Thursday, February 28, 2019

Highlights From My Heritage Box

Following a tradition that I've kept since 2016, I purchased a hobby box of the recently-released Topps Heritage set yesterday, the greatest overall product produced by Topps. 

While yesterday's post was devoted to my first pack from the set, I'll be recapping and showing highlights of the entire hobby box today. This includes base cards, SPs, inserts, and any other variation or special card that makes Topps Heritage one of the most highly-anticipated releases every year.

Just in case you didn't know, 2019 Topps Heritage is paying homage to the grey-bordered 1970 Topps set by replicating this memorable Flagship product. Just like the last few years, 2019 Topps Heritage features a 400-card base set, featuring players like Robinson Cano, while the final 100 spots are reserved for short prints which fall at 1:3 packs.

While I haven't directly compared a Heritage base card to a 1970 original side by side, I can't spot any major differences between the 2 sets, proving that, once again, Topps was successful with their replication of a vintage card set, something that hasn't always been the case in a product like Topps Archives.

Although it's become more prominent over the last few years, blue sky backgrounds have always been a staple in a set like Topps Heritage, a product that doesn't feature action shots unless they're variations. 

With that being said, the last 3 years or so of Heritage have resulted in a massive increase in sky blue backgrounds. Although the positioning sometimes varies, the fact that these 4 cards are from the first 14 spots in the checklist definitely speaks volume to the lack of variety when it comes to images.

As soon as I pulled my first All-Star card from a pack, I instantly took notice of the fact that these cards, once again, say "The Sporting News" at the top as opposed to what it's been for a few years now, "The Topps News." 

In addition to featuring the original title, these All-Star cards also include cartoons on the card backs, another detail from the original 1970 Topps set.

While I'm on the topic of these All-Star cards, I suppose I should point out that Bryce Harper just signed a 13-year $330 million dollar deal roughly an hour or 2 ago. Even though I'm not shocked by the signing, I happen to be relieved that all the Machado and Harper free agency rumors can finally come to an end. 

Oh, and FYI, the 2019 MLB regular season starts in exactly a month, making March 28th the motivation I need to get through the rest of this New England winter.

2019 saw the elimination of team cards from the Topps Heritage set, a decision I'm more than happy to see go into effect. In its place, there's room for more players and even championship series playoff cards. 

While past sets honored only the previous years' World Series, 2019 Topps Heritage also includes ALCS and NLCS cards, including Benintendi's phenomenal catch to end the 4th game of the ALCS against Houston.

Besides, this is the final year of Topps Flagship to honor postseason games on cards using black and white images. After 2019, we'll start seeing color photos instead, so I'm definitely going to appreciate the black and white photos while we still have them.

Forget Series 1 or even Topps Now to a certain extent, this is how I want Topps to pay tribute to the World Series winners. Seeing the Red Sox's World Series victory moment captured in black and white as a part of the Topps Heritage set makes me excited for what the 2019 MLB season has to offer.

I'm already a huge fan of many of the vintage Topps World Series designs, but it's an entirely different story to see my favorite team on these cards. Even the card commemorating the 1 game that the Red Sox lost is awesome as it featured Max Muncy's memorable walk-off home run.

A departure from the 2018 set, the 2019 Topps Heritage short prints feature superstars once again, but Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich, the 2 reigning MVPs, remain in the base set for one reason or another.

Because there are 100 total SP cards, semi-stars like Jordan Hicks and Stephen Piscotty are part of the short print checklist as well, leading to somewhat of a mix between short prints that include all superstars and those that feature only semi-star players.

Ever since the flashbacks card insert sets were separated into Baseball and News respectively, the 2 inserts have featured the same style and design, only with different colors. I've never had a major problem with this before, likely because of how in-depth each flashback card goes into the topic, whether it's an MLB legend or a historical event.

Each of the past few years of Topps Heritage has featured some sort of special insert card particular to the year that's being commemorated. 2017 included the '68 Topps game, last year showcased the '69 Deckle Edge cards, and in 2019, we have the Topps scratch-off cards.

