Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cardboard Couture

I've been spending some time perusing the interwebs reacquainting myself with the card collecting universe. 

One of the big topics in the card blogs is the recent release of the 2010 TOPPS Allen & Ginter cards.  The A&G cards are one of the handful of throwback "tobacco" cards that have become popular with today's collector. 

The original A&G cards were issued in the late 1800s in cigarette packs.  Today's A&G cards remain true to the original in their card design, with the front being a simple picture of the player in front of a pastel colored background, like this:

And the backs of the cards have an old timey feel to them, like so:
This series is facinating to me because it seems to meet the wants and needs of the many different types of card collectors.  The way I see it, there are a few basic styles of collectors who remain in the market for cards:
  • The Set Collector:  This person is a throwback whose main goal in card collecting is putting together an entire set of base cards from a company.  With 400 "base" cards to collect, along with a variety of parallel sets to go after, A&G meets this person's needs.
  • The Chaser:  This person's main goal is to chase the short-printed, rare cards.  Whether they prefer relic cards with game used materials or they prefer autographs, A&G is chock full of these cards.
  • The Flipper:  This person buys cases of cards with the hope of hitting a rare card and then flipping it on eBay.
  • Player or Team Collectors:  This is the category I would fall.  If your favorite player is an all-star, rookie, or well-known veteran, you'll have a great time collecting the dozen or so different cards of your player in this set (base, mini, auto, relic, wood, printing plates, etc.)  Unfortunately for me, my player is not featured as prominently this year as he was in years past. 
The Allen & Ginter series also contains some oddities in the set.  The base set contains non-baseball players (this year's set included the likes of Tony Hawk, a frisbee-disk catching dog, magician David Blaine, just to name a few), mini cards, and non-baseball player parallel sets (this year included "Lords of Olympus", "National Animals", "World's Greatest Word Smiths", etc.).

Oddest of all, this year's set included "DNA Relics" which were cards that contained a piece of hair from some historically famous people -- Beethoven, Lincoln, JFK, Dickens, etc.  Weird, but kinda cool.

Another interesting feature of the A&G series is the "Crack the Code" contest.  Each year, A&G hides a code within the set and whoever cracks it first receives a set of 1/1 CodeCracker autographed cards and their own A&G trading card in the next years set (both prizes are insanely awesome).  News broke this week that last year's winner also was the first to crack this year's code.  (GO HERE for an explanation on how he cracked the 2010 code).

The Allen & Ginter set elicits nostalgia with it's simple design and pastel color wheel.  It's as if the Barnum & Bailey Circus or the HBO series Carnival has been condensed and put onto cardboard.  The old style of cards and collecting has become fashionable and, with a few twists and innovation, has become modern.  These cards are cardboard couture.

So, with all this crazy card collecting goodness happening within the Allen and Ginter brand, why have I not bought a pack or two?  Because my primary focus within the hobby is to complete my Hochevar set, and diverting money away from that goal is not fiscally prudent.  Once I have all my Hochevar cards on my display case, I imagine the creative and innovative Allen & Ginter cards will be the first ones I buy.


COMEDY:  Tommy Johnagin has been killing it on Last Comic Standing.  If you haven't been watching, I highly recommend you start.  The format of this year's competition is much better then in years past (contestants don't live together in a house, for starters.  I will be so happy when that "plot device" works it's way into the trash heap of reality show bad ideas).  I've heard Tommy numerous times on the Bob and Tom show, so when I saw he'd be on LCS, I was pumped.  I was even more pumped to learn that he'd be showcased at the Omaha Funny Bone in August.  I can't wait to see him live.  Here he is on the Bob&Tom show.

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