Cardpocalypse Like Sugar

Sweet! Tim from Cardpocalypse held some weekly Cardpocalypse contests during the month of May and I won a very nice relic card from his last “Anything Goes” contest. Tim also sent a dozen way cool Topps inserts that went a long way towards satisfying my craving for Topps flagship inserts. I’ll show the insert cards first and save the dessert (relic card) for last. First up is a couple of nice 2018 Topps inserts.

2018 Topps Salute #TS-22, 2018 Topps 1983 Topps #83-82
2018 Topps Salute #TS-22, 2018 Topps 1983 Topps #83-82
2020 Topps Decades' Best #DB-3, #DB-8, #DB-34, #DB-40
2020 Topps Decades' Best #DB-3, #DB-8, #DB-34, #DB-40

Here are four cards from one of the best insert card designs Topps has put out in recent years. The photos are fairly fresh (to me at least) but maybe a little bit overprocessed. This design is really eye-catching and works well in the overall borderless design.

But as much as I like this Decades’ Best insert set, something still looks off to me. It’s not readily apparent on the Fergie Jenkins card but if you look closely at the other three cards, you can see a dark gray drop shadow imposed just to the left of the player’s body. That is a little bit disconcerting to me but not a dealbreaker. Perhaps some may think it enhances the photo’s impact but I think it’s unnecessary and takes away slightly from the essence of the decade being evoked. But like I said, it’s not a dealbreaker.

More 2020 Topps insert goodness! I’m really surprised Tim included some Home Run Challenge cards in the envelope. These cards have the potential to win you some nice additional cards from Topps that are fairly rare. As you may know, it’s easy to enter this Topps online contest. After registering with Topps and entering the card’s code, you predict a date that the player pictured will hit a home run. If your player comes through for you, then you win a special serial-numbered version of the card. Last year I had only two of these HRC cards but I did win a special serial-numbered Gary Sanchez card, so that was nice.

Needless to say, this year will be different. There will be much fewer (if any) MLB games in which to predict a home run. I wouldn’t be surprised then if special 2020 HRC cards are awarded, then they will be more highly sought after than those of other years.

2020 Topps Home Run Challenge #HRC-3, #HRC-26, #HRC-30, 2020 Topps Choice #TC-11
2020 Topps Home Run Challenge #HRC-3, #HRC-26, #HRC-30, 2020 Topps Choice #TC-11
2020 Topps Decades' Next #DN-14, #DN-2, 2019 Topps Update All-Star Stitches Relics #ASSR-WM

The Topps Decade’s Next insert set may be a bit bland to some, considering that the design’s main colors are black, white and gold foil. But in my opinion it is still pretty distinctive and doesn’t seem to copy any previous Topps flagship design. The use of gold foil and it’s texture are big plusses for this set. As I mentioned in my review of 2020 Topps, Pleasure and Pain (A Review of 2020 Topps Series 1), I think Topps should try using this gold foil on the Topps Gold cards (which are serial-numbered to 2020).

And last but not least is the 2019 Topps Update All-Start Stitches Whit Merrifield card I won from Tim’s contest. Topps usually does a really good job with the design of these All-Star Stitches sets. The 2004 and 2016 designs immediately come to mind. The 2020 All-Stitches design is definitely right up there with them.

Topps got a nice head start on this design with MLB’s 2019 All-Star logo which incorporates a guitar (given that the 2019 All-Star game was held in Cleveland–home of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame). Topps added a guitar neck and a stylized silhouette of the Cleveland skyline for the nameplate. It all adds up to a very pleasing look for this traditional relic set.

Rather surprisingly, Topps has announced in May that there will be a 2020 Topps Update product. Much like the 2020 MLB season, it remains to be seen if it will actually happen.

A rousing Stadium Fantasium standing ovation goes out to Tim and his Cardpocalypse blog for sending these great cards over to the Stadium Fantasium collection–thanks Tim!

Contest plug: As of this writing, thirteen players are still needed to sign up for the Big Fun Game at Johnny’s Trading Spot. Check it out if you haven’t played before.

Question of the Day:

Seeing as the 2020 MLB All-Star game at Dodger Stadium has been cancelled, do you think Topps will still somehow manage to put an All-Star Stitches relic set in 2020 Topps Update?

