Product Review: 2010 Topps

10.21.2010

After an excessive delay, and losing all of my card/blog images, I am finally getting around to posting this box break and product review, almost two months after the product released. This is the flagship Topps set and probably doesn’t need much of an additional introduction.

2010 Topps box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 36 10-card packs for a total of 360 cards. I purchased this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $50 (Oh, how the price has fallen!), which translates into a $0.14/card ratio. That is what you would expect from a flagship set that is more of an entry level set than anything.

2010 Topps pack
Pack resembles the cards – pretty cool

The Breakdown:
Base Cards: 268 (0 duplicates) – 60.9%
   Rookie Cards: 66 (included in base card total above)
Gold Parallels: 8
Inserts
   Peak Performance: 9
   Attax/Tickets to Toppstown: 36 (1 per pack)
   Topps 55th Anniversary Reprints: 4
   75th Anniversary NFL Draft: 6
   Gridiron Giveaway Code Cards: 6
   Ring of Honor: 1
   Gridiron Lineage: 9
   1952 Bowman Football: 12
   Peak Performance Autos: 1

2010 Topps2010 Topps
Click images for full-sized scans

FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: As they have done in the past, Topps reused the baseball set design for the football set of the same year. I have a feeling it was particularly important this year as Topps had its NFL license renewed awfully late, and only after being told it had lost it. You won’t hear much complaints from me about this however as it’s actually a pretty solid design. I like that they incorporated the official team name logos, rather than just the simple logo with plain text name for those that don’t recognize the logo. I’m not sure the circular frame on the left side was ideal, but it’s not bad. I didn’t think to scan a base card back like I normally do, but it followed Topps tradition with its horizontal orientation and fairly comprehensive stat lines. Overall, it is definitely on par for a flagship Topps set without feeling tired or overdone.

2nd Down, Inserts: There are bunches! First, Topps did 4 parallel sets (7 if you include each printing plate as a separate set) although I only pulled examples of the least rare Golds. Pretty normal by parallel standards, although I’d personally like to see fewer parallels. The Peak Performance was a pretty solid insert set. It featured a statistical highlight for the featured player and generally had great photography with tight player images and shallow depth of field. The photos definitely had a different feel from the base cards. Topps once again included its Ring of Honor insert, this year focusing on Drew Brees as the winner of last year’s Super Bowl. The Gridiron lineage cards were alright, but the design seemed rather lackluster and I rarely enjoy cards with multiple players, especially if those players are not even from the same team. Topps is also feeling very nostalgic this year as there were several retrospective inserts. First was the 75th anniversary NFL draft cards. The design’s not awful, but I’m not stoked about the concept, although I do get that 75 years of the draft is a pretty big deal. It just seemed like an excuse to recycle old images of the top players who are always included in insert sets. I would have been more impressed with 75 cards showing the #1 draft choice from all 75 years. The rookie reprints were interesting. At first glance, besides being ultra new and glossy and in mint condition, you cannot tell the difference between these reprints and the originals. No where does it state you are holding a reprint. The only noted difference was the copyright date on the back was 2010, not 1983, 1998, etc. It should be interesting to see how many eBay baffoons try to pass these off as legit. Then you had the 1952 Bowman throwbacks. I’m usually not a fan of retro themed cards, but these actually look fantastic. I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t mind seeing an entire set of these, if done as well and simple as this insert. Also hailing from baseball, Topps gave football fans the Gridiron Giveaway, mimicking the Million Card Giveaway from the diamond. I haven’t claimed any of my codes. I might just put them on eBay to avoid having 6 early 90s cards sent to my house. And lastly, I did not see the point of including the Topps Attax cards. I get that Topps is trying to get the game to catch on, but 1 per pack, really? That’s WAY too many in a hobby box!

3rd Down, Collation: I suppose this was great. I didn’t pull a single duplicate out of 360 cards, which is always a huge plus to me. I feel like I got a fair mix of the various inserts (although I would prefer fewer worthless inserts and more base cards) and I got my “guaranteed” 1 hit. For a large set with so many cards in each box, collation could either make or break a box. It definitely helped to make this box. Hopefully the entire production run was as well collated as this one hobby box.

