Wednesday, September 23, 2020

1995 Sparta Mountain Train Cards

Now that I am more actively looking for train related cards, I'm finding there are a lot more sets out there than I ever thought possible. Most of what I see on eBay are tobacco type cards and stuff from the Topps Rails & Sails set from the 1950's. Other than those the stuff I do find is pretty random, like those All Aboard sets I posted about several years ago.

Today's post is all about another one of these oddball sets that I had never seen before. It is simply called Train Cards and was produced by Sparta Mountain Trading Cards back in 1995. I wasn't able to find very much information about this set or the company for that matter. The best I could find was this listing from

The eBay listing was for the complete set of 53 cards, but only a few of them were actually pictured. This made me want it even more as I would be able to open it up and not really know what was all in there. So a mystery pack of train cards from the 90's. Sign me up.

Here is a look at the title card, which is technically not counted as part of the 53 cards. This actually works out perfectly though when filling up nine-pocket pages. I just put this one in the very last spot, theoretically #54, to maintain a proper numbering throughout the set.

As far as the base cards go, there were several different designs. I prefer the horizontal versions as they allow for some excellent photography to be showcased on the cards. The best part is the full bleed with the minimal trim offset slightly inward from the edges.

The first example features an awesome shot of an Algoma Central passenger train on a curved bridge. This could've been an even more spectacular shot if more of the bridge was shown. If I am correct, this is located at the Montreal Falls hydroelectric dam in Ontario. Click here for an example of what I am referring to.

Up next we have the Green Mountain Railroad with a great shot of oe of their green and yellow locomotives. This is a high hood EMD GP9 that was originally built in 1956.

Another railroad I was familiar with beforehand was the Alaska Railroad featured on this next card. The locomotive shown, #1802, is an EMD GP7 that was originally built in 1951. My favorite part of this shot is the barber poll looking crossbuck with the stop sign.

Back to the Green Mountain Railroad, which is based in Vermont, for a look at one of their passenger trains. The locomotive shown here is an Alco RS1 that was originally built in 1948 and is in the same paint scheme as the other one. You can actually still ride these trains, here is a link to the railroad's website for more information.

Lastly we have a cool shot from the Grand Canyon Railway. This one is card #50 in the set and features Alco 2-8-0 #18 at the South Rim station. There is not much decoration on the front of this one allowing the photo to take center stage.

This one was cool to see as I was in that exact location last spring. We took a long weekend trip to see the canyon and ride the train from Williams, AZ to the South Rim and back. Obviously, the canyon itself was amazing to see in person and I am really looking forward to going there again someday. There was just too much for us to see in a single weekend.

The train ride was awesome too. I went all in and got us luxury parlor class tickets. That meant our own personal lounge section, a private bar and access to the rear platform of the last car on the train. Below are some photos I took there. The middle is the luxury parlor car we rode in. The bottom right is the same building pictured on the card above.

Overall this was a fun set to check out. I knew most of the trains shown, but there were some I'd never heard of before this set, so that's cool. When I last checked there were still a few complete sets available on eBay from the same seller that I got this one from, just search for 1995 Sparta Trains. Not a bad deal for under $10 including shipping. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Topps 75th: Rails and Sails Rainbow

Have you ever stumbled upon a card while shopping online that you didn't even know existed and then immediately acquired it for your collection? I'm sure it happens a lot nowadays. This post is about the latest instance of this exact scenario happening to me.

While scrolling through some recent eBay search results for train related cards, I happened to notice a listing for what looked like a chrome refractor type card that seemed out of place compared to the other vintage cards. As it turns out there was a "reprint" of the first card from the original 1955 Rails and Sails set that was included with a newer Topps set.

Here is card #7 from the 2013 Topps 75th Anniversary set. Technically, what I found is the rainbow foil parallel, which is pretty obvious from the scan. It looks even better in person.

While this is a tribute to the original set from 1955, it is a normal sized card (2.5" x 3.5") and printed on modern card stock, but replicates the look of the original almost perfectly. The biggest difference aside from the size is the Topps 75th logo in the upper left.

