2019 Hobby Goals

Yup, we’re gonna do this!

I haven’t written one of these in a few years, and back then, it was on another site, and just about cards. Kinda limiting, but also a lot easier. I’ll manage this, though, and hopefully I won’t put anyone to sleep while I do it, as I do have a lot of ground to cover.

Overall Goals:

  1. Have fun!
  2. Figure out which stuff I really love and enjoy, so I can stick with that, and find good homes for the other stuff.
  3. I was going to move some of the Blogspot stuff here at one point. I need to see if that still makes sense to do.
  4. Keep working on getting my house in a place where it’s set up well to store and display my stuff for years to come.
  5. Ascertain which things I really wish to pursue, and write about, as hobbies.

Now, with this last item, the site has a mission statement in the top right, and here’s how it looked when I started writing this…

“This site is the ongoing story of a man and his hobbies, which he apparently needs more of (or at least different ones), despite already collecting toys, comic books, trading cards, books, video games, t-shirts, music, musical instruments and movies, as well as playing tabletop games, traveling, following some sports and keeping entirely too busy on the Internet, mostly doing nothing there.”

First, the collecting hobbies:

Toys? (Really action figures, for the most part.) Yup. More on this in a bit!

Comic books? Definitely. We’ll go into more detail soon.

Trading cards? Yes, but I think the collection needs to evolve a little. More on that in a bit.

Books? I love books, I love actually reading books, and I need to do a lot more of that, but I have a huge backlog of books right now, not a ton of space to keep adding them, and, again, the more books you own, the less likely it is that you’re going to read them all. A 2019 goal is to finish some books, figure out which ones I haven’t read yet, figure out which ones I don’t need to read, and adjust the collection accordingly.

Video games? I played them for a couple hours tonight, in fact. I am trying to figure out what I wish to actively pursue getting, though, and I’m also going to try to figure out which things I really need to own here, too. (I had a moment in a game store about a month ago where I was looking through my game want list, and wondering why I was still planning on spending money or other resources on certain things, and I’m going to listen to it.) I’m pretty sure I’m close to being sold out of the on-the-fence and don’t-need-it stuff, but it doesn’t hurt to check regularly. I’d like to try to avoid selling off anything else I may regret selling (Panzer Dragoon Saga, anyone?), but that’s a general thing with the various collections.

T-Shirts? I wear t-shirts. I don’t know that I collect them, or really want to, but I have been trying to figure out some practical way to have proof that I’ve owned some of the cool things I’ve worn over the years, without it taking up space that serves no purpose. I haven’t settled on an ideal method yet. T-shirt quilts have been suggested to me, but that’s stuff that takes up even more space than the shirts, and we’ve got a decent amount of blankets in the house, so we’re probably not going there. I’m looking for suggestions on the best ways to clearly photograph old t-shirts and display the pictures (digitally or hard copy), I suppose.

Music? Yup. I’ve stepped up my efforts to get more CDs of artists whose entire catalog I want to own (I’m almost done with Siouxsie and the Banshees, but could really use a copy of “Downside Up”, if anyone’s got it laying around), while CDs are still somewhat widely available. I’m also still buying vinyl, but not in the frenzy that other people are. If something moves me, I’ll grab it. I got a handful of records on my holiday trip to NJ (EZO’s self-titled first record, Alphaville’s “Forever Young”, The Mighty Lemon Drops’ “World Without End”, The Tourists’ “Reality Effect”, and a sealed copy of the self-titled EP by Miracle Room, who are amazing, if you’ve never heard ’em), but way more CDs. Storage (I really hate jewel cases, but don’t wish to go full Case Logic, because it makes them easier to steal and harder to sell; also, I have a little, but not a lot more space for vinyl) is a concern, as it always is.

