by Rich Klein
In some ways, one of the easiest products to write about is the basic Topps baseball product. Each year, as they have for more than six decades now to widespread anticipation, Topps puts out the first cards of what will soon become a new season. For the last several years there have been some basic truths: The base set will contain: 330 cards, one "hit" per hobby box, a few surprises designed to attract more attention. 2012 Topps Baseball has lived up to that.
The 2012 Topps card design was somewhat reminiscent of the 2011 Lineage product with white borders surrounding the player's photo with the name the team logo in the lower left corner.
The back has biographical information, complete statistical information as well as a brief informational section. One underrated aspect of the 2012 Topps set is the incredibly easy to read card numbers. For a person like me, who has just come off cataract surgery, anything that makes life easier for the eyes is very appreciated!
About three weeks after its initial release and the accompanying frenzy, the current box prices for 2012 Topps Baseball from leading on-line retailers are in the $55-60 range with my local card store (Triple Cards in Plano, TX) having sold through five cases at $61 per box. That’s a lot of boxes. While there has been no price explosion in Topps I this year, in many ways that is a good aspect as keeping the price affordable helps hobby stores in relation to retail outlets such as WalMart or Target. Each box contains 36 packs with 10 cards per pack which gives the collector 360 cards at an average cost of approximately 17 cents each. At that price point, almost all collectors can stay in the game, even if a box won’t give you a full set.
Series only sell for a fraction of the box cost once dealers break down cases so the value is in the inserts and redemptions.
How did we do from our box?
Base Cards: 293 of 330 with no duplicates. This is between 85-90 percent of the base set.
Gold Sparkle: John Axford, Jose Bautista, Nick Blackburn, Freddie Freeman, Cole Hamels, John Lamman, Jesus Montero, Alfredo Simon and Michael Stutes. These have been fairly popular on eBay, selling for around 50 cents each, with a full set of 330 recently bringing $145. They’re nice. They are not serial numbered this year. In my opinion only, I believe that even if more than the 2012 cards were produced of this parallel, these cards should have been serial numbered.
Black Parallel (#d to 61): Adrian Gonzalez (these had been selling in the $15-20 range early but are now around $5).
Classic Walkoffs: Rafael Furcal, Mickey Mantle, Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teixeira, Jim Thome
1987 Topps Minis: (a nice homage to one of the most respected Topps designs): Robinson Cano, Roy Halladay, Josh Hamilton, Eric Hosmer, Josh Johnson, Adam Jones, Ian Kinsler, Paul Konerko, David Wright
Gold Futures: Dustin Ackley, Dee Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Michael Pineda, Mike Stanton, Julio Teheran
Gold Standard: Bob Gibson, Chipper Jones, Willie McCovey, Cal Ripken Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Nolan Ryan
Golden Greats: Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente (2 different), Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Derek Jeter, Willie Mays, Albert Pujols
Golden Moments: Albert Belle, Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, George Foster, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Matt Kemp, Don Mattingly, Willie McCovey
Timeless Talents: Andre Dawson/Justin Upton, Roger Maris/Curtis Granderson, Stan Musial/Lance Berkman, Andy Pettitte/Cliff Lee, Cal Ripken Jr./Derek Jeter, Chase Utley/Dustin Ackley
Golden Giveaway Game cards: Six "spins of the wheel" which became virtual coins of Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Tony Gwynn and Jim Palmer (2). On a personal note, this year's Golden Giveaway contest does not really interest me as I was a big fan of the vintage card promotional tie-in of the previous two years. This year, I'm not going to buy retail packs the way I did over the previous two years in search of these game cards. We’re hearing that from a lot of collectors.
Golden Moments Autograph: Chris Sale (currently trading in the $5-10 range)
We missed out on the big scores like Pujols and Reyes short prints, the celebration variations and the much talked about Skip Schumacher squirrel variation (although I did get one of each of the latter in another box). However, as always with the company’s flagship brand, you get a lot of cards for the money. The inserts are generally attractive and we’ll say you get a pretty good value with 2012 Topps. If this is any indication, the 2012 card collecting season is off to a good start.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]
Ed. Note: A lot of boxes and cases have apparently been ripped open this month. Over 36,000 listings were currently posted on eBayas of Sunday night.