Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Japanese Chronicles Booster Pack - worth?!?!

There are many aspects of this business that I love. When a new set starts getting "spoiled" and you get a first look at the cards that will be coming out (as Worldwake is being spoiled right now). Getting positive feedback on eBay, or positive reviews at ResellerRatings. Helping a customer get that card they've been looking for to complete a collection. All of these are wonderful.

Sometimes, though, there are parts that are a pain in the butt.

Tonight I listed up on eBay 10 booster packs of Japanese Chronicles. The Chronicles set was a set released in 1995 (in English) to reprint some cards from the earliest 4 expansions (Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends and The Dark). The cards were printed with the same expansion symbols as the original set they were from, but with white borders instead to to follow WotC's policy of using white borders to distinguish reprinted cards.

In 1996 the set was released in Japanese, with the significant difference that they were printed with black borders. Now there were cards that had early set expansion symbols, but Japanese language and black borders. This has led MANY a person to believe (incorrectly) that they had in their possession, for example, Japanese Arabian Nights cards (Arabian Nights was only ever published in English).

[SIDE NOTE: This same problem happens in German, French, and Italian thanks to the reprint set Renaissance - feel free to read this post to get a more in-depth treatise on that set.]

The pain-in-the-butt part of this experience is that I can, NOWHERE, find anyone else who has these blasted things for sale. NO ONE. NADA. ZIP. As a result, I have no prices to compare to in order to determine a fair market price. A quick Twitter request yielded one person with an opinion (thanks, @mtgmetagame!), and that's all the data I have to work with. I vaguely remember someone on eBay having them for sale a while ago, at ~$16 per pack. The fact that they are no longer up would suggest that maybe they sold (if I am in fact remembering correctly). So, what to do?

I finally decided to list them for $20 per pack. Too much? As my father once said to me, "something is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it." So, if in a month's time or so these haven't had a single sale, I may consider dropping the price on them. For now, as the (apparently), only game in town - if someone wants a Japanese Chronicles Booster Pack - they need to come see me!

[SIDE NOTE PART DEUX: I also have available Booster Packs of Renaissance in both French and German should anyone be interested in those as well!]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Where the Magic happens

Or: A visual Tour of Don's Magic and Sundry!

This is an idea I've had percolating through my mind for a while, and I finally decided I'd sit down and do it. I've taken photos of my work space in my basement, the base of Don's Magic and Sundry, where the work gets done. Come with me, gentle readers, as I give you a tour of where the Magic happens...
This is the main work area. The boxes that take up most of the space are where the single cards are stored (more on these later). They sit towards the back of a large drafting table (which would almost certainly be tipping backwards if the wall behind were not helping hold these suckers up). In the space in front is where I work to get new acquisitions ready (such as the piles of boosters seen here, including some Japanese Chronicles and German Renaissance boosters that I'm eager to get listed). Also of note in this photo:
  • I'm not only a Magic gamer. See the pile of Munchkin (original & expansions) and other games?
  • ...including video games (Oblivion & Gothic II + 3 can be seen). Not shown is my current favorite (Dragon Age: Origins)
  • I like to read the Magic novels as well - sitting on the table is the one I'll finish later today, The Thran.
  • Off to the right can be seen "shipping central" were I store the plastic cases, toploaders, bubble mailers, packing tape, etc. that I use to package and mail out orders.
  • Hanging from above in the center is a nifty LED lamp from Ikea that provides a nice spotlight on the work area when I'm pulling orders.
Taking a closer look at the aforementioned boxes of singles...
They are all labeled with little Post-It notes bearing the names of sets. Let's look even closer...
Here's the boxes storing single cards from the most recent sets. The last box of Shards of Alara up top & left, then the three boxes containing Conflux & Alara Reborn. Next the three boxes of Zendikar and look! I'm ready for the next two sets, Worldwake and Rise of the Eldrazi! Larger sets (generally the first in a block) tend to get three boxes each, where smaller sets get 1.5 to 2 boxes depending on how many cards I have. There are exceptions: Ice Age has 5 whole boxes - I have a LOT of Ice Age cards!

