Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To buy Heroes or to not buy Heroes...

I have a love/hate relationship with the television show Heroes. When it first came out, I thought the concept was a bit interesting and decided to give it a shot. I enjoyed season one.

Now, I must admit that I usually enjoy most everything I watch, TV or movies. At least, I'm not normally very critical. I go in with a completely open mind, and because of that I'm able to enjoy it. That is unless, in my opinion, it's just really awful, but that is rare.

So, I enjoyed season one. Season two suffered if for no other reason than the writer's strike. Cut down to just 11 episodes, I think it suffered from trying to fit too much story into too few episodes. Of course, a number of shows on cable adequately tell a story in 12-13 episodes, but in this case, I feel like there might have been a story they originally wanted to tell that ultimately was hindered by the shortened season. Of course, I could be wrong.

Because of that, I decided to move on to season three and give it a chance. Honestly, I don't know why, but the writing continued to suffer, in my opinion. But I kept watching, hoping it would improve. It didn't. Then season four rolled around. I watched every episode, hoping upon hope that it would get better and I would enjoy it again. Season four was a mess. Midway through it became a mission to keep watching just so I could see how bad it could get.

Two things that bothered me the most about the show - In general, I think it is difficult to maintain a time-traveling storyline without screwing up the rest of the story. So many things could change because of the time-traveling scenario. And specifically, one instance in particular in season four bothered me. The scene had Peter Petrelli (played by Milo Ventimiglia), his mother Angela (played by Christine Rose) and Emma Coolidge (played by Deanne Bray) in Peter's apartment. I believe there was an argument between Peter and his mother and Emma was exiting the apartment. The character Emma was deaf. Her power was that she could actually "see" sound, the vibrations of the sound became colorful waves in the air. As she exits the apartment, she's looking away from Peter, and Peter says, "I'll call you later."

Oh, and don't get me started on how they misused the characters of Daphne Millbrook (played by Brea Grant) and Elle Bishop (played by Kristin Bell).

So, why am I reviewing a TV show I didn't really like? Well, because Rittenhouse is issuing a trading card set based on the now-canceled show, Heroes Archives. Here's what I like about Rittenhouse, while the subject matter of their comic-related cards hasn't been super, the inclusion of high-quality sketches has been a great addition to the hobby of non-sport trading card collecting. The sketches in Batman Archives helped get me hooked. Also, in their TV/movie issues, they like to include autographs. I'm not a huge autograph collector, but I like to get things autographed when I have the opportunity. And having a chance to find a nice autograph from one of my favorite actors in a pack of cards has an attraction to it. And Rittenhouse has been doing a good job of getting many autographs, including the top names, in their card sets.

However, when this set was initially announced, the sell information indicated that each box would contain two autographs and two relic cards. Now, relic cards are kind of cool, too. The best set I've seen of this so far was Artbox's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince set. Yet, having a piece of the shirt that Matt Parkman (played by Greg Grunberg) wore in an episode of Heroes, wasn't really inviting. And having two autographs per box didn't present enough opportunity to get the autographs I would want. So, my initial reaction was that I'd probably just wait and try to find the autos I was interested in on eBay.

Then it was announced that the allocation would be different: four autographs and one relic card. So, now my chances had doubled and there was confirmation that some of the autos I would be interested in would definitely find their way into the set.

Then Rittenhouse blew me away last week.

According to an e-mail to dealers and now posted on their Website, in every box of Heroes Archives trading cards, there would be SIX autographs and one relic. This is seven hits for every box. I'd say pretty decent odds of getting a decent auto. The information also indicated that there would be more than 40 signers. Okay, so the odds go down a little bit. But having more than 40 signers opens the door to a lot of interesting actors and actresses.

According to Rittenhouse's Website:

6 Autograph Cards and
1 Relic Card Per Box!

Only 4,500 Sequentially-Numbered Boxes!

