Category Archives: Topps

Topps Preview Compilation

While I would love to provide all of you the most complete, extensive, and up to date information, circumstances prevent me from doing so.  Therefore I’m happy to send you over to Cardboard Connection for previews of:

2013 Topps Triple Threads

and

2013 Topps Finest (including some pretty sweet throwback inserts)

 

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Spring Fever

I live in Tucson.  As such I do not suffer from an affliction called spring fever.  I never wish an end to the winter, because an end to the winter means triple digit temperatures and a literal hell on earth.  I guess I suffer from the inverse, fall fever, where around November I wonder why it is still 90 degrees outside.  I do, however, look forward to spring, much like all baseball fans, because it means baseball season is starting.  Living in Arizona I usually intently follow spring training, reading team previews and going to at least a few games.  This year, however, I am pretty busy with work and I’m not able to keep up with the festivities like I have been in the past (a resurgent Arizona Wildcats basketball team is also competing for my time).  This is probably the first spring in a few years that baseball is not the dominant force for me.  I’m hoping that by the time mid-March rolls around I will be able to devote some time to baseball, if for no other reason to keep me cometitive in my fantasy league.  In the meantime Topps has reminded me that Spring Training has begun through their Spring Fever redemption program.

Topps inserted one Spring Fever redemption card in each hobby box.  The card is good for one pack of special Spring Fever cards redeemable at your local hobby shop (this is my local hobby shop).  The cards are only redeemable from February 20 – February 28, so get to your shop soon.  The packs contain five cards and autographs are randomly inserted.  Check out the checklist here.

Since I only bought one box of Topps, I only get one pack.  Here were my pulls.

2013 Topps Spring Fever Ken Griffey Jr.

2013 Topps Spring Fever Tommy Hanson

2013 Topps Spring Fever Dustin Pedroia

2013 Topps Spring Fever Anthony Rizzo

2013 Topps Spring Fever A.J. Ellis

As you can see no autograph and my only decent pull was the Griffey.  I won’t complain, though, because it is a free pack.  The design is highly stylized and shiny.  As far as shiny cards go these aren’t so bad.  They are more high gloss, with some foil, than they are chrome.  The spring training theme is evident with the palm tree design.  I do like the team color coordination.  Given the limited availability I anticipate they will have some decent ebay returns.

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Topps is at it again…

Topps is offering another on-line exclusive product, this time around it is Topps Turkey Red Baseball.  Details can be found on the Beckett blog and at the Topps Shop.  Topps is selling boxes of 11 cards for $20 a piece and each box includes an autograph.  Topps is also including parallels and printing plates.  The auto checklist is not necessarily a who’s who but there are some big names like Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera.  You can begin pre-ordering tomorrow and orders ship on the 18th.  I’ll pick up and few boxes, given the price point, and provide my impressions when it arrives.  I will say now that if I end up with four or five Drew Storen autographs I will be sending my cards back for a full refund, especially because they are sticker autos (cmon Topps, step it up).

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That New Newness

I recently realized, though I’m sure others have long before me, that Topps releases at least one baseball product a month over the whole year. While market saturation is not to the levels of the 90’s, it doesn’t bode well for future value when so many products are released in one year. Think about it, how many different Bryce Harper autos were released last year? Without looking it up I’m guessing that most of the Topps releases contained some form of a Bryce Harper auto, meaning that there are probably a lot of Harper rookie autos. I’m probably the millionth person to bring this up, so rather than bore you with economics I will talk about Topps January release, 2013 Topps Baseball Series 1 or “that new newness.”

2013 Topps Bryce Harper2013 Topps Derek Jeter2013 Topps Jurickson Profar

First, I must commend Topps on a solid base design and a solid “base” design.  (See what I did there? The cards have a stylized home plate on them, so…yeah).  Topps went simple this year: a white border, team accent colors, a team logo, and a stylized baseball diamond.  The baseball diamond/home plate is reminiscent of old Upper Deck designs that  utlized base paths on different edges of the cards, but is done with a little more flair and in a little bit less of a literal way.  The cards really shine, though, because of the focus on photography.  Topps is giving us nice, large action shots, often with interesting poses or catching the players in mid jump or throw.

