Please Be Upstanding – For 2012 Panini National Treasures

You know it’s not very often that I get completely flawed by a set of sports cards!

Occasionally there’s the odd element of surprise…

“Ohhhhh… Look what they’ve done with 2011 Topps Heritage, it’s just how I originally remember” (had I been collecting cards in 1962… and actually been living in the country where they were produced)

The last time I can actually remember being taken aback by a set was when Fleer first released their Greats of the Game product back in 2000! It was just at a time when I was really starting to appreciate the history of Baseball, and all of a sudden WHAM!… A whole set dedicated to that one topic with the most awesome autograph checklist ever committed to a Baseball card product!

It wasn’t difficult to appreciate that particular release, and while others have come and gone since then it’s not until now that something has come along that’s made me sit up and take notice!

Last week I wrote all about my initial thoughts on Panini’s National Treasures Baseball. Click the link to read all about it!!

Well now the cards have officially hit the streets and the secondary market has been flooded with them…

And WHAM!! There I go again…

Personally I think that these are some of the most beautiful cards I’ve ever seen! The design is transcendant!! Truly awesome looking cards!!

I know that they aren’t officially licensed by MLB… but who cares??

These are cards for collectors!

They won’t come cheap, but Panini should be applauded for the job they’ve done with them. There is pure Baseball history in these cards, and there are many players in the set who don’t normally appear in regular Baseball releases… Names such as Dave Bancroft, Lloyd Waner, Chuck Klein and Nap Lajoie might not be household names outside the world of the Baseball historian or the avid Baseball fan, but here they are immortalised on card courtesy of Panini! And for that we should be grateful!!

The set is absolutely stuffed full of relics and autographs! There are big hits and there are HUGE hits! There are modern stars sitting alongside HOF’ers, Prospects alongside Veterans! There should be something for absolutely everyone!!

Naturally, I concede that these cards won’t be to everyone’s taste, but if you take one look at these cards and fall in love with them in the same way I have then go do yourself a favour and pick a few up… Somehow I don’t think you’ll regret it!

You may want to wait for a while until the heat dies down and some of the prices start dropping off. I did see a 1/1 Patch-Auto of Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario going for a Buy It Now price of $860 earlier… which is both unrealistic AND obscene in equal measure!

You can check on eBay for a good section of cards, but here are a few of my favourites that I’ve found so far and just wanted to share with you… Enjoy!!

This Ozzie Smith ‘Laundry Tag’ card #’d/3 was spotted by my fellow Cardinals fan, James Ruffin (@jamesmruffin), so thanks for that my friend!! I can’t take the credit for that one!!

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For anyone who’s already got, or is considering getting, any 2013 Topps Baseball Series 1, he’s the best review I’ve read so far, courtesy of Crackin’ Wax… Enjoy!!

Crackin' Wax™

Perhaps I’m one of the last people in the card collecting planet that has even come to grips with the possibility of even thinking about writing a review of this set, but I can deal with that. You see, what good is my cracking of the wax if I can’t at least expound upon my own opinion on what I’ve just cracked, even if it is a little behind the times. Many thoughts and opinions of this set have already been instantly been sputtered out on that tweeting bird site and that other book of faces page. Damn you, sign o’ the times!

That’s fine, though. I’ve already shared some of those instantaneous thoughts in those heavily used places. However, with only a few allotted characters per thought, it’s time for me to flood the wordscape with a seemingly unending monosyllabic vocabulary relating to nothing other than what I think…

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The Great 1/1 ‘Mojo’ Conundrum

1/1 cards!

Extremely elusive pieces of cardboard heaven (or hell, depending on how you view them)

From their very first appearance in the Flair Showcase products of the late 90’s the 1/1 card has become a mainstay of the Hobby, in a variety of different forms!

I’ve never owned a 1/1 card! Can’t really say it’s top of my list either. I neither love or hate them, but do acknowledge how they knacker things up for the dedicated player collector!

I was intending to dedicate a whole piece to 1/1 cards, and in particular the sellers on eBay who litter their listing descriptions with the term ‘1/1’, despite the fact that the item they are selling is anything but…

I mean… How can you describe something as 1/1 when it’s clearly numbered to something like 50 and the only distinction that sets it apart from the other 49 cards in the ‘set’ is the fact that it bears the same number as the players jersey that’s depicted upon it?

Friends, this card is not a 1/1… It’s merely a lucky coincidence! A coincidence that someone out there will be more than happy to pay a premium for… but a coincidence all the same!

Unfortunately my original article has become a moot point, as I’ve been pipped to the post by another blogger who has written about this very same subject. So, for a much better article than I would have ever written, why don’t you click here and go pay a visit to the Night Owl over at Night Owl Cards. I even made special use of ‘Mojo’ in honour of that particular piece!

And if you’re not following him already, why not??? It’s one of the best written blogs about our great Hobby out there!!

Go see!!

In lieu of a scathing article lambasting these evil purveyors of faux-1/1 Baseball cards, I’ll just have to leave you with a couple of my favourites that I recently came across…

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2013 Topps 'Cut to the Chase' Stan Musial #'d6/10 1/1?

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2013 Turkey Red Wily Peralta Auto #'d1/20 1/1?

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2013 Topps Finest Baseball Preview

WHEN WILL THIS MADNESS END!?!?!?!

Regular readers can (and will) be forgiven for thinking that I’ve had nothing to write about over the last few days as all I’ve been posting nothing but product previews.

Regular readers will be right, of course!!

I’ve been a very busy bee this weekend as it was my wife’s birthday and it just so happens that Topps (as if doing me a gigantic favour) has landed not one, not two, not even three product teasers over the last week… No sir, they’ve only gone and added a fourth as well!

