By William Robinson
It’s that time of the year again, much like Opening Day it’s release day for the 2016 version of Topps’s mainstay product the base Topps set. This year they have opted for more of a streamlined approach. No more of the distracting borders and definitely no more of the white dull outline from years past. This set in my opinion is one of the most beautiful Topps sets that I have ever seen. It harkens to a slightly higher end product like Topps Finest especially from last year. As far as base topps is concerned it’s more akin to 1967 Topps than any other product that has been released so far.
As you can see from the image above the cards are very crisp, the images clear and each picture is full of action. The name is displayed clearly on the bottom of the card with the team name to the side. On the reverse side of the card the numbers are easily seen and so organizing them into sets is not difficult. This year like all others lately these boxes come in both hobby and retail versions with Hobby boxes containing either 1 relic or 1 autographed card and Jumbo boxes containing 1 relic card, 1 manufactured relic card and 1 autographed card. Retail comes in blaster boxes and hanger packs.
Again this year’s version of the set there are parallel versions again, these include: Rainbow, Gold (numbered to 2016), negative cards (which are black and white), vintage topps (which have an older feel to them based on the fact that they are made with a different card stock), black (numbered to 50), Framed (numbered to 16), Clear (numbered to 10) and Platinum and Printing Plates (numbered to 1). The variations bring a bit more fun to the set as I would love one day to try and put together a variation set of one of these products. Perhaps a rainbow foil set one day. However, the variations are a little bit hard to pick out. For example in my Jumbo box I pulled a vintage Trea Turner and the only way that I could tell that it was a variation was that the card felt different. It was placed in with the inserts though so that was a pretty obvious tip off as well. Although I could easily see missing a variation card in a regular hobby pack.
The inserts this year are gorgeous just like the set. There is a 100 years of Wrigley insert set which celebrates 100 years of baseball at Wrigley field, Back to back set which features two players from the same team, Berger’s best insert set which commemorates some of the best cards Topps has ever produced, another first pitch set which shows celebrities throwing out the first pitches from last year, perspectives set a beautiful insert set that shows pictures taken from different perspectives, pressed into service set which features players playing odd positions that they normally don’t play, and several other insert sets that are retail only.
I myself am somewhat old school in this regards. I feel like Topps has been too busy with too many insert sets as of late. I don’t see the point of putting yet another reprint set into the series as it feels like there are only about a million reprints of some of those cards that are already in existence, and I really hate the useless first pitch cards. I myself would be angry as a child buying a pack of baseball cards to find a card of Haley Atwell. I mean nothing against the very lovely Haley Atwell but I buy baseball cards to feature baseball players. The only insert set that I actually enjoyed this year is the perspectives set (see picture above). The set is absolutely beautiful. I like inserts don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want the inserts to be tired retreads from years before, or cards of celebrities or such. I’d rather have inserts featuring players from each team or possibly even awesome pictures from every ball park.
Finally, this set comes with plenty of hits. There are relic cards, manufactured relic cards, and autograph cards. As well as patch cards, and laser booklet cards and coin cards as well. The hits seem a bit better this year I’ve seen a fair amount of this opened and the relic cards are definitely the better of the hits. The booklets are beautiful and if you are one of the few lucky people to pull a patch card those are super awesome. The autographs again take a back seat though as the checklist isn’t too amazing for them, and in my experience you are most likely to pull someone less than amazing than you are to pull a superstar. Also all autographs are featured on stickers which means that the card didn’t actually touch the players hands. The following picture was my hits out of the Jumbo box I opened:
As you can see from my Jumbo box, the same old problem with Topps is still happening. You aren’t likely to get your money’s worth out of every box. I figure that out of my 100 dollar box of cards I probably got about 50 dollars worth of cards. Although I did have fun opening the box which I guess does count for something.
So in the end here is my opinion. Topps 2016 is the best base set that Topps has come out with since 1987 in my opinion. The cars are vibrant and beautiful and there are several that I would like to have blown up and put on my wall (The Bryce Harper is awesome.) It easily surpasses the ugly set that was 2015. The inserts have some hits and misses and the hit cards are a bit better than they have been in previous years. There are some really nice hits that are possible to find, although most of your hits may not be amazing. Each Jumbo box will nearly give you a complete base set (I was missing 3 cards.), and so my advice is for anyone who wants a set of these cards is to just go ahead and buy a Jumbo box for each series instead of just buying a put together set. I think this is going to be a classic set for Topps as it’s easily the most beautiful set that I remember in my lifetime. I think it’s a highly collectible set just for that reason alone. That being said, just like other sets these days it suffers from over production and the deluge of sets in general that are produced. So if you are out to make money you better jump on board quickly because as soon as the next set comes out the fad collectors will have moved on.
Autographs: 2/10 (all autos are on stickers)