Stay tuned…

The Tide is High(ly Subjective and Completely Arbritrary)

Note from Highly Subjective and Completely and Complete Arbitrary

One part of the fantastic current wave of hobby blog giveaways are the great cards offered by Brian at Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary (or HSACA for short). Brian did his version of Free Stuff Friday for 20 weeks(!), starting in February of this year and did his last one on June 19th. I picked up the two Topps cards pictured on the right from Brian’s Free Card Friday #1.

2017 Topps Salute #S-37
2017 Topps Salute #S-37
2019 Topps Gold #615
2019 Topps Gold #615
2018 Topps 1983 #83-18
2018 Topps 1983 #83-18

While surfing through Brians’s want lists, I saw that he had listed a few 1969 Topps baseball needs. I don’t really have much that other people need but I did happen to have a near mint duplicate of a ’69 Topps Rico Carty (Braves). You can see the card on Brian’s “Free Trade Agreements” post. I think Brian was pretty happy to get this card because he sent me four extra cards from my want list. Included were these two 2018 Topps inserts (Nolan Ryan and José Altuve).

2018 Topps Salute #TS-7
2018 Topps Salute #TS-7
2018 Topps Heritage #422 (short print)
2018 Topps Heritage #422 (short print)
2018 Topps Heritage #479 (short print)
2018 Topps Heritage #479 (short print)

Also included were these two 2018 Topps Heritage short prints. I’m happy to report that these two Heritage cards helped me complete the White Sox and Reds portions of my 2018 Heritage base set. After updating my want list, I see that I’m getting really close to completing this set–not an easy task considering that this set (including Heritage High Numbers) has 125 short print cards.

The terrific-looking cards pictured on the right were chosen from Brian’s Free Stuff Friday #15 back in the middle of May. As recently as 2018, I did not care much for parallels. I really don’t have the time to collect endless sets of parallels. (I’m only making an exception for the 1992 Topps Gold Winners and 1993 Topps Gold sets.)

Like many Topps flagship baseball card collectors, I have a number of various gold, black, emerald, cognac, and diamond parallels from past flagship sets. I never really knew what to do with these but I didn’t want to trade them either.

So now that I’m slowly getting my cards inventoried and putting them in binders, I finally figured out how to fit parallels into my collection. I’ve always organized my cards in boxes by teams–not numerical order. The cards in my binders will be organized by teams also. The thing I don’t like is that the last card of one team may end up right next to the first card of the next team. I prefer that the next team start on the next page. So I use the parallels to fill in the spaces. Thus, the Jesus Montero Emerald Foil card will go next to his regular base card.

To me, the great thing about adding various parallels to the binders is that in most cases they have the same number as the base card and add variety to a nine-pocket page. So now parallels have a purpose in my set binders and I don’t need to collect an entire parallel set. So any given binder of mine can show golds, camo, Independence Day and other parallels right next to its corresponding base card. I could even end up with a rainbow of a player in some set binders.

2012 Topps Golden Moments #GM-6, 2013 Topps Emerald Foil #459, 2019 Topps Rainbow Foil #307
2012 Topps Golden Moments #GM-6, 2013 Topps Emerald Foil #459, 2019 Topps Rainbow Foil #307

So Brian’s Free Stuff Friday #16 post appeared on May 22nd and I chose the cards pictured on the right. The cards arrived the following Thursday. The next day, Brian posted Free Stuff Friday #17 and mentioned that his local post office “is out of commission, and may or may not have had fire damage in the wake of demonstrations…”. Well that’s certainly something to be concerned about.

1982 Fleer #631
1982 Fleer #631
2015 Topps Rainbow Foil #260
2015 Topps Rainbow Foil #260

Then the next day I saw a picture on Facebook of a burned out brick building. It was Brian’s post office. The building’s signage even had the same zip code as Brian’s return address on the PWE Brian had sent. That was a bit jarring.

But that didn’t stop Brian from posting his weekly Free Stuff Friday posts. Brian kept sailing ahead and in Free Stuff Friday #20, I picked up these three cards. All three are very nice cards but the Bob Gibson card is the one that really caught my attention. That’s because a couple of months ago, I picked up 11 other assorted Mound Dominance cards along with a few hundred other cards from baseballcardstore.ca. Mound Dominance is a 15-card insert set and I think it may now be near-complete. However, it will probably be some time before I can dig up the one I already have to know which ones I still need.

