2014 Topps Tier One Baseball Preview

June is a busy month for Topps Baseball releases.

Next week (11th June) sees Series 2 of the flagship set hit the streets and you can read all about that in my preview right here!

The following Wednesday sees the prospect heavy Bowman Inception hit the shelves, and more on that to follow soon!!

Tomorrow brings us the third release of June in the form of Tier One Baseball. Click on the link below to check out the details and to get an idea of what you’ll be getting for your hard earned cash –

2014 Topps Tier One Baseball Sell Sheet

When it comes to previewing new products I’ll always try and be as honest as I can, usually concentrating on the positives over the negatives, but if there’s something worth saying about a new release I’ll happily share with any of you who are interested.

The problem is – I don’t like Tier One Baseball!

Pretty straightforward really… Never been a big fan!

You see I’m not a huge fan of high-end products anyway, I might have mentioned that before ūüôā but I’ll happily acknowledge that high-end products have their place in the Hobby. I do think that Topps produces far too many of them each year, and they’ve only gone and increased that number this year, but I guess that they’re a feature of the Hobby that’s here to stay for the long term.

For me high-end equates to flipping for profit. Don’t get me wrong, Topps does produce some lovely looking cards in their high-end releases but they can be the scourge of player collectors as singles of even the most obscure and little-collected players will often reach silly levels on the secondary market due to dealers/collectors trying to make a return on their original investment.

Products like Tribute, Museum Collection and Triple Threads are particular favourites as they have some nice looking base cards to back up the autographs, relics and autographed relics that you’ll find in their thousands! However Topps Tier One is an odd beast as it doesn’t actually have any base cards in the product, it’s just pure relics through and through!!

For me it’s got to be one of the most unnecessary sets of the year! I’ve never owned a Tier One card and most likely I never will! I guess I’ll be spending my money elsewhere. Try not to lose any sleep over that one Topps!

Anyone else out there a big fan of Tier One? Let me know as I’m intrigued as to what you see in it.

2014 Topps Series 2 Baseball Preview

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s Topps Archives preview comes our second visit of the year to Topps’ flagship product with Series 2 Baseball!

I always see Series 2 as the weaker of the three flagship releases, with just a smattering of new¬†rookies and everything else coming across as a re-hash/extension of what we found in Series 1. And to be honest that’s pretty much what we’re getting here… However there are a couple of factors that may well make Series 2 an even hotter commodity than it’s Series 1 counterpart. Here’s a link to the sell-sheet for further details…

2014 Topps Series 2 Baseball Sell Sheet

Now, where was I? Oh yes… Those two factors that I mentioned are none other than the crazy-hot rookie cards of Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu!! Now if they aren’t enough of a draw I don’t know what will be?

When I first saw the first¬†previews for Series 1 I have to admit that I wasn’t overly impressed. 2013 Topps flagship pressed all the right buttons for me, from the inserts all the way down to the all-important design of the base cards. 2014 Baseball didn’t have anywhere the same impact for me, although when I finally got my hands on a few of the cards I had to admit that my initial thoughts might have been on somewhat hasty side.

To be honest the design of the base card wasn’t as bad as I first feared¬†although I was still a bit non-plussed by the inserts on offer.

So with Series 2 less than two weeks away from hitting the shelves you pretty much know what to expect! Pretty much the same as before… just with added Tanaka!!

2014 Topps Archives Baseball Preview

OK, I know I’m woefully behind on my product previews… Humblest of apologies!! My attention to the blog over the last few months has been somewhat lax but I hope to get that rectified over the coming weeks. However as I’m behind on my previews I’ll do my best to play catch up from now which is why you’ll probably see a glut of them appear over the next few days or so.

And to kick us off here’s the first – 2014 Topps Archives!

Now this is a bit of a non-preview really as the product itself was actually released Stateside yesterday and cards are already starting to pop up all over eBay.

Still, if you want an idea of what’s in the set then take a look at the promo details in the link below

2014 Topps Archives Baseball Sell Sheet

Now in its third year I have to confess I have a soft spot for Topps Archives. It’s one of those retro products that doesn’t feel as if it takes itself too seriously. There’s a small(ish) checklist of 200 base cards along with 50 SPs, a plethora of different inserts and a huge checklist of on-card autographs of numerous players from the 70’s and 80’s who you wouldn’t ordinarily see gracing the auto checklists in the majority of Topps’ other baseball card releases!

One of my concerns this year is the further increase in number of SPs that set-builders will have to chase. 2012 had 40 and last years product saw the number rise to 45, but 50 seems a tad excessive to me, coupled with the fact that there are several key rookie cards in amongst the SPs, including the sure-to be scorching hot debut cards of Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka!! That’s sure to piss a few people off!

This year’s base card designs are made up as follows –

1973 Topps # 1-50
1986 Topps # 51-100
1989 Topps #101-150
1980 Topps #151-200

Big fan of the ’86 style cards myself, but I know that everyone will have their own favourites, those particular designs that will trigger some long-buried memory from their card-collecting youth! And that, in a nut-shell, is why this particular product works as well as it does!

