Tag Archives: Jr.

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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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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