And so we honor Brian with a hearty Stadium Fantasium standing ovation for his generosity.

1996 Topps #205, 2012 Topps Mound Marvels #MD-6, 2018 Topps Salute Series 2 #S-77
1996 Topps #205, 2012 Topps Mound Marvels #MD-6, 2018 Topps Salute Series 2 #S-77

So do you aggressively pursue short printed and or parallel cards?

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

Do You Remember (the Astrodome)

Mailday from Marc (Remember the Astrodome)

Back in December, I made a rather sizeable trade on Trading Card Database with Bru of the Marc Brubaker blog (formerly Remember the Astrodome). I sent Marc some ’90’s oddball cards (1990 Jumbo California Sunflower Seeds, 1993 Upper Deck Denny’s Holograms, 1996 Denny’s Holograms, a 2019 Topps Heritage Max Scherzer Candy Lid, a 2019 Topps Heritage Khris Davis Scratch-Off and a nice original 1969 Topps #458 Curt Blefary of the Astros). Marc sent me a big stack of cards I needed to move closer to completing various sets. Check ’em out:

Mail day from Bru (Remember the Astrodome)
Mail day from Bru (Remember the Astrodome)--love the packaging and the note!
A nice assortment of cards from Bru
A nice assortment of cards from Bru

Most of the cards I received are 2019 Topps Heritage (including a couple of short-prints) but I also received a 2018 Topps card and a 1996 Denny’s Hologram card of Tony Gwynn. I really love the 2019 Topps Heritage set and I’m happy that Marc put a huge dent in my want list. This set is about 87% complete. But tracking down those remaining short-print cards and those pesky Action Variation cards will take considerable time (and probably money). Still, at least I now have most of the inserts.

Scan of some the highlights of the trade

A warm Stadium Fantasium standing ovation goes out to Marc for this awesome trade. I look forward to more trades with Marc. Stay tuned…

Padrographs and Memories

Padrographs and Memories

Whew! My work schedule finally slowed down enough to let me get back to posting here again–thank goodness! I’m so behind on posting a ton of cards I’ve received in the last few months and expressing my gratitude. Now it’s time to begin catching up…

Back in late May, Rod of the great Padrographs blog offered up large stacks of cards sorted by team. Since the Dodgers cards were already spoken for, I requested Angels cards (my 2nd favorite team since they’re also in SoCal). Not only that, Rod also ran a contest with multiple winners and I won a prize. First, a rather large sampling of the 78 Angels cards that Rod sent…

2019 cards
Some 2019 Topps Series 1, Heritage, Opening Day and Donruss
Some 2019 Angels cards
More 2019 cards (Gypsy Queen, Big League, Total and Bowman)
2018 Angels cards from Topps flagship, Heritage and Big League
More 2018 Angels cards (Topps Archives, Gypsy Queen, Bowman Chrome and Topps Gallery)
Other assorted Angels cards from 2017 Topps Series 1, 2007 UD Future Stars, 2009 UD Series 1, 1993 Bowman, 1992 Topps and 1990 Topps

Rod was also kind enough to include a 2018 Topps Archives insert card of former Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza. And the 2009 Upper Deck Game Jersey card of Alex Gordon was my prize from the aforementioned Padrographs contest.

2018 Topps Archives Rookie History 24T
2018 Topps Archives Rookie History 24T
2009 Upper Deck -Game Jersey GJ-GO
2009 Upper Deck -Game Jersey GJ-GO

And with that, we give a hearty Stadium Fantasium standing ovation to Padrograph’s Rod. Thank you Rod!

And speaking of contests, look for Stadium Fantasium’s 2nd Annual Rose Bowl Contest coming soon. Stay tuned…

Good Thing

Congratulatory letter from sportscardinfo.com

Back on February 16th, sportscardinfo.com ran a contest that offered a 2019 Topps 150th Anniversary Commemorative Medallion card of former Red Sox 1B/DH David Ortiz. Now I usually don’t enter contests unless the prize is something I can really use, especially if I need it for my set collections. Since I mostly focus on Topps flagship and recent Topps Heritage baseball, this contest definitely fit the bill. This was one contest prize I really wanted.