Partial list of the more than 40 different autograph signers include:
  • Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet)
  • Kristin Bell (Elle Bishop)
  • Jack Coleman (Noah Bennet)
  • Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli)
  • Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman)
  • Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder Suresh)
  • Malcolm McDowell (Linderman)
  • Jessalyn Gilsig (Meredith)
  • Richard Roundtree (Charles Deveaux)
  • James Kyson Lee (Ando)
  • Zeljko Ivanek (Emile Danko)
  • David H. Lawrence (Doyle)
  • Jimmy Jean-Louis (The Haitian)
  • Madeline Zima (Gretchen)
  • Cristine Rose (Angela Petrelli)
  • And Many More to be announced soon!
Chase sets include:
  • 9 The "Quotable" Heroes Cards (1:8 packs)
  • 8 Heroes Generations Cards (1:12 packs)
  • 15 Heroes Relic Cards (1:24 packs)
Each case will come with a Bruce Boxleitner (Governor Malden) Autograph Card!
1st Tier Multi-Case Incentive Card: (1 for every 3 cases ordered):
Autograph card signed by George Takei (Kaito Nakamura)
2nd Tier Multi-Case Incentive Card: (1 for every 6 cases ordered):
Autograph card signed by Eric Roberts (Thompson)
3rd Tier Multi-Case Incentive Card: (1 for every 12 cases ordered):
HEROES Archives archive box
Set Configuration:
72 Base Cards
5 Cards Per Pack
24 Packs Per Box
12 Boxes Per Case
SRP: $3.50 per pack

So, other sites and commenters have done the math, but what it comes down to is a total of 27,000 total autographs, which is a lot. However, if you divide that by 40 signers, that's 675 autos from each signer. Of course, some might sign more than others, so that number might be skewed a bit. Say, Hayden Panettiere might only sign 400, while Jimmy Jean-Louis signs 750, thus making some less available than others. And the list above includes a couple I'd definitely want, namely Kristin Bell (I'm still looking for her Veronica Mars autos) and Malcolm McDowell. In addition, if the final list of signers includes Milo Ventimiglia, Zachary Quinto, Ali Larter, Brea Grant, Ray Park, Elisabeth Röhm, Jayma Mays, Seth Green and Breckin Meyer then I might not be able to resist buying a box of the stuff.

Now, over the past year as I've gotten back into the non-sport hobby, I've developed a bit of a gambling streak in that I often will take my chances with a box purchase rather than just trying to find what I'm most interested in on eBay. This trait of mine will be discussed in more detail in another post, but with the current allocation of autos for this set, another gamble might be in order. Who knows, maybe I'll make a couple of big pulls and if it's a card I don't want, I can sell it. But maybe a box will include a Kristin Bell, which would make it more than worth it. Then again, maybe I buy a box and get six autos of actors/actresses who are unrecognizable and may have only appeared in one or two episodes.

Of course, that's the gamble. And with this set it's got a hold on me.

Initially my dilemma was - do I buy a box or just get the auto(s) I want on e-bay? Now with the quantity of autos in each box and the possible signers list, my dilemma is - do I buy a couple of boxes or splurge on a case?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How I Got Here, part 2

The first purchases of my return to non-hobby trading card collecting were a box each of Veronica Mars Season 1 and Veronica Mars Season 2 by the now defunct Inkworks. Each box guaranteed one autographed card and one Pieceworks® card. An interesting addition to the Season 2 cards were the very random insertion of printing plates, the actual metal plate used on the printing press to print the cards, called Inkplates™ and four different autographed Pieceworks® cards.

In those two boxes I received one complete base set of each season. I pulled from Season 1 an autograph card of Francis Capra who played Eli "Weevil" Navarro and a Pieceworks® card of a jacket worn by Teddy Dunn who played Duncan Kane. In Season 2 I received an autograph of Alona Tal who played Meg Manning, a Pieceworks® card of a shirt worn by Teddy Dunn who played Duncan Kane and an Inkplates™card from the yellow printing plate of an image from the show of Charisma Carpenter who played Kendall Casablancas. In addition, I received various insert cards but no complete insert sets.

I really enjoyed breaking open these boxes. It was fun even though the cards themselves used less than perfect images from the show and even though I didn't get any of the best pulls. I really, really wanted a Kristen Bell (@IMKristenBell) autograph. But I was pleased and I had been hooked.

