Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Pro (5finity) - Pack Breaks

I first came across 5finity's sketch card-only packs last year when they issued the March of Dimes Archie series. I purchased a couple of those packs and liked what I saw. Now a year later, 5finity's sets continue to get better and better. And The Pro series is not any different. This set is based on the comic series by Garth Ennis, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Paul Mounts. The comic tells the story of a prostitute who is given superpowers and is recruited by a superhero group called the League of Honor. I had read the comic not long before these cards came out. It was vulgar, outrageous and over-the-top, but hilarious. And certainly not for everyone.

I originally ordered two packs from an online dealer I found, one of only a couple I know of who will sell the packs unopened. It seems most dealers who purchase these cards like to "rip and flip" (I will blog on this technique in a future post): buy a bunch of packs and then post them on eBay to sell at a much higher profit than by selling the packs themselves unopened. I really like the gamble and surprise of opening the pack and seeing what I get.

The packs contain at least one sketch card with the chance to get special packs that could contain rare artist sketches, hot packs with more than one sketch, and sketches by creators Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. There were 800 individually serial-numbered packs in the set. Each sketch card also comes in an Ultra-Pro toploader sleeve.


The first pack I opened contained a sketch by C.H. Miles of the character The Saint. It is a recreation of a panel in the comic in which The Saint is flying next to an airplane on the verge of crashing. And yes, his pants are down in the image.


The other pack included a fabulous sketch of the character The Lady by Scott Rorie.


I was pleased with both of these sketches, and they were two of the best I had received from 5finity products. But I have to admit that I wanted a sketch of The Pro herself. Like I said, I'm a bit of a gambler and like the surprise of opening the pack, so I went back to the same dealer and purchased a third pack.

This time is was the second card of a two-card puzzle sketch that included the villains The Adverb and The Adjective. (I also have some thoughts on puzzle cards that I will address in the future.) Again, a very nice card, this time by Remy "Eisu" Moktar. I've looked for the companion sketch of The Noun and The Verb on eBay, but no luck. Either no one has pulled it yet, or someone has but doesn't want to sell it.


However, I still didn't have a sketch of The Pro. So, I decided this collection wouldn't be complete without one, and I went to eBay and found this wonderful sketch by Kristin Allen (who I had received a commission from not long before receiving these). It was a good price, so I was able to add it to the set.


These are all wonderful pieces and I don't think I could have asked for better pulls from these packs. I certainly can't wait for future 5finity releases.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Harry Potter: Heroes and Villains - Box Break

Last week I decided to go ahead and take the plunge, so I purchased one box of Harry Potter: Heroes and Villains by Artbox. As I said in a previous post, I purchased a case of the previous issue that came out last summer, and I was very impressed with the quality and variety of cards offered in that set. And this set is no different.

The box, as most do nowadays, came shrink-wrapped and on the bottom of the box was the number of the box. This particular box was #265 of 3000 and included 24 packs.



This set has a 54-card base set, an 18-card clear acetate set (numbered 55-72) and a 9-card foil set. Other cards randomly inserted are boxtoppers (1 per box), costume cards (1 per box), prop cards (1 per 2.5 boxes) and autograph cards (1 per 2 boxes).

Like previous Harry Potter sets, the base cards have the name of the set stamped in foil on the front of each card, and the fronts and backs are a glossy finish. As the title suggests, the base cards highlight the heroes and the villains of the Potter Universe. Cards 1-19 have portraits of the "Heroes" with blue in the background and the 20-36 have portraits of the "Villains" with red in the background. Cards 37-53 highlights key scenes from the first 6 films. Card 54 is a checklist. This box contained 3 complete 54-card base sets with just 10 leftover base cards.

The clear acetate cards are really nice. They highlight key players in the films and some include image reproductions of the theatrical posters from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The only problem I have with these cards is that they look a little scratched up. But I guess that's the price to pay with plastic. This box had 12 of the 18 acetate cards, with no duplicates.


The foil inserts are made up of three cards each of Harry, Ron and Hermione, with each card showing a different stage in their progression through the stories. When placed in a 9-card binder page, the backs make a puzzle. This box had four of the 9 cards, with no duplicates.


Each box comes with one random costume card (see previous post for list of possible cards). In this box was DC1, a dual costume card that included pieces of wardrobe worn by Gary Oldman and Sirius Black and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter in the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. One of the things I like about what Artbox does with their costume cards is that they number them. I mostly like this because it lets collectors know exactly how many of each card are available. In this instance, I received #11 of 140.



Each box also comes with 1 of 4 possible boxtopper cards. In last years Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince set, these cards were metal. This time around, they are cardboard. In this box was BT3, an image of Dumbledore.


