Wednesday, July 31, 2013

With an Iron Fist: A 2008 Allen & Ginter Insert Revisited

Not too long ago I bought a big lot of mini cards from different sets. These were mostly Allen & Ginter cards from different years, with a little bit of Topps 206 and UD Goodwin thrown in. Kind of an odd purchase, since I'm not actively trying to finish any mini set in particular, but the price and quantity were right. As I was filing these away, I came across a small stack of World Leaders minis from '08 Ginter I had stashed away. I don't think I completed much of the base set, much less any of the mini inserts. They were just sitting in an empty '08 Heritage box with the cover cut off, taunting me.

The geopolitical landscape is an ever-shifting one. Here in the good old U.S. of A., we've had two presidential elections since the release of this set. Seeing these old friends made me wonder what became of this group of leaders representing a small fraction of the 50-card set. Now is the right time for an update.

Name: Stephen Harper
Nation: Canada
Title: Prime Minister
Still in Power?: Yes
Crime(s) Against Humanity as Leader: Abandoned most of his 2011 campaign promises in order to turn his attention to a much-maligned effort to resurrect FoxTrax for all televised NHL games played on Canadian ice.

Name: Nicolas Sarkozy
Nation: France
Title: President
Still in Power?: No
Successor: François Hollande
Crime(s) Against Humanity as Leader: While in office, attempted to change name of political party to Union pour un Franken de Baie Populaire, further alienating Le Comte de Chocula separatist movement. Boo Berry radicals still refuse to recognize Sarkozy's presidency.

Name: Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh
Nation: The Gambia
Title: President
Still in Power?: Yes
Crime(s) Against Humanity as Leader: Significant and numerous human rights abuses followed by stunningly unpopular hat tariffs.

Name: Geir H. Haarde
Nation: Iceland
Title: Prime Minister
Still in Power?: No
Successor: Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
Crime(s) Against Humanity as Leader: Responsible for withholding several volumes' worth of rare Sugarcubes B-sides and outtakes; Holds patent rights to Snoopy's Sno-Cone Machine, ensuring that they will never work quite as well as they should.

Name: Yasuo Fukuda
Nation: Japan
Title: Prime Minister
Still in Power?: No
Successor: Taro Aso
Crime(s) Against Humanity as Leader: Short-tempered would often respond to hearing his name called with a fiery, "Fuk-ME-da??? Fuk-YOU-da!!!" No matter how hard he tried, would never be as cool as this awesome motherfucker.

Name: Jan Peter Balkendde
Nation: Netherlands
Title: Prime Minister
Still in Power?: No
Successor: Mark Rutte
Crime(s) Against Humanity as Leader: Strict enforcement of women's field hockey national team's minimum skirt length throughout entire term; Failed attempt to ram legislation through parliament which would have forced Amsterdam movie theatre owners to serve beer in paper cups rather than glasses.

Name: Helen Clark
Nation: New Zealand
Title: Prime Minister
Still in Power?: No
Successor: John Key
Crime(s) Against Humanity as Leader: Led break-in at Upper Deck's Southern Hemisphere Headquarters, igniting rumors that the company's 2008 women's netball set was infringing upon the 1961 Topps design.

Name: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Nation: Philippines
Title: President
Still in Power?: No
Successor: Benigno Aquino III
Crime(s) Against Humanity as Leader: Hoarding both vowels and consonants in an underground state-sanctioned reserve; Steadfast refusal to lend active military personnel and/or vehicles to any Roger Corman production.

Name: Nguyen Tan Dung
Nation: Vitenam
Title: Prime Minister
Still in Power?: Yes
Crime(s) Against Humanity as Leader: Signed bill into law requiring that all currency bear the inscription, "Me love you long time," replacing the motto, "Độc lập – Tự do – Hạnh phúc" ("Independence - Freedom - Happiness").

Monday, July 22, 2013

The $5.00 Challenge: A Thorzul Assignment

The enormity of baseball card collecting is part of its appeal. Many of us started in the very same places, but in the years that followed, our paths diverged. Sometimes they meet up again, but often, we go after what makes us the happiest. As mostly a Set-Builder collector archetype (and sometime Player Collector and Team Collector), I tend to get collecting tunnel vision. The most recent set I'm collecting is from two years ago. Because I'd like to finish what I've started before starting something else entirely, most of my discretionary card funds have been spent on things from about twenty or so sets I'd like to complete. While satisfying, I feel like I'm also missing out. While wasting away on the outskirts of Tatooine with my 2008 Topps Chrome X-Fractor pursuits, I'm denying myself the opportunity to explore the Hoths, the Coruscants, and even the Dagobahs of the hobby. To my detriment, I'm locked into a number of collecting pursuits that are preventing me from exloring the furthest reaches of the galaxy. The Tosche Station offers more than power converters, but what would I know about that?

Simply put, I'd appreciate a little more randomness in my collection. For this reason, I decided to try something out.

Setting a spending limit of five dollars cash (okay, PayPal) American, I spun the eBay wheel of fortune and took whatever the gods would bestow. I just went to the subcategory of "Baseball Cards" and made a promise to bid on the first card I found that I didn't have and would set me back less than five bucks. Here's what I got:
1964 Topps #277 Ken Retzer

Back side, with a nifty, not-quite-P.C. Warren Spahn cartoon

I think fate smiled upon me relatively well, don't you think?

Here's your assignment, should you choose to accept:
1. Direct your internet browser to eBay.
2. Near the top of the page, click on "Shop by Category." Click on "Sports Memorabilia."
3. When you hover over "Cards" on the left-hand menu, it opens up a group of categories. Click on "Baseball."
4. Here's where you have a choice. I opted to shrink the parameters to auctions only, but you can include the BIN option if you wish. Make sure the items are arranged by "Ending Soonest." From there, I picked a page number at the bottom, usually page 5. I just wanted to get to a page of cards that were still active auctions, as the first few pages are usually finished by the time you open the page up.
5. After clicking on your page, start at the top. The first card you can get without spending more than $5.00, and which you don't already own, bid on it (or buy it now). This is where your true character will be revealed. If the first card on the page is a 1991 Donruss Gene Larkin that you're going to have to fork over $4.00 to get, and you don't own that card, you have to have the fortitude to go ahead with the bid. Remember, the results of this assignment must be a random as possible.
6. After you get your card, email me with a link to the auction. My address: bill13boehm at
7. After you contact me, I will send you my mailing address because you will have to send me the card or cards you win in your random auction. Why???

Okay, here's the fun part of this assignment. After I have received all of the cards, I will post them and open up some polls to allow readers to vote to determine the best and the worst card(s) purchased. The two winners will each receive half of the cards sent in to me. I think this should be a lot of fun.

*My Ken Retzer card will not be part of this contest. I will be making a separate purchase, just like all of the other participants, and this new card will be added to the pot.
*I will not be keeping any of the cards you send in. They are all going to the two winners, split as evenly as possible.
*Owners of the best and worst card will each get back the card they sent in.
*The $5.00 limit does include shipping.
*DEADLINE for making your eBay purchase is Sunday, July 28. Please make sure I hear from you by Monday, July 29. I realize it is out of your control over how fast the seller gets the card to you. If you wish, you can ask the seller to send the card to my address to save on your own shipping cost. Just a thought. In any case, try to get your winnings to me as soon as possible.
*If you're going to accept this assginment, or even if you're not, I'd appreciate it if you'd post a link to this post in order to get as many people involved a possible.
*Let me know if you're going to get in on this in the comments. Not a requirement, but I'd like to know how this assignment is going.
*Tip: Shopping like this is the most fun in the wee hours of the night.
*Any other questions about this assignment, just ask.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Completion!: An Odd Way to Build a Set Edition

In one of the big lots of cards I've bought for myself in the past (probably a few years ago now), there was a nearly-complete set of 1986 Fleer Update. Just the key cards were missing, and within the past year I've acquired the Bonds and the Canseco. Last week I decided to pull the COMC trigger and pick up the last three cards needed, Ruben Sierra, John Kruk, and Will Clark.

I'm guessing most people would collect a set like this all at once. Not me. As a guy who shaves while showering, and who holds a pencil with both index and middle fingers on top, the regular old way isn't always for me. Minus the fancy little box the set comes in, I decided to make a display-worthy binder cover.

Not bad for a few minutes with Google Docs and a half-inch Avery, eh?

Here's some more card content, a picture of my favorite page in the set. We've got Billy Jo Robidoux, the Roenicke brothers, a Quinones/Quinonez not-quite-related combo, and, of course, a Bip Roberts rookie. Good stuff!