A year after having some unexpected issues a year ago, collectors and dealers are hoping 2016 Topps Tribute Baseball will have its ink in synch.
Tribute was the first high-end product for 2015, but many of of the on-card autographs were either smudged or smeared. At the time, Topps blamed the malfunction on UV contamination. Topps issued a complete recall of the product, offered refunds for collectors and dealers who bought boxes and cases, and for a limited time, offered replacement autograph cards of “equal or greater value,” plus a bonus signature or relic card.
Some collectors were not mollified, with one blogger even tagging the set No. 2 on his top 10 all-time worst sports card sets from 2000 to 2015. However, other dealers said Tribute wound up being a strong seller in spite of its issues.
Hoping to put that embarrassment behind it, Topps has announced plans for 2016 Topps Tribute, which is scheduled to be released the week of July 13. Each hobby box will contain six packs, and three on-card autograph cards, three relic cards and one base parallel card per box. Cases will consist of eight boxes. Online pricing is currently between $240 and $260 per box.
Topps is touting the debut of what it calls “Chromax technology” for its SuperFractor parallels, which will be 1/1 cards. Chromax enhances the intensity of key colors like red and green while controlling glare.
The signature cards feature Tribute Autographs, which will sport a horizontal design and feature major-league veterans and icons. Parallels will be in blue, green, and purple, plus orange (numbered to 25), and red (5). Black and printing plate parallels will be 1/1s, along with the SuperFractor.
A pair of autograph sets will honor greats in a “Then and Now” format — Foundations of Greatness (then) and Rightful Recognition (now). The parallels will be the same as in Tribute Autographs. Ageless Accolades is new and will honor league MVPs from previous seasons in cards numbered to five and one. The cards will be produced on “plastic technology,” featuring a perimeter die-cut.
Two special autograph inserts will debut — Tribute Tandems will be a two-panel book card numbered to 25 that will pair veterans and legendary players who share a common bond or playing style. Triple Crown Memories will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Frank Robinson (hitting) and Sandy Koufax (pitching) Triple Crown awards.
Robinson, making his debut in the American League with Baltimore after 10 seasons with Cincinnati, batted .316 with 49 homers and 122 RBIs. Koufax, in his 12th and final season with the Dodgers, led the National League with 27 wins, a 1.73 ERA and 317 strikeouts.
Parallels for both sets also will be red, numbered to 5; and black (1/1).
As for the memorabilia cards, Tribute Relics will feature retired stars, plus current veterans and newcomers to the game. Stamp of Approval will contain jumbo-sized relics with a unique die-cut feature. Parallels will be in green, purple, orange (numbered to 25), red (5) and black (1/1) — plus the 1/1 SuperFractor.
Prime Patches will include cards of current superstars and Hall of Famers; parallels will be in red (/5), black (1/1) and SuperFractor (1/1). And Milestone Relics will be numbered to 10 and contain swatches of game-used baseballs from milestone games. There also will be a Black Jumbo autographed parallel — also a 1/1.
Base cards also will get the Chromax treatment. Cards depicting the top 10 players eligible for rookie inclusion in 2016 baseball (more Chromax) will fall two per case.
After suffering the harsh glare from collectors in 2015, Topps is hoping to shine with its 2016 effort.