2013 Topps Brandon Inge2013 Topps Daniel Descalso2013 Topps Mike Trout

Topps provided quite a few cards featuring players wearing throwback uniforms, adding a little variety to the set and also featuring some cool uniforms from the past.

2013 Topps J.J. Putz2013 Topps Cameron Maybin2013 Topps Jose Altuve

For the first time in a long time Topps has provided me a base design with little to nothing to complain about.  Kudos Topps.

Topps, keeping up their habit from the last few years, gave this set a theme: The Chase.  Each cards contains a little blurb about a record that each player is chasing, even if that record does not make sense.

2013 Topps Dylan Bundy

This makes the theme a bit contrived in the base issue, however Topps uses it a little more successfully in the insert sets and for this years on-line game which is called The Million Dollar Chase. (The Million Dollar Chase seems to be Topps take on the MLB.com’s Beat the Streak where you pick a player to get a hit each day in hopes of getting a 57 game hit streak.)

In regards to the inserts, I must again tip my hat to Topps this year for showing restraint.  Topps limited the inserts, sans paralells, to only a handful of sets.  The most appealing set, to me, is this years mini edition.  Topps chose the 1972 design, which is a solid design.

2013 Topps 1972 Mini Cal Ripken2013 Topps 1972 Mini Roberto Clemente2013 Topps 1972 Mini Buster Posey

A close second to the minis are The Greats, a thick cardstock set of all-time great players.  Topps utilized an understated design and inserted them infrequently enough to make them chase cards.

2013 Topps The Greats Cal Ripken2013 Topps The Greats Tom Glavine

I also enjoyed, much to my own surprise, the Chasing The Dream inserts.  This set features young up and coming players on some sort of futuristic looking background.  While I don’t love the design as a whole, I do love the silver, pixelated text used for the names.  The hit from my box was actually a Chasing the Dream Tom Milone jersey card, which means that Topps has failed me yet again in their base product when it comes to hits.  You better hope Tom Milone wins a Cy Young, Topps, otherwise this is on you for including a Tom Milone hit in my box.  Jerks.

2013 Topps Chasing the Dream Mike Trout2013 Topps Chasing the Dream Tom Milone Jersey

Also of mention is the Calling Cards set, featuring players in signature poses, the infinitely boring Chasing History set, which is interchangeable with Golden Moments or whatever set featuring old players that Topps did two years ago, and the mega-hideous die-cut set with the punny title “Cut to the Chase.”

2013 Topps Calling Cards Albert Pujols2013 Topps Chasing History Willie Mays2013 Topps Cut to the Chase Tony Gwynn

I would like to comment on the autographs, but I can’t because I didn’t get one.  An autograph hit should be standard in all base products.  I can accept a relic as a bonus hit, but autographs are where its at and Topps should guarantee one in all base boxes.  A Tom Milone autograph, as infuriating as that seems to write, would be much less disappointing than a Tom Milone jersey.  Fortunately, Series 1 is selling at around $60 a box, so the pain of a relic hit is tempered by a decent price point.

Finally, Topps would not be Topps without parallels.  This year Topps is bringing back gold and black and hitting us with a green sparkly parallel that drops at a few a box.  Target and Wal-Mart have their store specific red and blue parallels.  There are also camo and pink parallels floating out there, but they are pretty rare apparently so you can figure that I didn’t see one.  There may be other parallels but I’m too lazy to go look, so you do it.  While parallels are not particulary exciting to me, I do appreciate the value they add to a box with blacks going for between $5 and $10 for commons on eBay.

2013 Topps Black Addison Reed2013 Topps Gold Jose Contreras2013 Topps Emerald Alex Rodriguez

I thoroughly enjoyed breaking a box of 2013 Topps.  The cards are refreshingly simple with great photography.  I was not overwhelmed by inserts and actually found myself liking them, more or less.  The parallels are helping me recoup some of the box cost, though that cost is reasonable.  As mentioned above, better hits would appreciated but maybe tough hits are a good thing in the long run.  Overall, I am looking forward to spending a year with this design and maybe I’ll even run into an autograph or two on the way.  4/5.

