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Tag Archives: bad collation

2009 UD Goodwin Champions

Base set completion: 74 of 150 (49%)
Short print set completion: 16 of 40 (40%)
Super short print set completion: 4 of 20 (20%)

Goodwin Champions was the only other 2009 UD release  — aside from the flagship — that I had been looking forward to. It’s hard to not to be enamored with the modern reincarnations of the early 20th-century tobacco inserts.

Having seen the previews, it looked as though for once, UD had chosen to actually exercise some creativity sorely lacking in their baseball releases. Interestingly enough, it’s been pointed out that there doesn’t appear to be any lack of creativity in UD’s basketball or hockey releases.

I should’ve known better. In a year in which UD has shown just miserable effort in baseball, UD once again failed to deliver the goods. A rhalladay150-card base set is nice, but a 40-card short print set and a 20-card “super” short-print set should’ve been warning enough that this would be yet another epic fail from UD.

Sure, 150 base cards is a good number, but when packs come with only five cards, it makes it that much more difficult to complete a set. It gets even more difficult when those five-card packs would often come with more than one mini-card. It gets frustrating when every other one of those five-card packs came with those absolutely pointless 20th anniversary cards.

And that hasn’t even touched on the awful collation. Two hobby boxes produced a pathetic 74 cards out of the base set. Not even half.

It’s amusing how this was being touted, pre-release, as being UD’s answer to Allen & Ginter. What a pathetic failure it instead turned out to be. If this was the answer to A & G, I’d hate to think of what the question was.

All of these issues hinder what really could’ve been a fantastic release from UD. There’s no doubt about it — these are some wonderfully beautiful cards. After striking Masterpieces from their lineup, and with Goudey being yet another epic fail, Goodwin Champions really had the potential to make a statement for UD. It did, but sadly, I doubt it’s the one UD wanted to make.

As I’ve mentioned before — I’m looking forward to the day UD ceases to produce baseball cards. Their 2009 releases may very well serve to be their epitaph. It’s sad to think that a company that was once on the edge of innovation has become so stale and lifeless.

2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom

Base set completion: 198 of 200 (99%)

Imagine this idea: buy a single hobby box, complete (or come pretty close to) the base set. Mind you, I’m not accusing Topps of somehow jreyesunderstanding the type of consumer I am — the sort that wants a little more bang for my buck. Nonetheless, Topps delivers in this regard, with an $84 hobby box packed with 12-card packs (who does that anymore?) yielding just about the entire base set.

The base cards themselves are nothing out of the ordinary. They obviously bring to mind the old Fleer Authentix sets. I also think they look a little derivative of this year’s Finest base cards as well. That said, TTS’s design, while it borrows elements from those two sets, doesn’t appear to be a carbon copy either.

cjonesBut what really sets TTS apart are its relic cards. Typically, I don’t care much for relic cards. But after pulling the ones I did, I actually contemplated keeping them rather than sending them straight to the trading block as I normally do. How often do you see boring, generic relic card designs these days? More often than not — which as an aside, makes it all the more confusing to me why anyone even bothers packsearching most non-premium product — relic cards are really just throwaway cards. But TTS shows a lot more effort on the part of Topps’ designers, I feel, than I’ve seen in recent releases. It’s no Donruss Prime Patches, but for a mid-range product? I’ll take it.

Topps has really done well this year with its products. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not they can carry that momentum into next year’s dramatically different landscape. While UD will still have its brand recognition, let’s face it — non-MLB-licensed cards is Donruss territory. And other than 08’s Threads, all of Donruss’ non-MLB-licensed card releases were mediocre, to put it gently.


