Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Barry Larkin Collection 350: 1996 Topps Laser - #S5 - Stadium Stars Insert

Barry Larkin
Year:  1996
Brand:  Topps Laser
Insert set:  Stadium Stars
Card number:  S5

The 1996 Topps Laser set featured two different Barry Larkin cards.  There was the regular base card and this card, a Stadium Stars insert card.  Since I own them both, I can officially cross the Topps Laser set off my list of needs in terms of my Barry Larkin Collection!

Turning our attention to the card itself, it should be noted that the Stadium Stars cards are tough pulls - they were seeded 1:60 packs!  The cards certainly feel special since they form a folded "book" of sorts - the front is the laser cut portion with the Reds logo.  When the card is closed, you can make out a lot of Larkin's image through the holes in the cover of the card.  It's a cool idea even if there is no great way to store this card in a binder!

Quite honestly, there isn't much to complain about with the card except maybe how Topps decided to do the statistics on the backside.  I find it somewhat tricky to read the statistics - and why they are called Light Year Stats is beyond me.  The fine print above the Light Year Stats line says "Statistics project an optimum year for player by pro-rating his career best in each category to 162 games."  That's sort of bizarre (though I maintain that calling it Light Year Stats still makes no sense).  Otherwise, this is an awesome card - and a great addition to my Barry Larkin Collection!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Trade Stack 66: Michael Jordan Joins the Eight Card Stack!

Here is how this works:
Every so often (i.e. whenever I feel like it), I will add a card to a "Trade Stack".  Whenever the stack becomes appealing enough to someone, that person needs to comment on the post saying they'd like to claim the stack AND tell me which card they are sending off of my want list.  That's all you have to do - trade me ONE card (or more, of course) card from my want list for the entire stack of cards that I'm offering.  Each time, it will be first come, first serve...so act quickly (unless of course you are a gambler and hope to wait it out until there are 10+ cards in the stack that you want in exchange for a single 2004 UD Vintage card that I am looking for)!

The Trade Stack:
Last update:  3/30/15

The month of March is all but over - tomorrow marks the final day of the cursed month (at least it's cursed for those of us who live in the northeast).  The rest of the country might be experiencing record warmth but I still have some snow piles in front of my house.  Ugh.

Needless to say, I'm happy to see March go.  However, I'd love to get one more trade off before the month ends - I like to average about 10 trades per month...it makes me feel like I'm striking a good balance between getting rid of unwanted cards and making progress on stuff I actually DO want.  My Trade Stack is supposed to be one such vessel for unlimited trading opportunities...but that only works if I keep updating it (hence the multiple updates in recent days)!  

Today's addition to the stack is a Michael Jordan insert (and it might be the only Micheal Jordan card in my collection since I don't touch basketball stuff with a ten foot pole).  I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Trade Stack claimed in a hurry - but then again, you never know!  

Remember, you can have the entire Trade Stack in exchange for any one card off of my want list!

2009 Upper Deck 20th Anniversary:
339.  Michael Jordan - Bulls

2013 Donruss Elite:
100.  Dereck Rodriguez - Twins


2012 Goodwin Champions:
26.  Jim McMahon 


2000 Fleer Metal:
75.  Kent Bottenfield - Cardinals


2012 Bowman:
1.  Derek Jeter - Yankees


2010 Topps Allen & Ginter's:
108.  Paul Konerko - White Sox


1999 Fleer Sports Illustrated:
60.  Matt Clement, Ben Davis, Stan Spencer - Padres


2015 Topps:
15.  Joey Votto - Reds





If you want the stack, remember - all you need to do is offer up any one card from my want list.  

Want the card(s) in the stack?  Act fast - tell me which card you will send me off my want list in the comments below!  You must leave a comment on the trade stack post in order to claim the card - no more claims via email!  If no one claims this card within a reasonable amount of time (a few hours up to a few days, depending) - I'll add another card to the stack and the process will start again!


