When it comes to 1 of 1 cards in this hobby, there have been more mistakes than successes. Obviously the quad logo auto 1/1s in Exquisite are one thing, but they go all the way down to the 10,000+ 1/1s in Topps Moments and Milestones. One specific type of 1/1 has trancended the normal contructs of value surrounding base parallels, and I know that many people buy just to seek them out. Back in the 1990s, when refractor technology made its play, Topps literally put every possible design into its different parallels. Then they started numbering them. Then they started numbering them REALLY low. Then they made the granddaddy of all chrome cards, the 1/1 golden ticket Super-fucking-fractor.
Next week, one of my favorite sets of the year will hit shelves. For 2007 and 2008, Topps chrome was possibly the best set of the year for the entire brand with maybe the exception of Bowman Chrome. This year’s success will hinge on a few things, mainly stemming from practices that Topps seems to have given up on for their chrome products all together.
If you notice for this year, the autograph space for the rookies is curved, something that wont lend itself very well to a square sticker. I sincerely hope that the new standard set by Chrome baseball will hold true for football, and deliver on card autographs for the first time in a VERY long time.
The preview sheet, released a few months ago, seemed to hint at on card autos, as Topps usually incorporates the awful rainbow foil stickers into the sell sheets. This time, they did not. If this does end up being the case, I may end up maxing out some credit cards to buy a few cases, as I cant tell you how excited I would be to open a few boxes.
Last year also brought the first Topps Chrome Patch Auto cards as well, numbered to a miniscule 25 per subject, something that could compete with SPA in terms of value if it were numbered a little higher. Now that Bowman chrome has also incorporated swatches into a product that doesnt need them, I hope the sophomore edition of the TC Patch cards dont screw up more of this potential set of the year.
As we saw with base Topps, the cards look great, and should be even better in chrome tech. The photos look ten times better than last year’s distanced player shots, some even using very dynamic action shots from the trampoline station at the premiere. However, we also saw that there were some variation SPs with VERY low print runs in base Topps, thus begging the question as to value in chrome. These cards could be huge if they are as short printed, and available in the normal refractor pyramid.
Well, its only a matter of days now, I hope its not delayed any further. I am ready with money in hand.
A big focus of this blog lately has been to highlight scams that are happening around the hobby, mainly with the fake Topps rookie premiere autos that have spread like a disease. Topps has yet to respond to any emails, despite the number of people who have contacted them in response to this site. This means that as long as eBay is making money off these auctions, and as long as people continue to buy them, they are here to stay. Sadly.
Here are some ways to protect yourself, as most of these cards are pretty big investments. Basically, if any of these red flags are present, stay away and just wait for the next one.
1. Seller has MANY rookie premiere autos or questionable cards up for sale that all look the same. Most of the time, these cards come up for sale through sellers that have basically made a living selling them. That will leave hundreds of cards in their possession to sell, many of them looking signed by the same person. If you see this pop up, its time to investigate before bidding. If you are about to buy a rookie premiere, this should be step number one, and the link to do so is right under the seller’s name in the auction. Actually, this isnt a bad idea with any questionable card.
2. Seller has MANY red ink RPAs for sale. Ever since the inception of these cards, the red ink variations have been the toughest to pull. Usually around 10 or so copies of the cards are signed in red ink, which leaves very few of these cards to actually pop up for sale. Unfortunately, this has changed recently, as the red inks are a favorite of these douchebags due to their value. Although its possible for someone to sell their collection of red inks, that comes once a year at most. If you see an auction block full of duals and quad red inks, stay away.
3. Seller’s cards are signed in THICK markers. Staedler pens, which are used to sign these cards, are becoming harder and harder to find. Most of the time they are also pretty expensive to purchase. This leads to the sellers trying to use the wrong pens, or just being to stupid to use the right ones. Staedler pens leave razor sharp lines that are very distinguishable, and you can easily tell when someone has butchered a fake with a fine point sharpie. Again, this is something that can be seen in the seller’s auction listings, because many should have the same lines in the sigs.
4. Autographs on the cards don’t look right. It can be tough sometimes to determine which autos look real, but most of the time, you can find PSA or BGS graded copies to compare the autos to. Look for the slant of the letters, the connection of the lines, even stop and start points on the sig. If they are different, something is up.
5. The players sold by the seller are always the top of the class. I have seen that during the sales of these cards, SOME of the weird players from the premiere sometimes get fakes, but the top guys ALWAYS are a focus for obvious reasons. If the guy has twenty rookie premiere autos for sale, and all of them are Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and Matt Ryan, a flag should be applied.
6. Price is low. Most quad red ink autos sell at around 400 for the good players, these are selling at around 200. Obviously, its rare that a price would drop 50% for any card without circumstance, so be sure to pay attention to ending price on the cards. If they usually are ending lower than they should, its for a reason.
Guys, in all reality, if people would just do their research, this could all be avoided. Im not saying they should come here, but they should go on eBay and look around to compare notes on other legit sales. The fact is that people in this world are generally ignorant and would rather live in their own world than spend their money with people who actually deserve it. If they had the tools, they would use them, but as we have seen around here lately, using smarts to apply to a sale is very rare.
2009 Topps has hit the bay, and I think this could be a really good year for them. First off, I know that they ditched the flag backgrounds for the RPAs, as long as the photos I saw were used, and secondly, they switched away from those awful looking Career Best auto designs from last year.
I liked this year’s base auto design in baseball, and it also looks good in football, though Im not sure why they have career best cards for the rookies who have never played a down. I think we need to change the name there.
EDIT: The first RPA is up, and I am digging the way the borders look, though the player looks a little to stark against that background. Im not a helmet off picture supporter, but this design looks good. See? Topps low end is where its at.
Thanks to Jerry for sending me a preview of the Sanchez.