07 July 2012

Cashing In On Spain's Historic Dominance

Little less than a week ago Spain were crowned 2012 European champions in impressive fashion after defeating Italy with a resounding 4-0 scoreline. After their latest conquest there's now even talk of this Spain team being the greatest national side of all time and at the center of Spain's historic success has been the UEFA Player of the Tournament, 'Don' Andrés Iniesta.

Recently I came accross this auction for an extremely scarce Iniesta Panini autograph. This is one of only two certified autos he has out there, mind you I'm not counting any dubious Futera autos he may have. Apparently the card ended up selling for ¥74,500 (see below) which at the current conversion rate from yen to dollars, comes out to nearly $1,000 USD!

30 June 2012

Big PC Mailday!

Just picked up this sweet Rafa Márquez autographed jersey. A few of these cards had popped up on eBay before but I had missed out on them so I pounced at the chance to finally pick this one up. This card's also the last of Marquez's 3 different certified autos I had yet to add to my collection. There is one minor error - The back of the card states: "We hope you enjoy this piece of hockey history" - Fail!

Still an awesome card though.

18 June 2012

Beware Of Fake Autographs On eBay

Check out this horrible, 2010 Upper Deck World of Sports fake David Beckham auto I came accross on eBay. There's so many things wrong with this shitty attempt at Beckham's signature that it's not even funny. First of all the signature is nowhere near a genuine Becks sig, see below for the authentic UD Man Utd example.
Second of all notice how the "World of Sports" lettering is red on these un-signed base cards pictured below of Beckham and Thierry Henry. There were autographed parallels of these base cards but those had a guarantee of authenticity on the back and the visible difference of "World of Sports" text in blue, as can be seen further down.
The actual certified parallel autos from this set have the aforementioned blue lettering and the sticker auto such as Pablo Mastroeni and Beckham himself who does have an autographed parallel although it does not feature his signature on the sticker but rather that of former MLSer Luciano Emílio. See this link for more info on that error auto.
Sadly it appears some bidders have fallen for the fast one this seller is trying to pull.

22 May 2012

2002 Panini World Cup (Japanese Edition) 5 Box Break

I recently picked up several boxes of this older Panini World Cup collection and as you can see from this side of the box picture (click on image to enlarge) this is the more rare and complete Japanese version of the product which has a deeper checklist than it's counterpart released in Europe and around the rest of the World.

Also of particular interest is that this Japanese set had product exclusive autograph cards of 12 different players with a print run of 100 each, see checklist below.

A1    Ronaldo - Brazil /100
A2    Lilian Thuram - France /100
A3    Igor Tudor - Croatia /100
A4    Gianluigi Buffon - Italy /100
A5    Paolo Maldini - Italy /100
A6    Francesco Totti - Italy /100
A7    Christian Vieri - Italy /100
A8    Nakata Hidetoshi - Japan /100
A9    Ono Shinji - Japan /100
A10   Yanagisawa Atsushi - Japan /100
A11   Rui Costa - Portugal /100
A12   Álvaro Recoba - Uruguay /100

- Check this thread over on FCF (Football Cards Forum) for the complete collection checklist. -

So I busted 5 of these boxes over the last 3 days hopeful of pulling an auto but realizing that with only 1,200 signed cards to be found it was probably going to be quite unlikely. I'm guessing the majority have already been pulled and are now tucked away in collector's private collections. With that in mind I would settle for completing as much of the rest of the master set which includes two other chase card sets to collect, 'Flag Player' foil inserts and 'Japan National Team Players' special cards.

Now on to the results:

Box 1 - From this first box the "hits" I pulled were a F12 Augustine "Jay-Jay" Okocha, F13 José Luis Chilavert and J1, J2, J3 & J23 Japanese player inserts.

Box 2 - This box produced F1 Émile, F19 Álvaro Recoba, F20 Earnie Stewart, J5, J7, J11 and J12.

Box 3 - From this one I got F4 Jon Dahl Tomasson, F5 Oliver Kahn, F6 Zinedine Zidane, J7, J11 and J12. Curiously all of the 'J' inserts in this box were duplicates from the last box, poor collation...

