The Hype - January 2012

When the calendar rolls around to February each year, baseball fans can start to sniff spring training. It might be cold outside, but thoughts of sunshine, green grass and heading out to the ballpark are shared by many. Topps will wet the baseball appetite by releasing it's first baseball card product of the new year around this time. It's one of the best days of the year for me because it seems like hobby forums and sports card tweeters come to life to give an opinion on the new set.

In 2012, Topps was very active in promoting the Series 1 set that released on February 1st. There were special release day Gold Rush Rip Parties at select hobby stores. The hobby stores who did the Rip Parties got a special "Gold Rush Kit" with pins, stickers, balloons and other items. 10 of the hobby store Gold Rush Kits had a special Gold Rush Ticket that was to be redeemed for a 24K gold infused baseball autographed by Ken Griffey Jr., Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. In addition, inside hobby packs of 2012 Series 1 were 10 randomly inserted Gold Tickets for the same ball.


The Gold Ticket - February 2012

Hobby stores and collectors began finding the Gold Tickets. Some hobby stores gave the redemption ticket away to customers. Many Gold Tickets were listed on eBay with the prices ranging from $1,750-$3,395. It's got to be exiting pulling a redemption like this. In fact, on the back of the card, Topps suggests the lucky person should "Tweet Topps and include a picture of yourself with the front of your winning ticket".

The tweeting wasn't really needed to get the ball. All the person with the Gold Ticket had to do was:
Follow detailed instructions on ticket back, send ticket in, wait patiently for 8-12 weeks and your prize ball will arrive! 
2012 Topps Series 1 Gold Ticket 
Photo: Beckett Article  

When 8-12 Weeks turns into 52 Weeks - January 2013

As 2012 rolled on Topps released many more baseball products and if you weren't one of those with the lucky Gold Ticket, you could probably care less about the ball. The people waiting for the Gold Ticket redemption though, started to wonder what was going on.  They waited the 8-12 weeks but no ball showed up. When the clock struck 2013 many were going on a full year waiting for the Griffey Jr/Mays/Aaron ball.  Topps isn't the easiest company to get a hold of in regards to customer service. I don't think it's a reach to say that. While it is possible to get someone on the phone during east coast business hours, the wait time can be long and many people don't have time to call as they are more than likely working themselves. Emailing Topps customer support can be very spotty at best. Topps has various social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook, but in general, the employees in charge of running those accounts are not involved in the customer service side of the business. While these employees can be of assistance at times, it could take many tweets and Facebook messages to get a response.

In January 2013, on sports card forum Freedom Cardboard a collector recounted a story he heard from a hobby shop owner who had a Gold Ticket and also knew of another customer who had two Gold Tickets. While it's unclear which person got fed up with waiting for the ball to get signed, apparently as a replacement for the ball, Topps sent the Gold Ticket holder "cases" of 2012 Topps Archives Baseball. Archives is a mid-low end product that appeals to collectors who like the card designs from the 1970's and 1980's. Many posters on the Freedom Cardboard forum, a well respected community of collectors, didn't seem to think that was a fair replacement for the Griffey Jr/Mays/Aaron ball.

On January 17, 2013 a collector who was waiting on the ball emailed me about his frustration. Despite numerous attempts to contact Topps customer support, through phone calls and the internet, the collector's questions were falling on deaf ears. At one point the collector even mailed a letter to the Topps office in hopes of a response only to be let down once again. On the back of the Griffey Jr/Mays/Aaron ball Gold Ticket it says to: "Smile, celebrate, make some noise!!" This collector wasn't smiling as he was going on 50 weeks waiting for the ball to appear on his doorstep. 
  
Topps Has Balls - February 2013

Through some prodding of fellow collectors, and maybe a little jab from myself, a (now former) employee of Topps uncovered a picture of the ball. It had been freshly signed by Willie Mays and the hopes of Griffey Jr and Hank Aaron signatures awaited.
2012 Topps Series 1 Gold Ball Willie Mays 
  
Hank & Kenny out to Lunch.... Kinda - May 2013

I continued to correspond with the collector who emailed me from January. In hopes of getting some news on the ball I put in a call to Topps to see what was going on. Indeed the balls had been signed by Mays but Griffey Jr and Aaron had yet to sign them. There are only a few decision makers at Topps and generally speaking they aren't the ones picking up the phone. It's best to treat the few Topps customer service reps they have with respect as they can give you some information on your redemption or issue.

