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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

2008 Finest Mini Box Experiment Part 1 - Completed!

UPDATE: The experiment is complete! Here's my hand-collated mini box of Topps Finest. My box even had a couple of extra refractors in it! I goofed. I'm still two cards short of a mini box. I'll update when I track them down.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I finished it! And I held out for rookie cards too! See down below! I'm yelling and I don't know why!

I was all ready to buy a mini box of 2008 Finest. Heck, I still regret not getting a mini box last year. The last time I ripped Finest was in 2005 and it was pretty fun. A dealer near me sold individual packs so I got a few and pulled a Mantle Xfractor and a Nelson Cruz Autograph. I wasn't crazy about the red backgrounds, but last year's design I really liked. I could have gotten a mini box if I really wanted to, but I held out for loose packs which never came. This year's set looks similar to last year's and I resolved to get one this year. I had the cash saved up to get one (or two, if the price was right and I decided to binge) and I was all ready to go. Then I saw this and this.

While I think they are kind of silly, I don't really mind these autograph cards of what is essentially booth fluff. Somebody has to be watching these Topps TV videos and they might appreciate one of them. As long as they didn't replace the auto hit in the mini box no one would really care. It was just yet another gimmick. It got me to thinking though... Why exactly am I buying a mini box again? I like the cards, but I've never actively tried to complete a set of the stuff. Normally I wait for the box breaking frenzy to subside and pick up a load of commons dirt cheap. Since there are thirty cards in a box (six five card packs) that are going for 42-45 bucks online, you're looking at about a buck and a half per card. OK, so they're not all commons. there's an autograph, three inserts (two Finest Moments and a Franchise Favorites), four refractors and a one in three shot at a redemption card. Just what we all want, redemption cards. So now we're looking at what... 22 or 23 commons and a handful of inserts for forty something bucks. A box wasn't looking so good to me anymore. Sure I could maybe pull a SuperGoofyFractor or a dual auto or something, but let's be realistic about it. Most people are going to get a prospect auto and one or two low numbered refractor parallels of semistars. I think I fit in the category of 'most people'.

I still like Finest though, so now I want to see if I can recreate a mini box on my own. Just check eBay, there's a freaking flood of refractors and autos out there right now, I can snag enough to fill up a mini box cheap and probably get cards I actually like too. The local hobby shop has a small pile of last year's commons, rookies, Finest Moments and refractors lurking in their cheap boxes too. I'm sure some '08's will start gettign added to them soon. The real killer for me though is when I saw the price tag for a mini box at the hobby store had a '5' at the front. No thanks. I still have my Finest money saved up though, so let's make a box!

I'll post my finds here and keep a running tally on how much my homemade box costs. You think I can beat the price of a box?

I'll start things off with the John Smoltz up at the top of the page. 50 cents for Smoltzie out of the aforementioned cheapo box. Not a bad start.

Up next is a common card jackpot. 19 different Finest cards in the 10 cent box. With a baker's dozen discount I got one free! With Smoltzie, that gives me 20 of 22 commons. Almost a whole mini box of base cards and I've spent $2.30.

Ok, a package came in the mail today with the rest of my box. Some guy busted about 50 cases and put everything up on eBay with 99 cent minimums. Combined shipping rules. Here's what I got:

Four refractors cost me $5.91 cents. The Hudson, McCann and Wladimir Balentien (I had to get at least one rookie out of this box) were 99 cents each while Chipper was the most expesive card I bought at $2.94. The tab so far is 22 commons and 4 refractors totaling $8.21.

Time for the inserts. There are two per mini box and surprise, surprise, mine were both numbered refractors! Not very likely in an actual box, but everything is possible at zombo.com. I got a Blue Smoltzie and a Black Vladdie, both are serial numbered. Once again they both went for the opening bid of 99 cents each. Our running total for 22 base cards, 4 refractors and 2 numbered inserts is $10.21. For comparison, the card shop near me is selling individual five card packs for $10.95 each.

There's also one Team Favorites card in each pack. Unfortunately the only teams who have favorites are the Mets, Yankees, Cubs and A's. All other teams have apathetic fans who don't care for any specific player. I got a Robinson Cano refractor (whaaa? another refractor?) For 99 cents just for mini box completeness sake. One card left and I've only spent $11.20! Will I drop 30 bucks on a rip girl autograph with "Hi mom" on it in red ink serial numbered to 5?

Of course I won't! I'm a cheapskate! I got this for two fiddy!

JOSH ANDERSON!!! BLUE MICKEY FICKEY FRACTOR EVEN!!! Aww yeah, beat that autograph my little beeyotches! I already have autographs of Brandon Jones and Clint Sammons so Anderson was the choice. Topps still hasn't gotten the press release about his trade to the Braves though as he's still gto Astros plastered all over the card. I know he's a Brave dammit, even if Gregor Blanco has stolen his center field job and he's stuck in Richmond.

Ok! Here'e the two rookies I got! I'm still yelling! LOUD NOISES!

Nick Blackburn who is 4-2 and in the Twins' starting rotation...

and the aforementioned Wladimir Balentien who has been called up to the Mariners and has 4 homers in 64 at bats. These guys cost 50 cents each.

Now I have a full thirty card box which is more or less equivalent to what you would pull out of an actual mini-box with the exception of my fantastic luck with refractors. So, instead of paying 50 bucks plus tax for a mini box full of random crap, I picked out all this non-random crap by hand:

22 commons:
12 Eric Chavez
15 Brandon Webb
27 Robinson Cano
31 Gary Sheffield
33 Jermaine Dye
39 Adrian Gonzalez
41 Noah Lowry
42 Vernon Wells
47 Roy Halladay
48 Delmon Young
49 Nick Swisher
53 Torii Hunter
54 Gary Matthews
56 John Smoltz
60 Jake Peavy
62 Jason Bay
64 Jimmy Rollins
68 Lance Berkman
82 Billy Butler
123 Chris Young
129 Nick Blackburn RC
150 Wladimir Belentien RC

4 refractors:
36 Tim Hudson
74 Brian McCann
16 Chipper Jones Blue #286/299
150 Wladimir Balentien Black #90/99

2 Finest Moments:
FM-JS John Smoltz Blue Refractor #185/299
FM-VG Vladimir Guerrero Blue Refractor #52/99

1 Franchise Favorites:
TF-RC Robinson Cano Refractor

1 autograph:
159 Josh Anderson Blue Refractor #297/399

Price of a Mini Box: $50

Price of my completed hand collated Mini Box: $14.70.

It's a good thing I saved all that money 'cause I blew it in a binge! See what I got here!


Captain Canuck said...

I object. I know it's not a SuperUltraLaserRefractorDiecutMowyourlawnforyou card.... but putting any Smoltzie in a lot of commons is just wrong.

Bay Rat North West said...

I object. You are obviously holding out on the Reds. What you got against your former NL West opponents? I get it! No Reds in the commons box unlike a ton of Braves.

dayf said...

Smoltzie wasn't in the common box, he was in the 50 cent box.

I bought up all the finest they had but someone picked out the Reds already. I've got a Red coming in sometime next week for you though. :)

Anonymous said...

This is a great experiment. Way to go Dayf!

Offy said...

I'm really thinking this is the best way to collect these days. I was getting sick of the high prices of new wax and so I picked up some boosters, but there's so few cards in packs these days that you don't really get much out of the boosters. I'd much rather pick up a 400 ct box of a player that I collect or pick and choose singles of the players that I collect from people who have busted a ton of wax.