And all this before I’ve even mentioned this year’s special autograph inserts!! 2012 had the oddly conceived, oversized boxtopper autographs of two actors from the original Karate Kid, including Martin “Sweep the leg” Kove; last year we were underwhelmed by¬†80’s Heavy Metal stars; and this year Topps gives us the rather awesome prospect of several stars from Major League!! They’ll be pretty limited so expect to be paying top dollar to get your hands on one!!

In all honesty, as with the majority of their baseball output so far this year, Topps hasn’t done a great deal to re-invent the wheel with 2014 Topps Archives. As is usually the case they’ve added more ‘value’ to the product which only server to further complicate the collecting process. But as I’ve got such a soft spot for Archives I’m prepared to let that slide on this occasion ūüôā

2014 Bowman Baseball Preview

And the 2014 Baseball previews just keep on comin’!

Here’s the big one for all you rookie and prospect fans with the first look at next year’s Bowman Baseball!

2014 Bowman Baseball Sell Sheet

Now I don’t know about you but is that base card design looking more and more “too much”? That’s the only way I can describe it! I absolutely loved the stripped back 2012 design, thought the 2013 design was OK, but the 2014 base card design??? Too much!!

The same goes for the Prospect card design as well. And while I understand a need for card design to evolve, usually with a tendency to build upon the look of the previous year’s release, I can’t help but think that Topps have gone a bit OTT this year!

I get the impression that Topps are designing their Bowman cards with a view to them looking good for their future Chrome release!

For me a good-looking Bowman base should be a good solid player image on a strong but basic card. Bowman is all about the Rookie Card, and now obviously the Prospect card as well, but too many over-stylised touches just detract from that. Topps have other products where style rules over substance, lets not see it happen to Bowman as well!

Another item of note is the return of the ‘1st Bowman’ stamp, but come on – what’s with that blue baseball with the blue ‘1’ protruding from it? Damn, that’s one fugly logo!!

— Sigh¬†—

And what about the inserts? Once more, for me Bowman isn’t really about the inserts. It’s never been the right fit for me. But now we get minis, die-cuts, and all other sorts of seeded oddities.

And then there’s the parallels, of which there are plenty –

  • Blue Bordered numbered to 500
  • Orange Bordered numbered to 250
  • Green Bordered numbered to 150
  • Yellow Bordered numbered to 99
  • Silver Bordered numbered to 75
  • Gold Bordered Numbered to 50
  • Black Bordered numbered to 25
  • Purple Bordered numbered to 10
  • Red Bordered numbered 1/1 (Hobby only)
  • Printing Plates numbered 1/1 (Jumbo box only)

I’m not the first one who’s said this, and I certainly won’t be the last, but do we really need THAT many parallels?? Will there ever be an end to the avalanche of coloured parallel cards that are inflicted on us these days?? Where do you go from here?

Now, I’ve just read back over the preceding few paragraphs and realise I’ve come across a tad negative so far. Unfortunately the only part of this release that really stands out for me is the 1989 “Bowman is Back” refractor autograph parallel, celebrating the return of the Bowman brand to the sports card market!

What does this say about me that, as per usual, the only thing I can get excited about in a new card product is the retro themed insert?

When I first got into collecting sports cards I started out as a Rookie Card collector and it saddens me to see how little importance collector’s seem to attach to the once-mighty Rookie Card! Sure, we all know that prospect cards are in vogue these days but surely there’s still a place in our hearts (and collections) for the humble rookie?

Overall I can’t help but feel that the Bowman brand is losing its way a little, and the look of these new cards does nothing to dissuade me from that opinion! I just feel that there are too many gimmicks in the product, gimmicks that would work better in another set! They just don’t really belong in Bowman Baseball!!!

Naturally it will sell by the barrel load and will no doubt make prospectors incredibly happy, but I’ll happily pass this one up when it arrives around the middle of next year!

Let me know what you think! Is Bowman the set for you? Or, like me, are you saddened by the apparent demise of the Rookie Card?

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball Preview

Another day, another product preview from Topps!

I’ve probably said this before but it always amazes me how far in advance this design and product information gets released. It’s as if for each set that gets produced, work on the following years set appears to start almost immediately. Crazy turnaround from those busy design teams!!

Anyway, the information for next years ever-popular Gypsy Queen set is now available, so click on the link below to take a look!

2014 Gypsy Queen Sell Sheet

So – what are we getting next year?

14_GQ_base

Here’s the base card and I’ve got to admit it’s the strongest design since the inaugural release. I would have gone so far to say that it was the best of all the base card designs until Ryan of Cardboard Connection and Craig of My Baseball Card Blog¬†both pointed out the ‘floating’ name box towards the bottom of the card. Now it sticks out like a bloody sore thumb and it does something to the overall aesthetic that doesn’t quite sit right!

