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Saturday, May 31, 2008

2008 Bowman - Box Break, Review and bonus PumpkinFractor

A little break from the Series Two till Monday to let the Fukudome 2012 furor simmer a bit. I bought a blaster of 2008 Bowman about a week ago and I've regretted it. As much as I'm nostalgic for the Bowman sets of the 90's there's been nothing interesting about the product for the past few years, especially since the prospects got segregated and chromed into insert sets. The real inserts in the set are the autos and refractors and they are hard to get. This isn't like '07 Topps Chrome where you got an X-fractor simply for pausing in front of the box at Target, it's more like one or two per hobby box and you're lucky to come anywhere near one in retail. Here's the odds from the back of the packs:

Blue Parallel - Hobby 1:14 Retail 1:32
Orange Parallel - Hobby 1:26 Retail 1:65
Red one of one - Hobby 1:4512 Retail n/a
Chrome Refractor - Hobby 1:34 Retail 1:88
Chrome X-fractor - Hobby 1:65 Retail 1:188
Chrome Blue Refractor - Hobby 1:126 Retail 1:350
Chrome Gold Refractor - Hobby 1:380 Retail 1:1040
Chrome Orange Refractor - Hobby 1:750 Retail 1:2075

None of this stuff coming up is even in retail packs:

Chrome Red Refractor - Hobby 1:3600
Chrome SuperFractor - Hobby 1:18,274
Printing Plates - Hobby 1:732
Auto Rookie - Hobby 1:233
Auto Rookie Blue - Hobby 1:620
Auto Rookie Orange - Hobby 1:1160
Auto Rookie Red - Hobby 1:243,648
Chrome Auto- Hobby 1:37
Chrome Auto Refractor - Hobby 1:113
Chrome Auto X-fractor - Hobby 1:226
Chrome Auto Blue Refractor - Hobby 1:372
Chrome Auto Gold Refractor - Hobby 1:1155
Chrome Auto Orange Refractor - Hobby 1:2495
Chrome Auto Red Refractor - Hobby 1:11,075
Chrome Auto SuperFractor - Hobby 1:55,000
Auto Printing Plates - Hobby 1:4700

Ok, back to the retail odds:

Signs of the Future Auto:
Group A - Hobby n/a, Retail 1:100
Group B - Hobby n/a, Retail 1:1200
Scouts Auto:
Group A - Hobby 1:176, Retail 1:525
Group B - Hobby 1:390, Retail 1:1225

As you can see it's not that easy to pull stuff out of hobby packs and really hard to pull anything out of retail. Plus all the good stuff is in Hobby anyway. Seeing as the price is the same for Hobby and retail, if you want to buy this year's Bowman I strongly suggest you look into getting Hobby wax. If the closest card shop is two states away UPS will still deliver stuff from the interwebs. Better yet, wait about 6 months - you'll thank me later. Anyway I bought the blaster and I can't take it back so I may as well show it off. Here's the stuff:

Base cards - 40/220 (18%)
Red Veterans - 37 (including Ryan Braun, Tim Lincecum, Frank Thomas, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Jason Varitek, Tim Hudson, Ichiro, Jeff Francoeur)
Green Rookies - 3 (Joey Votto, Troy Patton, Hiroki Kuroda)

I'm not sure how I feel about the base design this year. I like the plastic looking borders and the team name which reminds me of a film strip, but the foil is completely unnecessary and kind of hard to read. It scans good though. Photography is decent but nothing spectacular. There's a much better picture to card ratio than Topps at least. Backs are typical bowman with half the card dedicated to scouting reports. It's pretty much a variation on the same theme they've used since 1996. The veteran checklist is your typical MLB Top-200 list. Nothing special. The green RC Logo list is pathetic. Only twenty rookies for the supposed "Home of the Rookie Card" and I'm pretty sure every single one could be pulled out of Topps Series 1 save Kuroda. Seriously, twenty rookies? Awful. The base set should be 100 veterans and 120 rookies to be considered a serious Bowman set. If there aren't enough rookies to go around this early in the year due to the MLB rules, then delay the set till August. Better yet, combine it with Draft Picks and Prospects and have Bowman come out in November in an orgy of Rookie goodness. This... is pathetic. On to the Prospect "insert" cards.