All contestants had to do to enter was comment on the contest post (limited to one comment/entry per day). The contest deadline was February 22nd and a total of 79 comments/entries were submitted and randomized. And to my surprise, I was the winner of this card!

2019 Topps Series 1 150th Anniversary Commemorative Medallion card of David Ortiz
2019 Topps Series 1 150th Anniversary Commemorative Medallion card of David Ortiz
Back of 2019 Topps Series 1 150th Anniversary Commemorative Medallion card of David Ortiz
Back of 2019 Topps Series 1 150th Anniversary Commemorative Medallion card of David Ortiz

In case you hadn’t noticed, sportscardinfo.com generously runs quite a few contests. As we give sportscardinfo.com a big Stadium Fantasium thank you and standing ovation, make sure you take a look at the right sidebar’s “Blog Contests Lineup”. There you’ll find some of the current contests being held by fellow hobby bloggers.

So are you a frequent participant in hobby contests in the blogosphere and/or on Twitter? Let us know in the comments below. Until then, stay tuned…

The Breaks

Okay, it’s time to share some more 2019 Topps Series 1 Baseball cards that I got from a few group breaks. I think I may have overdone the group break buy-ins this year but those darn things are so darn attractive to me–darn it!

For each of these breaks, I was really hoping to get the Dodgers spot but, except for one group break, they were already taken. As one old-school rapper once proclaimed, these are the breaks…

The Mets Cards

These cards are from a pick-your-team full jumbo case break from my local card shop, Hall of Fame Baseball Cards, located in Arcadia, CA. You can view their videos here. Along with 84 Mets base cards (lots of duplicates), I got some nice inserts/parallels and a 1984 Jacob DeGrom jersey card.

2019 Topps Series 1 Mets Inserts
2019 Topps Series 1 Mets Inserts
2019 Topps Series 1 Mets inserts/parallels a Mets relic and silver pack 1984 chrome cards
2019 Topps Series 1 Mets inserts/parallels and a Mets relic

Silver pack promo cards (1984 Topps chrome design) were also included and as you can see above, I got two Darryl Strawberry cards. One of those will go to the Stadium Fantasium Trading Block. (Fun fact: According to my gf, Darryl Strawberry’s grandmother used to live three houses over from us.)

The Angels Cards

I bought into a second jumbo case break at Hall of Fame Baseball Cards but this one was a random team break. No Dodgers for me in this case break but that’s okay because the Angels are my second favorite team. From this break I got 93 base cards, some more nice inserts, a couple of cool silver pack 1984 chrome cards but no relic or auto.

2019 Topps Series 1 Angels inserts
2019 Topps Series 1 Angels inserts
More 2019 Topps Series 1 Angels inserts with 1984 chrome cards
More 2019 Topps Series 1 Angels inserts with 1984 chrome cards
The Dodgers Cards (Woohoo!)

So I thought I was done buying into group breaks with Hall of Fame Baseball Cards. But about a week after I bought into the above case breaks, Hall of Fame Baseball Cards offered a pick-your-team hobby 1/2 case break. I checked to see if the Dodgers were still available and sure enough they were still available. Of course I jumped on this. So this half-case break resulted in 68 Dodgers base cards, a few Dodgers inserts (including my first Revolution of the Game insert), a Joc Pederson Advanced Stats cardback (#’d to 150, inserted 1:75 hobby packs), a Corey Seager SP (shortprint) and a Clayton Kershaw Retro Hat Logo relic. I am very pleased with these Dodger cards.

2019 Topps Series 1 Dodgers inserts and a SP
2019 Topps Series 1 Dodgers inserts and a SP
2019 Topps Retro Hat Logo Patch RHLP-CK front and back
2019 Topps Retro Hat Logo Patch RHLP-CK front and back
The Cubs Cards

Another case break I had bought into was one done by online casebreaker Crackin’ Wax. I’ve been in case breaks with Crackin’ Wax‘s husband-and-wife team for maybe three or four years now and they are top-notch. You can see there YouTube videos here. This was a pick-your-team jumbo case break. Again I was too late to take the Dodgers so I chose the Cubs. I ended up with 142 regular base, a Willson Contreras vintage stock variation (#’d to 99), a short-print Kris Bryant photo variation card, a 1984 Kris Bryant jersey relic, and quite a few inserts/parallels/chrome cards.

