Sunday, January 31, 2021

Box Break and Review: 2019-20 Panini NBA Hoops Premium Stock Hybrid Box

The Pirates are not a good baseball team right now. They're fully committing to a rebuild and I'm OK with it. They're trading away their major league talent for very young prospects, so there's not a ton for me to chase in the baseball world. Couple that with the fact that the card market staying red hot, and it's caused me to spend most of January "hobby time" selling as opposed to buying cards. 

As my cards funds have built up, I wanted to treat myself. In a shameless effort to continue milking the 2019 rookie class, Panini decided to re-release 2019-20 NBA Hoops during the 2020-21 season with a new product called NBA Hoops Premium Stock. It's NBA Hoops as we know it with two changes: New photography, and a chrome finish.

I'm a sucker for chrome, and NBA Hoops is one of my favorite basketball products. I had my eye a box of this for a while, and was excited to get a decent-enough price on Blowout to pull the trigger on a "Hybrid" box, aka, a Hobby Box.

Each Hybrid box only contains 24 cards. There are no guaranteed autos, which is unusual for a hobby box, but Hoops has never been an autograph-centric product. In this instance I'm totally OK with it. A guaranteed auto would jack up the price, and there's a 99% chance I'd pull a no-name.

One thing I love about the Hybrid boxes is that all of the cards are Flash parallels, pictured above. They pop off the card a little more than the standard chrome and have a rainbow refractor glean to them, along with the north-south striping. These are your "base cards" for a Hybrid box, but they are not true base cards. The true base cards exist in the retail products and have more a standard chrome finish. Think: Topps Chrome.

Here's an example of the standard chrome from eBay:

Here are all of my veteran base cards:

Getting just 24 cards isn't ideal, but the fact that that all cards are guaranteed to be Flash parallels is cool. No one too notable here except SGA.

While we're looking at the veteran base cards, I'll take the time to point out a major printing flaw that unfortunately made an appearance in my box. See the image above, and notice the lines that I circled in red. Those thick solid lines on the border of these four cards are not supposed to be there. They're so well centered in the middle of the card that at first glance, they almost look as if they're part of the design. Sadly, they are not.

To be fair, I was warned about these flaws prior to purchasing. I saw some pictures on Twitter that showed some of the print flaws. I got the box anyway and figured "It won't happen to me!" And of course it did. Live and learn.

Here we see the Flash Red parallels. Cool to pull a Knick, would be better to pull a Knick that plays more than 0.0 minutes per game.

This one is my favorite of the three Reds. The Tribute cards are part of the base set, but have a nice throwback design. Sweet picture of Iverson.

I pulled one Green Flash parallel, which is numbered to /99. 

I also pulled a Purple Flash parallel, numbered to /35. I'm excited that it's a rookie. Quinndary Weatherspoon certainly wouldn't be my first choice for a short printed rookie, but I'll gladly take it. The Spurs have done a fantastic job of developing young players lately - Keldon John and Lonnie Walker come to mind - so this could be a good card to stash away.

Each box promises two Silvers. Both of mine were vets.

Here are my rookies. Kabengele and Schofield are still waiting to see some real minutes. Alexander-Walker has worked his way into the Pelicans rotation and has been a solid role player for them this season.

The Wizards suck, but one of their bright spots is their young forward, Rui Hachimura. He's awesome and this is a sweet card.

This one definitely felt good. Zion is undoubtedly one of the guys you want to see when opening a 2019-20 basketball product, and this card alone makes the break worth it for me. For a while, hitting a Zion meant the card went straight to eBay to help reimburse your box/pack purchase. Selling this on eBay today would earn me back about 25-30% of my purchase price, and that's not worth it to me. I think we're transitioning into "hold" territory with Zion. 

And you know why it's best to hold? Because Zion isn't the hot new thing anymore. He's not a prospect. Therefore the value of his cards is declining. The hilarious part is, the dude is actually panning out. Remember all that hype around him? Well, it's actually happening!! The hype was real! He's 19th in the league in PPG, 30th in RPG, and 9th in FG% - in what is essentially his first full season. Better yet, he's been fully healthy and hasn't any injury concerns. He has a real chance to be an All-Star this year.

