National Sports Card Convention Recap Intro

I saved for several months to prepare for my trip to the National Sports Card Convention.

I finally went, and it was fantastic.  You’ve all seen pictures of the show floor before.  It’s huge and magnificent and overwhelming and intimidating and a magical wonderland of cardboard rainbows.  There are parts that I outright ignored (*cough* groupbreakerpavillion and autographpavillion *cough*), but it all has value and it all brings various collecting demographics into the show, which is great.  There was a boatload of vintage, which was great to peruse, if ever so briefly.  A lot of new stuff – we’re talking Bowman refractors and Bowman minis and Bowman Abreus and Bryants galore – and quite a bit of stuff in between.

I got to meet a couple of twitter folk, and a couple industry people, which was great.  Sorry I was so awkward. It’s just how I am in person.  But more importantly is that I got to meet up and reconnect with my cousin Brian.  I hadn’t seen him in about 3 years, I believe, and the most fun I had at the show wasn’t looking through boxes of sports cards.  It was catching up and talking sports with him off and on over the last three days of the show.

Now, I know I’m behind in getting posts up to show my wares.  But in the meantime, I’d like to suggest you visit my ebay store here.  You’ll get a sneak pick of some of my box hits (as well as see some stuff from other boxes I haven’t blogged about yet).

Before leaving, I set a few goals for the show.  Let’s start things off by letting you know how well I did. (Fair warning, I’m not going to add any pictures quite yet).

Fun and/or cheap boxes.  While singles will be a major focus, I love box breaking.  I’m hoping I can find up to 10 interesting and cheap older boxes to rip.  I have a short list that I’ll be “eagle-eye”-ing, but I also have a feeling some of the newer Panini stuff will make it into the backpack.  — Budget: no more than $100 on any one box, most likely, but hoping to avoid going over $50 in most instances.

Well, I did find one cheap older box in the form of 1997 Upper Deck UD3 for only $12.  Never being to a National probably skewed my perception.  I was expecting to see more dealers with a spattering of boxes across the spectrum of cardboard history.  Instead, I saw a couple smaller vendors with either pre-70s vintage boxes, junk wax, non-sport junk wax, and the brand new hotness.  Or, I saw the major retailers that only had the new boxes in droves to facilitate the wrapper redemption programs.  Even Baseball Card Exchange had almost nothing that I was looking for.  Stuff from 1995-2012 was really non-existent.

What that means is that I ended up splurging a bit on newer stuff (also, I kinda shifted money from another failed goal to help rationalize).  So, what I ended up getting was 2013 Cooperstown, 2015 Cooperstown, 2015 Diamond Kings, 2015 Donruss, 2015 A&G, 2015 Finest, 2015 Topps S1 Jumbo, 2015 Stadium Club, and 2015 Prizm.  I got a pretty good deal on those boxes.  By Sunday, everyone was cutting prices even more so they’d have less to take back home so a lot were about 20% off what you’d expect to pay online.  That helped me pull the trigger on more than I normally would have tried.  I hope to have videos and reviews up on these as the weeks go on.

Oversize and odd-shaped cards.  I’m very weary of having oddball and oversized cards shipped through ebay, and honestly, a lot are overpriced because of their size.  So, I’m going to bring some 8×11 toploaders and hope I can fill a few with boxtoppers and the like that may not be easy transports otherwise. — Budget: varies

This is another thing I thought I was see on more dealer tables.  I thought several would have cheap oversize and oddball stuff.  I found one guy, but not only were his wares from the 1980s, so was his idea of fair market value, so I had to sadly pass.  What I bought to fit this category was a couple of Investor’s Journals that had uncut Frank Thomas broders inside and a few Starting Lineup figures.

Autographs.  I currently technically collect 7 different players.  I’m hoping I can score at least one auto for almost all of them.  It all depends on how much dealers try to gouge the local Cubs contingent.  The trickier spots will be Ryan Dempster and Carlos Marmol.  Dempster didn’t sign many cards at all, and I have a lot of the Marmol ones already.  If I only get the other 4 active collections, it’ll be a success.  I’m also hoping to get a solid Maddux auto with a Cub uniform.  — Budget: Maddux – $100; Frank Thomas – $40; Tony Gwynn – $25; Starlin Castro – still suspended (maybe abandoned, if traded); Kerry Wood – $5 (unless paired with a bigger name); Ryan Dempster & Carlos Marmol – $3 each

This is where the box money partly came from.  I didn’t buy a single autograph.  You may know that I limit my collecting to anything with a print run higher than 50.  Well, most of the autographs in the cases were of the hot prospects, or, if they were of legends, tended to be the high end, low numbered stuff.  You know, the really big ticket items.  I did see a guy trying to sell a Frank Thomas 1996 Leaf Signature for $60.  He said the last one sold for $72, but I checked and one went for $40.  Also there was a guy selling the entire 1992 Tony Gwynn 10 card Ultra auto set for $800.  He said he could go down to $600, but that was an easy pass too.  I can piece the set together myself on ebay for under $400 over time without a problem.  Probably under $300, even.