4th Down, Overall Value: Good. You know what you’re getting with Topps’ flagship set. The rookies, even the short printed variants, are not going to sell for tons and tons of money. The entire set can be picked up on eBay for about $25. The inserts are deccent, but you’re not going to buy a house by selling what you pull from one box or even an entire case. The hits do fairly well for themselves and an autograph of a top rookie can pull a pretty dime, but they are generally lower valued overall. But also consider that the price you pay for a box or pack is pretty low. It’s not like you are turning Benjamins into Lincolns here like you do with other products. Plus, Topps has staying power. Topps has been around for a very long time and people have come to know and trust the name. In 20 years, you might have trouble finding someone to care about Panini Classics or Donruss Elite, but I would be willing to bet you’ll find people looking for Topps cards.

RED ZONE RESULTS: TOUCHDOWN (MISSED PAT) This may not be the single greatest product on the market for any one particular area (Score has a lower price point, SAGE has better autograph insertion rates, Upper Deck products have better designed base and insert cards, etc.), but if you could average every aspect of any given set to get everything on a level playing field, Topps would definitely be near the top. The price is right (and has fallen in the past two months to make it even more enticing). The base set is good looking and large enough to appeal to set collectors. There are fancy-pants patch and autograph cards for prospectors and player collectors. There are code cards for gamblers. And above all, there is that constant logo on every card that has become synonymous with sports card and collecting: Topps. Some people may think that is too much bias for a product review, but simply put, the Topps name deserves recognition and like I said above, 20 years from now, I have no doubt people will still look at the Topps brand with respect. The Topps flagship definitely punches it into the endzone, but it’s inability to really wow me cost it the extra point. And including Topps Attax in every pack didn’t help.

NEXT UP: 2010 Upper Deck NCAA Sweet Spot

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Pull of a Lifetime

11.17.2009

I have written in several posts about my return to the hobby in mid-2008 and the subsequent buying binge I went on, which reached an expensive climax right around Christmas. As my first run through the Hobby resulted in me buying lots of mid-to-late 90s retail wax and a few singles from my local hobby shops, I was blown away with the vast quantity of game used swatch cards and autographed cards available in every box. When I left the Hobby, jersey cards were just beginning to be inserted and autographs were extremely rare parallels. Every hobby box I ripped through contained more and more hits and I became more and more excited. The ultimate (pun intended) was the two boxes of 2007 Ultimate Collection football I purchased. Each box only contained 16 cards (4 per pack), but almost every card featured pieces of jersey and/or autographs. While opening my second box, carefully examining each card, I was completely dumbfounded when I flipped over this beauty:

Adrian Peterson Autograph RC Gold
Click image for a full sized scan

This gem is an autographed Adrian Peterson Ultimate Collection rookie card gold parallel #20/25. As a guy who once got really excited to pull a basic insert card of Michael Jordan or Emmitt Smith (like UD Choice Starquest), you can imagine the level of excitement this pull created. I immediatly dug out the 1″ Lucite screw down holder I had purchased years ago in case I ever pulled a really valuable card. I figured this card fit that bill. At the time, I still depended on Beckett’s online price guides. When I looked this card up, the excitement level kicked up a notch when I saw a $1,000 book value attached to the card. In my current knowledge, I realize how trivial book values are and know I probably could not actually get $1,000 for the card, but it is still an amazing pull.

So now, just like a lot of the other cards occupying space in my home office, I have to ask myself what I should do with it. Should I list it on eBay to capitalize on Peterson’s currently very high popularity and to help recapture a good chunk of change I dropped on wax last year? Do I try to track down a die-hard Peterson collector and negotiate a sales price or high profile trade? Or do I simply hold onto it and either hope his stock only continues to soar higher or tuck it away to always remind myself of the greatest pull of my life (so far)?

If you had pulled this card, what would you do with it? If you wanted this card, how much would you pay for it?


Live Today: 2009 SP Threads

10.06.2009

Delivering high-end inserts for mid-shelf prices, Upper Deck’s 2009 SP Threads hits hobby shop shelves today. Rookie player collectors and prospectors can get ready to chase some nice relic and autograph cards from this set. The product is being released in cases of 14 boxes of 16 packs of 5 cards each.

