Novel or Nothing: Leaf Unopened Edition and Johnny Manziel Draft Packs Are Live

Brian Gray is no stranger to trying to recreate the wheel, and in the last week, he has tried to do bring these new types of ideas to the Leaf Brand.

With the release of 2014 Leaf Unopened football, we have one of the first products that is a repack of unopened wax. As if that wasnt enough, Gray is also offering packs of cards online that try to capitalize on Manziel Mania. These packs feature cities of all 32 NFL teams, to be exchanged if you pull the team that eventually drafts Johnny Football.

Here is where you can buy them:

2014 Leaf Johnny Manziel Draft Exchange Pack

I am a big fan of online exclusives like this, and I think this is a pretty novel idea. For 9.99, its worth a 1:32 shot in pulling the team, especially if you can trade it in for an autographed version of the card. Manziel will be the hottest rookie in the class, at least for the pre-season, and this is a fun way to build on that.

As for Leaf Unopened, I am not as big of a fan. I just dont see the appeal of buying a box of cards whose main draw is that it has another box of cards inside, combined with a bordered slabbed cut auto. From the early breaks, there are a lot of 2007-2011 boxes in the product, including duds like Prestige and Elite from down years.

Although I have seen a box of 2008 NT come out, and a box of Museum Collection FB, the majority of this product is not fairing well for the cases I have seen online.

Leaf has made a name for themselves in the repack business with their “Best Of” products, but with those its a bit different. It is also worth saying that I am not a fan of the bordered cut autograph cards that are required to be in each box.

This product just isnt my thing, although I can see the appeal for someone who has money to burn. I have heard there are boxes of 2000 Contenders and 1998 SP Authentic included. Those would be a fun rip.

2014 Masters Championship: The One Day a Year I Love Golf

Today, everyone is a golf fan, Sunday of the Masters in Augusta. I rarely watch golf, but I have watched this part of the tournament each year for a very long time. Even though Tiger Woods is out of the tournament this year, here I am in front of the TV. Bubba Watson is likely going to win his second green jacket in 2 years, putting him in pretty elite company. All that being said, it just isnt the same without the big dog in the mix.

Tiger remains one of the most expensive autographs in sports, something that should be shocking considering how few people there are that actually follow golf cards.

2014 SP Authentic Gold Tiger Woods On Card Auto

2013 Tiger Woods Master Collection Tourney Used Shirt Booklet Auto

2014 Industry Summit Tiger Woods/Rory McIlroy Dual Auto 1/1

I have always been a Tiger supporter, even after all the hullabaloo that unfolded a few years ago. Without seeing him on Sunday wearing red, its not going to be as special. He continues to be a controversial figure in sports, but he is no doubt one of the biggest athletes on the planet. For a golfer, that is an enormous accomplishment.

Upper Deck recently released SP authentic Golf, a set that I think hearkens back to the earlier sets of the 2000s, where Tiger’s cards eclipsed the prices of guys like Lebron James and Michael Jordan.

Check out some of the cards, they are really nice:

2014 SP Authentic Golf Rory McIlroy Auto BGS 9.5

2014 SP Authentic Golf Tiger Woods SP Chirography Auto

2014 SP Authentic Golf Fred Couples Auto Shirt Relic

2014 SP Authentic Golf Jack Nicklaus Auto

As if you shouldnt be surprised, Bubba Watson has also had his fair share of autographs since his win in 2012, and those are cards that are likely to spike over the next few hours. He is the type of golfer that will gain a cult following, and though he may not ever come close to people like Nicklaus and Woods, he has personality which will get him more value in the hobby.

This is a day that I always have nostalgic feelings and I think with all the different things that UD and Leaf have been doing as of late, Golf is certainly here to stay.

Success of Sports Memorabilia Industry Should Serve as a Source of Potential For Cards

Sports memorabilia and autograph memorabilia is a big deal these days. Such a big deal that memorabilia collectors are some the largest whales in any hobby – not just collectors from this type of an arena. If you think people spend a lot of money on cards, people spend 10-15 times that amount per capita in memorabilia. To capitalize on this huge group of people, companies have started to creep into the space slowly but surely, as we have seen with Upper Deck authentic and Panini authentic. They arent even the big dogs, and there might even be a new big dog in the game now that Fanatics has decided to go after a growing number of people who love to get signatures from their favorite teams and athletes. They are even getting extra creative at bringing collectors closer to the game.

Check out these awesome examples:

1972 Miami Dolphins Team Signed Stadium Chairs

Yasiel Puig Full Sized Signed Home Jersey

Colin Kaepernick In Focus Signed Print With Inscription

Companies like Fanatics, Tristar, CSA, GTS and others will take their connections and build entire conventions and shows around the high profile guests they schedule to attend. Its actually pretty impressive, having attended quite a few of them. One of the more recent shows had most of the living members of the 1985 Bears, all signing in one place at one time. That is awesome, no matter which way you slice it. The National Convention may have thousands of tables selling sports cards, but just as many people also go to meet the hundred or so players that are signing throughout the weekend. When attending, its fun to watch all the different items people bring to have signed.

