Friday, February 3, 2023

Soccer Stickers?

Who knew that soccer stickers would end up being my favorite release of 2022?

I never saw it coming.

I’ve long been a fan of the Panini sticker releases for NFL, NHL, and NBA here in the US. I usually pick up an album and 10-20 packs of stickers each year when these come out (sadly 2018 was the last year Panini released NHL, eventually Topps took over and let it die out after a couple of years. It may be an online thing now, but I don’t know and don’t really care).

I was on vacation this fall when I saw the World Cup stickers & albums (at Walgreens of all places) and picked up an album and 20 packs of stickers. When I got home I set them on the shelf and never thought about them again until the WC started play. Remembering that I had them, I got them out when I sat down to watch a game and started stickering.

I was hooked.

I cannot explain why.

Maybe it’s the crisp colorful design of the stickers complete with all kinds of info about the players. Maybe it’s fantastic album layout that basically doubles as a program/yearbook. Maybe I’m just tired of modern card collecting and just found joy in something so pure and simple.

I had to go out and get more. I ended up buying 4 boxes during the course of the tournament!

Even with that many boxes, I was still about 125 stickers short of a complete set (The set contains 670 stickers). Sticker collation is without a doubt the most random distribution of any card or sticker set. While you do get doubles, I never once opened a pack that had the same stickers in the same order like you find in most card releases today.

Luckily I was able to get some help with some great trades from the Twitter & Discord communities (too many at this point to single out everyone by name but THANK YOU!!!) and got that number down to 24. From there I went to Panini’s website where you can order individual stickers for 40 cents each plus $4 s/h. I am anxiously waiting for those to arrive in the mail any day now.

Nearing completion of the set, my interest was piqued into looking back on previous years. It was in my search that I came across this amazing book that details Panini’s 60 year history of stickers for the World Cup and various European leagues. Not only is it a great look back at the evolution of stickers over the years, but it also recaps the events of seasons and tournaments as well. You can enjoy this book whether you are a sticker fan, a soccer fan, or both.

So then I decided that I would take a stab at the 2018 Panini World Cup sticker set.

Oh boy.

Immediately after digging in I noticed that something was “off” compared to 2022. After a lot of research I was finally able to piece together what was different.

In 2018 there were two different sets that are essentially the same set. The larger set, which has 682 stickers with black backs and was distributed in what looks like to one set of countries, and the smaller set, which has 670 stickers with pink backs and was distributed to another set of countries.

The sticker fronts for both sets are identical. The only difference is that the pink set does not contain stickers 20-31 (these are the posters for the various cities that were hosting games) and have been renumbered from that point on. I don’t know why this was done and I haven’t been able to find anything on the webs explaining the reasoning.

The oddity for me is the pricing of the boxes for each set. Neither appears to be in short supply looking on ebay. The makeup of the black set boxes is 50 packs (5 stickers per pack) for a total of 250 stickers box and the makeup of the pink set boxes is 104 packs (5 stickers per pack) for a total 520 stickers per box. However, the pricing for both of these boxes appear to be the same (in the $40-50 range). The only thing is that there are no stickers 20-31 in the pink boxes. But at those prices, I’d be far better off to buy pink boxes and then pick up the missing 12 poster stickers on ebay for $1 each.

Did I mention that there are two different albums too, and probably even more? I picked up a softcover and a hardcover album for the black set since that’s the larger set and that’s the one I’m going to try to complete. I have not come across them yet, but I’m assuming there is at least a pink set softcover book and maybe a hardcover version too? (a quick check online shows that there was a hardcover version for the 2022 set as well. Doh!)

Lastly, there was a cool little tin of sticker packs that were available although I don’t know which countries they were sold in. I will keep this one unopened since it has the cool European price sticker on the outside.


I don’t know why I didn’t think to check there first, but has a great detailed explanation of the various sticker configurations. WOW! Someday I would love to find out why Panini does so many variations (especially the 2022 Swiss gold release!)

But for now my first box of 2018 stickers are here and calling and it’s time for more stickering!