And you know what…? This is the one that’s got me the most excited!!

Click on the link to view 2013 Topps Finest Baseball in all its sell sheet glory!!

Topps Finest Baseball has lost its way big-time over the last few years! The crown-prince among premium card sets in the early 90’s, it had some of it’s sheen removed (pun NOT intended) with the introduction of Chrome in 1997. It then seemed to meander its way through the 2000s, changing from the standard pack to the mini-box format of distribution… even becoming a semi-high-end product over the last couple of years!

But not this time!

In order to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the ground-breaking first Finest Baseball set, Topps have gone back to the tried and tested formula (18 packs/box, 5 cards/pack) and have packed the product full of great cards honouring the inaugural release.

2013 Finest Baseball - Mike Trout Insert

2013 Finest Baseball – Mike Trout Insert

2013 Finest Baseball - Matt Cain Autograph

2013 Finest Baseball – Matt Cain Autograph

2013 Finest Baseball - Manny Machado Rookie Card

2013 Finest Baseball – Manny Machado Rookie Card

If you’ve been reading some of my recent posts you’ll know that 1993 Finest Baseball made it to #4 in my Favourite Baseball card sets of the 1990’s. It’s a great set and I think that Topps have made a really smart move in honouring it in this way.

These retro inserts have a great look to them, and even the base cards have a clean and simple elegance… It looks as if Topps are letting the design and the Chromium effect do all the talking here. And if those circles in the background change colour on each card to reflect the team (as with the Manny Machado RC above) then score even more points to the Topps design team!!

At around $90 a box this is looking a pretty good product to get us through the Baseball ‘dog-days’ of August!

It does concern me that the only products these days that make me sit up and take notice are those that have some kind of retro theme or element to them… but that’s just me! Get over it, Batesy!!

2013 Topps Finest definitely piques my interest more than any of the other products that I’ve previewed over the last few days and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of the cards!!

Thoughts anyone?

Ooooo, I wonder if they’ll go back to the peely surface protector??

2013 Topps Triple Threads Baseball Preview

Here we are rounding off Topps’ latest Baseball trifecta with 2013 Triple Threads Baseball, the very latest (but definitely not the last) of their high-end releases!!

As with most of Topps’ high-end output I can’t help but approach it with a high degree of indifference. The designs look nice, as always, but the price bracket is way out of my range and as a result I can’t really muster up a great deal of enthusiasm for it.

In fact I don’t recall ever owning a Triple Threads card! If you’re a player collector and you manage to get hold of one of these cards then I’ve got no doubt they make a nice addition to anyone’s collection – a great centrepiece to show off and base your other cards around.

But deep down I can’t help but see it as a product that panders once more to the ‘hit’ chasers rather than the actual collectors… which is a shame as some of the relics do look rather nice!

Click here for all the details and let me know your thoughts on this, along with some of the high-end releases that are produced all year round, not just by Topps I hasten to add. Are they for you? Or will you just end up passing?

2013 Bowman Chrome Baseball Preview

“Chrome is in the air, everywhere I look around.

Chrome is in the air, every sight and every sound.”

Yes, Dear Reader, here we are again with yet another product preview.

Topps has once more been spoiling us this week with early looks at some of the hotly anticipated summer releases, and with a third to come any day now it’s time we turn our attention to the second of these offerings in the form of the glorious Bowman Chrome.

2013 Bowman Chrome Promo Sheet

2013 Bowman Chrome Promo Sheet

As per usual you can click here for more details and a few more images!

Topps’ Chrome products always seem to deliver the goods year after year (with maybe the exception of the 2010 Topps Chrome release) but it will take a lot to top last years simple, white-bordered design!

However it’s difficult to not make a straightforward comparison with the 2012 cards. I keep saying time and time again that 2012 Bowman was one of my favourite sets and I don’t like the idea of anything surpassing that in terms of card design… But personally I think that I’m going to end up disappointed.

What do you think?

The 2013 Prospects might not be as strong as in recent years, but with key rookie cards of Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy and Jurickson Profar, amongst others, this looks like being a nice set after all!!

2013 Topps Chrome Baseball Preview

It always amazes me how far in advance Topps designs its cards and releases their promotional material. If anything it gives an interesting insight into how quickly things move in the crazy-ass world of sports card manufacturing.

I don’t know if anything to do with the product will actually change between now and when it releases in a few months time, but you can’t argue with  all the hard work that gets put in preparing, designing and promoting these releases.

There could be an argument to say that sometimes we find out a little bit too much about a product in the months before its release, that there’s no mystique involved anymore, but I guess dealers/traders want to know what they’re ordering and collectors want to know what they’re buying, so we’re stuck with it!

Anyway, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Topps’ first all-Chrome product of the year, the appropriately named 2013 Topps Chrome ([chuckles, and shakes head] where do they get these names from… :))

Click here for all the usual details around what you’ll find stuffed into this release.

I get the impression sometimes that Topps Chrome is something of a forgotten release. There are some great rookie autos in each release but these never seem to reach the giddy heights of the Chrome Prospect autos that you can find littered across the Bowman brands.

I do remember thinking that this years Topps base cards would look good in Chrome, and from what I’ve seen here I don’t have any reason to think I’ll be disappointed. That said, once again there’s the usual over-abundance of refractor parallels but this appears to have become de rigueur for most Topps products these days – although those sepia refractors #’d/75 to look pretty sexy.

I’m sure that Topps Chrome does have it’s legion of fans out there, but whether this years release promises to bring any more into the fold remains to be seen. But hopefully, with a strong collection of autographed rookie cards, this may well be a solid release later this summer!