One interesting thing of note is that Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr and Willie Mays have "live" autographs available on the market that were redemptions in the original product in 2012. Meaning some redemptions for those three players have been fulfilled. Unfortunately Topps has not been able to get all three to sign the 2012 Topps "Gold Ticket" 24K Baseball. Many collectors experience this frustration with other cards and players. At times collectors can be waiting for a redemption, but the athlete has signed cards that are going into new products. Topps doesn't fulfill it's past obligations before cranking out new sets. 

Take the Summer Off - June - August 2013

Topps had a staffing shakeup in the summer of 2013 that saw several employees leave the company. On the customer service side, the impact appeared massive. Topps began telling customers that redemptions would take an extra 5-6 weeks to be fulfilled because of the staffing need. Many collectors were already waiting over a year for some redemptions so the 5-6 week message was perplexing. Communication coming out of Topps is poor. While they have a strong following of people on some social media sites, they generally use those for promotional purposes only. Getting nuts & bolts information out of Topps can be like trying to crack a safe. If you have an issue with Topps it can be difficult to know what to do. The customer service employees only have limited information on items waiting to be redeemed. The customer service employees can't get Hank and Griffey to sign the ball. There are employees at Topps who do have that obligation and job title to acquire autographs. Mays, Griffey and Aaron have signed cards for Topps since 2012. There might be a somewhat good reason why the ball hasn't been signed but Topps has not communicated with it's customers what that reason might be. 

Around this time period Topps sent out, what they said were 10,000 "replacement autographs" to customers waiting for redemption cards. Doc Gooden, Gary Carter and other mid-tier athlete sticker autograph cards were sent out in mass. Some collectors got the better end of the deal, happy to get something for a card they were waiting on.  Others were disappointed and wanted the item they were originally promised. Collectors did not have a choice to get their cards redeemed for the replacement autographs. Topps just sent out the replacement cards without first contacting the customer.

Not every collector waiting for a redemption card got one of these replacement autographs. Thousands of collectors are still waiting for cards to be redeemed by Topps, including those waiting for the Griffey Jr/Mays/Aaron ball.

2013 Topps Gary Carter Replacement

We Have No Balls - September 2013

I put in another fresh call to Topps in early September to see if there was any update on the 24K ball. Perhaps Aaron or Griffey had signed it and there would be good news to share with the collector who had been emailing me. Unfortunately there was no news on the ball. In a few months it will be 2 years since many collectors got the Gold Ticket.  It's got to be incredibly frustrating waiting for Topps to come through on their end. What a shame that in nearly 2 years only Willie Mays has signed the ball.

It doesn't give collectors or those involved in the industry a very good feeling about the employee talent level at Topps. And I'm not talking about the people who pick up the phone. They do their job as well as they can. It's the upper level management and decision makers at Topps who don't empower their lower level employees to help customers. The decision makers at Topps also don't have a grasp of the costly nature of redemption cards. Having a "backlog" of redemptions (liabilities) is not a good way to run a business. That is why Topps sent out the 10,000 replacement redemption cards. They knew it was dumb on many levels to have those cards waiting to be redeemed. It was probably more of a business move than a customer service gesture. Funny thing is, 2013 Topps products are filled with redemption cards. The problem hasn't been fixed or solved for the end customer. In another couple years they may have to do the same thing and issue a bunch of other replacement cards if decision makers continue their laziness. I wouldn't advise anyone to buy a Topps redemption card. They'll just send you whatever they see fit in a couple years. 
   

