by Chris Harris
There’s that old saying, “Everything old is new again,” and nowhere is that adage true than in card collecting. By now, it is standard operating procedure for trading card manufacturers to heavily borrow ideas from each other and attempt to reintroduce them as original concepts. 2012 Topps Strata Football is such a product.
On first notice, it appears to be something new and unique; but upon further examination, has the look and feel of a more recent Topps Football set: the criminally overlooked 2009 Topps Unique. Like Unique, Strata will consist of a middling base set (150 cards, 50 of which will be rookies) printed on a thicker-than-normal cardstock, with the usual gaggle of low-numbered, Hobby only, parallels also available. And just like with ’09 Unique, Strata’s key selling point will be in the hits. Each Hobby box promises a “Relic,” an autograph of a rookie, and a weird misgenation of Upper Deck’s “Shadow Box” cards and the framed “relics” from Allen & Ginter that Topps calls the “Clear Cut Autographed Rookie Relic.”
Each Clear Cut will feature an oversized swatch of a replica jersey worn by the respective player(s) (there will also be dual-player versions as well) at the NFLPA’s Rookie Premiere. It will then be framed by a layer of card stock die-cut in the shape of a profile photo of the player(s) and covered by an autographed piece of acetate. Just like with the framed A&G hits, a slit will be cut-out so that the fabric swatch can be felt by the collector.
The chief talking point Topps is pushing on the Strata sell sheets are the one-per-case “Strata Signature Relic Cards.” Allegedly, the Strata Signatures are “The card that inspired the product.” Like the Clear Cuts, the Strata Signature Relics are three-layers deep with an autographed acetate coating. Each will be serial-numbered to 35 copies, with a Patch parallel numbered to 15.
The big hit of 2012 Topps Strata Football ought to be the “Strata Signature Rivet Patch Parallel,” which will have a rivet embedded into one corner of the card allowing the three layers to be “pulled” Swiss Army knife-style. Of course, just like with the shadowbox-esque Clear Cuts, the Rivet cards are a concept that has been tried before. Fleer introduced the pull out game used card concept a decade ago with the Fleer Genuine Article Insiders. And more recently in 2008, Donruss had pull out jerseys (and autographed no less!) in Gridiron Gear.
2012 Topps Strata Football will be released the week of October 22. Each Hobby box will contain 18 packs of six cards, and each pack will sell in the $5-$6 range. Hobby cases will yield 12 boxes. Check out the preview gallery belo