2014 National Convention: Wrapper Redemption Roundup

Well, its time for the biggest card show of the year, as the 2014 National Collectors Convention opens today in Cleveland for show VIPs. There will be a flood of news coming, including some potential information about Panini and their quest for hobby domination, but nothing set in stone. For these first few days, the biggest news will be surrounding the wrapper redemptions, most of which will be the most coveted items at the show.

The cards can fetch some crazy money as we have seen from previous shows:

2010 National Convention Michael Jordan Upper Deck Wrapper Redemption

2012 National Convention Robert Griffin III Panini Auto /5

2013 National Convention Yasiel Puig Leaf Wrapper Redemption Auto

Here is a break down of what to expect for this year, especially as pre-sales ramp up and are fulfilled.

Panini’s Wrapper Redemption Program

As I have mentioned on a number of previous occasions, this wrapper redemption is not for collectors – its for everyone else who needs to clear their shelves of the slew of terrible Panini products that have been collecting dust all throughout 2013. All that being said, the cards really do look much nicer than they have in years past, and I really like the way they are using the patch motif as the design for the cards.

Panini’s gallery is here.

Here are some of the cards on pre-sale:

2014 Panini National Convention Wrapper Redemption Johnny Manziel RC

2014 Panini National Convention Wrapper Redemption Andrew Wiggins RC

2014 National Convention VIP Jose Abreu RC

2014 Panini National Convention Wrapper Redemption Teddy Bridgewater RC

Again, this year’s set looks as good as it ever has, with more of a focus on designing great looking rookie content from guys like Manziel and company that will sell like hotcakes in Cleveland. I still detest the stupid manupatch autographs that have been a virus in this hobby year after year, and the cracked ice is still not done correctly. Similarly, these towel cards make no sense to me, as I dont get why collectors want swatches of material specifically used for collecting bodily fluids.

If only this money could make it back into the products instead of a million wrapper packs and an overly extravagant VIP party.

Topps Wrapper Redemptions

I love that Topps produces the exclusive Ginter minis to give away each year, as these types of cards are really what the wrapper redemptions should be about. They tend to be pretty rare and coveted by the crowd to the point where security needed to be called in last year.

Here are some of the cards up for pre-sale:

2014 Topps National Convention Wrapper Redemption Masahiro Tanaka Ginter Mini

2014 Topps National Convention Wrapper Redemption Jose Abreu Ginter Mini

The national show presence should always be more about engaging with your customers and less about giving away free shit, but this is what it has become. The reason I know this is the case is because the Topps booth is empty by 2pm. Topps still tries to make it work, though.

Upper Deck Wrapper Redemptions

In the last few years UD has become more like Panini in creating content for the show rather than Topps, and it has caused more interest at their booth as of late. They also just announced a special LeBron James card to be given out, which features a quote about his return to cleveland. Just not the same without NBA licensing like Panini has for theirs.

2014 UD National Convention VIP Johnny Manziel RC

2014 National Convention Upper Deck VIP Set

Leaf Wrapper Redemptions

Brian Gray always puts on a show, and this year looks to be no different. I saw posted that he has a deal or no deal station set up where collectors can play for boxes, as well as a bunch of points that count towards autographed items and giveaways.

2014 Leaf National Convention VIP Jadeveon Clowney RC

2014 Leaf National Convention VIP SET

He also has a card set that will be given out over the next few days.

Overall, the National has become a big party, and that does serve to increase the hobby’s presence in a lot of ways. You want this to become like San Diego Comic Con, and that’s no joke. The more people that can come to the show, the more the hobby will flourish. If that can happen in conjunction with more content in the actual products themselves over the whole year, I would be pretty damn happy.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Exquisite Golf Builds High End Into a New Sport

I have always been a fan of Upper Deck products because they usually live up to the best in terms of design, theme and look. Exquisite, over the course of its history has established a brand of the best cards in the business, always rising the top of the value spectrum as a result. Even after Upper Deck lost licenses in the NFL and NBA, Exquisite remained a product that collectors love, and will continue to love regardless of licensing status. We know expensive golf cards can sell, as Tiger has been in high end products before, but never like this.

