Opening retail packs are fun because they provide instant satisfaction. Yet as we all know, the odds of getting good cards in a retail pack can be astronomical. Hobby packs can be a much better experience as the odds are improved.
For those who don't have easy access to a LCS to buy hobby packs, in steps in The Loot Locker. For $20 (+ $5 shipping), the Loot Locker sends out at least 3 hobby packs [UPDATE: I've been informed that some months there could be more than 3 packs] of your choice of baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. The packs are voted on by their Twitter followers and from what I've seen the packs are all from recent releases.
After hearing about Loot Locker I purchased a baseball locker for July to see what it is all about.
|A lot packed in a little box|
$20 for three packs can seem a little step but also included is candy, penny sleeves, top loaders, and a couple team bags. The genius part is that the cards and supplies are shipped in a 400ct card box. Boom, instant storage. The additional supplies make this box into a good value.
Don't need any more storage boxes? Give it to your dog as a chew toy!
|The cards are unharmed|
The three packs in my box were 2016 Panini Diamond Kings, 2016 Topps Gypsy Queen, and 2015 Topps Finest. I would have never purchased Diamond Kings or Topps Finest on my own so this was a good way to expose me to new cards.
|2015 Topps Finest|
This was a small pack containing only five cards. All five cards featured notable players so I considered this pack a success. The Dennis Eckersley card is an insert featuring great players from different generations.
The highlight of this pack was the purple parallel /250 Manny Machado. Machado is having another great year, with a batting average of just about .300 supplied by 27 HRs and 72 RBIs. He's only 23 years old and Baltimore is getting one hell of a deal this year, paying him $5M. Machado is arbitration eligible after this season so I expect a healthy payday for him.
|2016 Topps Gypsy Queen|
Next up is a recent favorite of mine--Gypsy Queen. I like Gypsy Queen as it goes for a nice retro look, ala Allen and Ginter, but with a more inspired design. Although this year's Gypsy Queen looks somewhat similar to last year's set, it is at least a noticeable difference. Whereas with Allen and Ginter there seems to be no change from year to year.
This pack didn't contain any hits or parallels but all of the cards were pretty great. Current Mariner Nelson Cruz leads the way in this pack. With the exception of Pablo Sandoval (HUGE bust), every other player was a delight to see such as Michael Conforto, Addison Russell, Shin-Soo Choo (former Mariner), and even Johnathan Lucroy (that one's for you, Tony).
The Warren Spahn is a short print although I don't think the SPs are too hard to pull.
Every pack of Gypsy Queen comes with a mini and mine happened to be an MVP mini of Roger Clemens. Growing up in New Hampshire I was a big fan of the Red Sox and Clemens. I'm glad this mini features him in a Red Sox jersey and not a Yankees.
|2016 Panini Diamond Kings|
|2016 Panini Diamond Kings|
Typically I wouldn't have purchase any Diamond Kings cards since Panini no longer as the MLB license but these look so nice that I don't even mind. I don't know if these are original paintings or photos edited to look like paintings (my guess is on the latter) but either way they look spectacular.
To go along with the painting theme, the card stock has a canvas feel to them. I think you would have to feel them yourselves to get the full effect but the cards truly do feel like a canvas painting. Panini deserves a job well done for these cards.
Old friends Addison Russell and Giancarlo Stanton show up in this pack along with my favorite current Mariner Felix Hernandez. Nap Lapjoy was a player in the 1910s and it's nice to see older players in the set.
The highlight of the pack was none other than this dual patch of Rusney Castillo. The dual patch is not a standard grey or white patch. The green patch is pretty rare as I believe the Red Sox only wear green jerseys for St. Patrick's Day. Either way, green is not a regular part of their color scheme so this is definitely from a special jersey.
Castillo was highly sought after he defected to the U.S. from Cuba. The Red Sox were the lucky winners of the Castillo sweepstakes and gave him a handsome $76M contract. Only two years into his 6 year contract, the Red Sox waived Castillo since he wasn't living up to expectations. No other team dared pick up his contract so Castillo rejoined the Red Sox organization in AAA.
Apparently Castillo has shown marked improvement in AAA so maybe he does not yet deserve the label of "bust." If he keeps up his hot streak in AAA I expect that Boston will see him again come September.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased with my Loot Locker. I think the price point is about right and it is a great concept. There's no guarantee that your box will contain a hit but this appears to be a low-risk, high-reward situation.