Amid a flurry of products issued over the final four weeks of 2014, Topps Strata Football returned, offering three hits per box: one autograph card, one relic card and one Clear Cut Autograph Rookie Relic. This is very similar to the last couple of years and with a reasonable price point and a decent number of hits, the path of strata is fairly steady. You’ll find Strata in hobby shops and retail stores but the blaster boxes at Target and Walmart use a thinner card stock.
One of my local shops had boxes priced at $74. They’re currently running $50-60 per box online. Strata offers 18 packs with six cards per pack which also makes the cost per card a very reasonable 50 cents per at the current online price levels.
The base card design has the player photo set against a basically white background with some spheric design. The backs contain biographical information, some notes on the player and seasonal and career statistics.
The set also has 20 short prints interspersed among the rookie cards and there are several color variations, not all of which are serial numbered or noted in other manners. I do wish Topps would label those cards even if there is not a serial numbering just so collectors don’t make a mistake in either buying or selling them. There’s no reason not to make it clear.
Half of the base checklist is focused on the 2014 rookie class.
While it’s not really a hit-based product, the Clear Cut Autograph Relics have been popular. Unfortunately, Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t on the checklist, which could have boosted sales at shops.
Here’s what we pulled from the box provided by Topps:
Base Cards: 92 of 200. This means a collector needs two hobby boxes plus a few singles to complete a set. We did not notice any short prints in our box
Gold Parallels: Antonio Bryant, Reggie Bush, Devonta Freeman, Garrett Gilbert, Stephen Morris, Demaryius Thomas
Bronze Parallel (d to 150): Andre Williams
Die Cuts: LeVeon Bell, Marshawn Lynch
Autograph: Stephon Tuitt
Strata is never exceptionally flashy but it does live up to its reputation as a fairly nice-looking, lower priced option for football collectors. It’s a doable set for base collectors, the die-cuts are decent and with a couple of autographs and numerous parallels, it’s not a bad buy, especially if you can grab one for $60 or less.
There are enough veteran players in the inserts and hit areas to make this a fun product to open if you like to take a chance on younger players or if you are more comfortable with the more established veterans. The thick card stock on the hobby boxes are much nicer than what you’ll get at your local department store, too.