Box 4 - This box was definitely the most productive. To my pleasant surprise it was quite loaded with some packs even contaning 2 hits! Which were F8 Francesco Totti, F9 Nakata Hidetoshi, F10 Hong Myung-Bo, F11 Juan Francisco Palencia, J18, J19, J20, J21 and J22.

Box 5 - Unfortunately in this box all of the hits, save for one 'J' insert, were dupes that I had pulled in earlier boxes. F5 Kahn, F6 Zidane, J7, J9, J11 and J12.

Update - I ended up opening up a sixth box in hopes of getting closer to completing the inserts sets but alas no luck. All of the hits were dupes, in fact this box #6 was almost the same as box #4. As for the hits, F9 Nakata, F10 Hong, F11 Palencia, J20, J21 and J22.

Here are the scans of the hits from the entire bust. Notice at the bottom the Roberto Baggio and Eto'o base cards, these were probably the biggest names to be entirely omitted from the European realese that were indeed included in this Japanese edition.

Hope yous all enjoyed the pics and break, overall I have to say it was very enjoyable for me. Solid product.

17 May 2012

2012 Topps USA Olympics

A little over two weeks ago Topps launched it's 2012 London Olympics trading card collection which focuses on US hopefuls, among them a few soccer players. The women's autograph lineup consists of Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and Abby Wambach. Juan Agudelo is the sole men's inclusion in the entire checklist which is actually surprising considering the US national team failed to qualify for the tournament.

The women's autos are selling very well as expected with Alex Morgan's autos being white hot but I personally would've liked to have seen Topps go beyond the US athletes and obtain the signatures of some of the top footballers expected to be part of the games, the likes of Neymar, Chicharito Hernández, Gareth Bale, etc. It also bears mentioning that Panini has also released an Olympic product, which focuses on the British contingent. Unfortunately though it's the typical Panini "Adrenalyn" garbage, not even worth a further mention.

04 May 2012

Another Great Mailday Batch - With 1 Exception

I got these purchases from eBay in the mail recently and was absolutely stoked with the first two, both of them will be going strsight into my PC.

First up this Thierry Henry 2011 Upper Deck SP Game-Used jersey card. IMO the card has a solid design and I got it for a bargain price so I'm definitely thrilled about that.

Next up I got a Rafa Márquez certified auto from the 2012 UD World of Sports product. I'm especially happy about picking this one up since it's my first legit certified Márquez auto.

Lastly I picked up this 2009 UD MLS Cuauhtémoc Blanco jersey. Sadly the card was mailed in a plain non padded envelope without a toploader and arrived damaged being significantly creased, also had quite a bit of chipping on the side edges. It was "reinforced" with a piece of cardboard but obviously that wasn't enough protection, check out the 3 creases around the jersey window cutout to see what I mean. Not happy at all with this shit so I will no doubt be looking to be reimbursed by the seller for this dud.

28 April 2012

First Ever SCB Box Break

To be honest there's just not that many contemporary unopened soccer products out there worth opening so I mainly stick to buying only the singles I want. However I do sometimes pick up a box from an older collection I'm interested in, especially if the price is right as was the case with my recently busted 36 pack box of 1994 Upper Deck Wold Cup.

I had yet to pick up this preview edition World Cup set so this was a great chance to add it to my WC sets collection. Here's the breakdown of the "hits" from my box break as pictured in the scan below. I got 4 different "Bora Selects" inserts which the back of the pack states that the odds of finding these is 1:12 packs. Next I got 2 SP "Honorary Captain" inserts (1:24 odds) including Michael Jordan. Lastly I got 6 (3 not pictured) "World Cup Super Star Holograms" inserts. I have heard that these hologram cards were originally meant to be stickers and it makes sense because they are much thinner than the rest of the cards and very flimsy, still nice looking cards though plus I absolutely smashed the odds on these as they're stated odds are only 1:18 buit I got 6 in 36 packs!

As a result of this fun and dirt cheap break I now have the complete base set for my PC and a spare one to trade, as well as the entire Hologram insert set. I still need plenty of inserts especially the Bora and SSP Honorary Captains so if anyone out there has 'em I'd be interested in trading for them.