Previously Claimed Trade Stacks:
Stack 01:  2 cards by dayf
Stack 02:  8 cards by Justin
Stack 03:  17 cards by Cam
Stack 04:  4 cards by Cam
Stack 05:  9 cards by Daily Dimwit
Stack 06:  4 cards by The Lost Collector
Stack 07:  1 card by Baseball Dad
Stack 08:  1 card by M. Spiegel
Stack 09:  6 cards by bwsmith25
Stack 10:  6 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 11:  1 card by Patrick
Stack 12:  5 cards by Matt B.
Stack 13:  4 cards by Steve G.
Stack 14:  3 cards by ShaneK
Stack 15:  7 cards by Ryan G
Stack 16:  1 card by longlivethewho
Stack 17:  4 cards by hiflew
Stack 18:  4 cards by Potch
Stack 19:  2 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 20:  5 cards by by Play at the Plate
Stack 21:  5 cards by BA Benny
Stack 22:  1 card by IkesCards
Stack 23:  8 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 24:  1 card by BA Benny
Stack 25:  2 cards by Jeff P.
Stack 26:  10 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 27:  1 card by BA Benny
Stack 28:  7 cards by ThingsAreFunnerHere
Stack 29:  3 cards by TheBrooklynMet
Stack 30:  4 cards by Adam C.
Stack 31:  10 cards by Play at the Plate
Stack 32:  8 cards by Josh D.
Stack 33:  6 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 34:  1 card by Potch
Stack 35:  9 cards by Cool Breeze
Stack 36:  11 cards by Kev 
Stack 37:  6 cards by Tunguska
Stack 38:  12 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 39:  8 cards by Spiegel83
Stack 40:  1 card by Kyle4KC
Stack 41:  4 cards by dayf
Stack 42:  1 card by AdamE
Stack 43:  1 card by madding
Stack 44:  10 cards by Commishbob
Stack 45:  1 (almost complete) puzzle by Baseball Dad
Stack 46:  8 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 47:  5 cards by The Junior Junkie
Stack 48:  4 cards by dayf
Stack 49:  9 cards by Swing and a Pop-Up
Stack 50:  9 cards by Commishbob
Stack 51:  3 cards by Need More Cardboard
Stack 52:  1 card by Play at the Plate
Stack 53:  12 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 54:  4 cards by The Junior Junkie
Stack 55:  9 cards by Spiegel83
Stack 56:  2 cards cards by Joe Frecker
Stack 57:  4 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 58:  2 cards by Chunter
Stack 59:  9 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 60:  8 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 61:  13 cards by Mark Hoyle
Stack 62:  9 cards by Nick
Stack 63:  9 cards by buckstorecards 
Stack 64:  7 cards by Mark Hoyle
Stack 65:  2 cards by Play at the Plate
Stack 66:  ?? cards by ??

Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary: Group Trade Results!

Not all that long ago, Brian (from Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary) held a Group Break of sorts.  Basically, it was a zero cost upfront fee - all you had to do was send him some cards based on whatever you ended up with from the break.  Well, I did quite well so I sent Brian a big bunch of cards (which you can read about on his blog here)!

The break itself consisted of a bunch of boxes from a time when many of us weren't collecting...or at least we weren't collecting everything since there were so many different products on the market.  Specifically, the break contained a box of 1996 Pinnacle, 1999 Fleer Ultra, 2002 Topps Gallery, 2002 Fleer Greats, and 2003 Stadium Club.  The entire break can be seen here if you are interesting in seeing how it all worked out.

I happened to jump in the break and claimed the Reds (of course).  To be honest, I wasn't particularly interested in any of the sets other than the '99 Fleer Ultra (a set that I'm actually trying to collect).  I also like the Fleer Greats set but I'm pretty sure I have all the base Reds from that set since I used that box in a group break that I hosted once upon a time.  Nonetheless, I actually joined with the hopes of landing some sort of new-to-me Barry Larkin card.

How did I do?  Did my dreams of a new Larkin card for my collection come to fruition?

Let's find out together.

My trade package from Brian ended up containing three team bags full of cards.  In the order that I opened them...

The first bag actually contained a bunch of 2015 Topps base cards that I needed.  While I won't scan those since everyone is sick of 2015 Topps, I will show off one of the three 2003 Topps Heritage cards that were in the team bag to serve as "protection" for the cards!

The '03 Heritage set is quite nice - and had I been collecting baseball cards actively back then I am sure that I would have tried to finish the set.  I like the solid color backgrounds - it makes for a rather striking page in a binder!

The second of the three team bags contained my haul from the 2002 Topps Gallery box which included five Reds (no Larkins though).

The Topps Gallery cards have an artsty vibe with the painted photos - and of my five cards my favorite was far and away the Frank Robinson!  I would have to go back and look to be certain but I don't think I actually owned any of the 2002 Topps Gallery cards!

