Wednesday, March 28, 2018

It's my dad's birthday, but somehow I got cards

Today's my dad's birthday, yet somehow the afternoon coalesced into him giving me cards over lunch.

Someone should really tell him that birthdays don't work that way. In reality, Dad's had these cards for me for about a week now -- he picked them up during one of his vendor gigs at Target when he stocked the shelves with the newest card releases: Gypsy Queen and Donruss, highlights of the current time of year which Night Owl perfectly deemed "The Dead Zone."

And while I'm not hugely excited for this portion of card calendar, I still think the fact that my dad gets to stock cards at Target is one of the coolest things ever.

Like pretty much all past years of Gypsy Queen, I still remain almost perfectly apathetic about 2018 GQ.

Really, as I sit here before my keyboard, I can't will any words from my fingertips. I have almost nothing to say about GQ other than that the rack pack and couple loose packs my dad gifted me did come with a couple firsts: my first card of Evan Longoria as a Giant and my first card period of Daniel Mendgen, a young handlebar-'stached A's pitcher who happens to share my birthday (I'm a year older than he is).

With qualifications like those, I have to collect the guy, don't I?

This was the only insert I got from my GQ packs and by far the best pull of the lot.

Seriously, why can't all Gypsy Queen cards look like this?

Next up from Dad were a couple hanger packs of Donruss, or as I've taken to calling it lately: The Accumulation Set.

I don't really collect Donruss, I accumulate it. Each year's checklist is filled with guys I collect, and while their designs are usually yawners, they do help me pad the binders a bit. And maybe that's not the greatest reason to buy packs of a set, it'll have to do, because this ain't Stadium Club or Archives.

For that, I'm always good for at least a few packs of Donruss each year.

But while it's become the cool thing to hate on Donruss (and god knows I've done a lot of that in the past), I must admit: the designs of the past couple years have started to give me a tiny amount of hope.

This year's look is about on par with 2017's surprisingly attention-getting design, in that it pays obvious tribute to a past edition of Original Donruss with the shooting stars of '84 (and even includes some guys like Rod Carew who were in the actual '84 set).

Because of that, I don't think it's mere coincidence that this year's inserts are an homage to the '84s, my personal favorite in the long (and often tepid) history of Donruss designs.

And while I don't usually support new brands tinkering with old templates, I have to say that blue borders look pretty darn cool with the shooting stars.

Nothing to say about these, really, but figured they deserved a look.

We seem to be entering an age of endless variations in today's hobby, and Donruss appears to have fallen victim to the madness as well.

But unlike the variations-for-variations'-sake chase cards Topps tries to foist upon us (like the five pages' worth in GQ alone), the Donruss variants at least keep things fun. Donruss is different from most Topps brands in that I don't really buy it for the base cards -- I buy them for the variety they offer (and you certainly get a lot of it, which is more than I can say for the one insert I pulled in five packs of GQ).

So if Nickname variants and Milestone variants add to that variety (including a nod to Mookie Betts's prodigal bowling career), then I'm all for that.

And while I don't judge retail value on sheer quantity, this photo might explain why I feel ripped off every time I open Gypsy Queen.

On the left in this photo is a hanger pack and two loose packs' worth of GQ (retail value: about $16). On the right are two rack packs of Donruss (retail: $10). Which would you rather have? I never thought I'd say this a few years ago when I despised Donruss more than any other collector I knew, but: I'll take Donruss.

Happy birthday, Dad, and thanks for these cards and the thousands of others you've added to my collection over my many years in this hobby -- but really, I'm supposed to give you stuff on your birthday, you hear?


Adam said...

I'll have to admit, I'm a little underwhelmed by Donruss this year. I've yet to get my hands on some GQ but I do agree that paying $16 and getting half the cards as you would in the Donruss packs does feel like getting cheated a bit.

JediJeff said...

While you may not like the price, or possibly the design, I'll take GQ any day of the week over Donruss. Donruss make take the lead in quantity of paper, but you get 50% of a card since their backs are total shit. Hell, without the license, you are getting maybe 35% of a card. And this year's design is suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper ugly.

shoeboxlegends said...

Happy Birthday Nick's Dad! Hope you get some good vinyl or something else on your list. ;-)

Mike said...

Thanks for the birthday lunch,Nick,and hope you aquire a GQ tarot insert soon!

Fuji said...

Not big on Donrus... but I sure love that Chicken!

GCA said...

GQ seems to be migrating away from actual retro designs into very artsy looks. This year's product should be called Gallery Quixotic or something. (Tough to find a word that means something artistic that starts with Q).
Donruss keeps trying, but they seem to be just rearranging the same six elements from the 80's sets. When they get a real license, maybe the creativity will ramp up too...?

Xavier Higgins said...

Donruss is hampered being a weaker sister up against an industry giant. National Treasures & Pantheon as well as Spectra and Gold Standard put some of Topps middling efforts to shame. Donruss Flagship ship is an exercise in monotony, however I applaud their commonsense approach to parallels. I'd trade heavily in favor for your Millville Meteor variant if you care to entertain an offer?

Jongudmund said...

+1 on love for the Chicken

Adam Kaningher said...

Hobbit birthdays work that way.