31 March 2012

2012 Upper Deck Soccer Preview

The latest 2012 Upper Deck MLS product's sell sheet was recently made available. based on these pics I'm not sure I like the design yet. I did notice a few interesting tidbits with the new additions to the collection in the form of MLS throwbacks and the update set redemptions. I'm not exactly sure what they're about but I'd be thrilled if the throwback set had something to do with the various legendary footballers which have had stints in MLS such as Lothar Matthäus, Hugo Sánchez, Hristo Stoichkov, Carlos Valderrama, etc.

I seriously doubt this is the case though since Upper Deck seems to be having a hard time paying for athlete's signatures lately with UD continuing to face legal woes, the latest being a lawsuit from the NFL (gridiron) for breach of contract. Apparently UD have not been paying paying money owed to players for obtaining their signatures on trading cards. Surely if they can't meet the obligation of paying for auots then that's a sure sign that UD are in dire straits. I fear this may be the end of the line for UD and their soccer cards so this very well could be the last of UD's MLS products. Hopefully it's a good collection in case they do go out of business so they can at least go out with a bang.

2011-12 Topps Authentics Premier Gold

Topps have recently released another Premier League premium collection with the 2011-12 return of the Topps Authentics brand. If you ask me this product is a real breath of fresh air from that nefarious Match Attax crap. This time around it appears there are no newly issued auto & jersey cards, at least no sign of them as of yet. The collection consists of 50 cards total with 10 being foils and the remaining 40 regular cards. It looks a solid set but unfortunately it appears as though the collection will only be obtainable in the UK via some type of promotional giveaway from British bank Barclays. Looks like eBay's the best option to pick up a set for those of us who not residing in the UK.

27 March 2012

Women's Soccer Cards, Who Knew?

Lately I've been quite busy with a move to a new home and hadn't the opportunity to login to my computer much let alone my blog. As I get settled in the new entries will come. In the mean time a piece of news from the World of women's soccer caught my attention, WPS (Women's Professional Soccer) suspended it's 2012 season and has pretty much ceased to exist. Apparently this happened a couple of months ago but I only heard the news last week on the BBC's 5 Live World Football Phone In. To be honest, although bad news, this isn't of much consequence to me since I'm not really a fan of women's soccer. It may be the same sport as the men's version but it's a different game entirely, if you know what I mean.

However this news does have implications for Upper Deck's trading card products. Unlike the WPS league, women's cards are surprisingly popular. Cards of the likes of Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Marta, Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and especially the newest starlet in Alex Morgan, are highly sought after and command hefty prices for the higher end type of cards such as autos and jerseys. I have even seen a Morgan UD auto sell for over $400.00 on eBay, the rest of her autos do very well at auction too!

Alex Morgan

I would normally be opposed to having any WPS cards in an MLS collection but there's no denying that they add value to the product so I can't really complain. With UD's upcoming 2012 MLS soccer release and the success of women's cards on the secondary market I can only see UD finding a way to incorporate them into their future soccer products even now that WPS has folded. I'm guessing they'll have to include them in their collegiate uniform or maybe even in international kits? I suppose only time will tell...

05 March 2012

Awesome Mailday!

This CR7 card is one I'd been looking to pick up for quite awhile now. The last time I spotted one on eBay I was outbid at the last moment so I wanted to make sure I didn't miss out this time. Fortunately I was able to get it this time and as you can imagine I was extremely happy when I found it sitting in my mailbox.

I'm loving this acquisition, especially for the bargain price I paid. The only thing I'm not happy with is the fact that the autograph stickers that Upper Deck used in the mid 2000's not only look bad but apparently the signatures on them don't hold up well over time, unfortunately that is the case with mine. With all that said though, UD's the only manufacturer to get a Cristiano Ronaldo auto from (don't get me started on Futera's autos) and they're all signed on a sticker so in that sense this is about as good as a certified Cristiano auto's gonna get. Needless to say, this one's going straight to my PC.

29 February 2012

What Could Have Been...