2019 Topps Series 1 1984 Cubs inserts/chrome and a Cubs relic
2019 Topps Series 1 1984 Cubs inserts/chrome and a Cubs relic
More 2019 Topps Series 1 Cubs inserts including a variation SP and a vintage stock card
More 2019 Topps Series 1 Cubs inserts/parallels including a variation SP and a vintage stock card
2019 Topps Series 1 Cubs parallels
2019 Topps Series 1 Cubs parallels

I do love the insert cards and parallels and I’m glad I got plenty of  those from these group breaks. I think I did pretty decent too with three hits out of four breaks. The two SPs, the vintage stock card, the Advanced Stats card and the Home Run Challenge cards are also very cool.

Sorting through all of these Series 1 cards in preparation for Series 2 will keep me very busy for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, stay tuned…

The Impression That I Get (of 2019 Topps Series 1)

2019 Topps #258 Eddie Rosario and #322 Brian McCann
2019 Topps #258 Eddie Rosario and #322 Brian McCann
Base Cards: The Design

Late in January, I pre-ordered a jumbo box of 2019 Topps Series 1 Baseball from my local hobby store, Hall of Fame Baseball Cards in Monrovia, CA. I picked up my box the same day the store held their annual Topps Series 1 rip party. I had a great time and broke my box right there in the store. And I gotta say, right off the top that I really like the 2019 Topps flagship baseball design. It’s a welcome departure from the last three years of rather similar designs (which I also like):

Examples of 2016, 2017 and 2018 Topps flagship baseball designs
Examples of 2016, 2017 and 2018 Topps flagship baseball designs

It’s definitely not more of the same but the 2019 design does share one unique trait with the 2016 design. In the 2019 design, the circular tile pattern in the border and on the left side of the photograph serve the same function as the smoke effect in the 2016 design. The color/pattern is changed for the various parallel cards’ color schemes. Other than that, the 2019 design stands on its own (although one can argue that it is reminiscent of the 1982 Topps design):

Comparison of 1982 Topps vs. 2019 Topps
Comparison of 1982 Topps vs. 2019 Topps
Base Cards: The Photography

The photography and choice of pictures is pretty good for the most part. However, Topps is still over-processing the photos to make them slightly resemble a screenshot from a video game or an outtake from the movie “300”. The players and the lighting just look a bit too artificial:

2019 Topps Series 1: Base cards
2019 Topps Series 1: Base cards

Take a look at the whites of the players eyes above. Joey Gallo’s eyes especially look a bit creepy and definitely unnatural. The lighting in the vast majority of player photos makes it look like the ballparks had identical gametimes and weather. Did almost all game action takes place on an overcast day?. Maybe there just weren’t any suitable player photos shot at night or even in the shade. Very few of the player cards feature abundant sunlight.

These photo effects are not new to Topps as they have been used in flagship baseball and other Topps products over the last few years. And I have to admit I’m growing weary of it. These photographic effects are probably popular with the younger, videogame-playing set. And when company management and/or the client (MLB) want a card product that is different and innovative, this is the result. Hopefully the management at Topps will soon realize this look has been played out for flagship baseball cards and return to a more “normal” photographic look. These digital effects can be saved for other card products.

As others have pointed out, the partial borders of these cards to seem to be a compromise between those who like full-bleed photos and those who like traditional borders. Credit Topps decision-makers with a pretty good compromise. Personally, I like the full-bleed photos a lot but borders are cool too. The main thing is that we keep some card features standard (such as card dimensions) while avoiding falling into a prolonged rut with the same ol’ thing every year. As seen below, photo repetition apparently is tough to avoid (especially when about 1000 semi-unique images must be used for one master set and you’re on a deadline):

2019 Topps Series 1: Pitchers in action
2019 Topps Series 1: Pitchers in action
2019 Topps Series 1: More pitchers in action
2019 Topps Series 1: More pitchers in action
2019 Topps: Yet more pitchers in action
2019 Topps: Yet more pitchers in action
2019 Topps: Popping right out of the card
2019 Topps: Popping right out of the card

