Pleasure and Pain (A Review of 2020 Topps Series 1)

2020 Topps Series 1 Jumbo Box - Side view

It took a couple of weeks but I’ve finally got this review done. I actually got myself a Jumbo box of 2020 Series 1 on the day the product was officially released (Wednesday February 5). Busting this box was both awesome and disappointing, mostly because this happened:

The Pleasure: 2020 Topps Reverence Autograph Patch #TRAP-NA #'d 8/10
The Pleasure: 2020 Topps Reverence Autograph Patch #TRAP-NA #'d 8/10
The Pain: Damaged 2020 Topps Series 1 base cards in the middle of a freshly opened jumbo pack
The Pain: Damaged 2020 Topps Series 1 base cards in the middle of a freshly opened jumbo pack

So yeah, upon opening the first pack, I was not happy to see that a bunch of cards near the middle were damaged, apparently during the manufacturing/packing process. What’s worse is that every pack in the box had similar damage. The somewhat good news is that none of the insert cards had this damage. It was the horizontal base cards that had been damaged. In total, there were 57 cards in the box that had been damaged in this manner. A few of the vertical base cards had bent corners too but not as bad as these.

More damaged 2020 Topps Series 1 cards
More damaged 2020 Topps Series 1 cards in the middle of a jumbo pack
All of the damaged horizontal base cards from one jumbo box
All of the damaged horizontal base cards from one jumbo box

So this box did not have a promising start but it got much better. I am thoroughly impressed by the photography of this set.

Compelling catcher cards--very nice job Topps!
Compelling catcher cards--very nice job Topps!

I would have loved to have shown the Austin Barnes (Dodger catcher) card with the catchers pictured above but it was one of the horizontal damaged cards. That card appears to show Austin pursuing a runner in a rundown between third base and home at the Giants’ home park (not sure what they’re calling it this year).

Fascinating fielding cards--have the Blue Jays started their own "Bo Knows" campaign yet?
Fascinating fielding cards--have the Blue Jays started their own "Bo Knows" campaign yet?

I’m really glad to see that Topps flagship has stepped up it’s photography game. The images look much less processed and artificial compared to last year’s images. As I wrote last year, the 2019 photos “slightly resemble a screenshot from a video game or an outtake from the movie “300” “. This year’s photos may still look a bit “processed” but they are a significant improvement over last year. Shot selection is dynamite, too. Plus you gotta love how a bit of the player image overlaps the graphic design on some cards (such as the Bo Bichette card above on the top left).

Outstanding outfielder shots--oh wow!
Outstanding outfielder shots--oh wow!

Of course, not every base card is as spectacular as the cards I’m showing here. But there are plenty.

Bodacious batting cards--Alert! It's a Rangers base card sighting!
Bodacious batting cards--Alert! It's a Rangers base card sighting!

Did you happen to catch any of Topps’ Million Card Rip Party? I watched a good portion of it and one of their spokespersons explained why there was only one Rangers base card in Series 1. She revealed that they wanted to produce the Series 2 Rangers base cards featuring the new Globe Life Field logo. I’m pretty sure it will be one of these:

Meanwhile, the Rangers did announce that the logo on the right will be worn on the right sleeve of the Rangers uniform throughout the 2020 season.

Getting back to the cards…

A buschel of base cards featuring base running--it's like a smorgasboard of emotion.
A buschel of base cards featuring base running--it's like a smorgasboard of emotion.

Some other Series 1 reviewers have remarked how the design of this set reminds them of Bowman cards. Personally, I don’t purchase/collect Bowman or even pay any attention to Bowman product. Bowman is just not in the scope of my collecting pursuits. So whenever I look at the new design here, I don’t think/see Bowman. In that regard, I think the design is good but could’ve been much better. The parallelogram graphics containing the name and team logo should have been placed horizontally at the top or bottom of the image. Same goes for the horizontal cards. It’s a bit incongruent and just weird to have the name plate turned 90 degrees from the team logo. The very small size of the players’ position designation just adds to the frustration.