Musical instruments? Nothing new for a while unless an amazing deal comes up. I finally have a room just about set up to where I can play and record music again, and I even played a musical instrument for fun recently (this is kind of a big deal, because I have music-related anxiety that’s kept me away from making music for over a decade), but I have a lot here, and am not sure how much use I’ll get out of any of it. I could probably use a rack mount case for some of my synth modules and the like, but that’s also money toward storage and display for stuff I might not use. The same mild skepticism applies to any plans of having my instruments and other pro audio gear repaired and reconditioned, because repairs on synthesizers and the like are expensive and above my level of expertise, and so much of this stuff, I could be doing more efficiently on a computer, if I’m going to do it at all, but at the same time, these are museum pieces that hold value (sentimental and financial). So, lots to figure out here. People who do this stuff, talk to me!

Movies? We’re basically between formats right now. We don’t have a 4K TV in the house or a 4K disc player, but as Blu-Rays are already a generation behind, and DVDs are 2 generations behind, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep buying. I’m not ready to start unloading anything I have, but I’ve thrown the brakes on buying anything that isn’t essential.

So, that’s all the collecting stuff. Now, the “doing” stuff.

Playing tabletop games? Have a game I’m attending on Sunday, in fact! I have also been amassing a lot of old RPG stuff (1st edition D&D, Marvel, DC Heroes, etc. kinda stuff), because it shows up here all the time (a lot of colleges and a lot of fellow nerds in the area), so I do have to figure out what I can use, of what’s here. I may have some of this stuff available for sale or trade soon. I would LOVE to start up a TSR Marvel Super-Heroes campaign, locally or online, but I’d need to brush up, find interested people, and make time.

Traveling? I really like traveling, but long-distance traveling is also really hard (it can be tough for people without disabilities, and we’re two people with them) and costs a lot of money. Plans need to be made with my better half to figure out where we’re going next, individually or collectively.  Short-distance travel is plenty of fun, too, and, yes, the flea market stuff falls under this header.

Following some sports? Everyone in every part of this business makes it really hard to keep wanting to, but I’m still here. Baseball’s still my number one, despite some “about as gross as football” practices. Hockey’s my #2 sport, but I rarely watch it on television. I have the Islanders in my Twitter feed, and I see them that way. They’re better than expected this year, but I still feel like conditioning’s a problem there. The sport in general, like most professional sports, has a concussion problem that needs to be addressed. I’ve also spent about the past 2 years watching more professional wrestling than I had in the previous 15 or so, and that’s something I’m very conflicted about, because again, concussions, and again, a lot of terrible people make money off of people paying attention to professional wrestling, but at its best, professional wrestling can be incredible, and it can be pretty hard to give things up that are under your skin. I do it and have done it (I stopped being a present-day Yankee fan as soon as they moved into the mall, and I gave football the bird a good while ago), but it takes more effort and sometimes more disgust with the behavior of human beings than it should. I also do have a non-spectator sport that I’ve been out of for a while, but hope to get back to in the spring: running. I love running, but had some injuries a few years back, and life happened after I was healed. If I do start running again in the spring, you may hear some about it here.

Keeping entirely too busy on the Internet, mostly doing nothing (t)here? I’ve found myself wanting to do less of this, certainly less in front of the general public than I used to, and definitely less in venues run by Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Google, but I’m still here. Trying to figure out the best way to go about having a private message board or social network for my friends that will actually get used by people. That’s a slog, largely because, for people to use anything in 2019, it needs a mobile app. The web browser is an antique at this point. I rarely end up talking about the Internet itself on this site, though, so let’s not mention that as a point of focus for it anymore, or at least not now.

Wow, them’s a lotta words about a short mission statement. Much shorter version: for the time being, I’m not advertising my site as covering t-shirts, books, musical instruments or movies as collecting hobbies, as I rarely talk about them and am back-burnering all of those hobbies, I think. Also changing “toys” to “action figures”. Now, obviously, because I’m a human being with a soul, I’m still going to be buying, collecting and hopefully reading books that are not comics, and if I’m finding that I should talk about them on here, I will again, but yeah, I need to actually read some, and finish some (I have like a half dozen books in progress right now, dating back over a few years).

