OK, technically it is considered a baseball card set. However, since its inception Topps Allen & Ginter card product has been more noted for its eclectic nature than its depiction of the national pastime. And it is a reputation that is well earned by its inclusion of champions from the realm of competitive hot dog eating (Joey Chestnut in 2008), and the way it simply sandwiches in a Victoria’s Secret model in between baseball superstars on its checklist (Chanel Iman, 2013, between Albert Pujols and Mike Trout).
As it enters its ninth year of production, 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter is taking its diversified nature to areas far beyond personality inclusion and making the very set itself a wide-ranging mixture of materials. The set will include cards printed on metal, pop-up booklet cards (similar to the popular style of some children’s books), and even cards that will feature an “actual skeleton of an animal” …and be numbered to just one copy.
Whether you are a fan or a foe of such cardboard diversity, this is the potential of what you will find in 2104 Topps Allen & Ginter boxes. The hobby boxes will contain 24 packs per box, with 8 cards per pack.
Of course, there IS a bit of continuity in the product as the base set of cards will once again be considered cards #1-350 with the final 50 cards being short prints that will show up 1:2 packs. Currently scheduled to arrive during the second week of July, each hobby box will once again include a mix of three “hit cards,” whether those are autographs, Relics, Allen & Ginter originals, cut signatures or rip cards.
Speaking of the rip cards, which will still fall one per case, the dual rip cards introduced last year will once again be a part of the product. Inside the dual rips will be a mixture of original 1/1 paintings, red autos, 50 more minis as well as 1/1 wood minis. As mentioned earlier, Topps is taking the nature of the set to extreme levels, and so inside some dual rips will be "mini rip" cards that can be ripped to find a mini-mini card — or a redemption for a set of framed mini Relics. No word has been given on whether a magnifying glass or tweezers must be used with the mini-minis.
All of the assortment provided by Allen & Ginter is spread throughout the product. The 2014 product will again feature box-toppers in several different styles. There will be Landmarks and Monuments cards, which will be Cabinet-style cards with images of places from around the world. The toppers will also feature over-sized reprints from ten top players with Relics limited to 25, autographed box toppers limited to 15, autographed Relics toppers numbered to five and cut signatures that will be 1/1.
The plan from Topps is to have every pack filled with one mini card. Besides the basic versions of these minis, there are several other parallels for those who love to chase them as the standard mini base cards will have Allen & Ginter back parallels, black-bordered parallels, no-number parallels, flag back parallels numbered to 25, and the very exclusive 1/1 Wood parallels and printing plates. 150 cards will have cloth versions limited to 10 of each player and serial numbered.
Earlier we mentioned cards with an actual skeleton embedded. These very scarce cards (and each a 1/1, of course) are being called Amateur Osteologist cards by Topps. According to the company each of these cards will feature an “actual skeleton of an animal.” Other scarcities will include metal parallels for both the standard and mini cards as well as the Pop Star Relics which will be limited to 25 copies, and have a relic piece to go alongside an image that's done in the style of a pop-up book. DNA and oddity Relics return also, and speaking of returns, there will be 100 framed buyback cards.
Autographed cards will once again be a part of the mix, and these will take the same approach as in past years by mixing world’s champions in other sports as well as active and retired MLB players. There will also be red-ink autographs limited to 10 copies. And while the non-baseball autograph list has not yet been released, there are plenty of great baseball names on the announced autograph list. That list includes Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays, and several of the current crop of stars with names like Bryce Harper, Yasiel Pig and Mike Trout. Finally, there will be 20 cards featuring authentic cut signatures of political and historical figures, each of which are numbered 1 of 1.
Also back are autographed book cards limited to 10, which will only be found in hobby packs. Those cards will feature two players and two autographs, two relics, or an autograph and a relic.
Insert cards and subsets will come in both the standard card size and the mini card dimension. Among the standard-size cards there will be World’s Capitals, Air Supremacy (cards featuring planes), Fields of Yore (past stadiums), Natural Wonders and a Festivals & Fairs set. Also, a standard size insert set is called Pastime’s Pastimes, which will feature players talking about what they enjoy doing away from the field. It is hoped these will provide a bit more info on the players than the old comics used to provide on the backs of 1970s cards.
Joining those inserts are mini card sets which will include explorers in a set titled “Into the Unknown”, the World’s Deadliest Predators, Where Nature Ends (featuring artists), Larger Than Life (folk heroes), and even a set for cat-lovers dubbed Little Lions. Somehow I think these are inserted so that Moms will buy more packs for their kids. Actually, if that were true, it would be a great excuse and/or reason for the wild and varied nature of 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter.
The checklist, which runs from Aaron to Zunino, and preview gallery are below.
Update 7/8/14: Click here to see Ginter cards, sets, boxes and more on eBay.