Review: 2014 Topps Heritage Baseball

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!

Shouldn’t they?

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!

Allen & Ginter is busted!

Here’s a reblog from a fellow UK-based collector, Jeff Vernon! Jeff is a man of impeccable style and taste (he’s a Cardinals fan, naturally) and he just loves bustin’ wax and building his collections!! Here’s his own review of a 4-box break of Allen & Ginter’s!! Enjoy!!!

Jeffs Collections

So 4 boxes arrived yesterday and 4 boxes have been opened today. How did I do? Well I didn’t do as good as last years 4 boxes…..which isn’t surprising when last years boxes contained a 1/1 Verlander Printing Plate and a #/5 Jackie Robinson Rip Card.

But I did alright. My aim with Ginter is going to be to complete the base set and all the inserts (full size and mini) and to get all the Cardinals relics and to that end I have made very good progress. Beyond that it depends on what hits I get as to what I do with them (ie keep, make available for trade or sell)

First out the box is of course the box toppers so lets take a look at the 4 that I got :

A&G 1 TroutA&G 6 WWA&G 10 WWA&G 14 Mig

Now I actually like both these sets a lot. Last year I had no interest in…

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Review: 2013 Topps Archives Baseball

2013 Topps Archives Baseball came along at the end of May with big shoes to fill!! I’m talking BIG shoes!

Last year’s Archives set was one of my favourites of 2012! It was just pure fun – plain and simple! Modern players? On vintage designs? On a set that wasn’t Heritage or A&G? Count me in!!

Note: Important to point out that I’ve got nothing against Heritage and A&G, I just feel they’ve become a bit stale in recent years

A relatively small base set (200 cards) with 40 short prints, that were challenging but not impossible to find, rounded out a highly collectable set of cards! Throw in two guaranteed Fan-Favourite Autographs per box (of popular players from the 70’s and 80’s who didn’t regularly feature in Topps Baseball products) and one of the most eclectic mixes of retro themed inserts I’ve seen in ages and Topps Archives was a guaranteed winner!

Strangely enough the Archives concept didn’t catch on with a lot of collectors. I guess it was either one of those ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ releases!

But I loved it, which is why I got 10 shades of excited earlier this year when Topps released the first shots of the new 2013 Archives!!

I have to confess that I was initially disappointed with what the pre-release images showed us. The years chosen for the base designs (1972, 1982, 1985 and 1990) didn’t seem as inspiring as last years, and some of the inserts seemed a little bit bland in comparison to what we were offered in 2012!

But then comes the release date, and I end up joining in a couple of box breaks! The cards arrive and then POW!!! Immediately won over!! Damn the cards look great!!

A couple of nights ago I opened up a retail blaster containing eight packs with eight cards per pack! I made it a bit interactive by posting the break live in Twitter! Here’s what I got, starting with Pack 1 all the way through to Pack 8!

IMAG0152_1 IMAG0153_1 IMAG0154_1 IMAG0155_1_1 IMAG0157_1 IMAG0158_1 IMAG0159_1 IMAG0160_1

Now c’mon!!! If you love modern Baseball cards with a retro slant how can you not love these?? Eh??

The blaster yielded a nice scattering of base cards (plenty of Cardinals players) and either an insert or a SP in every pack! Standouts were the Tall Boy inserts (Packs 2 and 6) and the 4-in-1 Sticker insert (Pack 8)! There are better inserts to be had, such as the acetate ‘Gallery of Heroes’ with it’s stained glass effect, and this year’s base parallels are all gold and are #’d/199 each!

If I had one complaint it’s that the cardstock is a little bit too thin, a bit too flimsy! However, it’s not a real deal breaker and it doesn’t affect how much I love the set one little bit.

I’m going to be doing something collecting-related with this set! More than likely I’ll be trying for a team ‘master’ set. Maybe the Cardinals, maybe the Orioles – maybe both! I’ve never put a master set together before and I’m aware that it doesn’t come without its challenges!

Whatever I decide I’ll put a ‘Wants List’ at the top of the blog page so maybe some of you folks out there can help me out. Maybe I’ll get round to starting my ‘Trade Bait’ list as well!

So what are you all waiting for? Run out and get some Archives!! Now!!!

In summary –

Best Card – Ozzie Smith base card (not necessarily the ‘best’ but definitely my favourite)

Worst Card – Don’t really have one as I love all the base!

Best Insert – Feller/Seaver/Ryan/Verlander 4-in-1 sticker

Worst Insert – Eric Davis/Brandon Phillips Dual Fan Favourites (just a bit ‘meh’)

Overall Rating – This blaster 7/10 but 9/10 for the the product as a whole

Review: 2012 Panini Prizm Baseball

I’ve had an itch recently that I’ve been desperate to scratch!

No – not that sort of itch!! Not the sort where you have to take a trip to the doctor for some of that special cream!

At least not on this occasion!!

Nope, it’s that itch where you’ve just got to bust open some wax!! So I guess it was pretty fortuitous when two boxes of 2012 Panini Prizm Baseball turned up on my doorstep late last week!!

Ahhhh – Wax packs!!! You don’t need me to tell you it’s one of our Hobby’s greatest thrills!!