The back of the card has a nice write up about the original set. Interestingly, it has a note at the bottom listing the size of the original set as 2 5/8" x 3 3/4" overall.

Now I just need to work on tracking down the other three versions of this reprint. There is a standard base version, a Modern Gloss version (#/10) and a Diamond Sparkle version (#/75). This would be a cool "rainbow" to complete for my train card collection. I think this is the only train card I've seen that even has any type of parallel version, so that's neat. 

Anyone else collect anything from the Topps 75th Anniversary set? I never knew about it before and there are some pretty neat cards including The Simpsons, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Back to the Future Part II. Those are some of my favorite franchises so I might need to try and find them too at some point.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Topps Rails and Sails

Vintage cards are one thing that I never really had any interest in, until recently. Now that I'm actively on the hunt for more train cards, I've been looking to add some stuff from the 1955 Topps Rails and Sails set. There are some really cool cards in that set and they would look great with the other train stuff I've accumulated so far, especially the tea cards.

First, a little background information. Rails and Sails was released by Topps way back in 1955. The set has 200 total cards with the first 130 depicting various locomotives and rolling stock. The remaining 70 cards feature various types of boats and ships.

Since I am a train guy and well, my collection my rules, I am only going after the first 130 cards of the set. I could even refer to it as simply "Rails" moving forward, but I think I'll keep labeling the posts with the full name of the set because why not?

As far as the design, the Rails cards have painting-like color photo taking up a majority of the card. Along the bottom there is a brief description of the equipment shown along with name of the railroad that it belongs to. The simplicity is perfect for this type of set.

The backs are every bit as good as the fronts. Unlike most cards I post on here, I am going to make sure I scan and share the back of each card. They each have something unique and the bright colors work very well with the artwork on the fronts.

To get things going for this set, I was lucky enough to find a great deal on eBay my first four cards. I paid $2.99 plus shipping, which worked out to $1.79 per card. Based on some other completed listings I've seen, this was a pretty good deal. Hopefully the first of many.

Up first is card #5 featuring the Southern Pacific Daylight streamliner.

Next is card #3 featuring a Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 type electric locomotive.

Card #4 features and S-type electric locomotive from the New York Central Railroad.

Last is card #6 featuring a camelback locomotive from the Central Railroad of New Jersey.

Now that I have officially have a good start to this set, I thought it would be neat to track my progress and overall spending on it as I go. It will be a kind of challenge to myself to see how cost effectively I can put the whole thing together.

I'm not usually a big spender on singles or small lots, so it will be interesting to see how it goes building a vintage set like this. I care more about the subject matter than condition so I won't be getting hung up on finding mint condition cards, because that would get way too expensive for me very quickly. As long as they're not completely terrible, its all good.

Since this is not just some box set I can buy outright, I'll be doing this the fun way by scouring eBay and other places for the best deals. Maybe even card shows whenever I can get back to doing that again. Its been way too long since I've been to one now.

Rails and Sails Set Progress:  4/130 = 3.1%
Cumulative Cost (including shipping): $7.14
Average Cost per Card: $1.79

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Predators: MVP Postseason

At this point I would consider the Predators to be my #3 team behind the Red Wings and Golden Knights. That doesn't mean I'm not still on the lookout for more Preds cards, I just don't put as high of a priority on it. Plus, my main source of new stuff, card shows, haven't been an option around here for months now because of the whole pandemic thing.

When I do find something I want on eBay, it will usually have to be more than regular base cards for me to be able to justify the shipping costs. In this case I was able to find a great deal on two cards I've been after for over two years now.

First is 2017-18 Upper Deck MVP Postseason #PS8 featuring Pekka Rinne.

Second is 2017-18 Upper Deck MVP Postseason #PS2 featuring P.K. Subban.

