Product Review: 2009 Topps Chrome

One of the most highly anticipated releases of the year, 2009 Topps Chrome promised to be a great set. When I saw some retail blasters at my local K-Mart recently, I HAD to pick up a box.

2009 Topps Chrome
2009 Topps Chrome – Retail Box

I did a full preview of this set when it was released. Granted, my results will be much different since I bought a retail box, rather than a hobby box, but at least it is a good indiction of the possibilities. The retail box had 8 packs (7 packs plus 1 bonus pack) of 4 cards each. I paid $19.99 (plus 6% sales tax), which breaks into an average of $0.66 per card, which puts it into a lower mid-level range. Let’s see what I pulled:

Base Cards: 22
Rookie Cards: 7 (including 3 parallels)
Parallels: 7 (2 Refractors, 3 Xfractors, 1 Blue Refractor, and 1 Copper Refractor)
Inserts: 3 (1 Cheerleader and 2 National Chicles)
Hits: — (none)
Doubles: — (none)

Click each image for a full sized scan

1st Down, Design: This year, Topps gave Upper Deck a run for their money. The flagship design was very crisp and clean and the photography was far better than most Topps sets. The Chrome set was obviously very similar in that fashion. The football feel of the name/team plate is very effective. This is a design that lends itself very easily to the chrome technology. Although the cards traditionally do not scan very well, they are beautiful in person and collectors absolutely love them. Topps did very well with this set.

2nd Down, Inserts: We all know about Chrome parallels and the great refractors. They may be rather numerous, but they are very good looking cards. The other inserts I pulled were not so great. The National Chicle insert was a good idea, but I wasn’t sold on the execution. First off, they did not stick with the original size of the legendary set. Also, the chrome technology on the very retro themed cards just feels off. Some may think it’s giving new life to an old classic, but it just seems awkward to me. It also hurt Topps that there were about 89 sets featuring National Chicle designs this year. The novelty of these cards wears off rather quickly in the light of that. The other insert card was also a bit of a bust for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing pictures of cheerleaders. They are beautiful and certainly add something to the whole football experience. But giving them their own cards? That is too close to having non sports cards mixed in with my sports cards, and that is not cool. At least there were no Obama cards in this box.

3rd Down, Collation: Like other retail boxes I have reviewed here, I can’t honestly critique the collation here because there were so few cards. I was obviously glad to not pull any doubles, though. I would be interested to see the base to parallel to insert ratio of a full hobby box. If you can pull a good portion of the the base set and still pull lots of inserts, parallels, and hits, without any (or at least very few) doubles, that would be cool.

4th Down, Overall Value: I am going to stray from the beaten path here for a moment. The retail box I opened did not give me a lot of value. Granted, it was a $20 retail box, so I was not expecting much. But my box aside, this looks like it is a great “value” product for collectors and prospectors alike. Chrome rookie cards are some of the most sought-after cards in the industry. When you start adding things like refractor parallels and autographs, you get a full out buying frenzy. I have seen some of these cards sell for top dollar in the secondary market. At the very least, they make for great trade bait amongst player or team collectors who are trying to track down those ever elusive parallel rainbows. With only 4 cards to a pack, you may not get lucky every time, but you should pull something very nice in every few packs, and certainly out of an entire hobby box.

RED ZONE RESULTS: FIRST DOWN I will admit, I am usually inclined to like Upper Deck products over most others. However, I loved this product. The cards are very well designed, the parallels are not (usually) over the top, there is no outlandish serial numbering, and there is bound to be plenty of value in any box. If it was such a great product, why didn’t it score any points? Simple. I opened a retail box. This box got a first down, allowing it another four downs to get on the board. I would love to bust a hobby box of this product, possibly when the price drops in the Christmas shopping season. Given a full hobby review, I do not doubt this product could punch it across the goal line and even tack on the PAT. So we’ll say due to a defensive penalty, it gets First and Goal from the 1. I like those odds.


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