Lastly, there is a possibility of a prop and/or autograph card, as well. In this case, there was no prop card, but I was fortunate enough to find an autograph card. While I was hoping to pull a Rupert Grint (Ron Weasely), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) or Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), I actually pulled one of the more popular autographs in this set: Toby Jones (voice of Dobby, the house elf). Turns out most of the autos in this set are redemptions, including this one, which means the card I received must be sent in to Artbox in order to get the actually autographed card. I would certainly prefer the autos all be pack-inserted, but it's really no problem.


I posted this box break on the Non-Sport Update Magazine Forums and interestingly enough got in touch with a fellow board member who was looking for a Dobby auto and was willing to trade his Ginny Weasley for it. So, in the end, it turned out really well.

I really dug this set. While I stated previously that I probably wouldn't be getting a case of this product, with the top notch props, costumes and autographs, I think I'm going to pull my pennies together and spring for one. But this time, I'll plan to keep all the good stuff in my personal collection.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Breygent Marketing Does It Again

Okay, so I've mentioned here briefly that I like Breygent Marketing's cards, and I like what they did with their Cartoon and Golden Age of Comics sketch card packs. Well, they are about to do it again.

In a forum on the Non-Sport Update Magazine's Card Talk message board, collectors have been going on and on about these new packs that Breygent is about to unveil at San Diego Comic-Con next week.



According to Harris Toser, production manager at Non-Sport Update Magazine:

"Breygent Marketing has announced some nifty plans for Comic-Con. They will be selling three different sized packs -- 2.5 x 3.5, 3.5 x 5, and 5 x 7. The packs will have the following products inside Cartoon Sketch, Golden Age of Comics, Sci-fi Horror Posters, and Woodstock Generation Rock Poster cards.

"There will be a fourth variety which Breygent is calling "Comic-Con Mystery Packs". These contain autographs, costume cards, prop cards, metallogloss costume cards, and sketch cards from the following products: Dexter, Ghost Whisperer, Paranormal Activity, The Tudors, Cartoon Sketch, and Golden Age of Comics.

"This is all subject to change depending upon availability but this is the plan according to Tom [of Breygent Marketing] as of now."

Tom also has been posting on the forum and supplying images of cards that will be made available in the packs. The sketches look great, but what I am finding most interesting are the autograph and costume cards that will be included. According to posts on the forum, the "Comic-Con Mystery Packs" could include the following: a Michael C. Hall Dexter Season 3 autograph card, a Jennifer Love Hewitt Ghost Whisperer Seasons 3 & 4 autograph card, a Jennifer Love Hewitt and Hillary Duff Ghost Whisperer Seasons 3 & 4 dual-autograph card, Paranormal Activity combo costume/autograph cards, and for those who really like costume cards a nine-piece Ghost Whisperer Seasons 3 & 4 costume card. Of course there will be a wide range of other cards from these and other sets.

Messages from Tom on the forum have indicated that these packs will be made available at SDCC, but for those who can't make it to the show, they also will be made available to non-attendees after the show.

I hope these wonderful packs are not priced out of my range. I'd love to grab that Michael C. Hall auto and others. If any dealers read this blog and are going to have these for sale, please let me know.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Harry Potter: Heroes and Villains

Wow, this one snuck up on me. Not sure how I didn't know this set was coming out, but it hit stores this week: Harry Potter: Heroes and Villains.

Last summer when the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince set came out, I made my first case purchase. And I have to say, I was very, very impressed with the quality of the Artbox product. In the 10 boxes I had, I received a few really nice autographs and some great costume and prop cards. Each box also came with a metal box-topper card, and the case came with a nice laser-etched case topper. The only problem I had with the set was that some of the prop clothing cards were really thick, which resulted in two concerns: it reduced the number of cards in the pack and it made it very easy for someone in a store to pick out the prop/clothing packs if they were selling open boxes. But since I didn't buy mine in a store, it didn't matter to me too much, because I received plenty of them and they were all very nice. Now, a year later, I regret what I ended up doing: I sold them all to raise money for my trip to Mid-Ohio Con. Now, after seeing these, I wish I had those back and really would like to get these, as well.

Anybody got a good price on a case they want to get rid of? :-)

So, now, with the first volume of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows set to hit theatres in November, Artbox has issued this new set (Does this mean they won't do a HP-DH set? I think they will, but maybe they'll wait until the second volume comes out next summer.)