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2012: Best Of.

I love lists.  That may be an admission of sloth or my simple nature, but I love lists.  They are so easy to digest and they save me from reading a lot of “words.”  Therefore, without further ado (adieu?), here are a few Pack a Week year end lists for your enjoyment.

Pack a Week Hits of the Year (aka my best pack pulls):

1.  2012-13 Panini Threads Anthony Davis Autograph

2012-13 Panini Threads Anthony Davis Autograph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  2012 Topps Archives Yu Darvish Autograph

2012 Topps Archive Yu Darvish Autograph

3.  2012 Topps Target Exclusive Red No-Name Error Mickey Mantle

2012 Topps Target Exclusive Red Mickey Mantle No-name Error

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Black Michael Wacha Autograph

Bowman Black.

5.  2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Aflac All-American Michael Zunino Autograph

Aflac.

Honorable Mention (not a pack pull but I love it):

1997 Bowman Derek Jeter Autograph

The best player. The best company.  The best autograph.  Definitive.

As you can see, my year was back loaded with hits.  Other than the Mickey Mantle error, all of my best pulls came in the last two months of the year.  That is not to say that I didn’t have fun the rest of the year, but the last two months reaffirmed my love of busting boxes.

Tops 5 Products of the Year:

1.  2012 Topps Mini Baseball

2012 Topps Mini Bryce Harper

Mini baseball, from a design perspective, is no different than the Topps base set this year other than the fact that they are about 1/3 smaller.  While I thought that the Topps base was fine this year, the design is not the reason that I give Mini the product of the year honors, it is the restraint, value, and fun that give it the top spot.  This product, reviewed here, contained a limited number of inserts and the parallels had very limited print runs, meaning that when you pulled an insert or a paralell it felt special, which is something that many products lack: a feeling that you pulled something special.  The product was also limited to, apparently, a few thousand boxes, making everything more valuable on the secondary market.  The limited print run also made pulling printing plates, numbered 1/1, a much easier task.  Boxes were available only through the Topps on-line store and cost, a reasonable, $50.  Mini seemed like a reward to the fans and the collectors and it was fun; I appreciate Topps for doing it.

IMG_1139IMG_1141

2.  2012 Topps Archives

1984

Archives is all about nostalgia and it delivered on nostalgia.  Topps split the base set into four separate, classic designs (the most pleasing, if you ask me, is the 1984), they brought back the fan-favorite autographs, including autos of super-hyped, super rookies Bryce Harper and Yu Darvish, and gave us box-toppers of Billy Zabka (sweep the leg!!!!!) and cut-autos of Vanna White.  What more do you want you greedy jerk?

2012 Topps Archives Oscar Gamble Fan Favorites Autograph2012 Topps Archives Carl Yastrmzeski

3.  2012-13 Panini Threads Basketball

2012-13 Panini Threads Blake Griffin

I’m a notorious Panini hater,  I usually think their designs are busy, the inserts are ridiculous and ugly, and the autos are sticker drops.  Threads fixed most of this.  The design was solid and harkened back to the classic Upper Deck designs of the mid-90’s and the autos were on-card (wood cards for that matter).  The inserts still suck (you can’t win them all).  The set also includes rookie cards from the last two draft classes due to the lock out, however all the rookie cards are autos and therefore super, ultra, mega chase cards (see Anthony Davis above).  While I haven’t had much of a return on these cards on the secondary market (sans Anthony Davis), I like these cards enough just to keep them.  Collecting for the sake of collectin, go figure.

2012-13 Panini Threads Bismack Biyombo Autograph2012-13 Panini Threads Kyrie Irving Floor Generals

4.  Left Field Cards

IMG_1361

Design-wise, this is my favorite product of the year.  These are hand made, letter-press printed baseball cards (though they double as postcards).  My review can be read here.  They can be ordered here.  Since it is my favorite design, you may be asking why they are fourth?  It is really only because they lack the chase aspect of normal cards because they are purchased in series and you know what you are getting ahead of time. (I’m a gambler at heart and love the thrill of the chase).  But don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited about these cards, especially to see what future series have in store.

