After a long day @ work I called home to ask my wife if I could take my lucky charm (my daughter) up to Target to see if they had any packs of 2011 Topps on the shelves. I've been reading various blogs where several collectors were fortunate enough to find them out already so I just had to check for myself.
After loading up the car and making the short trip up the road I ended up with 2 rack packs. It was funny however that I really didn't get a chance to look over the packs very well as my daughter was quick to take them to claim as her own! She looked so cute walking down the aisles holding the packs clutched in her arms as if they were her baby doll or stuffed bunny she loves to carry around.
It's hard to believe that my first ever post for this blog came almost a year ago when I was taking a look for the first time at 2010 Topps. Where has the time gone? Here are my first impressions of what appears to be a great year for Topps' flagship set.
I was fortunate to get at least one Braves card in my pack so we'll use it as an example for the base cards. I have to say one of the first things I noticed about the card design is the baseball in the lower right corner. I love the inclusion of the team logo, but what really caught my eye was the baseball itself. I haven't really noticed anyone else make this observation, but it appears that the baseball is three dimensional. Not in the blue/red 3D glasses sense, but the image of the ball seems to be floating inside the circle that encases it. I'm not sure if this was intentional by Topps however it looks fantastic.
Around the baseball is the team name printed above and below the team logo. The player's name is printed in silver foil across a team colored arching banner. Position is printed in silver below the banner. For most cards I don't have any beef with this - however for outfielders the position is simply labeled outfielder. Infielders are position specific so why aren't outfielders treated the same? The whole card is framed by a traditional white border which in my opinion works really well.
Let's flip the card over now and take a look at the back. At first glance you'll see that the cards features lots and lots of stats. I'm not one of those collectors that will gripe over not having complete stats on the back. However I have always like the way Topps has handled the back of the cards. When I first looked at the card it didn't look too different when compared with previous years. You do get a small head shot of the player (which appears to be cropped from the front photo) which will appeal to some people. Just below the Topps logo in the middle of the card is a gray area that was designed for serial numbering on parallels. What I didn't even notice until a couple of cards into my pack was on the right hand side. Flip the card vertically and you'll see in small print a blurb stating in 19xx or 20xx card #__ was so & so. In the case of this card #19 was Oscar Gamble in the 1983 Topps set. Very cool. I like little nuggets of info like this.
A few cards down in the stack I ran across this team card of the Boston Red Sox. Since I've only been collecting ball cards again for just over a year I can't comment on what Topps has done in past years, but I do remember seeing team cards in last years set. I would believe that most collectors like team cards...especially team collectors.
The team cards share the same basic front design only replacing the player's name with the team's name. The back of the card is where things get a little different. Here we have the team's overall 2010 record along with team leaders in various categories such as HRs, batting average & strike outs. Below the leaders you have bulleted highlights from last season. May 3rd the Red Sox score 17 runs on 20 hits against the Marlins for example. I can see how reading the backs of these cards years down the road will be fun.
Photography so far looks to be very nice. There are some really good defensive shots like these of Encarnacion and Keppinger. I'm not sure what is going on in the photo of Jeremy Jeffress!
If you're still reading then let me thank you! I know that the inserts will be the thing that draws a lot of us in. So without further delay here are the examples of the various inserts that were presented in my rack pack.
Starting from the top and working left to right we have 2 of the 60 Years of Topps inserts. This is basically a continuation of the Cards Your Mom Threw Away from 2010...at least in my mind. 1957 Stan Musial and 1962 Gaylord Perry. Below them you have the new updated ToppsTown and the new Topps 60. Love them or hate them the code cards are back with this year's ToppsTown. I do have to say the design is a huge improvement and are very reminiscent of what Topps did in their 2010 WWE set. The card's front is all a shiny blue foil. It does show finger prints so be careful when handling them. Flip the card over and you have the now standard code you can enter on ToppsTown.com. Topps 60 appears to feature players at the top of different categories. This card of Keith Hernandez ranks him 3rd in Mets team history for career on-base percentage. The back of the card shows where the player ranks in. I like these cards, but I'm not sure I would bother with trying to complete the set as I like some of the other inserts I've seen a little better. The last card in the scan is one of the new Kimbal Champions mini. A quick Google search tells me these cards are based off a 1888 card. They look like mini Turkey Red cards to me...which is a good thing. There are 50 cards in this set and it appears these cards will carry over into other 2011 Topps products. The entire 50 card checklist is printed on the back. I'll be looking for Martin Prado and Albert Pujols myself.
The 2nd half of the rack pack yielded 3 more inserts. I was really happy to finally get my hands on one of the Diamond parallels. Everyone was so right about these cards. Scans do NOT do these cards proper justice. These things are beautiful and much better looking than some of the parallels I've seen in recent years (looking at you Atomic Refractor/Xfractor). The fact the first Diamond parallel card I got of Chipper just made it even sweeter! The Diamond cards aren't serially numbered. I thought I read somewhere they were. Doesn't really bother me either way. Outside of the obvious diamond-esque design/sheen you may notice the baseball with the team logo is replaced with a top view of a diamond. I'm guessing the cards you can unlock in the Diamond Giveaway promotion will have a real diamond embedded in this circle.
The Diamond Duos cards a very much like last year's Legendary Lineage where players are matched up. Sometimes it's a veteran and a young up and coming player and sometimes its 2 current players with similar talent such as Frank Thomas and Manny Ramirez here. Nothing spectacular, but overall a nice design front and back.
And finally we have a Diamond Giveaway code card! The rack pack wrapper didn't list odds for a lot of these inserts including the code cards, but I'm sure they'll be sought after just like last year's Million Card Giveaway. Once the website goes live you'll be able to visit DiamondTopps.com and enter your code to unlock your card. The back says your unlocked card may be a 1952 Mantle or a limited edition diamond-cut card only found online. In rare instances your card may even contain an actual diamond! (Didn't Pinnacle do the whole diamond embedded card thing once before?) I do look forward to entering this code and seeing how it all works out.
There has been a lot of build up to the release of 2011 Topps and I'm so glad it's finally here. I have missed going to the baseball card aisle at Target/Walmart or even to the LCS and not finding anything new or exciting baseball wise to buy. In my opinion this year's base set blows last year's out of the water. From the base design front and back to the inserts Topps has hit a home run. Of course now holding 2011 baseball cards in my hands only makes me wish these winter months would hurry up and end so MLB opening day will finally arrive!