The second team bag also held the five Reds from the Fleer Greats box.  Once again, no Larkin (I don't think he's in that set) but I did get a new insert featuring a Red and a Cardinal.

I could do without Cardinal stink on my Reds' baseball cards but in this case I'll let it slide.  Getting cards of Big Klu is always fun!

The final cards from the second team bag included my four cards from the Stadium Club box.  I ended up with a pair of base cards plus a pair of the thicker chunk cards.

The Griffey Jr. is one of the chunk cards though you probably can't tell from the scan.

That leads us to the final team bag - and still no Larkins to speak of.  Let's see what bag #3 holds.

Boom!

That's right - TWO Barry Larkin cards.  One from the Fleer Ultra box, the other from the Pinnacle box.  Unfortunately for me, I actually already owned both of 'em but that's ok.  I was hoping for a Larkin and I got two.

But wait, it actually got a LOT better.  One of the final cards that I uncovered in the last of the team bags was this beauty.

Yeah, that's another Barry Larkin card - the third of the break...and this one is NEW to me!  That's the Starburst parallel and it's a brand new addition to my Barry Larkin Collection (I'll feature the card in its own post sometime in the future)!   I will say it looks MUCH better in person than it does in that scan...you'll have to trust me on that I guess.

Many thanks for the awesome group break idea Brian!  I was hoping to hit a new Larkin and you delivered big time (plus getting the 2015 Topps cards that I needed was much appreciated)!  As for anyone else, if you have any Barry Larkin cards for trade - or anything else from my want list - be sure to shoot me an email and hopefully we can work something out!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Trade Stack 66: The Stack Grows to SEVEN Cards (Shiny Card Added)

Here is how this works:
Every so often (i.e. whenever I feel like it), I will add a card to a "Trade Stack".  Whenever the stack becomes appealing enough to someone, that person needs to comment on the post saying they'd like to claim the stack AND tell me which card they are sending off of my want list.  That's all you have to do - trade me ONE card (or more, of course) card from my want list for the entire stack of cards that I'm offering.  Each time, it will be first come, first serve...so act quickly (unless of course you are a gambler and hope to wait it out until there are 10+ cards in the stack that you want in exchange for a single 2004 UD Vintage card that I am looking for)!

The Trade Stack:
Last update:  3/29/15

Yesterday, I tried to convince someone to take the stack by putting a butt ugly card on the pile.  No one bit so today I'm trying something different - SHINY!

That's right.  Today's addition to the trade stack is nice and shiny...and with today's card the stack now reaches seven total cards - all from different sets no less.  Surely there's something that catches your eye in the stack...  Remember, you can have the entire Trade Stack in exchange for any one card off of my want list!

2013 Donruss Elite:
100.  Dereck Rodriguez - Twins


2012 Goodwin Champions:
26.  Jim McMahon 


2000 Fleer Metal:
75.  Kent Bottenfield - Cardinals


2012 Bowman:
1.  Derek Jeter - Yankees


2010 Topps Allen & Ginter's:
108.  Paul Konerko - White Sox


1999 Fleer Sports Illustrated:
60.  Matt Clement, Ben Davis, Stan Spencer - Padres


2015 Topps:
15.  Joey Votto - Reds





If you want the stack, remember - all you need to do is offer up any one card from my want list.  

Want the card(s) in the stack?  Act fast - tell me which card you will send me off my want list in the comments below!  You must leave a comment on the trade stack post in order to claim the card - no more claims via email!  If no one claims this card within a reasonable amount of time (a few hours up to a few days, depending) - I'll add another card to the stack and the process will start again!


