Friday, August 19, 2011

Who are the 2011 Topps Gypsy Queens?

One of the reasons I devote so much of my free time to writing this blog is simple... I love cards.  Not just the hits, not just a few athlete’s cards, I love all of them, from the monster auto/relics to the common base card.  I get absorbed in the details and design of each card, front and back.

So when something a little different appears in a new pack, I tend to notice and want to find out everything I can about it.  Some time ago I pulled a card that struck me as odd.  It is from 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball.  The insert set of 19 different Gypsy Queens.  Adamina of Craiova.
To be honest, the first thing that I thought of was an Aerosmith song. 

I did a little research about Gypsies in hopes of understanding some more about the card and the person behind the card, but didn’t really get anywhere.  It bothered me a little, but I put it to the back of my mind, figuring something would trigger a little more understanding down the road

Then I opened a box of 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter and pulled this. 
The Crack the Code card with the Codemaster.  His glasses seemed a little modern to me and I thought it was odd to feature the character so prominently.  After getting multiple copies of the card, it was clear to me this was done to direct your attention to the clock over his shoulder.  And then it struck me.  The Codemaster reminded me of a card that was issued in 2010, the 206 Topps Personalities, this one in particular.
It’s Topps Art Director, Adam Gandolfo.  Same glasses.  Same situation where my attention is pulled more to the picture over his shoulder than the subject of the card.

This is not the first time that Topps employees have posed as fictional characters.  Back in 2008 there were cards in the Allen & Ginter set called Team Orange.  These mini cards featured old time baseball players with names like Sir Wagonwheel Stevens and Mittens McCluskey.  They were also a key factor to the final step in the Crack the Code contest.  You had to mail Topps the six players with mustaches to win.  One of those players was Archibald Clinker.
Clinker is portrayed by Adam Gandolfo. So it makes sense Adam would pose for the Codemaster.  It is a common thing for Artists to pose for their own drawings.  Animators do it all the time, there is even speculation that the Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. 
Yes... she could actually be a he.  Which makes me wonder...
 Adamina and Adam Gandolfo

Is it possible that Adamina is actually Adam Gandolfo in drag?
Are these the many faces of Adam Gandolfo?  Feels that way to me.  It is also logical to deduce that the other Gypsies are Topps Employees.  I know if I were at Topps, I would be the first to volunteer to be immortalized on a card.  Is it possible these are a match?
Kali and Loretta Micali.

If so, most likely Adara is also Micali as they are supposed to be related.
Olga and Olga M. Vega

If all of this is correct.  I bet there is a Stephanie who works at Topps who posed for Stefumari.  There must be one person who posed for both Sonia and Hevalia, they both have the same dress with puffy sleeves and bandana/shawl with the pattering in the exact same place on their heads.
And while we are at it, what ever happened to this
...the 20th gypsy?  I know Checklists are subject to change, but why cut a set of fictional cards down by just one.  Could Topps be setting the solution to this year’s Crack the Code across two sets?   Lots of mystery surrounding these Gypsies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Topps Prime 9 Redemption Card For Week 5 is Mike Schmidt!

We told you about the release dates for the Prime 9 redemption cards found in 2011 Topps Baseball Series 2 hobby and jumbo boxes.  Week 1 was Johnny Bench.  Week 2 was Albert Pujols.  Week 3 was Jackie Robinson.  Week 4 was Derek Jeter.  Now we are in Week 5 so if you have one of these...
...its time to go visit your HTA Local Hobby Shop and redeem those cards.  Here is what you will get.
A Mike Schmidt Prime 9 limited edition Chrome Refractor card.  Cool card!  Schmidt’s “Prime 9 Moments” include MVP of 1980 World Series (.381 AVG, 7 RBI), only player with eight NL home run titles and first ballot Hall of Famer in 1995.  You have the week to get to your participating LCS and redeem those cards.  And don’t forget to fill out the back of your redemption card to be entered into a sweepstakes.  You could win a trip to the 2012 World Series.