I must say, I'm more excited to collect the scratch-off insert set than any other part of the 2019 Topps Heritage set. The 15-card insert set encompasses cards that you can fold-out and boxes you can scratch to play a fantasy Baseball game of sorts, just like the original cards.

I'm slightly disappointed that players like Justin Smoak and Starlin Castro were chosen over any Red Sox stars, but I guess I can't complain all too much given how awesome these cards are. 

The New Age Performers inserts are undeniably the most colorful and beautiful insert cards of the entire product, and I'm thrilled that the pack odds have made it easier to pull these cards that include some of Baseball's biggest names.

It's hard for me to select a favorite out of all 4 of these cards given how vastly different they all are. The Khris Davis card stays somewhat traditional with the Athletics' team colors, but the Juan Soto card, featuring green, red, and orange, would have to be my choice for the greatest of the 4 inserts that I pulled.

While certain inserts have become easier to land, chrome cards of all colors have become more difficult to pull from a pack. Even if the listed pack odds aren't completely accurate, the fact that the chrome refractors (#/570) are 1:101 packs is something worth mentioning. 

Even if I didn't wind up with the biggest name, these cards look absolutely beautiful, especially in person. If I end up springing for another box, I'll hope that it's a purple refractor hot box so that I can end up with even more eye-catching chrome cards.

I've never had the greatest luck as far as box toppers go which made pulling this recreated Topp Super Ronald Acuña Jr card all the more surprising. I was expecting something more along the lines of an ad panel or, if I'm lucky, a 1970 buyback of a marginal player.

To my knowledge, the Topps Super box toppers are a new addition to the 2019 Topps Heritage product, and I haven't even glanced at the checklist for these cards. It marks the first time I didn't wind up with a buyback or an ad panel, something that definitely makes this box topper one of the high points of the time I've been collecting Topps Heritage.

The odds also increased for the action image variations, making it harder to pull action cards that could formally be found at around 1 per hobby box. However, this change did not stop me from landing my first and the only variation from 2019 Topps Heritage thus far; an Alex Bregman action image card.

Not only do I believe that this image was taken at Fenway Park, but Bregman's one of the better names to pull after his breakout 2018 season. After finishing top 5 in AL MVP voting, Bregman established himself as one of the Astros' best players, an impressive feat indeed.

Out of all the Topps Heritage hobby boxes that I've ever opened, I was only able to land 1 autograph card, and even though I've accumulated some awesome hits, I only have 1 autograph compared to numerous relics.

Needless to say, the odds are rarely in your favor to land an autograph when purchasing Topps Heritage.

With that being said, I'm incredibly pleased to say that my 1 hit from this box of 2019 Topps Heritage was a real one autograph of Cardinals' shortstop Paul DeJong. Only my 2nd autograph ever out of Heritage, it absolutely beats a standard Clubhouse Collection, non-numbered jersey relic.

DeJong isn't coming off a fabulous season, but he was 2nd to Cody Bellinger in the 2017 NL ROY race, and he's only 25-years old. Not to mention, autographed cards and Topps Heritage are a superb combination and one that I don't get the opportunity to see all too often.

Yes, I've had better luck before with Heritage, but by no means was this a bad box. After all, I pulled a bunch of stellar inserts and beat the odds on numerous occasions. I even ended up with an autograph, further proving that there's something for everyone in Topps Heritage, no matter what your collecting style is.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Have No Fear, Topps Heritage is Here

After anticipating its release for months on end, 2019 Topps Heritage was finally released earlier today. As you can see, I wasted no time in taking a trip to my LCS for my yearly tradition of purchasing a hobby box of the fan-favorite product.

2019 makes the first year that Topps is replicating a 70s Flagship set, marking the dawn of a new era of sorts for the Heritage brand. Over the next few years, we'll start to see Topps finest sets ever created once again, featuring modern-day stars. 

I fully intend to take my time opening my hobby box so I won't be posting a full recap until tomorrow at the earliest. As for today's post, I'm starting off with just 1 pack of the product in order to access and share my thoughts on this years' set.

