I read today that Black Friday as we know it -- the Friday after Thanksgiving -- isn't really a thing anymore.
Several stores kicked off "Black Friday" prices back in October, people have been shopping online for cheaper Christmas prices for weeks, and crowds apparently aren't as frantic as they once were on the traditional Black Friday.
That figures, because yesterday, for the first time ever, I participated in COMC's Black Friday sale.
There are several posts on this blog where I mention that I don't do the online Black Friday sales because I either don't have the money at this time of year (buying gifts for others, you know) or because I'm just not that together with buying when deals are happening. I want what I want when I want it, and a Black Friday sale isn't going to help me if I like something on April 23rd.
But I just happened to have some extra cash this time of year for like the first time ever. I was able to brace myself to wait a couple of weeks until the COMC savings kicked in and then I hit SHIIIIIIIIPPP!!!
You'll see the mountain of goodies all in good time, but isn't that just so Night Owl to participate in a thing when it's not really a thing anymore?
Christmas is basically a four-month celebration for some people. Those people aren't me and I hope they never are. But it explains why these were on store shelves in October:
They aren't on the shelves anymore. They haven't been there for weeks. Why would cards with Christmas themes be available close to Christmas?
Because Black Friday lasts three months and people buy them when they're sitting there.
I bought two boxes. Then I refused to show them because it wasn't the Christmas season yet.
But today -- according to my very traditional ways -- is the day you get to see them. We're done trampling all over Thanksgiving. Let's see them -- many, many, many, MANY weeks after a bunch of people have already shown them and you're bored of them. Here they are.
I'll use Bryce Harper for my study of the basic 2019 Topps Holiday Set card. I don't think people are aware of how crushed he is that he left the Nationals and the very next year his old team won a World Series. He says he's not crushed, and maybe he isn't because lordy all that money, but he's crushed.
Anyway, as I said earlier, the cards this year are very festive. They are worth buying because they aren't just a snowflake pattern wafting across every card. These are actual CHRISTMAS cards, with an unmistakable theme. Festive holly and ivy, traditional late-autumn leaves, berries and nuts.
Best of all, the player's name and the 2019 swoosh have been changed to Christmas colors. I love this above everything else. I love color coding. Players wearing blue gloves if they play for a blue team. Girls matching their shoes with their dresses. Love it. This is my favorite part of the cards, it screams Christmas.
That's your back, with the Christmas accents.
So, yeah, bravo to Topps for really committing to something rather than the lame Holiday cards from the previous three years or so (was it three years? I don't even remember, because the first efforts were lame).
I still stick to the belief that seeing snow on a card touting baseball -- a summer sport -- is weird. Yet the theme is so overwhelming this year that it makes the "world's colliding" aspect less weird.
However some of the cards are a bit jarring:
That doesn't look like Christmas to me. Maybe in Saudi Arabia, but not where I live.
I'm having a difficult time seeing Christmas in these cards, too. That stupid Ozuna neon yellow sleeve. I complained about it before and then someone said, "well, he doesn't really wear it anymore," and THEN HE BRINGS IT BACK. Stop doing that!
But some teams look really good with these cards -- and therefore, quite festive. Everything works here. Red socks. Green wall. I practically hear bells.
Here are all the Dodgers I pulled out of the two boxes. I got dupes of the Kershaw card. I'm still two cards short of the team set, with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Will Smith out there.
And that brings me to the usual Topps collation issues.
With 10 cards per pack and 10 packs per box and a 200-card set, you'd think you'd get pretty close to the full set with two boxes. Even with 10-plus years of cynicism about modern Topps products I figured I'd get pretty close to finishing it.
I'm missing 32 cards.
The dupes weren't horrible, I pulled 11 of them. But when you add the parallels, there are the usual metallic parallels, and the variations, which is a big selling point for those who like their variations goofy, and you're not going to complete a 200-card set just because you buy 200 cards.
I pulled the expected 10 metallic variations at a standard five per box.
Sadly, no Dodgers.
But the question remains, do I try to complete the set with not 8 or 10 or even 16 to go, but a whole 32?
No, probably not.
Mostly because I've seen who I'm missing. A whole bunch of them are rookie card folks, many of whom I don't know because they're rookie card folk.
This set is packed with rookie cards. Stars and rookie cards, that's all this is. I'm waiting for a 40-year-old reliever to file a class-action suit against Topps over age discrimination.
All of the big rookies and otherwise young players are here for Christmas.
And there are two Ohtanis, because he has to hog an extra card in a 200-card set.
One thing I like about the content is this set features actual updates of some players who have changed teams, that Update didn't have.
The Billy Hamilton one is fun because depending on what Topps set you buy you can find him as a Red, Royal or Brave this year.
Each Megabox promises a relic or autograph (almost always a relic) and I pulled two relics that weren't very exciting:
The presentation -- I guess you could say "the packaging" in this case -- is fun. But Salvador Perez follows me around way too much.
The boxes advertise relics with pieces of Santa hat supposedly worn for two seconds by a particular player. I am really glad I didn't pull one of those because that Santa hat material gives me the heebies like old-school nails on a chalk board.
Besides there are other non-hair raising Santa hat cards in this set:
Ah, yes, we've gotten to the really goofy part of the set -- the rare and semi-rare variation in which Christmas stuff is photoshopped into the baseball scene.
I know collectors who think this is plain silly and a new low for Topps, and there would be a time when I'd think that, too. But I don't anymore. This is a specialty set that nobody is required to buy and it's having a little fun with the holiday. Christmas should be fun. I don't want to see grumps at a Christmas time. I think Charles Dickens wrote a whole book about that. There's nothing wrong with a baseball player donning a Santa hat that's not really there. Let's all lighten up.
Speaking of "lights up," here is a variation that took me awhile to find. I stared at it and stared at it before I saw the string of Christmas lights on the dugout. Holy wow, I love that.
There is the side-by-side. I probably should've shown this first and waited to see whether you could find it.
Here is another fun one.
I fully realize that these cards aren't for every collector. I like quirky. I'm someone who loves what I find in Allen & Ginter. And there are people who despise A&G. I imagine some of them can't comprehend this either.
But as Bob Cratchit said to Mrs. Cratchit when she started to launch into a rant about Ebenezer:
"My dear, the children. It's Christmas Day"
Sometimes you have to let things go. For the children. And in my case, I'm one of the children.
I can't help it. I like what I like. I know Topps is picking my pocket not every 25th of December but every month of the year. But I don't mind it as much when a little thought goes into it.
These cards aren't perfect, for reasons I've said and for others I haven't. But Tis the Season for fun and they're definitely fun.
Now if only people could find them, when it's actually Christmas time.