That brings us to:

Collecting hobbies:

Trading Cards
Comics
Action Figures

Sort-of-in-the-middle hobbies:

Tabletop games (RPGs, and some board games; we got Letters From Whitechapel as a wedding gift, and I’m dyin’ to play our copy of it, as I loved playing it the first time I did)
Video Games
Music (it’s not exactly passive enjoyment)

Doing stuff hobbies:

Travel (long and short distance, with focuses on finding, documenting and sometimes buying old things, seeing museums and landmarks, eating in cool places, and seeing live entertainment)
Sports (baseball, hockey, professional wrestling, running)

There! I’ve covered what the site focuses on! What a long side trip!

Now, for what I’d like to accomplish in these arenas this year:

Trading Cards:

Here are the rough notes I put together for this piece on cards:

1. Come up with plan for current-year Topps cards
2. Decide which side sets you’re gonna keep getting
3. Try, whenever possible, to only trade for current year stuff
4. Get that fucking Bernie Williams auto already
5. Knock out the Fleer/Donruss/Score/UD sets ASAP
6. Finish Garbage Pail Kids 1-3 ASAP
7. Finish Ringside (1…more…card…)
8. Keep plugging on Dodgers
9. Keep plugging on Fleer Ted Williams
10. Start finding fun non-sport sets to pick up
11. Sell off doubles and digital stuff (decide what stays on the latter)

The last few years (basically since the seeds were planted for me to move to my home of coming up on 4 years now), I have had significantly less interest in current-year baseball cards. Really, I think it’s that I’ve had significantly less interest in paying for current-year baseball cards. They’ve never been a great value, but they’re kinda the worst lately. When new Topps blasters hit the shelves in my local big box stores, I check the card count on them, and I’m kind of stunned that it’s orders of magnitude higher than common prices per-card, all for the promise of getting something that I might not even want to keep. On the other hand, blowing them off leads to situations like the one I have right now, where I’m missing a bunch of now-expensive rookie cards, including Mookie Betts’ rookie card, from the past 4 years’ Topps cards, and I kinda want to keep being a sucker and having complete flagship sets. Kinda.

I’m definitely not interested in opening packs of everything that comes out anymore, and I’m trying to break myself of the desire to collect sets based on graphic design (which was, of course, expensive and filled my house with a number of things I wouldn’t own otherwise). I think I’d rather just look at checklists for each set, list each player whose card I’m interested in on this site and my want list, and see if I can trade for ’em, or something like that…buy singles if I can find ’em…that kinda jazz. Will I still with this? Dunno.

I’m not doing much of anything with digital cards lately, but I have no idea if there’s any practical way to unload the ones I don’t want, and I haven’t nailed down which cards I’d like to “keep” in the apps yet. Seems like the bottom fell out of the value of things on the Topps apps when they introduced secondary, cash-only currency, to the surprise of basically no one on Earth. If any of you are still doing Topps Digital stuff, by all means get ahold of me, and we’ll talk.

There’s stuff I have been, and continue to be excited about in cards. My interest in picking up playing era Brooklyn Dodgers cards has been re-invigorated lately…

I bet you thought I was never gonna put a picture in this post, didn’t you? This is a ’53 Bowman Color Billy Loes that I picked up on COMC.

And here’s a ’51 Topps Red Back Gene Hermanski that’s on its way to me, also from COMC (if the watermark didn’t give it away).

In the same shipment, I’ve got another ’59 Fleer Ted Williams coming…

Remember these? I mentioned them here. I’m still working on ’em (I’ve gotten 3 in 4 years, by golly), and I’ve got Yount on the way. There are a few expensive ones (Babe Ruth is in the set), but I’ve got a bunch of the cheap ones yet to grab, as I’m at 7 out of 36 right now.

…and yes, I’m even working on my ’72 set still! 5 down recently, thanks to my old local.

So, yeah, there’s been more focus on old stuff when I’m shopping (when I’m actually really shopping, and not just looking for the biggest lot of things I can actually use for the lowest price at flea markets), which tends to happen to people. I’ve no problem with that.