There's honestly no better sight than a freshly-opened hobby box with all the packs remaining unopened, especially when the pack design is as creative as the Topps Heritage sets. I'm not certain if they're created with the intent of recreating past pack styles, but they still are eye-catching regardless.

Just like it has been for as long as I can remember, a hobby box delivers 24 packs with 9 cards per pack along with the guarantee of 1 autograph or relic card as well. Thankfully, the first pack I opened didn't house my hit, for that would've been an extremely anti-climactic moment, even if it was a super rare card.

Now, the moment that I've been waiting on for quite some time now. Here's my very first pack from 2019 Topps Heritage.

#170 Albert Almora Jr.
Just under 1 month ago, I pulled Aaron Judge's base card as my first card from 2019 Topps Series 1. This time around with 2019 Topps Heritage, my first card from this set is Chicago Cubs' outfielder, Albert Almora Jr.

As expected, Topps did a stellar job of replicating the 1970 Topps set, a feat they never fail to accomplish no matter the year. While I was originally worried about the pictures being too small after what I saw on Cardboard Connection beforehand, seeing this first card proves to me that there's nothing to worry about when it comes to the size of the photos.

#279 Rick Porcello
With my first card being a Cub and the 2nd being a Red Sox player, it'd be challenging to start off better than I did with my first pack of 2019 Topps Heritage. 

Looking back on it, 1969 Topps had a fair amount of headshots, but they weren't necessarily recreated for Heritage. Upon seeing this Porcello card, I can already tell that there will be a wider variety of different images utilized in this years' product.

#313 Michael Fulmer
The bright yellow and dark blue card backs from 1970 Topps are some of the more memorable Baseball card backs in Topps history, and I'm pleased to see the effort that Topps made to redesign them practically perfectly. Even the fun fact cartoons have returned in the top right-hand corner of the card like they have in previous years of Heritage as well.

#191 David Price
With SPs once again reserved for the top superstars of Baseball, it was somewhat surprising to find Red Sox pitcher and World Series hero David Price in the base set as card #191. While I'm obviously thrilled to wind up with 2 Red Sox cards in 1 pack, just like Series 1, I expected to see Price as a short-print this year, but I'm not upset about the decision whatsoever.

#TN-8 Then & Now Johnny Bench & Javier Baez
Almost every Topps Heritage pack delivers some sort of SP, insert, numbered card, or hit, and my first pack from the 2019 set landed me an insert card that falls at roughly 1 per hobby box; a Then & Now card. 

While the pairing of Bench and Baez isn't the greatest, the insert set has remained iconic for over a decade. However, this years' design resembles the base set a smidge too much for my taste.

#376 Toronto Blue Jays rookie stars
Even more so than the standard base design, Topps was able to nail the rookie stars cards despite the fact that I've only seen the Blue Jays version thus far. Perfectly capturing the colors as well as the font and positioning, Topps successfully replicated a critical aspect of this particular iconic set of cards.

#347 David Bote
Similar to Eric Thames, Chicago Cubs 3rd baseman David Bote will likely be recognized years from now for a mini-tear that the 25-year old went on last year. Just like the few weeks in which Eric Thames was a hot commodity, Bote's walk-off grand slam will forever be an iconic aspect of modern-day Baseball history.

#398 Teoscar Hernandez
At this point in the pack, 7 of the 8 cards I've pulled have featured a member of either the Red Sox, Cubs, or Blue Jays. Even if the final card doesn't showcase a member of one of those 3 MLB teams, over 75% of the cards in pack #1 feature players on just 3 clubs. What are the odds of that?

#153 Seth Lugo
He's not necessarily the first Mets pitcher I would like to find, but seeing another headshot to close out the pack affirms my previous theory that 2019 Topps Heritage will feature a wider range of different photographs, not just the same shots we've grown accustomed to seeing year after year.

Thank goodness, because I'm getting sick and tired of players swinging a bat with bright blue skies showing up on almost every single card.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Crossing the Halfway Mark

Over the next few weeks, the majority of my Baseball card budget will likely be devoted to the 2019 Topps Heritage set, whether it's a hobby or retail box or individual cards. 