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5.  2012 Bowman Baseball (+Draft Picks and Prospects)

2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Bryce Harper

What can I say: prospects, prospects, prospects.  Bowman delivers with another solid design, good crop of autographs, and some good inserts and paralells.  Nothing sets this apart from years past, but the product continues to be one of my favorites every year.  Kudos.

IMG_0669  IMG_0674

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The Best: Kruk

I was a chubby kid and I loved sports, both watching and playing. Much as it stands today, I loved baseball and basketball. Early in my childhood I noticed one thing about my two favorite sports, not a lot of fat guys. This was especially true in basketball where I was limited to “idolizing” Oliver Miller as a fat kid. Baseball was also fairly short on fat “idols” but there were a few more stars who I could identify with. Baseball, due to a lesser emphasis on running, seemed more friendly to the overweight player, I would say it still is. Back then I could look at Cecil Fielder, David Wells, and Mo Vaughn as athletes with my body type, today you have Prince Fielder and CC Sabathia (I’m not saying these guys are out of shape, just “bigger”). I would never say any of these guys were my favorites, but it helped me believe that even if I never got my cardio in order I still had a chance to be a good player in something other than football. (I did get my cardio in order, somewhat later however, I can now run a few miles without keeling over but it has come long after my dreams of glory ended)

This all brings me to John Kruk. He is my favorite “fat” ball player (I will not refer to him as an athlete, as he does not refer to himself as an athlete). His gregarious personality and solid hitting made me a fan even if he didn’t play for my beloved Yankees. I also always loved this All-Star moment:

The man was just happy to live.

I also have to mention that mullet…look at the mullet.  Furthermore, I actually enjoy his ESPN shenanigans, which I can’t say for most former players. The man is a legend in his own time and he was also my most recent ebay pickup.

Krukograph

Krukograph

My fixation on Topps Archives continues and this was a must-have.  An autograph of one of my favorite non-star, non-Yankee players on a reprint of a set that I spent a lot of time collecting as a kid.  Truly classic, truly the best.

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Into the Future: 2013 Topps Archives Baseball

As a companion piece to my earlier post, here is link to a preview of 2013 Topps Archives Baseball and few comments.

Topps is bringing back the four design model for the base set, this time 1972, 1982, 1985, and 1990.  The first thing that strikes me is that there is no 1950s or 60s designs.  Usually Topps goes farther back in the vault for these products, so it’s a bit surprising that they pushed it up a little farther.  I will admit to being a little excited about the inclusion of the 1990 set.  That was around the time I started collecting, so as ugly as that set is, I’m feeling a little nostalgic.  I can’t wait to see some modern favorites with those hideous colored borders (1990 Topps is the pug of the card world: so ugly that it’s cute).

There are some new inserts like the 1969 4-in-1 stickers and a set based on the 1973 Topps Basketball design, not to mention a return of the ever-popular Fan Favorites autographs.  The autograph checklist looks far from complete, but as it stands I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on Matt Williams or Darren Daulton throwback autogaph.  Topps is also included some dual autos including a Giants fans wet dream, Matt Williams and Buster Posey.

     

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Black Friday Update

As I mentioned in my Black Friday post I purchased a box of 2012 Topps Archive Baseball as part of my post-Thanksgiving haul. The box recently arrived and, much like my Panini Threads box, it was a winner.

A full review of Archives is probably not necessary, or timely, but since this is one of my favorite products of the year I think it’s worth a write up. For the record, this is my second hobby box of Archive (not to mention a few blasters) and was a bigger score than my first. I love retro products, so I need to establish that bias and I love, LOVE, retro reprint autographs (especially when they are on-card, like they are here). Besides the annual Bowman release, Topps throwback products are the releases I most look forward to.

The 2012 Archive base set brings back four classic Topps designs, 1954, 1971, 1980, and 1984. Out of these four, I prefer the ’71s and the ’84s. Both sets are iconic designs that feature excellent action photography and design flourishes that make them instantly recognizable. The 71s feature a black border and team coordinated text. The 84s feature an inset portrait and fun block lettering on the front. All of the designs are solid in their own way and it is always fun to see modern players on the better, classic base designs.

