Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 Topps Tribute Baseball Box Break Recap And Review

Topps has made quite a few changes to Tribute this year.  While they have made huge strides towards delivering a better product, the chances of pulling something really good have been decreased in comparison to the 2011 release.  This might account for why 2011 Tribute still commands several hundred dollars over the suggested retail price while 2012 Tribute can be found at or below MSRP.  It really is a shame.  Using last year's checklist with this year's improvements could have made for an incredible set of cards.

2012 Topps Tribute Baseball fits into our Premium Cards category.  This Hobby Exclusive comes with 6 packs per box, 5 cards per pack and 1 autographed card or relic card numbered to 99 or less in every pack.  Collectors should expect 3 Autographs and 3 Relics per box.

Here are some of the cards we pulled from our box.

Base Set
 Sandy Koufax, front and back, Babe Ruth

 Harmon Killebrew, Dustin Pedroia, Prince Fielder

 Nolan Ryan, Miguel Cabrera, Tom Seaver

 Reggie Jackson, Roger Maris, Andre Dawson

 Base Set Parallels
 Roy Halladay Blue #/199, Ralph Kiner Green #/75, Lance Berkman Green #/75

 Paul Molitor Black #/60, Carlos Gonzalez Black #/60, Alert Belle Gold #/25

The Hits
 Mickey Mantle Retired Reminants Gold #15, Carlos Gonzalez Tribute To The Stars Gold Relic #/25

 Josh Hamilton Superstar Swatches #/99, Ryan Zimmerman Auto #/99

 Jon Jay Blue Auto #/50, Dee Gordon Gold Auto #/15

Overall Look
The base cards are great looking this year and look even better in their numbered color versions.  The relic cards are a departure from previous year's designs which works very well.  Short of a few Auto/Relics, Topps has gone to all on-card Autographs with bold signatures on nicely designed cards.  The encasing of the hits adds to the premium quality feel.

Quality and Variety of Players
Here is where the serious change has occurred which accounts for a large reason this year's release does not match last year's release, even with the great design improvements. Last year the checklist was held to a short list of desirable autographs.  This year you will see names that belong more in a prospecting product. In previous years, all the base autographs appeared at the same insertion rate.  This year, the highly desirable autographs are limited to under 50.  Last year there were some occasions that a player would appear on two different versions of autograph cards.  This year you will find instances like Nathan Eovaldi who has three variations, or Mark Trumbo who has four variations.  All of this adds to a decrease in the odds of pulling a desirable autograph.

Do the hits satisfy? 
Some will get lucky and pull a fabulous card from their box.  The Sandy Koufax, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Hank Aaron exchange on-card autographs are fantastic.  I would imagine the Willie Mays and Ken Griffey, Jr. autos are just as good but I haven't seen them yet because they are redemptions.  But I must say, it is difficult when the big hit of the box, in my case that would be the Mickey Mantle Retired Remnants Relic, says "The relic contained in this card is not from any specific game event or season."  While it says "game-used memorabilia" I have no idea whether it is a swatch of wood from one of Mantle's bats, a bench, a wooden foul pole, an outfield fence or whatever pieces of wood that might have been used during a game.  I would like to think it is a piece of Mantle's bat, but nothing tells me that definitively and it seems, even from a legal standpoint, that it should be easy enough to identify the swatch as a bat on the card if that is the case.

Will you keep coming back for more?
This is a tough one.  The base set is nice enough that collectors will want to complete the series.  For hits, there are some incredible cards to be pulled.  Head to Sports Card Radio using this link and take a look at the checklist to see if there is enough for you to pull instead of searching aftermarket for your favorite players.

4 out of 5

2012 Topps Tribute Baseball takes so many steps in the right direction, it is a shame that the change in the checklist configuration increases the risk versus reward ratio.

Review box provided by Topps


  1. The Gordon and Zim are beauts! And nice pull on the Mick!

  2. Love the on-card autographs... although I'd probably free them from their holders.

    Dislike the fact that Topps hasn't listened to their customers and added a better description on their relic cards.