Although I'm highly anticipating the release, the product will likely prevent much progress from being made regarding my various want list sets, or at least stop me from purchasing set needs myself.

Thankfully, there's still the possibility of trading, and I was fortunate enough to receive a package filled with 1979 Topps singles right before the Heritage is set to be released. I completed this trade on Twitter, something that I'm not totally used to, but I can definitely say it was a very pleasant experience overall. 

Thanks to the generous Mark Hoyle's shoutout on Twitter, I was able to complete a trade with Yankees fan Mark Del Franco. Thanks in large part to my abundance of Yankees cards and a few needs for his '69 Topps set, I was able to even out a trade in which I received roughly 100 1979 Topps singles that took me over the halfway mark for this set.

Yeah, that's the stack of cards that arrived at my door on Monday, all cards that I needed for my 1979 Topps set, a product I seldom see available at the Baseball card show. I've always seen it as a transition set of sorts between the 70s and 80s, and maybe that's why collectors don't necessarily hold onto it. 

It's also helped by the lack of big-name rookies besides Ozzie Smith, yet I've always been a huge fan of the set design, nevertheless. Now, thanks to Twitter, I have over 50% of the set in my possession, and like 1961 and 1976, completing this Flagship set finally seems achievable.

As for the cards that Mark sent my way, there were multiple standouts that really screamed "1970s" even though the iconic decade was almost over by the time this set was released. Seeing color on 70s cards is most definitely a given but between the uniforms, banners, and backgrounds, there's definitely no shortage when it comes to 1979 Topps.

Also, I know I've mentioned this before, but I absolutely love the retro-style Baseball with the Topps logo shown on every card. It's definitely a design I'd love to see again, and it makes me excited for Topps Heritage in 9 years (but who's counting?).

1979 Topps is the best possible set to witness the changes that the 1970s presented for the game of Baseball. Brand new teams, a fresh wave of MLB players, and different uniforms were all introduced in the 1970s, causing it to be night and day between '79 Topps and one of the first few Flagship sets of the decade.

Although the Astros' rainbow jersey is an easy choice for one of the greatest uniforms of all-time, the all-black White Sox uniform, quite paradoxical, isn't anything to sneeze at either. 

It can be slightly odd, at first, to witness players changing teams, especially when that player is showcased on a Baseball card with their new ball club. This was even more prevalent in the 1970s when, for the first time ever, MLB players were allowed to become free agents.

Jim Lonborg spent 7 years with the Red Sox before becoming a Phillie for the final 7 years of his MLB career. Though he spent equal time in Boston and Philadelphia, I still don't completely recognize the 1967 AL Cy Young award winner unless he's in a Red Sox uniform.

While I don't mind the combo cards that Topps uses as checklists in their Flagship and Update sets today, the 1979 Topps set was able to accomplish something that's nearly impossible; make a checklist card seem interesting, fun, and appealing.

I wouldn't ever think that a bright pink checklist with an old-school logo and a green banner would be a fitting combination for a checklist card, but these look pretty awesome, as awesome as checklist cards can look, at least.

I may not have taken a long look at the 2019 Topps Heritage checklist, but I did not spot any team cards on the 400-card base set list or the 100-card SP checklist either. This likely means we won't see team cards in Heritage this year, and I'm not upset about that whatsoever.

After Series 1 switched to ballparks following Topps' "attempt" at a "team card" for years, it doesn't appear that team cards will be featured in Heritage, likely because it would get repetitive to feature the same ballpark shots in at least 2 different products.

To cap it all of, I received 2 All-Star cards in this extremely generous trade package as well that's helped me make unprecedented progress with the 1979 Topps set. Before receiving these cards in the mail, I was struggling to find these cards at the show no matter when I went, so any progress I can make with this product is an incredibly positive thing.

Not to mention, I love the All-Star cards in this set, and Greg Luzinski and Vida Blue are perfect examples of some forgotten 70s players who were, at one time or another, superstars. 

Having these 2 cards, along with all the others that I've acquired on my journey towards completing this set, affirms the belief that, eventually, 1979 Topps will be completed.