I was able to get the pair for under $9 delivered. Not a bad deal considering I've seen them listed for quite a bit more in the past. I know these are short prints, but not what the actual print run would be, so its difficult to judge what they should be going for.
While its unfortunate they lost to the Penguins, that Predators 2017 playoff run was some of the most fun I've had watching hockey in recent memory. Having several cards dedicated to their appearance in the Stanley Cup Final is pretty cool.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Jimmy Howard: The Cup RPA Gold Rainbow

While the regular Cup RPA I just posted is considered Howard's true RC for this release, there are several parallel versions: Gold Rainbow, Platinum & Black Rainbow. I've only ever seen a few copies of the Gold and one copy of the Platinum for sale. The Black Rainbow is 1/1 so who knows if I'll ever see it, so I'll be focusing on the others for now.

Luckily, the same seller where I got the regular RPA also had a copy of the Gold Rainbow version for sale, albeit for quite a bit more money. I was hesitant at first because of the starting price, but decided that I couldn't pass this one up and put in my bid.

Talk about a gorgeous card, I'll let the scan speak for itself:

Like I said, this one was a bit more than the regular RPA. It ended up costing me $73. That is the most I've ever spent on a single card for my collection. Typically these are a little out of my comfort zone spending wise, but with the extra funds from my Ticketmaster refund I figured why not get something big for a change?

I still can't believe I actually have one of these now. I've always wanted one and I figured it would forever be one of the white whales I would never actually end up getting. This along with the regular RPA are now the two main centerpieces of my Jimmy Howard collection.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Jimmy Howard: The Cup RPA

Finally, I can knock off one of my most wanted Jimmy Howard cards. That would be his Autographed Rookie Patch card from 2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup. I've wanted this card for as long as I've been collecting Howard, which is around 10 years now.

These have always been a bit too pricey for me whenever they are listed on eBay and what not. I'm also not big spender when it comes to single cards. I think the most I've ever dropped on a single Howard card was $40 for a Black Diamond 1/1 years ago. 

Fortunately for my collecting budget, I recently received a refund from Ticketmaster for the cancelled Nickelback concert I was supposed to be at on July 3rd here in Detroit. Yes, I do actually like them. I'll never understand all the hate they get. 
While I was looking forward to the show, I figured I would do a little splurging on cards to make up for it. Here is card #136 from 2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup. It is one of Howard's official RC's and is serial numbered 037/199 on the front.

This one cost me $43 plus shipping. Not too bad all things considered.

While it isn't the nicest patch I've seen on these, it does have a hint of white stitching along the left side. Even if it was just plain white, I would still be happy to have it. After all, other than the main chest logo, its not like there are many colorful options on a Wings jersey.

This definitely takes over as my favorite Jimmy Howard card so far.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Jimmy Howard: Titanium Game-Worn Gear

Anyone else remember Pacific Private Stock Titanium from the early 2000's? I thought those sets were awesome when I was a kid, especially the '00-01 version of the game-worn gear design. That was the one with the cool diamond plate design on top of a lava-like background. Click here to see an example from TCDB. 

Fast forward about ten years and Panini brought back the Titanium name with their own take on the game-worn gear set. I've known about Howard's inclusion in that set since it came out, I've just never found a copy for the price I was hoping for. Thanks to another eBay find, I was finally able to get one for myself recently. 

Here is 2011-12 Titanium Game-Worn Gear #72 that I got for $2 including shipping.

While it isn't as over the top as the version I mentioned above, this one has a really nice look to it. My favorite part is the diamond plate pattern along the top and bottom. Even with a plain white swatch, this is still a really great looking card.

The only bad thing about it is a slight crease on either side of the swatch window. It wasn't really visible in the listing photos, but was pretty obvious when I held it up to the light. I guess I should have looked closer at the listing on a bigger screen. Oh well, its not very noticeable from a distance and for a $2 card I'm not super worried about it. I'll just try to upgrade to a better copy down the road, hopefully one with a red swatch.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Jimmy Howard: OPC Platinum Seismic Gold

The streak is at 10 now for new Jimmy Howard posts on here. At some point I'll get to something other than my main player collection, but for now let's keep it rolling. I've been on the hunt for Howard stuff more in the last few months that probably the previous few years combined. Not really sure why, probably because buying cards online is easily done from home and I've been home a lot more than normal this year so far.