Hunky-dory horizontal cards--can you spot the Tattooine card?
Hunky-dory horizontal cards--can you spot the Tattooine card?

So when we put these cards in a binder, the horizontal cards will have the name upside down (unless you don’t mind the horizontal card backs aligned in the opposite direction of the vertical card backs). That’s another pain. Other than that, I do like the parallogram design elements a lot. I also like that some of it is semitransparent. Overall, I have mixed feelings about this design.

2020 Topps Series 1 Dodgers with a couple of rainbow foil parallels
2020 Topps Series 1 Dodgers with a couple of rainbow foil parallels

Pardon me while I indulge in showing off the Dodger cards. The rainbow foil cards of the last couple of years look extra good for some reason. I use these and other parallels to fill out the set binder pages (team-sorted of course).

More 2020 Topps Series 1 Dodgers including insert cards
More 2020 Topps Series 1 Dodgers including insert cards

I was totally amazed to pull a premium auto/relic from this box. This Topps Reverence card is gorgeous. Here’s a closer look at it:

2020 Topps Reverence Autograph Patch #TRAP-NA #'d 8/10
2020 Topps Reverence Autograph Patch #TRAP-NA #'d 8/10
The back of 2020 Topps Reverence Autograph Patch #TRAP-NA #'d 8/10

It would’ve been cooler if I had gotten the Clayton Kershaw version of this card but this one is still a keeper. And then this box also yielded a Platinum parallel 1/1.

2020 Topps #185 Johnny Cueto Platinum parallel 1/1
2020 Topps #185 Johnny Cueto Platinum parallel 1/1
Back of 2020 Topps #185 Johnny Cueto Platinum parallel

If it weren’t for the “1/1” stamped on the back of the card, I still wouldn’t be sure that it is really a Platinum parallel. It just doesn’t look like a special card that really grabs your attention, much like the card backs.

Speaking of the card backs, the parallogram graphic looks good but lacks the color of the one on the front. I do like that Topps includes “SERIES ONE” just above the card number. However, more improvement can be made if the variation cards were to say “SHORT PRINT” or “SUPER SHORT PRINT” by the card number, much like Topps Heritage now say “ACTION” or “ERROR” under the card number. Those CMP codes at the bottom of the card just put too much strain on the eyes, especially with that gray background.

Let’s talk about more insert cards, shall we?

35th Anniversary 1985 Topps
35th Anniversary 1985 Topps

These 1985 Topps 35th Anniversary cards are not bad. I was never a big fan of the 1985 design but the quality photography really helps this design look more attractive. Seeing this design with a blue border and other border colors is also very nice. These inserts are the most plentiful (11 total in my 10 jumbo packs) but there’s 100 to collect of these just in Series 1. Expect another 100 more in Series 2.

More 2010 Topps Series 1 insert cards
More 2010 Topps Series 1 insert cards

It’s not obvious to me but the die-cut insert cards are the “Decade of Dominance” insert set. Die-cut cards are always cool with me. They are definitely different from regular insert cards. There’s only 20 of these cards in this Series 1 set but they are tough pulls.

Next we have one of the more unpopular Topps insert sets around. These Topps Now Review 2019  inserts are basically pictures of cards. These cards are perceived by most as little more than advertisements for Topps NOW cards. Topps NOW cards seem to be very popular among some collectors but not with me. Player/team collectors may find these indispensable–or not. I love insert sets but I won’t be collecting this one.

2010 Topps Series 1 Decades Best insert cards
2010 Topps Series 1 Decades Best insert cards

Here we have one of the more attractive inserts Topps has produced for it’s flagship product. Excellent shot selection, photography, theme and graphics add up to a perfect insert card set. Except for Decades Best card #DB-24. As I wrote in a recent blog post (February 2nd):

…This card (most likely numbered DB-24) shows Sandy Koufax and more Dodgers celebrating their 1963 World Series-clinching victory against the New York Yankees. This is great except for the fact the Dodgers don’t wear RED numbers on their backs.

So far I have not pulled this card as of this writing but it could very well be my favorite card of the year if the photo had been colorized properly (the original photo was black and white).