Monday, July 8, 2019

1980 Topps Football

I was perusing Twitter today and saw a discussion about favorite football sets. I was going to respond & post why, until so many reasons came to mind that I figured it would be easier (and more fun) to recount them in long form.

Hands down, 1980 Topps is my favorite football set. I know, it's seldom on anybody's lists of great Topps football sets, but it easily tops mine.

I was an 11 year old kid living in Rota, Spain in 1980. I didn't really get into football until a couple of years before. It was far more popular with my classmates than baseball (imagine that!).

We moved to Spain in the summer of 1978. I had just gotten into baseball & baseball cards that summer. When school started in the fall though, I soon learned about this other sport of football, and I was in.

All my classmates were either Steelers or Cowboys fans, except for the one goofy kid who was a Vikings fan. The Steelers won the Super Bowl at the end of that season, so I fancied myself as a Steelers fan.

I soon learned that there was a guy who tore up the league that year named Earl Campbell. To this day I can't explain how or why, but I soon became an Oilers fan.

I don't remember much about the '79 season. The Steelers beat the Rams in the Super Bowl. That's about it.

Now a little bit about living in Rota. The Navy Exchange didn't sell sports cards. I don't know why and I'd love to find out why someday, but I doubt that will be today. But needless to say, sports cards were hard to come by. New cards basically consisted of some new kid moving to town and trading with the rest of us. Pretty soon he would be in the trading collective, and eventually we would all end up with the same cards anyway.

I don't remember the exact why or how, but my Granny sent me a box of 1980 football not long after they were released. Funny the things you remember from your youth, but I can still remember opening the box and seeing all those shiny cello packs. JACKPOT!!!

My dad, being the brains of the outfit, would only let me have one pack a day. He kept them hidden somewhere that I never could find (and I tried!), but it was still a treat every morning to come into the kitchen for breakfast and see a new pack sitting at my place at the table!

I would pour over the fronts and backs of them every morning, taking them all in. I would take them to school (in my back pocket!) and show them off to all of my buddies. I'm sure they tried to trade me for them & I'm sure I refused every time. I LOVED these cards.

I wish I could add that I had specific memories or this card or that card, but I don't. I just knew that they were new, and I knew that they were mine. Hell I didn't even realize that Earl wasn't in the set.

Over time though, they disappeared, but the memories didn't. In recent years I have started to rebuild the set. My checklist currently shows that I have 127 of them. They're high on my list of commons I hope to find at NSCC in a few weeks.

My Granny passed away about 3 months ago. Twice while we lived in Spain, she sent me a box of cards in a care package. One baseball ('76 cello box in '79, a whole 'nother story for another time) and one football. When she passed, I thought back on all the memories of her in my life and this was near the top.

As far as Granny's go, she was the best.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

2019 Donruss

Welp, I finally pulled the trigger on my first set purchase of 2019. At $45 shipped, it came in $5 under my budget of $50. (I still haven't paged last year's Donruss set, so the 2" binder I bought for $8 will only count as $4 since I will easily be able to fit both sets in it.)

AND, kudos to the seller for taping some of the wax box to the top of the white box. Very cool, and I've never received a set where someone has done this before. Sweet!

The base cards look pretty nice in hand. It's a shame that there are only 3 Tigers, but I blame the current Tigers "braintrust" more than I do the good folks at Donruss. I think this may be the nicest design of the Donruss rebirth. I just wish they'd dialed down the size of whatever that is going on in the bottom right corner to match the upper left corner, but otherwise no complaints.

They've stepped up the backs this year by adding a second color. Much nicer than last year's black  ink only. 

The DK subset is gorgeous. One Tiger, a couple who were, and one who needs to be. Hell, they ALL NEED to be, but that's another post for another time.

I love the look of the Rated Rookies too. This would've been great for the entire set design IMO. It's a shame there are only 20 of these in the set. Seems like Donruss is missing the boat by not adding more.

Again these "throwback" cards look great too. I like that this subset features mostly up and comers,  prospects, and rookies.

