1963-64 Parkhurst #38 – Dave Balon

What’s with Balon’s bug-eyed expression? He kind of looks like that big-headed alien you see during the end credits of the original “Star Trek” TV show.

Believe it or not, this alien’s name is Balok. That’s way too close to “Balon” to be a mere coincidence. If Gene Roddenberry was alive today, he would totally admit that his inspiration for that alien character was this card of David Balon.

This is my 16th card in my 1963-64 Parkhurst set.

Note: I was not on “The War Room” this week, but will be back on their show next Wednesday.

Completed – 2008-09 Artifacts

Or, perhaps more accurately I should state that I completed the 100-card base set of 2008-09 Artifacts Hockey.

Many of the cards from this set I got in a mega-lot I purchased back in March. A good number were also “donated” by Brandon of Cardboard Hockey, Etc.. The rest I picked up in trades here and there, including the last three I acquired this week: Dominik Hasek, Alexander Steen and Jonathan Toews.

2008-09 Blackhawks Intro Video

The past few years, I have thoroughly enjoyed the intro video shown before each Chicago Blackhawks home game. Though it changes somewhat each season, the story is basically the same: a villainous, black-clad hockey team is taken on by the Chicago Blackhawks on the frozen streets of Chicago. The 2008-09 video was, hands-down, my favorite.

Is that awesome or what? Here are some things to notice if you watch it again:

– The evil team defacing the ‘Hawks banner (0:15)
– Captain Jonathan Toews casting a watchful eye over “his” city (0:20)
Brent Sopel totally blindsiding that guy (0:30)
Adam Burish dropping the gloves to protect Brian Campbell (0:44)
Dustin Byfuglien charging across the Michigan Ave. bridge (0:55)
Toews smashing the sign at Wrigley Field (1:18)
Martin Havlat jumping over the tracks as a train approaches (1:59)

Ironically, the low point of the video are the actual game highlights (1:32 to 1:53) spiced in towards the end. Hockey is so much cooler when you play on frozen streets and have to avoid being hit by cars and trains.

FYI, there is a slightly different version of this video that shows soon-to-be-replaced coach Denis Savard towards the end, as well as Patrick Kane celebrating his goal at the very end.

EDIT: I just now realized why I like this ‘Hawks intro video so much. In many ways, it is reminiscent of the intro for Batman: The Animated Series. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean.

Cost of building a 2009-10 OPC set

I recently won a complete set of 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee hockey cards on eBay, including all short-printed Rookies and Legends cards.

I also bought some packs–specifically one rack pack and one blaster box. It may seem pointless to buy packs if you already have a complete set. But if I want to be the world’s best hockey card blogger (dare to dream!), then I have to experience all aspects of the hobby…including the Sisyphean task of buying and opening packs.

Dave at Waxaholic recently wrote a 2009-10 box breakdown, so I’ll skip doing that too and talk about a related topic: the cost of building a 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee set. Please note that my examples do not account for sales tax, since it varies from state to state / province to province.

Option One: Rack Packs
This is the way to go if you only want to build the 500-card base set. A rack pack contains 31 base cards and 1 short-print–either a Marquee Rookies or Legends card. Your cost per card boils down to 15.6 cents each.

You’d need to buy 17 rack packs (17 x 31 = 527 base cards) to get enough cards to make a complete set. Of course, a few of those might end up being other inserts, like team checklists or Canadian Heroes. Most likely, you will not get all 500 cards you need for a base set; you’ll probably end up with some double or triples, falling short of a complete base set.

The good news is that you will easily be able to trade those 17 short prints that you end up with. Collectors trying to get cards 501-600 will gladly trade you 5 or more base cards for one of your short-prints.

Option Two: Blaster Boxes

These are the types of boxes you find at Target, Toys R Us and Wal-mart. A $20 blaster box has 14 six-card packs. 14 x 6 = 84 cards – a cost of 23.8 cents per card. A blaster box will net you 62 base cards, 7 short-prints and 15 inserts–give or take.