Previously Claimed Trade Stacks:
Stack 01:  2 cards by dayf
Stack 02:  8 cards by Justin
Stack 03:  17 cards by Cam
Stack 04:  4 cards by Cam
Stack 05:  9 cards by Daily Dimwit
Stack 06:  4 cards by The Lost Collector
Stack 07:  1 card by Baseball Dad
Stack 08:  1 card by M. Spiegel
Stack 09:  6 cards by bwsmith25
Stack 10:  6 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 11:  1 card by Patrick
Stack 12:  5 cards by Matt B.
Stack 13:  4 cards by Steve G.
Stack 14:  3 cards by ShaneK
Stack 15:  7 cards by Ryan G
Stack 16:  1 card by longlivethewho
Stack 17:  4 cards by hiflew
Stack 18:  4 cards by Potch
Stack 19:  2 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 20:  5 cards by by Play at the Plate
Stack 21:  5 cards by BA Benny
Stack 22:  1 card by IkesCards
Stack 23:  8 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 24:  1 card by BA Benny
Stack 25:  2 cards by Jeff P.
Stack 26:  10 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 27:  1 card by BA Benny
Stack 28:  7 cards by ThingsAreFunnerHere
Stack 29:  3 cards by TheBrooklynMet
Stack 30:  4 cards by Adam C.
Stack 31:  10 cards by Play at the Plate
Stack 32:  8 cards by Josh D.
Stack 33:  6 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 34:  1 card by Potch
Stack 35:  9 cards by Cool Breeze
Stack 36:  11 cards by Kev 
Stack 37:  6 cards by Tunguska
Stack 38:  12 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 39:  8 cards by Spiegel83
Stack 40:  1 card by Kyle4KC
Stack 41:  4 cards by dayf
Stack 42:  1 card by AdamE
Stack 43:  1 card by madding
Stack 44:  10 cards by Commishbob
Stack 45:  1 (almost complete) puzzle by Baseball Dad
Stack 46:  8 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 47:  5 cards by The Junior Junkie
Stack 48:  4 cards by dayf
Stack 49:  9 cards by Swing and a Pop-Up
Stack 50:  9 cards by Commishbob
Stack 51:  3 cards by Need More Cardboard
Stack 52:  1 card by Play at the Plate
Stack 53:  12 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 54:  4 cards by The Junior Junkie
Stack 55:  9 cards by Spiegel83
Stack 56:  2 cards cards by Joe Frecker
Stack 57:  4 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 58:  2 cards by Chunter
Stack 59:  9 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 60:  8 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 61:  13 cards by Mark Hoyle
Stack 62:  9 cards by Nick
Stack 63:  9 cards by buckstorecards 
Stack 64:  7 cards by Mark Hoyle
Stack 65:  2 cards by Play at the Plate
Stack 66:  ?? cards by ??

Barry Larkin Collection 349: 1996 Topps Laser - #84

Barry Larkin
Year:  1996
Brand:  Topps Laser
Card number:  94

The 1996 Topps Laser set was a pretty cool set for its time.  Actually, it's still a pretty cool set.  Each base card is intricately cut (via a laser presumably) which makes for some fun base cards.  The only downside to the set is the complete fragility of each card - the die cut design is so intricate that each card feels like it could crumble if you hold it with even the tiniest bit of pressure.

This particular Barry Larkin card isn't notable for the front photograph, that's for sure.  It looks like Larkin is running some drills during warm-ups or something.  The back of the card features a head shot of Larkin but not much else (notice the fact that there are no batting statistics to be found on the card)!  All that said, the uniqueness of the Laser idea still makes this one of my favorite Barry Larkin cards from 1996!

In my estimation, if Topps had done without the foil, this would be a classic set that would still be revered by collectors today...With the foil though, it's still a nice set but it's not quite the classic that it could have been.  That said, if Topps were to release a new Topps Laser set, I would definitely check it out!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Trade Stack 66: The Stack Reaches Half a Dozen Cards!

Here is how this works:
Every so often (i.e. whenever I feel like it), I will add a card to a "Trade Stack".  Whenever the stack becomes appealing enough to someone, that person needs to comment on the post saying they'd like to claim the stack AND tell me which card they are sending off of my want list.  That's all you have to do - trade me ONE card (or more, of course) card from my want list for the entire stack of cards that I'm offering.  Each time, it will be first come, first serve...so act quickly (unless of course you are a gambler and hope to wait it out until there are 10+ cards in the stack that you want in exchange for a single 2004 UD Vintage card that I am looking for)!

The Trade Stack:
Last update:  3/28/15

Today's addition to the Trade Stack is one of the ugliest cards that I've ever seen...and for that reason alone it makes for a fun addition to the Trade Stack.  Will this card be so bad that it's great for someone?  I'm not really sure...but we shall find out soon!

And, if no one wants the ugly card (or if you want to gamble that you are the ONLY person who wants the ugly card), I will be adding another card to the stack soon enough!  And I mean that this time since I already have posts written and scheduled through the end of next week!

 I'll have time to do some more searching for good Trade Stack fodder...so if you want the stack, you better claim it in a hurry!

