Monday, July 28, 2008

2008 Allen & Ginter #310 Michael Bourn

The talk of the hobby recently has been the release of the 2008 Allen & Ginter baseball product. The design of this card matches the earliest tobacco cards released in the late 1800s.

Like the original tobacco cards, the set wasn't restricted to just baseball players. Included in the 2008 Allen & Ginter set are world leaders, state flags, ancient icons, historical figures, and world champions. The historical figures includes some unique cards like Abe Lincoln and JFK "DNA Relic" cards which contains a hair from famous figures.

World Champions includes not only mainstream champions like boxing champion Archie Moore, swimming champion Mark Spitz, and Olympic champion Bruce Jenner, but it also includes more obscure champions. Some of those include the World Air Guitar Champion, Rock Paper Scissors champion, and my personal favorite Billy Mitchell, the video game champion who was the first person to complete a perfect game of Pacman. If you don't know who Bill Mitchell is, I highly recommend watching the movie The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. It's a documentary on setting the world Donkey Kong record. Surprisingly it's a very good movie.

I highly recommend checking out the press release for this product. I don't buy boxes or packs of cards, but if I stumble across these at a store, I might just have to pick up a few packs. I'm not even a huge baseball fan, but this product just looks too fun to ignore.

Included in this product is Michael Bourn on card #310. The picture is an artistically modified photo with a white background that resembles the style of the original Allen & Ginter cards. The font used is almost identical to the old style. Most of the cards have a vertical orientation, but Bourn's card has a more artistic horizontal layout.

Variations on this card include several mini cards which are much smaller than the base version. Mini variations include Allen & Ginter backs, Bazooka backs, black framed, wood, and silk versions. Yes, the last two are really made of wood or silk.

This is just a beautiful card from a fun set.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

2007-08 Upper Deck Premier Franchise Faces Autographs #FFHO Hakeem Olajuwon

Let's look at a high end product today, Upper Deck Premier basketball. Many people collected cards at one point in their life and don't realize the massive changes in the hobby. For those unaware, there are several tiers and price ranges for products. Upper Deck Premier is on the very high end of the hobby.

Check out Upper Deck's press release for this product. First of all, look at the suggested retail price: $300 per seven card pack. That's right. Not $300 per case or even $300 per box. $300 for seven cards. Luckily I don't open boxes or even packs usually because I only collect Houston Cougars, but even if I did, I'd never pay $300 for a pack of cards unless I win the lottery. The good news is that people open these packs, keep what they want, and sell the rest of eBay, frequently at a decent price. That's the only way I'd collect a product like this

So what do you get for $300? One, you get a very limited print run. Second, you are guaranteed to get autographs and relics which is pretty cool. But what if you get a player you don't like or not worth much if you want to sell it?

The seven cards break down like this:
1 - Regular base card or non-autographed rookie card
2 - Rookie card with autograph and relic
3 - Patch card, possibly with autograph
4 - Autographed card
5 - Jersey card
6 - Patch/jersey card or autograph/relic card
7 - Another card from group 4-6

That's really exciting to get very cool cards like that in every pack, but again, what if you don't like the players in the pack?

This week's Olajuwon card is 2007-08 Upper Deck Premier Franchise Faces Autographs #FFHO. This is a gorgeous card with Olajuwon as the face of the Rockets franchise. I don't think there's any question that if you could only pick one player to represent the Rockets' history, it would be Hakeem. The card is very limited with only 34 made.

There is also an autograph directly on the card, not on an attached sticker. There is a problem with the autograph since it is on a very busy background. The autograph should be the highlight of the card so the card could have been designed to make the autograph stand out more.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

1995-96 Collector's Choice #196 Hakeem Olajuwon

Collector's Choice was a brand from Upper Deck that was produced basketball cards from 1994-95 to 1997-98. It was designed to keep kids in the trading card hobby as the business was becoming geared towards premium cards. Collector's Choice was very inexpensive with more cards per pack, and it had cards designed for the kid market. Unfortunately most kids wanted the same things as most adults, to open the pack that would have the expensive, rare insert card or the card with the over the top special effects. Collector's Choice didn't have many special effects and insert cards were limited

Today's card is the 1995-96 Collector's Choice #196 of Hakeem Olajuwon. This is not the regular base card for Olajuwon. It is a Professor Dunk card. I guess the Professor is supposed to teach us how Hakeem plays basketball and dunks.

The front of the card shows Hakeem post-dunk against the Miami Heat. The card has a special treat for UH fans since it also features Coog Carl Herrera in the background. It also has a graphic of Professor Dunk on a very clunky red banner.

