Monday, April 29, 2013

You've Come a Long Way, Baby: 2002 Diamond Kings

In my collection: 2 regular

Griffey looks: a little weird

Is this a good Griffey card? Yes.  A nice design, a new artist, and a very unlikely set in general.

The set: Over a 20-year span, Donruss Diamond Kings grew miraculously from subset to insert to non- existence and finally to it's very own brand.  In that time it survived a bankruptcy, a new owner, two years of utter non-being, and several different artists.  Diamond Kings as their own brand would last four years.

How did this unlikely evolution occur?  Long story short, Donruss had been owned by Pinnacle who declared bankruptcy in 1998.  It was thought that the Diamond King may be gone forever until Playoff, a football brand, picked up the Donruss brand the same year.  After two years of non-production they got their MLB license in 2001 and went positively buck wild, creating numerous variations of the Diamond King that year.  The decision was made to expound on that and give DK's them their own set for 2002.

One pretty cool aspect of this card is that they show you all the previous appearances by that player in a Diamond King set like it was a bona-fide MLB designation.  Also, there's a little blurb about the artist right there on the card - something I remember Donruss only doing once before for previous artist-in-residence Mr. Dick Perez, and it was on a checklist.

Let's see that Griffey:

I really like the design here.  The new DK logo looks great in silver foil.  The card has a bit of thickness to it as well as a slight canvas texturing.  All that combined with the understated framing of the portrait make for a pretty good-looking card. 

Now this is still a Diamond King we're talking about, so we mustn't suspend criticism entirely.  I will admit that Griffey looks a little weird - his left eye is a bit droopy like that of a stroke victim, and the proportions of his face seem a little off.  Still, the lighting and shadow are great, the pose and background look good, and the detail is solid.  Overall, I've seen worse Diamond King cardsAhemYeah.

It's owners were very proud of the storied (and polarizing) Diamond King brand, so in addition to all the regular set variants and solitary insert, there are a buttload of promotional variants.  Here's all the Griffeys from 2002 Diamond Kings I still need:
#86 Framed White
#86 Framed Grey #/400
#86 Framed Black #/100
#86 Beckett promo Silver
#86 Beckett promo Gold
#86 2002 Hawaii Trade Conference
#86 2002 Hawaii Trade Conference Parallel #/20
#86 2002 Hawaii Trade Conference Blue Border (#/1 or #/5)
#86 2002 Chicago National Sports Collectors Convention #/5
#86 2002 Chicago National Sports Collectors Convention Framed White Parallel #/5
T204 #RC25 #/1000

I have no intention of nabbing all those Griffeys.  I only include them here as I am a fiercely anal completist (don't tell any of my friends I referred to myself as "fiercely anal" - I'll never hear the end of it).

In closing. Mondays suck.  Have a great week.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Happy Trails to You: 1999 Skybox Premium


In my collection: 1 base card, 1 checklist, 1 Soul of the Game, 1 Live Bats, 2 Spring Fling

Griffey looks: pre-slide

Is this a good Griffey card? Yes.  A unique design with some novel photography from a different but appreciable set.

The set: 1999 Skybox Premium has a nice full-bleed design loaded with great action photography.  The base card features huge script initials in holofoil with the player name beneath. 

Each card also includes triptastic team-specific color trails following the motion of the player.  You can see above that Griffey is trailing blue and green.  Reminds me of college.

The overall effect of the design is that of a premium set.  A thicker card stock might have put this set over the top as a contender in the high-end market.

Let's see the Griffeys:

Griffey is pre-slide, suspended in air in this great action shot.  The position of the background stands and spectators lead me to believe Junior is sliding into third.  Not a lot of cards showing Griffey sliding - very cool.  I do, however, totally hate the stat orientation on the back.

