SCU Go Live Report: 2015 Topps Archives Signature Series

I like what Archives is all about, even though it occupies a very similar space as Topps Heritage. Where Heritage tackles one year at a time, Archives casts a much wider net. This product takes the yearly concept of previous Archives sets a bit further, buying back old cards and getting them signed by the players. This is one of the first baseball products in a long time without a rookie element, and with a low box price for on card autos, I think its a winner. The big names make it even better than I could have expected.

Here are some of the big cards up so far:

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Sandy Koufax 1962 Auto 1/1

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Cal Ripken Jr Ginter Auto 1/1

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Randy Johnson Auto Topps Chrome 1/1

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Mariano Rivera Auto 1/1

I am a sucker for buyback cards with on card autos. I even love reprinted old designs with on card autos. Archives has all of that for less than half the cost of most products on the market these days. Although they took full advantage of the junk wax era for many of the players, that type of nostalgia triggers a special memory for me. I remember all those packs of cards I opened during this era, and to see them stamped and autographed is cool for me.

There are also some pretty nice vintage cards that they used for this set as well, and that is where the true superstar element resides. Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax and others have some very nice autograph examples from this part of the product, and they will sell for a ton.

Again, this is not a product that will come with a windfall of expensive hits, but if you want to relive a small part of your history in the hobby with low numbered on card autos, this product is tremendous.

Sure, there is a lot of George Foster, Livan Hernandez, and people like that, but from what I have seen, there are a few good ones per case. With such a low box price, you can bust a few and not feel as though you got killed.

I think that as a concept, Archives is venturing into territory we need to see more from the card companies. Using their history to create new products is well worth a few products each year, in my opinion. Topps has garnered a cult following with reprinting old designs with new players, but we rarely get what Archives brings to the table. I want more, and I want it across all the sports and brands.

SCU Go Live Report – 2015 Bowman Draft Baseball

Here it is, the product that prospectors look forward to in every good draft year. Bowman Draft is the first product to feature the recent stars from the year's amateur draft, and if it is a strong class, this product will fly off the shelves. Topps has been known to hold back bigger names until the next year’s Bowman set, but that isnt the case this year.

Here are some of the bigger hits up so far:

2015 Bowman Chrome Draft Dansby Swanson Auto RC

2015 Bowman Chrome Draft Dansby Swanson Refractor Auto RC

2015 Bowman Chrome Draft Andrew Benintendi Auto RC

2015 Bowman Chrome Draft Ian Happ Auto RC

Dansby Swanson was the top pick in the 2015 draft, and he is a featured autograph in this year's draft product. His cards are about as hot as anything, and part of it is fueled by a recent trade that landed him with a very popular Braves team. Being that the Braves are annual contenders, and in need of his services, he could have a Bryant like path to the bigs, which wouldnt be unorthodox considering recent strategies.

Other guys like Andrew Benintendi and Ian Happ also are generating some buzz, with autographs already getting up into the 50 dollar range and above. The class has some guys that project to be impact players in the major leagues, as well as a few that are familiar faces from last year.

Because the draft picks only have a bit of winter ball under their belts so far, many prospectors are looking to jump all over their targets, as raw as they might be. This is the last set to feature the 2015 Bowman design, which has worked very well so far this year. Starting early next year, the first set to feature the new design will hit.

Im not a huge prospector myself, but stuff like this always gets me going.

SCU Go Live Report: 2015 Topps Triple Threads Football

Baseball just celebrated 10 years of Triple Threads, and it pains me to think that there are enough collectors out there who liked the set enough to have bought it all those years. We are almost to 10 years on the football side, and though the football team was given a bit more flexibility with the set design, I just cant get behind it. Some of the elements have changed, but overall, its still the same set it was back in 2007.

Here are some of the bigger hits:

2015 Triple Threads Jerry Rice Letter Patch Booklet Auto 2/3

2015 Triple Threads Andrew Luck / Russell Wilson Dual Auto Patch Booklet

2015 Triple Threads Marcus Mariota / Jameis Winston Dual Auto Patch Booklet

2015 Triple Threads Barry Sanders / Emmitt Smith / Bo Jackson Triple Auto Relic

The main triple relic auto rookie card isnt actually that bad. It hasnt been for a few years now. The clover leaf presentation of the relics and the auto works well. However, just like the previous years, this premium set is all sticker. When a box like Tek costs 65 bucks a pack and is 100% on card, it sends a message in my opinion.