Ryan - @SportsCardNews
 
 
   

I've spent the last few weeks watching a multitude of "group breakers" on Vaughn Live hawk their items for sale.  The group breakers are performing the break, live, on the free streaming website. There is a chat box so that everyone watching can comment or bargain with the breaker. On any given night, there can be upwards of 25 different group breakers on Vaughn Live all essentially doing the same thing. Most breakers can get between 5-50 people watching their break at any given time.

1) Most don't handle valuable cards properly

For one, these guys need to learn how to handle the cards themselves. Stop getting your fingerprints all over the cards! Do some of you "group breakers" out there realize that when you send a card in to get graded if your greasy fingerprint is on the card that it impacts the final score? The base cards you can grease up with your fingerprints, but hold valuable cards on their edges and do not touch the surface.

2) Back Ally Breaks

Most of these breaks are going down in some cheap looking 1 or 2 bedroom apartment. Guys, here is a tip, turn the camera away from you when you look like a scrub. I live in one of the most dangerous cities in the United States and some of these group breakers could live in my hometown with how they act, dress, and communicate with their customers. Many will curse, many will mouth off to people in the chat room, some will even brag about how much money they just made. In addition, there is usually some bad 1990's "FAKE Pearl Jam" rock playing way too loud in the background.  If they actually listened to Pearl Jam I'd have more respect for them. But listening to bands imitate Eddie Vedder and crew is painful.

One person in the industry called these group breakers innovative. I doubt he has ever spent a few weeks watching these guys try and break cards on Vaughn Live.  Setting up a $20 webcam and begging the 12 people "in a room" to buy into a break is far from innovative.

3) Some are conducting illegal raffles

Some "breakers" on Vaughn Live will conduct illegal raffles where they use random.org to select the winner of their raffles. One breaker gets pictures of cards on his cell phone from someone who wants to "raffle" a card. The breaker will then conduct a raffle for the card...... even though he doesn't even have the card in his possession. Typically they sell 10 spots in the raffle for $5-20 depending on the value of the card. Once 10 people pay, the breaker conducts the raffle on random.org. One person wins, the rest are left with nothing. Conducting this type of business is illegal in every state in the United States (even if you the breaker are not making any money). I challenge any breaker to prove selling cards in this manner is legal.

There are private Facebook groups called names like "Jam & Jelly" where they will do these raffles in a more private setting. I really don't have a problem at all with gambling. I wish that online poker was legal and regulated. I like to bet on sports when in Las Vegas. But if you choose to do illegal, non regulated forms of gambling, do it in private. Idiots.

4) Many aren't breaking cards, they are trying to fill spots

It's amazing how much work goes into filling a break for some Vaughn Live group breakers. They will spend sometimes hours sitting in front of the camera trying to fill spots in their break. I've spoken (using unprofessional curse words) about how hard it is to scale a group breaking business. It takes time opening the product live on camera, it takes time sorting the cards, it takes time shipping the bubble mailers. To make a lot of money you'd have to break almost 7 days a week. For some, it takes days or even weeks of promoting, tweeting, and being live on camera to try and fill a break. You can't really go to Vaughn Live to watch cards being opened, but you can go there to watch people try and sell spots in a break.

5) Drama

One night, a breaker got his PayPal account shut down. He was running illegal raffles and PayPal froze his account. The kicker was quite a few of his customers also got their PayPal account frozen too. To show you how dumb these breakers are who run the illegal raffles, they will use PayPal to receive payments for the raffles. Instead of paying the PayPal transaction fee, they ask their customers to send payments via "Gift" which charges no fee on PayPal. But, they then make each person send a $0.01 PayPal payment via the normal "Goods" option which does charge a fee. This is so they get the shipping information for the buyer if they win the raffle. It also allows the buyer and breaker to be covered under the PayPal buyer protection policy.

If you know anything about PayPal, they have a filter where they can see all the $0.01 transactions processing through their database. People who work at PayPal know that there is very little reason to send someone $0.01.  More often than not, if you send someone $0.01 on PayPal you are doing something shady to try and skirt the fees PayPal charges. PayPal could probably care less that they are running illegal raffles for worthless sports cards. PayPal cares when you are trying to take money out of their pocket. Pretty simple. Dummies.

