Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Upper Deck 2013-2014 Hockey Series 1 2 Tin Break

I happened to be in my local TRU because, well, I was.  I love looking for the cool sales right before Christmas, and today's card special was $16.99 for any collectible card tin, I grabbed a tin of the current and red-hot Upper Deck NHL series one and it rang up $39.99 on the price check, but I took it up to customer service and they price-matched it for me.  It was such a good deal I bought two.

Here's the breakdown: 12 packs of 8 cards each = 96 cards.

Tin 1
Topper - 5x7 MVP #35 Mario Lemieux

86 x Base.  No doubles (4 Kings Greene, Carter, Clifford and Kopitar)
3 x Young Guns (1:4) #209 Jean-Gabriel Pageau, #223 Alex Killorn, #238 Nathan MacKinnon

2x MVP (1:8) #2 Adam Henrique, #21 Jeff Skinner
1x MVP Rookies (1:24) #60 Vladimir Tarasenko
2x UD Canvas (1:6) #C4 Milan Lucic, C21 Brayden Schenn
1x Shining Stars Goalie (1:12) #G7 Martin Brodeur
1x Case Hit (1:600) Hockey Heroes Header

Tin 2
Topper - 5x7 MVP #42 Wayne Gretzky

84 x Base.  No doubles (1 King - Voynov)
3x Young Guns (1:4) #201 Carl Soderberg, #212 Tom Wilson, #250 Checklist

2x MVP (1:8) #1 Tomas Fleischmann, #2 Adam Henrique
2x UD Canvas (1:6) #C7 Carey Price, #C44 Mark Letestu
1x Shining Stars Goalie (1:12) #G2 Henrik Lundqvist
1x Hockey Heroes (1:12) #HH42 Mark Messier
1x UD Game Jersey (1:24) #GJ-BS Borje Salming

All told: 190 Cards

170 Base (2 Doubles)
6x Young Guns (1:4)
4x MVP (1:8)
1x MVP Rookie (1:24)
4x UD Canvas (1:6)
2x Shining Stars Goalie (1:12)
1x Hockey Heroes (1:12)
1x UD Game Jersey (1:24)
1x Hockey Heroes Header (1:600)

When you're paying about $40 for the equivalent of a box of brand new Hockey cards that retails for around $80 you're already ahead of the game.  I'm actually pretty happy with my purchase, I'm really close to a full set when I include the few packs I picked up prior to today.  Nothing I pulled outside of the Hockey Heroes Header is all that exciting though, and really the header isn't all that much either.  Sure it's fun, and it reminds me of the early 90s trying to pull the Baseball Heroes sets, but since this is my first foray in Hockey cards in several years, I'm not even sure who most of these guys are, outside of the Los Angeles Kings.

So here's my list of base needs.  All the inserts I pulled above, plus an Ovechkin MVP and a Bossy Hockey Heroes are up for trade.  Not trading  Young Guns at the moment.   I also want ALL Los Angeles Kings cards.  From any year.  I've got a large collection in storage of the pre-Kopitar/Brown era, so I'm really looking for more recent Kings.  My current and up-to-date Needs list is located HERE and I promise to update this as needed.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ReBlog - Inside the Making of an Upper Deck NHL Set

I love these types of behind the scenes videos, the process of making a card is really interesting to me, especially the design aspect.  I'd love to work at a Trading Card company.  I should look into that.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Further Adventures in Custom Trading Cards

I'm really having a great time making custom trading cards lately, especially when there's an event that I can piece together to make a fantastic collectible.  We attended the Los Angeles Kings v. New York Islanders tilt on Saturday night having gotten tickets to support the Girl Scouts Family Night at Staples.  This being our second game of the season we were really pumped to see a Kings victory.  When I found out that we'd be getting to see Martin Jones second start in the NHL I got really excited, yes I know a true hockey fan shouldn't get happy over a rookie goaltender, but I really think that Jones, age 23, could be the future of the franchise, not that current starter (since Jonathan Quick got injured) Ben Scrivens is chopped liver.
Martin Jones getting ready for his NHL Debut against the Duckies.

Jones first NHL game came on Tuesday of last week, facing the hated Anaheim Ducks.  His numbers were pretty darn good in the regular session and even better in the overtime.  He stopped 25 of 27 shots in regulation and one in overtime.  The only goals he allowed were a tip in by Ryan Getzlaf where he was screened badly and an early 3rd period power-play goal by Corey Perry The Kings got goals by Jeff Carter to start the scoring and then when they were down 2 - 1 with about 15 minutes left in regulation the Captain Dustin Brown tied it up on a wrister.  After the overtime we go to a shootout these days.  The Kings have the second best shootout record in the NHL currently, with 5 wins to only 2 losses, however both of those losses happened recently, one against Buffalo in the game where Quickie got injured and Scrivens had to come in for the 1:20 remaining in the overtime and face the Sabres one-on-one.  Versus the Ducks neither team had any success in the shootout for the first EIGHT rounds!  Jones made some incredible saves that looked nearly impossible and Dwight King finally put it past Jonas Hiller in the 9th round.  It was a beaut and good enough to give Jones his first NHL victory.

It was Larry Murphy Legends night on Saturday, which meant two things; one we each got a nice Murphy bobblehead and two the Kings wore their throwback Purple and Gold uniforms, which really looked incredible in person contrasted with the old-school white and orange Isles sweaters.  Everything was set up to be a great game, but in the first period with no scoring and lackluster play from the home squad it really wasn't looking that great for our boys.  Until Anze Kopitar received a fantastic pass from Alec Martinez fought off Travis Hamonic and went top shelf against Poulin.  I've never seen a prettier goal in person to be honest.  It starts at about 1:09 of this video.