The set also features SP remakes of some fan favorite cards. The SPs range from all-time greats like Ken Griffey Jr. to lesser heralded stars of their day like Dave Righetti and John Olerud. The SPs make collecting a whole set a challenge, but that is welcome in a product where the base set is only 241 cards. They also provide added value to those collectors who want to recoup some money on the secondary market, as you get six per box and they sell pretty quickly at $1-$2 per card.

There are numerous inserts in the Archives set, based on past cards. They include the 1976 Cloth cards, 1967 Stickers, 1969 Deckle Edge, 1968 3d cards, and reprints of iconic rookie cards. The inserts are not the draw by any means but they are fun throwbacks to inventive (if not gimmicky ideas of the past). The only real seller on the secondary market are the reprints, which command a few dollars based on the player.

It wouldn’t be Archives without Fan Favorites autographs. A box of Archives yields two Fan Favorite autogrpahs and at the current price, these two auto boxes are a bargain. The checklist is a solid list of former stars and fan favorites including Cecil Fielder, Don Mattingly, Hank Aaron, Jim Abbott, Jay Buhner, John Kruk, Sandy Koufax, Will Clark, Willie Mays, not to mention the obligatory Bryce Harper autograph and the first Topps autograph of Ken Griffey, Jr. in a long time (if ever). The autographs don’t stop with the Fan Favorites autographs, Topps also included buyback autographs of guys like Griffey, Aaron, Mays, and others like Albert Belle. There are also framed 1983 mini autographs and box topper autographs of 80’s celebs like Vanna White and Billy Zabka of Karate Kid fame. (Sweep the leg!!!!!). See full checklist here. As a final note: ON CARD AUTOS!!!! That’s what I’m talking about. I pulled two Fan Favorites out of my box: Oscar Gamble and Jim Wynn. Gamble is a Yankee so his auto is a keeper to supplement my Yankee auto collection. Wynn is a $3 sale on eBay.

I also pulled an additional auto. YU DARVISH!!!! (sorry for all the yelling).

2012 Topps Archive Yu Darvish Autograph

This is a special SP auto, and if I pulled it five months ago would have netted me three big ones. As it is, I got a cool hundred for it on ebay. The card is very nice, while it is retro it is glossy and the photo is sure to be a classic. I’m not a Rangers fan, so I was happy to trade it to someone who would appreciate more for a few dollars. This card paid for the box, plus some. My last two boxes have each produced $100 autographs, so I’m guessing my run of luck is probably up for now.

Topps also include a 1956 style relic set. Relics are not a box guarantee which makes them more exciting than normal because rather than wishing that your relic hit was an auto, you are happy to see this additional hit in your box. Fortunately for me I pulled one in this box (making it a four hit box) and it was Frank Thomas, who was one of my favorite players as a kid before I cemented my allegiances as a Yankee fan. The card is nicely designed and it is a bat relic, which is preferable to a single color jersey swatch but less preferable than a multi-color jersey swatch (this is based on a continuum I worked out some years ago, ordered from least prefered to most: single color jersey, single colored pants, bat, multi-colored jersey, multi-colord pants, jersey patch, hat patch, jersey logo, hat logo, piece of a base or ball (only if used in a specific game and touched by the player)).

2012 Topps Archives Frank Thomas Relic

Archives was one of my favorite products of the year, it has solid and varied base set, along with some fun SPs and a worthwhile autograph checklist.  For my tastes I can’t find anything wrong with the product, though for someone who is not a fan of the retro products or wants a more prospect heavy product this may not be for them.  The box, at $60 – $75, provides some good value with two autogrpahs but don’t expect to build a set on one box (or two, you’ll probably need three), so set set collectors beware.  Overall, 4.5/5

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Black Friday Recap

Black Friday.  That great annual celebration of consumerism where we all gather around the great mall and pay our respects to goods and services.  In all honesty, not my favorite day of the year.  For one, people act crazy, for two, it tends to only drive sales to large corporations rather than small business, and three, those line are long.  I do, however, appriciate a deal.  As a public employee I’m not exactly at the top of my earning potential, so I take a bargain where I can get it.  So here is my recap of my sports card-relevant black friday pickups.