On another occasion, a breaker had the feed on his Vaughn Live glitch just as he was showing the random.org results for who won his raffle. The chat box lit up that something was amiss. The look on the breakers face was priceless. He had no idea what to do. Relying on a free streaming service like Vaughn Live will cause these problems. The video quality sucks. The webcams some of these guys use suck. They typically don't have a backup camera going in case a problem arises. Clowns.

6) Breaking cards on camera is not innovative

If it was so innovative why does a new breaker pop up everyday? They all essentially do the same thing. Anyone can buy a webcam. Anyone can sign up for the free Vaughn Live. Anyone can buy from a distributor with the proper tax I.D. number. Some of these guys look like they just got off the graveyard shift at the lumber yard. These aren't "tech" guys. Many can barely work their webcam properly to show the results on random.org or the cards themselves. Many breakers only use Vaughn Live. They have no physical website. They have nothing proprietary. Zero. Nothing. They bought a webcam. They bought a case. Then they started to hawk spots on Vaughn Live. That isn't a great business model. That's a business model any lumber yard worker could copy.

7) Big ego's

I get the impression some of these guys think they are "celebrities" of sorts. The breakers who get 50 people in their room usually have the camera turned toward them so you can see their face (and usually their scrubby apartment). I've seen breakers rap to music on camera. I've seen breakers act like they are on their phone, but they have their eyes glued to the chat box to see what the people in their "room" are saying about them. Some breakers will make cocky and snarly remarks to people in the chat box. One breaker had his wife come in, look down disgusted at the cards on the table, and asked the breaker when they were going to lunch.

I've personally been around some of these guys at events like the Las Vegas Industry Summit and the National Sports Collectors Convention. Many don't realize that the sports card industry is a weak business. Distributors and manufactures will fluff and blow you for buying product from them. It doesn't make you a celebrity.

8) Legit vs. Shady

Some group breakers have a cordial relationship with other breakers. They will buy into each-others breaks or (illegal) raffles. But you can tell there is a hierarchy of sorts in terms of group breakers. Many of the breakers who have physical websites, or have been doing breaks for a long time, seem to run things legit and honest. Only a handful of group breakers on Vaughn Live conduct illegal raffles. I get the feeling that the group breakers who do try and run a legit business, and stay away from the (illegal) raffles, have a negative attitude toward the shady breakers. The shady breakers take business away from the ones who do things legit. I'm actually stunned that group breakers who do run a legit business don't take a harder stance with these shady ones. The competition in the group breaking category is only going to increase if the distributors and manufactures don't limit who can buy this stuff at the wholesale level. If I ran a legit group breaking business I would try and expose the shady characters. It's not personal. It's business.

9) Leaving Money on the Table

These guys could make more money. In the last year I've made $400.00 in ad revenue on YouTube by posting a few videos. $400.00 is pennies. I know that. But these group breakers are cranking out videos each day, hour by hour. They could easily make several thousand a year by uploading their videos to YouTube. When has Vaughn Live cut any of you group breakers a check? Google will cut you a check. What some of these "innovative" group breakers probably don't know is that they will need to properly title, tag, and write good descriptions on their YouTube videos to make good money. It will also help to link to your videos on a physical website. Many of these breakers don't even have a website so the prospects of them making an extra grand or two on YouTube is probably hopeless.

Why don't they sell other things besides spots or (illegal) raffle items? I guess some do. If I had a group breaking site I'd have a bunch of other crap for sale too. Supplies, individual packs, full boxes, full cases, I'd start to build inventory. I'd create an online store. I'd run affiliate ads to eBay, Amazon and anyone else who wanted to cut me a check by just putting a link. These breakers have a base of customers. They have people who trust them. Take more of your customers money. And do it before there are 100 breakers doing the exact same thing you are doing on Vaughn Live.

