Tim’s Take: Is Cleaning Cards a Dirty Business?

All we are is dust in the wind…

Those words, made immortal by the poetic genius of Kansas, were true when they were written and are true today. It’s also true that I hate dust, who doesn’t? The only thing I hate more than dust is dusting. But sometimes, even our cardboard collections succumb to the annoyingly random, floating, airborne particulate. Or maybe something worse. So what do we do about it?

I think there is certainly a difficult and layered discussion that can be had regarding the differences between dusting off your cards, cleaning, restoration, and alteration. We live in a world where the hobby is particularly focused on the gems, gem rates, and population counts among the best of the best. Finding the best quality so that you can maximize your “profits” is and has been, the direction the hobby has trended heavily since around 2015.

Sure, collectors have always wanted the best looking cards in the best condition possible, but since we’ve regularly eclipsed six figure sales for cards, the thoughts of dollar signs take over and the only way to get them is to grade. There is a ton of money at stake now and with half dozen or more card grading companies (the alphabet soups) that will rate your card on an arbitrary scale of 1-10 (with no industry regulation, oversight, certification, or standardized operating procedure), there’s extra incentive to help stack the deck in your favor.

Before I continue down this potential rabbit hole, keep in mind that I’m not talking about taking out the Swiffer duster once in awhile to run over your boxes, binders and bro cases. I’m not even talking about taking the dust off the individual cards themselves. I’m talking about where we draw the line between wiping off a thumb print or some dust particles vs. physically changing or altering the state of a card.

Continue reading “Tim’s Take: Is Cleaning Cards a Dirty Business?”

Tim’s Take: Fanatics Strikes Back

If you recall in my article where we first discussed the Panini vs. Fanatics lawsuit, we asked if Fanatics was a monopoly, as Panini accused them of being. In that article, we said the short answer was no, and the long answer was also probably no.

But let’s flip the script and turn the attention to the accuser, Panini. Is Panini a monopoly in the hobby space?

I think the conclusion ultimately ends up being the same. But fortunately for all of us captivated by this drama, if both parties have their way, we may now eventually find out. Let’s break down a simple timeline of what has transpired to get us here, shall we?

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Tim’s Take: The 2023 National Sports Collectors Convention

My every-other year visit to the National Sports Card Collector’s Convention wrapped up Sunday afternoon and I wanted to join the cast of thousands that will take to social media to regale you in the fun they had. But I think I’m going to take a different approach from just showing off what I bought because this wasn’t my first trip to the largest, and most important hobby show of the year. It wasn’t my second, or my third, or even my fourth. This was my ninth time participating in this colossal event.

In that time I’ve seen many, many cool things, I’ve met dozens and dozens of cool people, and I’ve developed many hobby friends. In recent years, I’ve met many listeners of the Puck Junk Podcast as well as those that interact on social media. It’s been one of the best hobby experiences that I look forward to annually, and especially every other year when it becomes a “home game” for me.

But there’s no shortage of controversy and discourse in this amazing hobby and that makes it interesting, and fun. So let me get this part out of the way first. There was a popular narrative on social media all week, which was, of course, the abundance of detracting opinions and negativity. The list is long. There was the stuff about breakers getting loaded boxes. There were the instances of the “influencers” seemingly getting most of the bigger promo pack hits. There was a lot of talk about preferential treatment given to YouTubers with large followings for “on-site grading” promotions. There were the countless examples of the seemingly incessant need of “collectors” to suckle the teat of hobby celebrities and brag about how they are all now “best friends”.

Were all of these things true? Maybe. But that’s not the point and I’m not here to discuss that (at least for now). What I will address instead are the two biggest issues people continually pointed out, the “10x comp pricing” and the “extreme heat,” as well as some observations I had.

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The Voice of Hockey Calls it a Career

Legendary NHL Broadcaster “Doc” Emrick Retires

Since 2005, when NBC acquired the rights to NHL broadcasting in the United States, there has been one consummate voice featured behind the microphone, serving up his eloquent and sometimes frantically excitable play-by-play for the feature games every week. On Monday, that voice decided to sign off for the last time. Mike “Doc” Emrick announced that after more than 50 years in the broadcasting business, he was retiring.

