If you read my Ramblings columns, you know I’ve written about those times when those of us of a certain age were just as happy to pull cards such as Steve Swisher or Dave Collins out of our packs as we were Hank Aaron or Johnny Bench. Memories of both the stars and the average everyday players are the meat and potatoes of older baseball card sets. In fact, until the idea of stars and superstars really started to take hold in the mid-to-late 1970’s, most collectors valued all cards in sets about the same unless there was some unusual scarcity.
One of the biggest issues for Topps in today’s Series 1-2-Update world is to balance cards of players on new teams such as Lyle Overbay and Jeff Francoeur and match them with Mookie Betts and Jacob deGrom in a way that makes sense for both the company and collectors. The Update series is helped a bit by the guarantee of star power in the base set by using players who participated in the All-Star Game. The problem is what occurs if collectors think they are getting too many commons out of the packs and not enough rookies or stars. That could be to some extent why prices have already softened on the 2014 Update boxes.
When I walked into Triple Cards he mentioned sales had been very slow at around $64 a box. One of his customers did receive a 1 of 1 Andrew McCutchen Letterman card but he was planning to wholesale out some cases to reduce his inventory. Meanwhile, Nick’s Sportscards was running a sale when I stopped in and those boxes were a shade under $50 for a box. Thus both of my local card stores agreed with the general populace but went about reducing their stock in different ways. Meanwhile leading on-line hobby retailers are between $50-55 per box.
Update is packaged in the standard Topps hobby box with 36 packs and 10 cards per pack. There is one relic or autographed card in each box. This has been fairly standard in the Topps base product line the past several years but it does mean no guaranteed autograph and that is sometimes a problem for collectors now used to getting at least one in a box.
Base Cards: 305 of 330. A tad more than 90 percent of the set. That’s a good outcome for set collectors. We did find one of the stat variations. I spent at least a good hour trying to verify what if any variations we had. I’d rather have simple variations such as the veterans of 2010 and 2011. At least when you got an Andre Dawson card, you knew it was not part of the base set.
Red Hot: Luis Avilan, John Lackey, Marcus Stroman, Matt Shoemaker, Oscar Taveras. Chris Withrow
Gold (#d to 2014): Jarrod Cosart, Stephen Drew, Mark Ellis, Sam Fuld, Marvin Gonzalez, Nick Hundley. Gerald Laird, Dioner Navarro Gregory Polanco, Andrew Romine, Matt Shoemaker, Joakim Soriia,, Nick Tepisch, Tony Watson, Zealous Wheeler, Chris Young
1989-style Topps Die Cut Minis: Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Jones, Mel Stottlemyre
Fond Farewells: George Brett, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Derek Jeter, Omar Vizquel
Future is Now: Jose Abreu (2 different); Nick Castellanos, Jon Singleton, George Springer, Oscar Taveras, Yordano Ventura (2 different); Christian Yelich
World Series Heroes: Cole Hamels, Manny Ramirez, Tom Seaver, Gary Sheffiield
Stat Variation: Joe Kelly
Clear Image (#d to 10): Rene Rivera: I will admit I loved this card when I pulled this from the pack. I think that is best parallel variation Topps has done in years.
All-Star Stitches: Glen Perkins
You know we mentioned in the Topps Heritage Minors box how sorry we can feel for hobby store owners and here is another example. At around $50, we’d be very happy with what we pulled from this box and some major online outlets with massive inventory can be at that break even (or less) level but hobby shops are forced, almost immediately, into a loss situation. That’s a tough pill to swallow. And if I was into the resale value of the box contents, I’d be very disappointed.
The good news is that at either price it’s still a relatively low cost per card product with a near base set inside, a variety of inserts and a shot at a decent relic or autograph. It’s still fun to see cards of players who arrived in the majors or switched teams and are pictured in their new uniforms. Update is not a hit product and never has been so if you know that going in, you won’t be disappointed. You can see singles, team sets, sets, boxes and more on eBay here.