Despite being a product that’s been out for a few weeks now, this was the first time that I’d actually got my hands on any of the cards!

Was it going to live up to the hype generated by its Prizm Basketball and Prizm Football cousins? Would the products previous success in these sports translate into a successful, non-MLB licensed Baseball release?

Having already sold out at the retail level it’s a pretty safe assumption that Prizm Baseball has already found it’s fan base in the Hobby! But does that mean it’s worth your time?

Well, if you’re in any way interested in my opinion, then read on!


Let me start by saying that these cards really have to be appreciated up close and personal! I’ve not found any image online that gets anywhere near capturing what Prizm actually looks like ‘in-hand’!!

When you’ve got your mitts on the cards themselves you’ll probably find yourself holding them up to the light and gazing at them from various different angles, letting the light bounce of the incredibly reflective surface! The surface of the cards is so reflective that I had problems with the reflection of my camera when taking some of the pictures below!

Damn these cards are SHINY!! We’re talking shiny with a capital – well – SHINY!!

Lovely looking cards! The inevitable comparisons will exist between Prizm and Chrome but in all fairness to Panini and Topps these are two completely separate beasts entirely – and quite right to! I’ve always loved Topps’ Chrome and refractor technology, but I can see Prizm taking a special place in my heart next to them!

So, want to see what I pulled from the two boxes?? Here goes then!

Firstly, in terms of card collation and breakdown, each box yielded exactly what I expected! I managed to put together 176/200 of the base set, with 28 dupes! All the relevant inserts were there, including Prizms and autographs.

So lets see what I got! I’ve taken pictures of all of the inserts and a few samples of the base cards –

Base Cards

Prizm Baseball has a great selection of stars and semi-stars! With a smaller set to deal Panini had to be more selective about the players they chose so there are some great quality layers all the way through the checklist!

Retired Base Subset

Cool, cool, cool!!

Love me some HOF and retired players – no secret there. Initially I was a little worried that the look of ‘old school’ players might not gel well with the modern look of the Prizm card, but these fears were soon put to one side!

A perfect fit and great to see all of these great players in the same set!

Rookie Base Subset

A nice selection of 50 rookies can be found in this set and I was only about five or six away from putting together the whole set together. It looks as if I got most of the ‘big’ names though if the above images are anything to go by!

Rookie Relevance Insert

Dominance Insert

Really odd collation between the two boxes here as I managed to pull the same two inserts from each box! It’s not one of the most exciting inserts in the set either, but nice to see a George Brett insert all the same.

MVP Insert

Brilliance Insert

A bit of a ‘so-so’ one-per-box insert redeemed with the nice looking Baseball stitching effect!

Top Prospect Insert

As with the Dominance inserts it looks as if the collation is slightly askew here as I managed to pull two of the same ‘Top Prospect’ insert in Wil Myers! However, since young Wil happens to be one of the best hitting Prospects in the whole of Baseball I like to think I came out of that one OK!

Elite Extra Edition Prospect Insert

One of my favourite inserts in the whole product, this has now given me an interest in seeing more of what Elite Extra Edition has to offer! And given the fact that I managed to pull Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, the #1 and #2 picks from the 2012 Baseball Draft, I can’t really complain much here either 🙂

Team USA Insert

Along with the Elite Extra Edition this is my other favourite Prizm insert, and if it’s a good indication of what the 2013 Panini USA Champions set will be like then we could be in for something really special when that finally hits the shelves!

A couple of duplicates in Upton and Posey, but I did manage to pull the Trout and Strasburg which were nice!

And what’s the deal with Clayton Kershaw’s face?


Beautiful, beautiful Prizms!!! Be still my beating heart!! These look absolutely fantastic up close and the fact that 4 out of the 6 were of retired players (including Stan ‘The Man’) is just the icing on top of the cake!


Looks as if I hit the motherload with these boxes with respect to the autos! As a collector of St Louis Cardinals autos I can’t really argue with the fact that 3 out of the 4 autographs were ALL Cards players! They’ll be going straight into the collection – thank you very much!

The final auto is of Tigers’ Quintin Berry as is a Prizm auto rookie #’d 21/25!

Not too shabby if you ask me!!

Of course people will raise the issue that the autographs are on stickers rather than ‘on-card’, but as I’ve mentioned before, this isn’t something that really bothers me. However, It does help that the autographs are on a clear acetate which doesn’t look as awkward on the card, not like those ugly silver stickers that Topps used over a decade ago!


So overall I’m really pleased with my first foray into the world of Panini Prizm and will definitely be coming back for more! Some of the inserts I can take or leave, but isn’t that always the case with inserts set? Everyone has their own particular favourite that might not necessarily appeal to others! As the adage goes – one man’s meat is another man’s poison!

When I sat back and tried to think of a great way of summarising Prizm Baseball one of the first words that sprung to mind was – fresh! Prizm Baseball is an awesome looking set of cards and a real breath of fresh air for collectors!

Fresh, and shiny!!

However if the issue of a lack of a MLB license is something that bothers you then this might not necessarily be the set for you, although I’d highly recommend anyone getting hold of some packs or a box if they can as it’s a really fun break!