Artbox Entertainment introduces an all new set of Harry Potter Heroes and Villains trading cards which will feature characters & scenes from all six Harry Potter movies: 
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ (2001)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets™ (2002)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™ (2004)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ (2005)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix™ (2007)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince™ (2009)
Look for new card materials, and autograph cards signed by TOBY JONES (DOBBY)™ randomly inserted in packs. Like previous Harry Potter sets from Artbox Entertainment, this card set has plenty of special cards that are sure to be cherished by Hogwarts™ Students and Muggles alike!
Also available is a special collector’s binder featuring "Snake Skin Material" to store your newest collection.

Autograph Cards: (approx. 1 in 48 packs)
  • Rupert Grint
  • Emma Watson
  • Toby Jones
  • Natalia Tena / George Harris
  • Evanna Lynch
  • David Thewlis
  • Matthew Lewis
  • Jamie Yeates
  • Bonnie Wright
  • Ian Hart
  • Jim Tavare
Costume Cards: (approx. 1 in 24 packs)
  • C1 Fred Weasley - HP2
  • C2 Hermione Granger - HP5
  • C3 Kingsley Shacklebolt - HP5
  • C4 Narcissa Malfoy - HP6
  • C5 Tom Riddle - HP6
  • C6 Alecto Carrow - HP6
  • C7 Hermione Granger - HP2
  • C8 Dumbledore - HP6
  • C9 Slytherin Quidditch - HP6
  • C10 Bellatrix Lestrange - HP6
  • C11 Robert Pattinson - HP4
  • DC1 Double - Sirius Black and Harry Potter - HP3
  • DC2 Double - Barty Crouch Jr. and Igor Karkoroff - HP4
  •  DC3 Double - Death Eater and Azkaban Prisoner - HP5
Prop Cards: (approx. 1 in 60 packs)
  • P1 Harry's Test Tube - HP6
  • P2 Candle's from Hagrid's Hut - HP6
  • P3 Defence Against the Dark Arts Second Year Essential Knowledge Test - HP2
  • P4 Papers from the Weasley House - HP6
  • P5 Framed Picture from The Burrow - HP6
  • P6 Mortar and Pestle - HP6
  • P7 Hedwig's Cage - HP1
  • P8 Pixie Case Base - HP2
  • P9 Bottle from Hagrid's Hut - HP6
  • P10 Ministry Munchies Coffee Cups - HP5
  • P11 Slughorn's Cup from Hagrid's Hut - HP6
  • DP1 Double - Quidditch Quaffle and Bludgers/ Broom Bristles - HP1
  • PC1 Double - Death Eater Mask and Costume - HP5
Multi-Case Dealer Incentive Cards:
  • Ci1 (2 cs) Costume - Hermione Granger Skirt - HP2
  • Ci2 (5 cs) Double Costume - Harry and Ginny - HP2
  • Ci3 (10 cs) Double Prop/Costume - Lucius Malfoy Death Eater - HP5
  • Ci4 (25 cs) Prop - Slughorn's Christmas Party Chicken Foot Goblet Base - HP6
Set Break Down:
  • 54 Base Cards
  • 18 Special Clear Cards
  • 9 Rare Cards
  • 4 Box Toppers
  • 3 Case Toppers
  • 4 Case Incentives
  • 11 Autograph Cards
  • 14 Costume Cards
  • 13 Prop Cards
Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to buy a case of these this time around since I used most of my card/art budget this month on the art part (more on that soon). But I will grab a box and see what this set is all about. Come back soon for that breakdown.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cartoon Sketch Card Packs (Breygent Marketing) - Pack Break

As it turns out, Breygent Marketing has been producing high-quality non-sport trading card sets for some time. As I've mentioned, I was late to the current non-sport party, so my first Breygent product was the Dexter Seasons 1 and 2 series. This was a really nice set, with sketch cards, autographs and clothing/prop cards. Now they have entered the realm of companies like 5finity who are producing just sketch cards for popular properties (more on 5finity in another post).

breygent-cartoon-packOne of the first sets Breygent did this year that is sketch only was their Cartoon Sketch Card series. Actually, the package tells a bit of a fib: "Collect the All New Cartoon Sketch Art Card Series from Breygent Marketing Featuring Original Sketch Cards, and Nothing But Sketch Cards!" The fib is that while, yes, every pack includes one original sketch card, it also includes a promo card for the set a Metallogloss card.

But I'll forgive the fib, because these other cards are a nice addition to the pack. What is the best thing about these packs (and 5finity's for that matter) is that collectors are paying for what they really want, the original sketch card. By cutting out a set of base cards, collectors can pay significantly less than what a hobby box of 24-36 packs of cards promising only one sketch card would cost, actually about 2/3 less. So there is certainly more bang for your buck.

