Thursday, October 17, 2019

2019 Topps Update Review


Topps completes its main set of cards with 2019 Topps Update. These cards wrap up the season by featuring the final group of rookie cards from the 2019 season as well as players who changed teams since their cards came in series one or two. Collectors will also find a huge number of All-Star game cards and Rookie Debuts when looking through their packs.

Product Thoughts
Topps Update sets have really been driven up by hype these past few years. Many of the big name rookies that people are looking for end up in this set. In 2018, there was Ronald Acuna. His update rookie caused a huge value increase in that series of cards this past season. In this set, you'll find the true rookie card of Vladimir Guerrero Jr as well as other hopeful stars such as Cavan Biggio, Michael Chavis, and Keston Hiura amongst others.


Parallel cards abound within Topps Update just as it does with every other Topps product. Even the inserts such as this Frank Robinson has a parallel. While the inserts may be fun to find, the parallel cards are where it's really at. Finding a numbered parallel card of a hot rookie from this set can be great as often times there will be great value to the card.


Be on the lookout for non-true rookie cards of players as well as All-Star Game cards. The All-Star Game is prominently featured in Topps Update. You'll find star players who have AS cards as well as players who participated in the All-Star Game's home run derby. While these cards can be cool, these cards area not worth nearly the amount as a true rookie card would be. The same goes for the rookie debut cards. It's the card without that phrase you'll be looking for.


Speaking of the All-Star Game, many of the hits that you'll find in Update come from that event. In my two boxes of Update I pulled two standard jersey cards from the All-Star Game weekend. The card says that the little swatch was event-worn... so I'm not clear as to how it was used. I would have much preferred an autograph, but the standard hobby boxes of Topps Update will most likely contain a jersey hit like this one.

Positives:
  • It's still the basic Topps set so it won't be priced too high.
  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s true rookie is in this set along with other notable names.
  • Bonus Topps packs containing 1984 design cards now come in the box.
Negatives:
  • There are probably too many ASG and Rookie Debut cards in here.
  • More expensive out of the gate than in previous years.
  • Most standard hobby boxes will have a mem card rather than an autograph.

Overall Rating:

8.75/10

2019 Topps Gold Label Review


Topps Gold Label is pretty much a one-card-per-pack type of product as each box comes with one very nice looking autographed card. But to mix it up a little, Topps also throws in some nice base cards to give collectors a few more packs to open. The pack with the special gold framed autographed card sticks out like a sore thumb when opening the box... so be careful not to purchase packs of this on the secondary market (unless they are dirt cheap).

Product Thoughts
Gold Label is a beautiful set. It combines tastefully done gold foil with some amazing holofoil to create a truly modern masterpiece of a card. Each card contains two images that go well together. The cards don't look crowded. I'm really impressed by whoever designed these cards as they are extremely well balanced - not something easy to do given all the elements in play here.


I'm not a huge fan of the base packs that come with Gold Label, but they do contain parallel cards that have individual numbering. These parallel cards give the product a little more life, but I don't recall Gold Label parallel cards as anything people were really clamoring over. So while they are nice, I just don't see a huge demand for them after a couple weeks of release.


Gold Label also institutes a class system for the base cards. This tiered base card system has been done in the past, but I don't think it has ever really been that popular. I just think the base cards are so insignificant that nobody cares if a card is class 1, 2, or 3. In fact, the foil makes it hard to tell what class you have exactly unless you put the card at the perfect viewing angle.


By far and away the best thing about Gold Label are the framed autographed cards. To me, Topps should shave done away with the other cards and just put one of these per box. These cards look absolutely amazing with their heavy gold borders. The on-card autograph also shines on these cards. I'd say that design-wise, these cards are worth the price of admission.

Positives:
  • The gold border cards are extremely nice looking.
  • A box is relatively inexpensive with a release price of around $60.
  • On-card autographs.
Negatives:
  • I have seen a lot of terrible players come out of breaks.
  • The base cards, while nice, are pretty much an afterthought.
  • Confusing tiered system for the base cards.

Overall Rating:

7.5/10

Saturday, October 12, 2019

2018-2019 Upper Deck Clear Cut Review


Upper Deck and Topps both release an acetate product in the same week so for collectors who collect both hockey and baseball, the products can be compared in a head-to-head. When it comes down to it, the Upper Deck's offering is less satisfying, less of a value, and more expensive. That's not good.

Product Thoughts
One thing that Upper Deck Clear Cut has going for it is the look of the cards. Upper Deck has always done a magnificent job of making cards look nice and classy. The Clear Cut cards have a great looking frosted white portion that has tasteful foil highlights to go along with the blue on-card autograph. The one-touch that it comes in is sealed with the Upper Deck hologram which gives it a nice touch as well. In terms of design, Upper Deck gets a thumbs up.