Go on!!! Put those prejudices aside and just go for it! Embrace something different – you won’t be disappointed!

In summary –

Best Card – Quintin Berry Auto Rookie Prizm #’d 21/25

Worst Card – Don’t really have one

Best Insert – ‘USA Baseball’ or ‘Elite Extra Edition Prospect’ (although the Prizm refractors look awfully pretty!!)

Worst Insert – ‘Rookie Relevance’ and ‘Dominance’. Similar design and comes across more as a ‘filler’ insert!

Overall Rating – 8.5/10

Review: 2012 Panini National Treasures

OK, for starters I DID try and do a video for this, but gave up the ghost after four different attempts to gauge lighting, sound and distance.

Whoever knew these videos would be so bloody difficult to put together?? I even had a picture of Christopher Walken up on the iPad in the background, in an attempt to channel my inner Chris Justice – but to no avail!!

So, I took a few pictures of the ‘opening’ instead. It doesn’t quite generate the same excitement that a video does but at least you don’t have to put up with listening to my voice droning on 🙂

So here goes with the opening of the box –

As you can see it’s a lot like peeling back the layers of an onion!

The tin that the mini-box comes in is nice and solid although you can see a little internal damage on the internal inlay (top-left) which looks as if it was done during the packaging process as there’s no external damage to the tin.

This isn’t a big deal and doesn’t detract from the overall experience!

You can see from the final image that the mini-box is also sealed, which is a nice touch!


Well, with all that opening stuff out of the way it’s now time to look at the cards themselves, in the order they were seeded in the box, starting with –

Card No. 137 – Josh Hamilton ‘Base’ (Jersey) #’d 42/99

First off, these are nice cards made from a good, solid cardstock with a nice glossy finish. I’ve said this before but the all-white background coupled with a fair-sized, mono-chrome image of the player make these base cards absolutely glorious to behold!! My hat goes off to the guys at Panini for coming up with such a striking card design!!

I tell you, these are thick cards and will take a fair amount of bending to inflict any kind of damage on them (not that you’d ever want to, of course)!


Card No. 15 – Willie Kamm ‘All Decade’ (Bat) #’d 22/99

There are several ballplayers in this product that are getting their first ever memorabilia cards, and Willie Kamm of the Chicago White Sox is one of them!

The ‘All Decade’ subset is one of my favourites in the whole set so I was very please to get hold of this little beauty! Made from the same cardstock as the rest of the base cards I just love the design on the front of this card, especially the pencil thin border that frames all of the detail within!!

Very nice indeed!!


Card No. 43 – Miguel Cabrera ‘Treasure Materials’ (Jersey) #’d 88/99

Another jersey card, this time from the ‘Treasure Materials’ set, and featuring none other than 2012’s Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera!

Not a lot to say about this one really. The ‘Treasure Materials’ set features all images of current players, courtesy of Panini’s license with the MLBPA, and isn’t one of my favourite in the set. Not because it’s a poor design, far from it, its just that I tend to gravitate towards the cards of the older ballplayers and HOF’ers!

That said, it’s a nice card of one of today’s greatest sluggers, so it’s not all bad!!


Card No. 18 – Bob Feller ‘Triple Crown Winners’ (Jersey) #’d 81/99

So from one Triple Crown winner to another with this awesome jersey card of Indians Hall of Famer, Bob Feller!

I like the ‘Triple Crown Winners’ set as it features a whole variety of old and new players, pitchers and hitters alike, all brought together under the same design as you see above! The simple use of blues and greys on the white card really accentuates the overall look of the card, and this is another set that I’d like to get more cards of.

Very happy with this one, and the fact that it’s a card of Bob Feller!


Card No. 214 – Tyler Pastornicky ‘Rated Rookies’ (Jersey/Auto) #’d 71/99

Not a player I’m familiar with but I do like the design, with a huge jersey swatch and an on-card autograph of the Braves 2012 Opening Day shortstop. This design is definitely my favourite of the ‘Rated Rookie’ cards and the jersey swatch is huge!!

Although it’s classed as a ‘rookie’ I’m still a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to a players first card and always look to Topps’ Bowman cards for my rookies and prospects. Call me old fashioned, but it’s just me!!

Still, these cards may well be overlooked by collectors and they make an interesting alternative for rookie and prospect collectors who are looking for early player cards to add to their PCs


Card No. 94 – Matt Harvey ‘Treasure Signature Materials’ (Jersey/Auto) #’d 40/99

Now I like this!!

The ‘Treasure Signature Materials’ set is not one I’d paid a lot of attention to before, but I like what I see. Made up of 100 cards and featuring a mixture of HOF’ers, retired players, current players and rookies, this is a really sharp looking cards. Even better that it features one of the Mets top young pitchers in Matt Harvey!

The autograph is of the sticker variety but this is something that doesn’t particularly bother me as it does some collectors. What does stand out with this card is that the signature is nice and clean, and the whole card has a nice structure to it! Again, another set that I’d like to add to my own collection!


Card No. 32 – Harry Heilmann ‘Greatness’ (Bat) #’d 10/99

Another old-time ballplayer finds its way into my collection in the form of Harry ‘Slug’ Heilmann. Another awesome set featuring several of the older Baseball greats, this card has a much simpler design than some of the others in National Treasures!