A while back I came across a very interesting blog (http://sportscollectorinparadise.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/the-story-behind-the-collectible-my-beckham-mancrush/) about the excellent Manchester United trading cards Upper Deck produced years ago. The article offers insight into the blog author's experiences working on the products, his fandom of David Beckham and getting to meet Becks himself, among other things. What really caught my attention however was the excerpts that are quoted below:

"After a trip to London the next day to talk with distributors and to make a pitch presentation to get the English Premier League trading card license, I went back to Manchester for more meetings.
He would be sold to Real Madrid after the season and with him went the sales of Upper Deck’s trading cards. Real Madrid was unrealistic in their expectations for Upper Deck to get a trading card deal done, so we didn’t follow Beckham there. Further, it would take the next Man Utd #7, Cristiano Ronaldo, a few years to become one of the top players in the world and a household name, so Upper Deck did not continue producing Manchester United cards."
Upper Deck producing cards for the Premier League and Real Madrid was apparently a possibility. It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Upper Deck's trading card products in terms of design and quality, so I would have been absolutely thrilled with UD having both of those licenses. Obviously none of these possibilities came to fruition but all of this leaves me wondering about what could've been...

24 February 2012

Upper Deck's World Of Sports Is Now Live

I must say I'm not a huge fan of this multi-sport release which includes basketball, American football (gridiron), baseball, track & field, hockey and even politics as can be seen below.

Well at least they didn't use the other, infamous, corndog pic. LOL :)

Of interest to this blog though, there are quite a few soccer cards to be found in this product of which there are the standard base cards as well as jerseys, autos and - in a first for soccer cards, SPx 'shadow box' inserts. I understand these shadow box cards are very tough to pull and very popular with collectors of other sports. I'll have to keep a eye out for them as they do look to be cool cards but what I'll really be searching for out of this year's product is the Rafa Márquez auto. It appears as if it's one of the short printed sigs so it probably won't come cheap. Also of note, I saw a preliminary checklist which listed a Thierry Henry auto. I have yet to see one on eBay so I suppose only time will tell if such a card actually exists. If it indeed does exist that would be Titi's first certified auto on a trading cards so that'll definitely keep me tuned in...

09 February 2012

Trading Card Games Suck

Panini and Topps are at it again with their soon to be released Adrenalyn XL and Match Attax branded Euro 2012 collections. The preliminary images I've seen show the same old tired, boring, fugly design we've come to know from these two card makers. I would post an image but it's not even worth it. I suppose they'll stop milking this TCG crap when people stop buying... Surely I'm not alone in my hatred for this shit?

31 January 2012

Upper Deck's High End SP Game Used Soccer

Unfortunately it appears this product has tanked. Sales don't appear to be very strong as sealed boxes which began at around $180.00 online, have already been reduced in price several times by the major retailers I've seen. There are however several singles which are quite innovative in the soccer card World and they selling very well on the secondary market. Specifically the 'supreme fabrics' jumbo patch cards and especially the 'by the letter' nameplate patch cards.

The jumbo patches are generally selling from about $30.00 to $50.00 and this includes scrub players, which In the grand scheme of things, most MLS players would fall into this category. The letter patch cards though are the real attraction though with the going prices currently at about $150.00 to $200.00, the few superstars seen so far, namely Beckham and Henry, are commanding much higher prices. It looks as if SPGU soccer is destined to continue falling in price since nobody seems to be busting any of this product, I see relatively very few singles on eBay.

If this type of high end format and brand were applied to say a Champions League or Premier League product I have no doubt this would be a winner even at the original price point dare I say.

26 January 2012

Shocking Price For Messi 1/1 Futera Auto

This Messi Futera 1 of 1 autograph card recently sold for a whopping $4,500.00.

I'm not convinced either way regarding this particular autograph's authenticity but it never ceases to amaze me that someone is willing to pay this much for a Futera auto considering the questions surrounding that shady company...

14 January 2012

This Is Why I Don't Collect Futera Autos...

Aside from the typical crap Futera design this card has a serious problem, the signature on the back is clearly a horrible fake. Shockingly, someone bought this turd for $620.00 on eBay. At these kind of prices it looks like Futera has a nice little racket going.

Pictured below is an authentic sample of a pre-printed Ribéry auto on an officially licensed Bayern card from Panini. Notice how the signature is nothing like the Futera autograph.