10) I'd buy into some breakers breaks

There are some group breakers who are running a good business. They treat their customers good. They have backup cameras in case something goes wrong. They have real websites. Quite honestly, some of them are good guys. People I would trust not only with a break, but in life. It's the scummy shady guys on Vaughn Live that hang a dark cloud over the group breaking industry. The distributors and manufactures don't care if some of the breakers who buy from them are scum bags. Most distributors make most of their money selling Magic the Gathering, other gaming cards and board games. They could care less if some scum bag on Vaughn Live wants to illegally raffle off some spots in a group break. Until there is some cleanup and some of the shady group breakers get wiped out of the business, group breaking will be looked down upon by many people in the industry.

 
   
   
   
Donald E Stephens Convention Center

Day #1 At The NSCC
In Rosemont, IL

Wednesday July 31, 2013

2013 Show Information - Tips - Wrapper Redemption Info + More

NSCC Location9301 Bryn Mawr Ave, Rosemont, IL 60018
Donald E Stephens Convention Center  - Google Map

According to the NSCC Official Website - The Wednesday Show Hours Are 4pm - 8pm Local Time

Letter A Icon Wednesday July 31st Autograph Signers
Neal Anderson. - 4:30pm
Dwight Gooden - 4:30pm
Bob Beamon - 5:00pm
Dick Fosbury - 5:00pm
Milt Pappas * - 5:30pm
Mel Renfro * - 5:45pm
Luis Aparicio - 6:30pm

* = VIP Pass Required
 
*** PLEASE Confirm With Event Promoter Times/Availability On Signing Day
Camera IconPhotographs  
Sports Card Radio
Ryan Tedards - Sports Card Radio 2013 NSCC Photo Album
 
2013 NSCC Show Entrance
Blog Icon Day #1 Blogs From NSCC  
Rich Klein’s Ramblings: What I’ll Be Doing at the NSCC
July 30, 2013 - Sports Collectors Daily
 
Everything You Need To Know About Steiner Sports
July 30, 2013 - All About Cards
 
NSCC Notebook: Preview
July 30, 2013 - Beckett
 
Panini America Events Preview
July 29, 2013 - Panini America Blog
 
34th National Preview
July 29, 2013 - Comcast Sports Net
 
National Notes
July 29, 2013 - Sports Collectors Daily
 
Everything You Need To Know About Panini
July 29, 2013 - All About Cards
 
Everything You Need To Know About Topps
July 22, 2013 - All About Cards
 
Tips For Attending The National
Ryan Tedards - Sports Card Radio
 
TV Icon Day #1 Videos From NSCC  
2013 Bowman Platinum Box Break
July 31, 2013 - Beckett
 
2013 Topps Mini Box Break
July 31, 2013 - Beckett
 
Set Up Day At The National
July 30, 2013 - Sports Card Radio
 
Upper Deck Setting Up At The National
July 29, 2013 - Sports Card Radio
 
Microphone IconAudio From NSCC  
NSCC National Preview w/@SportsCardNews
July 30, 2013 - Sports Card Live
 
   
2012 NSCC Highlights 
Wrapper Redemption/VIP Sets
Panini America - Upper Deck - Topps
Topps Panel Discussion Notes
Rayn Tedards - Sports Card Radio
   
Day #1 Link Portal
August 1, 2012 - Sports Card Radio
Day #3 Link Portal
August 3, 2012 - Sports Card Radio
   
Day #2 Link Portal
August 2, 2012 - Sports Card Radio
Day #4 Link Portal
August 4, 2012 - Sports Card Radio

 

More Links, Photos, & Videos Will Be Posted Once Show Begins! HAVE FUN!!

1987 Fleer Basketball Box 

2013 National Show
Chicago NSCC
Show Dates: 7/31/2013 - 8/4/2013

Donald E Stephens Convention Center - Rosemont, IL
Wednesday 7/31/2013 4pm-8pm - Day 1 Links & Info
Thursday - Saturday 10am-6pm
Sunday 8/4/2013 10am-5pm

  

The big show! Hitch a ride and get yourself to Chicago for all the fun at the National Sports Collectors Convention. It's a fantastic time and well worth it if you can afford to attend.

