Friday, February 24, 2012

2012 Topps Baseball Series 1 Box Break Recap And Review

There has been a lot of press and discussion over this card from 2012 Topps Baseball Series 1. 
The St. Louis Rally Squirrel.  For some, the burning desire to collect baseball cards has been reignited and they are returning to collecting because of the publicity from the eBay craze for this short printed card.   Other’s, mostly long time collectors who’s opinions I respect, feel this is just another gimmick, the kind of card they don’t want anywhere near Topps Flagship release.  You don’t see these kinds of cards in other sports.  Short Prints in Football are generally reserved for photo variations, so why do pie in the face and Gatorade bath cards in Baseball? 

For me, the one thing card collecting should be is fun and these short printed cards are fun.  Why bother collecting at all if it is not a fun thing to do?  These cards don’t come at the sacrifice of the base set so I don’t see the harm here.  The only criticism I would give is Topps should have gone all the way with this, changing the card to read The St. Louis Rally Squirrel instead of keeping it Skip Schumaker.

If anything, it represents the evolution of Baseball cards.  Topps should know a thing or two about that as they were the innovators responsible for changing look of the fronts of cards and adding stats to the backs of cards in the 1950’s.  Since then, more additions such as inserts, relics, autographs, etc have become commonplace, so the fun short print is just another part of the growth.  Some do not like the direction these cards are taking and while I respect that opinion, we shouldn’t turn this into a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. There is still plenty of collecting to do here in Series 1, even without the short prints and the bottom line is 2012 Topps Baseball cards should be a part of your collection.

For the purposes of this review, we classify Series 1 as trading cards.  There are hobby exclusive cards such as the ring and coin cards, but you can find Series 1 in a wide variety of configurations in both retail and hobby.  We opened a box hobby box which contained 36 – 10 card packs with a promise of 1 autograph or 1 relic card per box.

Here are some of the cards we pulled.

Base cards
Roy Halladay, front and back

 Mickey Mantle, Ryan Howard, Dustin Ackley
Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Jose Bautista
Miguel Cabrera, Brian Wilson, Eric Hosmer
Derek Jeter, Dee Gordon, Stalin Castro
David Freese, Mariano Rivera
Adrian Gonzalez, Jay Bruce
Michael Pineda, Josh Hamilton

Golden Moments Base Parallels
 Eduardo Nunez, Ryan Hanigan, Craig Kimbrel
Matt Cain, Luke Hochevar, Luke Scott
Jordan Zimmerman, Alexi Ogando, Vernon Wells

This year's mini cards are based on 1987 Topps baseball.  Here is Starlin Castro's base card and mini for size comparison.

1987 Minis
 Starlin Castro, Dan Uggla, Mike Stanton, Adrian Gonzalez
Troy Tulowitzki, Lance Berkman, Shin-Soo Choo, Mariano Rivera

Golden Moments
 Jered Weaver,  Brooks Robinson
Curtis Granderson, Roy Halladay
Miguel Cabrera, Paul O'Neill
Ryne Sandberg, CC Sabathia
Tom Seaver X2

Golden Greats
Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Albert Pujols
Nolan Ryan, Nolan Ryan, Roberto Clemente
Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Cal Ripkin, Jr.

Gold Standard
Ty Cobb, Willie Mays
Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle
Al Kaline, Andre Dawson

Classic Walk-Offs
Jim Thome, Magglio Ordonez
Rafael Furcal, Alfonso Soriano

Timeless Talents
Paul Molitor & Ryan Braun, Ernie Banks & Troy Tulowitzki
Don Mattingly & Eric Hosmer, Frank Robinson & Jose Bautista
Ryne Sandberg & Dan Uggla, Joe Morgan & Brandon Phillips

Golden Futures
Anthony Rizzo, Jeremy Hellickson, Freddie Freeman
Starlin Castro, Alexi Ogando, Arodys Vizcaino

Topps Golden Giveaway
Sandy Koufax, Ryan Braun
Roy Halladay, Albert Pujols
Ichiro, Matt Kemp

Home Run Legends Redemption Cards
Week 3, Week 8

Black Border Base Parallel
Reed Johnson #/61

Golden Moments Relic
Carlos Pena Game-Used Memorabilia

Overall Look
This year is a mixed bag for me.  Some cards I like, some I don't.  Base design is decent, but the backs of the cards have problems.  For hitters, walks appear with the abbreviation "W", an abbreviation normally reserved for wins, while on the pitcher's cards walks appears as the preferable "BB."  Another issue with the backs of a large number of hitter cards is "3B" appearing twice for both doubles and triples.  Standout inserts for me are the Golden Greats, Golden Futures and Timeless Talents with their increased photo size compared to last year's duos cards.  Anytime I can see faces I'm satisfied, which leads to the photo selection this year.  The base card selection seems a little off to me.  There seems to me to be a lot of faces that are turned, backs of players and odd angles that make it tough to figure out who's card you are looking at until you read the name.  While I like the idea behind the Classic Walk-Offs, the design and layout does not work for me.  The gold parallels looks muddy, as do the Golden Silks.  While I am normally a fan of mini cards, these minis just remind me of the numerous boxes of overproduced 1987 Topps that are taking up space in storage even though they are attractive.  

Quality and Variety of Players and Subsets.
Topps has gone a long way this year to secure some of the best legends of the game with the inclusion of Roberto Clemente, Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays added to the line up established last year of Sandy Koufax and Hank Aaron.  The legends included in the Golden Greats and Gold Standard cards are fantastic.  The base set is as complete as you could expect. 

Do the hits hold up?
A chance at autographs from Nolan Ryan, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron and Albert Pujols are enough to make anyone excited. The World Series Pins and Retired Rings cards are impressive, even more so than the Golden Moments relics and that seems to be the general consensus. Add to that the bonus incentives of the Golden Tickets, Wrapper Redemption Program and 14K Gold Cards and Series 1 is packed with hits, but you'll have to buy hobby boxes to get the best of them.

Will you want to collect them all?
Not sure about a master set this year, but a complete base set is a must.

4 out of 5

2012 Topps Baseball Series 1 continues to work well for both beginning and seasoned collectors.  Your Baseball collection is incomplete without them.

Review box provided by Topps


  1. Whatever happened to the guy who caught jeters 3,000th hit which was a home run topps said they'd do him a card thought it may be an sp in series one, maybe it'll be in a higher value product?

  2. Good recall Martyn. Perhaps Series 2 or maybe even Opening Day or the idea was just dropped.

  3. So the answer is, yes, his card will be in 2012 Topps Opening Day.