Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In-Hand Set Review: 2007 Allen & Ginter Baseball "Milestones and Moments"

I finally got the set I ordered months ago for the 2007 Allen and Ginter etopps Moments and Milestones baseball set. It's quite a long name for a set and just about as long in its size compared to the past Allen and Ginter Presidents' baseball set.

Delivery cost was discounted for a limited time after these cards were allocated at $9.99 for all 12 cards. With 20/20 hindsight, had I known of the delays in shipping I would have gladly paid the full shipping cost to get these sooner.

Whenever an etopps card is allocated online to etoppers, an estimated delivery date is posted on the website for the card in one's account on the "Take Delivery" link. Sometimes this estimate is dead-on. Other times it's not. The main reason it's not is quality control which is what happened with this set. I know it's beyond the hands of etopps to get these puppies printed in a timely fashion but it is in their hands to choose a printing vendor to be more reliable in their work.

What irks me more is the lag time between the date they said the cards were available (January 14) and the day I received them (January 28). Why two weeks after stating on their website it is available? I could have had the set shipped to me quicker if I had purchased each card individually and ordered them delivered on the 14th but I wanted those same serial number for all of the cards. I don't recall the lag time between availability and receiving the set being so long for either the Allen and Ginter Presidents or the Mickey Mantle sets.

What this set lacks in Delivery they make up for in packaging. Like with the Presidents' set, etopps gave more respect for the quality of the cards by shipping them in a secure shipping box rather than a large jiffy bag full of bubble mailers holding one or two in-hands.

When I opened the box it was tightly packed with paper around a smaller box that had the cards. Right on top of the packing paper was the promised bonus pack of 2007 Allen and Ginter baseball cards. Another nice touch was the etopps hologram sticker that sealed the smaller box that contained the cards.

Inside the cards are packed in tightly and took a bit of work to pull one out to peek at the serial number (#s212, 201 and 213). Another nice touch was the index card sized paper between each card to prevent scratching. This is a first (and hopefully not a last).

The cards themselves are the mini version of the Allen and Ginter style so they're kinda small, almost cute. I'm not nuts about them like a lot of A&G collectors are. Their mini size turns me off. They look like what would happen if you mistakenly place a regular-sized etopps in-hand in your dryer with your laundry and out comes this mini card in the holder. Since the Joe Montana Super Bowl Champions Allen and Ginter card is the same picture of Montana from the Classic set, it's tempting to make this dryer scenario on video some day.

Unlike the Topps A&G design, these have the etopps trademark, a reflective finish (read refractor) that make them look awesome but a bitch to capture in a photo. I placed the provided index cards behind each card when I photographed them as a group to give them some kind of contrast. Since

If you have this set and plan to list it, you may have better success at photographing each one like here than just taking a group shot of the set. Just use auctiva to list it and you won't have to pay any extra fees for multiple photos in the listing. What I also like about auctiva is you can schedule the listing for free too.

Here's the line-up for the set:
  1. Craig Biggio (3K hits)
  2. Mark Buehrle (No-Hitter)
  3. Prince Fielder (Home Run 50)
  4. Tom Glavine (300 Wins)
  5. Curtis Granderson (20/20/20)
  6. Pedro Martinez (3000 Strikeouts)
  7. Alex Rodriguez (youngest to 500 Home Runs)
  8. Sammy Sosa (600 Home Runs)
  9. Frank Thomas (500 Home Runs)
  10. Jim Thome (500 Home Runs)
  11. Justin Verlander (No-Hitter)
  12. Barry Bonds (756 Home Runs)
Bottom line:
Delivery: D
Packaging: A
Card Design: B+

Monday, January 28, 2008

IPO Watch, Marshawn Lynch Auto and How The Autograph Program Works

At 1PM EST today, etopps offered the following cards:

Allen and Ginter Super Bowl Champions:
Joe Namath Print Run: 999 $9
Tom Brady PR: 999 $8
Troy Aikman PR: 999 $8.50

2007 Basketball
Greg Oden PR: 1,499 $8
Javaris Crittenton PR: 599 $5
Ray Allen PR:699 $4.50

As with last week's A and G SB Champs offerings, these are a great buy to collect the set and re-sell to all of the Allen and Ginter set collectors. As stated in a previous post, these are the first Allen and Ginter football cards. The outlier in the set is Brady because he's active, some people can't stand him but it's hard not to consider him after what he's done and what he could still accomplish with a win next Sunday in Arizona.

For Basketball, I ordered the Oden for the flip. I don't expect it to hold much and can easily pick these up when they become available for delivery at a lower price than $8. Think September.

While the Terrell Davis autograph offering on the website hasn't sold out yet at $69 each for a total of 49, it's nice to see they are still doing football autographs. I thought they would be winding down by now. They had a good football autograph season - Reggie Bush and LaDainian Tomlinson to name a couple.

Today they posted the offering of Marshawn Lynch. He signed 98 and they will sell out at $59 each. The offering will be Thursday, January 31 at 8PM EST.

