by Chris Harris
For years, football card collectors have wanted Topps’ flagship football set to have its own identity. Since 2006, the base set of Topps Football has shared the same design of that year’s baseball set, so when football card collectors rip open 2012 Topps Football, they’ll find a set with a design distinct from baseball. However, appearances aside, collectors will find just as many similarities, if not more, between this year’s football and baseball products.
The base set will consist of a single series of 440 cards, a quarter of which will be of draft picks. With the NFL Draft class of 2012 expected to be among the strongest in years, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and company should be expected to give all 2012 football card sets plenty of after-market legs. The usual number of parallels familiar to collectors of both Topps Baseball and Football are all present and accounted for with each base card available in Gold (serial-numbered to 2012 copies), Black (numbered to 57), Platinum (one-of-one), and Printing Plates (set of four plates for each card). New for 2012 are the camouflage-colored “Military” and pink-bordered “Breast Cancer Awareness” parallels, each of which will be serial-numbered to 399. The Breast Cancer parallels mark the first ever trading card set named after a fatal disease – something surely Topps and the NFL are both proud of.
The similarities between baseball and football continue with the inserts. There’s a dual player insert (“Prolific Players” in 2012 Topps Football, “Timeless Talents” in 2012 Topps Baseball); another batch of reprints similar to baseball’s “The Cards Your Mother Threw Out” (some of which will be autographed); a mini-style set based on the design of 1965 Topps Football (which fits the template of 1987 Topps Baseball minis); and another autographed reprint set, this one featuring up to 35 2012 Draft Picks signing cards done in the style of 1984 Topps Football.
It wouldn’t be a Topps flagship set without a few manufactured “relics,” right? And just like this year’s baseball product, 2012 Topps Football is loaded-up with cards featuring various manufactured coins, man-made medals, ersatz plaques, reproductions of Super Bowl trophies, and even what appears to be a card with a boxing/pro wrestling-style championship belt (a nod to Aaron Rodgers?). There’s manufactured everything, it seems, except the much derided manufactured letter-patch “Relics” and the proverbial kitchen sink – although at the rate Topps is going, collectors should probably be on the lookout for Kitchen Sink manu-Relics in 2013.
Of course, there is the usual gaggle of autograph and non-manufactured relic cards – although a fair number of the “relics” will not be actually game-worn but instead worn by the player for just a few seconds at the NFL Player’s Rookie Premiere. This lack of game-used provenance has never really bothered football card collectors the way it would baseball card collectors; however, just like in the baseball edition, each Hobby box of 2012 Topps Football will yield either an autograph or a “relic,” and each Home Team Advantage exclusive Jumbo box will have three.
2012 Topps Football has so much in common with its baseball counterpart, about the only thing missing is a gimmick card of a squirrel. It is scheduled to go live the week of August 6 with 36 pack Hobby boxes (ten cards per pack) retailing for about $65/box. Jumbo boxes will have ten packs of 50 cards each and will sell for around $100/box. See a photo gallery of preview images below the checklist and sell sheet.
Chris Harris writes the popular hobby blog Stale Gum.