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Ever since the advent of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, social media has become a focus of the hobby in many different forms. Upper Deck has been at the forefront of this revolutionary way of encouraging collector-to-collector interactions, being the first manufacturer to employ a company Facebook page, Twitter account, and video box breaking channel. Through these mediums, they have succeeded in providing a behind-the-scenes look at what makes the gears turn in the company (even providing unprecedented access to the way the cards make it from the presses to the shelves).
In that same vein, they have continued to be the leader of the social media pack by offering awards for excellence in three categories based on the votes of collectors. First, Upper Deck is recognizing the sports card blogs that have emerged as a primary source of hobby commentary and information. Through these sites, collectors have found their own voice, and used that soapbox to tell the world about the hobby they love. Secondly, the award for Best Community celebrates the message boards and hobby based community forums that bring collectors together in a way that was not possible before the internet. Lastly, with the growing popularity of YouTube, Upper Deck has chosen to congratulate the collectors who have used their video cameras to show their fans exactly what they can pull out of a box bought by an average joe.
Each category has a winner and four honorable mentions based on the votes counted in the Upper Deck poll that ran during March 29th to April 5th. Each of the recognized sites will receive a special trophy, Upper Deck product, and other prizes specific to the categories. The winner of the Best Blog, in addition to the prizes listed above, will win a Football autographed by the attendees of the 2009 NFL Rookie Premiere, including Mark Sanchez, Matt Stafford, Percy Harvin, and others. The winner of the Best Community award will win the same autographed football, as well as an autographed LeBron James UDA Authenticated basketball to give away on their site. The Best Box Breaker will have all of their videos featured on Upper Deck Diamond Vision, as well as product throughout the year for them to break and review.
In reality, this contest was more about celebrating the impact social media has brought to the hobby than declaring which site was the best. Each of the sites that were entered deserved all the recognition they have and will receive, and every single one of them is responsible for doing a wonderful job promoting the hobby to collectors on the internet around the world. For each category, I will break down the nominees and talk a little bit about what they bring to the media landscape with their contributions.
Blogging about cards has exploded over the last few years, with the community growing to over 200 active sites that write about what the hobby means to them. Whether its chronicling exploits with vintage cards, an album about collecting a specific team or player, or just providing daily commentary, blogging has surfaced as one of the better ways to share information to others looking to learn and read about cards.
Opening Day Cards (http://www.openingdaycards.com)
Opening Day Cards was the top vote getter among blogs, and it is probably due to their unique way of blogging about the hobby. Chris and Joe, the guys who write the site, use video, free giveaways, and wax breaking to grow their fan base, promote the hobby, and comment on their favorite stuff. They are rabid Brewers and Red Sox fans (as evidenced by their videos and pictures), so be sure to stop by and see what they are all about.
Field Level View (www.fieldlevelview.com)
Jason Ballew has been blogging for a long time about Houston and its sports teams, but recently changed the focus of his blog to help collectors get information about the hobby that they love. His site features daily updates of upcoming products, commentary on hobby news and reviews of new releases. He has gained a pretty big following based on that structure, as many collectors strive to know as much as they can about what is going on around the hobby.
Canada Card World (http://canadacardworld.blogspot.com/)
As the name suggests, Canada Card World is run by a small group of collectors from north of the border, and covers a wide range of sports and card news. Hockey blogs are a select group, and CCW is a great example of a site to visit when looking for Hockey card news. They also are one of the only blogs to offer a place to purchase cards, thus explaining their goal of becoming the biggest sports and non-sports retailer in Canada!
A Cardboard Problem (www.cardboardproblem.com)
Sooz and Marie are a rarity around the card blogs, as they are women who do an amazing job running one of the most popular card blogs on the net. They often detail their trips to Target and other retail stores in search of Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols cards, as well as contributing to the Upper Deck Blog and other sites. They also offer sage wisdom on hobby happenings and baseball releases, and are some of the friendliest people I have had the pleasure of interacting with.
Wax Heaven (www.waxheaven.com)
Mario Alejandro has recently cut back on his activity pertaining to the site, but Wax Heaven is still going strong with a number of loyal collectors taking up the banner. In its hey day, Wax Heaven was undoubtedly the most popular card blog on the net, being the first hobby site of its kind to reach 1,000,000 visitors. Mario is also one of the original people to write about cards in a blog form, and is still a respected member of the community.
Best Card Community
When it comes to message boards and forums, communicating with other collectors has never been so easy. If you are looking to trade, talk, or learn, card communities offer all of that and more. With thousands of members and a wide range of collectors who are well versed in every aspect of the hobby, they have become a great place to grow your collection and find out news from all over the world.