Below you will find links to information from around the web about the event. Email me if you have questions about going to the NSCC or have links to share on the page: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Tracy Hackler Being Interviewed

Pete Rose Giant Autograph Poster 

Get NSCC Tickets
National Show Tickets

Official NSCC Site
The National Sports Collectors Convention

 
How Much Is It?
 
General Admission:
$20 Advance - $25 Day Of Show
   
VIP Package:
$129
Advance - $139 Day Of Show -
Includes admission to all days. Gift Package. 12 select free autographs. + More+
Super VIP Package:
$179
Advance - $189 Day Of Show -
Includes everything in VIP + Double Gift Package, 18 select free autographs and Free Parking.
 
All Access VIP Package:
$229 Advance - Includes everything in VIP + First in line privileges to autograph guests. 5 Free TriStar Autograph Authentications and 2 Photo opportunists with autograph guests.
 
All Access Super VIP Package:
$279 Advance - Includes everything in All Access VIP + Double Gift Bag, 18 select free autographs and Free Parking.
 
NOTE: VIP guests can get in 30 minuets early which can be helpful if you want a popular wrapper redemption offer or get in line for an early autograph signer.

Autograph Guests - Ticket Prices & Packages

TriStar Authenticated controls the autograph tent at the NSCC show. Be sure to check out their website for all the information regarding scheduled guests as well as pricing. Buying a VIP package will get you some select autographs for free.

If you want to get an autograph but don't have anything to get signed don't worry. You can pick up an 8x10 or another item at the TriStar Pavilion or you could purchase something else from the many, many dealers on the show floor. Some of the top autograph signers at the 2013 NSCC are: Roger Clemens, Rickey Henderson, Chipper Jones, Cal Ripken Jr., Bart Starr, Damian Lillard and many more!

 
Wrapper Redemption & Promotions
 
If you are looking to get one of the Topps wrapper redemptions, be prepared to stand in line. It might be worth it, they often times have some good incentives to buy at the show and take it to their booth to redeem. Many dealers stand in line before the VIP and public are allowed in.  The picture shown is of collectors standing in line 3 hours before the show started on Saturday. Collectors Stand in Line For NSCC 
  
Topps Wrapper Redemptions at 2013 NSCC
 
8 Card 1952 Bowman Style Wrapper Redemption - Beckett News
Open 5 packs of Topps or Bowman products at the Topps booth and receive ONE card.  Booths like DA Card World and Blowout Sports Cards will have plenty of cheap packs to buy and take over to the Topps booth. Be fast! Some players run out quickly at the booth.
Checklist: Ernie Banks - Frank Thomas - Mike Trout - Bryce Harper - E.J. Manuel - Geno Smith - Tavon Austin - Eddie Lacy
 
2013 Bowman Platinum Baseball Wrapper Redemption
Open an entire box (they will just let you rip open the seal of the packs and not go through each card) of 2013 Bowman Platinum Baseball and get a 25 card set serial numbered #/499.
NOTE: Just 100 Sets available per day! This is why people stand in line. Plan ahead if you want a set.
 
Topps Gets artist James Henry Smith to design 1952 Bowman Promo Set - Sports Card Info
There is some good information on the 8 card promo set from Topps on Sports Card Info, including the artists Facebook page where the original details of the set first became known.
 
Press Pass Wrapper Redemptions at 2013 NSCC
 
Press Pass Wrapper Redemption - Beckett News - Sports Card Info
Open a box of 2013 Press Pass Racing, Total Memorabilia, Ignite, Redline or Fanfare and get a pack with cards numbered to #/10 or less and a parallel card #/3. Look for special autographs of top drivers.
 
Upper Deck Wrapper Redemptions at 2013 NSCC

Open 5 packs of either: 2013 SPx Football, 2013 Upper Deck Football (Hobby), 2012-13 SP Authentic Basketball, 2012-13 NHL SP Authentic, 2013 Goodwin Champions.

OR Open 2 Packs of 2012 Fleer Retro Football, 2012-13 NHL Fleer Retro or 2012-13 Fleer Retro Basketball.

