In the years we have been doing box reviews, there are certain themes which are prevalent. One is Topps has established pretty consistent patterns for most of their releases. We know there is going to be something interesting in Topps Baseball 1, Heritage will feature a mix of the past and present and Allen and Ginter will be primarily a baseball card brand but with enough extra sides and quirkiness included to appeal to a wider audience that appreciates that sort of thing.
Certain aspects of A & G are now the same each year. That includes the set being 350 cards with the final 50 cards being SP's. In addition, there will always be some historical or scientific theme in at least one if not more of the insert sets. Plus there will always be some interesting non-baseball players as part of the base set. I was struck by the Monty Hall and Abe Vigoda cards. Each box is sort of a lesson in world history.
The design of this year's cards are designed to be reminiscent of the recent and the 19th century A & G cards with the player's photo set against a white background while the back has really old school style information.
These cards are issued in eight-card packs which come 24 to a box. The arrival of Yasiel Puig helped push the pre-release excitement on this product. My local card store (Triple Cards, Plano TX) has the boxes at $102.75 and reported selling about 80 boxes at that level. He did note he usually averages 90-100 boxes sold at that level in previous years. Meanwhile leading on-line hobby retailers are currently between $80-85.
First, we tore apart our box and did not pull one those 1 of 1's that have been randomly hidden inside the lid (about one in every 300 boxes it seems). Triple Cards says he saw one of them pulled from his allotment.
Base cards: 127 of 300 with no duplicates. That is a bit more than 40 percent and thus at least three boxes are needed to complete a set. And from what my LCS said, the collation overall needed some improvement for collectors who busted multiple boxes. I noticed in my box a preponderance of retired Hall of Famers and many of the collectors appreciated receiving those cards instead of more common modern players. By the way, does anyone know why the Pele backs are in green ink? And one collector at Triple Cards reported getting a Pele card saying "No Text" on the back.
Here’s the rundown:
Short Prints: Darwin Barney, Yogi Berra, Melky Cabrera, Freddie Freeman, Cole Hamels, Rickey Henderson, Eric Hosmer, Mat Latos, Hal Newhouser, Wily Peralta, Ozzie Smith
Minis A&G Backs: Garrett Jones, Juan Marichal, Derek Norris, Kevin Youkilis, Barry Zito
Mini A&G Red Back (#d to 25): Matthias Blonski
Mini Black: Jim Rice, Brooks Robinson
Mini Codes Ciphers and Cryptographs: Linear A
Mini Heavy Hangs the Head: Prince William, Queen Beatrix
Mini Inquiring Minds: Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes
Box Topper: Wonders of the World -- Victoria Falls
Across the Years: Ernie Banks, Aroldis Chapman, Yu Darvish, Lou Gehrig, Ken Griffey Jr., Bryce Harper, Ian Kinsler, Kris Medlen, Salvador Perez, Babe Ruth, Nick Swisher, Mark Trumbo
Civilizations of Ages Past: Inca, Ottoman, Shang Dynasty
One Little Corner: Centaur, Jupiter, Saturn
Palaces and Strongholds: Fort Knox, Gyeongbokgung, Potala Palace
Relic: Stephen Strasburg
Framed Mini Relics: John Lester, Ziggy Marley (I got to say when I first saw that card I thought that might be Bob Marley and was really excited until; I saw it was his son Ziggy who is still a star but not just the same legend his father was).
While it would have been nice to pull an autograph from what I heard at Triple Cards, the signed cards were coming out an average of one in every three boxes. He reported his collectors still liked the cards and the product but just not as much as in previous years. A and G is still fun to open and frankly getting some cards to learn from is not a bad addition. The question is whether collectors are OK paying that much with a less than 50-50 chance of getting an autograph? You can check what's been pulled and put on eBay here.
And no, I didn't pull a Yasiel Puig rookie card of this box either.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]