Otherwise, there may have been some autos of Wood, Dempster and Marmol somewhere, but the relic and auto bins I came across were either too much money for scrubs or they were too disgusting to look through.  I mean a lot of large bins where the relic/autos were either completely unprotected or only in penny sleeves.  I’m not trusting those.

Relics. Simply put, there are a butt-load of relics out there and most have lost a lot of value due to the over-saturation of the market.  Considering I’d usually pay $1-2 bucks plus shipping for them, I’m going to try to score a mess of them for $5 or under.

I found a few, but the cheaper bins I wanted to dive into were the sad excuses I mentioned above.  I really don’t understand why a vendor would topload every card they’re trying to sell for $1, but won’t even penny sleeve the relic or auto they’re putting out for $2 or $3.  I understand wanting to save space, but that’s just really conducive to extra damage and dings and dirty people touching a card I want with their grubby pizza grease hands.  Sad state of affairs.

Marathon Sets.  So, I’ve opened a case (actually 15 boxes) of UD Documentary, and I’ve opened several Moments & Milestones boxes in the past, but with the crazy scope of those products, I have a long way to go.  I have special lists at the ready to help me quickly identify what I need.  I’ll be really hunting for these multi-parallel, uber-chase sets:  1998 Pacific Prism, All Topps Tek, All Moments & Milestones, 2008 UD Documentary, all those 2005 DLP sets like Sportscasters, Studio Portraits, etc, Topps Co-signers.  Really hoping to make some good progress on these, since online sellers have things like Tek priced at $3 per card.  No way in hell.

I sadly didn’t see any 98 Prism or DLP mega sets.  I found quite a bit of co-signers, but none for my collections, all other teams.  I found one person with Tek, but again struck out on my collection.  A different vendor had a stray Gwynn Tek, so that was my only steal from that set.  The best luck I had was with the Moments & Milestones.  I saw quite a few black and blue parallels in the $1 bin for some players.  I was able to find a little more than a dozen M&M cards of Maddux and Thomas that I needed (only had to put one back when cross referencing my want list).  I didn’t pay more than $1 for any of them, and I’m okay with that price point.

Basketball Inserts.  Yup, you heard me right.  When I was a teenager, I set a goal to collect all 1995-96 Series 1 inserts, and I’ve gotten really far.  I’ll have another post detailing that more later (probably).  They may be tough to find, but I’m hoping to plug a few holes in the remaining sets.

Well, I didn’t get into the basketball inserts too much.  I feel like I would have needed another day to search for those specifically.  I’m also working on the first Past & Present master set, so I found a few inserts I needed for that.  I found a couple other random basketball cards I wanted too, but my searching was limited due to time concerns.  It would have taken over an hour to search most vendors and I don’t know if I would find too many cards from 95-96 in those bins anyway.

Singles. No real focus here. I just want to hit the dime-to-dollar boxes hard and pad my binders like nobodies business. –Budget: Whatever’s left!

Didn’t buy a single single.  Just kidding!  That’s almost all I did the whole show, of course.  I systematically went to the less than $1 bins (really that means 50 cent bins – anything cheaper than that suffered the no penny sleeve syndrome – or was just recent set builder fodder – and scared me away), then the $1 bins, then searched a tiny bit in a couple areas that charged more, but honestly the dollar bins were the place to be.  I spent a lot.  Wound up with hundreds of cards which will take forever to show off.

From here, my goal is to spread the NSCC cards and boxes and items in between the other posts I create.  You need some sort of variety in content, right?  I mean, in reality, I bought so many cards, that it may take 2 years to get through them all.  Some posts will be smaller, some will be larger.  I’m hoping to find groups and themes to make things interesting.  We’ll find out together.  All I know is that it’s going to take some time to catalog and scan all of this stuff in the first place, so showing any actual images may take some time.  It’ll be fun rediscovering what I bought with all of you.

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