At a cost of $20 each, 9 blaster boxes gets you 558 base cards, 63 short-prints and 135 inserts. You’ll spend $180, will fall short of getting all of the short-prints, and again most likely won’t get one copy of each base card. At the same time, you’ll have a lot of inserts that you could probably trade away for the rest of the base or short-prints you need.

Option Three: Hobby Boxes
Hobby boxes have 36 six-card packs. My local shop sells them for $70, and the best price I can find online (including shipping) is $60. Without checking every single online store, card shop and eBay auction, let’s just say a hobby box sells for $65.

The only upside to buying hobby boxes is that you vastly increase your chances of getting a jersey or autograph card. In fact, you are three times more likely to get such a card from a hobby pack vs. a retail pack.

Should the allure of the possibility of getting one of these cards be enough to sway you to go the hobby box route, you would need to buy three boxes to get 486 base cards (plus 54 short-prints and 108 inserts). Four boxes gets you 648 base, 72 short-prints and 144 inserts–hopefully, one of them is an autograph.

Option Four: Buy a Complete Set
OK, technically this is not “building a set”, but it is by far the cheapest method. I got my set for $91 shipped. Looking at eBay auctions during the last two weeks, a base set sells for around $60 shipped, and a full set (1-600) for $110. Some dealers have even put together “master sets” that contain all base, short-printed and insert cards.

No, you don’t get to open pack after pack. You don’t get the glimmer of hope for a game used or autograph card. But you also don’t end up trying to track down the last 26 cards you need, or with figuring out with what to do with your duplicates (I hear some bike spokes calling…)

On a related note, I plan on posting a review of this set in about a week or so. I have a final paper and a final presentation–both about cyborgs–due in a week for one of my grad school classes. So the hockey card talk will be at a minimum the next few days until I get all my schoolwork behind me 🙂

The Goalie Mask is 50

Yesterday was Halloween, and today is the 50th anniversary of when Jacques Plante first wore a goalie mask in a game–November 1, 1959.

What is ironic about these two days being back-to-back is that the classic, “Jason-style” goalie mask will forever be associated with Halloween (the holiday, not the movie).

“Really, are we all that different…?”

The fiberglass goalie masks worn by guys like Plante, Tony Esposito and Gerry Cheevers was phased out during the 1980s, and pretty much gone by 1990. Sam St. Laurent was the final guy in the NHL to wear the fiberglass “face” mask, last appearing for the Red Wings in 14 games during the 1989-90 season.

Yet, the very same classic goalie mask still “means” hockey–even though it was last used in the NHL 20 years ago. Most goalies started to change over to helmets during the early-to-mid 1980s, after Bernie Parent sustained a career-ending eye-injury in 1979.

Though no longer used in hockey, the classic goalie mask continues to be a symbol of Halloween. Worn by Jason Vorhees in the “Friday the 13th” series of movies, the plain white goalie mask remains a staple for people who don’t want to put a lot of thought into dressing up once a year–never mind the fact that those films, like the mask itself, have not been relevant since the 1980s.

Get some black clothes, a $5 toy mask and a machete (prop or otherwise) and you’ve got the lazy man’s Halloween costume. 97 out of 100 people will get it (the other 3 will think you’re a zombie Pelle Lindbergh).

Fitting to both Halloween and the anniversary of the goalie mask, the Chicago Blackhawks gave out a Halloween-inspired mask to fans who attended their game on October 30. I think Wayne and Garth would approve.

No, not that Wayne and Garth.

“Game on!”

By the way, here’s a cool article about one of the last goalies to go without a mask.

1963-64 Parkhurst #95 – Claude Provost

Another Friday, another Parkhurst card. Claude Provost here is my 12th card in my slowly-growing ’63-64 Parkhurst set. Sure, we all dig the flags seen on the backgrounds of the Toronto and Detroit cards, but there’s something so cool about the horizontal stripes on the Montreal cards. This one is particularly striking because the green and yellow stripes contrast so sharply with the red and blue of Provost’s uniform.