Here are some of the big hits so far:

2014 Exquisite Golf Tiger Woods Dimensions Shadowbox Auto

2014 Exquisite Golf Tiger Woods Masterpieces Auto

2014 Exquisite Golf Rory McElroy Lustrous Shirt Auto

2014 Exquisite Golf Jack Nicklaus Dimensions Shadowbox Auto

2014 Exquisite Golf Michael Jordan Endorsements Auto

For me to talk about a Golf product, it has to be crazy awesome, which Exquisite is looking like it might be. Not only are there the jumbo swatches and autographs that have always been a staple of the product, but these cards look like Exquisite has always looked – amazing.

Adding in UD black and other brands like they have done in Football and Basketball was a great call, as I think that many of the golf fans out there will chase the big names. Most of the different subsets all hearken back to the way they have looked in other sports, which will help collectors draw connections if they arent intimately familiar with golf as a whole.

That is also going to be the main challenge, as its clear that Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus cant be in every box. Although there are guys like Arnold Palmer and even Michael Jordan, most of the names will be people that the average joe hasnt heard of. When you bust a box of 500 dollar cards, you need the mass appeal to help carry the cost of singles that arent the case hit. That’s what Exquisite usually can do in Basketball and Football, but its still unclear what could happen in Golf. Easily, the collectors could come out of the woodwork and buy these guys up, but it could also go completely the other direction.

Either way, I have always been a fan of cards like the Lustrous patch autos and the Dimensions shadowbox autos, which use acetate technology to present the cards in very unique ways. In a lot of these products the cards jump off the stock because they look the way they do.

In my opinion, Exquisite and ANY high end product has been tough to break by the box, as there are some major duds in every product’s print run. The trade off has always been that the cards are all 100% hard signed, and have always looked like they are worth the price of the box.

I dont think this version of Exquisite will come up short there.

2014 Baseball HOF Induction Weekend: Dominating Careers Enshrined Forever

Today marks one of the biggest days of the baseball season, as the new HOF class is inducted and celebrated for their incredible careers. After years of classes without huge names, this year’s class is packed with players who DOMINATED their era. This is also the first time where I have been old enough to have pulled their rookie cards from packs, and that makes me feel old. I digress, as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas are the first modern era guys that I have a real hobby attachment to. Here are some thoughts from my experience growing up.

Greg Maddux

Its hard not to love Maddux for what he was able to accomplish, as he was not a hard throwing pitcher and never blew people away. He was a finesse artist, and maybe one of the best of all time. Not only did he win 300 games, but he won titles and more Cy Youngs than you can count. Today, he would be looked at with contempt, as many of the power pitchers today make Maddux look like he is pitching batting practice. However, no one was better at throwing unhittable strikes, and that is what made him one of the best of all time.

2004 Ultimate Collection Greg Maddux MLB Logo Patch Auto 1/1

2014 Allen & Ginter Greg Maddux Framed Auto

2012 National Treasures Greg Maddux Auto Patch

Tom Glavine

I watched Glavine pitch in the 1991 World Series and was awestruck at how he could hit his spots. As a lefty, he was already much more difficult to get a good look, and definitely not easy to hit if you did get your pitch. Glavine debuted during a time of vast overproduction in the hobby, so his rookie cards are worth next to nothing even signed. Its crazy to think that there might be a million Glavine rookies out there, and that is never a good thing for value. People still love his cards though, and I think I still have a few inserts of his laying around.