Dustin Brown scored his second goal in two straight games in the third and ROY candidate Tyler Toffoli added an empty netter for Jones first shut-out.  He wasn't even that busy, he only had to make 16 saves, and only a couple of them were really quality scoring chances.  This kid looks incredible and I'm really happy to have been able to see him play in one of his first games of his hopefully long and storied career.

We actually got three physical tickets for the game, something that is in short supply these days.  With the home printing of tickets and scanners at the game making sure everyone has a bonafide seat there just aren't that many stubs made for each game.  After my success with the Don Rickles Cut Signature Card I really wanted to make more cards.  What better memorabilia to embed than our own ticket stubs?  I used Topps 2009 Ticket to Stardom Baseball set as inspiration and I'm pretty happy with the results.  I'm making two this time, even though we have three tickets, one has to go into my ticket stub scrapbook.

One of these is going to my daughter, I'm keeping the other.  She said she's going to hold onto it forever and give it to her kids.  She's seven.  Now she wants to make her own trading cards, good thing I have some canvas types that she can just draw on, because there's no way I'm giving her an exacto-knife.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Adventures in Custom Card Making

A couple of months ago I found myself wandering around the massive new arts and craft store Michaels with my wife.  Perusing the artists' supplies I found several packets of blank trading cards, both canvas and thick card stock and best of all they were on clearance costing me about 50 cents per pack.  I dutifully bought several dollars worth and promptly forgot about them.

Cut to a couple months later and we bought a brand new Brother all-in-one Scanner/Printer, that has spectacular color printing.  After yet another clearance purchase of some thick card stock I had the brilliant idea of creating my own trading cards.

My first effort is this lovely piece of my family and I meeting Thor on the first day of the Treasures of Asgard experience at Disneyland.

My process was pretty simplistic, I grabbed a couple of pics off the internet because my own pics of the exhibit weren't that great.  I then laid everything out in Word, because I'm not a PaintShop expert.  Printed, glued and trimmed, it's a great effort, but nowhere near perfect.  Still I'm rather proud of my 1/1 card.

 Recently I was gifted with a cut signature of the legendary insult comic Don Rickles.  I won't say how I obtained it, but my first impulse was to make my own cut-signature card featuring "Mr. Warmth" in one of my favorite roles, Crapgame from Kelly's Heroes.  Honestly if I could obtain them, I'd make cut sigs of all the stars of that movie, and there's a TON.  Clint Eastwood and Donald Sutherland are still alive and shouldn't be too hard to obtain.  Telly Savalas has been gone for almost two decades so his sigs are out there but they are getting expensive.  A quick perusal of eBay says I can get one from a certified check for about $90.  That seems a bit too pricey for me to simply cut it up and put it in a trading card that I'm never going to sell anyway.  Still it's a dream and you never know with dreams.

Here's the Don Rickles card:

Now on the Thor card I simply transcribed the narration of the event itself (from my own video I might add).  For the back of the Kelly's Heroes card I wrote my own copy.  I'm especially happy with the pic on the front of the card which is straight from the theatrical poster.  I love the expression on Crapgame's face, and that gun, if you've watched the movie, is a point of contention for the Sarge.  Now I haven't met Mr. Rickles, but I sure would like to, just to say "Hi" and thank him for years of laughter.

I have no idea what my next card will be, I'd like to try a memorabilia card with a swatch of Jersey or fabric embedded.  I own a Los Angeles Kings practice worn jersey from the Gretzky era, but I have no idea who actually wore the jersey.  So while it would be fairly simple to cut a small swatch off the jersey without ruining it completely, I'd like to picture someone on the card that I knew wore the jersey.  However at this point it's impossible to prove the provenance of the piece, even when I purchased it from the Kings themselves (though the Art of the Game store at Staples Center) they didn't know who wore it either.

I also own a piece of fabric that came from the same bolt that was used for uniforms in Star Trek Nemesis but I'm not sure exactly where that fabric happens to reside at the moment.  I'm also thinking that a ticket stub card would be cool, though these days you don't always get physical tickets when you go to a sporting event.  Though oddly enough we have tickets for tonight's Kings v. Islanders tilt at Staples and we do have physical tickets, and since it's Girls Scouts night, and Larry Murphy Bobblehead night a card featuring one of our stubs from tonight's game would be really neat, especially with a cool pic from the game.  Hmm...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hasbro KREO sets are 50% off at Toys R Us Right Now

I have no idea how long this sale is going for, they didn't do a thing for Black Friday on Kreo, and they ended their month long Buy One Get One 40% off this last Wednesday.

I have honestly lost track of how many Kreo sets I've purchased, I've got at least two from every line so far with the exception of their new "Cityville" sets, and the only reason I haven't pulled the trigger on those is that the mini-figs that come with them are teensy-tiny.  I may start getting them for my daughter though.

Kreo, if you don't know, is Hasbro's latest attempt to unseat the goliath Lego as the supreme building block maker.  Hasbro began with built-in licenses, focusing their first two lines on in-house properties Transformers and the ill-fated Battleship movie.  Most folks don't realize that the bricks and sets were supplied by Oxford Toys, a South Korean company that has done the Lego Clone thing for quite some time already.  Their military designs are really top notch, and it seemed like a good fit with the military-themed Battleship sets.

The lure for me for the Transformer line is the mini-figures or Kreons as they call them.  Kreons are slightly more posable than Legos, and they are also a bit wider.  For Autobots and Decepticons these figures work great and Hasbro has churned out dozens of different figures that come in bigger sets AND blind-packed figures.  There's at least 40+ figures available in "blind" bags (they really aren't blind, if you know the codes you can figure out which character is in each bag).  They don't double up the figures either, i.e. the blind bag figs are not in the larger sets.  They have also started doing "deluxe" figures which aren't blind bagged and come with a ton of accessories and a stand.