Remember, you can have the entire Trade Stack in exchange for any one card off of my want list!

2012 Goodwin Champions:
26.  Jim McMahon 


2000 Fleer Metal:
75.  Kent Bottenfield - Cardinals


2012 Bowman:
1.  Derek Jeter - Yankees


2010 Topps Allen & Ginter's:
108.  Paul Konerko - White Sox


1999 Fleer Sports Illustrated:
60.  Matt Clement, Ben Davis, Stan Spencer - Padres


2015 Topps:
15.  Joey Votto - Reds





If you want the stack, remember - all you need to do is offer up any one card from my want list.  

Want the card(s) in the stack?  Act fast - tell me which card you will send me off my want list in the comments below!  You must leave a comment on the trade stack post in order to claim the card - no more claims via email!  If no one claims this card within a reasonable amount of time (a few hours up to a few days, depending) - I'll add another card to the stack and the process will start again!


Previously Claimed Trade Stacks:
Stack 01:  2 cards by dayf
Stack 02:  8 cards by Justin
Stack 03:  17 cards by Cam
Stack 04:  4 cards by Cam
Stack 05:  9 cards by Daily Dimwit
Stack 06:  4 cards by The Lost Collector
Stack 07:  1 card by Baseball Dad
Stack 08:  1 card by M. Spiegel
Stack 09:  6 cards by bwsmith25
Stack 10:  6 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 11:  1 card by Patrick
Stack 12:  5 cards by Matt B.
Stack 13:  4 cards by Steve G.
Stack 14:  3 cards by ShaneK
Stack 15:  7 cards by Ryan G
Stack 16:  1 card by longlivethewho
Stack 17:  4 cards by hiflew
Stack 18:  4 cards by Potch
Stack 19:  2 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 20:  5 cards by by Play at the Plate
Stack 21:  5 cards by BA Benny
Stack 22:  1 card by IkesCards
Stack 23:  8 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 24:  1 card by BA Benny
Stack 25:  2 cards by Jeff P.
Stack 26:  10 cards by Axemanohio
Stack 27:  1 card by BA Benny
Stack 28:  7 cards by ThingsAreFunnerHere
Stack 29:  3 cards by TheBrooklynMet
Stack 30:  4 cards by Adam C.
Stack 31:  10 cards by Play at the Plate
Stack 32:  8 cards by Josh D.
Stack 33:  6 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 34:  1 card by Potch
Stack 35:  9 cards by Cool Breeze
Stack 36:  11 cards by Kev 
Stack 37:  6 cards by Tunguska
Stack 38:  12 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 39:  8 cards by Spiegel83
Stack 40:  1 card by Kyle4KC
Stack 41:  4 cards by dayf
Stack 42:  1 card by AdamE
Stack 43:  1 card by madding
Stack 44:  10 cards by Commishbob
Stack 45:  1 (almost complete) puzzle by Baseball Dad
Stack 46:  8 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 47:  5 cards by The Junior Junkie
Stack 48:  4 cards by dayf
Stack 49:  9 cards by Swing and a Pop-Up
Stack 50:  9 cards by Commishbob
Stack 51:  3 cards by Need More Cardboard
Stack 52:  1 card by Play at the Plate
Stack 53:  12 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 54:  4 cards by The Junior Junkie
Stack 55:  9 cards by Spiegel83
Stack 56:  2 cards cards by Joe Frecker
Stack 57:  4 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 58:  2 cards by Chunter
Stack 59:  9 cards by Baseball Dad
Stack 60:  8 cards by buckstorecards
Stack 61:  13 cards by Mark Hoyle
Stack 62:  9 cards by Nick
Stack 63:  9 cards by buckstorecards 
Stack 64:  7 cards by Mark Hoyle
Stack 65:  2 cards by Play at the Plate
Stack 66:  ?? cards by ??

Collector's Crack is my Supplier!

This past Thursday was a good day for my mailbox - I ended up receiving a pair of trade packages after spending the first half of the week getting nothing but bills in the ol' box!  Even more interesting (to me anyhow) is that both of the trade packages originated in Alaska (but are from different people)!  I don't get a lot of mail from Alaska...so it was noteworthy to me!

The larger of the two packages was courtesy of Mark over at Collector's Crack.  Mark and I both collect baseball cards (of course) but we each also collect LEGO stuff.  This trade (as is the case with many of our trades) involved a little bit of both of our hobbies!