8 cards per pack/24 packs per box

By the box:

Box 1:
Short Prints: 12
National Pride: 24
Highlight Sketches: 4
Ginter Code parallels: 2
Relics: 3
Minis: 12
Allen & Ginter back minis: 5
Black-bordered minis: 3
National Heroes: 2
World’s Greatest Hoaxes: 2

Box 2:
Short Prints: 11
National Pride: 24
Highlight Sketches: 3
Ginter Code parallels: 2
Relics: 4
Minis: 11
Allen & Ginter back minis: 5
Black-bordered minis: 3
National Heroes: 2
World’s Greatest Hoaxes: 2
Non-printed number, hand-numbered minis: 1

Box 3:
Short Prints: 13
National Pride: 24
Highlight Sketches: 4
Ginter Code parallels: 2
Relics: 3
Minis: 13
Allen & Ginter back minis: 4
Black-bordered minis: 2
National Heroes: 2
World’s Greatest Hoaxes: 2
Bazooka back, hand-numbered minis: 1

Base set (1-300) completion: 233 of 300 (78%)
Short-print set (301-350) completion: 21 of 50 (42%)





That is some remarkably bad collation. I still can’t quite comprehend how three hobby boxes, all of which yielding 120+ base cards each, somehow failed to produce an entire base set of 300. With last year’s product, I was only two base cards short of a full set with only two hobby boxes. To make matters worse, look at the SP collation. My three boxes yielded 36 short prints. A whopping 15 of them were doubles. FIFTEEN short print doubles. So instead of being nearly 2/3 of the way complete with the SPs, I’m only halfway through. Fortunately, trading the extras will make easy work of completing the remainder.

But the trouble lies in how much extra work it’ll take to complete the set this year. Bad collation has guaranteed a much larger number of trades to complete the 09 set. With the 08 set, I was able to finish shortly after acquiring my boxes. This year, much more effort will go into it. Is this intentional on the part of Topps? Make collation purposefully bad, thus forcing consumers to buy more product? I don’t know, but I sure wouldn’t be surprised either.

As for the positives, well, it’s Allen & Ginter, so we all know why everyone fawns over this product. A nice touch this year was the elimination of the thick decoy cards that had been used as Dick Perez sketches in the past and the USA set last year. Should make for easier storage in boxes and binders. I also like the selection of mini subsets this year. The National Heroes, I feel, is a much more thoughtful subset than the National Pride subset. Likewise with the World’s Greatest Hoaxes. As a self-professed history buff, I absolutely love inserts such as these.

It was unfortunate, however, that bad collation not only ruined the set-building progress, but also failed to yield any of the Future Inventions or Extinct Animals minis.

Equally frustrating are the rising prices for hobby boxes. I assume they are, anyway. My usual source, starting with Heritage, increased his selling prices well above previous norms — Heritage was $80 a box, up from $65 a year before, and now Ginter was $92 a box, up from $85 a year before. I assume this means Topps is increasing their wholesale prices, which again, squeezes the consumer further.

My source also received his stock late, meaning I could’ve taken advantage of Blowout Cards’ lower online prices and had boxes delivered earlier. As much as I prefer to support local business, if local business can’t beat online business both in price and in and timeliness, what choice do I have but to go online?

I can’t complain about the cards themselves. It’s A & G, so we all know what we’re getting. And as always, Topps stays faithful to the original. No one does retro better than Topps, and I say this even as I eagerly await Upper Deck’s Goodwin Champions.

21 packs per box:
17 regular packs/7 cards per pack
4 jumbo packs/20 cards per pack

Base set completion: 138 of 178 (78%)
Short print set completion:10 of 22 (45%)
Base doubles: 45





This seemed like a reasonable enough deal — Charm City does these hobby boxes for $55. With that many cards coming in a hobby box, it seemed pretty feasible that a single box would yield the entire set. Well, it came close. A shame, since better collation would’ve easily taken care of the base set. Maybe not the SPs, but there were clearly enough doubles (45 altogether) to come a lot closer to finishing the remaining 40 I need now.

As far as all the shiny baubles, it comes with the requisite game-used cards. The Schilling card is nice enough, although I have a lot of trouble referring to a square-inch or so-sized swatch of jersey as a patch. I don’t know, but when I say “patch,” I’m thinking something a little bigger than what you normally get. It would’ve been nice had I owned these two game-used cards in, say, I don’t know, 2004. But hey, I’m sure there’re still plenty of Giambi and Schilling fans out there.

I wasn’t around in 2004 to know whether this was intended as a retro set to compete with Heritage, but it clearly pays homage to 1984 Fleer. I also can’t recall if 1984 was a particularly important one for Fleer, or why, if they did, want to commemorate the occasion 20 years later.

mattinglyWhile I’m clearly a sucker for the obvious retro-themed sets (i.e. Heritage, Masterpieces, etc.), it does seem a little odd to look to the overproduction era for inspiration. Then again, I dove in and went after both 08 Timeline and 07 SP Rookie Edition, so perhaps even the 80s/90s era has untapped potential.