The main Transformer sets are "2 in 1" meaning you can create EITHER a huge brick built robot OR their Alternate mode, but neither actually transforms.  After initially building both modes on the smaller Autobot sets, I stopped building the robot mode all together.  The robots are really off model (except for the excellent heads) and look terrible.  Whereas the Alt-modes look FANTASTIC and are really hefty builds.  I'm especially fond of the biggest initial set, Optimus Prime (which I bought at ROSS for $25) because he not only has the cab, but he also has the iconic trailer which is big enough for a roller to fit in, but doesn't come with one.  He comes with five Kreons and two motorcycles.  I also really like the Starscream set because the Jet is a heavy F-15 like plane with a decent amount of armament and articulated sections. 

Since Transformers is a wholly owned property GI Joe fans soon started clamoring for their own line of Kreo sets, and we were rewarded earlier this year with our own sub-line, albeit only available at Toys R Us.  Still, the GI Joe Kreos are awesome, though their line is not nearly as robust as the Transformers.  Two series of Blind-Bags and about a dozen sets are what we have so far, and a couple of those sets are straight "re-decos" of the Battleship line (the Helicopter that comes with Wild Bill has been done no less than three times in Kreo already).  I really hope the Joe line continues because there are some great sets that can still be made and I really want to finish my Original 13 figure set.

Now, after all of that you might think I would have gone back to one of my favorite properties when I popped into my local TRU today, but nope, I continued my collection of Star Trek Kreo sets today.  How and why Hasbro got the Star Trek Brick property I really don't know.  Star Trek and toys lately are very very hit and miss.  The toys that Diamond Select are making are great, but really only stocked at TRU and Comic book stores, and I wonder how well they're selling these days.  The Playmates line that was released with the 2009 JJ Abrams movie was poorly made and even more poorly received.  The 3" figure line (can't call them 3 and 3/4" because they weren't) was axed before the second wave was released, which not only denied collectors of a much better set of sculpts and figures, but also the ability to create the massive bridge set, as each figure came with a piece of the bridge and they were split up between the two series.  Inexplicably Playmates went with three sizes of figure lines, none of which sold well, and in fact can still be found on some store shelves nearly five years later.

The fact that there wasn't a massive toy line associated with the highly anticipated sequel wasn't that surprising given the utter failure of Playmates to exploit the property wisely, but as I said, Hasbro did license a few things from Paramount, and thus we got Abrams series Kreo sets.

There's two different sub-lines here, a smaller line of ships includes the Enterprise, the USS Kelvin and the Jellyfish from the first movie, and a Klingon Warbird that looks more like the TV series design than the Abramsverse designs.  These ships have an MSRP of $5.99 and are a quick build, much like Lego's Polybags or small sets, and while they don't have Kreons, they do have a light brick and that's pretty cool in of itself.  I already have the Enterprise and the Klingon ship.

The second and larger line is clearly focused on "Into Darkness" and includes the Enterprise, The USS Vengeance, a small Klingon Scout Ship, a Shuttle and two "scene" sets: the Airlock jump and a Transporter.  There's also a six figure blind bag set with totally non-essential figures (so much so that even though I know the codes, I haven't bought any yet, whereas I've bought dozens of Joes and Transformers already).  After the initial sets were released and fairly well received, TRU snagged themselves an exclusive "Star Fleet Face-Off" set which has the previously issued Enterprise AND a newly designed Klingon Warbird.  This set retails for $75 and comes with eight Kreons, Kirk, Spock and McCoy in new decos, Chekov and Sulu in Star Fleet Togs.  It also has two identical Klingons and a third different version.  THAT's the set that I purchased today and just finished building.

She's a doozy that's for sure.  The Enterprise is the real star, and she is HEFTY and well built.  I don't even think there's many greebles that can come off her.  While her hull is mostly one piece, there's enough building to make it fun for most kids and adults.  They say you can put the figures in the saucer section, which is detailed for five figures to sit, but you really can't seat them and put the lid back on.  No such problem with the Klingon ship, all three warriors fit perfectly.

My only issue with the set was that my one unique Klingon has two left arms.  No biggie, I snagged a robot arm off one of my extra Transformer Kreons and now my Klingon has a bionic arm.

IN any event, if you're a GI Joe, Transformer or Star Trek fan and you enjoy Lego as well, check this sale out, it doesn't get much cheaper.  Though the early Transformer and Battleship sets can often be found at discount retailers like Ross, TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning.  Even then you'll be paying just about 50% off the original retail price and these are older sets.  This sale is the same and they have all the new sets, including the Transformer Combiners and the new Deluxe Mini-Fig sets.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pacific Rim Heroclix for Sale

Ahh Heroclix, my old friend, you license a property that I love and I have to go back and purchase you.  You suck me right back in.

A little history - I collected Heroclix from the initial set through to about the 10th set overall.  I was able to pull great pieces and played in tournaments and for fun up until about the release of the Galactus big figure at Wizard World Long Beach in 2004.  After that fiasco I had a very bad taste in my mouth, and promptly switched to WizKids newest game Pirates, which let's face it, was far more interesting.

Almost a decade later, I found myself purchasing Heroclix again, why?  Because of Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim.  This movie was what I'd been waiting to see for decades.  It contained virtually everything I wanted to see in a Giant Robot vs. Kaiju movie; believable giant robots, menacing kaiju who were even CALLED kaiju, bad acting, bad scripting, and fantastic special effects.  It was almost a perfect film for me.  No, it's not a great film, but it is a great MOVIE, and there's a big difference.

