Saturday, November 2, 2013

Where my head is at

I am at the stage in collecting -- or more accurately I'm at that stage in life -- where a retail pack of 2013 whatever can't possibly compete with a simple repack of old cards.

They're both the same price, as you know. A single rack pack of Topps Update and one of those Fairfield rack pack "guess what's inside" repacks run about $4.99 with the repack yielding a lot more cards. I guess you're paying for "new" with the other pack.

But when I bought one of each last week I received so much more "card collectibility" out of the repack.

Not a surprise. Not something I haven't said before. Not something others haven't said before.

It was just so apparent, that's all.

The most notable feature of the Update pack was that it was a Mariners' hot pack. Besides the emerald Aaron Harang card, there were these Seattlites:

What to do with these cards? I suppose I'll send them off to Larry at Emerald City Diamond Gems at some point. He's the only Mariner fan left on the planet you know.

But that was virtually the only thing worth noting from the pack, and that tells you how valuable the pack-opening experience was to me.

Now let's see the cards that interested me from the repack:

Yes, I know it's '91 Donruss. We can all agree we shouldn't be subjected to these cards anymore. But it's a Rated Rookie of Moises Alou! I've never seen this card before. And the joy of pulling a "Rated Rookie" is renewed all these years later.

I am convinced that whatever robot assembles these repacks has a sense of humor. When I saw this card, as anyone one would, I thought, "that's not the Tony Phillips I know."

And a few cards later in the pack ...

... there is the Tony Phillips that I know.

There was once a time when we knew Mazeroski's famous arrival at home only in old newspaper clippings and TV film footage. Then Upper Deck put the photo in its 1994 set and we've seen it on a slew of cards since then. But this one is among the coolest, if not the most frigid.

These repacks like to throw together a pocket of cards from the same set. A lot of times it's stuff that doesn't even register -- 1989 Topps for example -- but this one had a few of these 1986 Donruss Highlights cards, which I never collected. A card of Reggie posing with Mantle (who is wearing some sort of TV blazer maybe?) is a card worth keeping.

This card was pulled on Pedro Martinez's 42nd birthday. I wish he was still playing.

This, of course, is not the 2010 Topps base card of Hanley Ramirez (that is a horizontal card). It is the factory set version ("limited edition!"). Since I always resent the special goodies that appear in factory sets because I rarely can throw down $50 in one swoop on modern cards, this is a rare treat for me. And now that Hanley is a Dodger, I can appreciate a Marlins card.

The best reason for me to buy a repack is the possibility of landing a card from my first collecting period (between 1975-83). Finding a card that I don't have from that time period is basically what makes me continue to collect. 2013 cards certainly aren't the reason why I keep collecting. But a 1982 Donruss card of Carney Lansford that I've never seen definitely is.

These repacks always contain a few vintage cards, which automatically makes the $5 worth it. There were a few '77s and a '78 in this pack, a couple of which I used for upgrades. But pulling a '71 is what makes me feel all gushy. And it's not just any old '71, it's one of the cool action '71 cards.

Again, I have this card already, but I'll have to check and see if this is an upgrade. Considering how notoriously condition-sensitive '71s are, this is just a phenomenal card to pull from a 5-buck purchase.

These cards are what I enjoy most out of collecting. As someone who is no longer in the age 18-45 demographic that people who sell things love so much, I suppose these cards are what I'm supposed to like. The newest isn't always the greatest. That's what you figure out when you hit your late 40s, I guess (congrats if you've figured it out earlier).

Anyway, that's where my head is at.

With respect to cards.

You don't want to know where my head is at with anything else.


  1. I totally agree. The question is, how will we feel pulling 2013 Topps cards out of repacks 20 years from now? Will it be so much cooler than a pack of 2033 Topps (with its 4D, ultra-violet, radioactive, digital audio, time-machine parallels)?

  2. I like buying the repacks for all the reasons you say, but the problem is that half the repack is 1987-1992. That's all doubles for me. I fell like I'm only getting half a pack. On the other hand, I pulled a near mint 1968 out of one time....

  3. I wonder if that's the old SportsChannel logo the Mick is sporting?

  4. Those 69 Topps cards you won in my World Series contest all came from repacks. At least I'm pretty sure that's where I got them.

  5. I think I'm in the minority when it comes to busting products. I personally don't spend a lot of money on packs to begin with, but when I do it's usually on junk "oddball" wax like Topps Coins or Donruss All-Stars (that's why I shop for cards at flea markets, instead of retail stores and local card shops). However... every now and then I'll bust out of my shell and buy a repack.

  6. I'm so jealous. I live 30 miles away from the closest place that sells repacks. I'm stuck with the LWM and their desire to constantly restock with 2012 Topps products at full price.

    Greg - What software do you use for cropping photos?

    1. I just use the scanning software that came with the HP scanner/printer I bought.

    2. If you have Microsoft Office, it comes with Microsoft Office Picture Manager, which is pretty handy for cropping/editing.