I must admit I never noticed the color trails until I really spent time with this card.  The effect is much more pronounced in the parallel set called "Star Rubies."
Matt Williams Star Rubies

This paralel set is numbered to only 50 copies per base card.  Plus it's called "Star Rubies," a name that would be right at home on a brony message board.

Skybox Premium CL #299
Skybox Premium CL #299

This is a very solid-looking checklist.  Griffey appears to have just hit a home run and is watching to make sure it clears the wall.  I love checklists that could pass as base cards.

It wouldn't be Skybox without that awkward second-person prose.  I like the postcard theme in this subset as well as the players riding on a cart.  A great behind-the-scenes shot you don't often see.


It's called Live Bats, but look!  No bat. 

This is the easiest insert to pull from packs of '99 Skybox Premium at 1:7 packs, and while not horrible the design is a bit lacking.  It looks like they were going for that scattered digital look that could be found everywhere in the late 90's.  Some companies nailed that look (I remember Upper Deck pulling it off on a few sets); here, unfortunately, the 8-bit font and all the crazy lines running everywhere on the card come across clunky and pointlessly busy.  Nice colors, though, and the pictures are pretty good.  B-

Skybox Premium Soul of the Game #9

Skybox Premium Soul of the Game #9

This insert on the other hand is a baddass.  The rainbow foil in the gigantic, card-filling lettering offset by the stark white background; the interesting fonts with lots of color and fun - I'm a big fan of this one.

Sadly, the back is kind of a train wreck.  Apart from being plain and lacking connective tissue to the theme of the insert in general, it features a sentence that makes absolutely no sense.  "They shouldn't call you "Junior;" they should call your father "Senior."  What?  They do both of those things, guys.  Skybox needs a new blurb guy.

That word is fun to say.  Blurb blurb blurb.

I do like how they mention SportsCenter, though.  I used to love watching Griffey in the highlights there and on Baseball Tonight.  Memories....

Here's a list of the Griffeys I still need for 1999 Skybox Premium:

137 Ken Griffey, Jr. Star Rubies #/50
287 Ken Griffey, Jr. Spring Fling
287 Ken Griffey, Jr. Spring Fling #/50
299 Ken Griffey, Jr. CL Star Rubies #/50
Intimidation Nation #10 #/99
Show Business #13

This is really not a bad set; it's just that it came out in the time when everybody and their mama had a license, and the market was inundated with myriad brands and inserts.  Fleer had obtained the Skybox brand and was using it as another outlet for making money off card collectors.  For crying out loud, it was the first year of Skybox baseball and there were already three different Skybox branded packs to choose from (Molten Metal and Thunder were the other two).  Skybox Premium was part of the problem. 

The following year the Premium set would be rebranded as simply "Skybox," then "Fleer Premium" for the next two years.  There would be no set for 2003.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Napkin Doon's Griffey Rookie Sandwich: a Trade Post

I received a trade package from Napkin himself from The Adventures of Napkin Doon.  I had sent him a 1996 SPx Paul Wilson from his want list that's been collecting dust in my collection for 14 years.  In return he sent these:

Check out the generic "Photo Quality" logo.  What is that?

I love receiving packs. I've started setting some aside just to send off in trades.  Something in me loves a sealed pack, so I don't always have the heart to open them. 

Then again, sometimes I hold onto old packs until one night I have too much to drink and get frisky, then my brain starts thinking "Hey, there may be a Frank Thomas NNOF RC in that pack of Topps.... No, there's almost definitely one.  Bust it!"  And I, being inebriated and having little self-control, tear that thing apart like a six year old on Christmas morning.  Then I feel shame.

This never happens with packs that are set aside for specific bloggers, though - those are off limits.

Anyhoo, the real gem was tucked in between those packs:

Woo-hoo!  A crisp '89 Fleer Griffey rookie with a sweet doodle of an anthropomorphic napkin man.  This is the sweatiest Griffey card out there, so the presence of a napkin is appropriate.

I definitely got the better end of this trade - thanks, Nap!