Of course I'd like to be writing this blog about the NECA Action Figure line, but unless you snapped up Series 1 at retail on the two days they were available at Toys R Us, you're paying close to $40 for each figure that originally retailed for about $16.   Instead I take the budget minded route and talk about the miniatures game from NECA, Heroclix.

NECA purchase the rights to Heroclix from Topps some years ago and revived the brand to where it's actually bigger than ever now.  Pacific Rim seemed like a no-brainer for a Clix product, but as of now it's just one set of 10 figures with a "mini-game" release.  The mini-game contains 2 clix, a nice but small game board, and a smattering of tokens, plus rudimentary rules that point you to the internet for the full rules.  Oh and some cheap dice.  This retails for about $12 - $15 if you can find it in  your local comic or game store.  I had to order mine off of, along with a 4 of the single piece gravity feed packs at $3.20 apiece.  The mini-game clix are exactly the same as the ones you get in the gravity feeds, so now after purchasing an additional 7 packs (at between $4 and $5 apiece) at a convention yesterday I have a total of THREE Gipsy Dangers, 2 Striker Eurekas, 2 Slatters, 2 Knifeheads and 2 Raijus.  I only need Leatherback and Crimson Typhoon to have a complete set of ten.

So I'm selling my duplicates on eBay.  here.  If you win one and tell me you saw this blog post in your notes I will refund 10% of your purchase price!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

ORACLE WINS THE AMERICA'S CUP - Greatest Comeback in Sailing History - Nay - SPORTS HISTORY

Down 8 to 1, one more loss meant losing the cup, and what does Oracle do?  Rattle off 9 straight victories and successfully defend.  Amazing stuff really.  It was a close race at the outset, ETNZ took the lead right away, but once again the third leg was the huge deciding factor.  Foiling upwind Spithill took the Oracle 17 and stretched the lead.  It was never in doubt after that.  47 second delta.  See you in 3 or 4 years.

Photo Credit - Becky Peters.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

AMERICA's CUP! Best thing in Sports This Week

Most people in the U.S.A. know there's something called the Americas' Cup and they know it's about sailing.  They might even know that it's the oldest trophy still being contested.  Many people think that Yacht Racing is an elitist, rich person's sport, and to an extent it really is.  But if you think that it's all boring and no action, you're DEAD wrong.
The rules are complicated and usually fought over in court.  The teams are owned by very very rich men, the Defender is owned by Larry Ellison, founder of the boat's namesake ORACLE.  The challenger for New Zealand is owned by Emirates.  These boats cost millions upon millions of dollars, and they only race every three to four years.  The crew are the elite of the elite in sailing.  Skippers used to be poached by other countries, but rules have lessened that practice.  

Right now, after some months of trials, a lack-luster Louis-Vuitton cup which saw only two of the three challengers of record actually get on the water, and over two weeks of match racing, it comes down to ONE race tomorrow winner take all.  In fact not only does the winning club get the trophy, but the next regatta as well.  So in 3-4 years we'll either be back in the Bay or down in Kiwi-land.

This has been an amazing set of match races.  In the past each race had been a very long affair, lasting several hours.  This time around instead of monohulls, the new AC72 class of boat was created, fixed-sail catamarans that can reach speeds of 45 knots (about 51 mph).  Now I have personally been on a fairly large sailboat that was going 25 knots in gale-force winds, and that was the scariest thing I've ever done in my life.  Now imagine going about TWICE that fast.  On a catamaran.  And MOVING from side to side.  In fact, at least one sailor has gone overboard during a race.  Additionally the course was shortened to a five leg 4 mark affair that flies by Alcatraz and shows off the Bay beautifully.

Due to a penalty assessed for cheating in 2012 prelims, the Defenders, Team Oracle were assessed a 2 point penalty, meaning that to successfully defend the cup they had to win 11 races, while the Challengers, Emirates Team New Zealand only had to win 9.  Two weeks ago at the start of racing ETNZ had a fantastic boat that looked unbeatable.  They won the first three races of the regatta by an average of 38 seconds.  On this course where the races last between 22 and 35 minutes long, 30 seconds is a lifetime.  

Oracle finally got on track in race 4 erasing one of their two point penalties but only barely; the margin of victory was 8 seconds.  ETNZ came back and won the next three races by an average margin of almost 1 full minute.  Race Five was called off by Oracle using their one postponement card, they were down 1:17 on the third leg, so skipper Jimmy Spithill cancelled the race.  In race 8 with the Kiwis up 6 - 0 they made a huge mistake that almost capsized the boat.  At one point the right side of the hull was at about a 45 degree angle to the water and almost 20 feet off the deck.  Disaster was averted, but Oracle still wiped out their penalty.

By the time the Americans finally achieved their first point they were down 6 - 1 in the standings. Then it got worse.  

On the 11th day of sailing the Kiwis had stretched their lead to 8 - 1, and were one race shy of taking the Auld Mug back to New Zealand for the first time since 2003.  With their backs against the wall Oracle had to pull off the almost impossible and win the next 7 races to tie. In their first elimination race they pulled off the victory by 31 seconds, but on September 20 the series appeared over.  In extremely light winds ETNZ pulled out an enormous lead on leg 4 of the 5 leg course, and looked to be sailing to the victory, only to have the match, Race 13, wiped out by the 40 minute time limit.  