But, he's not a rookie anymore! He's not the next big thing! So no one cares about him anymore. I think I'll hang onto this one for a while.

Each box promises one Rookie Photo Variation per box, which is an enticing offer since the rookie class is so loaded. Here's mine. Doumbouya hasn't seen a ton of minutes for Detroit but at least he's a consistent part of their bench rotation. Detroit is bad - very bad - so I hope they'll give him a bigger role and to see what they have in him. 


Overall Design: The Hoops design is always clean, and this year is no different. The new photography and chrome finish only add to the appeal for me, and I really love the Flash parallels.

The Hits: No guaranteed autographs or memorabilia products. Hits will come in the form of short printed parallels. You could also make an argument that the top rookies are hits. With a good amount of color and a loaded rookie class, there's plenty to chase here.

Positives: Card design, checklist, array of parallels. 

Negatives: Potential printing lines on cards, no guaranteed hits, recycled product/money grab by Panini.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10. This is a really fun product. There's no question that Panini is "pulling a Topps" here, if you will, by slapping a new card stock on an existing product. I'm not upset about it. In this case, they took a product I already love and made it better. I was leaning towards a rating of 9 out of 10, but the print lines are definitely a real problem and seem to be relatively common. That earned a half point deduction. Otherwise, there aren't any major drawbacks. It's not a perfect product, but it's pretty awesome. It's definitely expensive, but compared to other 2019-20 basketball products it's actually pretty affordable. Grab it if you have the means.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Bucs Stop Here: Top 10 Cards Acquired in 2020

Time for the yearly recap of my top cards of the year! It was a great year of card collecting for me, with lots of spare time to organize, sell, trade, and add to the PC.

I've been pretty lousy at posting on the blog lately, but I've been really active with collecting which is the bigger half the battle. I've been selling some higher-end stuff and building up funds to go for some larger PC items. If I'm not posting and I'm not actively collecting, that's when I get away from the hobby and that sucks. 

I did a top ten post last year and had lot of fun with it. I probably handled more cards this year than ever before, so it was tough to narrow it down to ten, but here we go:

Number Ten
Carmelo Anthony/Ron Artest - 2005-06 Bowman Beginnings Relic
Acquried via: TCDB trade

This is definitely the goofiest card of the ten, but I really love it. I acquired this the other day via a fun TCDB trade. My trade partner sent me another 'Melo jersey card as well as Chris Paul Rookie. In return I sent a random assortment of Bowman baseball and football set needs, most of which were short printed. It was an awesome trade. I don't formally collect Carmelo cards, but he falls into the Syracuse Alum category and I have a small stash of his stuff. It's so random to see him on a card with Ron Artest, of all people. The Pacers pinstripe is the icing on the cake.

Number Nine

Bryan Reynolds - 2020 Topps Chrome Future Stars Insert Gold #/50
Acquired via: eBay Purchase

When I saw that Bryan Reynolds had a Future Stars insert, I was pretty excited. I can't remember the last time a Pirates player appeared in this set, let alone my favorite player. I was lucky to pull the base version out of a pack. If you're a regular reader, you know I had find a gold parallel. It took a while for one to show up on eBay, but when once it did I was all over it. Reynolds had a pitiful 2020 season, so his cards have become more affordable and this didn't cost much. 

Number Eight

Fernando Tatis Jr. - 2019 Topps RC
Acquired via: eBay Purchase

One of my better habits is holding onto some unopened boxes. I have a great stash of sealed boxes, and one of the gems is a pair of 2019 Topps Series 2 blasters. Their value is higher than ever, and I'm contemplating selling them. I'm still undecided, but I hate the idea of selling away a great a chance at Fernando Tatis Jr.'s true rookie. We're all hunting the next Mike Trout, and we may never see that. But, if anyone is going to close, it might be this guy. He's the real deal. To help alleviate the potential sting of selling the blasters, I made decided to buy a single. I think it was only about $30. Baseball cards are much cheaper in offseason, and his type has already died off as everyone is looking for NEXT hot rookie already.

Number Seven

Javier Baez - 2015 Bowman Chrome RC Auto #/500
Acquired via: eBay Purchase

It's not often that I hunt for an autograph for a Pirates-nemesis. The Pirates suck, so it makes the rivalry less bitter, if you ask me. I love Javy Baez's game and I wanted to add a sweet card of his to my collection. So, I did! 