This is also a 100-card insert set which will be very difficult for me to complete but I’m going for it. This insert set will also be continued in Series 2. Topps knows they’ve got a great insert set here because they will be including one 2-pack of Decades Best Chrome as a boxloader in Series 2 jumbo boxes. I can’t wait to see those.

2020 Topps Decades' Best #DB-24
2020 Topps Decades' Best #DB-24
More 2020 Topps Series 1 goodness
More 2020 Topps Series 1 goodness

As you can see above, I got three of the gold parallel cards and two of them were of Jason Kipnis (serial #’d 1353 and 1354 out of 2020). I don’t really mind this. I’m sure I could trade one of them away for another insert card I need. And in case you didn’t notice, the “gold” in these cards is actually closer to brown than gold.

The manu-relic from this box is a Jumbo Jersey Sleeve Patch featuring Rafael Devers. For a manu-relic these look pretty decent. Don’t think these patches were actually worn on any ballplayer’s sleeve.

The Home Run Challenge card design is rather unconventional in that the lower 40% of the player image is obscured by the HRC logo, the namplate, an orange stripe and the words “HOME RUN CHALLENGE”. And what’s up with the background design? I’m not sure what Topps was trying to achieve there. Still, it’s not going to stop me from collecting these cards and guessing what game George Springer will hit a home run. I did this last year with only two cards and won a special Gary Sanchez HRC card. I may have to show that card on the blog some day.

Still more 2020 Topps Series 1 goodness (with an extra peek at the Cueto 1/1)
Still more 2020 Topps Series 1 goodness (with an extra peek at the Cueto 1/1)

The Decades Next insert card design does not resemble the Decades Best design and that’s okay. These cards use a horizontal format and look alright. But I’d rather not have the gold half of the “2020” be layered on top of the player. And why couldn’t the gold parallels use that gold gradient used in the “2020”?

That Major League Materials card of Ozzie Albies is real cool, mainly because the swatch color matches the jersey color in the picture. It’s not evident in the card scan but the right side of the card and the player are glossy while the player background is a matte finish. It looks terrific in hand.

Gold foil parallels from 2020 Topps Series 1
Gold foil parallels from 2020 Topps Series 1

Here’s something new for 2020. Here we have gold foil parallels of the base card. The scans of the regular rainbow foil and gold foil cards don’t do them justice. These very, very attractive cards. Topps knows us collectors love colorful and shiny!

Despite getting a bunch of damaged base cards, I’m still pretty happy with this box. My luck is never this good. I feel like I got somebody else’s box. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s my best box break ever. But wait, there’s more!

2020 Topps - Silver Pack 1985 Topps Chrome Baseball
2020 Topps - Silver Pack 1985 Topps Chrome Baseball

Jumbo boxes include two 4-packs of Silver Pack 1985 Chrome cards and one of those packs had a Mike Trout gold parallel #’d 34/50. In hand, this is an awesomely beautiful card. The Turkey Red 2020 Box Topper (oversized) card is also pretty cool:

2020 Topps Silver Pack 1985 Topps Chrome #OTR-28
2020 Topps Silver Pack 1985 Topps Chrome #OTR-28

Overall there’s many things to like about 2020 Series 1 and a few things that could have been improved on. I’ve read virtually all of the other reviews and the majority of them give this product a thumbs up with some reservations. In case you want to read more reviews and pack/box breaks, here you go:

Date
Website
Article Title
2/5/2020Blowout CardsBuzz Break: 2020 Topps Series 1 baseball cards (hobby box)
2/6/2020Collector’s Crack2020 Topps Series 1 – First Taste
2/6/2020the cardboard review.2020 Topps Baseball Series One Review
2/7/2020Base Set CallingIt was hard, and I largely failed
2/7/2020Blowout CardsBuzz Break: 2020 Topps Series 1 baseball cards (blaster box)
2/7/2020Cardboard GreatsThe Start of Something New
2/7/2020Night Owl CardsSatisfactory
2/8/2020cards as I see them2020 finally arrived
2/8/2020Mint ConditionTwo Blasters of 2020 Topps Series 1
2/8/2020Sports Card Info(3) 2020 Topps Series 1 Baseball Jumbo Pack Break
2/8/2020The Phillies RoomThe First Phillie of 2020: A 10-Year Low
2/8/2020Wax Pack Hero2020 Topps Series 1 Set Review and Checklist
2/9/2020Blowout CardsBuzz Break: 2020 Topps Series 1 baseball cards (hanger box)
2/9/2020Dodger Cardboard & Other Random Finds1st encounter with 2020 Topps
2/9/2020The Lost CollectorA positive Series One experience
2/9/2020The Collective MindHoping Bigger Is Better
2/10/2020Cards on Cards133 Card Rip Party
2/10/2020Diamond JestersFirst Impressions – 2020 Topps Series 1
2/10/2020Dime Boxes–The Low-End Baseball Card Collector’s JourneyCertainties
2/10/2020Wrigley WaxMy First Topps 2020 Cards
2/11/2020Blowout CardsBuzz Break: 2020 Topps Series 1 baseball cards (blaster box)
2/11/2020Bravestarr CardsBreaking Blaster: 2020 Topps Series 1
2/11/2020Sports Card Info2020 Topps Series 1 Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review
2/11/2020Sports Card CollectorsCARDBOARD REVIEW:2020 Topps Series 1 Baseball 
2/12/2020All Cardinals All The TimeSaid I Would Not, But Did Anyway
2/12/2020Base Card HeroFinally, 2020 Topps Series 1
2/12/2020Wrigley WaxMy First 2020 Topps Cubs Cards
2/13/2020Cardboard Collections30 Year Collecting Anniversary / Box Break: 2020 Topps
2/13/2020Four Baggers and Foreclosures2020 Topps Series 1 Hobby Jumbo Box Break (Sorta…)
2/13/2020Section 362020 Topps Series 1 Blaster!
2/13/2020Wrigley WaxA Couple More 2020 Topps Cubs
2/14/2020Nothing If Not Random2020 Topps Baseball Blaster
2/14/2020Wrigley Roster JengaThe Monkey’s Out of the Bottle
2/15/2020LV’s TTM autographs and Baseball Cards2020 Topps
2/15/2020Cardboard GreatsA 3-Blaster Series 1 Recap Part #1

2/17/2020

2/21/2020

Cardboard Greats

Sportscards from the Dollar Store

The Series 1 Highlights

Late to the Series 1 Party

Topps does have a customer service phone number that some customers have used to replace damaged product so I think I might do that. In any case, this box gave me more pleasure than pain so I give 2020 Topps Series 1 an 8.3 out of 10.  Stay tuned…

Something (from A Cracked Bat)

Mail day from A Cracked Bat
Mail Day from A Cracked Bat
Mail Day from A Cracked Bat

Happy Valentine’s Day! Last month, hobby blogger extraordinaire Julie of A Cracked Bat posted a boatload of images of baseball cards that she was offering up free for the asking (limited to nine cards per person). So I went ahead and took her up on her offer. Julie also surprised me with a couple of cards from my 2018 Topps Heritage want list.

2019 Topps Rainbow Foil #15 and #614, 2019 Topps Heritage Now And Then NT-6 (Trevor Bauer)
2019 Topps Rainbow Foil #15 and #614, 2019 Topps Heritage Now And Then NT-6 (Trevor Bauer)
2017 Topps Update Untouchables #U-11, 2003 Topps Own the Game #JOG-3 and 2018 Topps Archives #268
2017 Topps Update Untouchables #U-11, 2003 Topps Own the Game #JOG-3 and 2018 Topps Archives #268
2000 Topps Hank Aaron Reprints #1 and 1997 Topps Willie Mays Reprints #13
2000 Topps Hank Aaron Reprints #1 and 1997 Topps Willie Mays Reprints #13

I love collecting the Hank Aaron and Willie Mays reprint cards. I think I have about half of each set. I really need to inventory them and put them in binders along with the main 1997 and 2000 Topps sets.

