For much of the last decade, Topps Finest was a brand in search of a purpose. Despite the legacy of the legendary 1993 set, Finest had remained stagnant – a second banana to Topps Chrome and third fiddle to Bowman Chrome. Sensing this, Topps made some much-needed changes to Finest last year. While pushing back 2011 Finest Baseball back from April to October, eliminating the rookie redemption program and replacing the oft-hated manufactured letter patch autographs with on-card autographs were all positive, reducing the checklist to a paltry 100 cards, and replacing the etched-chromium card stock with foil board made Finest look even more like Topps Chrome. The results were mixed at best.
Therefore, collector opinions on 2012 Finest Baseball will depend on what they thought of the 2011 offering, because it is essentially the same product. One again, the base set will consist of only 100 cards, a-third of which will be of MLBPA-approved rookies. Although over 30 “rookies” are listed on the provisional checklist (including Jesus Montero, Matt Moore, Yu Darvish and … Troy Tulowitzki???), if last year’s set is any indication, Topps will be adjusting the checklist right up until the product’s August street date. Cards will also be issued in a Refractor parallel with the usual “rainbow” of serial-numbered Refractors also available.
Each Hobby-exclusive “Master Box” will contain two six-pack mini-boxes with each mini-box yielding two Refractor and one X-Fractor parallels, two die-cut inserts, and either an Autographed Rookie Refractor or an Autographed Jumbo Relic Rookie Refractor. For all intents and purposes, every pack will have “something.”
Unfortunately, 2012 Finest Baseball marks the return after a one-year absence of the dreaded rookie redemption program. Only five of these cards (each sequentially-numbered one through five) will be produced; and like the program of old, collectors will have to play the wait-and-see game to find out which player Topps tells them they’ll receive.
Finally in another new addition, every 32nd Master Box (one Master Box in every fourth case) will be designated a “Hot Box” in which all base cards will be replaced with Refractors.
Each 2012 Finest Baseball Master Box will contain two, six-pack mini-boxes with each pack containing five cards.