Number Six

2019-20 NBA Hoops Ja Morant RC
Acquired via: eBay Purchase

I believe Morant to be the best player in the 2019-20 draft. I like Zion, and I'm rooting for him, but I think Ja is the guy. It's a crazy-loaded draft class and there are about a dozen other players that are already having great sophomore campaigns, so the best player may very well be someone NOT named Zion or Ja. Time will tell.

Back before the hobby got crazy, I opened a good amount of 2019-20 Prizm and Optic. I pulled Ja rookies from both... and of course sold them. The return seemed to be good to pass up for base cards. Well, a year later, their value has tripled. Woof.

I felt some sellers remorse and wanted a Ja rookie back in collection, but I'm wasn't willing to pay obscene prices for a base rookie. I settled for the consolation prize - NBA Hoops. Hoops is one of my favorite basketball releases, and it's become a good budget option in an insane card market. If Prizm is Ferrari and Optic is Mercedes, Hoops is Honda. Old reliable.

Number Five

Bryan Reynolds - 2019 Topps Chrome Update Gold Auto #/50 - Graded PSA 10
Acquired via: eBay Purchase

We're now over the halfway point and the cards are getting juicy. This card is about as close to perfection as you can get. It's my favorite player and it's an autograph. It's from my favorite set, and it's my favorite color parallel. To top it all off, it's a perfect 10/10. I overpaid for this, big time, but it will be a permanent centerpiece in my Reynolds collection.

Number Four

Derek Jeter - 1993 Topps Gold
Acquired via: Purchase from friend liquidating collecting

This card is a classic. A good friend of mine recently went through his childhood collection and sold off anything of value. He's not much a collector these days, and I helped him valuate some of his cards and liquidate his collection. I had wanted to add a Jeter rookie to my collection for a while and this was one of the cards he was selling. He gave me a fair deal. It's not Mint, but it's in good shape and it's one of the rare times I got buy a card off of a friend. A great memory for me.

Number Three

LeBron James/Kobe Bryant - 2003 Skybox Autographics
Acquired via: Twitter Purchase

This card is so awesome. It's technically a LeBron Rookie, and he's paired with the late great Kobe Bryant. This card features two of the three best players in the history of the game, IMO. My only gripe with the cards is the wholesomely unnecessary Skybox logo that gashes across the middle of the card.  Aside from that, it's flawless.

Number Two

Andrew McCutchen - 2005 Bowman's Best RC Gold #/50
Acquired via: Trade with Collecting Cutch

Huge, huge shoutout to Collecting Cutch for sending this my way. This card is. So. Badass.  It is the centerpiece of my Cutch collection, and no better way to acquire it than from the King of Cutch himself.

Number One

Bryan Reynolds - 2019 Topps Chrome Update Superfractor #1/1 - BGS Graded 9.5
Acquired via: eBay Purchase

Making it's blog debut, my favorite card. Yes. I did it. I acquired the card I never thought I would, Bryan Reynold's Topps Chrome Rookie Superfractor. I have been chasing the rainbow of this card, but from the jump I automatically assumed that I would never see the Super. It sold on eBay very shortly after the product it shelves. I set up an eBay saved search and I was floored when it surfaced for a .99 cent auction. There was no way I was losing. Admittedly, I paid a lot for this card. But this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I knew if I missed it I'd never see it again. 

As for the grade, it's a nice bonus. I don't understand why anyone feels the need to grade a superfactor. In my mind, grading cards is a way of separating a card from it's identical peers, if you will. But a superfractor has no peers. It's a one of a kind. Why grade it? 

Regardless, I'm extremely pleased that it came back as a Gem Mint 9.5. Even better, it has 9.5's across the board on the subgrades. I think anything less would have been a disappointment. It's also nice to have it secured and encased.

Getting this card is a big deal to me. In the past, if you asked me to pick a favorite card in my collection, it would have been tough for me to answer. Now, I can confidently and proudly answer that question.

That's all for the year 2020. Thanks so much for stopping by, and here's a great year of collecting in 2021!