Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014 Topps Tribute Baseball Box Break Recap And Review

The secret to good years for Topps Tribute can be found in the checklist.  But it's not just the presence of the biggest names in the sport, but the ratio to which they appear in comparison to other lesser players.  For 2014 Topps Tribute Baseball the checklist is deep and wide but the ratios are a little unbalanced.  All of this means the possibility exists of pulling a huge hit but the probability of doing so is not that good.  But if you are going to hit it big, Tribute has some great cards to pull.

To help with those odds somewhat, Topps has shifted to the longtime configuration from 3 autos and 3 relics to 4 autos and 2 relics for most boxes.  Another shift that probably wont concern many hit seekers but will be an issue for set builders and rainbow collectors is the longtime standard 5 cards per pack being decreased to 3 cards per pack.  Clearly that also decreases the number of base sets that can be built with this product and drastically reduces that number of color parallels.  In total, we pulled just one color parallel in our entire hobby box.

Another issue that will bother some, especially those who tend to collect a wide range of Topps products each year, is the obvious repeated use of player images.  While some have argued that retired players have a limited number of images that can be used, one has to wonder why the image used for Prince Fielder’s relic card
is the same image that was used on all of the 2013 Topps Baseball Series 1 packaging.
The image is so recognizable for seasoned collectors so it is surprising that it was used here, especially since it was just used in Five Star.
For collectors who focus their purchases to a few items a year, this probably will go unnoticed but for the avid collector, since the player image can be up to 80% of the card design, it does start to feel like you are chasing the same cards from release to release.

A final issue is one that I hope is isolated to the specific card we pulled.  It is with the Prime Patches card from our box that is clearly marked beyond as containing a game worn patch.  
Ours was a single color white swatch clearly from the bulk material of the uniform as indicated by the breathing holes, without any signs of a patch to be found.  This not only is a disappointment but will bring into question for any collector that seeks to trade for or buy the card whether the swatch has been tampered with or replaced.

2014 Topps Tribute Baseball fits into our Premium Cards category.  This Hobby Exclusive comes with 6 packs per box, 3 cards per pack and 1 autographed card or relic card numbered to 99 or less in every pack.  Collectors should expect 4 Autographs and 2 Relics per box.

Here are the cards we pulled from our box.

Base Set

Justin Verlander, front and back, Matt Cain 
Carlton Fisk, Babe Ruth, Frank Robinson 
 Jayson Werth, Juan Marichal, Andre Dawson
 Mike Zunino, Randy Johnson, Adrian Beltre

Base Color Paralleles
 Buster Posey Gold #/25

The Hits
Chris Sale Tribute Titans relic #/50
Yasiel Puig Prime Patches relic #/24, Wilin Rosario Tribute to the Pastime auto #/99
Julio Teheran auto #/99, Paul Goldschmidt blue auto #/50  

Evan Gattis Tribute Traditions red auto #/5

Overall Look
The base cards are great looking again this year and look even better in their numbered color parallel versions. Some of the hit cards look sharp, some seem very busy.  I’m still trying to understand the Tribute Traditions design which seems to have an old timey photo that sometimes correlates to the featured player, other times not so much.  As mentioned before, the reuse of photos from other releases (in many cases directly from the current Five Star release) is not an issue specific to this release if taken on its own, but could be a problem for collectors with a varied collection.

Quality and Variety of Players
Once again there are some truly monster hits to be had, especially with the Onyx 1/1s and bat knobs & plates, but there is a large percentage of good but not spectacular hits.

Do the hits satisfy?
Some will get lucky and pull a fabulous card from their box.  Others will not, but for the most part the hits satisfy.  Some collectors will scratch their head when the redemption they pull is for a relic card, maybe even more for a Mystery redemption.

Will you keep coming back for more?
This is an even tougher question than in years past.  It really becomes a judgment call based on your budget.  Secondary market finds should be readily available with Tribute.

3 out of 5

2014 Topps Tribute Baseball is a mixed bag this year that blurs the line between other releases.  But if this is the only high end Baseball product you plan to purchase this year, Tribute is close to what you would expect.

Review box provided by Topps


  1. Is this part of the "added value" we get with exclusives?

  2. That "patch" would inspire me to write a letter.