Nonetheless, I’m still very happy with this one. Heilmann himself was one of the best right-handed hitters to ever play the game, hitting over .300 in 12 seasons and finishing his career with a .342 lifetime batting average.


And last, but not least –

Card No. 73 – Mike Schmidt ‘Legends Cuts Jumbo Nickname’ (Cut Signature Book) #’d/5

Sorry guys, but it’s a redemption!! Certainly not a bad one from the looks of things, but a redemption all the same 😦

This is a Mike Schmidt ‘Legends Cuts Jumbo Nickname’ Book card, and I’ve had a look at the checklist for this and found out that it’s limited to just five copies!! Now that’s more like it!!!

I can’t tell you any more about it than that, I’m afraid!!

I guess that will have to be another post for another day!


And that’s all folks!!

Shame about the redemption but I’m looking forward to getting my hands on that Mike Schmidt book card whenever it arrives!!

I was slightly disappointed I didn’t pull either a Cardinals player or one of those Button inserts (don’t know why but I would have just loved one of those), but the Mike Schmidt Legends Cuts Jumbo Nickname Book card will go a ways in making up for that!

Would I consider that I’d made my money back on the box? I doubt it!

Does it matter that I didn’t make my money back on the box? Not in the slightest!!

I got this box for the experience of opening a high-end product, not to necessarily look for the big hits! I loved Panini Treasures before I got hold of the box and I love it just as much now! So I’d like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to everyone at Panini for all the hard work that’s gone into this product, and in making it such a great pleasure to open!

What would I have done if I’d pulled a big $$$ hit? Who knows?!?! If it wasn’t a player I was interested in, like Harper or Trout, I would have probably put it on eBay and ended up getting more National Treasures cards with whatever I would have made from the sale!

In summary –

Best Card – It has to be the Mike Schmidt Book, but as it’s a redemption I’ll also put forward the Matt Harvey card. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how much I like that card ‘in the flesh’! Great design with a nice, clear autograph!

Worst Card – I don’t really have one, but if pushed I’d probably say the Miguel Cabrera ‘Treasure Materials’ jersey as it’s not one of my favourite designs from the set

Overall Box Rating – 7/10 – Apart from the Schmidt #’d/5, I was surprised I didn’t get any other cards that were serially numbered less than 99. That’s not me being greedy, it’s just based upon observations I’ve made from all the other box breakvideos I’ve seen online

Overall Product Rating – 10/10 – No question one of the best Baseball releases in ages

I’d be interested to hear all your thoughts!!

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…

View original post 1,923 more words

Review: 2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Hobby Box

As a Christmas treat a couple of weeks ago I bought a sealed box of 2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects off eBay from seller – 1958chicagofan!

24 packs per box and 7 cards per pack!!

The box was a great price with pretty decent shipping to the UK, and although it wasn’t sent as part of the Global Postage Program it arrived here safe and sound without any extra duty or charges!!

2012 Bowman Draft Box
2012 Bowman Draft Box
2012 Bowman Draft Pack
2012 Bowman Draft Pack

I was initially going to break this down into two separate posts because of its size, but then I got on a bit of a roll so here’s the review of the contents of the whole box, pack by pack, pull by pull.

Let me start by saying I’m a big fan of this years Bowman releases! Topps’ decision to release these as a white bordered card, as opposed to the black borders of the last decade and a bit, really works, and we end up with some sharp and clean cards. The photography is nice and sharp as well and the colours are really vibrant!

So I had pretty high expectations going into this purchase, and boy was I not disappointed!!

Here’s a breakdown of the packs in the order that I opened them in…

Note – The 4th and 5th cards in each pack are Chrome while the rest are standard, non-Chrome

Pack 1

Rashad Brown (DET) – 1st Bowman
Devin Mesoraco (CIN) – RC
Longoria/Zinino – Top Picks Insert
Yoenny Gonzalez (STL) – 1st Bowman Chrome (Refractor)
Adrian Marin (BAL) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Mitch Haniger (MIL) – 1st Bowman
Paul Blackburn (CHC) – 1st Bowman

Pack #01

Pack 2

Paul Sewald (NYM) – 1st Bowman
Quintin Berry (DET) – 1st Bowman
Yasmani Grandal (SD) – RC
Anthony Gose (TOR) – Chrome RC
Christopher Beck (CHI) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Marcus Stroman (TOR) – 1st Bowman
Andre Martinez (MIN) – 1st Bowman

Pack #02

Pack 3

John Kuchno (PIT) – 1st Bowman
Kirk Nieuwenhuis (NYM) – RC
Matt Hague (PIT) – RC
John Silviano (TOR) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Corey Seager (LAD) – 1st Bowman Chrome (AUTO)
Caleb Frare (NYY) – 1st Bowman
Brett Wiley (STL) – 1st Bowman

Pack #03

Pack 4

Justin Jackson (MIA) – 1st Bowman
Anthony Gose (TOR) – RC
Will Hudgins (WAS) – 1st Bowman (Blue Bordered #’d 071/500)
Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) – Chrome RC
Taylor Hawkins (TB) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Max White (COL) – 1st Bowman
Mark Sappington (LAA) – 1st Bowman

