2014 Bowman Football is LIVE!

Get excited people – 2014 licensed products are here! Well, sort of.

As one of three products released tomorrow, Bowman is the one I am most excited for based on the options I have available. I think it is by far the best looking of any product released so far this year, but that isnt saying a whole lot:

2014 Bowman Johnny Manziel Mini RC

2014 Bowman Khalil Mack Red Refractor Auto /25

2014 Bowman Bishop Sankey Gold Refractor Auto /75

2014 Bowman Jimmy Garoppolo Gold Refractor Auto /75

2014 Bowman Zach Mettenberger Refractor Auto Base

We all know that pre-draft products are close to impossible to make these days, as the use of college jerseys is only available to Upper Deck. As a result, the companies have had to get extra creative in the way they make their products, and Bowman is the first of a few products that will be impacted. Although I wish everyone would wait until they could get stuff from the premiere out to the consumer, there is money to be made.

At least Topps is making an effort with a product with all on card autographs and chrome stock, as I have mentioned before. The card design is as good as ever, and I am happy they chose to use airbrushed action shots instead of the stupid sideline shots. Last year’s Bowman was a surprise in itself, becoming the breakout product to bust in the beginning of the 2013 card season.

It relied on lots of color in a short print run, and it doesnt look like that is changing TOO much for 2014. With the addition of guys like Johnny Manziel and company, I like the potential in picking off a few singles. Considering the alternatives are a million times worse, Ill make due with Bowman for now.

We still havent seen all of what Bowman has to offer, but it should be almost identical to last year. The main issue is that collectors will have to wait until Flagship to get a Topps product with true RPS pics, which will lead a lot of people to avoid the retouched college shots until that comes out. I dont necessarily think they are taking the wrong approach, just some of us are much more hungry for new cards than others.

2014 Chrome Kris Bryant Autos Are Live and Commanding Huge Prices

This is the time of year that baseball fans get excited about. Baseball is finally into its groove, and the sets are starting to heat up as well. Right now there is no hotter autograph in the hobby than Kris Bryant, a top prospect in the Cubs organization. With Masahiro Tanaka not signing autographs for anyone, Bryant is the rookie that everyone wants to pull.

Up until now, his cards have been redemptions, but the first live cards are starting to show up:

2014 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Auto Gold Refractor /50

2014 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Auto Refractor Lucky Redemption /500

2013 Bowman Black Kris Bryant Auto Silver /25

2014 Bowman Kris Bryant Auto Blue Refractor /150

In the next few weeks, major prospect cards in Bowman Inception and Draft Picks will be hitting shelves, and its likely that Bryant will play a big role in those products as well. For now, he is the person that everyone is chasing, expecting huge things while playing for one of the league’s more popular teams.

At the beginning of the season, it was Jose Abreu all day every day, as everyone saw the other Chicago big bopper as the rookie to collect. With age being a factor, as well as his inevitable cooling down, his cards have settled. Bryant was a much tougher pull and harder to obtain than Abreu, thus leading to ridiculous prices. Abreu’s Superfractor auto may have broken the modern ceiling with its’ sale, but the regular autos arent comparable. Bryant has him.

I have always stood by the fact that prospecting isnt about players like Bryant, who start hot and go from there. Prospecting is about the guys that are under appreciated, of which the label does not fit him at all. People buying in looking for a huge return on investment are looking under the wrong rocks, as its hard to truly see a big boost on a guy that is already selling for the big bucks.

Either way, this guy is on top of the world as we see here, and will likely be there for a while.

2014 Topps Strata Continues to Impress in Year Three

When Topps Strata was first announced in 2012, I was floored by how amazing the cards looked. Aside from an improved version of the Upper Deck layered card style, the acetate overlay with on card autographs were some of the best looking cards around. In 2013, they brought it back with less success, which can almost be 100% attributed to the quality of the rookie class. Topps has even started transferring the concept over to baseball, which has been extremely popular.

Check out these Strata cards for proof of concept:

2012 Topps Strata Russell Wilson Shadowbox Auto Patch

2012 Topps Strata Andrew Luck Clear Cut Auto Patch

2013 Topps Strata EJ Manuel Shadowbox Auto Patch

2013 Topps Strata Giovani Bernard Logo Patch Clear Cut Auto

2013 Topps Strata Keenan Allen Rivet Shadowbox Auto Patch /5

Topps has thankfully decided to bring it back for year three, which I could not be more happy about. This year there are the usual great looking cards, combined with a more robust veteran element from what it looks like. Not only do the cards still possess a unique presentation, but the names are much better this year.

