If the basic Topps set was a human being, the 2015 set would qualify as a “senior citizen”. The good news is for many people, the “retirement age” is a good time to re-examine one’s life and make adjustments. Topps seemed to do that this year by unveiling the first truly new look in a long time. When I stopped in at a local card shop, the owner mentioned how all his clients loved the updated design and that’s been pretty much a universal feeling online, too.
However, most of the basic elements we have come to expect from Topps are unchanged, although a couple have been updated. The most important update is the base series has been expanded to 350 cards from the 330 card sets of the past few years. That allows Topps to add cards of a few more players. On a personal note, I was excited not only to see card #103 Guilder Rodriguez when the checklist appeared but also to pull one of those cards from the box. The great human interest story he created for what was otherwise a lost Texas Rangers season was worthy of acknowledgement.
And no it was not just me who was enthralled. MLB Network ranked the moment when his father saw his game-winning hit in its top 15 of the 2014 season. I’m excited Guilder will always have that moment– and now a card to show his friends and family to forever commemorate his time in the majors.
Hobby boxes still contain 36 packs of 10 cards each. There is one relic or autographed card in each box. There is a nice mix of current players and retired players in the insert set and again even some foil-stamped buybacks of vintage Topps cards. While we have heard and seen some horror stories about the condition of some, the two 1970s cards we pulled were fine.
Generally, sales reports have been good but my LCS (Triple Card in Plano TX) reported slower than usual sales for hobby boxes at $64.75 per and even said his jumbo boxes were not selling as quickly as in the past. Leading on-line hobby retailers are currently between $55 and $60 per hobby box.
Here’s what we pulled in the box we received from Topps:
Base Cards: 304 of 350. We did not notice any duplicates but we also didn’t see any short prints or photo variations.
Rainbow Foil Parallel: Michael Choice, Edward Mujica, Brandon Phillips, Carlos Torres
Archetypes: Johnny Bench, Ty Cobb, Paul Goldschmidt, Buster Posey, Mike Trout,Ted Williams
Baseball History: Hank Aaron; Bill Clinton (with Al Gore); Columbia Spaceship; ESPN (Bob Ley pictured); Tom Seaver
First Pitch: Biz Markie, Suzy, Eddie Vedder, Tom Willis
Free Agent 40 (This insert set commemorates the 40th Anniversary of Catfish Hunter’s free agent signing by the New York Yankees, launching a new era in baseball): David Cone, Goose Gossage, Alex Rodriguez, Nolan Ryan
Inspired Play: Miguel Cabrera/Al Kaline; Cole Hamels/Steve Carlton; Clayton Kershaw/Fernando Valenzuela; Craig Kimbrel/John Smoltz ; Mark McGwire/Stan Musial
Buy Backs: 1976 Jim Todd; 1978 Bob Stinson
No major hits for us, but Topps’ flagship baseball product isn’t hit-based. If you’re buying it for that reason, you’ll probably be disappointed. It’s a product that uses Topps’ exclusive license to commemorate baseball’s distant and recent past through its special insert cards.
In short, you pretty much know what you’re getting and while it’s OK to hope for a big surprise (there are some major autograph hits), it’s best to just enjoy opening packs from this ongoing tradition that now dates back more than 60 years and signals the start of a new season. Whether that’s worth 60 bucks or so is up to your own discretion.
One thing we do know is that the first baseball issue of the year results in a lot of boxes being opened. See over 43,000 listings for singles, sets and boxes by clicking here.