I can’t imagine, however, that time will ever produce a yearning for 2039 Topps Heritage, which would bring back the ever-popular 1990 design out from the dustbin.

Overproduction era or not, mid-80s Fleer does have that nice, clean look that translates well to a modern card, as evidenced by 2004 Platinum. And just like the old days, card numbers are randomly assigned — that is, the set isn’t ordered alphabetically by teams, like any modern Upper Deck set. Different teams are scattered about the checklist as they have been in the past — at least for Upper Deck/Fleer, anyway.

plat4Speaking of hearkening back to the past, I found the “Unsung Heroes” subset particularly interesting in that it reminded me so much, visually, of all of those late-80s drugstore issues. I remember those cards well — every time we’d drop by a Sav-On Drug or Woolworths, I’d beg forever and ever for a pack. Mom and dad rarely relented, but I did manage to save at least two sets — 1988 Topps Woolworth and 1988 Topps Kmart.

I remember loving those cards so much — so glossy! They had to be “worth more” sabothan those cheap cardboard 50-cents-a-pack regular issues. Two decades later, I came to the sad realization that they weren’t worth much in dollars, but they were certainly worth the childhood nostalgia. Their lack of value, however, hasn’t stopped some folks from locking them up in PSA holders,  however.

Anyway, enough nostalgia. Although there were some obvious collation issues, this was not a bad box to break overall. It’s not a massively oversized set, and the short prints aren’t a hideous task to compile either. A single box could conceivably knock out an entire base set, and that’s always added value. As far as completing the set, I don’t know that there’re too many doubles of these cards floating around on the Bench, but we’ll see.

After breaking three hobby boxes of 09 Heritage, this is what I ended up with:

Base set: 337 of 425 (79%)
Short print set: 24 of 75 (32%)

Insert sets:
New Age Performers: 4 of 15 (27%)
News Flashbacks: 4 of 10 (40%)
Baseball Flashbacks: 6 of 10 (60%)
Then and Now: 5 of 10 (50%)

Base duplicates: 200
Non-base duplicates: 1

Duplicates (box 1): 0
Duplicates (box 2): 49
Duplicates (box 3): 152

The increasing number of duplicates by box three is no surprise, although you still wish that three boxes would produce a base set at least. Alas, this is Heritage, and collectors will get no such thing. Thankfully, I again purchased these boxes at MSRP ($65) rather than the bloated prices they’re going for at DACW, Blowout, and Charm City.

It’ll take some effort and postage, but 200 doubles should be enough (I hope!) to round out the base set, and hopefully make headway towards the SP set.

As we all know, Heritage isn’t about the “hits,” but I will say these two are far better than the Kevin Millwood GU that came out of the first box.



And I can never complain about extra cards for the Dodger binder. Especially when they’re SHINY cards!



Eight cards per pack/24 packs per box

Base set completion: 111 of 251 (44%)
Short print set completion: 7 of 45 (16%)
Prospect set completion: 48 of 100 (48%)
Rainbow foil set completion: 14 of 251 (3%)
Rainbow foil short print set completion: 7 of 45 (16%)

Overall set completion (two hobby boxes)

Base set: 174 of 251 (69%)
Short print set: 14 of 45 (31%)
Prospect set: 72 of 100 (72%)
Rainbow foil set: 30 of 151 (12%)
Rainbow foil short print set: 21 of 45 (47%)





It sure is a pain in the rear to finish a set these days. Two boxes, lots of cards, even more duplicates. Given that there’s only a possible five base cards per pack, I suppose I should be happy with where I am. Five base cards per pack x 48 packs fives me 240 total possible base cards. I now have 174 of them, or a little more than 2/3 of the way.

Obviously what Topps wants the buyer to do here is to put down for another box. Fortunately, I’ve now managed to acquire a decent-sized piled of doubles that I can hopefully cash in for the remainder of the set.