You want to be quick to make money on this one on the flip. When doing a comparison on ebay for other autographed cards of this player that were limited to 100, the best price in the last month was what's being offered by etopps. Quick because the first few listed will probably earn something while others will barely break even (and this is without taking the price of the card into consideration before the autograph). I say this because the card won't be shipped until at least the middle of next month when any lingering appeal to the football season is waning while baseball is waxing. And this doesn't look good especially for a small market like Buffalo. Unless you are doing a pre-sale or want to make a few bucks on the flip of the online card before the autograph offering goes live, save your money.

Regarding the above photo, I always like signatures that include the player's jersey number. As usual, etopps chose a thin blue marker for the signature even though there's plenty of blue in the card already. Why can't they use a color that doesn't appear on their cards that often like gold or silver?

I assume the reason both offerings on the home page (and previous offerings too) are not sold in a round number quantity like 50 or 100 because the player signs right on the card rather than a sticker and I'm sure one or two do not make the final cut.

In the future to qualify for the autograph program, one has to meet the following criteria:
  1. You have to be a registered member of etopps
  2. You must have the card that will become available for autograph already in your online portfolio by the time the offering goes live on the site.
Once you've met these two requirements, you can purchase the autograph...but you have to move fast. Depending on the popularity of the player, you can get shut out. This happened to me with the Ladainian Tomlinson offering. I went after his rookie card rather than the safe bet, his 2006 card and got shut out. I've seen sell-outs occurring within 30 seconds from the time the offering goes live.

Autographs are now announced ahead of time (few days in advance) on the etopps home page. If you don't have the card, you may have to pay an inflated price on cardtarget or ebay because the demand for the card goes up to have it in one's online portfolio in time before the autographed card is offered.

I've made a few bucks flipping in-port cards that are announced on the home page as future autograph offerings. Emmitt Smith's event card usually sells below $3. I recall selling two at $35 each on ebay after scooping them up on Cardtarget for $6-$7 right after the offering was posted on the etopps homepage.

Rule of thumb: if an auto offering is underpriced, it's likely the difference between what the auto usually goes for and the etopps offering price will be what you'll get flipping the card quickly after the offering is announced.
But you have to be quick.

There's no gain in listing it so it ends an hour or two before the offering goes live. When an etopper wants an auto and they don't have the card, they will pay for it even if it's cheaper to buy on cardtarget.

Before the beginning of the current football season, for example, there was an online article on Beckett's site that mentioned a few upcoming autographed cards on etopps. This article was posted on the etopps message board. Some etopps members bought these cards ahead of time while others didn't see this article or see the posting on the etopps message board.

Once you place your order, the card will be removed from your online portfolio and the signed card will be shipped to your provided mailing address that you give when you register your account via UPS anywhere between 2-5 weeks.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What Are You Buying Now?

If you're selling etopps in-hands of New England Patriots and New York Giants, what are you doing with the money you're making?

If you plan to buy more in-port and get them delivered from etopps prior to the Super Bowl, the window of time to get the cards via UPS Ground is closing depending on where you live from Delaware. I'm lucky that I live in the same zone as their warehouse so UPS Ground means 2 days max delivery time for me.

If you haven't yet, buy baseball right now while the Super Bowl hype is building.

You can still get good prices on 2007 Baseball because once the Super Bowl is over, pitchers and catchers start reporting to Spring Training within two weeks. This is not a lot of time to get all of your baseball ducks in place.

So who do you buy? Since performance is one of the main factors that drives demand for a player, it's tempting to think this demand starts in April on Opening Day. In reality, demand during the off-season is based on performance of the previous season.

For example, in 2006 Nomar Garciaparra had a good year in his first year with the Dodgers. I bought one of his cards under $5 around this time last year. I listed his card in the beginning of March and sold it within 24 hours for $25. In fact, the off-season is ripe to sell players who had a good previous season until Opening Day (unless they get injured during spring training).

There's a degree of risk if you buy players you or anyone predicts will have a good year. I'm tempted to conclude that Albert Pujols will have a good year after what happened last season, paralleling A-Rod's stats between 2006 and 2007. At least this is what my crystal ball tells me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Etopps Announces Its Super Tuesday: Allen and Ginter Presidential Candidates

Following the Allen and Ginter Super Bowl Champions set, on Tuesday, February 5, eTopps will be offering Allen and Ginter Presiential Candidates at IPO.

Easy to guess from the picture to expect Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain being offered as well as all of the other candidates over a two or three consecutive week period.

Unless you're a political junkie, buying the set at IPO is a losing venture. By the time they are available for shipping, at least half of these candidates offered will have dropped out of the race which spells losing money. My guess is they will be either $9.99 or $12.50 each at 999 PR.

I would recommend choosing the candidate cards that you think will still be in the race by the time they are available for shipping. I'll probably be buying Obama and Hillary Clinton. Even if Hillary doesn't win, selling both President Clinton and Hillary together could work.

I would expect, with the baseball theme to this set, they will be available somewhere around April for delivery.