Check in next week to find out who is on the card for week 6.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

2010-11 Panini Season Update Basketball NBA Trading Cards Box Break Recap and Review

Change is inevitable and that can be a good thing.  Players change teams, rookies become starters and records are broken.  2010-11 Panini Season Update Basketball tracks those changes and more, while providing a last look at some of the year’s best players.  The cards have gone through some changes from last year’s release too, design changes and the addition of some new inserts.  Plus Panini has added an additional memorabilia hit to each box.  All of these changes add up, making Season Update one of the better sets of the year.

We classify Season Update as trading cards. Hobby Boxes come with 24 – 10 card packs. Inside each box you will find 1 Autograph, 3 Memorabilia Cards and 14 Insert Cards, which include autographs from stars of the league and emerging rookies like Kobe Bryant and John Wall.  Green Week Swatch cards come with game-used Jersey materials from 2009 and 2010 NBA Green Weeks.

Here is a look at some of the cards we pulled from our box.

 Base card of Blake Griffin, front and back

Here are some more star base cards.
Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade
Tim Duncan, Derrick Rose, Paul Peirce Amar`e Stoudemire
Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant

The base set includes award winners.

 Blake Griffin, Lamar Odom, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose
George Karl, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen

We received two of the five update cards for Prestige.

 Timofey Mozgov and Semih Erden

Here are the insert sets, both based on the All-Star Game.

 Rookie Challenge.


Our hits for the box.

 LeBron James All-Stars Swatch 

Gerald Wallace All-Stars Swatch 

Trevor Ariza Throwback Threads #/499

Dante Cunningham Green Week #/799

Gary Neal Rookies & Stars Team Logo Auto #/499

Overall Look
With details like subtitle fading to white at the bottom of the photos to introduce lettering, allowing objects like hands to break the hard bordering on the right side of the card and great action photography, Season Update show sophisticated design that is normally reserved for upper end cards.  The backs of the cards are complete, with write-ups, stats and biographical info, including player’s alma mater.  Panini has gone a long way in a short time with insert design so that inserts feel like complete cards even when they are not swatched.

Quality and Variety of Players and Subsets.
At 200 commons, this is exactly where you want an update set to be.  Not too many cards, but enough room to accommodate changes.  Only two insert sets to chase here, Rookie Challenge and All-Stars at 15 and 25 cards respectively, also at the numbers you want for an update set.

Do the hits hold up?
The Autograph checklist is really good for any product, but it is amazing when you consider the price point of these cards.  Included in the checklist is the chance to pull on-card autos from the Panini 4 - Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant and John Wall.  The memorabilia hits found here separate Season Update from all other swatch cards with the addition of Green Week, Rookie Challenge and All-Star Game cards.  Knowing approximately when these uniform pieces were used does make a difference to the overall enjoyment of the card.

Will you want to collect them all?  
Considering a box will yield most of the cards for the base set, (we were 9 shy of a complete set) and that the insert sets are only 40 cards in total, this is a set you will want to complete. The added bonus is the updated cards to complete your Prestige set and Rookies & Stars Team Patch Autos, something collectors of those sets will want to chase.

5 out of 5

2010-11 Panini Season Update Basketball offers impressive hits and great looking cards at one of the most reasonable price points of the year.

Review box provided by Panini

Monday, August 15, 2011

Jim Thome Joins The 600 Home Run Club

The 600 Home Run Club just welcomed it’s eight member, Jim Thome.

Second only to Babe Ruth for least amount of at-bats needed to reach the milestone, Thome hit two opposite field home runs tonight, number 599 and 600.  Thome needs 10 more home runs to surpass Sammy Sosa for seventh place on the All Time Home Run list.

Thome entered the 600 Home Run Club with little fanfare and certainly without the media blitz given to Alex Rodriguez earlier in the year.  While he deserves more, it is fitting that this milestone came quietly, as most of his accomplishments have been without bravado both on and off the field.  A charitable man, Thome is known for his kindness.

It will be a while before we see another player join the 600 Home Run Club.  At this point only Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira and Miguel Cabrera have a decent shot at reaching 600.  Pujols has 437 over 11 seasons at age 31, Teixeira has 307 over 9 seasons at age 31, and Cabrera has 270 over 9 seasons at age 28.  Adam Dunn was on pace tat the beginning of the season.  If he can get his career back on track, he might still have a shot at it.

Congratulations to Jim Thome.  Next stop... Cooperstown.