The base set for 2009 SP Threads consists of 100 veterans, 100 Rookie Future Watch, and 60 Rookie Auto Letterman. Beyond the base set, there are numerous autograph insert sets including, Rookie Auto Lettermen – College Parallel (Varied #), Rookie Auto Lettermen – College Nickname Parallel (Varied #), Rookie Auto Lettermen – Last Name Parallel (Varied #), SP Rookie Threads Auto Patch (# to 50), Multi Marks Duals (Varied #), Multi Marks Triples (Varied #), Multi Marks Quads (Varied #), SP Superstar Die-Cuts Auto (Varied #), and Stitch in Time. Memorabilia cards include SP Rookie Threads (# to 299), SP Rookie Threads – Dual Swatch Parallel (# to 199), SP Rookie Threads – Triple Swatch Parallel (# to 99), SP Rookie Threads – Patch Parallel (# to 50), SP Threads (# to 99), SP Threads – Parallel (# to 50), SP Threads – Patch Parallel (# to 25), SP Dual Threads (Varied #), SP Tri Threads (Varied #), and SP Foursome Fabrics (Varied #). SP Superstar Die-Cuts is also inserted into 2009 SP Threads

Rookie Auto LettermanSuperstar Die-CutSP Rookie Threads - Triple Swatch
SP Threads - PatchFoursome FabricsStitch in Time
Each tiny thumbnail leads to a full sized image

Disclaimer: The above images were released by Upper Deck along with preliminary product details in June. The actual cards released today may differ from those shown above.

Per Box Breakdown: 16 packs of 5 cards each (80 total) including 2 autographs (with at least 1 Rookie Auto Letterman), 3 memorabilia cards, and at least 5 rookie cards. There are also 1 multi-signed card and 1 autographed memorabilia card in each 14-box case. Boxes are currently selling in the $80 ballpark.

While this is a good looking set, I am becoming mildly comatose with all of the similar “high-end inserts for low-to-mid shelf prices” products these days. It seems that every company is releasing a plethora of products that have similar design elements and promise certain “hits” per box. Do we really need all of these sets? How about focusing on one or two set builders’ products, one or two mid level products with really fancy base cards and guaranteed “hits” and then one top shelf, super high end release that only gives you ridiculously sweet relic and autographed cards without wasting card stock for a base set no one cares about? Just my two cents. That being said, this product does look like it is put together well. There are no egregious design flaws I see in the above images other than the dreaded manufactured letter patches. And obviously that Emmitt Smith patch card caught my attention immediately. I won’t (can’t) go out and buy boxes of this stuff hoping for that Emmitt card, and I probably won’t scour eBay all month looking for one, but if one just happened to fall into my lap, I wouldn’t complain. 🙂

What do you guys think? Is this a great set offering value to the collector, or is it just another “hit” product that you couldn’t care less about?


Contest Winner

10.01.2009

Congratulations to fellow football card collector “fuji” for winning the 100 Reasons to Celebrate contest! Mark commented (the only real requirement) that his favorite First and Goal post was The Topps Collection, which showcased all 15 base Topps cards produced during Emmitt’s career. Mark noted it inspired him to collect all of the base Topps, Donruss, and Fleer cards of his favorite player, Tony Gwynn. What did Mark win? This bad boy:


Click image for full sized scan

That’s right. A 2008 Donruss Classics Sunday’s Best Gold parallel of Adrian Peterson #016/100. It may not be the best looking card, but it is AP and it is #/100. Mark, it isn’t a Seahawks autograph, but hopefully you enjoy your card. I will be in touch with you via email to set up shipping.

For any conspiracy theorists out there, you can see the official contest results screenshot here, in all it’s full resolution glory.

CONGRATS, MARK!


Live Today: 2009 Bowman Sterling

09.23.2009

Promising to provide some of the year’s best rookie cards, 2009 Bowman Sterling is hitting hobby shop shelves today. The much anticipated hobby exclusive release is available in boxes of 6 packs of 5 cards each. The base set consists of a variety of base, autograph, relic, and autographed relic cards, as well as parallels and variations.

