Friday, April 29, 2011

2011 Topps Tribute Baseball Cards. An All About Cards Review

It is challenging to remain objective when writing a review.  It’s even more difficult when reviewing a high end product because it is based on seeing a small example of a larger set.  This challenge gets really difficult when your review includes a box that turns out to be on the extreme side, either really big hits or a terrible break.  

For those of you that saw our break of 2011 Topps Tribute Baseball, (use this link to see the video) you know the box we opened was amazing. So how does one remain objective? 

We pulled a Hank Aaron Triple Relic Auto – one of the best hits of the release.   But what were the chances of that happening for anyone?  Let’s look at the numbers to try and come up with the odds. (PLEASE KEEP IN MIND – These are not Topps official numbers, this is my deductive reasoning and I think it is accurate.)

Base cards for this set are paralleled in Blue to 199, Green to 75, Gold to 50, Black to 10 and a single Red 1/1.  (There are printing plates but even packs that contain those include a parallel card.)  So the total number of parallel cards per player is 335.   There are 100 base player cards so the total amount of parallel cards for the run is 33,500.  Since each pack contains one parallel card, at most, there can be 33,500 packs made for this release.

Hank Aaron’s autograph is on one card, the triple relic auto.  That card come in base to 99, Green to 75, Gold to 20, Black to 5 and there is one Red 1/1 version for a total of 200 Hank Aaron auto cards.

33,500 packs divided by 200 cards equals 167.5 so lets round up and say there is an Aaron auto in every 168 packs.  Not bad odds.   Now consider that these packs are hobby exclusive so they only come in boxes of 6 packs.   So an Aaron auto will be in 1 out of every 28 boxes.  

Now if you were just chasing the Aaron auto even those great odds might not be enough.   But all you have to do is look at some of the names on the checklist of autos.  Ryan Howard, Josh Hamilton, Dave Winfield, Cal Ripkin Jr., Carl Yastzremski, Al Kaline, Tony Gwynn, Juan Marichal, Ryan Braun, Ernie Banks, Buster Posey, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Whitey Ford, Willie McCovey, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Nolan Ryan, Albert Pujols, Ozzie Smith, Alex Rodriguez and Tom Seaver.  All of these players should be at the same odds if not better because some appear on multiple versions.

And let’s not forget the man on the box, Sandy Koufax.

That’s just autographs.   Relics from Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson and a host of others just sweeten the deal.   The image of fish in a barrel comes to mind. 

Will there be boxes of Tribute that are not full of great pulls?  Of course.  But even with that possibility, throw in a great looking base set, nicely redesigned look for the hits and all of this makes it easy to say 2011 Topps Tribute Baseball could be one of the best products of the year.

We classify 2011 Topps Tribute Baseball as premium cards.  Each hobby exclusive box contains 6 – 5 card packs with a promise of one relic or autographed relic card numbered to 99 or less in every pack.

Let's take a look at the cards we pulled from the box.

First from the base set

 Jackie Robinson base card, front and back

  Sandy Koufax base card, front and back

  Alex Rodriguez base card, front and back

From the inserts
 Jim Palmer and Brooks Robinson in blue #/199

 Justin Morneau and Troy Tulowitzki in blue #/199

Josh Hamilton in green #/75

 Bob Gibson in gold #/50

Our hits

 Derek Jeter Quad Relic in green #/75

 Phil Rizzuto Dual Relic #99

 Cal Ripkin Jr. Dual Relic in black #/5

 Duke Snider Auto Relic #/99

 Mike Mussina Auto Relic in green #/75

 Hank Aaron Triple Relic Auto in gold #/20

Overall Look
Last year’s Tribute looked good, but with some small tweaks, the 2011 cards look great.   Bringing out the background more is a great move and makes these cards look sharp. The font selection, layout and gold foiling are all solid and extremely attractive, both front and back.  The subtle shaping of the relic areas is really nice.  The change in sticker styling also works.  The Mike Mussina auto card is a prime example of just how good a sticker auto card can look. 

Quality and Variety of Players
As mentioned above, this is one of the best checklists to date.

Do the hits satisfy?  Are the cards too base heavy?
The vast majority of hits are extremely desirable and if you wind up with a great box like we did, well... it can be a tremendous thrill.  This is one of the few Premium Card base sets enticing enough to want to collect them all.

Will you keep coming back for more?
If you can get your hands on another box, you bet.   Right now demand is out pacing supply.

 5 out of 5

No doubt 2011 Topps Tribute Baseball will be considered one of the best card releases of the year.

Review box provided by Topps

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