Still, the point I made in the last post remains. If Topps, UD, and everybody else continue to devalue the hobby box, while maintaining ridiculously high prices, buyers will simply wait. They’ll wait like I did until retailers are forced to discount them, or worse yet, sell them at a loss. Keeping up this process will eventually force retailers to reconsider, or in the worst case, close up shop. We already see this happening on a large scale — shops are closing all the time.

There is no incentive for me to buy wax at full MSRP, knowing it’ll be discounted in due time. I assume Topps/UD are fully aware of this, but the way it’s been, it sure doesn’t feel like it. Nonetheless, I’ll probably end up buying 2009 Topps as well as Heritage on or around their release dates, but anything else is likely going to wait until discounts come.

This will also likely be my last box break until the 09 product comes out, unless of course I run into some extra cash.

Oh, and by the way, Curt Schilling’s middle name is Montague? Didn’t see that one!

Eight cards per pack/14 packs per box

Base set (1-100) completion: 54 of 100 (54%)
2007 SP RC set (101-142) completion: 21 of 42 (50%)
Short print set (143-234) 14 of 92 (15%)
1996 SP RC set (243-284) 21 of 50 (42%)
Total set completion (this box) 108 of 284 (38%)
Total duplicates: 2 (2007 SP RC design)

Overall set completion (2 hobby boxes) 154 of 284 (54%)





Well, out of 108 possible cards, only 46 contributed to the set’s completion, leaving me at just a hair more than halfway through. And I’m nowhere near picking up all the short prints. Wow. That’s some bad collation. Oh well, no surprise here. Although this is going to give me some serious pause about even bothering with another box of Timeline. I think I’m better off trying to work trades to finish off the rest of these two sets.

Seriously, this is pathetic that two hobby boxes doesn’t even come close to finishing the base set. If this is Upper Deck’s model — and it certainly appears like it’s going to be in 2009, with a 1000-card flagship base set — they’re going to have an even harder time selling those hobby boxes.

It’s hard to really understand what in the world UD is thinking — producing bloated, massive base sets, inundating them with SPs, and canning their few worthwile sets. I have to think that if UD keeps this up, Topps is going to have fewer and fewer challenges, what with Fleer out of the picture, and Donruss relegated to non-licensed sets.

7 + 1 “bonus pack,” four cards per pack.

Base set completion: 27 of 90 (30%)
Base set completion, to date (2 blasters + 2 hobby packs): 62 of 90 (69%)
Short print set completion: 1 of 30 (3%)
Short print set completion, to date: 2 of 30 (6%)
Total set completion: 28 of 120 (23%)
Total set completion, to date: 70 of 120 (58%)

“Hits” and interesting cards:

Captured on Canvas CC-JB Josh Beckett (Marlins jersey with pinstripe)
Brown framed Joba Chamberlain #’d 67/100
79 Russell Martin — what a beautiful card!
95 Warren Spahn SP
YSL 3840 Roy White
YSL 3865 Thurman Munson

I’m a little closer to finishing the base set now, and now I have some base doubles to trade. The Beckett GU was a nice pull too. Still, the collation leaves a little to be desired — I pulled two of the Ichiro base card among these eight packs.

Assuming the same collation rates, it’ll take me another two blasters to finish the base set, and I’ll still be nowhere near the short print set. I can’t say enough how much I loathe Upper Deck and their awful seeding rate for short prints in the retail boxes. Two blasters and just a measly two SPs.

36 packs, 10 cards per pack

Base set completion:
1st box: 293 out of 400 (80%)
2nd box: 53 out of 400 (13%), or 53 out of the remaining 77 (69%)

Talk about terrible collation! With 648 or so (subtracting the approximately 72 inserts), base cards, I’m still at only 376 out of 400 (94%) of the base set. Ultra from the same year yielded much better collation, and with fewer total cards. Fortunately, with just 24 cards to go, the trades can be much smaller and I should be able to finish this set without any further issue. Worse comes to worst, I can always find the stragglers on Sportlots.

Fleer Fabrics (advertised insertion rate: 1:36)
Dontrelle Willis (white swatch with pinstripe)

The included hit in this box was the exclamation point on all of this. Of all the worthless GU cards to pull, none other than the derailed D-Train. I was hoping for a Jeter perhaps, to salvage the cost of spending $17 to acquire 53 base cards.