Ever since returning to the Hobby a few years ago I’ve been constantly on the search for a set to collect. My fickle and ever-changing moods have made this a far more difficult task that it’s needed to be, but a couple of years ago I set my sights on a specific set-building goal.
1965 Topps Baseball is my favourite vintage set from the 60’s. I can’t really put my finger on why this is, it just think that it’s one of the intangible things that is, simply because it is! I think that there are better looking vintage sets out there – 1957 Topps being top of my list (somewhat controversially, maybe) – but from the 60’s the ’65 set has always stood out.
So when I knew that we were only a couple of years away from Heritage’s take on the ’65 set I decided that was the one I was going to aim for. It looked as if I was finally ready to take on the Heritage challenge, with its 425 card base set and several dozen SPs!! Bring it on!!
Now, I may have told you before that I have a very limited budget for cards. This is one of the things that’s always frustrated me about being a baseball card fan, this inability to buy a constant stream of up to date product! So with a huge amount of patience I started putting away my pennies from various eBay sales and started stockpiling my Heritage fund. About a month before the official release date I pre-ordered two boxes off eBay and then settled down to wait for the release itself… and wait… and wait… and wait!
When the product was delayed it didn’t go down too well with Patricia Bates’ favourite son, but eventually the boxes did arrive on my doorstep… Heritage Day was finally here!!
This was a bit of a first for me as I don’t recall ever opening more than one box of the same product in the same sitting (negligible budget, as I said), so I was going to make a big deal out of it – milk it for all it was worth. You know? Make the moment last… Stretch it out as looooonnngg as I could… Savour every… single… moment…
15 minutes after starting, I’d finished! Sigh…
Here’s a breakdown of what I got from the two boxes –
Box toppers : 2 Advertising Panels (not opened yet)
Base (1-425) : 233/425
High number SPs (426-500) : 16/75. No dupes
Action Image Variation SPs : 3 – Bryce Harper, Derek Jeter, Matt Kemp
Logo Variation SPs : 0
Chrome Parallel (#’d/999) : 4 – Giancarlo Stanton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Yadi Molina, Patrick Corbin
Chrome Refractor Parallels (#’d/565) : 1 – Alfonso Soriano
Black Chrome Refractor Parallels (#’d/65) : 1 – Michael Wacha
Black Back : 1 – John Danks
New Age Performers Inserts : 6/20. 0 dupes
Then and Now Inserts : 4/10. 0 dupes
Baseball Flashbacks Inserts : 4/10. 0 dupes
News Flashbacks Inserts : 4/10. 0 dupes
1st Draft Inserts : 2/4. 2 dupes (both the Johnny Bench’s)
Hits : Clubhouse Collections – Bryce Harper, Wilin Rosario
In terms of the hits I’d say I punched well above my weight with some nice Action variations; a black refractor that any Cards fan would be happy to own; a very rare black back parallel and an awesome Club House collection jersey card of Mr Bryce Harper! Was I happy with those inserts?? That’s a clown question bro!!
Here’s a better look at some of the goodies –
As I said, VERY happy with the inserts!! But I was never in this for the inserts to be honest… Nope, for me this was all about the set building! Get as many base as I could and then pick up the rest through trades and such-like. It’s helped a lot that there’s been a pretty high level of interest for this set over here amongst my fellow UK-based collectors, so it looked as if things should be pretty straightforward!
Well take a look at this next picture!
The stack on the right are the unique base cards while the stack on the left are the duplicate base cards! 147 base dupes to 233 unique base! Can you maybe see where I’m heading with this?
I’ll come straight out and say that I love the product, nothing changes there. Great fun to open and a great range of inserts! Lovely looking cards and a decent quality card stock! But those dupes?? Man… those dupes!!
I never laboured under any illusion that two boxes would have netted me a full 425 card base set, but 233 unique base?? Come on!! That’s only just over half!! (54.8% if you wanted to be specific). I managed to pull the same cards at a ratio of almost 2 dupes to every 3 unique base! 2:3!!! Is that right? Is it acceptable from just two ‘random’ boxes?? My friend from north of the border, Glenn Codere, opened two boxes of Heritage just before me and ended up with 79.3% of the 425-card base set! Now that’s more like it and what I’d have liked to have seen myself.
However I guess the boxes weren’t that random after all. I went back over my packs and noticed that some of them were almost identical, except for the inserts. Same seller and I assume (although I haven’t verified) the same case! So what happened?!?! How did I manage to get cursed with such lousy collation?
I immediately went to my go-to-guy on Twitter, case-breaker extraordinaire Mr Brent Williams, who verified that this can be quite a common occurrence, with roughly every three boxes often being the same in terms of content. Another Twitter user advised that Topps don’t randomize their packing sequence, so that when dupes come they come in droves! So maybe it was just my bad luck that I ended up with two boxes that had similar content? If it happens, it happens, but I can’t help thinking that I somehow got the raw deal here.
The thing is boxes of baseball cards aren’t cheap these days. I’d saved for a good while, letting other desirable cards that I would happily have picked up just pass me by… Steadily building up the excitement for the release of this years Heritage! Only to be faced with a high number of dupes that I wouldn’t have expected to get from such a small sample of packs!
The aftermath of breaking down these two boxes has pretty much soured my whole experience with this product. I’m incredibly wary about buying another box, just to chance my hand at filling the gaps. In some ways the enthusiasm I’ve had for 2014 Heritage over the last couple of years has all but evaporated and has left me with a really bitter taste in my mouth. Yeah, I guess I was just unlucky and yeah, maybe I should quit bitching about it and appreciate the cool inserts that I pulled. But as I said earlier, it was never about the inserts in the first place. It was always about the base, about the set itself, and in that area Heritage has come up severely lacking!
Please Topps, do something about the way those boxes get packed to avoid something like this happening to other collectors. To get this level of duplication from just two boxes is woefully unacceptable and simply shouldn’t happen. It creates bad feeling and adversely affects those individuals who invest their hard-earned time and money into you and the Hobby!
I know that it’s too late now but I really wish I’d held off the this year’s Gypsy Queen, although potentially the same thing could have happened there too I guess! The worst thing is it looks as if I won’t be going back to Heritage again anytime soon, and to me that’s a lot sadder then any stack of dupes ever will be!