Tag Archives: Relics

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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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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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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