Despite my nitpicking about photographic digital effects and photo repetition, I still like the base cards a lot. I think it’s safe to say that it’s not hard to satisfy most of us set collectors. Here are some examples of base cards with exceptionally nice photos:

2019 Topps: Fielders in action
2019 Topps: Fielders in action

Action shots of players displaying their glove magic is always cool. And if you think those were good, check these out:

2019 Topps Series 1: Popping right out of the card

As seen above, a handful of Series 1 base cards have part of the player or player’s equipment overlapping the left border. This really makes the picture “pop” and is a welcome sight. Of course, this is not a new effect. We’ve seen a similar effect as far back as 1988 Topps and there’s probably cards older than that can claim the same feature. Still, I think this adds a certain intensity to the card and adds to the aesthetic appeal of these cards.

Base Cards: The Subsets

Kudos to Topps for adding a new subset to this year’s base set–Stadiums! I’d seen stadium cards included in previous editions of Topps Opening Day but that’s a product that doesn’t fit into my budget or time schedule. This subset is a very refreshing addition to the Topps flagship set.

As in previous years, Topps includes subsets featuring the World Series Highlights, League Leaders, All-Star Rookies, Future Stars and checklists:

2019 Topps: A sampling of World Series Highlights and Stadiums
2019 Topps: A sampling of World Series Highlights and Stadiums

All of the subsets are done pretty well, my previous nitpicking notwithstanding. Of course the World Series Highlights subsets would look more impressive had the Dodgers won the World Series but it is what it is–sigh. We still have to tip our Stadium Fantasium hat to the Boston Red Sox for having such a dominant 2018 season and postseason.

The World Series Highlights card backs offer a recap of one of the games won by the eventual World Series champions. The card backs generally use some elements of the front design and look quite good.

Quite a few other reviews/opinions of 2019 Topps Series 1 have expressed some dissatisfaction with the large light-gray surname being placed above the smaller first name and I agree with those reviews. It throws things off a bit in a negative way but it’s not a deal-breaker. I think perhaps the first and then the last name should occupy the large white space and then have the team name and position occupy the color stripe below. And while we’re at it, change the light-gray font color to the color of the smaller stripe shown on the right side, then highlight the letters with a thin outline the same color as the large stripe. Or at least put a thin outline on the light-gray letters.

Oddly enough, the stadium cards get the name placement right with the city name placed above the team name. The back of the stadium cards are also well done. The design and included info are all top-notch, although the starting lineup and rotation are always subject to change at any given time.

I’d like to see this subset return next year but with pictures of the outside of the stadiums or pictures taken from another viewpoint inside the stadium. These kinds of cards definitely bring fans just a bit closer to the experience of being at the stadium.

2019 Topps: A sampling of League Leader cards
2019 Topps: A sampling of League Leader cards

The League Leader cards don’t distinguish themselves much from the regular base cards. I’d love to see old-school multi-player league leader cards in flagship but player collectors probably wouldn’t care much for that. Besides, we already have that in Topps Heritage cards. Still, I’d like to see a league leader card design that somehow looks attractive and substantially different from the regular base cards.

A sampling of 2019 Topps Rookie All-Stars
A sampling of 2019 Topps Rookie All-Stars

Traditionally, the Topps All-Star Rookie cards are just the player’s base card with the Topps All-Star Rookie cup element. The same holds true in this year’s set. It’s very nice to see this tradition continue.

A sampling of 2019 Topps Future Stars

Future Stars cards are back again, this time with a rainbow gradient banner instead of last year’s gold tile banner. The player image being imposed over the banner results in very eye-catching cards.

A sampling of 2019 Topps checklists
A sampling of 2019 Topps checklists

Another traditional aspect of Topps flagship baseball is checklist cards. Almost no one actually marks these checklists anymore to track their collection but they can still be a useful reference in a pinch. The images on the front of the card are always pleasant. I always like seeing camaraderie between players on the same team or between opposing teams.