The back has the Professor again with a small picture of Olajuwon attempting another dunk. The Professor's analysis of Hakeem's game is included. The funniest thing on the card is a quote from the Professor: "Don't even try blocking the Dream's shot. In da Face!!!" That's quite an analysis... in da face.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

1987-88 Fleer #30 Clyde Drexler

Clyde Drexler's mainstream rookie card is the Fleer 1986-87 #26. Since we've already seen this set's card layout with Hakeem Olajuwon's rookie card, let's look at his second year card, the Fleer 1987-88 #30.

The card's gray and white border is much more subdued than the 1986-87's red, white, and blue border. Looking at this card makes you realize how far the hobby has come. The card stock is not of the highest quality. The in game photograph doesn't exactly show the action of an NBA game.

The back of the card has a nice set of statistics in a pleasing red, white, and blue. Because there are only four years of statistics, almost half of the card back is blank. A photograph on the back of a card was still a couple of years away, but you'd think they'd fill the blank space with a fun fact or some other text filler.

Basketball cards from this era seem to be a product in transition. They don't have the vintage look and feel of much older cards, and they also don't have the modern flash and quality of more recent cards. I'm glad these cards exist because the lack of mainstream cards from 1982 to 1985 leaves a gap for basketball card collectors, but I wish there was some feature about this card that makes me want to include it in my collection.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

1995 JOGO #51 Roman Anderson

Roman Anderson is considered by many to be the greatest kicker in University of Houston history. He holds many school season and career records for scoring and kickers. At one point, he held the NCAA record for most career points scored. That record has since been broken although longer seasons and more bowl games make it much easier to break season and career records. He was an All American Honorable Mention, 2 time All Southwest Conference 2nd team, and 2 time All SWC 1st team.

Roman never made it in the NFL although he did play in the CFL. In 1995 he was the CFL All-Star placekicker and leading scorer.

Today's card is the 1995 JOGO #51. The front of the card has a nice layout with a quality action photo. Those uniforms are horrible though. To me, the colors don't match and those have to be the busiest stripes I've ever seen.

The back of the card doesn't have statistics. Instead it has an overview of his playing career both in the CFL and at UH.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

1992 All World Greats/Rookies SG17 David Klingler

When Andre Ware decided to leave the University of Houston early to join the NFL, there was some concern there would a drop off in quarterback play the next year. Although David Klingler had significant mop up activity behind Ware in 1989 since there were several 50+ point blowouts, you never know how a quarterback will play when given the primary responsibility of running an offense especially following a Heisman trophy winner.

Who could have predicted the season David Klingler would have in 1990. Leading UH to a 10-1 record and a Top 10 ranking, Klingler set several NCAA records some of which will be very difficult to break. Some records include most TD passes in a quarter (6) & TD passes in a game (11). Several of Klingler's single season records were broken by Colt Brennan of Hawaii, but it took 14 games compared to Klingler's 11 games.

I'm a little late for the 4th of July, but it's still the 4th of July weekend so let's celebrate with the 1992 All World Greats/Rookies SG17 featuring David Klingler. The card features Klingler taking a snap in a practice uniform. It also features the American flag at the top with the stars in silver foil. His name is also in silver foil.

The back lamely features the same picture faded behind text. The best part of the card for UH fans is the history of David Klingler at the school. It begins with his initial play in 1988, backing up Ware in 1989, and his record setting year in 1990.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

1991-92 Upper Deck #254 Hakeem Olajuwon

This week's Olajuwon card is the 1991-92 Upper Deck #254. This was Upper Deck's first basketball product. This product was highly anticipated when it came out as an improvement on Fleer and Hoops. Unfortunately this product was overproduced like almost all of the products during this timeframe.

This is a great looking card. First of all, I love the basketball floor border. Sure it's a little cliche now, but when used properly, it can look great. With the player name, team name, team logo, and Upper Deck logo integrated on the floor, I think this is a great design, especially considering it wasn't frequently used prior to this product.

The photo on the front is great: Hakeem throwing it down with Cassell, Thorpe, and Divac watching from below. This kind of photo raised the bar for the basketball card market.

The back is also solid. The white card stock looks pristine. The Upper Deck hologram was an innovation to verify the card was authentic, although I'm not sure how much value that adds. Six years of pro statistics are provided. Also there is another very nice picture on the back. I'm not sure what Hakeem's doing, possibly catching a pass on the break, but it's a very solid action photo.

I loved this card when it came out, and I still think it looks great.