The theme for their baseball set this year was "The Future is Now." In keeping with the perception of the NFL's breakneck pace Topps has given their 2014 Topps Football set a theme and tagline of "Unleashing the Future." And efforts to do exactly that are evident in many ways with the inclusion of some fresh inserts, forward-looking artwork (no white square borders on the base cards), and enhanced card content that involves fantasy football stats, projections and advice.
The addition of fantasy football statistics on the backs of football cards is a first for Topps' flagship football product, and the hope is that the set will be more interactive for those who buy packs as the product comes to market.
This interactive quality will be on display in one of the newest insert sets called Fantasy Focus, which will feature elite fantasy players. The cards will also give fantasy football strategies offered by by NFL.com writers. Another new insert includes Greatness Unleashed.
Of course, this IS still a collectible card issue, and the company wants to be seen as assuring collector value with one autograph or relic card guaranteed in each Hobby box. This value jumps with the purchase of a Hobby Jumbo box as these will contain two autographs and one rookie patch guaranteed.
It is in the inclusion of the highly sought autograph cards that we find not everything about this set is geared toward the future. Topps will pay tribute to some iconic designs of the past with some signatures randomly inserted in the form of 1963 Topss Mini Rookie Autographs, 1965 Topps Rookie Autographs and 1985 Topps Rookie Autographs, which are on card and feature this year's class in the popular 1985 Topps design. (Update 8/20/14: Early reports indicate the '85 style cards, much like the originals, are plagued with chipping and corner wear).
Other signed sets include NFL.com Fantasy Stock Watch Autographs, Autograph Relics, NFLPA Rookie Premiere Autographs and Rookie Autographed Jumbo Patch cards. For the very lucky collector there will be found some one-of-one Rookie Premiere Autographed VIP Passes. Rookie Premier autos are on card and numbered to 90, Dual Autos are numbered to 25 and Quad Autographs to 10 with red ink parallels sprinkled in. There is a very limited Ultimate Rookie Autographs booklet card that has five sides and features all of the players from the 2014 NFLPA Rookie Premiere.
Another way in which a nod to the past will be included in 2014 Topps Football is a special card to honor NFL great Deacon Jones who died last year. The 1963 design is from Jones' rookie season.
The base card set will consist of 440 total cards featuring veterans, rookies, team cards for all 32 NFL teams, 2013 All-Pros and award winners. There will also be multiple subject cards, and an insert set called "Power Players". This part of the 2014 release involves an online game. To play, collectors redeem Power Players codes online, and build a player collection. As they follow the weekly performances of the players in their collection, prizes may be won instantly or if one of the Power Players is selected as the Power Player of the Week the players who have them will automatically be entered into a drawing for some pretty sweet prizes:
- A Trip to the 2015 NFLPA Rookie Premiere
- Tickets to 2015 NFL games
- Social Media activations from NFL stars
- Exclusive parallel cards
- Autographed cards and memorabilia
- Topps licensed apparel and much more
Looking again at the cards in the packs, each base card will have six parallels: Gold, BCA (pink), STS (salute to service), Black (hobby only), Platinum Foil (hobby only) and printing plates (hobby only). Also returnning are the 1,000-Yard Club (running backs and wide receivers who surpassed the 1,000-yard milestone in 2013) and 4,000-Yard Club cards (quarterbacks who surpassed the 4,000-yard milestone in 2013). Topps will also include 1963 Topps Mini designs in a non-autographed version.
As Topps unleashes the future of football in their 2014 offering there will be several subsets and inserts available. The fantasy focus mentioned earlier will be strong in “Fantasy Focus” which will highlight current-day, elite ranked fantasy players. Those who play fantasy football will be able to prepare for their fantasy football draft by collecting the entire “Fantasy Strategies” set which is set to include 35 unique draft strategies provided by NFL.com Fantasy football writers. The “Greatness Unleashed” inserts mentioned above will have up to 65 veteran superstars of the NFL on a new card design.
In addition to the retro-styled autographs already mentioned, the promise of autographed cards will also be fulfilled in several other sets. The Topps Autographs will feature 35 veteran players. Another set planned is NFL.com Fantasy Stock Watch Autographs. The goal with these cards will be to have autos from up to 20 players projected to shine in 2014 with write-ups by NFL.com Fantasy football staff. These will be sequentially numbered.
Other autograph and relic content includes Base Veteran Autographs and Veteran Variation Autographs. The variation cards will have a photography variation of the base veteran auto cards. Other autograph subsets include Rookie Autograph Jumbo Patch cards, Base Rookie Autographs, and Base Rookie Variation Autographs.
Commemorative patches will be featured once again. 2014 patches will highlight a number of different categories, including the 2013 rookies of the week, top defenders, wide receivers, quarterbacks and running backs, and 2013 All-Pro Class.
Commemorative relics have a variety of themes. Quarterback Club, Running Back Club, Wide Receivers Club and Defensive Club feature top players at each spot. Twenty of the greatest quarterbacks, 25 WRs and 20 RBs of the past and present are featured with a Bronze, Silver or Gold medal embedded in the card.
Other manufactured relics include All-Pro Class and NFL Captains Patch. Look for special Salute To Service and Breast Cancer Awareness parallels numbers to 50 and 25 respectively on the latter.
Topps Relics will have a jersey relic swatch from NFL players of the past, present and future. Randomly inserted will also be Topps Autograph Relics, and In the Name Relics which are letters from the nameplates of veteran and rookie jerseys
Now, if only they could make a card which correctly predicted which gridiron club would be sweeping up the confetti after the next Super Bowl.
See 2014 Topps Football singles, sets, team sets, boxes, cases and more on eBay here.