Review 2011 Topps Baseball Series 1

When does Spring Training Start!!!!

Review: 2011 Topps Series 1

The 2011 Topps 60th Anniversary Baseball card set is here - it went live earlier this week.  I have to say that I'm excited and yet a bit wary.  It's hard to believe that Topps will be able to generate a better year than last year's set which was driven largely by an amazing amount of exceptional rookies.  Which Topps has nothing to do with...  It worked out great for us collectors but seriously, the great amount of talent from last year really drove the industry along, even with Strasburg's injury.

As I go through the set, the base card design is very nice but nothing all that special.  Topps has stuck with white borders for several years now which makes them undistinguishable from other years.  The photos are ok but again, not a Topps specialty (great photography has always been reserved for Stadium Club when that brand exists).  I have to admit here that I cheated a bit - I broke down and bought a Jumbo Box.  I never like spending $100 on a box of cards but a Jumbo box comes with cards not available in regular Hobby Boxes so the extra money is worth it to me.  There are a ton of inserts and parallels and parallel inserts to collect so I'll try to include as much information as possible as I go along with the review...

 

Solid Design

Base Cards

Well, this is a solid design but nothing that really jumps out at you. The set does contain multiple cards of last season's best rookies like Posey, Stanton and Strasburg. The set is 330 cards and is broken down as shown below:

- 264 Veterans
- 30 Rookies
- 15 Team
- 10 League Leaders
- 2 Cy Young Award winners
- 2 League MVPs
- 2 Rookies of the Year
- 5 Record-breakers

There are also 25 veteran short print variants which is something Topps has done for the past few years.

Be Aware of Variations!!!

Last years set was littered with MANY variations. They included the Abe Lincoln-Cubs cards and Pie in the Face cards. The first set of short-printed variations to be noticed this year are called Diamond Sparkle variations. While the list isn't complete yet, the link below covers the story and identifies a few of the players you should look for:

http://blogbeckett.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/will-your-eyes-see-the-twinkle-in-your-2011-topps-baseball-packs/

Sparkle Above Jennings Glove

Numbered on Back of Card

Topps Gold Parallel

A staple of every Topps product since 2001, the Gold Bordered cards come serial numbered to 2011.  There are also the standard Black Parallels serial numbered to 60, Platinum paralllels are numbered 1 of 1 and there are also Silk parallels and Printing plates (4 for every card).  This is all standard stuff really and has existed in Topps base products for a few years.  All of them add value to a box IF you pull the right players.

Don't Pitch to in 9th Inning

Topps 60

Topps 60 is a basic insert set that Topps parallels to issue Relics, Jumbo Relics, Autograph Relics and regular Autographs as well. It's essentially this year's Peak Performance insert set. I personally find these cards sort of dark and there isn't any great consistency to why the particular player was selected. Ryan Braun is selected since he has the highest ninth-inning batting average, 2009-10. Well, ok, I guess. So maybe I shouldn't pitch to him then.... I don't know, it's just an odd way to build an insert set. Some of the players are in it for some odd stat like this, others are in it for team-related stats, others for career stats, but they aren't all even on the top of those stat lists. Tommy Hanson is number 10 on his list for "2010 NL Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio Leaders". It's really not thought out all that well..

Not Necessary at All

History of Topps

Garbage.  This is a complete waste of cardboard, ink and time.  Do we really need to know this about Topps?  Is it really that important?  I didn't like last year's When They Were Young inserts either but even they were better than this..  garbage..

One Reprint for Each Year

60 Years of Topps

More reprints.  I sort of had enough of this last year.  Don't get me wrong, I love seeing all of those classics but I wish they were ACTUAL classics.  Is the 1989 Royals Leaders card a real classic??  If it doesn't qualify as a vintage card, it is not a classic.  How about a 2001 Manny Ramirez?  Nice looking card but not as cool as the 1973 Fisk shown at right.  There is a parallel to this set that includes original backs just like last year.  These are very difficult to pull from packs and should be worth more in my opinion.  I pulled an original back 1970 Reggie Jackson which I thought was pretty cool.

