I didn't realize this year's edition of Topps was already out until I saw a box break from moe on his 2008 Topps Blog earlier this week. I stopped by Kenmore Collectibles after work today and picked up two regular packs and one jumbo. Here's my take on the first baseball product of 2012 (Scroll to the bottom to see my Fresh Find):
The base card design is nothing earth-shattering, but they did bring back one small detail from the 09 Topps that has been lacking from the previous two years' cards: a colored border. It definitely makes the cards a little more colorful. The most noticeable omission from the front of the card is the player's position, the first time since 2008 that Topps has done that.
Unfortunately, Topps' collation issues are just as rampant now as they were in years past. In a grand total of three packs, I pulled 8 dupes. Out of the 8 dupes, 6 of them were in identical order in the packs they were pulled from.
The shiny/sparkly/golden cards are back, and it looks like it's just one color, at least for now. I'm sure by the time the Update series rolls out, we'll have champagne, cognac, gin, and whiskey parallel colors as well. I didn't pull any gold-bordered cards, but I did get a black-bordered Dustin Ackley numbered 54/61. I've pulled a few of these out of each Topps set for the past few years, and I'm dieing to get some of them signed in silver sharpie.
The mini cards this year, for me, are much more appealing than last year's offering. They're identical to the 1987 Topps design, and match the old time cardboard-ey feel of the Heritage product. My uncle bought me a box set of the 87 Topps when I was a kid, and it was one of the few full sets I had growing up. I'm looking forward to 25 years from now when there will be a full-sized set of these if Topps Heritage is still around in 2037.
I pulled a "Home Run Legends #2" redemption card, which is sponsored by the Prime 9 show on MLB Network. The card is only valid for the week of 2/20-2/26, and I have to bring it to a Topps HTA shop to get the card redeemed. I'll let you know in a few weeks how it turns out.
I still think Topps makes way too many insert sets for retired players. It's nice to give younger kids a history lesson on the legends of the game, but I'm less than thrilled to pull a "Golden Moments" card highlighting a catch made by a hobbled Paul O'Neill in a 1996 World Series game.
It's also clear that Topps is giving minimal effort when it comes to naming these insert sets, as 4 of the 6 insert cards I pulled were called "Gold Futures", "Gold Standard", "Golden Greats", and "Golden Moments". It would be one thing if Topps was celebrating its' 50th anniversary, but this is year number 61 for them. The Gold Futures cards have a nice design that look like they could be their own premium Topps brand, but the other insert types seem to have quite a bit of dead space.
I've always enjoyed alliteration when it comes to baseball cards, and Topps delivered with the other 2 insert sets I pulled cards from. The first is "Timeless Talents" , with a card featuring Stan Musial and Lance Berkman. While Berkman has had a pretty talented career, I don't know if he's worthy of sharing a card with Stan the Man. This brings me to my other alliteration insert, which I am giving the inaugural title of...
FenwayFrank's Fresh Find:
- Nolan Ryan "Retired Rings" #653/736
This card is an absolute beast; it's as thick as 12 regular cards. The jumbo packs are supposed to have 50 cards, but with this monster, I counted only 36. The card contains a brass-colored badge of sorts embedded into the cardboard, designed to resemble the top of a ring. The ring prominently features Nolan's number 34, which according to the back of the card, was retired by the Astros on September 29th, 1996. If you participated in the Diamond Giveaway online last year, it looks similar to the virtual rings you could collect on the website after redeeming one of the codes on the giveaway cards. I'm going to have a tough time finding a top loader thick enough for it, but it's definitely my favorite card from the packs.