Product Review: 2011 Topps Prime

Either sets are being released much sooner this year, or I’m doing a significantly better job of keeping up with things. Last year, I didn’t get a chance to review Topps Prime until February 18. I just can’t remember if it was released so much later or if I was WAY behind the ball in getting my review posted. In any case, here is the 1&G Review of 2011 Topps Prime…on October 22.

2011 Topps Prime box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 10 6-card packs for a total of 60 cards. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $90, which translates into a moderate $1.50/card ratio. That definitely pushes the mid-shelf range, so I would expect design and value some where between Score and Topps Inception.

2011 Topps Prime packs
My scanner was pleased to find that the pillow box packs did not make a return in 2011

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 29 (0 duplicates)
   Rookies (#/930): 3
Parallels
   Green (all Veterans): 7
   Gold Rookies (#/699): 2
   Blue Rookies (#/599): 2
   Red Rookies (#/499): 1
   Purple Rookies (#/399): 1
   Silver Rainbow Rookies (#/25): 1
Inserts
   Prime Rookies: 3
   Prime Veterans: 2
   Double Combos: 2
   Triple Combos: 2
   Quad Combos: 1
Hits
   Triple Combo Relics (#/388): 1
   Auto Relic Level IV (#/199): 1
   Autographed Rookies Silver (#/50): 1
   Prime Rookie Jumbo Relic Silver (#/25): 1

2011 Topps Prime2011 Topps Prime
Click image for full-sized scan

FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: In a word: stable. That’s because this base card design is nearly identical to last year’s design. But don’t read that as a complaint, because I love this base design. Like last year, the photography is generally crisp and vibrant (rookie cards notwithstanding) and there are almost no design elements clogging up the card. The rather smooth finish and thicker stock once again reminds me of the defunct but still awesome Stadium Club lines, which was one of Topps’ first attempts at higher end stuff (remember those simpler times?). The rework of the card back wasn’t a complete success in my opinion. It’s got a simplicity that I like, but 2010’s set had a more “simple elegant” feel. Either one is pretty solid, though.

2nd Down, Inserts: In a word: improved. This year’s set features a whole lot more parallels with various color foil stamping. I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s not quite as awesome as the absurdly colorful 1999 Absolute SSD, but is still better than some of the parallel concepts I’ve seen in the past. The biggest improvement is with the Prime inserts. Topps still insisted on the Prime Combo, Triple Combo, and Quad Combo cards, but at least the design is better. There is still a pretty obvious backwards design problem to some of them, though. And I’ll never understand some of the player pairings. Ok, they’re all wide receivers from the ACC and SEC…why do they need to be together on a single card? I will say I liked this year’s single prime rookie and veteran cards much better with their much simpler design. The autograph card was also a big improvement from last year, although that sticker label diminishes what could have been an all-star auto design. So Topps is definitely moving the right direction here, but didn’t quite nail it just yet.

3rd Down, Collation: In a word: redundant. On my end, not Topps’. I’m just going to copy and past my response from last year: I feel like a broken record in this category. Once again, with only 60 cards, it’s awfully hard to accurately gauge the collation of the print run. I guess in reality, this 3rd down has become just a beacon of whether or not there is a glaring problem with the particular box I busted. In this one, I got was I was supposed to. I didn’t get what I wasn’t supposed to get (duplicates). So yay Topps Prime. You pass the test of blatant problems with collation.

4th Down, Overall Value: In a word: decent. The price for a box isn’t off the chart, although the somewhat low card count does hurt it a bit. The cards themselves are beautiful and would augment just about any collection, especially for a player or team collection. I say almost any because they don’t really have a place in a vintage collection. But you knew that. As is the case with most products, trying to flip a box for a profit is a complete gamble and not recommended. But if you want a solid product at a fairly reasonable price, this is a pretty good pickup.

RED ZONE RESULTS: FIELD GOAL Overall I would say this product was better than last year. So why not give it a better red zone result? The improvement wasn’t out of this world. The base cards are still really nice and probably underrated. The inserts are better but could still use some work, especially those multi-player cards. Lastly, the addition of more parallels doesn’t really increase the appeal of a product to me. If anything, they can take away from a product. I wouldn’t say the various colored foil parallels in 2011 Topps Prime were a detriment to the entire product, but I also wouldn’t say they made it rainbow-licously better.

NEXT UP: 2011 Panini Absolute Memorabilia

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