Pack #04

Pack 5

Bryan Lippincott (WAS) – 1st Bowman
Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) – RC
Jordany Valdespin (NYM) – RC
Ben Waldrip (COL) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Erick Gonzalez (HOU) – 1st Bowman Chrome (Refractor)
Jesmuel Valentin (LAD) – 1st Bowman
Gavin Cecchini (NYM) – 1st Bowman

Pack #05

Pack 6

Jorge Saez (TOR) – 1st Bowman
Edwar Cabrera (COL) – RC
Addison Read (CHI) – RC
Jordany Valdespin (NYM) – Chrome RC
Jorge Fernandez (MIN) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Jordan John (DET) – 1st Bowman
William Carmona (PHI) – 1st Bowman

Pack #06

Pack 7

Derrick Bleeker (BAL) – 1st Bowman
Drew Pomeranz (COL) – RC
Derek Norris (OAK) – RC
Luke Bard (MIN) – 1st Bowman Chrome (Refractor)
Lewis Brinson (TEX) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Richard Bielski (PHI) – 1st Bowman
Ryan Gibbard (MIL) – 1st Bowman

Pack #07

Pack 8

Tommy Richards (BAL) – 1st Bowman
Alex Liddi (SEA) – RC
Will Middlebrooks (BOS) – RC
Elian Herrera (LAD) – RC
Wyatt Mathisen (PIT) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Scott Oberg (COL) – 1st Bowman
Alfredo Rodriguez (MIL) – 1st Bowman

Pack #08

Pack 9

Will Hunt (MIN) – 1st Bowman
Xavier Avery (BAL) – RC
Irving Falu (KC) – RC
Robert Ravago (MIA) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Jonathan Sandfort (PIT) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Avery Romero (MIA) – 1st Bowman
Jamie Jarmon (TEX) – 1st Bowman

Pack #09

Pack 10

Ben Waldrip (COL) – 1st Bowman
Bryce Harper (WAS) – RC
A.J. Griffin (OAK) – RC
Mike Mudron (WAS) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Kole Calhoun (LAA) – Chrome RC
Joey Gallo (TEX) – 1st Bowman
James Ramsey (STL) – 1st Bowman

Pack #10

Pack 11

Joseph Almaraz (STL) – 1st Bowman
Kole Calhoun (LAA) – RC
Andrelton Simmons (ATL) – RC
Patrick Merkling (MIA) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Matt Hague (PIT) – Chrome RC
Patrick Wisdom (STL) – 1st Bowman
Shane Watson (PHI) – 1st Bowman

Pack #11

Pack 12

Casey McCarthy (MIA) – 1st Bowman
Elian Herrera (LAD) – RC
Chad Carman (PHI) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Julio Felix (DET) – 1st Bowman (Silver Ice Parallel)
Brian Johnson (BOS) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Jeffrey Poppick (COL) – 1st Bowman
Jacob Thompson (DET) – 1st Bowman

Pack #12

Pack 13

John Silviano (TOR) – 1st Bowman
Wily Peralta (MIL) – RC
McCutchen/Springer – Top Picks Insert
Steve Bean (STL) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Ron Miller (MIA) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Kevin Plawecki (NYM) – 1st Bowman
Tyler Naquin (CLE) – 1st Bowman

Pack #13

Pack 14

Jake Pitnar (BAL) – 1st Bowman
Brett Jackson (CHC) – RC
Jonathan Murphy (MIN) – 1st Bowman (Orange Bordered #’d 190/250)
Andrelton Simmons (ATL) – Chrome RC
Tyler Tewell (ATL) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Pierce Johnson (CHC) – 1st Bowman
Andrew Pullin (PHI) – 1st Bowman

Pack #14

Pack 15

Kevin Brady (PHI) – 1st Bowman
Tyler Thornburg (MIL) – RC
Wade Miley (ARI) – RC
Wade Miley (ARI) – Chrome RC (Blue Refractor #’d 115/250)
Matt Wessinger (COL) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Nathan Minnich (BOS) – 1st Bowman
Clayton Henning (TB) – 1st Bowman

Pack #15

Pack 16

Craig Manuel (WAS) – 1st Bowman
Norichika Aoki (MIL) – RC
Adam Giacalone (MIL) – 1st Bowman (Blue Bordered #’d 409/500)
Devin Mesoraco (CIN) – Chrome RC
Jake Lamb (ARI) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Michael Vaughan (MIA) – 1st Bowman
David Dahl (COL) – 1st Bowman

Pack #16

Pack 17

Bryan Haar (MIN) – 1st Bowman
Jeremy Hefner (NYM) – RC
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) – RC
Dominic Leone (SEA) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Dylan Cozens (PHI) – 1st Bowman Chrome (Refractor)
Parker Morin (KC) – 1st Bowman
Matthew Price (BAL) – 1st Bowman

Pack #17

Pack 18

Will Hudgins (WAS) – 1st Bowman
Christian Friedrich (COL) – RC
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) – RC
Quintin Berry (DET) – Chrome RC
Brandon Brennan (CHI) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Austin Aune (NYY) – 1st Bowman
Richie Shaffer (TB) – 1st Bowman