The set contains 50 base rookie cards serial numbered in several parallels (Refractor #/199, White #/89, Black #/50, Gold #/25, and Red 1/1). There are also 50 autographed rookie base cards with several parallels (Refractor #/75, Black #/25, Gold #/10, White #/5, and Red 1/1). Additionally, there are 85 relic base cards, consisting of 34 rookies and 51 veterans and legends, also available in several parallels (Refractor #/199, Black #/50, Gold #/25, White #/5, and Red 1/1). And if that wasn’t enough, there are 25 rookie and 20 veteran autographed relic base cards with several parallels (Refractor #/75, Black #/25, Gold #/10, White #/5, and Red 1/1). Also inserted into 2009 Bowman Sterling are all 4 printing plates used to print the 85 rookie and veteran relic cards, the 50 non-autograph rookie base cards, and the 50 autographed rookie base cards. Finally, there are dual autographed cards seeded one per 4-box case that include autographs from 40 current and retired NFL players on numbered gold Refractor cards.

Base RCVeteran RelicRookie Auto Relic
 
Dual Auto
Each tiny thumbnail leads to a full sized scan

Per Box Breakdown: 6 packs of 5 cards each (30 cards total), including 12 rookie cards (2 per pack), 6 autographed cards (1 per pack), 12 relic cards (2 per pack), and 2 autographed relic cards. Each 4-box inner display case will also contain 1 dual autographed card. This adds up to more than 30 cards per box, so an autographed relic or dual autograph will obviously replace a single autographed card in that respective pack.

My first thought is, wow, that is one confusing product checklist. Obviously this is a product specifically designed for the higher-end collector who chases valuable cards or is a player collector who is not afraid to lay down top dollar for his/her favorite player(s). If you are strictly a set collector, stay as far away from this product as possible! If the pre-release mock ups you see above are accurate to the actual release, I think the cards are actually pretty good looking. They may be a tad too shiny though as the images above almost have a shine to them on the computer screen, without being printed on foil board. I am interested to see how all the parallel colors are worked into the design. Is there a border like Topps Chrome, or is the entire design the specific parallel color? Whatever the case, these cards do promise to be highly sought after and able to fetch some nice money on the secondary market, especially from prospectors who have their rookie targets all picked out. Boxes can be purchased for about $230. At almost $8 per card, that is way too rich for my blood, but I’m sure there are plenty of collectors who are pumped up and plan to buy cases of this stuff. I would love to see some singles in person, but that is probably as close as I’ll get.

What do you guys think? Is this right up your alley, or are you passing on this mid-to-high end product?


Fantasy Focus: Week 1

09.17.2009

Fantasy Focus

As you gear up for this weekend’s upcoming games by realigning your fantasy rosters to optimize matchups, let’s take a quick look back at last week’s studs. (Note: Points listed are directly from the First and Goal Fantasy League and may not represent point totals in your individual leagues)

*Fantasy Stud of the Week*
QB: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints — Last week, Brees completed 26-of-34 passes for an impressive 358 yards and a remarkable 6 TD tosses. Even with 1 interception counting against him, Brees easily outperformed all of his quarterback counterparts on his way to 41 fantasy points and earning Fantasy Stud of the Week.

Drew Brees
Click image for a full sized scan

RB: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings — Picking up from where he left off last year, AP once again proved he is truly fantasy royalty. Gaining 180 rushing yards and 3 TDs (along with 18 receiving yards), including a legendary 64-yard scoring rumble in which he broke 5 tackles, Peterson was a force to be reckoned with last week, compiling a cool 37 fantasy points.

WR: Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts — Stepping up after the off-season release of Marvin Harrison and the early injury to Anthony Gonzalez, Wayne reeled in 10 receptions for 162 yards and 1 TD. Currently the league leader in both major receiving categories, it is no wonder Wayne was last week’s best fantasy receiver, earning a respectible 22 fantasy points.

TE: John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks — Playing a position that tends to be overlooked by fantasy owners, Carlson proved to be a very valuable asset last week. He caught just 6 passes, but compiled 95 yards and 2 TDs on his way to 21 fantasy points and a best TE recognition from First and Goal.

K: Nick Folk, Dallas Cowboys — Technically in a three-way tie with 12 fantasy points (Lawrence Tynes and Neil Rackers being the other two), Folk got our nod for best kicker in week 1 for being the only one of the three to make a 50+ yard field goal, which should get recognition in any fantasy league. Folk also knocked in another shorter field goal and 4 PATs, proving that he is once again a reliable fantasy option.

