2014 Topps Update Baseball Returns

Memorial Day has come and gone. The June Amateur draft for Major League Baseball is later this week. Therefore it must be time to talk about the 2014 Topps Update Series due out on October 15.

Don’t worry. That sentence is not really supposed to make sense.

Somehow the necessity of advertising and taking orders for product months in advance, while necessary, has never ceased to be funny to me. Even the copy on Topps sell sheet for this product provides an example. The major league season is not quite one-third of the way through, yet Topps writes, “It’s been an incredible season so far, with both rising stars and seasoned veterans turning in unprecedented performances.”1001_14TBUS_BASE_McCann

Well, yeah, that is always true. Every year is unprecedented because it has never occurred before. But “incredible”? Josh Beckett’s no-hitter was pretty cool (however, through May 25, 2014, there have been 283 no-hitters thrown, 240 during in the modern era starting in 1901). And young sluggers like Jose Abreu and George Springer have made their presence felt, but those sorts of debuts are not unknown.

But it is likely I am picking nits.

Major League Debut Jose Abreu Topps UpdateThe fact of the matter is that, once again in 2014, the Topps Company will finish its flagship baseball card set with an “Update” set that will be sold  in retail and hobby packs. The cards will again have their own numbering system (most likely prefixing each number with a “U”), and they will be sold  in the Hobby in both “regular” packs and “jumbos.” See the complete checklist below.

The tried and true will stay in place as each regular pack contains ten cards, and tPower Players Auto Venturahe Jumbo pack contains 47 plus one Red Hot Foil Base Parallel; one The Future is Now Insert; and, one Power Players Insert.

Of course, as has been the pattern for several years now, collectors can look for an autographed or relic card guaranteed in every Hobby box, and one autograph and two relic cards in every Hobby jumbo box.

The base set of 2014 Topps Update will be constructed of 330 cards, just as Series 1 and Series 2 were. The Update set will feature Veterans, Rookies, 2014 MLB All-Stars, Home Run Derby participants, and Rookie Debuts. There will also be five cards highlighting 2014 Topps Update World Series Heroes Relic John SmoltzTopps selection of the top five plays from the first half of the season. Perhaps this is why they stick with the “Update” name and theme rather than calling it a year-end set or something similar. Being on the shelves before the World Series is likely over means you cannot cover the entire season. It makes one wonder how the set would do, say, in the second week of November, if it covered more of the season?

1003_14TBUS_BASEBlackParallel_SpringerIn any event, there will be a host of parallel cards to satisfy those who enjoying chasing serial numbered cards and/or putting together difficult sets. In addition to the parallels that will be available in all pack versions, there will be Clear Parallels that are sequentially numbered to 10. Those tough cards will be in standard Hobby boxes only. They will not be available in Hobby Jumbo boxes or any retail packs. Also exclusive to Hobby boxes (including the Jumbo boxes) will be Base Card Printing Plates. With four-color plates per card (each one being a 1/1), it means Topps will randomly insert 1,320 printing plates from all of the base cards. The parallel cards available throughout all the varying pack types are these:

  • Gold Parallel sequentially numbered to 2014.
  • Green Camo Parallel sequentially numbered to 99.
  • Black Parallel sequentially numbered to 63.
  • Pink Parallel sequentially numbered to 50.
  • Platinum Parallel numbered 1/1.
  • Red Hot Foil Parallel inserted 1 in every 6 packs.

2014 Topps Update World Series Heroes Relic John SmoltzOf course, the parallels are not the only inserts. This is a modern Topps set, after all. And the company is highlighting five varying insert sets to be found in the 2014 Update. The surprisingly popular Power Players inserts will be present featuring 25 performers and inserted at the one in every six packs rate. There will also be continued inserts for The Future is Now (1:4) and the 1989 Topps Minis Die Cut (1:8). In addition, there are two new insert sets planned for the Update set. As a salute to some of the most moving and significant retirements of all time Topps has created a 15 card insert set called Fond Farewells. And, as the set is an October release, it seems fitting that the Update series will contain World Series Heroes, a planned set of 50 cards celebrating some of the most memorable Fall Classic moments and players .
2014 Topps Update All-Star Jumbo Patch CabreraMost of these insert sets will also have versions that will be found as autographed cards, relic cards, and autographed relic cards. Also, the autographed cards will come in a set that continues the Trajectory Autographs begun in the first series. Topps states that more than 30 players’ career trajectory will be highlighted by these autographed cards.

Relic cards outside of the aforementioned insert set relics will include Own The Name relics, that is, 500 cards containing letter patches from game-worn MLB jerseys. Each of these will be numbered 1/1. Also, 40 players will have the progression from their rookie season to present day highlighted in Trajectory Jumbo Relics.  All-Star Access Relics is another relic set Topps has included with Jeter, Kershaw and Trout among the inclusions.

The category of autographed relic cards will also be represented outside of the insert sets. Although autographed relics will be found in the insert sets variety, Topps is also bringing back Strata Cut Signatures which will showcase 15 cut signatures, each numbered 1/1. And, many collectors will be glad for the return of  Strata Signature Relics, 25 sequentially numbered, signed on-card hits found in Hobby and Jumbo boxes only.
The Update series also means cards celebrating the All-Star Game (this year to be 2014 Topps Update All-Star Stitches Kershawheld in Minnesota’s Target Field). These cards will feature a variety of “hit” combinations in both relic and autographed relic card types. The relics will be  pieces from the jerseys worn at the All-Star Game Workout Day in Minneapolis.

The relic cards, once more called “All-Star Stitches” will also have Dual cards (two players) sequentially numbered to 25, and Triples also numbered to 25. The trio cards will be available in Hobby and Jumbo boxes only. This will also be true for the All-Star Jumbo Patches and Jumbo Patches Autographs, which are both numbered to only 6 cards each.

6001_14TBUS_WSChampRing_HendersonSpeaking of relic cards, Topps will once again include Manufactured Relic Cards at the rate of one per Jumbo box and one per Hobby case. These manufactured items will highlight the World Series with a variety of items.

The World Series Championship Trophies cards will feature 25 of the greatest players of all time with a specially designed World Series miniature trophy on a card that celebrates the year they won it all. These will be sequentially numbered to 99. There will also be World Series Rings Silver that will be found in 25 cards of active and retired superstars from title-winning teams with an embedded manufactured World Series ring. These ring top cards will have three levels of parallels:

  • World Series Rings Gold – Sequentially numbered to 99.
  • World Series Rings Gold Gems – Sequentially numbered to 25.
  • World Series Rings Gold Gems Autographs – Sequentially numbered to 10.

To this point we have mentioned how many things have stayed the same with 2014 Topps Update. However, there is one significant difference in this year’s edition. Topps is promising a genuine “case hit” in each case of Update. Found in Hobby and Jumbo boxes only, and at the rate of one per case, Topps is 2007 Derek Jeter 2014 Topps Update reprintproducing Framed Derek Jeter Reprints, that is, 21 reprints of Derek Jeter’s most famous base cards, each one framed in black. These will also be found in Silver framed (#’d to 25), and Gold framed (#’d to 10). Also, some case hits will consist of Gold Framed Topps Gold Label. These will consist of 15 cards based on the Gold Label design from 2000 and feature current players as well as retired stars. All cards will be framed in gold and sequentially numbered to 99. So, even the Update gets a bit of an update.

Update 10/15/14:  There are once again photo and other variations in the mix.  It appears as if Topps also used the same number on multiple cards–and didn’t always put the card number in the same place:

You can see cases, boxes, sets, break spots and more on eBay here.

2014 Topps Update Series Baseball Checklist