Note: PACKS MUST BE PURCHASED FROM A CERTIFIED DIAMOND DEALER AT THE SHOW.

You Get: 1 5 Card Pack.

Thursday Checklist: Rory McIlroy, Mark McGwire, Troy Glaus, Jonathan Toews and Cheyenne Woods.
Friday Checklist: LeBron James, Tony Cingrani, Wayne Gretzky, Tony Gwynn and Brandon Saad.
Saturday Checklist: Tiger Woods, Bobby Hull, Reggie Jackson, Pete Incaviglia and Ken Griffey Jr.
Sunday Checklist: Michael Jordan, Frank Thomas, Patrick Kane, Darryl Strawberry and Jim Abbott.

Look for randomly inserted autograph cards. More information on Upper Deck Wrapper Redemption

 

VIP Card Sets
If you purchase one of the many VIP National Packages you will get either VIP sets from companies like Topps, Panini, Press Pass and more. Some VIP packages allow you to get two sets.
 
Press Pass - 5 Card Fan Following Set.
Checklist: Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Jimmy Johnson.
 
Panini America - 6 Card VIP NSCC Set. - More Information Panini Blog
Checklist: E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Oscar Tavares, Nail Yakupov + 2 MORE TBA
 
Upper Deck - 6 Card VIP NSCC Set.
Checklist: Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, Jonathan Toews, Frank Thomas, LeBron James
 
+MORE TBA+
 
What To Expect

Expect a great time. You can easily spend all five days there and have a blast. It's a massive candy store where if you are looking for single cards, you'll have options from $0.10 cents - Babe Ruth Cut Signatures. All the big auction houses will have memorabilia on display like a Jackie Robinson game used jersey or Michael Jordan's American Express card.  If you like un-opened wax, check out the booths of DA Card World, Blowout Sports, Atlanta Sports Cards and many others that will have very solid deals on new and older products. The booth by Baseball Card Exchange will feature unopened wax and packs from the 1950's - 1980's. It's a trip down memory lane and it can be expensive if you want a rare item.

If you are going you might want to go VIP. You'll get some free stuff and it's $20-25 to get in each day anyways. In addition you can get in 30 minuets early which can help with autograph lines and the Topps or Panini wrapper redemption lines.

Getting autographs from the paid guests is not my cup of tea, but it is a popular thing at the National. Some of the prices can be kind of high, but some people treasure that moment to get in front of their favorite athlete. If you get one of the VIP package with the free autographs it can add value and is another reason to go VIP.

I loved going around to each table - which can take an entire day or two at least.  It seemed like every dealer had some card that was amazing. I remember asking one dealer how much the PSA 7 Ty Cobb T-206 he had on his table was and he said around $25,000.  It was cool to be that close to something worth the value of my condo! There was one dealer in 2012 where everything on his table was $1. I got a graded ITG Hockey patch last year that I sold for $60 that I bought at at that dealers table. Find that guy, he has some gems at his booth.

Prices on cards and boxes can be pretty good and you can find a deal. Just know your stuff before you go and you might want to have a gameplan if you're thinking about buying a big card. In 2012 I got a Joe Montana PSA/DNA autograph for $40 which I thought was a good deal. Many dealers will knock off some money so don't be afraid to bargain.

I would recommend staying close to the Convention Center in Rosemont. There are some nicer and more expensive hotels toward the baller area of Chicago but those can be a ways away.  On the NSCC website, there are even hotels that have a skywalk to the Convention Center which could make it real nice if you have to lug up a bunch of cards to your room.


 

Other Stuff That Goes Down

One of the things I really enjoyed in 2012 was going to a couple dinners hosted by people involved in the hobby. One was for online forum Freedom Card Board. The pasta buffet was much needed after a long day on the show floor and you meet some super knowledgeable collectors. Be on the look out for people that have things going on during the after hours of the show. Group Breakers MojoBreak and Layton Sports Cards are planning a joint dinner with customers and those can be a lot of fun.