Since that point it's been all Oracle.  Every race has been a close-out possibility for ETNZ, and yet the Americans will not give up. ETNZ had been beaten to the start almost every time since Race 13 until todays Race 18 where Dean Barker, the skipper of Emirates finally took a short lead.  This was after actually hitting Oracle in Race 17 and drawing 2 penalties that doomed their early-afternoon bid.  Their lead actually increased to the first mark going 7 seconds ahead at mark 2.  After that it was all Oracle, a huge crossing in the middle of leg 3 saw both boats going upwind, and the Americans took advantage tacking right behind ETNZ as they neared the boundary.  They pulled ahead and killed the wind for the Kiwis and sped ahead never looking back.  What was once a 150 meter deficit turned into a huge lead and they won by 54 seconds.  

Tomorrow is one race for the cup.  Now I suppose the Kiwis could still use their postponement card in the first race, but something tells me they won't, sportsmanship I suppose.  The entire country of New Zealand is on pins and needles, and should they fail to take home the cup, it will be devastating for all Kiwis.  Especially being one win away for almost a full week, if they lose tomorrow it will all be for naught.  Oracle has one race to go to complete the most unlikely of all comebacks.  If they do, most Americans won't really care, as sailing still isn't a major sport here.  But if they do win tomorrow, it will be a huge boost to the sport, one that it really needs after the tragedy of losing a sailor early in the regatta.  

So GO ORACLE.  I'll be watching, will you?

Also, I really really want a model kit of Oracle.  Sadly I can't find one.  YET.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

ReBlog - Follow your fellow Bruin Alumni in the NFL

Reposting from the Bruins Nation:

User IE Angel writes a great piece on all of the current UCLA Bruins in the NFL.  Look at my side bar, I keep track of Bruins in the NBA because, well I do.  So here's your chance to keep track of Bruins in the NFL.

Of Course we all know about a couple:

"Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
MJD is back from a foot injury that basically made him a nonfactor in 2012. The Jaguars have almost no one else behind him at running back, so he'll get a ton of touches if he is healthy. He is also a free agent this upcoming season and as an aging running back, he has to perform at a high level or else he isn't going to get another contract. It might not be fun, but keep an eye on Drew if the Jaguars pop up on NFL Redzone."


"Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Lewis has been a capable tight end since being drafted. Has he lived up to the Mackey Award winning expectations? No. But he's had a lengthy and successful career."

Who do you think was the all-time greatest UCLA Alum in the NFL?  Aikman?  Waterfield?  Jonathan Ogden?  All HOF.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Topps Huddle 2013 Is OUT

So just like their BUNT app which is almost over for the season (and I now have 2K cards in) Topps released their HUDDLE app today, which is basically the same as Bunt only for Football.  I don't know about you but since FB is the national pasttime now, I suspect it's going to be very very popular.

So what are you waiting for, download it NOW, and sign up!  Use WILDWILL as your promo code and you'll get extra coins!  Then trade with me.  If you put in the comments that you read this on my blog I'll give you something extra in your trade!  (HOWEVER, make it a fair trade don't ask for the Sun, Moon and the Stars and expect to get it for scrubs just because you read my blog... ;0 )

Also make sure you sign up for, the premier community to discuss Huddle outside of the game.  There's also a Buntmania which I'm very active on as well.

Come on join the fun!

Oh and finally, I'm participating in the annual Pojo Football Pick'Em

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fantasy Football 2013 - Need More Teams

We need at least one more team for a 12 team league in my Annual Fantasy Football League.  If you're interested and will play all season (i.e. not drop out half way through) send me an email to wmnoe at yahoo dot com.


Monday, July 29, 2013

All-Time Favorite Sports Figures Day 4 - Kelly Hrudey

For this series of articles I thought that I'd delineate who my all-time favorite athletes were in each of the four major sports.  Previously I've profiled Rod Carew, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Barry Sanders, each one a first-time ballot HOFer for their sport.  Today's entry is not so exhalted, and despite my being a die-hard LA Kings fan, my favorite King is not Wayne Gretzky, and it's not even Luc Robitalle.  Heck it's not even Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick or Dustin Brown.  Nope it's the goaltender who took the Kings to their first Stanley Cup Finals, Kelly Hrudey.

Why Hrudey?  I started watching Hockey in the late 70's/early 80's when it was shown on the USA Network, and though the Kings were the closest team to me geographically, those were the pre-Gretzky era, and despite stellar players and lines, they weren't contenders year in and year out.  During those years the New York Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups behind HOFers Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Clark Gilles and Goalie Billy Smith.  Smith was my all-time favorite Islander, and still is, though Pat LaFontaine (also a HOFer) runs a close second to me.  In 1980 the Isles drafted Hrudey though he wouldn't get to the big club until 1983-84 and wouldn't taste his first playoffs until the next season.

Hrudey and Smith would platoon in Goal for the next four years, .  In those four post-seasons the Isles only got out of the first round twice, and never advanced past the Division Finals.  However, in 1987 Hrudey would be in goal for the longest game that I've ever watched all of, the Game 7 matchup played April 18 to the 19th.  Yes, it went to the next day, starting at 7:30 PM EST and ended just before 2:00 AM the next day.  Pat LaFontaine put the game winner in at 8:47 of the fourth OT, at that point Hrudey had saved an amazing 50 shots IN A ROW, and 73 overall, still an NHL record.

By 1988-89 the Isles were on a downward spiral that they are arguably still in.  Ownership wouldn't spend money to replace the future HOFers who retired due to injury or left for greener pastures.  Hrudey was traded to the Kings led by Gretzky and Robitaille, and in 1993 he led them to their first Stanley Cup finals behind amazing play by Gretzky (scoring in OT in Game 7 of the Conference Finals against Toronto will always be a favorite memory of mine).  Sadly the Kings would be beaten 4-1 by the Canadiens (in their LAST Cup Victory to date).