Checking on the web there's no shortage of discussion questioning the authenticity of Futera's products. Futera themselves do little to dispel collector's concerns as there's no explanation to be found on their site about how they obtain the signatures or any guarantees as to their authenticity. In fact this is all I could find on Futera's official website regarding their 'signed' cards.
"AUTOGRAPHED CARDS: Some card publishers get players to sign pieces of clear tape and stick them on to a card to create their ‘Autographed’ cards, but whilst there is a nice uniformity in that method, we prefer for the players to sign direct on the card surface. This means that the players will sign where and as they want to sign - sometimes over the design or their own image - but from a collector’s viewpoint we feel that’s a good thing, as it adds character and gives each card a unique touch from the next."
These people are unbelievable...

12 January 2012

Soccer Cards Desperately Need Upper Deck's Touch

Upper Deck has a bit of a shady history with past incidents ranging from their production of counterfeit yu-gi-oh cards to unauthorized baseball cards as well as the Beckham "error" autographs from 2010 World of Sports. Despite these troubles as far as I'm concerned they generally produce the best quality trading cards of any manufacturer around. Unfortunately at the moment the only soccer license UD hold is with MLS. Obviously for collectors that's not the most attractive league around, however in terms of card content, collectibility and quality UD's MLS offerings are vastly superior to the garbage TCG products from Panini and Topps (who both have the trading card rights to all major football leagues and competitions around the World). Just take a look at what's available on eBay from Panini and Topps.

Both Panini and Topps have actually released nice looking higher-end products within the last year, Panini with their Premium Champions League set and Topps' Authentics Premier League brand but unfortunately these types of products lack high end cards of the top players that everyone wants as well as being very poorly marketed and distributed, (Topps Authentics is a direct order only product) not to mention these collections seem to be an afterthought for both manufacturers. UD on the other hand produced some of the better collections ever seen with their excellent Manchester United collections among several others. I for one sorely miss UD's presence in the market of international football cards and hope they can soon get back into the global game.

04 January 2012

The Most Valuable Footballer Signatures - On Cardboard

The following is a breakdown of the most valuable certified autographs in the soccer card hobby as well as a few who surprisingly don't have a certified autograph as of yet and some players to look out for in the future. Note that I didn't include Futera cards in this assessment due to their dubious nature.

Roberto Baggio - Il Divin Codino or The Divine Ponytail as he is affectionately known has a huge following not only in Italy but also in Asia which is where his two certified autographs were released back in the early 2000's. The 2003 Panini Calcio Cards auto (hideous sticker BTW) pictured below has a low print run of 100 and has been known to sell for well over a staggering $1,000.00 USD!

David Beckham - Here in the USA David Beckham is a massively overrated footballer and his signed card's prices reflect that. Many fans of the game here in the States regard him as a legendary player on par with the likes of Pelé, I shit you not! I suspect this is also the case in east Asia where his autos also command a hefty price. Capitalizing on his inflated reputation as well as pop culture icon status, Upper Deck pimped his cards as the main selling point in their excellent Man Utd products and apparently they sold very well, thanks in no small part to Becks. Well past his prime now, his signature remains among the most vauable in any UD soccer release.

George Best - .....

Fabio Cannavaro - .....

Cristiano Ronaldo - Cristiano is hugely popular with contemporary collectors and is perhaps the most sought after signature of any footballer right now. He has a small selection of Upper Deck Man Utd autos from the mid 00's, unfortunately they're all sticker autos but still very desireable among collectors. Despite massive popularity CRonaldo surprisingly hasn't had another certified auto issued in nearly a decade.

Alessandro Del Piero - Pinturichio's only certified autograph was released all the way back in a 1998 Juventus collection by Upper Deck. Reportedly this on-card has a scarce print run of only 20. It's so rare that I've only ever seen 1 on an online aution and as you can imagine it sold for a some serious cash, well over $1,000.00 if I remember correctly.

Landon Donovan - Landon is the undisputed favorite for US soccer collectors and his autograph's prices definitely reflect that. Having recently signed an exclusive contract with Upper Deck has seen his certified signature become more common lately and as a result his prices have dipped a bit. The highest end Donovan autos can still go for over $300.00 though, some serious money.

Ryan Giggs - The Welsh Wizard has a nice selection of autos from both Upper Deck and Topps including on card and sticker autographs. The United legend's relatively wide selection of autos has not really hurt his auto's values which remain strong. I reckon when he retires his prices will only see a boost.

Mario Gómez - .....

