Thursday, December 5, 2019

2019 Topps Gallery Review


Topps Gallery is a product that is exclusive to Walmart stores, so if you're at your local Walmart, keep your eyes open for these beautiful cards. The cards come in a mega box form, blasters, and also packs. There are a number of insert cards, parallels, and even autographs to be found when breaking into this product.

Product Thoughts
Now this is a classy looking product. The base cards are extremely crispy and clean with a huge touch of class. They certainly live up to their 'gallery' namesake. The cards look as though they have been painted to be hung in a fine arts gallery. The feel of the cards is also excellent. The cards of are of a good thickness that doesn't feel cheap and are finished with a nice texture that feels both matte and glossed at the same time. There aren't many cards that look as nice as these.


The set combines rookies with vets and retired players. Collectors will find a large sample of players from all of baseball's present and past here. For those looking for more of the big rookies from this year, Topps Gallery has them. In fact, I found many rookie cards when going through my packs. This product is a great place to add some of the hot newcomers from the 2019 season without breaking the bank. As this product is a Walmart release, the price point is very affordable with packs in the five dollar range and blasters at $20.


Different types of parallel cards are placed in different configurations of Gallery. If you're going the route of blasters, you'll get a special 4-card pack of Artist Proof parallels. These parallels are exactly the same as the standard base card except for a foil 'Artist Proof' stamp on the front of the card. I personally don't find these cards to stand out much. The little foil stamp denotes that it is a parallel, but it's not too exciting. For those folks who remember 90's Pinnacle products, there were these Museum collection foil cards that were easier to find than their Artist Proof companions. I liked the Museum cards better because they had a fully foiled look that was incredible compared to the single stamp of the Artists Proofs.


Bordered parallel cards come in packs of Gallery. The brown look of these parallels doesn't impress me. The white border game the cards a much classier look. This brown frame look cheapens the product in my opinion. Neither standard parallel does much for me. I think Topps needs to go back to the drawing board for their Gallery parallel cards next year.


The Master & Apprentice parallels have a different feel than the base cards. These cards are glossier and feature more color. These cards pair a couple of players from the past and present on the same card. The pairings are from the same team and showcase a nice history of great players for a certain organization. The foil on these cards stand out well and team collectors should enjoy these a great deal.


Another insert that I quite like are these Heritage cards. These cards resemble a card that could have been released in the 50's or 60's. They have an extremely nostalgic feel to them and look great. It's just amazing how clean these Gallery cards all look.


If you're going for a mega box, you'll find two sticker autos waiting for you. I didn't get a mega box and was lucky to pull this autograph out of a blaster. If you're going for autographed content, I would definitely go the mega box route as other methods have much leaner odds. Unfortunately, autographs in Gallery aren't the best as they are simply a sticker hastily pasted onto the front of a base card. It's a bit lazy of an effort by Topps here.

Positives:
  • Crispy and clean looking cards.
  • Boxes and packs don't cost too much.
  • Guaranteed autographs in mega boxes.
Negatives:
  • Autographs are not presented well on the card.
  • The product can only be found at Walmart.
  • Parallel content could use a makeover.

Overall Rating:

8.5/10

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

2019 Topps Transcendent Review

 

Topps is absolutely crazy with the most expensive card product ever produced - Transcendent. A box of this stuff costs nearly $30,000. It is jam packed with legendary autographs, rare cards, and even a special invitation to a party with Ken Griffey Jr. I guess if you have money to throw around, you can spend it on this! Most mortals will have to settle for getting a lucky hit in a group break (of which is NOT cheap either)!

Product Thoughts
Transcendent is a beautiful product - that can't be denied. The base cards have a shimmer to them that is unreal in person. The cards are of the highest quality and are certainly special. Of course, the base cards are not what make this product. The most interesting products are the Derek Jeter 1/1 cards represented on a throwback Topps designs, the Superfractor that you get, the cut-autograph, and the Griffey meet and greet party. In the group break that I was in, a 1/1 Babe ruth cut/bat barrel book card was pulled. I held my breath for a second until I saw someone else's lucky name attached to it. Transcendent is an amazing product that most can only just grasp at. 


Group breaks for Transcendent ranged from a hundred plus dollars to a smidge under six hundred for a single card. Lower priced group breaks included every card there (including the base). More expensive group breaks would lump all the base cards together as one spot. I got lucky pulling this Bryce Harper/10 from a break that cost just over a hundred dollars. Doing this truly is a gamble, but like I said before, it's probably the only way to get a hold of Transcendent. I certainly wouldn't buy a box of it. The box price is as much as a very nice new car!

Looking on eBay, many of the cards you might want to pick up can be found for a relatively low price. The only cards that hit stratospheric numbers are the huge hits like the desirable cuts and 1 of 1 rarities. But if you're just going for a player that is decent, you can find the singles for moderate prices.