It'll just have to wait until after 2019 Topps Heritage is released. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Frankenset Page #42

If I've learned anything during the time I've been collecting Baseball cards and blogging as well, it's that there are both benefits and drawbacks to lacking a central focus of my entire collection.

What I mean by this statement is that although I'm able to narrow down my focus to areas that I'm most interested in, I continuously collect a wide variety of different cards, ranging from my Craig Kimbrel collection to Topps Heritage. At some points, I definitely feel all over the place.

In addition to feeling frazzled with all the different aspects of my collection that I'm attempting to focus on, collecting a wide range of different players, products, and eras of Baseball cards prevents me from completing sets in a timely manner. My vintage Topps sets are a prime example of this.

However, it's the craziness of my collecting habits and the fact that I branch out in so many different directions that allows me to truly enjoy and make the most out of Baseball card collecting. I prefer to collect precisely what I'm interested in at a particular moment in time with a complete understanding that my interests could change at any moment in time.

It's my willingness and curiosity regarding various aspects of card collecting that has boosted my love for this hobby. Whether you collect only 1 specific thing, or you branch out in a hundred different directions, everyone should focus on exactly what they want to collect.

I wouldn't have my frankenset if my card collecting habits didn't expand in multiple different directions, and I truly enjoy both looking through the pages and writing the posts for this set. 

Today, I have the 42nd page ready to go. Included on it are cards #370-378.

#370 2004 Topps Gary Sheffield
Sheffield's inclusion in the infamous 2007 Mitchell Report has likely ended any chance of the 9-time All-Star gaining a spot in Cooperstown. A member of the 500 home run club, Sheffield received just 13.6% of votes during his 5th year on the ballot. With only 5 years remaining and no huge increase in percentage expected, his candidacy is in major jeopardy.

#371 2016 Topps Heritage Yasmany Tomas
I'll take any opportunity I can to mention that 2019 Topps Heritage is being released this Wednesday, only 2 days from now. After all, it's continuously been my favorite release for over a decade now, even if the Topps set that's being recreated isn't a favorite of mine. 

Like I've done for the last 3 years, I fully intend to purchase a hobby box of this stuff to see exactly what 2019 Topps Heritage has to offer.

#372 1984 Fleer Darrell Evans
Because it's sandwiched in between 2 of the greatest Fleer base sets of all-time, 1984 Fleer fails to thoroughly impress me. The set just appears underwhelming, featuring an uninteresting set design and unnecessarily large photographs. Not to mention, 1984 delivered a colorful Donruss set and an iconic Topps design as well.

#373 1998 Bowman International parallel Jason Halper
Without a doubt, the Bowman Chrome version of this very card is multitudes more appealing. Although neither the chrome nor the foil parallels from the late 90s were as high-quality as they are today, the sheer appearance of the chrome card is far more visually appealing than the same card as a dull foil parallel.

#374 1992 Fleer Ultra Kevin McReynolds
You can expect respectable photo quality, especially for the 1990s, in the 1992 Fleer Ultra set, but the product doesn't feature an incredibly stimulating base design. The photography is likely the reason why I included these cards in my frankenset in the first place. However, I'm not sure what that black slash at the bottom of the page is supposed to be.

#375 1993 Bowman Ken Griffey Jr.

Like '92 Fleer Ultra, the 1993 Bowman base set isn't necessarily what one would call "exciting." The set design is definitely on the simple side, but it's hard to dislike a card of Ken Griffey Jr, especially from the beginning of his 22-year MLB career.

#376 2015 Topps Joc Pederson
Pederson has consistently proven himself to be a power threat throughout his big league career thus far, but when it comes to batting average, the 26-year old falls into some trouble. A career .228 hitter, he reminds me a bit of Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks, who cashed in on a 7-year $70 million dollar extension within the last few days.

#377 2015 Topps Heritage Nick Swisher
This is likely one of Nick Swisher's final Topps cards, for he retired soon after the 2015 season despite an attempted comeback with the New York Yankees the following year. Swisher definitely achieved the most success in New York. The best season of his career came in 2010 during his prime with the Yankees.