Pack #18

Pack 19

Robert Benincasa (WAS) – 1st Bowman
Trevor Bauer (ARI) – RC
Matt Moore (TB) – RC
Kevin McKague (ATL) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Tom Milone (OAK) – Chrome RC
Rowan Wick (STL) – 1st Bowman
Max Foody (STL) – 1st Bowman

Pack #19

Pack 20

Benjamin Kline (TB) – 1st Bowman
Yu Darvish (TEX) – RC
Hamiltion/Harper – Top Picks Insert
Lucas Sims (ATL) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Matt Olson (OAK) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Alex Yarbrough (LAA) – 1st Bowman
Hudson Randall (DET) – 1st Bowman

Pack #20

Pack 21

Thomas Coyle (TB) – 1st Bowman
Drew Hutchinson (TOR) – RC
Tom Milone (OAK) – RC
Kirk Nieuwenhuis (NYM) – Chrome RC
Michael Wacha (STL) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Eddie Butler (COL) – 1st Bowman
Mike Morin (LAA) – 1st Bowman

Pack #21

Pack 22

Charles Gillies (DET) – 1st Bowman
Liam Hendriks (MIN) – RC
Jordan Pacheco (COL) – RC
Austin Dean (MIA) – 1st Bowman Chrome (Refractor)
Tyler Gonzalez (TOR) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Mike Dodig (ATL) – 1st Bowman
Connor Lien (ATL) – 1st Bowman

Pack #22

Pack 23

Chris Cowell (COL) – 1st Bowman
Steve Clevenger (CHC) – RC
Tyler Pastornicky (ATL) – RC
Hunter Bailey (WAS) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Yasmani Grandal (SD) – Chrome RC
Keon Barnum (CHI) – 1st Bowman
Bralin Jackson (TB) – 1st Bowman

Pack #23

Pack 24

Jonathan Murphy (MIN) – 1st Bowman
Matt Adams (STL) – RC
Jeter/Almora – Top Picks Insert
Peter O’Brien (NYY) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Kyle Zimmer (KC) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Mitch Gueller (PHI) – 1st Bowman
Victor Roache (MIL) – 1st Bowman

Pack #24

So… there you have it!!

I don’t know if any of you are big fans of prospecting or of younger ball players just on the cusp of their careers, but there’s plenty on offer in Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects, as is to be expected. In the UK we don’t learn a great deal about prospects. College players and Minor Leaguers are pretty much an unknown quantity (unless there’s a great deal of hype surrounding them a la Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper) until they arrive in the Bigs!

In this box I got one of the Harper RCs that I’d been after, along with a host of other bigger names such as Yu Darvish, Will Middlebrooks, Matt Moore and Trevor Bauer.

Another thing that I was really surprised and pleased about was the high number of Cardinals players that I pulled. I’ll need to go back to the checklist but I think I managed to get them all in either a base, Chrome or refractor form!!

Aside from the usual refractors there are other inserts in this product and I managed to get four of the ‘Bowman’s Top Picks’ set, showing a previous high numbered draft pick on the same card as a more recent pick! I was a bit Meh on these inserts as they did absolutely nothing for me.

But all this aside, the thing that stood out the most about this whole set was the Chrome cards. In recent years the Chrome cards in these types of products have been prone to bending but this years are very straight. I’m not sure what Topps has changed in the production process but this years Chrome cards are highly desirable and look absolutely amazing!!

Obviously I also got my one per box autograph, of the Dodgers 2012 1st Round Pick, Corey Seager… but more about that little beauty another time!!

So overall I’m really impressed and pleased with the look and quality of 2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects!! A good question to ask about the quality of a card product is ‘Would you go and buy another box on the back of this one?’, and the answer is a resounding YES – although given the quality of the Chrome cards I may well be tempted to buy a box of 2012 Bowman Chrome instead!!


A excellent quality product and very happy with the pulls!

In summary –

Best Card – Corey Seager Chrome Autograph – Very nice card and a great prospect!!

Worst Card – Richard Bielski (Pack 7) – Not the most flattering of photos

Best Insert – Any of the Chrome refractors… The Chrome cards look awesome!!

Worst Insert – Not a big fan of the Bowman Top Picks!!

Overall Rating – 9/10

Review: 2012 Panini Cooperstown Baseball

Please note – This ‘review’ isn’t based on an actual hands-on experience with this product. It’s been put together more as a guide to the product itself based upon existing reviews and word of mouth.

I’ve never really made any secret of my love for vintage Baseball and vintage cards in general. There’s something about the history of Baseball that I just fell completely in love with, and nothing interests me more than stories and anecdotes based around the old greats of the game forever enshrined in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.

Equally I’m NOT a huge fan of non-licensed card products! Don’t know why – just something that doesn’t sit well with me for some reason…

So when I heard about Panini’s Cooperstown Baseball set, based exclusively on Hall of Famers from across the decades, I was initially intrigued but not particular excited about the idea!

Oh, how wrong was I?!?!?

I’ve put this summary of the product together specifically for those of you who aren’t aware that it actually exists. ‘Cooperstown Baseball’ has already garnered a lot of interest in the US, where it’s available at both the Hobby and Retail level, and looks to be on course for being one of the surprise hits of the year!

