Tag Archives: Autographs

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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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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Whats’is: 2013 Bowman Inception Baseball

Say it ain’t so Bowman, say it ain’t so.  While I accept your Chrome cards, your Platinum effort, and the always hideous Sterling as a price to be paid for a solid base product, I can’t get behind this new thing you’re doing.  Inception?  Why?  Why do we need another ultra high end product?  I’m getting very tired of single pack boxes (if there is only one pack, it is called a PACK!) that sell for exorbitant sums.  We have enough of this with Topps Tier 1, Triple Threads, Museum Collection, etc.  It is unnecessary to expand this idea to the Bowman line.  I don’t want to drop $150 (or whatever it may cost) on the opportunity to get a couple high end cards of prospects who may or may not pan out.  It is one thing to give me the opportunity to get a Pujols or Mays autograph or a Ruth relic, but the chance to get a 1/1 Dylan Bundy is not selling me on the high end product.  The point of prospect collecting, at least in my eyes, is to invest a  reasonable amount now for a potential profit later, if I’m investing a lot now I want immediate returns.

Not to mention this awful design.  What’s with the clouds?  Is it raining prospects?  Are they supposed to be angels?  Bowman, you’ve abandoned all trappings of good design.  You need to rethink this.

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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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Rethreads

I ignored my own advice and bought a few more retail packs of Panini Threads.  I really did like the design and I was excited about the rookie autographs, so I couldn’t resist.  I’m also waiting for the on-line black friday sales before I buy any boxes, so this seemed like the best way to scratch my itch.  Though I stick by my advice in my original Threads post, I’m glad I bought the packs because I pulled one of the “wood card stock” autographed rookies.

Pictured above is a Mike Scott autograph.  Though I am excited to pull an autograph out of a retail pack, I must admit that I don’t know who Mike Scott is.  Best of luck to him, but I don’t recall his college career, and I’m a college basketball fan.  As far as the card is concerned, I like it.  The design is nice, almost retro and the autograph is on-card.  The card stock itself is actually a hybrid, the back is normal card stock but the front is a thin wood veneer.  The texture is interesting and it adds to the retro feel because it is cracked and imperfect.  I like the idea, especially as a connection to the “hardwood,” however I do wonder how the cards will age.  When I say age, I literally mean physically age.  Wood cards are a bit of an unknown (please correct me if I’m forgetting about other wood cards), and I wonder if there will be any degradation of the photo or ink over time, or if the wood itself will begin to deteriorate.  The signature itself has already bled into the wood and has fuzzy edges, so I’m wondering if there may be any other long term issues.  Beyond those concerns, I like these cards and this idea.  It has reinforced my desire to buy a box, which I should do by the end of the week.

I also pulled a Floor Generals insert, which is mostly inoffensive, but does fall under the heading of Panini inserts that I don’t care about.

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The Best: College Basketball Kickoff Edition

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of college basketball.  Here in Tucson college hoops is an institution and it’s hard to grow up here and not become a fan.  I’ve had the opportunity to watch and meet many of college basketball’s legends, guys like Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott, Jason Terry, and Mike Bibby to name a few.  Two teams defined my childhood: the Yankees and the Wildcats. So it should be no surprise then that I have a number of college basketball cards in my collection.  This is an area of the hobby that I believe is both under represented and undervalued.  I’ve been able to get autographs of a number of my favorite Wildcats for less than $3 and even the higher profile names, like Bibby and Elliott, go for no more than $10 in their college uniforms.  While I know that guys like Jordan, in his NC blues, and Larry Bird, in his Indiana State duds, command some serious coin, lesser names go for next to nothing in their college unis.  This is especially true for guys from the Classic/Sage era, who signed a number of cards for those college centric sets.

With that in mind, I’m going to spend the college basketball season highlighting cards from college basketball sets (Classic, Press Pass, SAGE, etc.).  These sets were often after thoughts when they were introduced and are not often though about now.  Some of these sets are very well designed and the checklists are better than you remember.  For instance, check out the 1995 Classic Autographs checklist, while the draft class is not one of the best (Stackhouse, Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess), there are autographs of Jason Kidd, Shaquille O’Neal, and Dikembe Mutombo before the big boys even started including autographs as a normal insert.  Sets like Scoreboard Rookies and Press Pass continued including big name autos, especially in 1996 when the NBA drafted one of it’s best classes in history (Kobe, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, and Allen Iverson).