#378 1983 Topps Lee May
It was interesting to see these super veteran cards from 1983 Topps recreated in Topps Archives a number of years ago, but nothing will truly compare to the original cards. Luis Tiant, Bobby Murcer, and Lee May are just a few of the players included in this iconic subset that honors veteran players from the beginning to the near end of their careers.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

One Last Hurrah

I'm very certain that in the distant future, I'll look back at this particular week as one of the most exciting weeks for Baseball cards in my entire life.

Including this one, my last 7 blog posts have been devoted to new cards that I've acquired within the last 10 days or so. Trades, Baseball card show trips, eBay packages, and LCS pickups have all been present as of late, and I still have one more group of cards left to go.

In a way, it'll be nice to go back to a calmer week where I'm not adding new Baseball cards to my collection nearly every day. With that being said, Topps Heritage's impending release this Wednesday means things won't settle down completely, and I'm totally fine with that. 

After all, Heritage has consistently been my favorite overall product for years on end. Even though I've never completed a Heritage master set in my life, the variations, SPs, and simply the recreating of a vintage Topps design makes this product extremely appealing.

I'll have more time to talk about Heritage next week, but in the meantime, I have one final group of new Baseball cards that I added to my collection during this action-packed week. 

These cards, courtesy of my LCS, are from the dime bins, though I could expect to see a majority of these cards for a far greater price than simply a dime.

Included in the owners' dime box this time around was an impressive stack of 2017 Topps Museum base, including 9 different players that I collect. It's not uncommon to spot high-end cards in the dime bins, but typically, I stumble upon 2 or 3 of them. Never have I spotted so many cards of guys I collect from a product as expensive as Topps Museum.

Better yet, the lot featured far more retired players than current MLB stars. Of the 9 players shown above, only Ichiro and Anthony Rizzo are currently playing. All the others, including my largest player collection, Nolan Ryan, are retired MLB legends.

After picking up the base card, bronze parallel, and serial numbered red parallel of Greg Maddux, card #84, I could see myself going after the complete parallel rainbow. If I can track down a sapphire blue (#/150) and an amethyst (#/99), I'd have my first ever parallel rainbow completed, assuming I'm not forgetting any other colored cards from the product. 

Update; there's an emerald 1/1. So, unless I can track that card down and for a reasonable price, my hopes of obtaining the entire rainbow will be unsuccessful. 

For a dime each, I have zero complaints about these holo blue parallels from 2018 Panini Donruss, even if the logoless hats are rather obvious. I was able to spot 4 different cards of players that I collect, including my 2nd Nolan Ryan card of the trip so far. 

I think I acquired somewhere between 3-5 Ryan cards at this trip to my LCS alone, making my goal of reaching the 500-card mark for his player collection in 2019 much more achievable. 

The very moment that I spotted this Roger Clemens card in the dime box I was searching through, I found a strong resemblance between this card and the holo blue Donruss parallels. 

Even though the similarities appear far more evident in-person, I wouldn't be shocked to hear that Panini took inspiration from this Ultimate Victory parallel when designing their holo blue parallel cards.

While Baseball fans are continuing to wait for marquee free agent Bryce Harper to sign his much-anticipated max contract, I wasted no time in adding these 2 high-end base cards of the 2015 NL MVP to my stack of dime box cards. 

I realize that neither Triple Threads nor Museum revolves around the base set design, but I still must commend Topps on creating 2 well-executed and elegant base set designs, both from the last few years.

This duo of dime box pickups, like the 2 Harper's shown above, also appears very elegant with the border color and photo choice. However, the Ozzie Smith and Ernie Bank's cards are not from a high-end product like Museum or Tribute. 

Instead, I believe these cards are inserts from a certain set of cards. Titled "The Elite," these could be a rare inclusion in Flagship or some sort of special insert from an actual high-end product. If anyone recognizes where these cards are from, don't hesitate to let me know.

As if I hadn't already picked up enough retired players' cards from this particular dime box, a duo of early 2000s Upper Deck cards boosted my total even more. The Gibson card is classic-looking while the Fingers, featuring a gold uniform and yellow/orange border, is a far more unconventional choice from the 2001 Upper Deck Decade 1970s set.