2013 Topps Five Star Tom Glavine Inscription Auto

2013 Topps Museum Collection Tom Glavine Framed Auto

2014 Tier One Tom Glavine Auto Patch

Frank Thomas

I wont be shy in saying I hated Frank Thomas growing up. He destroyed my Twins each time they played each other, which only added to the fact that he is one of the most iconic players of the 1990s. His Leaf RC remains one of the most well known cards in baseball, right there with Ken Griffey Jr’s 1989 Upper Deck RC. Thomas has signed a bit recently, which has given new collectors some opportunities to appreciate his immense stature among baseball’s elite. Even though he came around during the Steroid era, he might end up being the only one of that group to get into the HOF.

2013 Topps Five Star Frank Thomas Inscription Auto

1990 Topps Frank Thomas Signed and Inscribed RC Card

The Baseball HOF is easily the most prestigious of all of the major sports, as the history is unparalleled. Even though Football has a much tougher process to reach the top echelon, Baseball puts you in company with sports’ most iconic athletes. Once elected, your cards automatically retain more value, and that’s saying something in a hobby with so much going on.

Maddux and Glavine may be one of the last group of pitchers to ever achieve 300 wins, especially now with pitch counts and 5 men rotations. Live it up while you can, these guys come around but once in a generation.

2014 Elite Football: Acetate Shines In New Ways

I love acetate cards, especially ones with hard signed autographs. Im not sure why I like them as much as I do, but using acetate in a card set usually gets my attention unless it looks like crap. My favorite use of acetate in football so far is Topps Strata without a doubt. 2014 Elite is the most recent in a long line of products to use acetate, and I think they have done a pretty nice job. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights.

Inscriptions Rookie Autos

Over the last three years, these cards have gone from awesome to shitty to pretty nice. I have come to the determination that if these cards are nice, I am that much more likely to buy Elite, especially if the rookie class is worth checking out. This year’s acetate cards come in three flavors, with some being better than others. I like the horizontal ones the best, but the vertical ones arent too bad. Nothing like the turds we were forced to endure last year. Photoshop work has improved as well, which helps.

2014 Elite Johnny Manziel Auto Inscriptions On Card Acetate Auto RC

2014 Elite Jadeveon Clowney Inscriptions Auto Version 2

2014 Elite Marqise Lee Auto Inscriptions On Card Acetate Auto RC Version 3

Verdict: WIN

Clarity Glass

Not only is the design on these really cool, but to make them plexiglass is a really awesome idea. It adds much more collectability to these cards, as I dont think there has been a licensed plexiglass style card in a while. These are falling one per box, and it is VERY easy to see which pack has the Clarity card in it. Not only are they easy to feel, but the cards are heavy as hell. They come wrapped in team bags, so you know which packs have them. Great cards though, and I dont know why they didnt opt for this to be the main auto subset for all vets. I know it would cost some money to make that happen, but lest we not forget what Panini is made of.

2014 Elite Drew Brees Clarity Glass

2014 Elite LeSean McCoy Clarity Glass

Verdict: WIN

Elite Acetate Rookie Cards (With Vets)

When I pulled one out of my boxes this year, I was really surprised as to how cool they are. They are basically the same rookie card with acetate stock instead of the tired foil stock from all the other cards. Although they are numbered with really weird structuring, they can be very collectible for a base style rookie. Really unfortunate they couldnt have found a way to get an autograph parallel. Money money money money money, I guess.

2014 Elite Johnny Manziel Acetate Rookie /98

2014 Elite Peyton Manning Acetate Base /82

2014 Elite Tom Brady Acetate Base /98

Verdict: WIN

Debut Numbers

These cards are in general replacing what I would guess are the Hard Hat cards from 2012 and 2013. Its unfortunate, because the hard hat cards are usually pretty cool. Last year they were able to get hard hats card printed with premeiere pics, and to switch them out with these is a huge disappointment. Not only is the design relatively dumb, but its completely uninteresting as well. None of the rookies at the premiere have autos in this set, and that is a big mistake.

2014 Elite Anthony Barr Debut Numbers Acetate Auto

2014 Elite Lache Seastrunk Debut Numbers Auto

Verdict: LOSS

Elite Marks

As far as I can tell, this is the only single auto subset for veteran autographs in Elite. In 2012 and prior, many vets had base autograph parallels, but that was stopped in 2013. Elite marks has a pretty lackluster checklist, but the cards arent all that bad. I think the acetate does them a big favor, because if these were printed on regular stock, they would be so boring I would fall asleep looking at them.

