So…Topps Mini…they are small. Smaller than regular baseball cards. Bigger than smaller things, but still small. I bought four boxes of them, which is too many boxes. I couldn’t pass up the $50 price point, which is very reasonable considering there is a guaranteed hit. I was also intrigued when I watched the Beckett Box Busters video and they mentioned that there was a printing plate in every three boxes. I’ve always wanted a printing plate (so I needed to buy at least three boxes) and, more so, I’ve always wanted to know how a printing plate works (spoiler: I got a printing plate, but it did not help me understand how they work). It’s also been a while (read two months) since I’ve put a set together so I thought if I bought four boxes (240 cards per box) that I would definitely get a set (given the 661 card count).
Let me begin by saying that I’m not particularly impressed with gimmicks, I much prefer a solid design and nothing too shiny. This probably explains my affinity for Bowman issues and autographs on base cards. I just think that chrome, die cuts, and funky backgrounds take away from the essence of a card which, if you didn’t know, is the photograph. The mini gimmick was appealing to me though because it didn’t mess with the picture. I also like throwbacks, so this filled the bill.
The cards themselves are just slightly smaller versions of the 2012 Topps base set, so I’m assuming that anyone reading this blog knows what that looks like. I thought this years Topps design was solid, if uninspired. The oval nameplate doesn’t scream all-time classic design, but I’m sure we’ll still reminisce about it when it is rereleased in the 2062 Heritage issue.
A sort of sub-gimmick, and a refreshing one, is the lack of inserts. Aside from the hits in each box, the only inserts are the Golden Moments inserts, and the gold and platinum paralells. The Golden Moments cards are boring little numbers, as they were in the Topps base product. Golden edge, black background, yawn-a-thon. The gold paralells are numbered to 61 and inserted every three packs. That is great odds for such a low print run, which speaks more to the print run of the whole product than anything else but it doesn’t stop them from being a lucrative sell on the secondary market. For example: I recenly sold a Tony Campana gold mini for $10 on eBay. The gold cards really make the box a good investment, with a little luck you could pay for your $50 box with 6-7 decent golds. The platinum cards ar numbered to 5 and are tough pulls, I got one in four boxes (it was Felipe Paulino, fucking Felipe Paulino; if there is a Felipe Paulino card to be pulled, rest assured I will pull it).
I know that everyone is here for the hits. This product is one auto or relic per box, but if my experience is any indication you are much more likely to get the relic. If you are lucky though one of those boxes will contain two relics like one of mine did (this still pales in comparison to the time my dad opened a mini-box of Finest and had an orange Freddie Freeman autograph stuck to the back of a gold Freddie Freeman autograph which subsequently turned into $160 on eBay, but I digress). I got four relics and one auto. Relics: Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander, and…wait for it…Rickey Romero x2. Yes, two Rickey Romero relics, both gray, and both a bummer. Rickey Romero and Felipe Paulino I loathe you. I have a legitimate gripe with non-star relics and autos, do card companies not realize that there is nothing worse than getting all excited for your hit and it’s Rickey Romero? Please, please, just relics of stars and rookies, that’s all we want. Stars and rookies or none at all, because getting Rickey Romero as your relic is like losing on 20 in blackjack, straight deflated. I’m willing to pay upwards of $10 extra if I know that my hits will be rookies or stars. Auto: Chad Billingsley. Better than Rickey Romero, slightly, if for no other reason than I also hear the phrase “BUZZZZSAW” in my head when I see him due to the Fantasy Focus podcast (good podcast, btw). Autos are sticker drops, so unless it is a Yankee it’s straight to eBay. No stickers for this guy. Though I did appreciate the design of the auto cards, its a throwback style with the team name at the Topp and multi-color borders. It seems to me to be an homage to the 1975 minis.
Then there is the printing plate. I got one in my four boxes. It was a magenta Carlos Corporan. He is a person I’ve heard of, that is the most I can say. The printing plate is flat and metal. It had some ink on it. I still cannot tell how it works and I am apparently too lazy to look it up on Wikipedia. Some things will remain a mystery.
Finally, and disappointingly, I did not make a set. Not even close. Got like maybe 75%, if that. However, I did get the base set chase card…Bryce Harper. One Bryce Harper in four boxes, so chase is truly apt. Since I’m not a fan of the kid, or even all that high on his future, I put it up for auction. The $22.50 I got help offset some of the $200 I dropped.
Overall I like the minis. They are a fun, affordable product and the simplicity of them is refreshing. The highlights: the throwback design on the autos and relics and the low print run. The drawbacks: tough for set collectors to complete as they would probably need to buy five boxes, minimum, and the sticker autos. 3.5/5.
Got some of these for sale, check it: http://www.ebay.com/sch/d_rock999/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=&_trksid=p3686