Bottom line:
  • Buy who you think will outlast the others by shipment date (approximately April)
  • Avoid the shipping special for all of the candidates if/when offered
  • Basketball doesn't make much money for etopps which is why these Allen and Ginter sets are being offered

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sell Giants Football Cards Now

Now is the time to sell any New York Giants etopps in-hand cards.

Anyone who sells Patriots cards have been doing this since before they beat the Giants in the last regular-season game. But now is the time to react to the newest trend: New York Giants football. I already listed their 2004 team card and Eli Manning's rookie card. I will probably list other Giants non-etopps cards and sports memorabilia.

So the question you may be asking is do you sell asap or wait to list so it ends right before the Super Bowl? My advice is to sell asap: there will always be those who will want to flip whatever they buy right now of the Giants. Your sell-through rate (chance of selling) will be higher now before the hype machine starts with the Patriots being the best team in NFL history (which they may well be). To be on the safe side, you can try both ways. Let me know which worked better for you.

Allen and Ginter Super Bowl Champions IPO info

Joe Montana PR: 999 $9
John Elway PR: 999 $8.50
Terry Bradshaw PR 749 $8.50

Considering these are the first Allen and Ginter football cards to be offered, they're a steal (think re-sell).

Not surprised they are not offering the delivery special of $9.99 yet. I'm pretty sure they will next week when they offer the next 3 (or 4?) to complete this set. If not, I'll be calling etopps customer support to find out why not. I'm pretty confident I won't have to since they offered the shipping discount for the last two Allen and Ginter sets.

I'm not even mentioning the Basketball IPOs since their in-hand market value is not anywhere near as strong on ebay as etopps football or baseball. Buying them at IPO is just asking to lose money since their secondary market value will decline by the time they're available for delivery.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Another Allen & Ginter etopps set coming soon: Super Bowl Champions Set

This was posted on the etopps website yesterday (1/17):

eTopps and Allen & Ginter are proud to present this very special

Super Bowl Champions collection featuring NFL icons who have
helped lead their teams to Super Bowl titles. In the true spirit of
Allen & Ginter, this extraordinary collection will celebrate the
historic performances of these superstars in helping their respective
teams win Championships. Until now Allen & Ginter has been limited
to baseball releases, but this will allow collectors to experience the
beauty of Allen & Ginter with top NFL Superstars.

To celebrate the Super Bowl we will begin offering cards from this collection on Monday, January 21st at 1PM EST and continue offering additional cards on Monday, January 28th. The collection will include NFL Super Bowl greats including Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Joe Namath, Joe Montana and Roger Staubach.

The collection will be beautifully designed and delivered via the classic Allen & Ginter design (even staying true to the original Allen & Ginter size), but brought to life on stunning eTopps technology. Cards will be offered individually, encased and be sequentially numbered* .

*While the Allen & Ginter eTopps cards differ in size from regular

eTopps cards, they will continue to be encased in our standard
sized eTopps tamper-evident, plastic case with eTopps sticker.
The cards will be placed into a fitted frame and then fixed inside
of the case.

Be sure to visit eTopps on Monday, January 21st! Cards go on
sale at 1PM EST and be sure to come back on Monday the 28th
for additional cards.

This set is a strong buy even if you don't like every player listed. There are enough Allen & Ginter collectors and football fans to buy this as a set and you can be assured this set will sell out. Based on the other two A&G sets etopps has produced, these will most likely have a print run of 999.

And like the previous Allen and Ginter etopps sets, there will be a discounted shipping offer for a limited time. The 2007 Baseball Moments & Milestones A&G set had a $9.99 shipping offer to have them all the same serial number on the back of the cards.

The usual downside is this will become available in-hand months after their release but this wait is like all etopps cards. Though rest assured, if the Presidents A&G set is used as a measuring stick, you can sell this set easily on ebay with the same serial number.

As a reference, this is what one of the Presidents A&G card looked like:

What is Etopps?

This is an introductory's guide to eTopps cards. This is a starting point for understanding this sports card product.
  • The e in eTopps stands for electronic.
  • eTopps is the online division of the Topps Trading Card Company, the maker of sports cards and football cards and many other products.
  • Each card is encapsulated by Topps before it is removed from their storage facility.
  • The case that holds the card comes with with a tamper-proof hologram sticker on the bottom of the case. It is not recommended to purchase an eTopps in-hand card without this sticker or out of its case because it will not have much re-sell value. This sticker is part of what ensures that the card inside the case remains in genuine mint condition.
  • eTopps cards are considered a high-end super premium product in the sports-collecting hobby.
  • eTopps cards grade very well with Beckett Grading Service (BGS) or Professional Sports Authority (PSA). See population reports of popular eTopps rookie cards such as LeBron James or Tom Brady on the Becket website to get an idea how these will grade.
  • Among the ways to purchase these cards off-line are at local sports card shows or the annual National Sports Collectible Convention (NSCC).
  • These cards are uncirculated and are not available for purchase in packs