Parallel Base Cards
2019 Topps Series 1: Some gold and rainbow foil parallels

My jumbo box didn’t yield any very low-numbered parallel cards. Out of the ten jumbo packs in the box, I got only two gold parallels (serial #’d to 2019) and five rainbow foil parallel cards (not serially #’d). The gold parallels look pretty good to me and so do the rainbow foil cards. In fact, this year the rainbow foil seem to me a bit more shiny and even silvery (at least at the right and bottom borders). Somehow the rainbow foil cards seem more attractive than in previous years. These cards make me want to actually pursue building a complete rainbow foil set (of course that’s easier said than done).

More Parallels, Insert Cards, Hits and an Awesome Super Short Print
A sampling of 2019 Topps inserts and foil-stamp parallels
A sampling of 2019 Topps inserts and foil-stamp parallels

Reprints! Many collectors believe reprint insert sets have been overdone but I really don’t mind them. The top three cards in the image above are part of an insert set called Iconic Cards Reprints. There are 50 cards in the Series 1 portion of this insert set, not to mention a 150th Anniversary parallel version numbered to 150.

I should’ve showed these earlier with the other parallels but there is also a foil-stamped 150th Anniversary parallel of the base set. These parallels are not serially numbered.

Another sampling of 2019 Topps inserts
Another sampling of 2019 Topps inserts

The 150 Years of Professional Baseball insert set could be a huge monster of an insert set. For Series 1, there are 150 cards in this insert set, divided into three 50-card segments (Greatest Players, Greatest Seasons and Greatest Moments). This insert set will continue in Series 2.

2019 Topps: 1984 Topps insert cards
2019 Topps: 1984 Topps insert cards

The 1984 Topps insert set is very well done and looks like it will also be a large set (as many as 250 cards) based on last year’s 1983 Topps insert set. The Series 1 portion of this set has 100 cards. My jumbo box netted me ten 1984 Topps inserts with two of them being Jacob DeGrom–d’oh! As with all Topps insert sets, there are also parallel versions.

2019 Topps: The best of my jumbo box
2019 Topps: The best of my jumbo box

The best cards from my jumbo box tended were heavy on AL East teams. The auto and relic hits weren’t anything earth-shattering but I did get a Legends super short print variation of Lou Gehrig #230. SSPs were inserted into jumbo packs at a rate of 1:495 so I got very lucky with this one. As of this writing, that particular card has been selling for around $50 and up. Of course I am keeping this one along with all of the other cards in this box (except for duplicates). I’m also glad I got a Home Run Challenge card and a Greatness Returns insert card. The Greatness Returns cards (a 25-card set in Series 1) are especially attractive and are inserted 1:10 jumbo packs.

For the past few years, many of those who purchased Topps flagship baseball cards have complained about there being too many insert sets. I think Topps may have misunderstood these complaints because less insert cards are included in packs compared to last year. I love insert cards and I’m really disappointed in this development. And to make matters worse, Topps apparently forgot to include photo variation short print cards in Series 1 jumbo boxes even though jumbo pack wrappers state that short print cards can be found in jumbo packs at approximately 1:17 jumbo packs. Luckily, my jumbo box had a Legends super short print!

2019 Topps offers another nice insert set: Evolution Of. This set features old stadiums, vintage equipment and past players in old uniforms on one side of the card and their modern counterpart on the other side. My box didn’t contain any of these cards and yet the wrapper states the pack odds as 1:1.

There is also a Revolution of the Game insert set issued at a rate of 1:26 jumbo packs. My box did not have any of these (a 10-card set in Series 1).

2019 Topps Silver Packs
2019 Topps Silver Pack 1984 Chrome Cards

As a nice added bonus for purchasing hobby or jumbo boxes from the local card shop, customers also receive packs of 1984-style chrome refractor cards. Each pack contains four cards out of a Series 1 50-card set. There is also an autograph version and several parallel versions. And as luck would have it, I got an orange parallel version of the St. Louis Cardinals Patrick Wisdom #’d 18 of 25.

