I haven't been to my hobby shop in a number of months. The experience there has been somewhat of a turn-off, which may be just as much my problem as this particular hobby shop.
It's the only LCS within a hour's drive from me, so when I hear about other collectors who have 5 or 6 shops within driving distance, or read about what they grabbed at the LCS, I still have this idyllic concept in my head about what a "good" hobby shop is like, and what other people get to sample that I don't.
I envision a magic card castle where you can track down vintage singles, where you can grab random packs of 15-year-old cards, where every pack or box you buy is guaranteed a terrific hit. Most of all, I envision it as a place where you can obtain cards that you can't get anywhere else.
Those cards are called "hobby exclusives," and I still operate under the assumption that they're the greatest-looking cards that you will find. I still assume that, even after I've received some of those "hobby exclusives" that are very unimpressive.
The latest example came from a package sent by BA Benny's Baseball Card Buffet. BA recently held a great contest. I think he's still in contest mode or box break mode or something -- with all the flashing lights over there I get disoriented. But I managed to land the runner-up prize in one of the contests and select five cards from the kitty.
My eyes went directly to the HTA cards from 2010 Topps that, obviously, you could find only in hobby shops. I selected the Greinke card and the Morneau card.
Now, being able to view cards on your computer even though the cards exist hundreds or thousands of miles away is awesome. But if you're a scattered, semi-unobservant person like I am, sometimes you don't get the whole picture.
When I saw these cards, I naturally assumed that the major league baseball logo was stitched, like all of those manu-patch cards. Yes, I'm not a manu-patch guy, but a patch of the MLB logo is flat-out cool, and I should own at least one card of that.
Well, as some of you know, it ain't a patch. It's just a copy of the MLB logo on the picture. Taking up a ton of space. Also, even more distressingly, the card has the feel of a Toppstown card. It's thin and almost flimsy. Plus, the card back "celebrate(s) the exclusive partnership between Topps and Major League Baseball."
Well, we all love that, don't we?
These cards, without a doubt, look better on the scans than in person. And how many times do you hear that?
I don't wish to sound ungrateful, and I'm not. It's great to get these cards, and I know I'll be able to trade them to someone who wants them.
It's just that I think that cards that are exclusives at hobby shops should be better constructed. Shouldn't there be more to a card from a hobby shop other than it's an "exclusive"? A tissue can be exclusive if you can get it at only one store. That's not enough of a selling point.
This might be an expectation problem on my part. A lot of collectors have sometimes unrealistic expectations. But I don't think that it's unrealistic to expect a card company to help out hobby shops in some significantly tangible way. Presenting cards that are really SOMETHING instead of a simple gold letter parallel or something that looks thrown away, would be a small token of appreciation to the few hobby shops that exist these days.
I did receive a few other cards from BA Benny:
A nifty red paralleled Baseball Heroes card of former prospect stud Andrew Miller. This will be headed directly to Wicked Ortega.
A black-bordered 2009 OPC card of Jake Peavy, which looks terrific. If I ever lose touch with reality, I will try to complete the black border set. But as of now I have enough trouble completing base sets.
A cool Topps Chrome card of former Dodger reliever Cory Wade. I didn't even realize until just now that Wade isn't with the Dodgers anymore (he's a Ray).
I don't know where this card comes from, since Wade isn't part of the '08 Chrome set. Maybe it's a hobby exclusive, which would be the type of exclusive that I can get behind.
I feel very out of place talking about hobby shops given how little experience I have with them. If I had been to them on a regular basis, maybe I wouldn't be so crestfallen by this. So consider the source.
But if my hobby shop were to offer a super fancy card -- a Dodger or otherwise -- that you can't get anywhere else, I'd be there in 10 minutes. Five, if it's a Dodger.