Freedom Card Board (www.freedomcardboard.com)
FCB (as it’s known to its members) generated the most votes to take home the top spot, and its members are ecstatic. Created for collectors, by collectors, its creators were looking to create a place where collectors could gather and talk about anything and everything related to the hobby. It has a large active and dedicated member base, and has become known for its up to the minute news and friendly atmosphere. FCB is widely regarded as a forum of knowledgeable people who act with respect, and it shows with the great discussions and commentary posted by its base of people.
Sports Card Forum (www.sportscardforum.com)
Sports Card Forum has become one of the bigger forums on the net, and has something for everyone young or old. It has dedicated areas for all four sports, as well as non-sports and others. SCF is known for its wide base of people ready to trade and sell, so if there is a specific card you need, odds are that someone on the site will be ready to deal. There is also a great contingent of people on the community who are ready to help with any question about the hobby, and their large staff does a great job keeping the site free of problems. When it comes to a great place to discuss what you love, SCF is a wonderful place to check out.
Cardboard Connection (www.cardboardconnection.com)
Cardboard Connection is unlike any other site on the internet. It was started as the hobby’s answer to MySpace and Facebook, and has blossomed into a one stop shop for hobby info and communication. You can visit member pages just like Facebook, as well as perusing the full hobby forum and commentary blog section. It’s a great place to meet other collectors, and is a must join to show off your favorite cards and memorabilia. The members are nice, and the community is top notch, so be sure to check it out for a unique experience.
Clouts n’ Chara (http://www.cloutsnchara.com)
Named for the creators’ two favorite hockey players, Clouts n’ Chara has become one of the largest Hockey centered forums on the net. They also offer forums on the other four sports, but hockey is by far the most popular. It’s a great place to get info on cards collected around the world, including frequently updated news info and a partnered eBay store. The members have become a close knit group and are very welcoming of new members and collectors.
Hobby Insider (www.hobbyinsider.com)
Hobby Insider prides itself on being more than just a trading site, and that it is. Based off of the popular collecting magazine, the forums offer a place where collectors can go to read about behind the scenes info and hobby commentary. Although the forums are not as populous as some of the other sites available, it has become known for offering great information for every collector looking to learn about more than just the cards.
Best Video Box Breaker
When box breaking was done on video for the first time a few years ago, it was like being right there when someone opened a box at the shop. Since then, thousands of people have taken to video taping their breaks, and YouTube has become the hub where collectors can go for no-nonsense views on the content of a particular product. Upper Deck created Diamond Vision as an official site where people can go to view these breaks, and the people discussed below will definitely be some of the top contributors in the future.
Box Rippers (http://www.youtube.com/user/blackmagik44)
Box Rippers have made a name for themselves by ripping all sorts of products from all sorts of genres. Group breaks, high end, everything has a spot on their channel, and they have shown no signs of slowing down. Be sure to check out their YouTube site to see just how much they love breaking boxes.
The Hobby Box (http://www.youtube.com/user/chri5784)
Chris from The Hobby Box is the most widely subscribed to box breaker on YouTube, with over 8,000 subscriptions (and is known for busting a little of everything from his shop in North Carolina). In fact, he has become so popular that his regular customers have almost become characters themselves on YouTube. If you are looking for information on any product released in the last five years, check out one of his 1,000+ video breaks to get a peak.
Truth has gained popularity for displaying his massive collection of great cards, as well as showing his mail days for collectors to see that collection grow. He does box breaks too, and his fans come to see what he will show them next. He isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, and it hasn’t stopped him from doing what he loves best.
Clouts n’ Chara (http://www.youtube.com/user/cloutsnchara)
Nominated for their forums and their video box breaks, this channel is dedicated to showing off box breaks and contests related to the site. Again, focused on hockey cards as well as the other sports, these breakers are some of the best to check out for all the hockey releases of the year.
SBLEZ AKA SCOTT (http://www.youtube.com/user/sblez)
Scott, like ThetTruth17, is a guy who likes to show people exactly how he grows his collection through mail days and box breaks. He is a self described junkie for watching box breaks on YouTube, and has tons of videos himself for his fans to watch.
Congratulations to all the nominees, and make sure to check out their sites and forums to get a better idea of what they can offer for the hobby. These sites are all amazing in their own way, and should be places that any collector, new or old, would check for great information and news.
Adam Gellman runs the collecting blog Sports Cards Uncensored, and has been a collector of all things sports for over 15 years. To see more of his work, visit http://www.sportscardsuncensored.com(warning: strong language!).