Triple Threads still has all those stupid die cut words and phrases too, dont you worry. The phrases have been tamed this year, and Im curious if its too tame. Not that I hate the cards any less, but when every player and every card has the same lame die cut, Im sure the people who open will see the staleness. If I actually liked this shit, I would be pissed. There are some that have nicknames or small variations, but still bad as ever.

Triple Threads does have some cool cards that actually do work well. First, I was excited to see that they added Marino and a few other non-rookies to the hand stamp list. These cards have been fucking awesome in the past, and its amazing to see HOFers get in the mix.

The booklet logo and letter cards also have some cool examples, but thank your lucky stars if you can pull one. Many are so SP, that 5 copies is stretching it. Most are 1/1, and for good reason. The relics are premium and for guys like they have on this checklist, it would be tough to get more.

Overall, this is the one set that I am not sad we are getting our last look. The way this product is built continues to appall me, so much so that I havent even opened a single pack. Its that bad. Bye Triple Threads, dont let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Topps High Tek Football

Im not going to lie, I didnt expect to like High Tek as a brand at all. In baseball it has been around for 2 years and mirrors the gaudy sets of the late 90s and early 00s, which I cant stand. However, the on card autographs on acetate stock look nicer than I ever expected, especially when you see them in person. It turned out to be a cheap rip that is fun to do.

Here are some of the nice hits up so far:

2015 Topps High Tek Barry Sanders Auto /25

2015 Topps High Tek Peyton Manning Auto /25

2015 Topps High Tek Todd Gurley Auto Parallel

2015 Topps High Tek Marcus Mariota Auto Tidal Parallel

High Tek is the first NFL set of the year that is 100% on card. There are pre-draft and unlicensed sets that are all hard signed, but this is the first all on card product that features the rookies in their NFL uniforms. The checklist definitely has some duds, but there are some fireworks to be had with some great HOF names and non-rookie signers.

Additionally, the pattern rarities can generate some serious value for non-autographed base cards, and that is where the 60 dollar box price is actually not that bad. Although you only get one auto per box, there are base that can sell for a large portion of that if they are rare patterns.

I have also seen throwback uniform variations, and low numbered cards as well, but if you hit a big card, you are going to be pretty happy. Unfortunately it looks like there are redemptions for Gurley and Mariota, but I would be shocked if those sit for very long.

Overall, Im a fan of this product, and will probably end up busting a few boxes just like Baseball. Although I am midway through an acetate hangover with horrid products like Clear Vision, this is so much better in so many different ways. Acetate has become a crutch, but this does some great things with it.

The Plight of the Non-Autograph Patch Card Continues

One of the main attractions in high end products are the inclusion of some of the more crazy relic cards that seem to be everywhere these days. These cards used to be the toast of the town, being collection centerpieces for many different PCs that are out there. After seeing secondary market performance for some of these cards, those days might be coming to a close. Its kind of curious to observe the way these cards have performed.

Of course, the good stuff from marquee names still bring huge numbers:

2012 Topps Supreme Emmitt Smith Jersey Logo 1/1

2014 Immaculate Drew Brees Reebok Logo /2

2013 National Treasures Peyton Manning Captain's Patch /4

2015 Immaculate Julio Jones HOF patch /2

I have often commented that the day of the non-autographed non-logo patch needs to end, in my opinion. Im quickly starting to be more curious when non-autographed patch cards will be taken out of the premium product lines, especially if they arent signed. Game Used costs a lot to acquire, collectors frequently comment on the question of authenticity, and the cards rarely sell well. Why keep going with this stuff?

Topps Five Star mostly went that direction last year, removing most of the relics and adding more into the autograph budget. The checklist was great, but people freaked out about lack of relics, which was beyond confusing to me. It still seems like collectors want these cards in products, but they arent willing to pay for the cards when their favorite players are posted.

I have also commented that the usage of event used relics has done a number on the market for game used, because of the sheer number of crazy patches that can be manufactured. Where a company may only have one game used jersey for a player, they could have 50-60 event used for a lesser cost. There is more supply, and more supply means more yield and more ability to create all those insane patches.

As a result, the dilution of the market has wreaked havoc on value, and that is probably not going to change anytime soon. The question then becomes, how long are patch cards sustainable as a hobby element? I think there is definitely room for some, but autographs on those cards are almost essential to maintain value – unless the player is a marquee name.

Maybe I am overreacting, but I am quickly becoming much less confident in any patch card I could ever pull, unless it is a 1/1 shield or logoman.

Pretty crazy how fast we have come downhill.