Functional Friday Pickup

I finally purchased a printer with a scanner, so from this point on all of my images will be scans.  Let me just say taht I can’t believe I didn’t have one before.  It’s much easier than trying to find that perfect angle with the digital camera and the images are super sharp.  Also, I got it for $30.  Very nice.  I would recommend a scanner for anyone who sells cards on-line or blogs.

On to the cards….

I often purchase a few boxes on Black Friday, usually on-line at either dacardworld.com or blowoutcards.com.  Both have very good box prices and great selections.  I continued that tradition by purchasing a box of 2012 Topps Archives Baseball from blowout.  It was on-sale for an outrageous $59.  I’ve already opened a box of it this year, but I love retro stuff and I can’t pass up the chance at two more on-card retro autos.  Maybe I’ll get the Ken Griffey Jr. auto that I want so badly (wishful thinking).  I do not have this hand yet, so I’ll post again with my box bustin’ results later.

This year I switched it up a little and also visted my local card shop, Showtime Cards, for their black friday sale.  Normally, I only buy boxes on-line because they are so much more expensive at the shop, however I wanted to throw a little love their way this year because I truly enjoy having a good shop near my home.  While I don’t normally buy boxes from them, I do get packs and all my supplies there and they are always congenial and knowledgeable.  So I decided that it was time to fork over a little extra cash and I bought a box of 2012-13 Panini Threads Basketball for $108.  It goes for $96 on-line, so the difference wasn’t too extreme and I got to feel good about supporting my local card shop.  Let me say, it was well worth the extra money for peace of mind and also because of what I pulled.

First things first, my local shop was participating in the Panini Black Friday promotion, so I got my requisite pack of Panini Black Friday cards.  I pulled a Bryce Harper and a Cam Newton card, unfortunately no auto’s or inserts, but at least I got a couple bigger names.  The cards themselves are not my cup of tea, both are full of shine and cut out player photos. I’m sure they will be nice for collectors of these players and because of that they will be on eBay post haste.

On to the box.  As mentioned in previous posts, I am a fan of this years Threads product.  I like the simplicity of the design, I like the unaltered photographs, and I even think the wood card stock autograph idea is a good one.  Overall, I think Panini did a good job with this product and I would like to see it become the flagship.  It really reminds me, design-wise of the mid-90’s Upper Deck issues, which were always nice and understated.  While I will always prefer classic card design with white borders, unaltered player shots, and a simple aesthetic, I also have a soft spot for the borderless design that Upper Deck was using for a while.  For one thing, it helps cards grade higher, which is great on the resale market and for another it really takes away the potential for awful, busy designs (which Panini has a propensity for).  I was happy to open these cards.  Pictured below are a few examples of the quality design aesthetic at work.

While I do really like this design, with the copper flourish, the real reason I splurged on a box was because of the promise of three on-card autos.  The autos were to be of rookies of this years and last years class and they were to be on wood card stock, which is a gimmick that I like because of the retro feel and the connection to the basketball hardwood.  Opening the box created a lot of anticipation because of the breadth of the rookie class, guys like Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Damian Lillard, and Anthony Davis had me excited for what was in those packs.  Remember the only rookie cards in this product are these autographs, therefore this box, moreso than the packs I bought, had the promise of amazing hits.

Rookie auto #1 – John Jenkins – great shooter in college, promise as a role-player but with great upside.  Solid, but uninspiring hit.

Rookie Auto #2 – Bismack Biyombo – Interesting player with good defensive potential, though I can’t see him being anything other than limited minutes shot-blocker.  Cool name, little esle to be excited about.

Rookie Auto #3 – Pack a Week HIT OF THE YEAR – Anthony Davis – This is the first time I’ve ever pulled an autograph of a #1 overall pick.  Davis is poised to be a star, he has the defensive ability and the offensive potential to be an Olajuwon or a Ewing, and as long as he stays injury free I think he will get there.  This has been a rough year on autograph hits for Pack a Week, but this is the sort of thing that gives you hope that you can occasionally get the big one.  It also makes me glad that I spent the extra money for this box at the shop.

Fear the brow! Seriously, fear that thing.