2018 Topps Heritage #427 & #488 & NAP-1
2018 Topps Heritage #427 & #488 & NAP-1

The two left-most 2018 Topps Heritage cards above (V-Mart and Jake Marisnick) were the two want list cards that Julie sent—so thoughtful! Those two cards are short prints and I now need less than 50 short prints to complete that portion of the set.

That reminds me, I still need to get together a trade list and want list for my 2018 Topps High Number cards. And then I gotta make room for 2020 Topps Heritage while still working on completing 2019 Topps Heritage. It’s always something

Don’t Get Me Wrong (Topps)

2020 Topps (cropped screenshot)

(Edited 2/13/2020) If you’re like me, you can’t wait for Topps Series 1 to be released. (In case you didn’t know, Topps Series 1 official release date is Wednesday February 5th.) Besides opening up the packs and beginning the process of building the set, I also enjoy reading reviews of this product. Past reviews have always been very informative and bring to light some errors/variations/peculiarities in these cards. In fact, there already seems to be a pretty major mistake in the Series 1 checklist. Tthe Twitterverse and hobby blogosphere (see Night Owl’s The lone Ranger post) have already noted that the 2020 Topps Series 1 checklist has only one Rangers base card in it. I’m pretty sure Rangers fans are not happy about that. The case breakers and some of their customers probably aren’t happy about it either.

2020 Topps Decades' Best #DB-24
2020 Topps Decades' Best #DB-24

Moving along, here we have an image of one of the yet-to-be- now-released Series 1 Decades Best insert cards. Is it just me or is there another Topps goof in this card image? This card (most likely numbered DB-24) shows Sandy Koufax and more Dodgers celebrating their 1963 World Series-clinching victory against the New York Yankees. This is great except for the fact the Dodgers don’t wear RED numbers on their backs.

I obtained this image from a screenshot of a Topps video called “Breaking 101: How to Join a Group Break“. The video promotes joining the Series 1 case breaks at the Topps Million Card Rip Party (held at Dallas’ AT&T Stadium on Tuesday February 4th). The card appears in the 85-second video at about the 1:03 mark.

Here’s the original black-and-white photo from Getty Images:

From Getty Images (Original Caption) 10/6/1963-Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax is mobbed by his teammates, after winning the fourth straight World Series game against the New York Yankees.
From Getty Images (Original Caption) 10/6/1963-Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax is mobbed by his teammates, after winning the fourth straight World Series game against the New York Yankees.

Back in 1964, Topps did it right. The 1964 Topps World Series Summary card #140 photo may be a little fuzzy but there doesn’t appear to be any glaring errors here. Sandy Koufax is being mobbed by teammates wearing blue numbers on their backs–as he should be.

1964 Topps #140
1964 Topps #140

From the few mockups I’ve seen so far, the Decades Best insert cards look very attractive. I’m really looking forward to trying to complete the Series 1 100-card insert set. Of course this insert set will be continued in Series 2, most likely with an additional 100 cards. Series 2 jumbo boxes will even include 2-card packs of chrome versions of Decades Best as a boxloader.

2020 Topps Decades Best Willie Mays
2020 Topps Decades Best Willie Mays
2020 Topps Decades Best Ken Griffey Jr.
2020 Topps Decades Best Ken Griffey Jr.

The 2020 Topps Series 1 checklist lists two Decades Best cards featuring the Dodgers. Will the second card , numbered DB-85, have a similar error? I doubt it. I expect it will use a photo that was originally in color and not need to be colorized.

But how about Series 2? Will there be a similar error card? If so, will it be a Dodgers card or another team? Or will Topps have the time and resources to find and correct a similar error? If we’re lucky, there will not be an error card in Series 2. If we’re even luckier, the actual Series 1 Decades Best 1960s Dodgers card will be flawless and only the mockup will be flawed. Will we also see more Rangers base cards than any other team in Series 2?

For now we will wait and see. As Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders sings it,

It might just be fantastic
Don’t get me wrong

Stay tuned…