By Jimmy Budny aka jbudny

My in my room as a twelve year old…my hair is terrible!

The moment my view on card collecting changed was when I began to see it through my twelve year old eyes. I had the privilege of growing up through the 1990s, hockey cards so called “junk era”. My collecting peaked in the summer of 1996 during the insert boom and my interest in collecting died out in 2001.

I stored my best cards as a kid in top loaders with a penny sleeve in a blue Rubbermaid box. When I stopped collecting in 2001, the box was placed in my closet and remained un-touched until the start of 2010.

While I stopped collecting hockey in 2001, I slowly began getting interested in the hobby again in 2006. I had a blast collecting cards as a kid and for me it was a way of life. It pains me to admit this but I got back into the hobby for money and not for fun. I busted product with hopes of pulling top rookies and low numbered hits for a big payday on eBay.

My interest in the hobby finally changed in late 2009 after I had finished school for good and was looking to find a career. I had excelled during my time in school and I felt that life after school would come easy. I quickly realized that the transition to adulthood would not be anything but easy and that I would have to grind it out in a menial job for a while.

I needed to find a healthy escape, one that would take me to a happy place when I had the lowest of days. I don’t remember exactly why or how I re-discovered my blue Rubbermaid box with my childhood treasures, all I know is that while I sorted through the box my whole perspective on the hobby changed. I thought back to the care-free, happy times of my childhood when hockey was my life and focus. A glimpse of these mass-produced pieces of cardboard brought me back to a much simpler time in life, even if it was just for a moment.

I easily picked out the gem of the box, my favorite card as a kid, my favorite card now and the best pull of my life: 1995-96 Pinnacle Mask Andy Moog. Before you start laughing at me, I’ll explain why this card is worth more to me then the recent Wayne Gretzky PSA 10 that sold for nearly $95,000.

In the summer of 1996 I was away on a camping trip with my family. I loved camping as a kid because of constantly being outdoors and I would spend hours memorizing the Beckett price guide. I always drooled over nice inserts that Beckett would pull or picture in there magazine. I loved the 1995-96 releases; especially Pinnacle but more specifically the Mask inserts.

Dad and I on a camping trip in 1996

On a rainy afternoon my family and I headed into town to stock up on food and wander around the tiny mall located next to the grocery store. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a small card show set up in the center court of the mall. I had already spent most of the money I had with me except for $1. One seller had a massive box of loose packs for sale at a dollar each, I found one lonely pack of 1995-96 Pinnacle and bought it with my last dollar. I safely tucked the pack in my pocket so I could open it later on the card ride home.

I still remember opening the pack in the car, looking through the cards and seeing the brown reflective foil with lightning bolts of the Andy Moog mask card sticking out at me. While most people would get excited over a pull like this, I was in complete disbelief. I tucked the pack safely away while checking the contents of the pack every so often for the rest of my camping trip to make sure my eyes had not deceived me. I couldn’t wait to get home to show off my pull to the neighborhood kids as they all would be envious of me for the weeks that would follow.

One of the first projects I pursued after getting back into collection 90s product was going after the complete 1995-96 Pinnacle Mask set. I found

8 of the 10 Mask cards from my 1995-1996 Pinnacle set

 singles for roughly $5 to $10 each on eBay and even some in discount bins at card shows. Finally eight months later I acquired the last card, Martin Brodeur off eBay for roughly $20. I consider the set to be in my “lifetime PC”, something I will never sell or trade.

When I think about collecting, I think about memories and not dollar signs. The hobby has become a business about making money and unless you have deep pockets it’s tough to collect recent product. While a $100 a box does not seem like a lot, you need to factor in that it’s addictive to open wax and one box leads to more boxes. One box leads to more boxes and your bank account soon begins to dwindle rapidly as you get hooked (I have been there before).

Since I’ve viewed the hobby through my twelve year old eyes, collecting has become fun again. It’s a huge thrill to find rare cards that don’t appear very often. Usually I’ve found these cards through trades on message boards, were the owners have been very generous in trading them away. I’ve developed the term “bringing them home” in reference to when I find a card that would hold great significance in my collection due to a childhood memory of the card. Usually the card is one that I highly sought after as a youngster but was never able to obtain as a kid. It’s nice to reel these cards into my collection, where the card will be greatly appreciated and enjoyed.

As I continue to embark through a lifetime of collecting, I hope I will carry on seeing the hobby from a childlike perspective. The hobby was originally intended for children and it was meant to be fun. With every nice card I pick up from my childhood, I’m reminded of the carefree days when a few base cards or a nice pack hit would brighten the darkest of days. I encourage everyone to take the time to view the hobby through the eyes of their twelve year old selves. I ensure that you will not be disappointed and you will have more enjoyment collecting then you possibly could have imagined.