Kelly played 8 seasons with the Kings, leaving in 1996 to join the San Jose Sharks.  He retired 2 years later.  Now he's a broadcaster in Canada and occasionally shows up on Kings broadcasts, especially with the recent stellar play by our current goaltender Jonathan Quick aka "Connie".  Kelly as a broadcaster is insightful and funny, and a welcome presence from the past.

I actually do not own ANY Hrudey cards at the moment, I'd like to remedy that.  His RC is pictured above, I just bid on one on the bay of E.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

All-Time Favorite Sports Figures Day 3 - Barry Sanders

1989 was a heady year for sports cards, Upper Deck the first premium regular issue card set was released in April and for the first time in decades Topps wouldn't be the only company making Football cards.  Upstart Pro Set run by Lud Denny out of Texas managed to snag a license and so did Score, a second year company that had some success with their 1988 Baseball card set.  April 1989 also saw the drafting of Troy Aikman by the Cowboys at #1 and at #3 my subject today, Barry Sanders.

Eschewing his senior season at Oklahoma State, the Heisman winner with 2850 rushing yards and 42 TDs held out during his rookie training camp, but started the season off with a bang, 18 yards on his first NFL carry and a TD on his fourth.  He'd win ROY and become a fan-favorite due to his soft-spoken demeanor and was the complete opposite of the other famous "Sanders" Deion who was also drafted in 1989.

Barry had the uncanny ability to make defensive players look incredibly silly.  He could bust out huge runs, and often just took over games due to the Lions inability to land a quality QB during the 90's.  Severely undersized at 5'8 and about two bills, he might have been short in stature but could take the rock and score at will.  Oh and he was never a show-off.  You won't find any video of Barry spiking the ball or showing off, ever.  

A side note, I started my first Fantasy Football League in 1990 and my original starting backfield was Barry and Emmitt.  I would trade Emmitt, but I never let go of Barry, he was my player for his entire career.  At one point I owned several of the Pro Set RCs and at least one of his Score (and Topps too for good measure).  I do still have an entire 1989 Pro Set collection, but that Score Rookie is no longer mine.  I should get another one some day.

Barry's career was astounding, but short.  Echoing the actions of Jim Brown in 1965 Barry retired in 1999 after 10 seasons and only one playoff win.  Years later he'd finally say that the culture of losing in Detroit had gotten the best of him, and he couldn't continue.  Since Detroit most likely wouldn't have traded him (he'd signed a huge contract extension just a couple years earlier) he up and left.  He was, at the time, the 3rd ranked Running Back in NFL history.  Had he played another 4 years like Emmit Smith he would have undoubtedly passed Walter Payton.

To me, Barry was always a class act, and my favorite player during his career.  Since then he's continued to be a solid citizen and role-model, even if his marriages haven't lasted.  His eldest son Barry Jr. is a Sophomore at Stanford and while some have labeled him a "project" he does appear to have his Father's gift for changing direction on a dime, so while I'm unabashedly a Bruin, I'll be following the Cardinal over the next few years to see if we have the second coming of one of the greatest backs to ever play.

Tomorrow I'll wrap this all up with my final selection, my favorite Hockey player, the only one of these first four who is not in their respective HOF.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

All-Time Favorite Sports Figures Day 2 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

I am a second generation UCLA Bruin, and I'm damn proud of that fact.  My Father attended UCLA in the early 70's and graduated in 1974 with a degree in English.  My Mother worked on campus from 1972 to 1980, and I attended the UCLA Child Care Center beginning in it's second year of existence, and in fact am still Facebook friends with one of my counselors from that time period.  The Godmother of my daughter is on of my Mom's friends who she worked with in the Registrar's Office during those heady years of Walton, Wickes, Rowe, Patterson and our next subject, the former Lew Alcindor, known today and forever as the greatest Basketball Player ever, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

So despite the fact that I never actually got to see Kareem play for the Bruins, he's still my all-time favorite Hoopster.

KAJ had such a storied career that if you don't know who he is, you can't really be a sports fan.  Kids of the 90's say that MJ was the best ever, but I disagree, KAJ CHANGED the game.  In the NCAA anyway.  His Freshman Bruin squad (remember Freshmen weren't allowed to play varsity back then) actually defeated the Varsity squad during their annual pre-season romp.  That would't have been a big deal, except that the Varsity was the DEFENDING NCAA CHAMPIONS!  They outlawed the Slam Dunk during his time at UCLA because he was the only one who could really do it!  Can you imagine a college game without a dunk?

In the NBA he only won 6 championships, 2 finals MVPs, 6 regular season MVPs, scoring champion multiple times, 19 time all-star and he STILL holds the all-time scoring title with 38,387 points in 1,560 games.  Kobe Bryant, currently 4th on the list, has 4 more seasons at an average of 16 points a game to catch him, which isn't all that assured given Kobe's injury problems lately.

During his playing career ended Kareem dabbled in acting, most notably the still hilarious "Airplane" in 1980.  Here's his best clip:

I love that movie.

Post-retirement KAJ has become a renaissance man, though really he always was.  Despite the fact that his god-given talents made him a great basketball player, I'm not sure he ever REALLY loved the game like so many of his peers.  I think for him the game was a means to an end, he got a fantastic education, the sports career that 99% of humans would kill for, and the stability that being a star-athlete brings.  But I often felt that KAJ was never as comfortable as a star as some others would be.  He seems kind of shy to be honest, and his demeanor around reporters during his career did him no favors.  He SHOULD be the head-coach somewhere in the NBA, but he burned bridges and has never really been given a chance.  Not that he cares really.  Now he's a film-maker, educator, historian and all around good guy.

