Thursday, August 18, 2011

Have I stopped being a set builder???

In my last post, I said I think one box of 2007 UD Black may have changed my collecting focus. Well, I thought I'd explain...

Since returning to the hobby in 2009 with Allen and Ginter, I had been focused primarily on building a few sets a year. Mainly Allen and Ginter, plus the Topps base set and then either a set from my non-collection years like UD A Piece of History or Ovation. This year I set my sights on Gypsy Queen, A&G and the base set. Through dozens of trades (I really should start tracking all these packages, all the states I've mailed to, etc) I've gotten Astros hits from a wide variety of products. I enjoy getting all these cards, both from the sets and from trades.

However, over the past few months my apathy, disgust and frustration with Topps has grown to a peak. I unexpectedly decided to collect Lineage. Opening it reminded me a bit of the frustrations with A&G and the base. Way too many inserts, parallels to chase and not enough base cards in the box. When did we need 29 parallel/insert sets in every product? Why do we need a canary, platinum, refractor, cloth and mini? They aren't all that rare or valuable... they just fill up packs.

So for my birthday, the wife let me buy a box of 2007 UD Black, which cost me less than a box of Lineage. The shop owners stood there as I opened it and got genuinely excited or more so when the Verlander and Konerko came out of the packs. I got genuinely excited knowing that I was going to pull quality cards, that it was more than just a pull on a slot machine hoping that the insert I get is a relic of a player that's good enough to either go into my collection or that I can use to trade for a card I want. It really got me to thinking... those awesome high-end Nolan Ryan cards that come in the $60-$100+ per pack/mini-box... I want those, but I can never afford them in the secondary market. Why shouldn't I give myself the opportunity to open a pack and get one? So what if I end up with a high-end Konerko out of it instead of a Ryan? I still had a better chance opening the pack than I did bidding on eBay or looking for it on COMC. This isn't a slight to eBay or COMC, it's a slight to my budget, I just don't have the cash for the AWESOME cards I really want in my collection. And I probably am not going to get the awesome cards in $80-100 hobby boxes of Topps products either.

Will I still buy packs from time to time? Definitely... Blasters? Absolutely... Several hobby boxes of mid-range product to build the set? Probably not. I can do without my three "hits" of Dempster, Billy Butler and Derrek Lee. I'd rather spend that $100 on a box of UD Black... or a pack or two of Tribute... or maybe if I can find a mini-box of Triple Threads on the cheap... Or I go on eBay and get some Astros relic lots. Maybe I buy into some of those group breaks I pass over that include a high end product or two. Quality over quantity. And even if Upper Deck screwed some stuff up to lose their license, I think I'll be revisiting their mid-00's high-end products to see if there are some deals out there. I will say that I do believe Topps will be getting less of my money. Will this hurt the binder of "for trade" cards? I hope not, if it does, I'll start pulling some non-Astros lots or something to replinish...

Anyways, there's my rant on my collecting goals. What do you all think? High-end? Low-end? Quantity or quality? What are you goals? Anyone else as burnt out as I am with Topps? I saw the pictures and details of 2012 base set, and it's the same song, third verse if you ask me. Full of gimmicks... tired, old gimmicks.

So, if there are insert sets or complete sets from the past couple years that you want or need to complete, let me know, as I'm probably going to start boxing up the complete sets soon and clear some room and binders.


  1. I've definitely learned over the past couple of months myself is collect what you want to collect, not just what everyone else may be collecting. I say go for the UD Black and the other sets you mentioned, it sounds like they are what interests you the most right now, and isn't that what collecting is about?

  2. What Robert said.

    From what I see of 2012 Topps, I won't be opening packs next year, just buying a factory set. You can build sets without busting wax, too. I built my Gypsy Queen set starting with a large lot of base cards purchased off eBay, and trading for the rest. The money I "save" by not buying a box can then be used in other areas of my collection. I've been buying my A&G set off eBay since 2006. Buying a set isn't the same as building it, though.

    If putting together a set at all isn't interesting, then stop. If you're not enjoying that part of collecting, I would think you shouldn't do it.

    I love box/case breaks. I've learned I get a lot more out of them if I buy in to the new releases (since I have the older stuff), but the older ones are great too, and usually cheaper.

    But again, do what interests you! That's what a hobby's about. If you only want to collect cards that show players with batting gloves in their back pockets, then go for it.

  3. as a die hard set collector, i feel your pain. I stopped busting boxes of baseball two years ago. Same reason as you, got tired of wasting my money.
    Now I'll trade for teh set, or just grab a team set of my Braves.

    It's so easy to just wait a few days and go shopping online for the singles and hits you want for pennies on the dollar compared to buying boxes or packs.

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  5. Since it's your fault I'm collecting cards, I'll throw my $0.02 in, lol.

    After not buying a baseball card since I was 12, I went completely bonkers the past couple months. I opened a ton of stuff trying to figure out what I liked, what I didn't, and generally getting into it.

    I can say that I completely agree with you about the A&G. I was all excited to collect my first set of them this year and they were such a huge let down. I liked the art of the earlier years much better than the 2011 set and the shear amount of crap that's in there just boggles my mind. Maybe it wasn't the right set to start on. I wanted baseball cards, not the "rise of man" or effing battleships. What really killed it was the quality control, which, as a newbie, is completely unacceptable. I got the same pack FOUR times. 4! I even remember the contents of the pack. Guy Fieri, Boulud, The Royal Wedding, Jack Lulane, some soccer chick and a "break the code" card. That's it. Not a single baseball player. I was under the impression it was a baseball product. Apparently I was wrong.

    I had much more fun buying gypsy queens and bowman platinum.

    Even then, what I'm really after is definitely an ebay purchase. I'm looking for Red Sox team sets. I can find just about any of them I want, in any product, from any year, on ebay for less than $20.

    I just don't have the time, energy or money to buy a $1200 case and break it. I also find it hysterical that things like A&G relics tanked in price so quickly. They really over saturated the market. The week A&G came out, relics were $10 a piece. The next week, $3. Right now you can buy a lot of 10 relic cards for even less than that. $0.99 for a relic? Awesome Topps, way to kill your own market.

    As for premium cards, I can understand the appeal, but I'll never have the income to buy any. Opening $150 pack just doesn't make any sense to me. I get an equal amount of enjoyment out of base cards, so the premium price tag doesn't really do anything for me.

    For me it's still about collecting the players. A team of players to be specific. I don't plan on collecting whole sets of any product, so maybe the question is a little moot for me.

    As I think YOU told me, just collect what you like. If something is really cool and you want a whole set of it, do it. If a set is terrible, but you still want to collect your team/players, that's awesome too. Being a "set builder" doesn't sound like it excludes random pick ups here and there.

    The team sets I want, I'll leave finding those to the case breakers and pick them up on the cheap. Every pack/blaster I get now is purely for "exploratory" purposes... or just for fun... or trade bait.

    Actually, the most fun I had was opening a box of 2008 UD Masterpiece I found in the bargain bin at Walmart for $11.99. Awesome cards. Love the look and feel of them and I was genuinely excited to open them. They were also cheap... and that's just the only way I can afford this hobby, lol.