My latest pickup was inspired by two other recent OPC Platinum parallels. Getting those two cards made me want to start going for the rainbow so I wanted to see if there were any good deals on the other parallel versions. I found one on eBay for $6 plus shipping.

Here is 2014-15 OPC Platinum Seismic Gold serial numbered 16/50.

I love how this one shows up in the scan. While you lose some of the brighter gold foil look, the rainbow part of the design really pops here. Almost as good as in person.

As far as rainbows go, OPC Platinum is probably the best for player collectors, or worst depending on which side you're on. I love sets like this that have a ton of parallels for player collecting as it gives me more to chase and they look amazing when put together. 

For my Howard stuff, I believe this is the closest I am to any complete rainbow that consists of more than three cards. Since I still need six more to complete this one, I thought it would be neat to create a visual checklist grid that I can update as I go.

Other than the Golden Treasure 1/1 this should be relatively easy to finish, I just like to wait for the best deals possible so who knows how long this will take to complete.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Jimmy Howard: UD 30th Anniversary Buyback

Today's post is all about something I haven't gotten for my Jimmy Howard collection in over nine years now: a 1 of 1. This was definitely an unexpected addition as I wasn't even aware that Howard had one of these buyback cards until it popped up on eBay.

This one is a base card from 2018-19 Upper Deck. It was card #69 in that set and is serial numbered "1 of 1" on the front of the card just below the UD logo. They also added the 30th anniversary stamp at the bottom. A lot of silver foil on this one that's for sure.

After some back and forth offers with the seller on eBay, this one ended up costing me $16 plus shipping. Not too bad considering this is a 1/1 after all. I was more than happy to only pay this much for something no one else can have in their collection.

How does everyone else feel about these 1/1 buybacks? I know they are probably not the coolest thing out there, but hey at least it is something unique for my Howard collection.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Jimmy Howard: OPC Retro Black

So this will be eight posts in a row for my Jimmy Howard collection. I'd have to actually go back and check to be sure, but I'm guessing this is the longest streak for any one category on here. What can I say, this year has made me want to buy a lot of cards. A lot of them just happen to be for my primary player collection.

Continuing with the O-Pee-Chee theme, here is a retro black parallel from 2019-20. This is card #153 in the set and is serial numbered 021/100 on the back.

This one ended up costing me $1 plus shipping. Not bad for a card numbered out of 100.

These OPC retro designs are hit and miss for me. This is one of the better looking ones I've seen for Howard in the last few years. The black border just makes this one better.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Jimmy Howard: OPC Platinum White Ice

If there is one thing I like about O-Pee-Chee Platinum it is the parallels. They make for some really awesome looking cards. As a player collector it makes things even more fun going after an entire rainbow.  When it comes to more recent hockey sets, there are not many complete rainbows that look as awesome as OPC Platinum.

Here is card #57 from 2014-15, a White Ice parallel serial numbered 028/199.

This one cost me a whopping $0.25 plus shipping. I ordered it from eBay on June 26th and it finally arrived on July 29th. That is probably the longest amount of time I've ever had a card from eBay working its way through the mail system.

Its goes nicely with the Black Ice version I picked up a little while back. Speaking of rainbows, this gives me two of the nine cards required to complete it. I still need the following: Base, Rainbow, Platinum Traxx, Red Prism (/135), Blue Cube (/65), Seismic Gold (/50), and Golden Treasure (/1). This should be a fun one to try and complete.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Jimmy Howard: UD Overtime Red

As you can probably tell from my recent posts, I've been on a bit of a run of new cards for my Jimmy Howard collection. I made a bunch of purchases on eBay recently and I am still catching up on getting them scanned and ready to show off here. 