The nice thing about this cartoon sketch series, for me anyway, is the subjects of the cartoons. They don't include those characters that we all think of like Bugs Bunny, Yogi Bear, etc. Yet, they are characters that I remember seeing as a child, like Casper the Friendly Ghost, Betty Boop and Heckle and Jeckle.

breygent-cartoon-sketchI purchased one pack which gave me this really nice Heckle and Jeckle sketch from Gilbert YoungRoland. Using this card and other sketches I've seen on eBay as examples, the artists on this set did not hold back on the quality of the art. This card is significantly more detailed and nicer than many I have seen come out of other products, like many Topps properties. Don't get me wrong, those products include a large number of top-quality sketches from top-quality artists, but they also have included far too many simple pencil sketches that don't seem worth the investment. But I digress...

The Metallogloss cards are like a base card but are imprinted on a thick metallic backing, much like a thick magnet, but of course, not magnetic. The one I received is #9 of the set and features an image of Felix the Cat as drawn by Sean Pence, a regular artist on Breygent sets. The Promo Card features Betty Boop and Heckle and Jeckle by Trev Murphy.

I have to admit I'm very pleased with this product. I wasn't sure what to think when it first came out, but my curiosity and desire to have a wide range of art in my collection pushed me to make the purchase. I'm glad I did, and I will do so again with these types of products from Breygent in the future.

breygent-cartoon-metallogloss breygent-cartoon-promo

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Heroes Archives Autograph Checklist

Rittenhouse released the official checklist for its Heroes Archives trading card set due out in August. Here are the 40 actors/actresses who will be providing autographs:

  1. Jamie Hector as Benjamin Knox Washington
  2. Madeline Zima as Gretchen
  3. Kavi Ladnier as Mira Shenoy
  4. Katie Carr as Caitlin
  5. Katherine Boecher as Alena
  6. Blake Shields as Flint Gordon
  7. Sally Champlin as Lynette
  8. Gabriel Olds as Agent Taub/Sylar
  9. Francis Capra as Jesse Murphy
  10. Akihiro Kitamura as Tadashi
  11. Matthew John Armstrong as Ted Sprague
  12. Rick Worthy as Mike
  13. Shalim Ortiz as Alejandro Herrera
  14. Swoosie Kurtz as Millie Houston
  15. Tamlyn Tomita as Ishi Nakamura
  16. Tessa Thompson as Rebecca Taylor
  17. Todd Stashwick as Eli
  18. Ernie Hudson as Captain Lubbock
  19. James Kyson Lee as Ando
  20. Nicholas D'Agosto as West Rosen
  21. Richard Roundtree as Charles Deveaux
  22. Hayden Panettiere as Clarie Bennett
  23. Jack Coleman as Noah Bennet
  24. Kristen Bell as Elle Bishop
  25. Malcolm McDowell as Daniel Linderman
  26. Greg Grunberg as Matt Parkman
  27. Sendhil Ramamurthy as Mohinder Suresh
  28. Adrian Pasdar as Nathan Petrelli
  29. Deanne Bray as Emma Coolidge
  30. Zeljko Ivanek as Emile Danko
  31. David H. Lawrence as Eric Doyle (Puppet Master)
  32. Dawn Olivieri as Lydia
  33. Ashley Crow as Sandra Bennet
  34. David Anders as Takezo Kensei
  35. Alan Blumenfeld as Maury Parkman
  36. Cristine Rose as Angela Petrelli
  37. Danielle Savre as Jackie Wilcox
  38. Jimmy Jean-Louis as The Haitian
  39. Jessalyn Gilsig as Meredith Gordon
  40. Lisa Lackey as Janice Parkman

If I were a fan of this show, I think I'd be pretty pleased with this list, even with Zachary Quinto and Masi Oka missing from the set; however, as I explained briefly previously, I just wasn't. As a result, this list of autographs just doesn't include enough to garner much more than a passing interest for me. The only ones I'd really be interested in having in my personal collection are the ones in bold. I was really hoping for some others (see previous post) that would have made this more interesting to me.

Could I try to make a master set by buying a case and then attempt to make a profit off it? Possibly, but the numbers of each autographer are still unknown, and while a case will yield 72 autos, there could be the possibility of getting 2-3 duplicates of some of them. I have a feeling the more popular autos will be less frequent.

At this point, chances of me buying a case have diminished significantly, with the chances of me simply trying to find a Kristen Bell online having increased dramatically. I will admit though, that if the numbers of each autograph that will be made available in the set are released and they are all equal, a case could still be in my future.

We'll see what happens.