Firstly you can click here for all the details from the Panini press release. You’ll know from my previous product previews that I’m a sucker for sell sheets and this time is no exception 🙂

You can also check out the Panini America blog page at WordPress here.

So, what can I say about what I’ve seen so far…

Well colour me really impressed!!!

Panini have pulled out all the stops with this one to produce a fantastic Baseball card set. Gorgeous base cards with sharp black and white imagery; short-printed base cards that have been enhanced with colour to set then apart from the other base cards (awesome touch there!!); a plethora of cool and varied insert cards; and a fantastic selection of autographs of Hall of Fame players, managers, broadcasters and journalists! And that just skims the surface of what’s potentially in store in each box!

Even though this is a non-licensed product Panini have done an awesome job of hiding any reference to MLB teams, and it’s been done in such a way that it’s not to the detriment of the card design! Top marks!!

There’s a lot to like about this product, and if there are certain aspects to it that don’t suit you as a collector Panini have done an outstanding job of cramming in so much quality that you’ll easy find something that fits the bill for you.

For me it’s the autographs (the majority signed directly onto the card) and the colour tinted short-prints! Check out these beauties…

2012 Panini Cooperstown - Christy Mathewson SP
2012 Panini Cooperstown – Christy Mathewson SP
2012 Panini Cooperstown - Steve Carlton Autograph
2012 Panini Cooperstown – Steve Carlton Autograph

Of particular note, out of the 100 autograph signers that Panini managed to secure, this set holds first On-Card signing (as far as I’m aware) of the revered and highly esteemed Dodgers broadcaster, Vin Scully! Limited to 100 copies, there have been a few that have appeared on eBay so far. The first went for the Buy It Now sum of $175 while following cards have ended at around the $300+ mark.

2012 Panini Cooperstown Baseball - Vin Scully Autograph #'d/100
2012 Panini Cooperstown – Vin Scully Autograph #’d/100

There is one currently listed with a BIN of $500…



For me, living in the UK, Panini has always been about collecting the football (soccer) stickers of my youth. As a result, and probably because of their limited Baseball output, I’ve largely ignored Panini as a card manufacturer… until now! This is a truly impressive product and a must for all fans of Baseball and its storied history!

I’m hoping to get a Hobby box of ‘Cooperstown Baseball’ in the new year (funds allowing) so I’ll post a full review then!

Ryan and the team over at Cardboard Connection have the complete checklist.

Until then I strongly suggest you check this out if you’ve not done so already!!

Review: 2011 Topps Update Baseball – Retail Blaster

OK, I won’t lie… I was after the Mike Trout rookie!

Aside from the thrill of ripping open some brand new packs, fresh from a sealed box, it was really the prospect of getting my hands on this season’s hottest ticket in the form of his nicest rookie card – at least in my humble opinion anyway!

(You can insert some pun at this stage about ‘Trout Fishing’… I was going to but – you know – a bit too obvious really…)

Anyways, I bought a retail blaster of 2011 Topps Update off eBay from Strictly Mint, and really took my time with this one when it finally arrived… savouring every pack as I opened it and pouring over the cards inside!

2011 Topps Update Baseball – Retail Blaster Box

The box breaks down into 10 packs containing 8 cards per pack plus a special pack containing a manufactured Commemorative Patch…

So, fancy knowing what I got???

Throwback Patch Card

Rickey Henderson – San Diego Padres

2011 Topps Update Commorative Patch – Rickey Henderson

Pack 1

Freddie Garcia
Mike MacDougal
Andy Sonnanstine
Dustin Moseley
Allen Craig
Robinson Cano – All-Star (Platinum Diamond Anniversary)
Charlie Furbish RC
Mike Cameron

Pack 2

Eric O’Flaherty
Kerry Wood
Tim Stauffer
Javy Guerra RC
Edgar Renteria
Drew Storen (Topps Town)
Hanley Ramirez (Cognac Diamond Anniversary)
Joel Hanrahan – All-Star

Pack 3

Brooks Conrad
Angel Sanchez
Sam McLure
Prince Fielder – All-Star
Scott Sizemore
Hank Aaron – Kimball Champions Mini
Dustin Ackley – All-Star
Orlando Cabrera

2011 Topps Update All-Stars

Pack 4

Reed Johnson
Conor Jackson
Sean O’Sullivan
Carlos Pena (Gold Parallel)
Andre Ethier (Platinum Diamond Anniversary)
J.D. Martinez RC
Ryan Ludwick
Craig Kimbrall – All-Star

Pack 5

Cody Eppley RC
Adrian Gonzalez
Aaron Harang
David DeJesus
Diamond Giveaway Promotion
Willie McCovey (Topps 60)
Brian Wilson – All-Star
Lonnie Chisenhall RC

Pack 6

Koyie Hill
Trevor Bell
Victor Martinez
Daniel Moskos RC
Brandon League
Grady Sizemore/Shin-Soo Choo (Diamond Duos)
Andrew McCutchen – All-Star
David Ortiz – All-Star