I also got a number of inserts, some ok, some bad.  I pulled a David West gold card, which is numbered out of /25.  It is the base design but with a gold bottom border instead of a copper border.  Given my affinity for the design, I like it, I’m just bummed it wasn’t a bigger star.

Also pulled were a few Floor Generals cards (including Kyrie Irving, who should bring a few bucks on the secondary market), A couple High Flyers (including Kevin Durant), some Century Greats (Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler), and a couple Talente Twosome cards.  Overall the inserts are uninspired, though inoffensively designed.  Most, other than the Century Greats feature full action shots and unobtrusive designs.  The talented twosomes really reminds me of subsets from the 90’s featuring teammates, which is an ok idea but probably not worthy of a full insert set, though I do like the single photos featuring two players.  The other ones just seem to be reaching for a theme and a design.  I also pulled a few of the Team Threads Jersey Die-cut Cards, including a Lebron James.  I’ve mentioned before that I like these cards.  They are kind of like the team stickers of our day and they add a little diversity to the product.  Overall the only decent inserts are the Team Threads and the different colored parallels.  I’m guessing we’ll see some of the bigger star’s platinums versions going for $30 – $70 on eBay.

Can I call him Durantula, or will that other guy sue me?

Finally, I pulled one relic card, Anthony Mason, which is not pictured.  There was also a pack of Kobe Bryant Anthology cards packed in the box.  Kobe is my least favorite NBA player of all time.  Bold statement, I know.  But I just don’t like his smug demeanor and his selfish style.  You can tell me he is a winner all you want and that he has that killer instinct, but it doesn’t change the kind of player he is and it’s not the kind I like.  The cards are simply designed no borders and Kobe’s name at the bottom.  If you’re a Kobe fan then this is awesome, if not…well…not so much.

After buying a box, I still really like this product.  I like what they’ve done with the rookie cards.  Making them all autos helps increase the value and also makes for something much more interesting.  The experiment of using wood card stock seems successful and I can’t wait for more of the same.  On-card autos is a double plus.  While I don’t love the inserts, three autos per box makes up for it.  The design is simple enough to withstand the test of time and I’m happy that Panini has put a decent set together given the fact that they are the only NBA game in town.  Overall: 4.5/5

Finally, after entering probably 30 Golden Giveaway codes with Topps this year I only came up with one card, which I received this weekend.  It’s Derek Jeter, which I like.  I like nothing else.  It is a non-sense die cut (why the jagged edges, does that symbolize something?), it’s shiny with some design in the background, and the picture is a cut-out.  Bleeeech.

 

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Weekend Pickups

Part 1:  Accidental Purchases

I had to run some errands on Friday night, so I found myself at Target.  I am not capable of entering a Target without leaving with some cards, therefore I found myself in the card section.  I was contemplating getting a blaster box of Bowman Chrome but decided that it would be better not to spend $20 on a blaster, instead I decided on a few packs of BC.  I spotted a value pack (discussed herein) and figured that was the best bang for my buck.  Fast forward to the parking lot, I grab my pack out of the bag only to discover that what I grabbed was a value pack of Bowman Platinum.  I’m not a huge fan of BP this year (see previous post), so I thought about going back in and exchanging it but laziness got the better of me and I decided to open it.  Was I glad that I did.

Turns out that this value pack contained what I like to call a “retail superpack.”  A retail superpack is a retail pack that contains an autograph.  I suppose I could have just said I got an autograph, but why be simple when I can invent terms.  I got a Carter Capps autograph out of the pack, now I don’t know who Carter Capps is or if he is related to Matt Capps, but what I do know is that I got an on-card autograph of a Mariners prospect who threw 28 k’s in 25 innings with the big club this season and 19 saves along with a 13 k/9 in AA.  Seems like a solid performer and card worth holding on to.