That said, it’s still a nice looking base card and sets the product up nicely!

In terms of the set content it’s pretty much the same as the last couple of years, except with more buttons, more coins and more flags! Flags?!?!

Interestingly Topps have introduced parallel autographs this year to sit alongside the base autographs. As always the autos look as if they’re all on-card, but why do we need parallel autographs?? I’ve never been a big fan of the ones in Tribute and I’m not really loving these either!

14_GQ_auto 14_GQ_ltdauto

I just can’t understand why we really need them. The beauty and value of an autographed card is the signature itself, not the colour of the card it comes on! The “limitedness” of parallel autographs only acts as a catalyst to drive up prices on the secondary market and make life more difficult for player and autograph hunters.

C’mon Topps!!! We haven’t needed these in GQ for the past three years so why do you think we need them now! Just the autograph on the card – that’ll do nicely thank you very much!

Autograph moaning aside there is one particular standout insert from the 2014 product that I’ll definitely be chasing down – the N174, based on the original 1887 Gypsy Queen cards!

14_GQ_insert

That’s going to be one lovely looking set!!

Overall the 2014 product looks as if it will be another winner!! Plenty of content and plenty of inserts – a boxbreakers dream!!

Now, if they can just do something about those bloody ‘floating’ name bars!!

2014 Topps Museum Collection Baseball Preview

Topps’ high-end sets usually offer pretty much the same thing to collectors – thicker, better quality card stock; BIG game-used memorabilia pieces, especially patches; a proliferation of big name autographs, more-often-than-not combined with the¬†BIG game-used memorabilia pieces; and an astronomical price point per pack/box that puts such products out of the range of most fiscally-challenged¬†of collectors (like my good self)!

They’re usually very pretty cards and it’s always best to trawl eBay for any singles that you might want, often at pretty competitive prices, a few months after the initial release!

Some of these types of sets I can happily pass on – Tier One, Tribute, 5-Star – while others I often find myself inexplicably drawn to – Triple Threads and the subject of my latest product preview, Museum Collection!

Have a look at what the 2014 set has to offer by clicking on the link below –

2014 Topps Museum Collection Sell Sheet

On the surface things look pretty much the same as this year (and 2012 for that matter) with a few aesthetic changes thrown in, particularly around the quad relics! Take a look below to see what I mean –

2012

2012Quad

2013

2013Quad

2014

2014Quad

Huge patches I’m always pretty indifferent on! While some of them look nice I’m usually a bit ‘meh’ about the whole endeavour! However one aspect of next year’s release that really stands out for me – bordering on the downright beautiful – are the autographs!!

2014Auto

All ‘on-card’ and coming in several different parallels (along with dual and triple versions) it looks as if a lot of work has gone into changing the design of the 2014 autographs and in my opinion it’s for the better! Can’t wait to see some more of these!

So overall it’s pretty much what we’ve seen before, but in the case with Topps Museum Collection, it’s not something I mind at all!

Nice looking cards but sadly too high a price for me to get too excited about, unless there’s something that jumps out at me when they hit the secondary market!

2013/14 Topps Premier Gold Soccer Preview

The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed a short post back on 9th August announcing (no – more like “shouting from the rooftops”) the forthcoming release of Topps’ first official trading card set dedicated to the Barclays Premier League!

No, I’m sorry Topps Attax, but you most certainly don’t bloody count!

Now, this will be a Football card set and I won’t make any apologies for not calling it anything other than that! Topps may well label it up as ‘Soccer’ but to anyone outside the US, Football is what it will be!

I mentioned back in that post two weeks ago that although I set The Wax Fantastic up as a Baseball card blog 12 months ago I’d be remiss if I didn’t cover this set (along with any other Premier League sets) that Topps are kind enough to release in the future! I also promised to try and keep you as up to date as possible with any details about this set as they emerge, so here we are with the first official product release details straight from Topps!

2013/14 Topps Premier Gold Soccer Sell Sheet

Topps has gone for the high-end release with this particular set and this might not be a bad thing as a way of introducing collectors to the wonders of the English Premier League. Good quality cards with a varied array of game-used relics and autographs will hopefully strike just the right balance to draw collectors in! Picking up a box of this may well be out of the price range of most collector’s when it comes out but I get the feeling that there will be a healthy singles market springing from this set!!

If the set is a success then I’m hoping that a ‘proper’ trading card release will be just around the corner, something akin to one of the base Topps US sports with 300+ cards per set and a handful of inserts and a relic/auto per box! This will give us more players from more teams, and will be a true representation of what we’d expect from a Premier League Football card set!!

Hats off to Topps for having the stones to produce a product like this. Football is easily the most followed sport across the world and the Barclay’s Premiership arguably the most prominent and supported league!

Topps has effectively lit the torch, now it’s up to the rest of us to carry it and ensure that this set is the success it deserves to be, paving the way for more Football related products from Topps in the future!