Where the product falters is the price. Boxes of Clear Cut are about eighty dollars at the time of release. That's eighty bucks for just one card. Hockey has traditionally been weaker in terms of the value of cards when compared to the other major sports. So to pay so much more for a product doesn't bode well for the release. Topps' Clearly Authentic has the exact same configuration but at twenty to twenty five dollars less. If I had to choose a product, I would go for Topps all day long. Not only is it cheaper, but the potential to pull a card that is worth more is much higher with that product.


Watching break after break of Clear Cut, what I've seen the most of have been just plain 'ol rookie cards. If you just want to test the waters of Clear Cut and buy a single box, chances are you're going to pull a rookie auto. Unfortunately, the product is stacked with rookies that are not significantly worth anything. Finding a great vet or a high-end rookie is a very tough proposition. You're much better off just finding the player you like and buying the card as a single. The gamble here is too ridiculous.


I don't want to be a complete downer on the product. One thing that I did like about Clear Cut was if you got a redemption card, you at least got a Rookie Debut Canvas along with it - that way you didn't just feel like you got nothing but a long wait in you box.

All-in-all I was really looking forward to Clear Cut, but the reality of the product is that it just isn't worth the price. If the price were to reach the fifty dollar range I could see myself getting more, but for now... nope.

Positives:
  • Excellent looking cards.
  • If you get a redemption you still get a UD Canvas rookie card.
  • On-card autographs.
Negatives:
  • Expensive product compared to other sports versions.
  • Loaded with cards that won't have much value.
  • The breaking experience is over too fast.

Overall Rating:

4.5/10

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

2019 Topps Clearly Authentic Review


For the second week in a row, Topps has released a product that comes one card per box. 2019 Topps Clearly Authentic takes the 2019 card designs and gives them the clear treatment with acetate. The cares are all autographed on-card and come inside a protective one touch, sealed with a Topps sticker. Boxes of Clearly Authentic run about ten or so dollars more than their Archives Signature counterparts. Are they worth buying over that release?

Product Thoughts
The answer is YES. Topps Clearly Authentic does cost a little more than the Archives Signatures, but from what I've seen, the player selection is much better. Clearly gives collectors a mix of both current and retired players, and the collation of the stars in the product seems head and shoulders above Archives. If you're a fan of what acetate cards look like, this year's design works great. I wasn't a huge fan of the regular looking Topps base cards, but the borders - especially with the colored parallels look great.


Collectors can find retro designs such as 1984 inspired cards as well as 1952 designs and mini T-206 acetate cards. If you liked the 150 years of baseball inserts in Topps this year, you can also get acetate versions of those cards. There is an excellent amount of stars (especially retired greats) that can be found in these particular subsets. See one of those in your box and chances are you've got a good card in your hands.


Of course no modern release would be complete without parallel cards. Both the standard base set and all the special designs have parallels that can be found. The parallel cards are serial numbered depending on its rarity. Orange /5 and gold/1 are the rarest of the parallels.

It's good that Topps released this product after Archives Signatures because after seeing this, I wouldn't touch Archives!

Positives:
  • On-Card autographs.
  • Both current and retired players can be found in this release.
  • Good distribution of star power in cases.
Negatives:
  • More expensive than Archives Signatures (the other one card per box brand like this one).
  • Very quick break experience.
  • Still a relatively risky product.

Overall Rating:

8.25/10

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

2019 Topps Archives Signatures Retired Players Edition


Why does Topps break up their Archives Signature Edition into two separate editions? I have no idea (But I'm pretty sure it has something to do with making more money). This version of Archives Signatures brings collectors players who have already retired from the sport. Collectors will find one encased card per box for about fifty bucks. It's a quick break that will either leave you pretty happy... or pretty sad. Well... who are we kidding... usually pretty sad.

Product Thoughts
I'm typically a fan of buyback cards being autographed as well as the chance to find players that have retired. I'm a big fan of the past and love all the retro stuff. The problem with Archives Signatures Retired Edition is that the set is completely watered down. The boxes that I opened were terrible and the breaks I've seen already of cases seem pretty lackluster as well. I have yet to see a really big name come out of over 50 boxes of this stuff. Sure, there are 1 of 1's out there, but if you get someone who isn't a star, though it's a 1 of 1, the resale value on the card won't even be what you paid for the break. The only true winners from this (Besides Topps, of course) are those who are fortunate enough to pull a superstar like Jeter from one of these boxes. Otherwise, collectors aren't going to find too much to be excited about.


If you're really looking for a certain player or cards from a certain team, my suggestion is to simply find them on eBay or another secondary market source and pick them up that way. Some of the cards will run you as little as five bucks! Many of the cards will mostly likely be in the $15-$30 range - which is less than what a box costs anyways. I would much rather get a card of my choice for a few dollars than buy two boxes and get something like an Eric Gagne and a Charles Nagy... oh wait...

Positives:
  • Some retired players will be worth the chase.
  • Cards are signed on-card.
  • Each card comes in a cool one-touch holder with a Topps sticker to seal it closed.
Negatives:
  • Very difficult to find a card that is worth more than the price of the box.
  • Many so-so names to be found here.
  • Not much of a break experience.

Overall Rating:

4.5/10