For those that are not aware, this is a series I started recently about my foray into the baseball card collecting world after a long absence. If you want to read about my decision to do this and why, you can look at this link right here.
Welcome back to Re-entering the Hobby which is a series that chronicles my re-entry into the baseball card collecting world. What started as a fun re-exploration of a hobby that I have a ton of affection for has predictably turned into a full-fledged obsession for me as I chase down cards and research new releases. It has been a ton of fun and the support has been overwhelming.
Before I go any further, I am running a giveaway on my Youtube channel where I have been posting the Re-entering the Hobby videos. The terms are simple: if you subscribe to the Youtube channel (completely free and gives me no personal information other than your username) and leave a comment on Youtube with your favorite baseball card collecting memory....you are in. It is that simple. There will be two winners. One will get a 2018 Bowman Draft Bowman’s 1st autograph card of Greyson Jenista. The other winner will get a stack of goodies from 2019 Donruss including a Ronald Acuna uniform patch, multiple Ronald Acuna numbered parallels and variations, and more. Winners will be drawn once the channel hits 250 subscribers. Enjoy the video below:
Reviewing 2019 Topps Inception
Topps Inception is a different type of product than we have seen in this series so far. Previously, the products were what many have always collected: each box has 24-32 packs with each pack having a bunch of base cards and occasionally there is something sweet within a pack but more often than not, there is nothing of note. That has been the name of the game for a long time.
Products like Topps Inception are different: First, each card is on really thick card stock unlike the thin cards we all stuffed into binders as kids. Second, each box (which on the secondary market run at a little under $60 at the moment) has one pack of seven cards...that is it. However, you are guaranteed an autograph and two parallels in said pack. Your autograph may just been an autographed base card or it could be from a more limited run of autographed inserts or you could get an autographed relic/patch card. Regardless, at least one card in your pack will have a signature on it which makes the product appealing.
This is an interesting product for Braves fans because, in short, it is loaded with Braves and, more importantly, Braves hits. In addition to the Ronald Acuna Jr. autographs which will be the chase cards for Braves fans (and collectors in general really) for the forseeable future, there are also rookie autographs of Bryse Wilson, Touki Toussaint, Kyle Wright, and Kolby Allard in the set. There are also Johan Camargo autographs which I believe is only the second set (outside of Topps Series 1) that has Camargo autos in it as well as a few Ozzie Albies autos although those are bit more scarce.
As a result, from a group breaking standpoint, the Braves have gotten a bit pricey in terms of buying them as a team in group breaks. Fortunately, I was able to buy them once in a group break before it became apparent just how prevalent they would be and hit a Touki Toussaint blue RC non-auto numbered to 25, a Kolby Allard Silver Signatures (signed on a black card with a silver Sharpie which looks really neat) numbered to /99, a Johan Camargo autograph, and a Bryse Wilson rookie patch auto numbered to /125. Didn’t hit an Acuna, but I can hardly complain with that haul.
Normally, I wouldn’t recommend these types of products except to those that can either buy the Braves as a team (which is a bit pricey) or those who are more established collectors, but I really like the quality and price point of this product. There are other products like this that are significantly more expensive, but for $60 to be guaranteed an autograph and two parallels that has a pretty compelling checklist for the Braves and a few other teams, you can do far worse.
All of that said, this is not a balanced set as some teams have next to no hit possibilities and the set definitely feels top heavy with a few teams having a bunch of options and not all of them are exciting. If you are a Braves, Astros, Angels, or Phillies collector, the set is great. Other teams have big hits, but not a huge variety and others, well....good luck. This is a good place to plug a great website called Group Break Checklists. Even if group breaks aren’t your thing (they are not for everyone), whenever a set’s checklist is released, these guys go through and sort out all of the base cards and hits by team so you can see exactly what you would expect from a given set. I have been using it a bunch and it is super helpful when you are deciding what to go after and what to avoid.
Quick collection update
You are probably better served to watch the video for the full update here, but one thing I have done recently is cooled it on the group breaks a bit. It isn’t that I don’t like them anymore because I do, but this is a weird time in the set release schedule where the 2019 products are not super break friendly and/or particularly desirable and the 2018 products are getting QUITE expensive on the secondary market which has made them cost prohibitive. Instead, what I have been doing is poking around on eBay trying to complete my 2018 Topps Update The Future is Bright rainbow and I am now three cards away from completing it with the Vintage Stock (I have yet to see one of these for sale anywhere), Black, and Memorial Day variations being the only ones that currently elude me.
More importantly, though, I have been slowly acquiring cards using COMC. I don’t think I would necessarily recommend selling cards through COMC because I have heard some stories of cards getting damaged and rejected by those that use the service to sell even though they were shipped correctly, but buying from them is super easy and a good way to avoid the eBay problem of having to pay shipping for each individual card. You can buy a card and it just becomes owned by your account, you can continue to buy and do the same thing, and when you are ready, you can have all of your cards shipped to you at the same time and only have to pay for shipping once.
That is exactly what I did. I didn’t go on a shopping spree all at once, rather I would put $20 here and there in my COMC account and I would pick up cards here and there that I wanted. After a month and a half or so, I had accumulated over 50 cards and had them shipped. Around half of them were autographs and the others were parallels of players I needed and that shipment alone bolstered my collection significantly. The highlights of the shipment were Bowman’s 1st autographs of Kyle Muller, Joey Wentz, and Ian Anderson plus a slew of other autographs that I was able to snag including a Max Fried rookie dual patch auto for like $8. Fun fact: Max Fried and Wes Parsons autographed are (at least at this moment) criminally underpriced and you should probably go get them.
For my baseball card collecting/appreciating people, today is a good day pic.twitter.com/qeYo2bPFK3— Eric Cole (@leprekhan) April 5, 2019
Anticipating 2019 Bowman
At this point, I have found myself with my collection in a good place. I am at north of 60 Braves autographs with most of them being either rookie, prospect, or Bowman’s 1st autographs in addition to a ton of non-autographed parallels that I REALLY need to organize better at this point. As a result, I don’t feel as much of compulsion to bring a bunch of cards into the fold like was the case when I first started. I still haven’t gotten an Austin Riley autograph which is something I plan on remedying and I need to get some more Mike Soroka stuff, but beyond that I am more looking for value additions.
Part of my waiting is because I have the collection in a good place, but part of it also is in anticipation of 2019 Bowman Baseball which comes out in a week or so. This is going to be a big set for me for a number of reasons. One, I actually have no idea what Braves will have autographs in it, but if previous Bowman releases are any indication, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies will NOT be in it which should make it less cost prohibitive than other sets. There are also only so many Braves that could have Bowman’s 1st autos in it with Tristan Beck, Trey Riley, C.J. Alexander, and Freddy Tarnok (well, his first auto anyways) being the prime possibilities. Other prospects could have autos in it as well as some rookies, but it shouldn’t be super loaded with Braves unless something weird happens.
In addition to that, though, this may be an opportunity for me to do a bit of investing in some other teams. With some key players like Wander Franco, Joey Bart, Eloy Jimenez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and potentially others having key autographs in the set, I could very easily see myself trying to grab some of those teams to try and get a bit lucky and turn those cards into some sweet sales/trade fodder. The next update you see from me will be a very deep dive into 2019 Bowman, what I decided to do, and how it went. Cross your fingers and toes for me.