Here is the drawback. Strata has always been about the box hit, and that’s it. If you are someone that opens a ton of boxes, the rest of the cards in the pack usually cant live up to where we normally see typical products go. Its almost like Strata is a 24 pack product with only enough content for a tin.

Being the type of collector that I am, I wish all base cards would be axed in products not named Chrome or Topps Football. Base cards are a worthless expense that appease an ever shrinking number of collectors. This product would be just as good without them, if not better.

Regardless of how I feel about the base, Strata is one of the best singles products on the market in terms of cool factor, and once you see what it is really capable of, its hard to look elsewhere and see all the less than unique offerings from other products. Considering its also a cheap rip, and it gets that much better.

2003_StrataSigs_Bridgewater 3101_ClearCutAutoRelic_Watkins 2241_StrataSigs_Wilson ClearCutDualAutoRelicBook_MOCK

2014 Bowman Aims To Open the New Season On a High Note

The true beginning of the NFL licensed card season begins next wednesday with two very different products. You already know my feelings on Hot Rookies, which I feel is going to be one of the biggest jokes in pre-draft products since Bowman Signatures in 2012.

The other is a product that I really had a lot of fun with last year in Bowman Football, which features NFL branded on card autographs first time this year:

2013 Bowman EJ Manuel Gold Refractor Auto BGS 9.5

2013 Bowman Eddie Lacy Gold Refractor Auto BGS 9.5

2013 Bowman Cordarrelle Patterson Orange Refractor Auto

2013 Bowman Montee Ball Mini Auto Red Ink /5

Although the cards are not NFL uniform, they are still on card autos on Chrome stock, which never looks bad. Each box features 4 autos, which is hasnt changed this year, and that doesnt even begin to speak to the number of inserts and minis that will also be included. I would guess that there are all sorts of other autos to be added, many of which we might not see until release. Because of a tiny print run last year, color autos were almost falling at 2 per box, which led the MSRP to be left in the dust as collectors chased rare parallels of the auto rookies.

Add in redemptions for eventual on card autos in NFL uniforms last year, and Bowman was a pretty interesting break for pre-premiere releases:

2013 Bowman Montee Ball NFL Uniform Auto

2013 Bowman Cordarelle Patterson Black Auto /25

I still stand by the notion that I believe it would be better for all the collectors out there if both companies refrained from putting out early products like this – especially if they look anything like Hot Rookies does. Its just not worth it, especially when you see how nice Inception looks each year. However, I also understand that there is a lot of money to be made with the new class, so companies race each other to get the products out. This is a bad situation that causes the issues I talked about in my break down for Panini's train wreck of a product. NFL logos in the corner cant save a terrible card.

If you HAVE to put out a product before the uniforms can be done, I would much rather it be done with hard signed airbrushed action shots on chrome than sideline shots with stickers like Score. At least make the cards look good like Bowman has done for the last few years.


The Wait is Over for 2012 Upper Deck Andrew Luck Trade Cards!

WIth the release of 2013 Exquisite already in full swing, including new autographs from Andrew Luck in the product, it should have come as no surprise that Luck’s autos from previous trade cards are starting to ship. Luck is easily one of the most valuable current player signatures around, and it was a huge win for UD to get his cards signed after all this waiting.

Here are all the Trade cards:

2012 Upper Deck Exquisite Andrew Luck Trade Card RC Auto

2012 Upper Deck SPX Andrew Luck Trade Card RC Auto

2012 Upper Deck Andrew Luck Trade Card RC Auto

2012 Upper Deck SP Authentic Trade Card RC Non-Auto

Luck should continue to be one of the brightest rising stars in the game this year and beyond, as its clear he has the tools to be an elite QB in this league. Now that he has already been to the playoffs twice in two years, with a team poised to go deep once again, collectors are taking high expectations a step further.

Luck was never cheap to begin with, as he was one of the highest rated college prospects in history. Collectors still crave his cards to this day, and when Luck’s exclusive with Press Pass ran out, there were lots of crossed fingers that the Trade cards from UD products would end up being him. Press pass had created a ton of issues with keeping him out of other companies' non-NFL products, and the trade cards were UD’s answer. After a lot of hemming and hawing, they got the deal done and announced the cards last year.

Now after months of waiting, there are a lot of happy collectors – especially when their trade cards are selling for what they are.