Positives:
  • The most elegant cards produced.
  • Chances at 1/1's, amazing cuts, and more.
  • Group breaks offer a chance at greatness.
Negatives:
  • Its price tag is insane.
  • Group break prices are high and high risk.
  • Not as sought after of a brand because of its prohibitive price point.
Overall Rating:

9.5/10

Monday, December 2, 2019

2019-2020 Panini Absolute Basketball Review


Absolute is a brand that is known for its quality cards that contain a ton of different basketball related memorabilia. It's a brand that is flashy, full of hits, and a great product geared toward higher-end collectors. This year's box price comes out at just under $200 with each box of Absolute containing two mini boxes inside. As traditional with Absolute, the cards are wrapped in cellophane packs - which you can pretty much see through. I'm not sure why that's the case, but that's just the way it's always been with this brand.

Product Thoughts
Absolute is a fun product to break. There is a lot to see in the product with many of the cards being flashy in design. Collectors can expect to find two autographs and two relics inside of their boxes. Absolute is a rookie-centric brand so there are many rookie autos and memorabilia cards to find. Because of the early season release of these cards, the rookie materials are all just player worn rather than game-used. Veterans will have game-used material though. Just make sure you check the back of the card to verify where the embedded memorabilia came from.


Being a higher-end product, you'll find plenty of autographs and serial numbered cards. The big draw this year, of course, is Zion Williamson. Any cards of his - including his base cards - will have a nice value to them. As of this review, Zion has not yet played a second of an NBA regular season game. Collectors can only hope that his on-court play will match the extreme hype his cards are carrying at the moment.


Some of the rookie cards in Absolute are on-card autographed. These cards should carry a nice premium as on-card autographs are much more desired than those of the sticker variety. The cards in Absolute come in a variety of parallel variations. This particular Cam Reddish autographed card is a blue bordered parallel numbered to just 49.


Speaking of parallel cards, the base cards also have many variations to them. The card that comes at the end of the pack are usually the ones that has serial numbering on them. Parallel base cards stand out from their base counterparts as they shimmer with a radiant color. The parallels look quite nice, and in basketball, parallel cards have always been sought after - especially those of the hottest players.


In Absolute you'll find not only standard jersey cards, but cards that feature patches and even chunks of basketballs. I've got to admit I'm not a huge fan of the basketball relics, but they do have some visual appeal to them. If you happen to pull a basketball relic, you'll find that the card is quite large as to fit that chunk in there.

Positives:
  • Shiny cards that have eye-popping looks.
  • Lots of rookie card content.
  • 4 hits per main box.
Negatives:
  • Mostly on-sticker autographed content.
  • Rookie memorabilia is player-worn.
  • Basketball pieces look cool, but aren't very significant as an embedded relic.
Overall Rating:

8.75/10

2019-2020 Upper Deck Black Diamond Review


Upper Deck Black Diamond is the first high-end hockey product to come out. Upper Deck packs Black Diamond full of 'innovative' inserts as well as a the full rookie class for 19/20. Each box comes with two packs - a single card Exquisite pack and a thick pack of Black Diamond cards. The boxes of Black Diamond run a shade under two-hundred US dollars... so... not cheap.

Product Thoughts
I honestly haven't been a fan of Black Diamond since it's changeover from a mid-tier product. The cards are definitely more premium, but the value really isn't there in terms of what you get in the pack. Though there is some nice memorabilia content, there are also cards that are nicely made 'insert' cards. They may look nice, but collectors don't seem very enthusiastic about them. My thought is that Upper Deck is trying to elevate insert cards so that they have more collectability. Sadly, I don't think they have caught on much. I find that collectors are disappointed when they see these cards - even though they can be quite good looking in design.


Speaking of insert cards, back again are these fake patch cards. These jumbo manufactured patch cards have been in Black Diamond for a couple years now, but I really wish they weren't. To the unsuspecting collector, this card could be considered a 'sick patch', but this patch was never part of a jersey. It was just sewed up by Upper Deck and inserted into the card for collectors to create a team logo puzzle. It's a big waste of space and something that I've found collectors to really dislike. At two-hundred dollars a box, who's going to put these puzzle cards together? 


On a positive note, you can find all of the 19/20 rookie crop here in Black Diamond. In Upper Deck Series One, you only got a portion of the best rookies. Here in Black Diamond you get pretty much all the tops guys. The standard Rookie Gem card is well designed and has a unique look that is pretty impressive. The more rare rookie gem cards have actual diamonds embedded in them. Though I'm not a huge fan of this trend of putting diamonds into cards, it does work for Black Diamond since diamond is in its name. Plus, the cards really do look quite nice.


