Friday, April 13, 2012

2012 Topps Heritage Baseball Box Break Recap And Review

Set builders rejoice, 2012 Topps Heritage Baseball is here.  This year’s release is based on the cards of 1963 Topps Baseball.   With some new parallels to chase and different configurations of relics to pull, there is a lot to collect here.  We've provided a complete visual checklist of this year's error cards as well as color swap, JFK story inserts and image swap cards. You can use the links provided to check them out.  Willie Mays and Ken Griffey, Jr. have been added to the autograph checklist but most will be busting boxes of Heritage for the set building.

This set falls under our classification of trading cards.  There are multiple retail configurations and hobby boxes so Heritage is accessible to all.   Again, no gum this year.  Hobby boxes come with 24-9 card packs and 1 Autograph or Relic per box

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

Base Set
 Albert Pujols, front and back

 Derek Jeter, Justin Verlander, Evan Longoria

 Don Mattingly, 2012 Rookie Stars, Joey Votto

Dustin Ackley, Veteran Masters Mariano Rivera & Joe Giradi, Brian Wilson

 Joe Mauer, NL Batting Leaders, Starlin Castro

 Ryan Howard, J.P. Arencibia, Matt Kemp

High Numbered SPs
 Jimmy Rollins, Omar Infante

 CC Sabathia, Josh Willingham, Shane Victorino

 Jonny Venters, Todd Helton, Brandon Belt

Chrome Parallels #/1963
 Gio Gonzalez, Jose Reyes, Miguel Cabrera

 New Age Performers Inserts
 Derek Jeter

New Flashbacks Inserts
 Martin Luther King, Jr., Penn Station

Baseball Flashbacks Inserts
 Early Winn, Willie Mays

Then & Now Inserts
 Eddie Mathews & Jose Bautista, Sandy Koufax & Clayton Kershaw

 Topps Stick-Ons Inserts
 Chris Carpenter, Mike Stanton, Evan Longoria

 Image Swap SPs
Josh Hamilton

1963 Advertising Panel
 Edwin Jackson, Blake DeWitt & Kendrys Morales

The Hit
Dan Haren Clubhouse Collection Memorabilia

Overall Look
The 1963 Topps Baseball design is attractive enough so this cards look really good.  The flashback and then & now inserts look great.  No to sure about the New Age Performers design, but it is a small part of the collection. The stickers are fun. The Clubhouse Collection relics are a little vanilla, but the Image Swap relics work well.  As usual, the on card autos look fantastic.

Quality and Variety of Players and Subsets.
500 base cards is a really good number so the checklists here are well done.  For a retro product, the Auto checklist is great.  

Do the hits hold up?
Aaron and Koufax On-Card autos return.  Add to that Willie Mays and fan favorites like Willie McCovey, Minnie Minosa and Orlando Cepeda. Coin cards add some great variety to the mix. 

Will you want to collect them all?
As usual, Heritage is the premiere release for set builders.   With 75 high numbered SPs to acquire, just building the base set is a challenge.  But collectors are happy to take this project on.  Based on the 1963 release of Topps Baseball, this year’s Heritage didn't have nearly as many anomalies and printing errors as were found in last year's 1962 based set so Topps added the swap cards, color and image which starts to make putting together a master set quite daunting.  

4 1/2 out of 5

2012 Topps Heritage Baseball maintains its place as in the upper echelon of set building for Baseball Card collectors.

Review box provided by Topps

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