First, the baseball cards:

Mark sent me a small stack of 2015 Topps base cards that I still needed.  Thanks to his generosity, I'm achingly close to completing Series I - you can find what I still need here.  Out of the stack of cards, I picked my three favorites.

It must be noted the majority of the photograph highlights of this year's flagship set come in horizontal form.  The Jason Kipnis is one example of a great looking card - and this is one of the rare cases where Topps didn't chop off an appendage unnecessarily!

The other horizontal card that I liked a lot was the Salvador Perez card.

ESPN must also love this card - you can't get much better product placement than that!  The pure joy in the Royal's faces is palpable...and it makes for a great card!

The final base card of note wasn't horizontal - but it was one of the Future Stars subsets.

That's Jose Abreu rocking the throwback uniform of the White Sox - and it makes for a great card...especially with the black border at the bottom.  This year's flagship design is top notch for sure!

Mark also sent me a pair of the Robbed retail only insert cards.

The Robbed set is the only insert set that I'm trying to complete for Series 1 - and I'm pleased to say I'm making slow (but solid) progress on it.  Should any of you loyal readers have any extras from this set, check out my want list and see if you can help me out in my quest!

As I mentioned, the trade consisted of both baseball cards and LEGO - specifically, one LEGO minifigure from Series 13.

That's the Sheriff - and he comes complete with a wanted poster for the outlaw that was featured in a previous series of minifigures!  That's pretty cool if you ask me (and it's even better since I already own the outlaw)!

Thanks to Mark I am now over halfway towards completing the 13th series worth of minifigures!  You can find all the figures that I am still missing (from Series 13 all the way back to Series 1) but going to my LEGO-centric blog here.

Thanks a lot for the great trade Mark!  Sorry I was a bit slow to send...your end of the swap goes out in the mail later today!

Friday, March 27, 2015

When a Good Gift Goes Bad: Quarterly Book Riot BKR06 Subscription Review

As you may recall, last month was February.  For those of us on the east coast of the US, it seems like this month is February given our frigid temperatures but no, February is in the past.  I only mention that because February is home to two things:  cold, crappy weather and Valentine's Day.

This year, I decided to try something different for my wife for Valentine's Day.  I signed her up for a Book Riots subscription through Quarterly.co.  The essence of the subscription is that you get a box of goodies sent to your house four times a year (aka Quarterly).  The cost is $50 per box which seemed pretty steep but it was a gift for my wonderful wife so I went with it.

After looking around Quarterly's page, I settled on a curator called Book Riots which offered a mystery box full of books and bookish things each time.  I did some further research online and discovered that some of the past Book Riot boxes included plenty of interesting books plus some charming book extras (including the most recent box in the series which included a winter cap and Shakespeare candies plus a pair of interesting sounding books).  Basically, the boxes all appeared to be based on lighthearted fun.  It seemed like a good idea for a gift for my wife who loves books...

Wrong.

Here's what was in the box that my wife ended up with.  First, the box itself was a decently sized cardboard box - and Book Riot used the nice tape that made it clear this was supposed to be a special box.  So far so good - but that ended as soon as my wife opened the box up.

The box ended up holding two books (which was a good thing) but neither book was of interest to my wife.  I understand that is a risk with any subscription type box...but it wasn't the fact that my wife wasn't interested that bothered me as much as it was the incredibly niche books that were sent.  I would hazard a guess that most people wouldn't be interested in either of these books...

First, Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older.

Yeah, that is a book about an "inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death" according to the back of the book.  

The box also contained a book mark that was drawn by the author of the Half-Resurrection Blues book.  

While that was bad enough, the second book really put a giant damper on a Valentine's Day gift.  The book?  Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.

This is a book about aging and dying.  It's serious stuff for sure, but it's definitely NOT a type of book that belongs in a subscription box...and it made for a terrible Valentine's Day gift.

The box was rounded out with a pair of bookish items.  The first was a very boring notebook.  

Technically, I can understand that this is indeed a bookish item but it's certainly not an interesting item.  It's also not something one would hope to get in a $50 subscription box.

The final item in the box was a flask that was branded with the book riots logo on the back and a BookAndBooze logo on the front.  

I suppose that this could have been a decent inclusion in the box but unfortunately neither my wife nor I have any use for a flask (a beer stein would have been a different story).  I actually won't fault Book Riots for the the flask though - it fits with the fun theme of the previous boxes...but the two books (you know, the main reason one would subscribe to a book box in the first place) have absolutely no place in a subscription like this.

