We’re approaching the 20th anniversary of Bowman Chrome and to any collector, it’s truly amazing how few adjustments Topps has had to make during the period. Sure, the parallels have evolved, there are different inserts most years and there are also autographs in varying quantities but the basic premise remains unchanged. Amazingly, a 1997 Bowman Chrome card fits right in with the 2015 Bowman Chrome release.
And that is one of the hidden reasons Topps has survived in a changing environment. They have realized for the past 20 years or so, as they always used to tell us when they came to Beckett, that one of their goals was to establish brand continuity. One of the differences between Topps and Fleer was Fleer would call their product Flair one year, Flair Showcase the next year and then Fleer Showcase the year after that. It may work in the short-term but unless you improve the issue each year (or have a great football rookie class), many collectors can become confused as to what you are producing.
Released earlier this month, Chrome includes two autographed cards per hobby box with 18 packs per box and four cards in each. A Jumbo version is also available with 13 cards per pack and five autographs.
Player names are printed in a vertical format and the design does stay somewhat consistent with what Topps did across its main lines this year.
Topps pushed to get Carlos Correa cards inserted into the product, which certainly hasn’t hurt sales. My local card store (Triple Cards in Plano TX) reported selling through 10 or more cases of 2015 Bowman Chrome Baseball at $76.25 per hobby box. He did notice his customers thought there was a paucity of Kris Bryant autographs as compared to other Topps issues and also wondered about the distribution of the inserts as many of his collectors said they had never received some of those inserts in their boxes. Overall, though, he told us collectors seemed pretty happy with Chrome.
Leading online retailers are currently between $60-65 per box before shipping.
As usual with Topps, we did not receive any duplicates out of our box. I think there has been perhaps one box in the Bowman family we have received duplicates on in the six years we’ve been doing these reviews.
Base Cards: 26 of 200
Prospects: 29 of 100
Blue Wave Refractors: Daniel Carbonell, Jeff Hoffman, Jon Moscot, Brandon Nimmo. We are happy to see that these are very obviously refractors and all the other refractors are serial numbered. That really does make collectors’ lives much easier.
Refractor (#d to 499): Travis Wood
Blue Refractor (#d to 150): Yunel Escobar
Orange Refractor (#d to 25): Miguel Cabrera
Prospect Profiles Mini: Hunter Harvey, Steven Matz, Julio Urias
Scouts Update: Orlando Arcia, Hunter Dozier, Brandon Nimmo
Series Next: Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper
Autographs: Aaron Brown, Gleyber Torres
Torres is a very highly ranked prospect so pulling one of his autographs makes me even more intrigued for what the future holds. Even now, they are bringing $30 and up.
Chrome is where collectors connect with the new crop of talent with players and it’s always fun to see whether guys like Torres, Steven Matz, Orlando Arcia, Julio Urias or Brandon Nimmo match their prospect hype over the next few years. If they do, then their inserts become even better as well.
The influx of new talent would seem to make it a good time to buy Chrome just for the sheer odds that a couple of the inserts and/or autographs in a box are going to do well over time. But the good news is that Chrome is still attractive to set builders as well. You’ll have to do some more buying or trading to complete the base sets once you open a single box, but acquiring prospects on the low-end of the price scale—sort of like buying penny stocks—is always fun. Current box prices even make it feasible to buy more than one.
See 2015 Bowman Chrome singles, sets, boxes and cases on eBay here.