Being a very early season release, there is no way that Upper Deck could put game-used content of the rookies they have in the product. The relic cards here are all player-worn - but that's expected. I'd much rather get a card like this than that big jumbo fake patch.


Autographed content in Black Diamond is available, but I've seen some breaks that have no ink in them. To me that's sad. The autographs look great even thought they come on a sticker. The gold ink really pops and having each card serial numbered is a nice touch. I'm definitely liking the autographed content here.


Exquisite packs will yield lots of rookie content. Many of the Exquisite cards feature serial numbered rookie cards. These thick cards have a nice premium feel to them. Besides those rookie cards, you can also find memorabilia. I was lucky enough to find this Carey Price patch card. it is a gorgeous card with a great patch embedded in it. I definitely feel that I got lucky with this card!

Positives:
  • Great looking card designs.
  • All the top rookies are available.
  • Actual diamond rookie cards look good and have nice value to them.
Negatives:
  • Insert cards are not a hit with collectors.
  • Manufactured patch cards are not a hit with collectors.
  • The price point is not a hit with collectors.
Overall Rating:

7.25/10

Sunday, November 24, 2019

2019-2020 Hoops Basketball Review


I've been waiting for Hoops to hit my retail shelves, and it's finally here. It's a bit strange to be so excited for a very low-end retail product, but I was excited nonetheless. Basketball fever is high in these parts and Hoops brings it with all the exciting rookies in their NBA uniforms. Hoops also has a huge array of inserts and parallels that make it fun to open and enjoy.

Product Thoughts
I had the option of purchasing some hobby boxes of Hoops a couple of weeks ago, but I held off as I thought the price was quite high. It was around the $100 mark, which is really unheard of territory for a product like Hoops. The Zion hype is real! I decided to hold off and see when it would hit retail, and it finally did. Panini sure did take their sweet time getting it out to my neck of the woods though! I picked up a few rack packs and blasters for their retail of price of $4.99 and $19.99 respectively. The store also had gravity packs going for a few bucks each, but I held off on those.


Hoops has a myriad of insert cards. One of the popular sets so far are the Arriving Now cards. Panini has done a great job on the design of these cards. I love the bright yellow background with the player in black and white with their jersey in color. It's a stunning look that works really well. These inserts come in both a standard paper version as well as a foil parallel. This set features all the top rookies from the draft. These cards likely won't hold high values, but the appeal of these cards will get collectors to chase them.


Hoops has been around for a very long time. I actually remember buying the very first Hoops set back in 1989 and '90. It was a really exciting time for basketball cards. This year Hoops has a special tribute to the 90's with a very 90's inspired design. Not only do you get players who were from that era on the cards, the rookies are also part of this tribute set. 


Hoops is a product that is really geared towards a younger audience. Though they have cards like the tributes above, most of the inserts have a modern feel to them. One of my favorites this year are the Get Out The Way cards. These cards are very busy looking with a colorful, eye-popping design. The foil variations have an extra pop to them that I really enjoy.


For the parallel collectors out there, Hoops throws in quite a few parallels to chase. Retail packs have special orange and teal foil parallels that look really nice. Filling in the border with shimmery color makes the cards really stand out. Other parallels have a more plain colored border and you'll find some parallel cards with serial numbering on them.


While Hoops is a low-end product, Panini does a good job of still providing collectors with the chance at getting hits. Most of the hits found in Topps are going to be plain jersey cards. Blaster boxes state that you will find either a jersey or an autograph, but for the vast majority of the time your hit will be a jersey. Plain jersey or not, it's still great to find hits in retail blasters - this is something that Panini does really well.


I actually pulled an autographed card out of a hanger rack pack. The Great SIGnificance set doesn't really inspire anyone to collect it, but it is a nice surprise to pull out of a pack. These cards have sticker autographs and a very mundane design. This type of autographed content is correct for a brand such as Hoops, so I won't complain too much about it.


On store shelves now are Hoops Holiday Edition blasters. These boxes have base and insert cards that feature a photoshopped snowy background. I can't help but compare these to their Topps counterparts. It's no contest. The Topps Holiday cards a heads and shoulders above these in every way. But I'm just glad Panini did something with the holidays. Upper Deck needs to follow soon!


The coolest thing to find in the Holiday blasters is the player-worn ugly sweater cards. These cards feature a piece of an ugly sweater that the player wore. You can see the shirt right on the front of the card. It's a really fun idea and perfect for Christmas coming up!

Positives:
  • Inexpensive product.
  • Hitting at the retail level is guaranteed in blasters.
  • Huge number of different things to collect within the Hoops checklist.
Negatives:
  • These cards will not be worth too much.
  • Lackluster design on some of the cards - particularly the sticker autographs.
  • Exciting now, but anything but later.
Overall Rating:

7.5/10