Even worse?  Besides the fact that my wife didn't want a single item of course was that the entire box was $50...and I don't think there's $50 worth of stuff there to begin with.
By my count:

  • The Resurrection book is $7.99 on Amazon.
  • Being Mortal in hardcover is $15.60 on Amazon.
  • The notebook, flask, and bookmark are harder to price...but I think $25 is an absolute maximum for the three items.
Total:  $48.49 - and that's saying the three bookish items are worth half the cost of the box subscription.  This box ended up being a rip-off even if you liked the items...but to not like the items, ouch.  Terrible.

As you can imagine, neither my wife nor I was happy so I actually wrote to Book Riots to see if I had any options.  That was a mistake because Book Riots clearly proved to me that they do NOT care about their customers. In reply to my query, Book Riot sent me an email that basically said "too bad" and if I still wanted to complain to contact Quarterly.co themselves.  Book Riot actually went so far to include an email address for me to contact...but that email address wasn't even active.  I actually got a "undeliverable" response via the mail client when I tried.  They might as well just have responded with a picture of a middle finger because that's how it came across to me.

Moral of the story?  

I immediately cancelled my Book Riots subscription and will not deal with them any further.  I did manage to find a different email address for Quarterly.co and ended up with a fairly nice reply from someone at that company.  They actually gave my a $10 credit for a future box subscription purchase (that doesn't have to be Book Riot).  I was incredibly frustrated and angered by Book Riot but I think Quarterly did enough to soothe my anger a bit from their side of things.  

Now the problem is what to do with the "junk" that I ended up with...and how to make it up to my poor wife who got what had to be one of the worst gifts of all time.

EDIT:  I mistakingly said the company was Quarterly.com, it is actually Quarterly.co (no "m" in the name).  That has been fixed in the above text (thanks to cynicalbuddha for pointing out my error).

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Theme Week: Better Know a Blogger (Tim from I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning)

Welcome back to one of the final entries in my ongoing Better Know a Blogger theme week!  In fact, I believe this is the final entry in the series besides my own answers.  If anyone wants to jump in at the last moment - or if your entry entry was somehow skipped/missed by me - let me know ASAP!  For now though, let's get to know another fellow blogger!

1. Your name (or alias):  Tim B.
2. Your blog website:  I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning
3. What kind of collector do you consider yourself (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.). Why do you collect that way? 
I've been a bit of everything during my collecting years(set collector, team/player collector, in-person autograph seeker, rookie/prospect collector, etc). These days though, I'd say that I am mostly a team(s) collector(Yankees, select Rays and Nationals, and Broncos) but I mix in cards dealing with season highlights/playoffs/baseball history. I think this style of collecting suits me best because it maximizes my enjoyment and helps me stay within a reasonable budget.

4. In your opinion, what could the major card companies (Topps, Panini, etc.) do to make your style of collecting better for you? 
Well, Topps took a small step with 2015 series 1 by reintroducing the team cards that had been missing for the past few years. I'd like to see them bring back true Season Highlights cards. Instead of making these into checklit cards with a caption describing an event, I'd like to see a devoted card with a more detailed description on the back. As for Panini, I'd love to see them get a full license(I know this is not their decision to make) so I don't have to pick and choose cards that don't look terrible to me without the logos. Much like many others, I'd like to see a drastic reduction in the numbers/types of parallels(hopefully Topps' reduction in series 1 will continue).

5. What is your favorite part of your collection?  This could be one specific item, or a binder of cards, etc. 
I'd have to say the favorite part of my collection is the run of late '90's-early 2000's Topps/Topps Chrome(inc. refractors) Yankees Playoff/World Series Highlights subsets. For at least '99, '00, and '01 I have(am searching for) all of the Yankees highlight cards in base, Chrome, refractor, and in some cases Limited/Employee/HTA versions. I guess it's the early version of collecting the rainbow. It's been a lot of fun hunting them down, and I'm almost done(I think).

6. Most of us have a favorite song that we like for no good reason – heck, it might even be embarrassing.  Do you have a favorite baseball card that might fit that bill?  
The closest thing to a guilty pleasures card that I have is probably the 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco RR. I loved the Bash Brothers when I was growing up and even with all that has happened to Canseco's reputation/popularity I stilll love looking at that horribly awkward rookie card. I mean, he's got a caterpillar crawling on his upper lip, how is that not entertaining?