Monday, April 22, 2013

COMC vs. RSD: A Very Vinyl and Cardboard Weekend

It was a big collecting weekend.  At Record Store Day on Saturday I spent all the money I usually spend on music for the whole year in only a few hours.

In addition to that, I received a package from COMC containing a bunch of Griffeys I need for future posts as well as a few other fun cards that were priced right. 

So the collector in me has been torn between new cardboard and new vinyl all weekend long.  Which will win the day? 

Let's start with the new cardboard:

One of the best photos I've seen Ultra use for our guy, and who doesn't want to be on the Z-Team?

The Big Red Machine Topps card is a beast, am I right?

A lot of good ones here, too many to comment on. 

McGwire is trying to ruin my Griffey card....

I bought a bunch of these to give out as gifts.  We love Brees down here in NOLA, so this is a pretty universally desired card here even among non-collectors of cards.

A nice group of Griffeys with a Drew Brees center.  Heck of a weekend for cardboard.

Now for some new vinyl:

First, I landed both my big RSD wants:

Sigur Ros Agaetis Byrjun limited to 1000 copies.  These are already going on eBay for $150.00, so I'm relieved I landed mine.

Fela Kuti Sorrow, Tears and Blood. This has already ridden my turntable twice.

Here are a few more RSD releases I was able to pick up:

I finally found the Dave Brubeck Trio 10" which I noticed is the same size/design/packaging as the 2012 release:

I'm thinking when all is said and done, this will be a whole series released one RSD at a time.

Miles Davis Milestones.  Like some of my favorite Griffeys, this is individually numbered:

There are several other Miles Davis records I passed on, but I may end up going back and picking them up after all.

Deftones Live Volume 1: Selections from "Adrenaline"

Corn on Macabre - I bought this only because the cover artist, Daniel Danger, is one of my favorite artists out there. I have about a dozen of his prints on my walls, so buying the vinyl for a fraction of the cost of a poster makes sense.....

Rough Guide to Psychedelic Brazil.  I gave this one a spin as soon as I got home.  It was good, but I have no reason to keep it on vinyl - it will end up on the 'Bay.

I also found this Vitamin String Quartet Performs Sigur Ros record which sounds pretty good but which I also may not end up keeping.  Apparently this one is also a limited release.

Phish Junta.  This came out last year for RSD, but the store I went to had held one back and I was the lucky finder.  It is also individually numbered.

I like Phish OK, but I love this album more than anything else they've done.  It's probably the only Phish record I'll ever buy on vinyl.

I also picked up some non-RSD records including:

Beach House Bloom.  Probably my favorite record of 2012.

Dr. John Desitively Bonnaroo - I have three copies of the original release, but this one is a reissue.  I'd much rather put the wear and tear on the reissue.

I raided the used records as well:


Big Brother & the Holding Company feat. Janis Joplin Cheap Thrills.  This is the one with all the biggest hits, including my personal favorite "Summertime."  And check out the great Robert Crumb cover art!

 [I forgot to take a picture of.....]

Herbie Hancock Futureshock.  This has the famous "Rockit" and some other allegedly bizarre futuristic Jazz compositions I have yet to listen to.  I bought this as an oddity and because I love Herbie Hancock.

Portishead Third: Limited Edition.  This baby came with a lithograph, a beautifully-etched 12" single of Machine Gun, and a 1GB special edition flash drive containing Portishead videos and documentaries.  My wife and I are big Portishead fans and this is a $70 record for only $30, so I had to nab it.

The Who Sell Out.  It was a dollar and is featured in my Greatest Album Covers of all Time coffee table book.  I must admit I don't know what songs appear on this album, but the condition of the record itself is superb.

Wet Willie The Wetter the Better.  I bought this because it was 50 cents and I loved the cover art.  It's just so unapologetically raunchy - I had to have it in the collection.  We gave this record a listen as a goof, and believe it or not it was not bad.  Wasn't expecting that.

