In a hobby that seems to be constantly evolving, there are some things that remain the same. People like rookie cards. There should always be stats on the back. Topps makes a flagship set every year. It’s true. Well, at least it has been since 1956. 2011 Is the 56th consecutive year that Topps has produced a flagship football set (and for a long time that was the only set available from ANYONE). What does it have in store for us? Let’s find out:
The Box – Click for Detail
I went the Jumbo box route for this review. Jumbo boxes come with 10 50-card packs for a total of 500 cards. I got this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $87, which translates into a $0.17/card ratio. Topps’ flagship set has always been on the lower end of the spectrum but it still quite popular for its base set size and its mix of fancy inserts and, more recently, hits. Also, after 56 years, there is obviously some brand recognition in play for Topps.
Interesting choice in Mark Sanchez…
Base Cards: 423 (24 duplicates)
Rookies: ? (somehow I forgot to count them separately…)
Gold (#/2011)): 5
Black (#/55): 0
Toppstown (online codes): 10
Super Bowl Legends: 10 (2 dupes)
Game Day: 10
Faces of the Franchise: 10
1948 Bowman: 10
Super Bowl Legends Giveaway (code cards): 10
Super Bowl Legends Stamp (#/100): 1
Base Card Auto: 1
Rookie Relic Patch: 1
Game Day Auto (Redemption): 1
Click each image for a full-sized scan
FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: In a word: classic. Topps never seems to completely recycle designs in its base set from year to year, yet somehow every one just has that Topps “look” to it. For all of you baseball fans out there, this design should look familiar. As is often the case, Topps used the same design for its football set as it used for its baseball set of the same year. This year, there are no complaints. The design is pretty basic, but effective. The team logo is prominently placed and the name banner is team-colored, which is great. The card back is also straight outta the Topps text book with its multiple-year statistics, horizontal orientation, and even the positioning of the card number. This isn’t a set that I will sit around and “ooh” and “aah”, but it is solid for a low-end base set. With 440 cards in the set, it is obviously geared for set collectors and can stand as a sort of yearbook. This design will look great page after page in a binder, so that’s really as you can ask. And, for the record, I am not turning this into a Ravens-themed blog. I busted this box with a friend who is a huge B-More fan so I let him pick out all Ravens for the review scan.
2nd Down, Inserts: In a word: many. If there’s one thing Topps knows how to do, it’s producing a whole lot of cards. Along with the 440-card base set, there are a bunch of insert sets. The Toppstown cards are really just for fun and games online, but they actually look good as cards. I’m digging the shiny blue background, although it admittingly looks better with some team uniforms than others. The Game Day cards I suppose are common affair for a low-end insert set. Nothing flashy, but I do like that they are strongly team-oriented with colored backgrounds. The Faces of the Franchise cards toes the line of one of my least favorite subjects, multi-player cards, but does so safely. The card is strongly team branded so the theme works. The 1948 Bowman cards are a cool throwback. I love the original mini-card size and the painted look of the photos. This was actually a well done tribute card and will probably be the subject of a future “A Look Back” post. The Super Bowl legends cards are also a nice concept, although with base, rings, coins, and stamps (not to mention an entire Super Bowl-themed giveaway), it may be overdone. I have to wonder if maybe Topps shouldn’t have just put more time into the designs and had this be a seperate product. One final nice touch for the jumbo box was the rookie relics. Every Jumbo hobby box has a rookie relic PATCH, not just a plain jane swatch, which really adds value to the box as a whole.
3rd Down, Collation: In a word: misleading. When I sorted through everything and had the entire box organized, I was shocked to find out that I had only pulled 24 duplicates out of nearly 500 cards (the relic packs didn’t have as many cards). I was also pleased when I figured out I only needed 41 out of 440 base cards to complete the set. That’s not too bad, I thought. But if you crunch the numbers, you find that the duplicate rate, either compared to just base cards or to the number of cards in the entire box, is actually only marginally better than that of 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars, which is ripped apart for having too many duplicates. So either my expectations have become unreasonable or this box wasn’t as well collated as I originally thought. I think maybe I need to re-evaluate my standards.
4th Down, Overall Value: In a word: expected. With Topps’ flagship set, you know what you’re getting. You know you’re going to get a ton of well designed base cards, a random smattering of inserts, and a few “hits” to boot. The value of any particular card is probably not going to astound you, but it also shouldn’t be rock bottom. My buddy got really excited about the Super Bowl Legends giveaway and ordered two cases of jumbo boxes in addition to this lone box. I am helping him to sell off all of his unwanted cards (basically anything that’s not purple and black), and the selling prices have been pretty decent. It’s not often that you sell simple parallels for $2, relics for $10, and autos for $15, especially out of a low-end product, so I have been pretty pleased. Again, that brand recognition may be playing a factor, but it’s a good brand to take for a spin.
RED ZONE RESULTS: TOUCHDOWN, PAT GOOD It’s Topps. What more can I say? It’s a brand and a concept that’s been working for 56 years. Sure, it’s not always something special and some sexy new things have come and gone in that time, but Topps does what Topps does year in and year out. And that’s produce a solid flagship that has appeal to collectors young and old, team/player and set, and simple and fancy. It’s impossible to have a single product that has everything, but 2011 Topps sure can give you a lot of bang for your buck.
NEXT UP: 2011 Score (Honestly, I’m getting to it…)