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:
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.
So this box did not have a promising start but it got much better. I am thoroughly impressed by the photography of this set.
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).
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).
Of course, not every base card is as spectacular as the cards I’m showing here. But there are plenty.
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…
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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 likelynumbered 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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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:
Here’s a few more links to some useful Series 1 info:
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…
11 thoughts on “Pleasure and Pain (A Review of 2020 Topps Series 1)”
Absolutely agree 100% about Topps putting the name of the parallel next to the card number. If I were the commissioner of cards I’d make that an order! It can be really frustrating not to know what card you’re looking at, particularly when you’re looking at cards at a show or shop.
I do indeed think you should contact Topps customer service about your damaged cards. But still, any box with an auto-relic of a guy who has a real shot at the Hall of Fame isn’t too shabby, and the 1/1 (of a solid player) and the /50 of the best player in the game are pretty strong pulls too.
Hey Brett, thank you. You’ve got my support to be the commissioner of cards. People compliment Topps for putting the name of the variation next to the card number in Topps Heritage. I wonder what’s taking them so long to do the same for flagship Topps.
Congrats on the big pulls. You got a really good box. Oh, and sorry about the damaged cards. The set builder inside me hates to see the base get destroyed like that.
Thanks so much. Getting a box like that has been a real day-brightener every day so far. But seeing cards come out of a pack already damaged really grinds my gears. Like I mentioned before–pleasure and pain!
Great title for this post. I’d be so annoyed by those damaged cards… until of course I pulled the Arenado and Cueto. Congratulations on those very, very awesome pulls.
Thank you! I was going to originally title the post “Breakdown (of a Series 1 Jumbo Box” until I heard “Pleasure and Pain” while I was composing my review–perfect timing! It helps too that I really love that Divinyls classic!
Very nice box – damages aside. Good luck on the Decades inserts. I’m taking a shot at them too, contrary to my usual opinion of such a huge insert set. They could be a separate product!
And an amazing compilation of all the 2020 box reviews!
Thanks man, I appreciate that. Yes, the Decades insert set is a challenge but eye-catching. I wouldn’t be surprised if that insert set is continued into Update.
I was wondering if anyone would check out the list of 2020 reviews. I hope I didn’t miss any but if I did, I can easily update it.
Just opened a jumbo box. same issue–every pack had 4-5 ruined
Sorry to hear that. I hope Topps will make it up to you. I’m curious to know how many jumbo boxes/cases had the same issue.