As the story goes, the first time Doc ever got the opportunity to cover a game in the NHL, he did so under the guise that he wasn’t getting paid anything…except a press credential. Continue reading “The Voice of Hockey Calls it a Career”

Box Break: 2018-19 Upper Deck Trilogy

“Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count to two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached…” you shall then open your box of 2018-19 Upper Deck Trilogy.

I hope the Holy Grail reference didn’t go unappreciated as my lead in for reviewing this year’s Trilogy product from Upper Deck. As you may have already guessed, Trilogy has always been focused on groups of three, whether it’s three players pictured on a card, three parallel levels, three autographs, serial numbers to three, etc.  Even the set logo has a three in the title in place of the “g.” Is it a conspiracy? A puzzle? The Illuminati? I don’t know, but the 2018-19 edition of this mid-range product is no different.

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Box Break: 2018-19 Artifacts Hockey

When it comes to new hockey card releases, I am frequently a late bloomer when it comes breaking boxes. This year, 2018-19 Artifacts was no different. Released October 4, 2018, Artifacts is usually one of the first products to hit the market at the start of the new season (as well as MVP and O-Pee-Chee). I hadn’t had a chance to pick this product up until recently and I wanted to share my break and thoughts with our readers.

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The Thermochromic Puck: Hockey’s Latest and Greatest Achievement

The NHL made the announcement yesterday that for the first time, official game pucks to be used in this season’s NHL Winter Classic game will feature a new technology using a thermochromic coating. Thermo-what, you ask?  To put it in the simplest terms, PPG  — yes the Pittsburgh-based paint company that sponsors the Penguins’ home arena and is advertised as the official paint of the NHL — has developed a coating that changes color based on temperature. That’s right — color changing pucks. 

Where have we seen this phenomenon before? Continue reading “The Thermochromic Puck: Hockey’s Latest and Greatest Achievement”

Review: 2018-19 Topps Skate Mobile App

With the NHL season now two months in, I’m sure everyone is as happy as I am that hockey is back in full swing.  Just like with the last few seasons, Topps Skate is back as well with another year of digital card collecting, trading, and competition.

For those not familiar with Topps Skate, it is a digital app for mobile devices, licensed by the NHL and NHLPA, that allows users to collect and trade cards as well as compete in chase contests and live, real-time competition. 

What’s that you say? Topps doesn’t make hockey cards? Topps hasn’t made hockey cards since 2004? 

Well, you would be correct…if we were talking about actual, tangible cards you can touch, smell, and throw in your bike spokes. But in this case, we are talking about digital cards that exist virtually, in the mobile device world, floating through the air as little ones and zeros.  Topps has had a license to produce the app and make card designs since 2016.  I don’t recommend throwing your phone into your bike spokes.

This year’s app is quite different from last year and received a heavy design face lift.  For those familiar with other Topps digital apps, it now looks a lot like the Topps baseball app, Bunt. But since we focus mostly on hockey, I wanted to take some time to give our readers a basic overview of the app and also give my take on Skate as a whole.

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Changes In Store For COMC.com

How the New Fees Affects Card Flippers

Over the last 10+ years, COMC.com (or Check Out My Cards) has been toiling away in the trading card marketplace, striving to become one of, if not THE leader in individual trading card sales.  After having evolved from a small web portal known as LowPriceCards.com into the juggernaut that it is in a few years, COMC has emerged with an inventory of over 18.3 Million cards and sells and ships more singles to collectors all over the world than any other service provider.

Led by a sort of “grass-roots” style guerrilla marketing campaign (which to me appeared to be based mainly on word of mouth and appearances by COMC people at the big sports shows), I have seen COMC grow from servicing about 3 million cards in their inventory when I first joined to over six times that amount today. First joining COMC in the fall of 2013, I happened on the website after meeting the owner, Tim Getsch, at the National Sports Collectors Convention. The former Microsoft employee’s pitch was simple enough. “Just try it out,” he told me. “If you like it, stick around. If you don’t, feel free to email me personally and tell me why.”  That’s what brought me into the fold as a user. Customer service and the feeling like the owner gets it will most likely win out with me in the end.

Fast forward to this past weekend and the “Huge Announcement” from COMC. Like any company that is looking to survive for a long period of time, the goal has to be to make money.  Sure you want the customer experience to be the best and people to love you all the time and what you do but the existential aspect of running a business will eventually give way to the fact that pats on the back don’t pay bills. Continue reading “Changes In Store For COMC.com”