Now the story moves along quite briskly and my memory of the events is a bit blurry, but somehow I came across the existence of Rittenhouse's Batman Archives trading cards. What made these different than the Veronica Mars cards was the insertion at the rate of one per box of an actual trading card upon which an artist had drawn a character from the Batman Universe. Batman is without a doubt my favorite superhero and I absolutely love his rogues gallery. So I bought a box of these off eBay. In that box I received a complete base set of the cards (which I will discuss in more detail in a future post), a couple of the retro-insert cards, a couple of the Dark Victory subset cards and one lenticular card of Ra's al Ghul. But the best part was the Andy Price sketch card of Batman on the Batcycle. I didn't know who Andy Price was but I really dug that sketch (will post image in future post), so I found him online.

And art was now a part of the thrill of this new hobby.

I must go back in time just a bit and say that card was not my first piece of original art. In 2008, I attended my first comic book convention at Mid-Ohio Con in Columbus, Ohio. I had wanted to go for sometime, but it had been held on Thanksgiving weekend, thus preventing my attendance. But in 2008, its owners had sold it and its new management moved it to the first weekend in October. Being only three hours away it was the closest show to me, so I finally got to go. I felt a bit out of place not knowing the proper etiquette, but I made some nice comics, graphic novels and toy purchases. But I also purchased a sketch from David Mack and Sean Forney (will post in future blog), as well as a commission from a local Lexington Artist Kenn Minter. But until finding that sketch card in the box of Batman Archives, I thought the Con was my only avenue for getting original art.

Once I discovered Andy's site, I was introduced to a wide array of other artists. I don't remember how or in what order I specifically learned of everyone on the artist's list to the left, but Andy led to another person who led to another person who led to another person. Then, through Twitter, I followed them and continued to find others. It is to the point that I have been finding a new and wonderful artist every few weeks.

And the best part? A number of these artists are amazingly receptive to their fans, especially on Twitter.

So over the course of the last year, I've been buying non-sports cards that I have an interest in and really cranking up my purchase of original commissioned art. There are so many things happening in the hobby that I have developed opinions on and I will share those throughout the course of this blog. I also will share all the pieces in my collection, trading cards and sketches, and comment on those, as well.

I am really loving this hobby and really, really loving the interactions I'm having with artists and fellow collectors. I think it's a shame to keep all this art to myself, so I wound up here, with this blog.

If you are reading this, thanks for the support. I'd love to hear from those of you I don't normally communicate with. Just connect with me on Twitter @Brad_Duncan. Also, artists... after attending Mid-Ohio Con again this November, I'm hoping to expand next year and attend at least one of the larger shows or a least one in another city, so I hope to meet more of you in person.

And artists and card companies... keep the great work coming.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How I Got Here, part 1

When I was a kid I remember buying all kinds of trading cards - baseball, football, basketball and lots of non-sport cards. Of course, they were a lot less expensive then than they are now (but what wasn’t?), and they were so cool. I remember these Pac-Man cards that were scratch-off games. I remember the Star Wars cards from the original trilogy (dammit, i wish i still had those). I remember walking to a local grocery store to see what new cards had come out.

But those days passed, and I moved on to other interests. Now, I can’t deny that as I’ve gotten older feelings of nostalgia have made me think of those cards. But I never had a pressing desire to revisit the hobby.

That is until about a year ago.

For the record, I’m a late-comer when it involves television shows. I have never been on the cusp of what’s hot, especially when a show is just beginning. I think that comes from my tendency to read and write more than watch television. But later, often after a series ends, i will “discover” it somehow. During the summer of 2009, that show was Veronica Mars.

Not wanting to delve into a review of this series, I’ll just say that I enjoyed it immensely. After purchasing the season 1 DVDs, I went searching for season 2 on e-bay. And when I did, something caught my eye.

Veronica Mars trading cards

Who knew that such a thing existed? Certainly not me, since I just thought these types of cards went the way of the Dodo. Not only were there cards of this TV show, but they included things that never existed when I was a kid, at least not that I knew of. With this set there were cards that contained autographs from the cast and cards that were embedded with actual pieces of the clothing worn by the cast in the show! What the hell? That is awesome. How did I not know these cards existed?

Well, then, in the summer of 2009, I knew. And I was intrigued. But it would only get better.

to be continued…