Ever notice how I do a string of product reviews in a short time frame and then go MIA for weeks on end? Yeah, I don’t know what causes that either. The only solution I’ve found is to enjoy the peaks and trudge through the valleys. Hopefully someday I’ll find a comfortable plateau on which to stroll for a while. But until then, here’s a review of Topps’ 2011 debut, Rising Rookies:
Hobby boxes come with 24 10-card packs for a total of 240 cards. I got this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $77, which translates into a fairly low $0.32/card ratio. That price range puts Rising Rookies as a lower-end set than most pre-season releases, but not quite Score low. In the past, Topps waited until their flagship release to jump into the football market (save last year’s Topps Attax), so there’s not really a similar product with which to compare this set. So without further ado, let’s jump to the break:
My all-in-one machine hates scanning shiny objects…
Veterans: 96 (9 duplicates)
Rookies: 96 (0 duplicates)
Gold Rookies: 19
Blue Rookies (#/1339): 4
NFL Draft Shield: 8
Combine Competition: 6
Draft Selections: 3
Sophomore Fabrics Patch (#/25): 1
Sophomore Autographs: 1
NFL Shield Auto (#/100): 1
NFL Draft Shield Patch Auto (#/65): 1
Printing Plate (1/1): 1
FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: In a word: good. I actually really like the base cards. Well, I really like the veteran base cards. The design is clean and simple. It features crisp photography with a narrow depth-of-focus to allow you to easily concentrate on the player. The card backs could use a little help. Perhaps a photo (especially if it is different than the photo on the front) and more statistics would help to spruce it up. The main focus of the set, however, is the rookies. And unfortunately, that’s where the set lags the most. I’m just not digging the heavy team logo box (a.k.a. where the cards are autographed), espcially since the simple team logos are just below in the left corner. Also, the photography is definitely lacking and the NFL Draft Shield background just doesn’t work for me. Granted, Topps is limited in what they can do with pre-season rookie cards. Stupid Upper Deck and their NCAA exlusive. I do like that the rookie card back are essentially the same as the veteran card backs. These kids are in the same league now, so its nice that every single aspect doesn’t have to be different in their cards.
2nd Down, Inserts: In a word: decent. The Draft Selections and Combine Competition inserts don’t do anything for me, but they obviously fit the product theme nicely. The NFL Draft Shield cards actually have a nice look to them and lend themselves well to the basic and auto/logo patch versions. I’m probably just a sucker for faux-marble design elements. The sophomore cards aren’t bad, but the jersey/patch cards look much better than the autographs. It is obvious, however that all of the rookie autograph and patch cards were done pre-draft as there are no team names or logos anywhere, just NFL shields. And you know what? That’s fine. Why? They got ON-CARD AUTOGRAPHS OF ROOKIES. HUGE bonus there. There is just too much open space for the auto labels, especially when someone signs small like Eric Decker did. These are sophomore cards, get them hard-signed. There you have a much better chance of all that blank space being used effectively. The Playmaker cards were actually my favorite. I like the subtle fade of the lettering and the very simplistic design.
3rd Down, Collation: In a word: tolerable. In a box with 240 cards, duplicates are going to happen. It doesn’t mean I have to like them, but I should expect them. Interestingly enough, I got 96 veterans with 9 dupes and 96 rookies with no dupes. Whatever that means. I did get all four auto/memorabilia cards I was guaranteed, so that’s a plus. As an added bonus, I also pulled a 1/1 printing plate. I still have mixed feelings about these things, but I have to admit I still get a bit giddy about pulling a 1/1, even if there are technically four printing plates for each card.
4th Down, Overall Value: In a word: great. With 240 cards for just $77 (and the price has come down even further since I purchased), the box would have to be a complete miss to not deliver any value. The on-card rookie autographs are a huge plus. That is something Upper Deck always seemed to nail, Topps has been making strides to do, and Panini is completely incompetant of doing. I’ve never been a huge fan of manu-patches, but they do look pretty cool in person. The same goes for the printing plates. Obviously not every box will have a printing plate, but Topps did make an effort to add some value to an early, rookie-focused set, which is appreciated.
RED ZONE RESULTS: FIELD GOAL The base cards are decent, especially the veterans, the inserts are acceptable, and the hits were much nicer than I anticipated. The collation could have used a bit of tweaking, but as I mentioned above, a less than 4% duplicate rate isn’t terrible, especially for a lower-end set. The nice thing about these mildly cheaper sets is there is very little chance of being disappointed or feeling buyer’s remorse. On the other hand, there is a potential to be pleasantly surprised by what you pull. It was a very small sample size, but I was pleasantly surprised with my box.
NEXT UP: 2011 Donruss Elite