7. If you were forced to part with your entire collection except for one card, which card would you keep? 
It's hard to choose. I think it would be a toss-up between my 1962 Topps Roger Maris or my 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente RC. There are interesting stories as to how they came to my collection(both are planned future blog posts). I'd have to say it would be one or the other because of significance they hold to the history of my collecting days(as well as their hobby significance).

8. Many of the blogs (including my own at times) seem to decry Topps’ lack of vision and creativity.  Can you think of something creative that could be done for an upcoming card set?
Since relic cards are not going anywhere anytime soon, I'd like to see a focus on some non-traditional relics. For catchers, maybe include pieces of chest protectors or masks. Revisit fielding and/or batting gloves, hats, batting helmets, and spikes. Plain white/gray jersey swatches and plain splinters of a bat are so common. I think they should explore a little more variety.

9. What is your profession?  How did you end up there?  If you are in school, what do you plan to major in and/or what job do you hope to get after graduating?  
I currently manage a high volume small animal veterinary hospital. I began working in the field a number of years ago and planned to enter NC State veterinary school. That goal was put on the back burner when I learned my wife and I were expecting our first daughter. Here I am a few years later with 2 girls under 5 years old and have changed plans to management so I can stay in the business that I love and actually make a career out of it. There is always time to pursue vet school once my girls are in school, but I didn't feel I could devote the amount of time required to studying, etc and sacrifice seeing my girls grow up.

10. What is your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?  Why?  
I'd have to say Hawaii. I have some extended family there, but the real reason it is my favorite would have to be the atmosphere. You can truly be laid back visiting there and there is hiking, swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, and surfing available to fill your leisure time. I've always been drawn to the ocean, so never being too far from a beach was pretty great too.

11. Many of us have favorite foods or customs that are somewhat local to where we live.  Do you have any such things that you particularly love?  A website link to specific products would be spectacular.  
A true NC specialty is pulled pork barbecue. There are a number of great places that specialize in this, but my favorite is a hole in the wall called Backyard Barbecue Pit. From pulled pork to ribs to brisket, they have it all and it's all incredible. They have traditional southern sides like mac and cheese, collards, Brunswick Stew, and sweet potato caserole as well. I'd include a website link, but they don't have their own site. They were featured on Man vs. Food when they came to Durham, NC though.

12. Do you have any other hobbies besides card collecting?  
Primarily listening to music and spending time with my daughters(and wife).

13. Tell me something interesting about yourself (that we haven’t covered in the first twelve questions). 
As a family, we tend to do a decent bit of traveling. As a result, I've been to 8 MLB stadiums and 6 minor league stadiums so far. I know there are others that have been to a lot more, but at least I've got a start. We typically attend 10-15 Durham Bulls home games each season(though we live about 40 minutes from the park, we both work only about 15 minutes from there, so it is our 'home' team).
Tim ended up being featured on my blog on back-to-back days thanks to his awesome trade packages yesterday and now his Better Know a Blogger answers today!  I think I raved enough about Tim's trading prowess yesterday so let's specifically focus on Tim's questionnaire answers today!

First, Tim sounds like a great family man - how can you not respect an answer like "spending time with my daughters and wife" for hobbies other than card collecting.  After all, happy wife, happy life!

In terms of Topps and relic cards, Tim (along with a few others) mentioned some more nontraditional relic choices.  As a lover of Allen & Ginter relics (esp. relics like playing cards, paper airplanes, and pieces of rope), I couldn't agree more!  White and grey swatches are much too boring...at least make the relic piece look interesting!

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't comment on Tim's food answer.  I love pork barbecue (even though northcentral PA isn't exactly a hot bed of quality bbq establishments).  I have been through North Carolina a couple of different times (enroute to Florida) but I've never actually made North Carolina a destination.  Knowing all the pork bbq that is there, perhaps I should put that state on my "to visit" list again!

Thanks a bunch for taking the time to answer my questionnaire Tim!  And, for that mater, a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the Better Know a Blogger series.  The series was a success way beyond my wildest imagination...and it's sort of sad to see it about to end.  SO - if you want it to keep going, shoot me an email so that I can get the questionnaire out to you!   Once I post my own answers, the Theme Week will officially be closed!