I should mention that I had a chance to meet Kareem back at the old LA Times Book Festival when it was on campus at UCLA.  Now I have met a ton of celebrities over the years, I've worked with Tony Hawk on a TV shoot, met Warren Beatty and Natassja Kinski on the movie they were shooting on the property I worked on, ran into dozens and dozens of actors living in LA, and been to multiple training camps and shows where autographs were available.  THE ONLY time I was ever star-struck and just unable to communicate was when I met KAJ.

I think I mumbled something about him being my and my late-father's favorite player.  This was the same book festival where Deacon Jones slapped me on the back because I was wearing a Kings Jersey and gave me an autographed book because I reverently told him to slap me on the head!  Kareem made me nervous and self-conscience because he really is a giant of a man in more ways than just stature.

That statue of him in front of Staples was LOOOONG overdue.

Friday, July 26, 2013

My Favorite Sports Figures Series Will Continue

I've gone ahead and written three more posts for my Favorite Sports Figures Series - I suppose looking at that headline, it's a misnomer.  These are my favorite Athletes, not favorite sports action figures.  That could be a whole other series!

The series will continue for the next three days at least as I go through my favorite Basketball, Football and Hockey players.  After that, we'll see if there's any interest I can continue into Olympics, NASCAR, Boxing, Wrestling and Tennis. I can't really do Golf or Soccer since I care not one iota for either.

Heck at some point I could even do a blog on The America's Cup.

So stay tuned, three more days of this will be forthcoming, and what's new this time is that they're all already written!


All-Time Favorite Sports Figures Day 1 - Rod Carew

One topic that's always good for conversation is who are your all-time favorite athletes and why?  I'll run down a few of mine and then open it up for comments.

Baseball - Rodney Cline Carew

When Rod was traded to the Angels in 1979 I was 8 years old, we went to see two games that magical 1979 season, the first time the Halos made the playoffs in their then 18 year history.  I still have the two programs, complete with filled out scorecards.  For the next six season there was one consistency in the Angels lineup, Rod.  He batted over .300 for 5 of his 7 seasons as an Angel, only failing in his last two season when he was slowed by age and a new-comer named Wally Joyner.  Oh and he was an All-Star 6 of those 7 years, batting a gaudy .339 which was only good for 2nd in the AL behind Wade Boggs who flirted with .400 that season.

In his retirement he's been a hitting instructor for the Angels and Brewers, and sadly lost his daughter Michelle to Leukemia in 1995.  To this day there is a statue of the younger Carew at Angels Stadium.  To me Rod was always the class of the organization, even despite his chilly reception by reporters (a theme that we'll see repeated in a few paragraphs).

Viva Rod!

Fantasy Football 2013

2013 marks the 24th Season that I've run a Fantasy Football League - and at least the 14th on Yahoo (they only go back to 2001, but I'm pretty sure I ran one there before then).

If you wish to join up, there's still 9 NEW teams available, but I'm going to be kind of picky.  I want players who aren't going to disappear after the first few weeks.

So leave me your email and a sentence or two as to why I should choose you and if you get an invite you'll know you are in rare company.

FWIW - I do have a couple of people who have been playing with me for over a decade, including a few who played all the way back in 1990 when I started ON PEN AND PAPER!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Budget Collector and San Diego Comic-Con

No, I am not in San Diego this weekend, nor am I planning on going.  But I USED to go to Comic-Con.  In fact my first year was 1985 and I've been to TEN of them!  I won't bore you with the standard "guide to comic-con" or what to do or not do.

Nope, I'm just going to point out a couple of cool freebies that I've heard about so far:

At the Lego booth they're giving away Loki Keychains for playing their Marvel Super-Heroes game

Mega Bloks is giving away free Power Rangers figures.

That's it.  That's all I know about so far.  I hear Hasbro is giving away some sort of Kreos and I do see an exclusive Devastator Kreo figure on eBay.  So maybe they are.

And maybe sometime I'll get to go again.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jordan Farmar (UCLA) Signed with the Lakers again

Woot!  This makes me very happy.  Hope you have a great season Jordan!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Build Your Own GI Joe and Win a Custom Figure!

Not my contest, wish it were, but in order to promote the Digital and Blu-Ray release of GI Joe Retaliation Paramount has a new site where you can customize your own Joe and enter to win a real copy of him!  How cool is that?

Here's the site:

and here's my Joe!

MacDonald Allen Smythe is his real name, and I could probably come up with a back-story, but I'm too busy working on my novel.

Bruins in the NBA 2013-2014 Edition

I haven't really collected Basketball cards since the hey-day of 1989 Hoops and Skybox.  I once owned a 1988 Fleer set which I bought for something like $12 and sold for $90 way back in the day.  Basketball cards aren't my forte.

That said I do have quite a few virtually ALL former Bruins.  I have an entire 3 ring binder devoted to them, and at some point I'll post more pictures.

Here though, is the UCLA Bruins Alumni in the NBA for 2013-2014.  Looks like I'll be rooting for the Clips more often this season.

Matt Barnes - LA Clippers
Ryan Hollins - LA Clippers
Darren Collison - LA Clippers
Kevin Love - Minnesota Timberwolves
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - Minnesota Timberwolves
Shabazz Muhammad - Minnesota Timberwolves
Jrue Holiday - New Orleans Pelicans
Malcolm Lee - Phoenix Suns
Earl Watson - Portland Trailblazers
Arron Afflalo - Orlando Magic
Trevor Ariza - Washington Wizards
Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder

Here's a decent article about them all:

Obviously all of these guys have more recent Rookie Cards than say Baron Davis.  Shabazz Muhammad, the most recent draft pick won't have his RCs out for a few more weeks and they won't be licensed right away (i.e. Press-Pass, SaGE).