Andrés Iniesta - A bit of an underrated player IMO. It's a very different story on his 3 certified autos though. Each one is are extremely rare and in the rare event that one does show up for sale, they perform very well on the secondary market. The scarce World Cup auto from below can go for upwards of $500.00.

Kaká - The autographed card pictured below is Kaká's sole certified & autographed trading card. Due to it's rarity (numbered to /50 copies) and despite the hideous sticker this one sells for big bucks, even nearing the $1000,00 mark on occasion.

Roy Keane - The legendary long time Man United captain didn't sign as much as the other Utd icons of the time, Beckham, Giggs and Scholes. So his auto is relatively rare and sells very well on the secondary market, with a premium price on awesome on-card autos like the one below.

Frank Lampard - .....

Paolo Maldini - AC Milan and Italian football in general have a massive following in the far east of Asia. The legendary captain and symbol of Milan for decades has earned him extreme popularity among Asian collectors and has led to extreme prices for the few auto Maldini has. $1000.00 is not unheard of for some of his inked cards.

Nakata Hidetoshi - The most prolific icon of Japanese football in the 90's, 2000's and possibly of all time, Nakata is hugely popular among Japanese collectors who tend to be a very dedicated and hardcore bunch, which leads to huge prices on his many autographs. His autos sell for around $300.00 - at the lower end! Higher end ones sell for $1000.00 + easily.

Pelé - Edson Arantes do Nascimento, as is his given name, has a series of autographed cards from Canadian card brand, SportKings. These tend to sell well but not for as much as you might think for a player many consider the greatest of all time. Usually somwhere in the $250.00 to $400.00 range.

Ronaldinho - Ronny

Ronaldo - The original and best of the Ronaldo's as far as I'm concerned has the 2002 Panini World Cup auto in the pic below and a few DS (now defunct) auto's to choose from. Not even the fugly white paper/sticker that Panini used for Ronaldo's signature can stop O Fenômeno's sig from fetching $500.00 and beyond!

Francesco Totti - ................

Robin van Persie - ................

Mark Viduka - ............

Xavi - Another undervalued player who some even consider to be the World's best, he's even tired of winning it all with Barça & Spain hasn't he. Xavi's only auto which is limited to /25 generally sells within the range of $500.00 and a cool grand.

Honorable mention for players like Adriano (of Inter fame), Anelka, Ballack, Chiellini Clint Dempsey, Deschamps, Fàbregas, Forlán, Gascoigne, 'Pipo' Inzaghi, Henrik Larsson, Lúcio, Rafa Márquez, Michael Owen, Puyol, Rui Costa, Schmeichel, Scholes, Shearer, van der Sar, van Nistelrooy and Javier Zanettiwho all have valuable signed cards but don't quite crack the elite list.

Franz Beckenbauer - .....

Johan Cruyff - .....

Thierry Henry - Titi.

Diego Maradona - Diego.

Zinedine Zidane - Zizou.

Ones to look out for in the future.
Eusébio, Facchetti, Shilton and Ian Wright autos can all be had for well under $100.00 and in the cases of Eusébio & Shilton under $20.00!

Javier Chicharito Hernández - A massive fan favorite among Mexico and Man Utd fans alike, the sweet pea has no reputable certified autos to speak of but he does have a dubious Futera auto which regularly sells for 3 figures in the rare case that it does surface. If he were to have a Panini, Topps, or UD auto, I'm sure plenty of collectors would be willing to pay big money to pick one up, I know I'm one of them.

Lionel Messi - Despite there already being ongoing debate about Messi being the greatest of all time, Messi does not have a certified autographed trading card as of yet, I doubt he even has one of those shitty Futera ones. I don't know why Panini  hasn't been able to secure Messi's signature for any of their collections but if they or any other company (SportKings anyone?) did produce one I'm cerain collectors would be falling over themselves to obtain one. It'd surely cost a fortune to get your hands on one though.

Neymar - I'm not really sold on Neymar being a bona fide superstar, yet. Until he proves himself in Europe, I see him as another Robinho type who possibly lacks the temperment and maturity to be a legit World class player. If he goes across the pond and does indeed prove himself as an elite player I could see his potential future autos doing very well.

Wayne Rooney - Even though he's already a well established superstar Rooney does not yet have a certified auto but once he does I reckon it will cost a small fortune.

Luis Suárez - .....