This particular pack was a doozy.
Not because it provided me with a mega-mojo hit, or even a new name for my all-time NASCAR driver collection. No, this package was a doozy because it was surprisingly difficult to purchase:
About 2 weeks ago, while rustling through the highly disorganized and chaotic card display of my local Dollar Tree, I found this rarely seen product nestled amongst the incessant repacks and entertainment cards. A set from which I have nothing with an interesting and different theme? Heck yea - I'll take that over a 5 card, '92 Donruss-filled baseball re-pack!
Unfortunately, I did not get to scratch my pack-ripping itch. While checking out with my totally mature, adult purchases (card, pop and candy), the pack simply refused to scan when swiped by the cashier. I was loathe to find out that he was not permitted to sell this item to me, under any circumstance. I'm certain that this is store policy and it was not his choice at all; however, he was wearing a stupid man-bun, so I still found him to be exceptionally annoying.
You tell 'em, Zoolander.
I left the store muttering under my breath because I'm polite dammit; plus, I do the healthy, American thing and bottle my frustration deep down inside.
Fast-forward to a few days ago, when again rustling through the card display at that same Dollar Tree, I saw a rather familiar pack buried deep within the madness. Did man-bun simply throw the pack back into the display and set a trap for me, yet again - or, had there been a second one hidden this whole time? I'll never know, but I'll be damned if I wasn't going to try again.
So, I whispered to my fiancee that I was going to be conducting an experiment (leaving her super confused, as per normal), and entered into the checkout line with the contraband... and a bag of circus peanuts... and an energy drink.
Y'know, health food.
The anticipation and tension were palpable (to me, at least), as a different cashier swiped each item, finally getting to my coveted, heretofore banned item. Would I again be denied? Then, I heard the "beep" and watched as the teenager placed the cards into my shopping bag. SUCCESS!! TAKE THAT STUPID MAN-BUN!!!
Again, I realize that this whole snafu really had nothing to do with that first kid; in fact, after that, they probably re-entered the product into their inventory and placed it back onto the shelf. However, that fashion choice is entirely on them.
As I walked away with my stash, I realized that the cards were pretty much secondary in this power-struggle. At that point, I really only wanted them because I couldn't have them.... and the joke was really on me since they got my hard-earned money anyway.
So, after all of this, was the 5-card pack of "Wheels - Main Event," issued by Press Pass in 2009, worth all of the trouble it caused? The short-lived product blended NASCAR with professional poker (which go together like peanut butter and ladies, so why not?) for a nothing if not unique set:
In an era where few companies can afford (or make it profitable, anyway) to sponsor a top-notch NASCAR team for a full 36-race schedule, this "Double Suited" insert set is genius. Just like today, AMP and the National Guard split time backing perennial fan-favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and this design gives an AMP-le showcase for both.
Here's another insert, this one being super-duper shiny. "High Roller" is an insert set that "shines" the spotlight on the biggest names in the sport - Jimmie Johnson certainly qualifies, perhaps being the greatest driver in the long history of NASCAR racing.
This card is really quite pretty in person - my crappy camera phone picture doesn't truly do it justice.
Oh hey - a base card! This was the only such card to fall out of the pack.
Matt Kenseth is always a contender, a guy I've been lucky enough to meet twice and hails from near the hometown of our good friend Tony L. at Off Hiatus Baseball. Honestly, I don't have much to say about the base cards other than I quite enjoy the fact that they are colored according to their car's main paint scheme and the playing card motif in the corners is pretty neat.
Speaking of playing cards, this insert set takes it one step further from motif and presents an actual playing card.
This is shaped, designed and feels like an authentic ace of hearts. I've made it known here on Wrigley Roster Jenga that I love sets that blend trading cards and card games, so this was a more than welcome pull.
...and we go out with what everybody was waiting for, a card of a professional poker player. Like I said, this product provides a mix of NASCAR and poker, one of this base set of poker pros is found in every sampling. Yay....
I'm sure Dennis Phillips is excellent at what he does and is probably a swell guy; however, a card of a guy playing cards, while being rather Inception-like, doesn't really do it for me. Sorry.
With that, my hard-fought package of cards has been exhausted. While none of the drivers were new to my all-time NASCAR collection, the inserts pulled were quite nifty and well-worth the dollar they cost me. So after all that drama, I'll consider this one a victory.
*Obligatory mention of hope that Panini utilizes their newly-acquired NASCAR license soon and creates products of comparable quality to Press Pass*
Has anybody else ever had an experience like this in a retail establishment? If so, was there a happy ending to the craziness? Tell me about it in the comments!
Also, while you're at it, if you're considering jumping on board the man-bun bandwagon, don't. Just don't.