Product Review: 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter

Wait a minute. Something doesn’t look right. Isn’t Allen & Ginter a baseball set? Aren’t I reading a football card blog? Did banks get tired of buying each other and opt to start buying and merging sports card blogs? I’m confused.

The answer to those burning questions would be: Yes. Yes. Not yet. So to clarify, I will remind you all that I already posted a disclaimer about this one. I got caught up in the moment and bought a box of baseball cards. I wasn’t able to enter Gint-a-Cuffs III, so I figured I might as well do a box break review. This is that review.

2011 Topps Allen and Ginter box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 24 8-card packs for a total of 192 cards. I got this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $82, which translates into a reasonable $0.43/card ratio. Allen & Ginter is a rare breed. It appeals to set collectors with its large base set, short prints, and variants, but it also appeals to hit collectors (though certainly not as much as a super high end set) with its red ink autos and DNA relics. So $0.43 is just about right: low enough for set collectors to buy in bulk but not so low that it thwarts all mojo collectors.

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter pack
If you get around Blogland, you’ve seen this olde tyme guy a lot by now…

The Breakdown:
Base Cards
   Total: 127 (3 duplicates)
   Rookie Cards: 13
   Short Prints: 12
Minis
   Base Minis: 6
   A&G Ad Back: 6
   Black Border Parallels: 3
   Portraits of Penultimacy: 2
   World’s Most Mysterious Figures: 1
   Animals in Peril: 2
   Step Right Up: 2
   Uninvited Guests: 2
Inserts
   Hometown Heroes: 18
   Floating Fortresses: 3
   Baseball Highlight Sketches: 4
   Minds That Made the Future: 3
   The Ascent of Man: 4
   Base Code Card Parallels: 3
   N43 Box Loader: 1
Hits
   A&G Captured Mini Relics: 3

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
Click each image for a full-sized scan

FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: I love it. Other folks have mentioned they don’t particularly care for the A&G design this year and that it’s slowly been going downhill over the past few years. This is my first real look at A&G, so I guess I haven’t been jaded by even better sets, because I really like this design. The painted feel of the photos is great and the overall design is very clean. I also really like the logo placement and what Topps did for the non-MLB base cards. I do admit the player name placement could be better. The last names just sorta hang out there. One thing I’m not a fan of is the horizontal cards. They just seem awkward and don’t fit the feel of the set as well, especially the ones that have an action shot. The card backs are interesting. Maybe A&G has always done this, but I was amused by the lack of any graphics and having all statistics in word form.

2nd Down, Inserts: Where to start? I guess the minis. These are cool, espcially since they have the old cigarette feel to them, especially once you add the Ad Backs. The various inserts were all very interesting subjects, I’m just still not sure how I feel about non-sports cards in my sports card box. One thing I need help from an avid A&G fan is about the mini vs standard sized inserts. Other than base cards, all of my minis were from different sets than my standard sized inserts. Is that common? Do they separate inserts so that this group is only available as minis and that group is only available in standard sized? I also really like the A&G relics. I find it really cool that the actual relic swatch is embedded on a mini card which is then encased inside a standard sized card. Cool stuff. I’m also digging the plaid Upton relic. For more information on that, go read Night Owl’s post. Overall, these are pretty cool inserts. Even if I do have my doubts about sponges being a part of the “ascent of man”. It probably doesn’t help that I believe in intelligent Creation…

3rd Down, Collation: Solid. Out of 127 base cards, a mere 3 were duplicates. I tend to hate duplicates, but that really isn’t a bad ratio at all. And one of those was from my favorite team (Pedro Alvarez), so I really can’t complain (although I’d rather have a duplicate of Neil Walker or Andrew McCutchen). I feel like I got all of the short prints, minis, relics, and various other inserts I was supposed to get, so that is another plus. Really, this was one of the best collated boxes I’ve seen in a long time. Hopefully this box is indicative of the entire product run.

4th Down, Overall Value: Well, it certainly helps that this is one of the most popular products of the year across any sport. As I said, there are a lot of pieces to lure in a lot of different types of collectors. You’re getting a very nicely designed product with some rather nice “chase” cards for a decent enough price. One factor that probably goes unnoticed in these product reviews more than it should is the fun factor. This product was just fun to open. I never knew if the next card was going to be a base card of Chase Utley, a mini parallel of Wee Man, or a very colorful card of a fish. Not every card appealed to my tastes in collecting (where are the Emmitt Smith A&G minis?!?), but each one has a cool factor. Considering this is a HOBBY (which a lot of people seem to forget on a daily basis), what more could you ask?

RED ZONE RESULTS: TOUCHDOWN, PAT GOOD As I mentioned above, maybe it’s just because I haven’t had prior experience with the Allen & Ginter line, but I loved this product. There were very few items that made me question the folks behind the scenes and it was just a blast to open. I got thrashed for saying the Big Time inserts in 2011 SAGE were nice because they were colorful and reminded me of my childhood for some reason, but I’m going to play a similar card here. Even if these cards were worthless (and I’m not sure how many people are storming eBay looking for cards of old wooden ships), this product would still have a fair amount of value in every pack. It’s well designed. It’s spontaneous. It’s fun. It deserves the TD and PAT.

NEXT UP: 2011 Score

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