Topps 60: The Lost Years

This is an interesting twist though it resembles that "Cards that Never Were" theme we've seen before. These are cards that never existed but on the back is a short explanation as to why. I like that since it makes card history more interesting to talk about. The other positive is that the subjects are all interesting players we actually care about, not common players. As the son of a die-hard Brooklyn Dodgers fan, the 1954 Campy that never was is a very cool pull.  The Lost Years is it's own insert set and is numbered separately from the regular 60 Years of Topps insert set.

Babe Ruth RC Repro.. Yes

Vintage Reproductions

Well I know I'll never own the originals so I don't mind these so much. They did choose cards that have been reproduced many times before. This is essentially a "Before There was Topps" themed set. I pulled this Ruth Rookie card reprint, a few Wagner reprints, the 1950 Bowman Jackie Robinson and the 1934 Goudey Hank Greenberg. Again, all superstars of the past so an interesting look at cards from before Topps existed.

Diamond Duos

Like the Lineage cards from last year, these inserts feature 2 players that are related in some way.  Love the "team" oriented cards like the Twins themed card below with Killebrew and Thome, HATE (capitalized for real emphasis) cards that show players from different teams.  Nobody from either teams fanbase wants a card featuring a player from another team.  Topps does this a lot and Upper Deck (when they had a license) used to do it as well.  I see this a lot with Jeter/Reyes cards.  Yankees fans and Mets fans leave those cards behind every single time.  I'm sure it's the same for eveywhere else.

Twinkie HR Kings

Cool Parallel

Platinum Diamond Parallels

These cards look AWESOME!!!  Sparkly and glittery and available at a rate of 1:6 in regular Hobby packs.  There is one in every Jumbo pack.  They are not serial numbered so I think they look better than they will be valued but this is the kind of thing I would have liked to see throughout this release.

Love 'em or Hate 'em??

Kimball Champions Minis

I believe these are only available in Jumbo packs (I might be wrong there). These mini-cards are feature 50 current and retired stars and will also have appearances in Series 2 and Updates. The cards feature 2 pictures on the front and mirror the extremely rare 1888 N184 Tobacco cards. Pulling Prince Albert was a nice surprise.  There are many people who hate mini-cards but I have always been a big fan of these.  Unlike other sets of this type, there aren't back variations to collect which is a shame.  I would rather have had that than the History of Topps foolishness...

Foil but no Parallel

Toppstown

Every pack gets a Toppstown card and this is nice way to add value to a box.  There are codes on the cards to allow collectors to go online and collect and trade online cards.  It's a good interactive system and great for kids.  They come as foils this year and do not seem to have parallels as in years past.

Diamond Giveaway

These cards come with codes for you to enter on their website just like last years Million Card Giveaway.  They list a whole host of specialty cards you could win with these codes, it's not just plain stuff.  As the MCG is still live until March 1, the site for the Diamond Giveaway is not up yet.  Whereas the MCG includes 33,000 common cards, this giveaway might be a little bit better if you win say, a diamond embedded card.  Should be interesting to see how this works.  If you've read my other hubs, you know I did not have a grreat experience with the Million Card Giveaway.  The site works great but the actual shipping was, to put it mildly, awful.  

Codes to redeem cards like last year

Conclusion

On the whole, I think this set was just OK. There are a lot of specialty things you could pull but are difficult, even in Jumbo packs to find. Much of the insert sets are, to be honest, pretty much redos of previous insert sets. Seems sort of lazy to me. I know that last year's set sold great and this set is closely modeleds after that set but the axiom "why fix what isn't broken?" apllies here for Topps I guess. One thing I have seen that I do not like is that off-season trades and signings were not reflected in the regular set but have been added in as variations. I would be ok if it were a late signing or trade but not all of them.

I pulled some great stuff from my box and a fair amount of NY themed stuff as usual so I'm happy with this purchase but I think Topps really needs to come up with a better design and different types of inserts for next year. I was not kidding before about variations, I am sure we will find out that there are other hidden variations that haven't been revelaed yet - do not lose your commons...

I hope you found this helpful, feel free to comment!!

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dblyn 5 years ago from Staten Island, NY Author

As an active collector I have to say that all I have been hearing is that Hobby and Jumbo supplies are quickly drying up and going up in price... a lot!!! A Hobby box is normally about $65 to $70 but now tops over $100. The Jumbo was $100 and is now over $150. Anybody else seeing these trends?? It may be better to simply stick with retail specialty packs and rack packs for now.

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