Topps tweeked Finest Football in 2011, refining the look and content to bring it to a higher level, greatly improving on the set and making it worthy of the “Finest” label. For 2012 Topps Finest Football, design and checklist elements have been changed again, bringing a different look and feel tothese cards and changing the way collectors obtain hits, but this time it is a bit of a step backwards. Perhaps Topps should have left well enough alone.
Last year autograph cards for the top draft picks were scarce in comparison to the other rookie signers. While Cam Newton and A. J. Green only appeared on around 325 total autograph cards each. This year’s hot rookies Andrew Luck and RG3 are even scarcer with about 250 total autograph cards each. While we would all like to pull one of these cards, there is something to be said for keeping the numbers low, giving them a healthy chance to retain their value. So I would not have a problem with this if the ratio of monster hits to regular hits were close to being the same as last year. Unfortunately this is not the case.
In 2011 there wasn’t a single autograph card that exceeded 599 in numbering. In 2012 there are plenty of autograph cards that are numbered to 1,353 and above. In 2011 one of the players to sign the most was Taiwan Jones, who had about 1,650 total autograph cards, so, on average, for every 1 Cam Newton autograph that was pulled, about 5 Taiwan Jones autos were pulled. In 2012 one of the players to sign the most is Ryan Broyles, who has about 3,610 total autograph cards, so, on average, for every 1 Andrew Luck autograph that is pulled, about 14 Ryan Broyles autos will be pulled, an increase of close to 3 times the amount of last year.
There were also two problems with the particular box I opened for this review. One was a considerable amount of a powdery residue on my cards. Besides being unpleasant, some of that residue was not very fine and seemed to scratch the sensitive foil surface of the cards. Two was the collation of the base rookies. With an average of 1 per pack, I received doubles of Greg Childs, Michael Egnew and Tommy Streeter. I don’t usually bother bringing this up because even with today’s sophisticated sorting, it is still a mathematical possibility. In addition, no one is going to complain if their doubles are Luck, Griffin and Blackmon. But when you only get 12 rookies from a master box, proper collation is a must. Still, I am not sure if these problems are a common occurrence throughout the production run.
In the end, I still like Finest Football on the whole, but these issues of scratched cards and hit ratios come into play as more and more collectors are getting cards graded and group box breaks become more prevalent and drive sales up. And in general, if I am just breaking boxes for myself, while I expect the higher end cards to be more scarce, I would like a more even distribution of the other hit cards thereby spreading the prospecting risk and increasing my chances of pulling a sleeper rookie who will later emerge as a star.
Finest Football falls under our classification of premium cards. Hobby exclusive master boxes contain 2 mini boxes, with each mini containing 6 - 5 card packs. Each master box contains 1 Autographed Rookie Patch Card and 1 Autographed Jumbo Relic Card.
Here are some of the cards we pulled.
Marshawn Lynch, front and back
Calvin Johnson, Cam Newton, Darren McFadden
Jason Pierre-Paul. Jason Witten, Jimmy Graham
Kenny Britt, Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning
Rob Gronkowski, Russell Wilson, Troy Polamalu
Sam Bradford Finest Moments, Steve Smith Finest Moments
Lamar Miller and Ronnie Hillman Finest Atomic Rookies Diecuts,
Andrew Luck Base Refractor, Kirk Cousins Base Refractor
Carson Palmer Base Refractor, Michael Vick Base Refractor
Mark Sanchez Prism Refractor, Kendall Wright Prism Refractor
Ryan Tannehill Gold Refractor #/50
Ryan Broyles Autographed Jumbo Relic #/1500
Chris Givens Autographed Rookie Patch #/1353
While I like the design of last year’s cards better, these cards are still smart looking if you can keep them in pristine shape. The design is a little more sophisticated and somewhat less whimsical. Unnumbered Prism Refractors replace last year’s numbered xfractors. While I like prism look, it would be nice to have these numbered too. Diecuts excel this year, both the Finest Atomic Rookies and the limited Lucky Cuts.
Quality and Variety of Players
The checklist has been extended to 150 base cards this year, which borders on being too much. Luckily that increase appears to be from the addition of veteran players. While the quality is there, the previously mentioned ratios are the problematic issue.
Do the Hits satisfy?
The on-card Rookie refractors are great as are the paralleled tiers of other hit cards. Once again, the ratio of prime hits comes into play.
Will you keep coming back for more?
This is still a fun break so grabbing a box or two of Finest is a good proposition for most. For collectors taking a more conservative approach, using the secondary market to pick up PCs is the more likely scenario.
3 1/2 out of 5
2012 Topps Finest Football falters a bit this year. Hopefully things will turn back around next year.