What I’ve learnt today… 10/02

What I’ve learnt today… … is that it really sucks starting a full day of work wet. Your trousers take a funny shape and just feel weird.

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Trading cards

There are a few things I’ve collected in the past, erasers, matchboxes and action figures. They have either been lost, or were thrown away when my Dad’s house was cleared out after his death. Unfortunately not really practical to send over to New Zealand, plus I wasn’t really thinking of it at the time, which in retrospect wouldn’t have been that difficult to have sorted out. Anyhow, there are also a few things I do have and still collect. Trading cards being one of them and also comics.

Trading cards are certainly a much bigger thing in America than they are in the UK; I’m not too sure about other countries. More often than not sport related, baseball, basketball and football (American football), but also movies and comics.

As a child I remember we had various movie related packs you could buy, like the Star Wars and Superman trilogy’s etc. You’d see the box full of packets. Carefully select the one you wanted, or just grabbed one, after all they are sealed and it’s not like you can actually see the contents. Pay, rip open the pack, stuff the bright pink, often brittle (from the cold storage and transport overseas?), piece of gum in your mouth, trying not to cut yourself on the sharp edges, then as the sugar rush started to reach your brain, remember that there were cards in there too. Usually a picture or scene from the movie on the front and some information on the back regarding the picture. Sometimes there was a piece of a picture on the reverse. You then realised either excitedly or in vain that it was part of a larger picture (usually nine cards in total), so you’d need to buy more cards. Lucky then that the intoxicatingly sweet taste of the gum wears off after around two minutes of vigorous chewing, before becoming so tasteless that a wad of paper would be far more preferable (plus a straw to fire it from!).

Maybe that was the marketing ploy? Make it only last two minutes so that another one would be wanted straight away? Even Juicy fruit used to last up to five minutes.

Anyway, I digress, back to trading cards. If you collected the right numbers, or the whole lot, then you’d be able to flip them over and see the bigger picture you’d now made. Simply enough idea, yes? No, as you’d end up with loads of duplicate cards that you didn’t need, so what to do with them… … t-r-a-d-e them with someone else, hence the name. You’d arrive at school the next day with a pile of cards held tightly together by an elastic band, sit at a desk and start comparing who had what and which ones you’d swap. We were all young and only interested in getting the cards we needed, but always a like for like swap. I give you one card and you give me one back. It’s all seems different now, if you need a card you generally have to pay, or swap more for that one. In the playground little entrepreneurs exchanging cards for more in return (card wise) or cash.

Collections often have multiple parts. First off there is the base set of cards (usually around 100). Then there are the limited edition ones. There can be more than one set of these; some collections have three or four different sets printed in different ways (holograms, metallic foil or even very thin etched metal, sketches or signed by artists etc.). Then there are the factory sheets. Uncut A4 pages with the same card printed numerous times that didn’t go through the cutting machine. There are also promotional cards, printed in limited numbers and given away at trade fairs, or in magazines. You can also have promotional stand ups and either empty packets or still sealed packets of cards. Imagine that, a packet of cards sealed; still containing air from the 70’s, I wonder if it’s cleaner and nicer smelling than it is today? Finally there’s the matching folder to place the cards in and keep them safe.

Now not all collections contain all of these components. Some just have the base set and nothing more. Many never had unique folders. Having everything completes an often impressive looking array of items. It can be both interesting and infuriating at the same time.

Have I ever mentioned that I love eBay? No? Sounds like a future post to me 🙂

There you can find pretty much every type of trading card ever made. The larger old style from the 70’s (and even earlier) that I talk about above, to the smaller glossy ones and the uniquely made ones that are generally the more sort after in a set. Maybe metallic coatings, or clear plastic, limited editions that are signed or holograms. Everything you need to start or complete a set, for a price. Sometimes it’s reasonable, and sometimes it’s not, it just depends how much you want to finish that set. Like comics, price is all relative I guess. A pack of cards in the 70’s-80’s would have been maybe 25c, 50c, so buying a complete collection (minus special and limited editions) for $20 doesn’t sound too bad. Some limited ones will appear for a couple of dollars, and then the more sort after or just harder to find ones for more. I think $25 is the most I’ve spent on one card and the most I’d be happy to spend. There are some idiots selling on there though. People who ask the most ridiculous prices or those that don’t actually have what they say they do. It pays to look around and search with different descriptions each time.

I have various sets, mainly comic related, but some movies too, Alien 3, Ghostbusters, The Punisher, Robot Carnival, Spider-man, Star Trek, Superman, X-Men, but my personal, prized possession would be the Akira set. Produced in 1994 (so not really that old, nearly thirty years), by Cornerstone and based on the iconic 1988 Japanese animated cyberpunk film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, written by Otomo and Izo Hashimoto. I have the full base set of 100 cards, the folder, all of the special edition cards (xxx in total), as well as some promo cards without numbers printed on them and an A4 advertising board for the cards that would have been in stores.

I’ll often go through phases of seeing what ones I’m missing and have a hunt around to try and find them, then forget about the whole lot again for ages, as they are kept in the wardrobe. In fact while writing this post I popped onto eBay and scored two more rare cards for the DC Bloodlines Superman set.

A Collection is something that needs to be listed for insurance purposes. How much for? Hard to say really. You could get an up to date price guide and try and work it out, but as I said earlier, price is relative. How much something is worth is quite often calculated by how much someone is prepared to pay for it. It’s not always the oldest cards that go for the most money. Having a complete set is good. Having the card holder (folder) that came out is better, having the all the limited edition cards better still.

I guess the only irony is that I’m not exactly fulfilling the purpose of a trading card by buying the ones I need, not trading some of the duplicates I have, preferring to hold on to them until they are older, rarer, worth something even (look out for me on The Antiques Road show in 2094!).

What’s the point some of you are asking? I think part of it is reconnecting with an activity you did as a child. Part is seeing a collection of cards growing, with many that have been obtained from all round the world. It’s nice to have a hobby, no matter how pointless someone else might think it is. If you get some level of enjoyment out of it then in the end isn’t that the purpose of the activity? Would I go through the hassle of replacing them all if they were lost in a fire or flood? Probably not. Even if they were all readily available and easy to track down. Going out there and buying them all in one go just kind of defeats the object really. It’s the collecting that is the fun activity for me and not the owning of a complete collection.

Bex often says I should give them to Leo… … yeah, maybe, in another twenty years’ time! I suspect that they will just eventually get thrown away when I pass on, making the whole exercise irrelevant in the end.

Perfect posts

One of the reasons I started writing blog posts was due to it being an excellent way of kick starting my memory and getting me to remember things that appeared long forgotten. Then as I remember something and write it down, something new is triggered.

I tend to get bogged down with trying to put everything in there at once and add links to everything to make it perfect. This does mean though that some posts begin to ramble on and seem to be a more fluid process as more things pop back into my head. I think I’ll try to post them sooner from now on and then add updates or additional parts, so I can get on with other topics and actually post something!

What I’ve learnt today… 09/02

What I’ve learnt today… … is that sometimes you’re not given all of the information.

Put the new bed together. The screws are in a rolled up bag in the garage.

After looking three times I noticed what looked like a used tissue on the floor miles away from where the bed bits were. Turns out this ‘used tissue’ was a small bag wrapped in thin paper, wrapped in cellotape, containing an allen key and some screws.