Weird Al Yankovic Self-titled.  I had this one as a kid on CD and used to listen to it all the time.  The record was in great shape and it was less than 5 bucks, so I pulled the trigger.  And I'm glad I did!  When I got it home, I noticed this:

Signed by the man himself.  It'll be worth thousands someday.....

The greatest thing I got was not a Record Store Day release, nor was it a limited or antique used record.  It was this bad boy:

The Fela Kuti Box Set Volume 2.  This thing contains six albums of Fela doing his thing.  I defy you to put some Fela on and not dance - the guy had a great band and a fantastic sense of rhythym.  One of my favorite artists of all time.

I picked up Volume 1 a few years ago.  We put it on for parties and while cleaning the house or cooking meals.  Now we have six more records to choose from!

The biggest Fela Kuti hit is "Water No Get No Enemy," so if you're looking to try Fela on for the first time, that's a good place to start.

In the battle of vinyl vs. cardboard, vinyl definitely won this round.  That's probably going to be the case for every Record Store Day weekend for as long as my wife lets me out of the house to spend money.

1999 Topps Tek: Set Builders Despair

In my collection: 2 5B, Patterns 6 and 21

Griffey looks: well-planted

Is this a good Griffey card? Yes.  Shiny, refracting plastic cards in myriad patterns - a frustrating yet forward-thinking set.

The set: I'm sure you've heard of this one before - 45 players, 2 different poses per player, 30 different patterns per card.  That makes for 60 different base cards per player - the whole enchilada is a whopping 2700 cards.  That is not including two inserts and a gold variant for every pattern.  Set builders hate this one.

The cards are hard, sturdy plastic.  You could use them to chop tomatoes, dig a splinter out of your finger, and scale a fish.  After all that you'd still get a grade of BGS 9 or better.

There are also two inserts: one for rookies called FantasTEK Phenoms and one for stars called TEKnicians, both seeded at 1:18.

There are 30 different patterns per pose, each with a different number but no name.  If you are a regular sports card blog reader, you've probably scome across Community Gum who recently attempted to assign names to a lot of the patterns found in this set, a daunting task.  They included such names as Lumber River, Sketchy Diamond, and Grandma's Couch. 

Unfortunately I only have two patterns, but one of them was not listed on Community Gum's post, so I will be naming it today.

Let's look at some Griffeys:

This is pattern P-21, which Community Gum calls "Sketchy Diamond." 

It looks like Griffey may have grounded to first or maybe fouled across the first base line.  Either way, that right foot looks well-planted, and I don't think he's running anywhere soon.  But check out the back - flippy shades!

There are three trademarked names listed in the legalese on the back: Serillusion, Premier Illusion, and Select Metalization.  They sound like a trance DJ, a strip club, and the process by which Wolverine was surgically altered, respectively.

Scans can make refractor cards each look different; hence, this one looks a lot less gold than the other Tek card in this post even though they were both in the same scan.  I assure you they are the same amount of shiny and gold.

This is the one that did not already get a name.  Well, pattern P-06, I hereby dub thee "City Triangles."  We're not ones to go nuts on the creative names here at the Junior Junkie.  We aim for bland and easy to guess.

There are 121 different Griffeys to be had, 60 of which are #/10.  Here are the 119 Griffeys I still need from 1999 Topps Tek:
5A P01-P30
5A P01-P30 Gold (1:15)
5B P01-P30 (except P-06 and P-21)
5B P01-P30 Gold (1:15)
T1 TEKnicians (1:18)

Sadly folks are very proud of their Topps Tek Griffeys, charging between 7 and 8 bucks for commons in any pattern.  I don't see me completing this set anytime soon.  And this is only the 2nd of three years they made Topps Tek.  That means there's a whole lot of different patterns floating around out there.....
But that's what collecting is all about: perseverence, patience, and paying too much for things.