2011 Topps Update Rookie Cards

Pack 7

Wilson Valdez
Juan Uribe
George Sherrill
Justin Turner
Paul Molitor – Kimball Champions Mini
Jonny Venters – All-Star
David Ortiz – All-Star (HR Derby)
Yadier Molina – All-Star

Pack 8

Brendan Ryan
Jose Morales
Armando Galarraga
Kevin Correia
C.J. Wilson (Platinum Diamond Anniversary)
Jake Westbrook (Cognac Diamond Anniversary)
Michael Pineda – All-Star
Paul Konerko – All-Star

Pack 9

Tyler Chatwood RC
Jo-Jo Reyes
Sean Burroughs
Jerry Sands RC (Cognac Diamond Anniversary)
Pee Wee Reese (Topps 60)
Jacoby Ellsbury – All-Star
Miguel Montero – All-Star
Matt Holliday – All-Star

Pack 10

Takashi Saito
Chris Dickerson
Ryan Adams RC
Eric Hosmer RC
Alex White RC
Rogers Hornsby (Topps 60)
Andre Ethier – All-Star
Troy Tulowitzki – All-Star

2011 Topps Update ‘Topps 60’ Inserts

OK… OK… So I didn’t get the bloody Trout rookie!!! What can I say?

However, overall it was a pretty cool box with a fair spread of inserts, rookies and base cards!!

The base cards are nice and sharp, with some gorgeous full colour photography. I’ve been really impressed recently with the Topps base sets for these reasons and the 2011 set doesn’t let the side down.

Here are some overall thoughts –

The ‘sparkly’ Diamond Anniversary are OK if you like that sort of thing. There a bit too gaudy looking for my tastes but are OK for completists or player collectors

The Topps 60 inserts are my favourite! If there wasn’t so many I might consider putting a set together. Nice to see Baseball legends in full colour on these cards, although I’m a bit put out by the Rogers Hornsby card… 11 years as a Cardinal and they put a picture of him on a card in his bloody Cubs uniform??? What’s that all about??

Those manufactured patch cards are DAMN ugly!! ‘Nuff said!! Shame really as it’s always nice to pull a card with Rickey Henderson on 🙂

Nice selection of rookie cards!!


So, not a bad box when all’s said and done!

In summary –

Best Card – Eric Hosmer Rookie card

Worst Card – Rogers Hornsby – Sorry, it’s that Cubs uniform…

Best Insert – Topps 60 – Looks like a great set to build

Worst Insert – Diamond Anniversary parallels – a little too much ‘sparkle’ for my liking!

Overall Rating – 8/10

As usual, if any of you see any cards that you might be interested in then let me know and they’re yours! If we can maybe sort out a trade then even better!!

Pack Busting: 2012 Bowman (Jumbo Retail Pack)

You may remember last week I posted a tale of eBay woe, involving the purchase of a 2012 Bowman Jumbo pack with a ‘guaranteed’ hit that wasn’t quite what it seemed. Read the original story here and the follow-up here.

Well, the pack in question finally arrived on Wednesday of this week and I promised that I’d share it’s contents with you guys…

2012 Bowman Jumbo Retail Pack

The pack is broken down into 10 cards in the top section and 10 in the lower (see the picture above), and here’s how the cards came out…

Upper Section

Ryan Braun (Brewers)

2012 Bowman Ryan Braun base

Josh Beckett (Red Sox)

Ike Davis (Mets)

Tom Milone RC – Gold Bordered Parallel (A’s)

Emilio King – Prospect (Astros)

Dayan Diaz – Prospect (Astros)

Danny Barnes – Prospect (Blue Jays)

Josh Bowman – Prospect (A’s)

Martin Prado (Braves)

Brian Wilson (Giants)

2012 Bowman Brian Wilson base

Lower Section

Albert Pujols (Angels)

2012 Bowman Albert Pujols base

J.J Hardy (O’s)

Allen Craig (Cardinals)

Chris Carpenter (Cardinals)

Casey Haerther – Chrome Prospect (Angels)

Gerrit Cole – Chrome Prospect (Pirates)

2012 Bowman Gerrit Cole Chrome Prospect

Andrelton Simmons – Chrome Prospect (Braves)

Devon Ethier – Chrome Prospect (Dodgers)

Matt Dominguez  RC (Marlins)

Jhonny Peralta (Tigers)

So… Very happy overall with this pack!! Especially as it was free!

Some nice base with the likes of Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun and the bearded Brian Wilson (love that guy!!), and some nice looking Chrome, especially the Gerrit Cole that I was after!

This years Bowman has so far been one of my favourite sets of 2012. I’ve always been a sucker for rookie cards but I couldn’t quite understand why I was really drawn to the 2012 set so much… And then it hit me!! It was the white borders!!

Now, I might be wrong about this but I believe that this is the first Bowman set since 1997 where the borders of the cards weren’t black. Black borders always lead to heightened condition sensitivity and sometimes lend the cards a dark, drab look. But the white borders on this years release, coupled with some really sharp photography, makes for a set of really attractive cards!

I’ll do a review of all the years releases sometime in late December, but I was wondering what your favourite set has been so far this year!

While you put some thought into that, I’m off to start cultivating a beard like a certain Giants closer!!