My only complaint with 2019 Donruss is regarding the "variations" which are boring and unnecessary. If you want to work 50 more stars into the set, which I'm on board with, I would've preferred a 50 card subset replicating the awesome 1985 Donruss Action All-Stars set.

Overall I give this set a solid B+. They look much better in hand than they did when I saw the pics on twitter months ago. I think this is the best looking Donruss set since they came back 5 years ago. And for $45 delivered I saved about two-thirds on what I've spent on last year's Donruss set (which is still not complete.....if anyone wants to help. I've got plenty of dupes.)

Saturday, February 9, 2019

I Went To The Card Show

Last night I was deliberating whether of not I wanted to go to the twice-monthly card show here in Nashville. Even though this was the first weekend that 2019 Topps would be at the show, collecting modern has been a joyless endeavor for me for years now. But I didn't have shit else to do this morning, so I went.

There is one dealer at the show who usually opens up a quite a bit of all the baseball releases. Let's call him D1. Great guy with really cheap prices. You have to get there pretty early to hit him up because there are a handful of guys who clean him out pretty quickly. Even though I got to the show at 7:30, I was too late. There was a guy who already had picked out close to a couple hundred inserts. (Insert bloat another topic for another time....) I was able to pick through the left overs and find 6 Tigers inserts for $2 total. (Look for another blog post later in the week about the 2019 Tigers I picked up)

I asked D1 if he had any base I could look through. He was in the middle of trying to come up with a price for the guy in front of me and said that he did but it was going to be a little bit before he could dig them out. The dealer beside him, from now on to be known as D2, piped up and said he had plenty. D2 is a super nice guy too, but his prices are always too high. I usually hit him up AFTER I've picked up what I needed from D1. But I was only looking for base so I figured what the hell?

I was able to find all 10 Tigers base cards, plus a couple of inserts. When I asked him how much he said $5. Only because D2 is a good guy, I was able to stifle down "are you fucking kidding me?!?" That's a $1.50 worth of cards there tops." I didn't want to throw away 20 minutes of time spent standing there though so I handed over the $5.

I circled the rest of the show, finding nothing worth looking through, and headed for the door, still in a foul mood about overpaying. Right in front of the door though, there was a table with a couple of dime boxes that I remembered seeing on my way in. I looked down and the 1983 reprint Dylan Bundy caught my eye. I've been casually working on this set, with everything I've picked up so far coming from dime boxes. So I grabbed a chair and started digging in.

Boy was I glad that I did.

I ended up pulling 20 of the 1983 inserts, including a few decent ones.

I also found cards for several other insert sets that I'm casually working on.

Some older insert sets and parallels. Love the Sosa's and the Bruce Sutter.

Some football, WELCOME BACK KOTTER, and college baseball.

A complete set of these Fleer inserts. With Lee Smith getting in this year they are all HOFers.

A nice little stack of 1975 Topps minis. I'm not working on this set so most of these will be trade bait.

A few vintage cards that are in much too good of shape to be in a dime box.

Oh yeah, there were Tigers too!

I ended up pulling exactly 130 cards for $13. I picked up a lot of needs and those I don't will go into trade piles. Needless to say, when I left the show I was no longer in a foul mood.

And it was much more fun than grocery shopping would turn out to be.

Sunday, January 27, 2019


Hey there! It's been a while. How've you been? Thanks for asking.

Hell, I damn near forgot this thing was still here.

Well, that's something I'm hoping to improve on this year (if you're reading this I've already surpassed last year's output). Like so many other bloggers, it became much easier to post my thoughts and comments on the hobby in real time on Twitter rather than sit down and spend an hour or two writing a blog post. But every once in a while a topic is just too long for twitter. This is one of those times.

After 40+ years of building at least some kind of set just about every year, I've decided to call it quits. No I'm not leaving the hobby. I'm no longer going to BUILD sets. I'm just going to buy them instead.

Buying complete sets is not new to me. I've been doing it with Bowman and Bowman Draft since 2013, Archives since 2013, and Flagship and Update since 2016.