2014 Elite Eddie Lacy Elite Marks Acetate Auto

2014 Elite Victor Cruz Elite Marks Acetate Auto

Verdict: PUSH

Overall, not a bad showing for acetate cards in Elite this year, but Im still eager to see some of the surprises that are bound to show up as more of the product is opened next week in Cleveland.

Breaking Down 2014 Elite Football

I did something today that I rarely do – I busted a lot of a Panini product. I was excited that Panini had added a ton of on card content to this year's product and I thought it was worth a shot as I had some Birthday funds at my disposal. I was surprised to see the way the product turned out, and I think it is likely one of the better examples of the product we have seen.

Here are some of the top hits you can pull from one of the boxes:

2014 Elite Johnny Manziel Auto On Card Red Ink SSP

2014 Elite Johnny Manziel Auto On Card Acetate RC

2014 Elite Teddy Bridgewater Acetate Inscriptions Auto

2014 Elite Jerome Bettis / LeVeon Bell Dual Passing the Torch Auto

2014 Elite Sammy Watkins Gold Status Auto Die Cut /25

I started into my lot of boxes at Sports Cards Plus here in San Antonio, hoping I was going to come away with something remotely nice after watching lots of junk surface online. I had watched a few boxes before mine, and not very much nice stuff had come out. You are guaranteed two autos per box, but 2 out of my 4 boxes had 3 autos which was nice to take away the sting for a bad box. The third auto was one of the relic autos from the New Breed set each time.

My on card autos ended up being Tajh Boyd, Marqise Lee, Jordan Matthews and one Ill save until the end. My sticker autos which were one per box to match the on card per box were Ha-ha Clinton-dix, Kony Ealy, Ryan Shazier, and one other scrub all out of 199 gold die cut like this one. I also hit Paul Richardson new breed auto relic which was nice, and a Connor Shaw new breed auto patch. Here is where I get REALLY pissed off.

Connor Shaw was invited to the premiere as one of five players who were part of the NFLPA bowl. These scrubs are LATE LATE round picks and most will likely not make the team. As far as I am aware, Topps chose not to use Shaw as a box hit for any of their products, but Panini obviously thought otherwise. Seriously, this guy was there as a favor to the NFLPA and from my understanding was only required to take some pictures. No jerseys were required, but I had heard that the NFLPA supplied some if there was a desire. Panini really wasnt thinking when including him in their products, and to pull him as a box hit is not even close to acceptable.

Now, I couldnt stay pissed for too long, as I also pulled a Teddy Bridgewater 3 color jumbo patch (which was cool), an Emmitt Smith jersey card, and the big finale of a Johnny Manziel On Card Auto RC Blue. To be into the year 3 products and have pulled 2 high value Manziel cards so far is awesome, even if I have already sold them both.

Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 8.30.18 PM

I also pulled three very low numbered parallels in an EJ Manuel Base 1/3, a Jace Amaro clear acetate RC 8/12, and a 1/1 of the face2face insert of Ladarius Webb and Antonio Brown. Not bad.

Oddly enough a secondary highlight was the Clarity insert cards which are on a thick plexiglass stock. The cards look awesome, and I might need to pick up a few after pulling Russell Wilson, Ray Rice x2, and Jamaal Charles.

Overall, Elite is definitely a big improvement over 2013, but still isnt up to where I would put a product like Inception or Base Topps, which will be out in the next few weeks. With the National Convention coming up, it shouldnt be hard for Panini to move it, which is demonstrated in the lack of redemption packs that are being given for it. Buy the product that you can move? No redemption packs. Buy Spectra which NO ONE can move? 10 redemption packs. Still think these programs are all for the collector? Welcome to the future of NFL Football cards ladies and gents.