I’ve also been more excited about non-sports stuff these days than I have in, like, ever, but I’m still trying to work out what I wish to fill my house with. I have a very short list of Garbage Pail Kids series 1-3 cards that I need:

1985 Topps Garbage Pail Kids Series 1a (matte preferred, last update 04/02/18): 5 (regular back), 9, 33, 41

1985 Topps Garbage Pail Kids Series 1b (matte preferred, last update 04/02/18): 2, 8 (checklist back), 29 (checklist back), 41

1985 Topps Garbage Pail Kids Series 2a (last update 04/02/18): 49a, 58a, 63a, 75a

1986 Topps Garbage Pail Kids Series 3b (last update 04/02/18): 96b 99b 104b 106b 107b 108b 112b 116b 120b 122b 123b

…so, I guess we can start there. As for other stuff? I like super-hero cards (though they got totally out of hand after a while), and if you’ve got a bunch of 1991 Impel DC Cosmic Cards, I’m the guy to send them to, as I’m working on finishing that set off. I just finished Series 1 of ProSet Super Star Musicards (and you’ll be seeing a bunch of those here soon), so I need to track down Series 2, and possibly the UK set, as featured by Night Owl here. I have Topps Howard The Duck, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Return of the Jedi sets in progress. Beyond that? I haven’t figured it out yet.

Yes, I want to finish ’81-’98 Donruss, Fleer and Score flagship sets soon. I’m not that far on most of it. I’m not sure beyond that (Fleer and Donruss kept going, sorta), and I’ll keep the wants on my list, but I feel like those were the important years for those companies. I also want to finish Upper Deck flagship from ’94-’10, but in the immortal words of Louis Gossett, Jr., “My grandmomma wants to fly jets!”. I don’t wanna create a feeding frenzy or nothin’ here, as that would make my job harder, but past ’95, y’all have some idea of how hard it is to finish building an Upper Deck set, right? Like, not even the ridiculously huge ones from ’06-’09, I’m talking the smaller ones. If you weren’t there, buying them at the time, you’re gonna have some difficulty, as I’ve been.

And yes, I really need to get off my ass and get that fuckin’ Bernie autograph. They’re available. They’re not hugely expensive. He’s still my favorite player. I need one.

Earlier this year, I did a cool thing to my  card want list, too. I started including dates on each set I’m building, and updating those individual dates when I get something new. It’s gonna take a while for this to really bear fruit, but eventually, I’ll be able to tell if there’s stuff on my want list that I’m just *really* wasting document space on, and taking the focus off of other things with, stuff that’s not urgent for me to buy or trade for, just plain unavailable. It started on April 2nd (right around the beginning of baseball season, somewhat appropriately), so at the moment, I can tell you that there are 159 matches, or “card sets I haven’t done anything with since I started the process”. That’s still a lot, but down the line, it’ll shrink, and I’ll be able to search for “/18”, “/19”, and so forth to see which stuff’s getting neglected or not showing up, and make decisions that’ll help me focus the collection better. I should maybe do this to the non-card want list eventually, too, but it’s formatted a little differently, and the other collections work a little differently than cards, so we’ll see.

Moving on…

Comics:

My notes on the comic collection for this piece weren’t quite as meaty, just reminders to read books (I’ve spent a bunch of this week catching up on recent back issue purchases, and yes, I did read Claws Of The Cat a little while ago; fun book, really interesting early snapshot of Marvel trying to figure out how to approach the idea that women existed as independent beings and wanted things for themselves, and I wish they hadn’t bailed on the original character concept and made Greer Grant Nelson into Tigra quite as quickly as they did), find and make space for what’s here and what will be (I need to get more boxes, and clear off more shelf space), and lists of which titles I’m working on getting back issues of.

Basically with comics, I’ve decided that I’m looking to finish the back issue collection I started as a kid, with a little more focus than that kid had. With a few exceptions, that means that the back issue runs I’m looking to finish right now end with books that started in the early 1990s, but mostly are ’70s and ’80s books, with a few ’60s exceptions. Reading complete runs of books is a lot of fun, so I’m doing it wherever possible, and deciding from there if I’m keeping them. I need to read the last 20 issues or so of Blue Devil next (if you’ve never read it, it’s a lot of fun, sort of an “inside Hollywood” story masquerading as a super-hero book, vaguely similar in that regard to Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle’s Crossfire), then I’ve got Walt Simonson’s writer/artist run on Thor (#337-367) ahead of me, which I’ve wanted to read in a sitting or two for a long, long time, and also finished on the last NJ trip.