Like most set collectors I've grown tired of spending big money to build sets that are only worth a fraction of what I spent (and with a slew of useless inserts that are worthless too. What exactly am I paying that much money for? The disappointment of opening packs??).

With what should have been a relatively easy set last year with Big League, I'm now over $200 into it and I'm still 25+ cards short of a complete set.

Happily those days are over now.

So I've sat down and made a list of what sets I want to /collect/buy, how much I expect to pay for them, and added in for binders and pages, and came up with a projected budget for 2019.


What am I hoping to get for that $600? Well, here goes:

Topps Flagship    $50
Topps Update      $25
Bowman              $30
Bowman Draft    $30
Archives             $100*****
Big League         $50
Donruss              $50

Score                  $75
Donruss              $40

Binders and Pages $150

Total $600

Some of these are known expenditures while others are guesses, because I've never bought some of these sets before. For instance, I know you can get a factory sets of Flagship for $50 and Donruss football for $40. I have no clue what hand-collated Big League or Donruss baseball sets will cost. I don't even know if anybody even does them. I guess this could all make for potential future blog posts as each set is acquired to see how it's going. Yes, I purposefully left the word "interesting" out of that sentence.

*****Archives base sets can be had for much cheaper than $100. I just picked up the 2018 set for $35 shipped. But Archives is pretty much the only set where the inserts are interesting enough for me to pick up too. Plus you never know which year there are going to be base SP or not, or a really cool Tigers auto like Rusty Kuntz in 2017.*****

"But all the fun in set building is, you know, actually BUILDING the set." I agree. However, I've reached the age in life when keeping hundred dollar bills in my wallet IS A LOT MORE FUN. Or better yet, spending those hundred dollar bills building vintage sets at NSCC will be THE MOST FUN!

As I've previously posted, there are other ways to have fun with sorting and paging sets that can give some slight illusion to having built them yourself. I'm not linking to it because you can literally read that post next when you finish this one. Or you can skip to it now and come back to this one later. I'm down with whatever path you choose.

Am I going to miss set building? Absolutely. There IS a great sense of pride and accomplishment when finishing a build. But with each year it gets harder and more expensive. As someone once said, "all good things must come to an end." (The producers of LOST maybe?)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

12 Steps To Properly Page a Topps Flagship Set

For years now I've paged my Topps flagship sets with complete disregard to the numbers that are on the back of the cards. The haphazard order of these sets has always bothered me. I think of my Topps sets not just as a collection of cards, but instead a yearbook, that flows from one year to the next. I can pull a binder off the shelf and it's an orderly review of the year that was in baseball as well as card collecting. Because I absolutely love my system of paging cards, I've decided to share it in detail with the rest of the #collectfam. I hope you enjoy, and even better, come up with a system of your own to share. As you will see, I borrow heavily from the beloved method that Fleer used to organize their sets in the 80's, but with a few changes of my own. Here are 12 easy steps to take your flagship album to greater heights.


2. Purchase this binder at your local Target, Walmart, Office Depot, etc. This binder will PERFECTLY hold a 1,000 to 1,100 paged set of Series 1, 2, & 3. It will also hold a customizable spine so you don’t have an endless wall of blank binders spines on your binder shelves.

3. I use these pages because these are readily available at my local Target. A couple of bags will do. If you have another source of pages, I'm sure that will work just fine too. But I'm no longer responsible for the outcome if they don't. It's kinda like a chili recipe. If you want to add beans, that's on you. 

4. Take your SERIES 1 & 2 SETS ONLY and sort them into teams and subsets. (Set Series 3 aside for later) In 2016, there were 4 subsets: World Series, Team Cards, Highlights/Checklists, and League Leaders. 

5. Once you’ve sorted everything as shown, alphabetize all your team piles before paging. This also works as a great double check to make sure you don’t have an Indians card in the Twins pile. Yes, this does happen. Frequently in fact, if you don’t follow step #1. 