Aside from a solid autograph I also pulled a few more interesting cards.  First, a Yu Darvish rookie card.  We all know about Darvish, so I’ll save any sort of analysis but i’m hoping to get a few bucks for it since I’m not a Rangers fan.  I also got a Wil Myers Top Prospect card.  Myers looks like he could go on to accomplish big things as a power hitting prospect in the Royals system.  Anecdotally, I watched him almost hit for the cycle in Tucson, putting solid contact on the ball every time he swung, statiscally he hit 37 bombs between AA and AAA along with an average over .300 and a 10% walk rate.  He’ll need to cut down on a high 20’s strikeout rate before he’s a star in the majors.  I also pulled a Troy Tulowitzki Cutting Edge Stars die-cut card.  This is another straight to eBay item given that I’m not a fan of Tulo or die-cuts, however as far as die-cuts go it’s fairly solid lacking the jagged edges that so often make them look stupid and horribly gimmicky.

The value pack also came with a bonus pack of Purple Refractor Prospect cards.  Nothing too exciting here, a couple of solid pitching prospects.  Hopefully something that will be interesting someday.

Shelby Miller

Matt Harvey

While it is still not favorite product, for reasons discussed previously, I can’t argue with good pulls, so overall this was pleasant mistake.

Part 2: Topps Update

I hadn’t purchased any packs of Update since it was released, so when  I found myself back at Target on Saturday I said to myself “no time like the present.”  I didn’t say that, but I wanted some so I got it.   The design is, of course, the Topps base design this year, so you know already if you like it.  I personally think it is solid as I mentioned in my Topps Mini post.  The draw of Update to me is always the rookies and the All-Star relics.  While I was disappointed on the relic front completely (I may have too high expectations for my two pack purchase), I did get a couple of interesting rookies.  First I got Trevor Bauer, who is a very exciting D-Backs prospect out of UCLA.  He has a crazy delivery and an even crazier warmup routine (look it up), but I’m afraid that his arm will explode ala Mark Prior in the next couple of years, so I’m prepared to enjoy watching him for the next couple of years because that is all we may get.

Don’t sleep on 174 k’s in 146 innings between the majors, AAA, and AA. Crazy numbers.

I also pulled a Jodany Valdespin rookie, not the most exciting player but, as I’ve said, the best name.  I do feel like I’ve seen this card before though…

Hmmm…

Maybe it’s because we have…

Reusing photos is bad form Topps, bad form.  Minus 3.

Aside from a few rookies, the rest of my interesting pulls were parallels.  One gold, one target exclusive red, and one gold sparkle.

Yadier Molina Gold

Rhiner Cruz Red.

Anibal Sanchez Gold Sparkle.

Finally, I just wanted to mention that the Oakland A’s yellow uniforms are the best in baseball.  I dare you to argue with me.

Part 3: Panini Prestige

My second target trip also resulted in a couple packs of 2012-13 Panini Prestige.  My dislike of Panini is well known, but I wanted to get a few packs of basketball because it’s basketball season and I’m starting to get excited.  Prestige, unfortunately, suffers from some of the normal Panini trappings, the cards are over-designed and they shift the emphasis off of the photography as whole and just focus on the player featured.  The base cards do use restraint in regards to logos and the bottom borders that contain the players name, so that is a plus.

The rookie cards, as always are the chase.  While the base design is tolerable, the rookie design is too busy.  I wish that Panini would have just used the base design for the rookies, having a different design destroys the continuity and makes it seem like a subset.  Subsets do not hold up over the years.  On a personal note, I was happy to get a Kyrie Irving rookie, while the second round picks have a place in the set, I’m tired of getting them.

Finally I pulled a couple inserts.  First was a Steve Nash Hardcourt Heroes.  I’ll never forgive Nash for going to the Lakers (if he wanted to win he should have gone to the Heat, at least they are not the Suns direct rival) and this card is ugly and it sucks.  Another generic, non-sense Panini insert.  Blech.  The other insert was a  Larry Bird/Magic Johnson Connections card.  This card, by all accounts, should be something I hate; the pictures are cut outs of the players and the card is busy.  But I like it.  The images are of younger Bird and Magic, the foil logo gives it a nice touch and they way the players are off-set is pleasing to the eye.  Another surprising design success by Panini.  Maybe there is hope.

Prestige boasts a solid checklist, featuring this and last years rookies as well as autographs of past, present, and future stars.  The design is tolerable but not special.  Panini needs to look at classic sports card design and get away from gimmicky, 90’s cards to really get it right.  Overall, 3/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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