Although these shows give people like me a great chance to meet their idols, its not going to come cheap in any way, shape or form. This isnt a place that anyone should go and bring some cheap cards to sign. That is just not cost effective. Shows like I am describing are for those people looking to get their collection centerpieces marked by the athlete with no questionable authenticity.

The market is not all about autographed photos and items either, as game used memorabilia is easily the tip of the top of the mountain. Collectors will go nuts trying to acquire rare items from their favorite players, eras and teams. Whether its jerseys or equipment, its all worth chasing to many of the people who live and die by these pieces. Some of the golden age memorabilia can sell for millions of dollars, especially for people like Babe Ruth and other titans of the game.

Just talking with some of these bigger collectors makes one feel like small potatoes. Cards are just not the thing that is worth anything compared to the absolutely stunning items that I have seen sold at the bigger gatherings over the last few years. Rarely does a card make news the way a signed piece of game used memorabilia can.

We always talk about the hobby thinning out, but the strength of the memorabilia industry should be a breath of fresh air. If I were the card companies, this is the market I would be chasing.

2013 National Treasures – Some of the Best Patches Ever Made?

I am a firm believer in the fact that jersey cards as a whole are completely dead. Not only are they now practically worthless, but even multicolored patches rarely sell for any type of money. With 2013 National Treasures, Panini set out to revive the patch card, and included some of the most ridiculous logo patch cards I have seen in a long time. Many of you are probably thinking that logos are now commonplace, and they are – FOR ROOKIES. Its becoming more and more infrequent that we get them for vets and HOF in game used fashion.

Game Used Logo Patch Cards – Veteran and HOF

These cards are all logos from the upper chest, which mostly use anniversary designs and special commemorative patches. Because these patches are usually the most intricately designed logos in the league, it should be pretty clear why these cards are as ridiculous as they are.

2013 National Treasures Joe Montana KC Chiefs Anniversary Logo Patch /6

2013 National Treasures Chris Johnson Titans Anniversary Logo Patch

2013 National Treasures Adrian Peterson Vikings Anniversary Logo /6

Game Used Logo Patch Cards – HOF 50th Anniversary Patches

These cards are from jerseys that were used during the couple of weeks where the NFL celebrated the anniversary of the HOF’s opening. The insignias were all incredibly nice, and Panini did a really nice job including them in these cards. We get full player pics on these, which I like a lot more than the ones mentioned above.

2013 National Treasures Robert Griffin III HOF Anniversary Logo Patch /6

2013 National Treasures Darren McFadden HOF Anniversary Logo Patch /6

2013 National Treasures Alfred Morris HOF Anniversary Logo Patch /6

Game Used Logo Patch Cards – Captain’s Patches

This set is reserved specifically for the captain’s patches that players wear on their jerseys. I actually asked Scott Prusha at Panini back in 2011 why these were never used in cards, and he said he would make it a point to use them in a set in the future. Not saying this was my idea, but Im glad they did this. They turned out awesome.

2013 National Treasures Peyton Manning Captain's Patch /4

2013 National Treasures Drew Brees Captain's Patch /4

2013 National Treasures Jay Cutler Captain's Patch /4

These cards are selling for an absolute ton of money and I could not be happier that they are. Its about time we got some action on jersey cards.

2014 Gypsy Queen is Live With First Cards of Top RCs

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Gypsy Queen. Even though the set is mostly focused on cards that I don’t usually collect, they have always been some of the best looking of the stable of retro sets. With GQ slated to hit shelves today, I am already liking a lot of the cards that have started to show up from early box breakers.

Here are some of the hits posted already:

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Mike Trout Mini Auto

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Masahiro Tanaka Variation Action Shot

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Adam Jones Green Auto /10

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen David Wright Jersey Auto

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Jose Canseco Black Variation Auto

Gypsy Queen is also the first opportunity for collectors to get their hands on a card of Masahiro Tanaka in uniform, which has already brought a lot of people to open the packs that wouldn’t normally open them. Although the autographs of the new Yankee pitcher may not be making it into packs anytime soon, there are quite a few people who will be chasing the rare base cards.

Aside from Tanaka, another top rookie this year will also be making his debut in the set. White Sox Cuban phenom Jose Abreu has a base card, and is likely to have other content as the set gets opened. He is already slated to have an autograph in Bowman, but these look pretty damn cool.

My biggest complaint is that the autograph checklist continues to be relatively weak, as it usually is for a set that is focused more on the base set than the hit portions of the box. Being someone that has always gravitated towards the content outside of the normal base cards, this is a problem, and usually prevents me from breaking down and opening a box or two.

On the other hand, when you do end up pulling something crazy nice, it is about as nice as it gets. The cards have a retro feel to them that I have always loved, and though the majority of the content in the product hasn’t changed all that much, its something we can appreciate for the design. The inserts and other mini cards are fun and a blast to collect for the set collectors, and its no secret that the variations are a draw as well.

After seeing cards like the “Around the Horn” booklet autos, its clear that Topps is looking to build some new elements to the product that haven’t been done before. Although the autographs are stickers, it’s a cool concept to have an oversized card come out of a folded booklet. You cant deny they are thinking outside the box.

Gypsy Queen may end up being among the forgotten at year’s end, but its one of those under the radar products that is a fun rip. I would check out some of the singles even if you aren’t a big collector of sets of this sort.