6. Page in the following order (all according to the previous season, in this case 2015)

a.     World Series winning team
b.     World Series losing team
c.     LCS losing team with better record
d.     LCS losing team with worse record
e.     Four LDS losing teams starting with best record to worst record
f.      Wild Card losing team with best record
g.     Wild Card losing team with worse record

h.     The rest of the remaining teams starting with best record to worst record.

7. With the remaining subset cards, I’m fluid about the order I put them in. To me, the whole point of paging a set this way is to give it a nice visual continuity. Preferably, the subsets would all consist of 9 cards each so they could all be on one page, but it’s never that easy, is it? I do the best I can then to arrange them so they are not broken up across pages. 2016 actually worked out well for this. There were 4 slots left on the page after placing all the teams, and there were 4 World Series Highlights cards. Well there you go. After that it flowed nicely with the 30 Team cards, 6 AL Leaders cards, 6 NL Leaders cards, and the 10 Highlights Checklists cards.

8. Taking a break here for a FAQ.

a.   Why isn’t the front page in alphabetical order? Taking a cue from 1981 Fleer, which instead of just alphabetizing the cards by team, more or less had the best player on the team first, working down the worst player on the team last, I thought it would make for a great look to have the biggest stars of the World Champs staring at me when I opened the binder to page 1. I've even altered it in recent years to have the World Series MVP be the first card in the binder. Now I could’ve easily put those 9 cards in alphabetical order, but as long as Topps keeps putting horizontally laid out cards in their sets, I cannot do that.  So I mix them up to make it visually appealing to me. Vertical cards together and horizontal cards together. (Hey Topps! Pick one or the other!! Even if it's horizontal, which looks horrible paged!!!)

b.   What do you do when teams have the same record? This is very easy to answer. I just pick the team l like better and page them first. Obviously, the Tigers break all ties and the Red Sox lose all ties. The Marlins win most ties and the Indians lose most ties. You can see where I'm going with this.

9. OK, so now it’s time for Series 3. This will be short and sweet. It mostly works the same way as Series 1 & 2, but this time paging according to the results of the current season, and not the last one (in this case, 2016). 

a.   Thinking of my flagship set as a yearbook of sorts, this method allows the binder to “flow” from one season into the next. I put the Rookie Debut cards first as their own subset, since they are not true rookie cards anyway that should be with the teams. Then go the Home Run Derby cards, followed by the All-Star starting lineups and the reserves. Then the World Series winning team down to 2016’s worst team.  I like breaking it up this way so that when I’m looking at this series I can see who the big pickups were, as opposed to mixing them with Series 1 & 2 and not being able to tell (I guess I could look at the numbering on the back, but I’ve already come this far and besides, I like it this way)

b.   This method also allows you to go ahead and get Series 1 & 2 paged up as soon as you complete them during the season.

10. BACK TO THE IMPORTANCE OF STEP 1. Since Topps is hell bent on designing every card in a 1000 card set to look almost identical, it’s very easy to get cards in the wrong piles and screw the whole thing up and have to go back and fix it. I have not followed Step 1 in the past and have always ended up screwing up somewhere. Case in point, with only a few pages left to go, I found that I missed the goddamned All-Star logo on Stephen Vogt and had to unpage TWENTY ONE PAGES to put him in the correct slot. (Note to Topps, or any employees who might be reading: PLEASE give the subsets different designs than the base cards. For some reason this was stopped around 2007 and it’s AWFUL. Look how beautiful that turned out in 1983 vs. 2013. Please help an old man out here.)

11. Another FAQ. What about inserts/gimmicks/parallels? Put them in a penny sleeve and a monster box. You're likely never going to get all of these anyway, and really, a binder with empty pockets just looks bad. 

12. Sit back now and disregard Step 1. You did it my friend! You can enjoy the weightlessness of being unencumbered by the arbitrary numbering system on the backs of the cards. Enjoy looking at that first page and not having to stare at a blank pocket in the bottom left corner where #7 would usually go. Disregard Step 1 even more as you turn the pages of your binder and enjoy the “order." And finally, if you are so inclined, disregard Step 1 even further, and write a blog post about it. 

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