There's something about 2011 Topps that enhances these retired players' short prints even more than any other Flagship product to date. Alongside a plethora of fellow legends, Mike Schmidt was included as a retired player SP in 2011 Topps. 

Sharing card #50 with Alex Rodriguez, the Phillies' 3rd baseman is shown in the classic powder blue Phillies uniform while perhaps making a call to one of his fellow infielders.

Even if I spent the next 20 years focusing on it, I doubt I'd be able to complete the 2008 Upper Deck Yankee Stadium legacy set no matter how hard I tried. That doesn't stop me from adding new cards from the 6,227-card insert set. At this point, I've probably acquired around 50 cards, so on the bright side, I'm 0.008% of the way there!

Similarly, Mickey Mantle has an insert set from 2007, consisting of, I presume, 1 card for every home run ever hit by the 3-time AL MVP, afar easier set to complete than the Yankee Stadium Legacy. I've seen yellow, red, and blue-colored cards from this product, but I'm not sure if the colors are different just for the sake of it or if there are actual different-colored parallels in this insert set.

Card companies never fail to get me hooked on shiny cards and refractors, something that's proven every time I return home with a stack of dime cards. This time around, in addition to plenty of others not shown on this post, a Craig Kimbrel refractor and a Jim Thome Bowman's Best insert are among the many shiny cards that I landed thanks to some well-stocked dime bins.

While I'm on the topic of bright and shiny Baseball cards, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the duo of cracked ice parallels of Cleveland Indians' ace Corey Kluber that, somehow, are not serial numbered at all. I honestly have no clue how Panini can produce enough of these cards without serial numbering them, but that's not to take away from the gorgeous parallels that these cards are.

Considering that both the cards I picked up are inserts, I'm guessing that the cracked ice cards also appear in the base set. Now that's a parallel worth chasing down, especially if you're looking for a particular player's cracked ice card.

Another high-end product that I was able to locate some dime cards from, Topps High Tek was also quite prominent during this trip to my LCS. In this case, for almost every player who had 1 card in the dime box, there was a different pattern card of that same player right near it. 

Among some of the parallels, the various black pattern parallels take a standard pattern and change the background to black rather than white. This enhances the card quite a bit, especially when there's a colorful uniform to counter the black background like there is for deGrom and Bagwell.

It's going to take me a while to find this specific Ken Griffey Jr parallel on COMC and list it on my player collection inventory, but if that's the price I'm forced to pay in addition to the mere dime that this card cost me then so be it. 

This parallel of The Kid is serial numbered out of 250, and he is shown on my favorite team that Griffey Jr played for, the Cincinnati Reds.

Here they are, the 2 rookie phenoms from 2017 who cleared out retail shelves and caused hobby prices to soar at a nearly unprecedented level. As if this box improve any longer, I spotted not 1, not 2, but 3 rookie year cards of Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger towards the end of my time at my LCS.

Along with another holo blue parallel from 2018, I found a Bellinger insert from 2017 Bowman's Best along with both players' Rookie Performers inserts from 2017 Topps Heritage High Number. Thanks to the retro design, the Heritage High Number inserts are definitely my favorites of the bunch.

Finally, the greatest card I found in the entire dime box, and one that I certainly would never expect to be there; a 2014 Bowman Chrome prospect card of none other than the previously mentioned, Aaron Judge.

I don't care that the card isn't his 1st Bowman card. I couldn't care less about the centering. I understand the surface isn't perfect, but none of this is a big deal for me. Finding this card in a dime box was nothing less than shocking, and I couldn't add it to my stack fast enough. 

Judge is currently entering his 3rd season, and even as a Red Sox fan, I don't hate seeing him do well so long as it's not against Boston. In addition to the rookie cards that I have of #99, I now have my 1st ever Judge prospect card, giving me even more incentive to hope for his success.

But regardless of how I feel about him or any of the other cards that I purchased from this dime box, the Judge card alone makes the entire trip completely worth it.