The Chicago Cubs have home games during the 2013 NSCC and on the August 2nd game against the L.A. Dodgers they will be giving away cards #41-60 in their special Topps Archives promotion. Check out the information at the bottom of the 2013 Topps Archives Baseball for a checklist of the cards to be given away that day. I've been to Wrigley and it's an amazing place. You can usually get cheap tickets on StubHub.

Eat Pizza! Chicago is famous for it's deep dish style pizza and at the right place it is incredible. If you are on a diet, then you might not be able to eat for three days after indulging in Chicago's treasure.

Will the Topps Q&A Panel go down again? At past shows Topps will hold a question and answer session with collectors in a conference room at the NSCC location. Last years proved to be informative and a positive thing for the people in attendance. Topps has a sign up sheet on their booth at the show, be sure to get your name in. But you might be able to just walk into the Q&A session, as they didn't check names last year. They also give away stuff so your odds are decent to win something. Here are some notes from the 2012 Topps Collector Q&A session.

There will be a 25,000 sq foot Olympic Pavilion with memorabilia on display during the 2013 NSCC in Chicago. This will be a must see as you'll get a look at some rare memorabilia from the history of the Olympic Games. Hopefully they have some 1992 Dream Team stuff, I would love to see a Magic Johnson jersey!

Famous Fabrics will be giving away their Quad Redemption autograph of Beatles members: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Wow. You had to get a special redemption card in one of their past products, but this will be a card they will have on display and you might want to check it out.

 
Videos From The 2012 National in Baltimore
Baseball Card Exchange
Great Vintage selection of packs & boxes
DA Card World
Current Unopened Wax Deals
Blowout Sports Cards
Current Unopened Wax Deals
     
Panini America Booth
Popular U.S. Card Maker
Bench Warmer Cards
Female Trading Card Maker
TriStar Merchandise
Get Stuff To Get Autographed
     
Beckett Media
Print Magazine & Card Grader
Babe Ruth Autographed Baseball
Estimated $300,000
 
 
2012 NSCC Information & Links: Sports Card Radio
2012 NSCC Facebook Photo Gallery: Sports Card Radio Facebook
Will update with video & pictures from the 2013 Chicago show!
 
NEW 2013 NSCC Day 1 Links & Info
Sports Card Radio 2013 NSCC Photo Album
   
 
Jackie Robinson Game Used Jersey National Sports Collectors Convention 1971-72 OPC Series 2 Hockey Box
   
What to Bring

Depends on what your after. Don't worry about card supplies or boxes, there will be many good dealers selling everything from Team Bags to Baseball Bat holders. You need a backpack at least. Some collectors opt for the rolling suitcase approach. Whatever you decide, even if you are only buying a few things you'll need a place to stuff all the little items you'll pick up.

CASH. Hopefully lots of it! The ATM's around the convention center may be tapped out at some point during the show so plan accordingly. Cash is king. There might be a few dealers who can process a credit card or paypal order for you but don't plan on it.

Probably try to bring in some water or a snack. They will have some places to grab some food, but you'll want to keep yourself hydrated as you sift through the quarter boxes. It will be a long day on your feet so plan accordingly. Ladies, it's not a place to wear your designer heels. Guys, wear the shoes that are most comfortable because you will have sore feet at the end of the day anyways.

If you have some stuff that you might want to sell, bring it in. Keep in mind in 2012 I didn't see a whole lot of dealers looking to buy. I saw a lot more guys ready to buy at the TriStar show in San Francisco in 2013. But don't let that discourage you. I was buying cards from collectors at the show last year as I was just walking around! Make sure you bring your good stuff and not anything from 1990 Topps.


Future National Shows
The National will return to Chicago every other year through 2019 - Susan Lulgjuraj - Beckett News
2014: Cleveland - 2015: Chicago - 2016: Atlantic City
2017: Chicago - 2018: Cleveland - 2019: Chicago

In this article on Sports Collectors Daily they talk about the lone trip to Atlantic City in 2016 and also why the National hasn't come out west to places like San Francisco and Anaheim.
 
 
Topps Booth At National NSCC Box and Pack Pickups Lew Alcindor Rookie Card