This was actually one of the earlier purchases I made, but it came from north of the border so delivery took quite a bit longer than normal. It was something like 28 days from when I ordered it until it finally made its way to my mailbox.

Here is a red foil parallel from wave #2 of 2017-18 Upper Deck Overtime. It is card #92 in the set and is serial numbered 02/99 on the front. 

Definitely a lot of red on this one, and I love it. When I first saw this pop up on eBay I had to have it. I had never seen one before. The best part is it cost just over $1 plus shipping. Now I need to work on getting the base and the other parallels (blue and gold).

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Jimmy Howard: OPC Platinum Black Ice

Let's keep the streak going with two more additions to my Jimmy Howard collection. These are two separate eBay purchases from several weeks ago. I've always liked the various parallels that OPC Platinum has to offer, I just hadn't ever decided to buy any until now.

Up first is card #103 from 2015-16 OPC Platinum. It is serial numbered 23/99.

This one only ended up costing $1 plus shipping. Not bad for a card numbered to 99. Unfortunately, the scan does not show how great this thing really looks in person. I have to say these black ice parallels are one of my favorites out of however many there.

The second is card #57 from 2014-15 and is serial numbered 05/25.

Not sure why the serial numbering is so different from one year to the next. With this one being a bit more rare, it cost a little bit more at $5 plus shipping. The black ice treatment of the border appears to be pretty similar to the first card.

If I had to choose a favorite of the two it would be the 15-16 version. That design just looks a bit cleaner without the giant Red Wings text along the bottom. Plus the green and yellow accents on the second one look a little out of place if you ask me.

Now I just need to work on some of the other great parallels from these sets.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Jimmy Howard: SPA Future Watch

This year has been pretty good for my Jimmy Howard collection so far. For whatever reason I've been a lot more interested in adding to it than in recent years. Maybe is has to do with the fact that he is likely done with the Red Wings. From a collecting perspective, that might actually help drop the prices on his stuff a bit, so maybe I should try to wait it out. Or not, as you can probably tell by this streak of new Howard cards that I'm on. 

Today's post is a card that has been on my Howard want list since I started collecting his stuff back in 2010. I'm sure most player collectors would agree that if your guy has one, then the SPA Future Watch is a must have RC. I know I've always wanted one.

Here is card #155 from 2005-06 SP Authentic. It is serial numbered 214/999.

I was able to grab this one for $14 plus shipping. I don't think that's a bad deal considering I've always wanted one. On top of that it is just a great looking card. 

The best part is the hard signed autograph. I've always liked the way Howard's signature looks when compared to a lot of other players. This is one of the better examples in my collection. It is perfectly centered and there is not a smudge in sight.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Jimmy Howard: SP Game Used All-Star

Continuing with my Jimmy Howard pickups, a while back I bought a pair of cards from 2019-20 SP Game Used. I didn't even realize Howard had and cards in this set until they started popping up on eBay recently. He is only featured on the cards with game-used swatches from last year's All-Star game.

The first one comes from the All-Star Weekend banner/jersey set and features pieces of an event-used jersey and a decorative banner. I'm assuming this means the jersey was just from a photo shoot or something, but who knows maybe it was from the skills competition. It doesn't specify either way on the back.

I'm going to guess this is the only card that features Howard in a suit, so that makes this a bit of a unique piece in the collection. The main reason I chose this one was the banner swatch. It has a piece of the "O" from the Honda logo as shown right behind him in the photo. It might not be from that exact banner though as this piece looks to be smaller.

The second is from the All-Star Skills Fabrics set and features another piece of an event-used jersey. This time the back of the card specifically states it was used in the skills competition, so that's cool as that the jersey in the photo.

The pair cost me $5 plus shipping. Not bad for a couple of somewhat unique jersey cards. 

I know plain jersey cards like these are not as cool as they used to be, but I am happy to have these as they at least feature swatches from a single specific event. Now I just need to track down a few other cards from this set. According to TCDB, Howard has 12 total.