To kick off college basketball season, the first card I’m featuring is my 1995 Classic Rookies Preview card of Damon Stoudamire.

First of all, Damon Stoudamire is my all-time favorite college basketball player.  He had the sweetest shot and was, arguably, the best point guard in Arizona history helping to solidify Arizona’s reputation as Point Guard U.  Take a look at his stats, amazingly 4 years of them, and tell me he doesn’t rank up there with any of the great college point guards.  23 ppg, 7 apg, and 46% from the three point line as a senior?  Good god, he was a man among boys at only 5’10”.

While I have plenty of his college cards, including a few autos, I featured this card because of the outstanding photography and wonderfully simple design.  Classic hit it out of the park in 1995.  They maintained an understated design during the the time that the big guys were relying on die cuts and as much foil as they could put on a card.  Classic understood that cards are a time capsule, especially college cards given that the players are only there for a limited time, and focused on having a classic design and great photography.  This was also the first Stoudamire card that I tracked down, so it always has a special place in my collection.

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Time Machine: 2013 Bowman Baseball Preview

Apparently Bowman week at Pack a Week continues.  Today Bowman posted a preveiw of their 2013 base product on Facebook (see gallery for images).  So here is my take on the new edition of my favorite product.

The good:  Autographs, autographs, and more autographs.  Bowman is including, as usual, as many rookie and prospect autographs as they can pack in.  Beyond their usual chrome prospect and rookie autos, they are bringing black the Bowman Black autos (black card, silver marker, super sleek) and including Franchise Dual Autographs.  Bowman is also throwing in Oversized 1948 Style autograph box topper cards.  I love the idea and, given that they are limited to /20, they should make for good chase cards.  It is the 65th anniversary of Bowman and I like them going back to the well and making chase cards out of the original design.

Let us not forget prospects, prospects, and prospects; it’s what Bowman is known for.  We don’t know the checklist yet, or who we’re going to be chasing, but it’s so much more interesting getting a new guys first card then Pujols 10,004th.

Bowman returns all the normal paralells, which produce good return on the secondary market (it’s always nice to off-set the cost of the box).  Certain paralells, and the printing plates, are jumbo only.  That may be a bad in some peoples eyes, but it’s a good for me because I always buy a jumbo box.  As an aside, anyone who can afford the jumbo that doesn’t buy it is a fool, you get so much more bang for your buck.

The mini trend made it’s way over to the sister product.  Bowman is inserting Mini Chrome Prospect cards in the packs.  I love the little guys and I would love them more if they weren’t chrome.  Which brings me to the bad.

The Bad:  Too much chrome.  Bowman already puts out a 100% Chrome product, why must there be so much Chrome in the base product this year.  Almost all the inserts and autos are chrome.  Even the Top 100 prospect set is chromed, which bums me out because it’s my favorite insert and brings me to my next point.  The Top 100 prospects insert set looks hideous.  The design is stupid and futuristic and the inclusion of refractors and die-cuts only makes it worse (bad designs are not improved by making it even shinier or giving jagged edges, it’s poop either way).  The Top 100 set will only be redeemed if I pull a die-cut auto that I can then sell for a Benjamin.

The most disappointing thing, however, is that the base card design is not so hot.  The borders are intrusive and busy, and as you know I hate busy.  The base set really reminds me of a Topps set, which is ok but doesn’t fill me with the same joy as the normal, simple, clean Bowman designs.  Every few years Bowman has an off year where they go overboard on the design elements and disappoint me.  I can get past it because it’s Bowman, but I really wish they would stick to the simple formula that makes them my favorite.  Bowman cards really need to continue to rely on solid prospect checklists and autographs and clean designs with good photography; it is the essence of the hobby.