Prospect cards - 16/110 (15%)
Chrome Prospect cards - 16/110 (15%)

I'd list some names, but I seriously don't know who the heck any of these guys are. Ask me again in about three years. When I first saw the design my initial reaction was "Oh my Lord, what IS this crap??" but I have to say it's grown on me. It's kind of futuristic looking and it does work pretty well. The concave borders squishes the photo but there are enough portrait cards in the set so it's not too bad. It's funny, the backs have the exact same curves and pinstripes motif as the front, but it's turned in such a way that is has more of a classical feel to it in contrast to the futuristic fronts. Well designed stuff, this. The scouting reports on the back are useful since I'm not familiar with most of the players. If you combine the Chrome and the base (and I do) there's 29% of the set in this box with no dupes. That was pretty nice since all three hobby packs I've bought this year all had the base and Chrome versions of the same player in each pack. If you add up the Rookies and Prospects, you get 130 cards to the Veterans' 200. Like I said before, this is pretty lame compared to past Bowman sets and Topps should seriously think about moving this set to later in the year to get it back up to snuff. Now for my least favorite part of the set, Gold Parallels.

Gold Parallel Base cards - 6/220 (3%)
Red Veterans - 5 (Phil Hughes, Gary Matthews, Troy Tulowitzki, Hank Blalock, Edgar Renteria)
Green Rookies - 1 (Josh Anderson)
Prospect cards - 2/110 (1%) (Aaron Bates, Jason Stephens)

I have no idea why these cards are in the set except to just waste space. Gold cards at least used to be thick to fool people looking for jersey cards, but there are no relics in this product. These are just gold bordered cards with gold foil. I'd personally rather have 8 more cards for the set. Actually I just sort them into the set like I do with prospect base and Chrome. Other than maybe the gold foil signature on them they sure don't look any better than the base cards. I pulled my first Josh Anderson in a Braves uniform at least which is cool. Josh is up in the bigs now that Mark Kotsay's back finally went on him.

To sum up: The design is well done. The photography is mediocre but acceptable. The checklist is terrible and needs an infusion of rookies. The Chrome cards are fine, but the gold parallels have to go. Move this set back to November and double the amount of rookies and prospects and you might have a really good product here.

Now I didn't pull any refractors or autos out of the box, but I didn't want to just leave you with no good hits at all. I picked up a couple of retail packs on a whim at Target while I was picking up some some random grocery type stuff I forgot toget earlier in the week. Can you believe I pulled this out of a retail pack??

Orange Chrome Refractor card of Pirates farmhand Tom Hagan numbered 08/25. It looks like he's hitting pretty well in A-Ball so who knows, he might take over for LaRoche in a few years. What's really weird is that I pulled it just a day after Steve posted his own glowy Orange pickup on White Sox Cards. If you've never seen one of these before the sucker is really nice. I now understand why the prospecting Chromies chase after the entire rainbow of refractors. How I nailed a 1:2075 card when I just popped in the store to get Sweet & Low and toilet cleaner, I'll never know. For some reason I remember an article in Beckett or somewhere that had one of the guys from Topps discussing the Chrome products. He was talking about the decision to use Orange as one of the refractor colors and how they were nicknamed "PumpkinFractors" by his co-workers. This stuck with me since it was so goofy. I Googled PumpkinFractor before I wrote the post and found nothing, so either the article isn't online or I dreamed the whole thing. At any rate, not only do I have my own PumpkinFractor now, but if you Google it and click "I'm Feeling Lucky" It'll take you right here to this post. How cool is that? I guess Bowman isn't that bad after all but there's plenty of room for improvement.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled across your blog and had to post a comment. I agree with you for the most part, this set NEEDS more rookie cards. Though I do like all of the prospect cards. It would be nice if they didn't have signatures already on the cards though.

Anyway I've purchased 8 retail blaster boxes so far.

This is what I've gotten-

blue #'d to 500 - Travis Buck, Jared Weaver

orange #'d to 250 - Chone Figgins

Singns of the Future Auto - Jonathan Van every, Colby Rasmus

So I've been fairy lucky so far. looks like 1:4 boxes to get an auto

Anyway, keep trying with those blaster boxes and good luck!