I’m also buying new comics, too, but the cycle of constant super-hero relaunches at the big two comic companies (and while I read all kinds of books, I am, and will always be first and foremost a super-hero kinda person), and the habit of “writing for the trade paperback” at the smaller ones definitely makes it harder to stay invested and interested in the ongoing stories. I want to get to know these characters and be a part of their worlds for more than 5-12 issues, and if you don’t like a few core characters that the big two are terrified of messing with long term, you’re going to have a hard time finding that. It’s also tough to figure out which of the smaller books will catch on, because if you miss something or word of mouth gets to you late, you’re looking at Walking Dead/Saga prices for back issues (or buying trades, but with that, it hurts, because I don’t like buying things twice, or waiting 6-18 months between segments of an ongoing story that people around me are discussing when we’re talking about a form that my brain processes as “monthly”), and that’s simply not in my budget.

I do have a question: do any of you reading this ever trade comics with one another, the way us card weirdos trade cards? I figure there’s a chance that the form factor (and its higher base shipping cost) may make that prohibitive, but it’s worth asking, as I do end up with doubles sometimes.

Action Figures:

Along with the “figure out how to store/display them” stuff that you’ll read throughout this, basically, when we’re talking about action figures that I’m collecting right now, we’re talking about Mego (and Mego-like figures) and DC Direct (but not usually DC Collectibles, the new name for the line, as I don’t care as much for the sculpts and designs they’re using these days), with some DC Universe Classics, Justice League Unlimited, and a few Marvel Legends figures here and there. I have legacy collections of a bunch of different types of figures (Star Wars, G.I. Joe, a ton of super-hero stuff from Super Powers to Secret Wars to all the Toy Biz stuff, some McFarlane stuff, etc.), all of which I’ve really got to make some decisions on, but the stuff I named above is really the stuff I showcase and still actually buy on the regular without second-guessing too much.

My plans for ’19 are to keep an eye on what Mego’s doing, pick up a little bit of the Figures Toy Company stuff, get what I can of vintage Mego stuff (and parts to fix what I have left of my old Megos), and if some of the DC Direct and Marvel Legends stuff comes up and is of interest, maybe that, too. I’m not in love with the quality of Legends figures, but the sculpts can be really great at times, and they’re producing figures of characters I’ve wanted figures of for my entire life. Beyond that, it’s just a matter of assessing the other stuff, figuring out if it’s staying, and documenting the fact that I had it before I sell or trade it if it’s going. I really, really need to get better at doing studio-quality photographs of all of the various types of collectibles I own, so I can just run some digital frames of these things.

Music:

I covered a bunch of this up top, but to sum up: find space for things, finish off some CD catalogs of artists I love, get better sounding playback equipment in the rooms my spouse and I use the most, and where vinyl’s concerned, pick off a few of the things I’m actively hunting (originals of Black Sabbath’s 3rd through 5th albums and “We Sold Our Soul For Rock N’ Roll” for posterity, Nina Hagen’s “Fearless”, Jobriath’s first album, all of Klaus Nomi’s albums, and any pressing of Iggy Pop’s “The Idiot” are priorities, but past that, I’m working on the Celebration, Kate Bush, KISS and Toyah catalogs and anything that catches my fancy).

That should put a cap on yet another very long post. Thanks for reading, feel free to ask questions (or answer mine from within the post), and I hope that, within your hobbies and outside of them (as best we can outside of them these days, anyway), you had a great 2018, and have an even better 2019.

Hey, y’all, a card trade!

 Bo recently got himself into the pre-1978 card collecting game, finally, with a pretty big vintage purchase, so I was finally able to trade him some old stuff, and he did the same for me.

Got some ’67-’69 cards, so we’ll go in order. I cannot get over Don Sutton ever being this young. He looks like he’s 12 here.

