card sets for 4 different action sports disciplines has all the hallmarks of what could have been ongoing action sports releases. It seems like costs or licensing may have gotten in the way of what could have been the greatest X-Games card sets ever released. The other thing that likely killed this series is the fact that very few card collectors will have ever even heard of this set, and that is due to the way it was marketed and sold. As far as I can tell these were only available through skateboard shops at a ridiculous $5 per pack. If you search around you can find packs and sets of these floating around, and it’s worth it for the Shaun White cards.

At this point I am not aware of any X-Games cards on the horizon, and that’s a bummer because there has been a wealth of talent at the games in the last few years. Occasionally we see some X-Games super stars sign cards for Allen and Ginter or Sportskings, but it seems unlikely we’ll see another Rage or Adrenaline set, but I’ll keep searching and hoping someone like Pro Core comes through to revitalize the action sports card scene.

Jon

March 13, 2015

More Questionable Relics. . .

Filed under: counterfeit and questionable cards,General — webjon @ 4:59 pm

Seems to be a rash of these popping up — legit, or colored with a marker? Some of these are so bad they have to be altered. . .

All were on sale on eBay. . . I’ve tweeted Rittenhouse, hopefully they chime in. Follow me on twitter @the_real_webjon.

Happy Collecting.

Jon

March 8, 2015

Being a Fanboy at Wizard World Fanfest. . .

Filed under: reviews,Wizard World FanFest — webjon @ 7:27 pm


It was a beautiful day March day in Chicago, traffic to the Rosemont Convention center was very light. After the briefest wait for tickets we strolled into the convention about half an hour after the doors opened.

Usually I have a list of contacts to meet up with and things planned out for a Wizard show, but today my only plan was to have fun and take photographs. There was no agenda. The show floor was compact, celebrities in the back corner, artists down the middle, a mini-arcade on the side, and dealers/exhibitors all between.

Dealers were selling all types wares and products you’d expect at a Fanfest, clothing, accessories, posters, legos, dvds, toys, games, comics, the list goes on. Sadly, I didn’t find any non-sport cards and I didn’t add any new art to my collection, but I had a great time.

This was a unique show, to be sure, it had the size and vibe of the shows from 10 years ago. I loved it. You could actually walk up and talk to celebrities without waiting in huge lines, you could walk the convention floor with ease, parking was a breeze — there wasn’t even a long line to get into the parking garage! I hope all the dealers, artists and celebrities were able to have a great show — I was slightly worried that the small crowd may have led to a tough show for those trying to make a living at it.

I did something at Fanfest I’ve never done before. . . I became a fanboy. . . Sure, I’m a geek, a collector — I’ve been going to conventions since before that was the cool thing to do, and I’ve met tons of famous people — I’ve even interviewed celebrities for magazines, but I’ve never thought of a celebrity as anything more than a person who happens to have a cool job. It just doesn’t phase me.

Well. . . typically it doesn’t phase me. I’ve had a crush on Tracey Gold since I watched Growing Pains. I can’t have a conversation with my friends or co-workers anymore about celebrity crushes because my answer has steadfastly been Tracey Gold since the conversations started in the early 1990s at a Fuddruckers — yeah, I remember it. At any rate. . . as an autograph card collector I was thrilled that Leaf got Tracey to sign for Pop Century — I thought that was going to be the pinnacle of my Tracey Gold fanboy experience. Until her name popped up on the Fanfest website.

I had no actual intention of bothering Mrs. Gold this morning when I walked into FanFest. We walked by her table a few times and it bummed me out that she didn’t have a huge line at her table. I checked out her price list and saw something called a kiss card for $20. . . Of course I was thinking/hoping for trading cards. Any way. . . after exploring the price list we marched up to her table. I probably spent 90 seconds with Tracey Gold today. . . I was so nervous I have no idea what I said, but I’m certain I sounded like a blathering idiot. I got my kiss card, which is amazing, but not a trading card, and now I get to brag to all my friends at co-workers that I met Tracey Gold. Somehow, despite never having experienced it before I’m sure this is the quintessential fanboy experience. Thank you Tracey Gold, and Wizard World for a great day!

Jon

BTW — webjon readers. . . I’ve posted several pictures from the convention on twitter where I am @the_real_webjon

March 3, 2015

Questionable Inkworks 4400 Relic.

Filed under: counterfeit and questionable cards,Inkworks — webjon @ 5:53 pm

So far the non-sport card industry hasn’t been hit hard by the swatch/patch faking problem that plagues certain segments of the sports card hobby. Webjon hasn’t covered it much either, partially because it is unusual to see, but also because non-sport relics often aren’t numbered so proving a card has been altered can be next to impossible — well, that is unless the attempt to deceive is a hack job like this card a blowout card forum member alerted me to:

Inkworks 4400 Season 2 PW#5 Samantha Ferris as Nina Jarvis:

It looks like someone attempted to make this card into a bloody swatch variant, but got a bit over zealous and got fake blood all over the edge of the card. . . I can’t see Inkworks putting together cards with fabric that was sopping fake blood so this card seems questionable, at best. . .

Jon

February 19, 2015

10 Pack Break — Breygent’s Women of Dynamite.

Filed under: General — webjon @ 8:42 pm

I nearly picked up packs of this product a bunch of times. . . while chatting with Henry in Junior’s booth at Wizard World Chicago I held packs in my hand. . . Henry had a great price — he always does. . . I told him I was mainly looking for Red Sonja sketches, and he told me honestly that if I was buying for Red Sonja it probably wasn’t the best purchase for me. . . but I kept on watching and waiting. . .

Then out of the blue Solarfly had a sale — $20 a pack so I picked up 10 packs. . .I thought about picking up a few more packs, but within minutes all their packs were sold out. I waited anxiously for my packs as I hadn’t picked up a sketch pack product in about a year.

The first pack held a surprise — the base cards in this set are awesome. For the first time in years I was taken back by how great the base cards looked. At the end of the day it was a good thing I liked the base cards. . . because Henry was right — I only hit 3 cards with Red Sonja.

I did ok with value — at 20 a pack (which is insanely cheap). . . I’d guess my $200 worth of packs netted me about $250 worth of sketches, which is great although realistically it’s very difficult to put a value on sketches in a set like this. Collation was an issue — I hit 2 Rian Gonzalez sketches which I was happy about since I like his work, but the 4 Jake Sumbing sketches were a bit too bad collation wise.

I think the sketch quality is decent, as always there are some really nice sketches, and a few that are below average. The sketch market is pretty flooded, and collectors are getting pretty sophisticated, so I think in order for a product like this to be really successful the below average sketches can’t exist.

Overall I’m happy with my breaks. . . but a lot of that has to do with the fact that I found these at an awesome price, if I paid $30 or more a pack I probably wouldn’t be very happy.

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