D/ST: Philadelphia Eagles — A position that is usually an after-thought for fantasy owners, the Eagles’ D proved they should not be taken lightly. Allowing a stingy 10 points while racking up 5 sacks, 5 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, and 2 TDs, the Eagles amassed a whooping 35 fantasy points, more than twice as much as the next defensive team, and more than a majority of offensive stars, earning them Defensive Team of the Week honors, hands-down.

ROOKIE: Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings — While technically not a fantasy position, I thought it would be interesting to track the best rookie performer of each week. Week 1’s award goes to Percy Harvin who pulled in 6 receptions for 36 yards and 1 TD, along with 22 rushing yards and 99 return yards. A multi-dimensional threat, it is not clear exactly how the Vikings will utilize Harvin. What is clear is that he possesses some serious fantasy potential, earning a healthy 15 fantasy points in his NFL debut.

Check back next week for another edition of Fantasy Focus as we recognize the week’s best fantasy performers. Best of luck to you in your respective fantasy football leagues!


Live Today: 2009 Topps Chrome

09.10.2009

After much hype and a two week release delay, the highly anticipated Topps Chrome set is now live. Always a fan favorite for rookie cards, this year’s release follows suit, delivering great value to the collector. 2009 Topps Chrome is available in hobby boxes of 24 packs of 4 cards each. The base set consists of 110 veterns and 110 rookies.

2009 Topps Chrome Box
Click image for larger view

Like any chrome product, 2009 Topps Chrome has plenty of base parallels to chase, including refractors (1:3 packs), Copper (#/699), Red (#/25), and Super-Fractor (1/1), as well as all four colored printing plates (1/1). Additionally, Topps Chrome delivers some great rookie cards. First and foremost, the much coveted rookie autograph cards. Fifty of the top rookies featured in the base set have an autographed base variation that is also available in Black (#/25), Gold (#/10), and Super-Fractor (1/1) refractor technology. Another great rookie insert, Rookie Patch Cards, is also sure to please fans. A hobby exclusive, this insert consists of 30 of the top rookies and each features refractor technology and is numbered to just 25 copies. Additional inserts include Chicle cards (featuring legendary 1935 National Chicle design elements), Cheerleaders (some of the hottest AFC team boosters), and Ring of Honor (featuring Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes’ autograph). All insert sets are also available in Refractors (#’d), White (#/100), Red (#/10), and Super-Fractor (1/1) parallels.

Base RCRookie AutoRookie Auto Patch
Copper RefractorChicleCheerleader
Each tiny thumbnail leads to a larger image

Per Box Breakdown: 24 packs of 4 cards each (96 total), including 1 rookie autograph, 10 inserts, and 9 parallels.

I will admit that I have never really bought into the whole chrome hype scene. However, I will also say that this year’s release looks really nice. The chrome and refractor technology stills makes me feel like I am holding elite cards that I was lucky enough to snag. They are definitely some of the nicest, non-high-end cards available in hobby shops and on the secondary market. At around $60 per hobby box, you will definitely get your money’s worth, especially with all of the highly sought after rookie cards. Even if you usually do not have luck with busting boxes, you are bound to pull some nice cards from 2009 Topps Chrome. I am intrigued by the Chicle insert set though. In a year that has seen several high profile lawsuits in this hobby, especially those directly involving Topps and Upper Deck, it is odd and almost ironic that both have released insert sets that borrow from the legendary 1935 National Chicle design. Either this design is so old and not protected anymore, and is therefore public domain, or we may see yet another legal battle from this. I would be interested to know if anyone owns rights to the design and name anymore. I also find the cheerleader cards interesting. I usually am not a fan of non-sports players being in my sports card boxes, but cheerleaders are technically in sports. Plus, they are a nice change of pace from all of the over sized and bulky men on the rest of the cards. I’m not sure if you can ever complain about seeing pictures of attractive females, regardless of the media in which they are featured.

What are your first thoughts? Are you buying into the hype and really excited to bust some boxes/cases? Are you are planning to buy some packs or just chase down singles on eBay? Or are you completely apathetic to this set?