What does it look like inside these boxes? I'm glad you asked! Those who know me know that, in certain ways, I am crazy fastidious (some would say "anal retentive") about organization. These boxes help prove this point:
Here's the interior of the 3 Zendikar boxes. You can see little Post-It tags sticking up (these are stuck on beat-up Magic cards of various sets I appropriated from my "cast-off box" [more on this later]). A set like Zendikar has tags for:
  • Tips & Tricks
  • Tokens
  • Basic Lands
  • Foil Basic Lands
  • Commons
  • Foil Commons
  • Uncommons
  • Foil Uncommons
  • Rares
  • Foil Rares
  • Mythic Rares
  • Foil Mythic Rares
Phew! A small set like Worldwake will only be missing the two Basic Land tags. Within these subdivisions I have the cards sorted alphabetically. Unlike most people (especially players), I do not organize my cards by color, as my primary use for the cards is selling them - I need to be able to find these cards quickly when I pull an order, and my listings (and therefore the packing slips I use to pull an order) take the form of "Card Name - Set Name - Rarity". Set Name & Rarity tells me which box (for example, Zendikar Rares are all in the 3rd Zendikar box), then the name I find alphabetically. Quick & simple. I also organize my photos of the cards in a similar way (folders nested within folders on my hard drive).

Okay, that covers the single cards, which are available at www.donsmagicandsundry.com. But I also sell other items at my eBay store - namely unopened boosters, decks, and complete subsets (Commons, Uncommons, Basic Lands). What about those?

Here's what my booster pack storage looks like:
In this shot you can see, mostly, the boxes of booster packs. But also in view are the "cast-off boxes" along right edge of the bookshelf. These contain single cards that are not in good enough condition to sell as singles (in my opinion). They vary from having slight wear from play to creases and heavy damage. Some were once obviously used as proxies (i.e. other card names are written across their backs in marker). From these cast-off boxes I make my "grab bags" which you can see on the bottom shelf center. 100 cards of various conditions, various sets, various rarities.

A closer look at these boxes again shows my tendency towards crazy organization...
You can see that the booster boxes are organized chronologically by block, so the three "Kamigawa Block" sets are on top of each other, in order top to bottom, followed by the Ravnica block sets, etc. I was fortunate that the shelf that the Lorwyn 4-set "mega block" ended up on just happened to be the shelf that four boxes stacked up could fit on!

Pre-constructed decks and Tournament/Starter decks are stored here:
Above the lovely framed Wizard artwork.

Complete sets are stored in the next room over:
[No fair peaking at my book shelves on the left]. This dresser is a hand-me-down from my brother. If he ever decides he needs it back I'm in trouble! Besides the extra packing tape in the background, you can also see piles of plastic cases. These are complete common (& uncommon) sets, organized chronologically by set. On top of the dresser are sets ranging from The Dark to Future Sight. The gigantic tower of cases you see in the back right bears a closeup:
These are near complete common sets. These sets are missing a card or two (or ten) before they can be listed & sold. The multi-colored Post-Its tell me which set the box contains, and which cards are missing so that when I obtain a new batch of cards (buying someone's collection, or opening packs, etc) I can hopefully someday complete these and get them up for sale. I'll be honest - complete common sets are mostly made to get rid of cards. I end up with SO many commons that those singles boxes I showed you earlier just can't hold them all. So, I make complete (or near complete) common sets to make room in the boxes.

Inside this dresser are more goodies as well:

The top two drawers contain common & uncommon sets from various Core Sets. The second row drawer has basic land sets & more recent set common & uncommons. The third row drawer:

Has the Zendikar common & uncommon sets, and has room for Worldwake once it gets released.

The bottom drawers contain extra boosters that I use to refill the booster boxes you saw earlier.
Seen in the bottom left is evidence of my children's voracious appetite for all things Lego, especially Star Wars Lego.

I will spare you the mindboggling piles of boxes of cards (mostly commons) that I still need to process from the 400,000+ card collection I obtained nearly a year ago.

I would like to leave you with this photo, a picture of one of the best presents I have ever been given, by the aforementioned brother. It hangs on the wall next to the dresser, so I see it every time I go to pull a common set...

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year - I'm BAAAAACK!

I was finally able to get my M10 post from JULY up today, as I admitted defeat (after my lovely wife scoured the web for a way to conquer my FTP problems, only to find that there IS NO WAY to do so), and returned to blogspot for my blog hosting.

Hopefully I will now return to semi-regular blogging in addition to my Twitter activity. I don't think I'll jump in the wayback machine and write a Zendikar entry - but who knows?

For now, let me just say Happy New Year to everyone who reads!