Rip Party Bonus: Hobby Packs

So despite a very rainy Saturday afternoon (Feb.2), attendance was pretty good for the rip party.  We had a great time opening our boxes, spinning the prize wheel and participating in various contests galore. I did fairly well in the trivia contests and won five hobby packs of 2019 Topps Series 1. I didn’t get any hits in the hobby packs but here are the insert cards I did get:

2019 Topps Series 1 inserts from hobby packs
2019 Topps Series 1 inserts from hobby packs
The Bottom Line (Finally!)

As it turns out, my jumbo box gave me 343 out of 350 Series 1 base cards. The five hobby packs I had won gave me only one of the seven remaining base cards I need to complete the Series 1 base set. The six cards? #’s 53 (Brandon Crawford), 144 (Jake Arrieta), 178 (Jose Altuve), 194 (Felipe Vazquez), 239 Christian Yelich–League Leaders) and 331 (Cesar Hernandez).

Considering how many unique sports and non-sports cards that Topps issues each year, it’s rather surprising to me that their product quality is above average. Sure Topps has its detractors but just about every product they offer gets the attention and money of many collectors/investors. Many, many other companies have their share of product defects and recalls, so it’s probably unrealistic to expect perfection from every Topps product. That’s why I tend to be rather forgiving whenever I buy Topps product with my hard-earned money. I buy these cards simply for the fun of building sets and not for investment purposes.

So, recognizing that there is room for improvement in this product, I give 2019 Topps Series 1 a score of 8 out of 10.

I’m expecting more 2019 Topps Series 1 in my mailbox soon from several group breaks. Stay tuned…

Hey Nineteen

Banner - 2019 Topps Baseball

Hey ’19 indeed! The big week is finally here with the release of 2019 Topps Baseball Series 1 and Super Bowl LXIII featuring my Los Angeles Rams! Woohoo!

In recent years, I’ve tended to spend a bit too much money on Topps flagship baseball and this year is no exception. I’ve already ordered a jumbo box (that I’ll likely pick up on Saturday) and bought spots in four group breaks (in hindsight I’d probably be better off saving that money for 2019 Topps Heritage but I just love group breaks). And like most years, I purchased some new flagship cards at Target before actually getting my jumbo box in hand.

2019 Topps Baseball value pack - Target
2019 Topps Baseball value pack - Target
2019 Topps Baseball hanger box - Target
2019 Topps Baseball hanger box - Target

So this year I got one 34-card value pack and one 67-card hanger box. That’s 101 cards for about $15. And as usual I didn’t get anything great out of retail. Here’s a quick peek at what I did get:

2019 Topps Series 1 cards from a retail value pack
2019 Topps Series 1 cards from a retail value pack

The Jeff McNeil (Mets) RC card is officially my first 2019 Topps card. And in keeping with the ‘Hey Nineteen’ theme, the Martin Perez (Rangers) card is #219 and the Alex Gordon (Royals) card is #319. The Max Scherzer card is a nice example of the League Leaders subset, even though the League Leaders card fronts are very similar to regular base cards. Up next is a 1984 Topps Baseball insert card of Shohei Ohtani and a 2018 Topps Now Review of Juan Soto. I was hoping that at least three insert cards would be packed inside but I guess this is par for the course. Following that are two of the horizontal cards from the set. The stadium cards subset is a welcome innovation for flagship. Stadium cards have been pretty popular in other card sets and I’m so glad to see them appear in this set.

2019 Topps Series 1 cards from a retail value pack
2019 Topps Series 1 cards from a retail hanger box

The hanger box yielded four insert cards: 2018 Topps Now Review Gleyber Torres, 1984 Topps Baseball Matt Carpenter, a rainbow foil parallel of Joey Votto, and a nice-looking Greatness Returns insert featuring Nolan Ryan and Shohei Ohtani. Base cards included in the hanger box included Willson Contreras (which is #119), Rhys Hoskins, Ranger Suarez (he really should be playing for Texas), and Justin Upton. Which brings to the last three cards featured in this post:

A few more 2019 Topps Series 1 cards from a retail value pack
A few more 2019 Topps Series 1 cards from a retail value pack

As seen in the Nick Ahmed card and Jack Flaherty card, the player’s left hand extends out over the border, resulting in a photo that really pops. Not every card does this but it is very effective.

Pop quiz: How many baseball cards were featured in this post?

In general I really like the design of 2019 flagship Topps but I also really think there a couple of things that could have been improved upon. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of 2019 Topps in the near future…