Damn, I love this McCovey.

Onto ’68s, where I’m across the 400 mark on the set now (of course, the last 191 cards have something like 30 Hall of Famers, including Mantle and the Ryan and Bench rookies, so I probably won’t finish that soon). Never have a problem with getting a Hank Aaron card I need, though. (The other guys don’t suck, neither.) Keep ’em coming!

Billy Williams, with some artistic embellishment.

I’ve been buying cards for 38 years, and have owned hundreds of thousands of cards over those years. This is, amazingly, my first ever and only playing-era flagship Eddie Mathews card.

Pops cards seem to come to me late in set-building, too, so this is welcome.

Elston Howard looks thrilled both to be a member of the Red Sox and taking this picture.

Bill White looks cool, like he usually does.

This card of Pete is almost in condition as bad as my Munson rookie. Fine with it. Upgrading intentionally would be money I don’t wanna spend on this guy anymore.

Ken Boyer and Superman both go to the same barber.

I also crossed the 400 mark on ’69! (I never would’ve guessed that I’d ever be anywhere near that.)

I have at least 2 Joe Niekro on the Cubs cards now, and it’s still not something I’m used to yet. Looks like some alternate universe shit.

World Series cards, lookin’ awesome.

GREAT card of Odom. He’s got that “Don’t even try it” look in his eyes.

Here’s Rico…

…and Sutton, still looking way too young, to close it out. I went through his cards after I scanned these, and figured out that the back of the ’71 card is when Don looks like he went through puberty.

(Borrowed from The Trading Card Database because I didn’t wanna get it out of my album.)

Suddenly, he looks like a grown-up. It’s like he saw some shit during the ’69 off-season, and he’s a man now.

Thanks, Bo, for trade #5939203582010382!

Man, that took some work.

So, this is the award card you get when you’ve completed 8 different Series 1 Yankee team sets in 2017 Bunt. It’s nothing terribly fancy, but it is Bernie, so, of course, I had to.

There was a certain degree of quiet urgency to getting these sets done this weekend, because Series 2 is formally coming out on Monday, and if Topps does what they did with NHL Skate this year, that’ll be it for melding cards to climb through the Series 1 ladder for this year (and for a free player, it is virtually impossible to complete these runs without melding cards at this point, a thing they neglected to tell first-year users of Skate, or I’d have a much better Islanders collection there since I’m blowing off most of the other cards). Now, at present, when you go to the page in the app where you meld a Series 1 card, they’re saying that melding will continue until March 28th of next year (which means the production number for these awards will be about 4 times as big eventually), but Topps has been known to change their mind on the drop of a dime, because they’re sorta making it up as they go along with all this digital stuff, so I wasn’t going to leave it to chance, and it seems like a lot of the other regular and semi-regular users are of the same mind. For now, I don’t care, I got Bernie, and I actually did it without busting up my Gary Sanchez rainbow, to boot (which made it a lot harder).

Where this is a drag is that they’ve managed to make this whole thing feel like a really bad version of level grinding in an MMORPG. Which, when you’ve done this, oh…

…three times in the space of a week now…

…it gets a little old.

(Technically, I’ve done it 5 times, as I got the Pettitte and Posada award cards before I got to the Bernie, but I wasn’t actually after those, so we won’t be featuring them here.)

I guess I have to figure out how many more times I’ll drive myself nuts over it. If we do have another 8 months, it won’t be that hard to get more. There are a bunch of good award cards (Reggie’s next on the Yankee ladder, then Jeter, and I’ll have to decide if I’m gonna use my leftovers to try and get those; after that, there’s a bunch of other award cards you can earn for building the top 5 hardest team sets of each team…there’s Mookie Wilson, Ben Oglivie, Cecil Cooper, Dick Allen, and yes, Night Owl, there’s a Ron Cey award card, only the 3rd time he’s shown up in Bunt to date…), but it’s crazy-making to do it, and it’s also a bad habit for someone with serious obsessive tendencies to get themselves into.

I did get the 3 cards out of 150 that I wanted the most, though, so there is that…