The Interesting:  The Ultimate Prospect Card featuring autographs of 25 players.  How big is this card?  Is a two card book covered in stickers or a 25 card book, ala Panini, with a single card for each player.  How much will it sell for?  Will the ebay price make me angry?  What if I pull it?  Just kidding, I never pull anything like that, but I am interested to see what this thing is.

Lucky 5 Redemption.  What is this?  Will they be buybacks?  I love buybacks, especially if they’re autographed.

Blue Sapphire Refractor Program.  These cards will be inserted across various Bowman products next year.  They appear to be reprints of iconic Bowman cards with shiny blue borders.  I love the reprint idea to celebrate the 65th anniversary, however the blue borders look gaudy.  I will reserve judgment until I see the checklist and the cards in person.

In closing, Happy Anniversary Bowman.  I can’t wait until May.

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Weekend Pickup

What do Greg Maddux playing wiffle ball, Jim Kelly dressed as Tony Montana, William Tecumseh Sherman, a golfer who wears two gloves, and the single season NCAA women’s basketball scoring record holder have in common?  The answer: nothing except the fact that they were all in my pack of 2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions.

Wiffleball hall of famer, Greg Maddux?

WTF?

Histories.

“Derek doesn’t know who I am.”

This portrait was brought to you by a fourth grader. Sorry Jackie.

I can say with some certainty that this is the first pack of Goodwin that I’ve ever purchased.  I normally don’t go for the non-licensed, multi-sport stuff, but this was the only thing at the local shop that I hadn’t opened yet, so I thought I’d give it a try.  Firstly, I’m going to review this not based on my pack, which was awful, but on the design of the product.  I’m doing my best here not to let my disappointment in a single pack bias my post.  However, the design itself is too generic for my liking.  It is basically the stock “vintage” card design, which we have all seen quite a few times.  It does include painted portraits instead of photographs, which I appreciate if done well but, as seen on the Jackie Stiles card, these portraits are not top notch.  Black borders are a plus in my book, but otherwise the design is a bit of yawner.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not offensive to my eyes but it’s just not much to talk about.

The actual portraits on the other hand, they are something to talk about.  Since Upper Deck lacks a baseball license we can’t expect Greg Maddux in a proper uniform, but wiffleball?  Kudos I say, wiffleball is underappreciated and I believe an Upper Deck and Greg Maddux team up can bring it to the forefront of American culture.  Who doesn’t love crazy screwballs and 53′ home runs.  Truly the sport of kings.  Jim Kelly, WTF, why buddy?  I know the movie was big and all, but try to maintain a little bit, ok?

Jim Kelly or Al Pacino? I just don’t know.

Another kudos to Upper Deck for drawing our attention to what can only be a ‘separated at birth’ situation.  Not much to say about Tommy Gainey (other than who is Tommy Gainey?) and William Tecumseh Sherman, but someone owes Jackie Stiles an apology.  I googled her and that portrait should offend her.

I suppose the draw of Goodwin Champions is a stacked autograph checklist.  Upper Deck’s stable of stars, including Lebron, MJ, and Tiger, are all accounted for, as well as some other interesting signers like Mike Tyson, Arnold Palmer, and Nolan Ryan.  There are also relic cards including JFK, Eisenhower, and Joe Jackson.  This is obviously a hit based product, so I recommend buying a box if you’re at all interested (three guaranteed per box).  Buying single packs puts you at risk for what is shown above.  Design 2.5/5, auto and relic checklist 5/5.

My local card dealer also threw in a pack of 1991-92 McDonalds edition Hoops.  These were the packs that included the Dream Team cards.  I got a Magic Johnson.  See for yourself.

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2013 Topps Heritage

Cardboard Connection has a nice preview of the upcoming 2013 Topps Heritage Baseball release.  I’m really excited for this.  I really like the understated 1964 design.  The simplicity of it allows for the photography to shine.  It is also a very conducive design to on-card autographs, so that alone makes me happy.

Notable:  Tattoo cards.  Awesome.  I might not actually apply a Willie Mays tattoo to my body, but having the option makes my world feel complete.

If you’re ever going to get a neck tattoo, which you shouldn’t, this is the only one worth getting.

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Small Things

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.

(reference)

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

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Letterpress baseball cards, postcard-size.

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