Here's their rookie years and what companies made their RCs.  Mostly these are all going to be under $5 unless you're looking for the serial numbers with autographs.

Barnes - 2002-2003 UD Authentics and SP offered some nice RCs in his Bruin Uni.
Hollins - 2006-2007 Lots of low end UD and Topps and cheap autos.
Collison - 2009-2010 Panini & UD pumped Collison out.
Love - 2008-2009 Topps & UD ran the presses.  Also has a McDonalds All-American in two versions $4 - 20.
The Prince - 2008-09 UD, Skybox
Jrue Holiday - 2009-10 UD & Panini Also has a McDonalds All-American in two versions.
Lee - 2011-2012 Panini & UD
Watson - 2001-2002 UD & Topps
Afflalo - 2007-2008 UD & Topps
Ariza 2004-2005 Topps, Skybox, UD
Westbrook 2008-09 Topps, UD

Thursday, July 4, 2013

GI Joe Battleground is out

I'm playing #GIJOEBATTLE & loving it! Play with my invite ID (LPtxaH) to to get a head start!

Friday, June 28, 2013


I have not bought a single pack of 2013 baseball cards.  I admit it, I'm weak.  The Angels aren't doing anything exciting and I've never cared for the rest of the league, plus when I'm not working I can't justify spending my wife's hard-earned money on cardboard.

That doesn't mean I haven't been collecting cards though, I'm doing it virtually via the Topps Bunt app. It's both a complete set of cards and a game in one free program.  Today they are doing a promotion where if you enter another user's name (mine is WILDWILL) as a promo code you'll get extra coins to start.  Plus they have been giving away promo codes for free coins left and right (the one for today is HEARTANDSOUL).  It's a fun game you should try it.  And if you do, trade with me, I'll give you something nice if you mention my blog in your trade offer.

I can also recommend highly the BuntMania webforum where you can learn all about the game, keep up with promo codes and post massive trade lists, which you can't really do in the app.

I've also been playing Star Trek Rivals though it's not so much a CCG, as a weird quick game with cards.

Lastly don't forget to sign up for GI JOE Battlegrounds which isn't out yet, but is coming soon.  If you use promo code HISSTANK you'll get a free Major Bludd card along with your free Storm Shadow.  Also sign up for the HissTank forums while you're at it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Extremely Rare Grendel (Matt Wagner) Trading Card on EBay

Here's the Link

This is NOT my auction, I have one of these, but this one isn't mine, and I didn't pay anywhere near that much.  However, I haven't SEEN one of these on EBay in quite awhile, and I regularly look for Grendel related trading cards.

So grab it if you care.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

G.I. Joe Battleground iOS/Android Game Coming Soon

From their website:

Battle against your enemies in G.I. JOE: BATTLEGROUND, a richly illustrated strategy RPG game where YOU recruit and lead a team of legendary heroes or villains to protect or control humankind.
Coming soon - FREE for iPhone, iPad and Android.


Sign up for an email alert and you get a free Storm Shadow card when it's released.  I'll give it a shot.  If it works out like the Star Trek Rivals app did, well I'll have tons of friends who I can't possibly get to playing games with.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Star Trek Rivals App

Yes, yet another post about an iPhone (actually UNIVERSAL) app, this time it's Star Trek Rivals.  A fun card game that reminds me of other card games.  Use my friend code EQCDQE during your training as you sign in and you'll get a free card.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

KLM Spaceflight Contest

KLM is doing a contest for a free spaceflight!  All you need to do is click this link, you'll help me out and you'll be entered as well.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Topps Bunt is back

Topps Bunt App is back for a second year and it appears that they've gone to an all encompassing iOS platform (I don't think they were on iPhones last year, though I could be wrong).

I've signed up under the nickname "WILDWILL" you can use that as a Promo Code when you sign up and you're supposed to get more coins.  I hope it works.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March Madness Means


Hit up my Yahoo Bracket Challenge:

Password "WildWill"

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Oscar Score - 8 for 24

Well if I were a MLBer I'd be a super-star batting .333.

I suppose this is how much I actually care anymore.  I saw exactly TWO of the winning films in the theater, Brave and Skyfall.

For the record:

2012 - 11 for 24
2010 - 13 for 24
2009 - 8 for 9 (I didn't pick the entire field)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Preditions

My Picks are double starred

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Ang Lee, Life of P i
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
** David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Michael Haneke, Amour
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
** Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Denzel Washington, Flight
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
** Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Alan Arkin, Argo
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
** Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Amy Adams, The Master
** Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Sally Field, Lincoln
** Brave
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph
Amour, Michael Haneke
Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino
Flight, John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
** Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal
** Argo, Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi, David Magee
Lincoln, Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell
A Royal Affair (Denmark)
** Amour (Austria)
No (Chile)
War Witch (Canada)
Kontiki (Norway)
Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
** Argo, Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi, Mychael Danna
Lincoln, John Williams
Skyfall, Thomas Newman
Before My Time, J. Ralph; Chasing Ice
Everybody Needs a Best Friend,Walter Murphy and Seth McFarlane; Ted
Pi’s Lullaby, Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri; Life of Pi
Skyfall, Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth; Skyfall
** Suddenly, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boulil; Les Misérables
Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
** Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained, Robert Richardson
Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda
** Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall, Roger Deakins
Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran
** Les Misérables, Paco Delgado
Lincoln, Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood
5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
** How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man
Kings Point
** Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
** Argo
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
** The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables
Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head Over Heels
** Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare"
** Buzkashi Boys
Death of a Shadow
** Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty
** Les Misérables
Life of Pi
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
** Marvel’s The Avengers
Snow White and the Huntsman

Read more here: