Thursday, August 21, 2008

Comparison of Allen & Ginter Retail and Hobby Boxes

Enough of the #5s for now, it's time for a adrenaline rush of brand new cards! This year's Allen & Ginter design and contents very effectively floated my boat, so I picked up a few boxes to check out what can be ripped and enjoyed.

Collectors who spend below $100 per outing (that's me) have two basic options, the "retail" box of 24 packs and the "hobby" box of 24 packs. The hobby packs include 8 cards instead of the retail 6 cards, so the extra $25 you pay approximately evens out.

Retail box: 24 packs x 6 cards per pack = 144 cards (1 gross, as they say on the farm). BIN from eBay (+ postage) for $58 = .40 per card.

Hobby box: 24 packs x 8 cards per pack = 192 cards (1 gross plus, as they say in France). BIN eBay (+ free postage!) for $81 = .42 per card. The box includes a "topper" card, which could be a variety of different insert cards, such as over-sized "cabinets" or N43-style cards with an inset frame. (Mine was an N43 Joba Chamberlain.)

Most packs include an American state card for one of the 50, featuring its flag and an active player from that locale. Some players aren't great, but at least they covered the whole map. (Maybe they'll expand this to all the MLB countries next year?) You also get a parallel card, typically a "mini," in almost all packs. Occasionally, a rarer card comes along, but not frequently--just often enough to keep you going.

Retail box highlights:
1. Arkansas state card w/Torii Hunter: I like the state set quite a bit and Torii's a fine addition. The picture captures him mid-salute, like he knows the flag is just to his right.
2. Jed Lowrie RC: All Red Sox welcome here in Boston.
3. Lisa Leslie: Excellent subject to include in the set, especially with the USA Olympic team capturing gold. (There's a decidedly Olympic theme to the 2008 set, no big surprise.)
4. Rollins / Sizemore / Carlos Pena / Soriano / Derrek Lee in same pack, plus the Swiss mini World Leader card! (You get one or two of those per box.)
5. Mary Shelley a la Frankenstein! I love the writer / philosopher bent in this set.
6. Yadier Molina, the StL catching version of The Flyin' Molinas. All three have World Series rings, unique among sibling trios.
7. Nice throwing pose of Hanley Ramirez. Sadly, the card says "Marlins" instead of "Red Sox."
8. Jeanette Lee, the billiard world's Black Widow. She's got the pool equivalent of the Dave Stewart stare.
9. Feliz Hernandez: Almost makes up for getting Jason Schmidt in the same pack.
10. Magglio Ordonez: Dig the hair! Is it time to watch Shampoo again?
11. Marie Curie: Another in the line of interesting inclusions.
12. Same pack: Lowell / Johjima / Neshek / Pierzynski swatch / Bram Stoker / Trinidad & Tobago World Leader / nice Luke Scott hitting pose
13. Pluto / Charon: This is a cool card; Topps could've expanded the set to include more astronomy.
14. Andrew Miller: Nice cover-the-mouth pitching shot.
15. Mark Spitz contest card! Great timing, with the Olympics still in swing.
16. Jim Thome: One of the best personal poses in the set. You know it's Thome, name on the uni or not.
17. Golden Gate Bridge: The buildings are interesting enough to include a few. "Ancient Wonders" might've been better.
18. James Fenimore Cooper: not enough Natty Bumppos in the world today.
19. Bengie Molina vs. Jered Weaver: the A&G artistic styling isn't uniform and these two show how. Weaver looks mottled and bored with his washed-out speckling. Molina shines smoothly like a smooth-and-shiny thing.
20. Jay Bruce: sharp-hitting Cincy call-up who I saw in Louisville early this year, Mr. Bruce and I share birthdays.
21. David Eckstein: nice post-spinach forearms.
22. Nietzsche: People forget how his thinking on the "now" so permates today's world.
23. B.J. Upton mini: Looks about 15, but can play when he wants to.
24. Kazuo Fukumori RC: Intense pitching pose, something all sets could use more of.
25. Callix Crabbe: That's a heckuva name, pardner.

Retail Box lowlights:
1. Kevin Van Dam, a champion bass fisherman. I'm sure you're very skilled Mr. Van Dam, but I'd trade you for the planet Pluto without thinking twice.
2. Andrew Litz: Air guitar champion on YouTube = entertainment. In my card pack = teh lame.
3. Corey Hart: Any particular reason they didn't put him in sunglasses? I mean, come on.

Totals: 1 swatch, 2 World Leaders, 4 black minis, 6 checklists, 11 states, 18 regular minis, 108 base cards

Hobby Box Highlights:
1. Tim Wakefield: Nice pose for the veteran knuckler
2. Linen Balloon mini: Sweet picture that could've come right out of Oz.
3. James Bowie mini: He of the legendary knife and another famous death at the Alamo.
4. Carlos Guillen: A super-highlight if Seattle hadn't let him go.
5. Nate McLouth: Looks good in the Pirates uni, which can't be said of everyone.
6. Matt Cain "Rip It Card" 16/99: Topps challenges you to rip it open and expose the internal card. Some people will avoid doing so to "preserve the condition" and thus miss out whatever lies within. Ha! I RIPS IT! (Inside is one of the mini parallels, Nick Swisher. It looks to be a little thinner than normal minis.)
7. Takashi Saito mini: I love that the stats include WHIP and Saito's is a sparkling 0.82.
8. Davy Crockett: Both famous Alamo personalities in the same box! Rightfully shown without the eponymous cap.
9. John Maine: Laconic expression is dead-on Joel Hodgson.
10. Holy firetruck! Mark Spitz swatch back-to-back with Bruce Jenner card! Olympic fever!
11. Jim Thome swatch! Evan Longoria mini! Hiroki Kuroda RC! Same pack!
12. Kerri Strugg back-to-back with Bonnie Blair: OK, it's an Olympic year, I gets it.
13. Oscar Wilde mini: now we're talking my kind of sardonic phrase-turnings.
14. Charles Dickens: Another fine writin' machine. (Not to be confused with Charles Dikkens, the well-known Dutch author.)
15. Albert Pujols: and looking very serious about knocking the ball into next month.
16. Last pack has Davey Crockett mini and Albert Einstein!

Hobby Box Lowlights:
1. Carl Crawford: Seriously, is this whole image airbrushed?
2. Carlos Zambrano: Whoa, the eyebrows! He's officially every sci-fi movie villian, ever.
3. Derek Jeter mini: on the plus side, people will no doubt trade for this.
4. Les Miles: College football coaches in my baseball pack? Whaaaa?

Totals: 1 Rip It #/99, 1 N43, 2 contest cards, 2 swatches, 2 World Leaders, 2 black minis, 16 states, 21 regular minis, 146 base cards

Summary: The Allen & Ginter boxes make for good pack ripping. After a few, I've already got most of the base 350-card set. Really, though, it's not so much about the base set, which you can buy for fairly small money. With so many parallels and non-sport subjects, it's easy to pick out specific sub-collections to focus on. It's also tempting to send the cards out en masse for autographs and my first attempt went to Dean Karnazes, the crazy-long distance runner.

No comments: