The inserts are up next. Overall, the insert class is pretty decent in 2015. I’m still all for the greatness of the base set – but the inserts are decent, too. A few too many, as always – but decent. For the inserts, I always like to go in the order of “least favorite” to “most favorite”.
Topps Originals is first – I pulled three of those from my box. I’m just not a big fan of these things. I’d rather they didn’t insert them, and if Topps insists, I’d rather they didn’t re-stamp them.
The buybacks aren’t really an insert set, though – you can’t really put a checklist together of those cards and try to collect them. But the rest of the sets I’ll show are. And Topps has gotten one thing really right this year! After many years of “lettering” cards, all the insert sets this year are numbered. I’ve bitched and moaned about it before – but it’s just much better for collectors to number cards. It’s really hard to put together a checklist when you have card #MA and #MW, but you don’t know if there are no cards or 4 cards in between. If you have card #11 and card #14 – you know you’re missing 2 cards in there. So kudos to Topps for going back to some common sense.
My least favorite is the 2-player set. It’s a 15-card insert set called Inspired Play. It has a better design than similar sets that Topps has done in the past. But that’s the problem – Topps has done this so many times in the past! A former player with a current player and a write-up about how said former player inspired said current player. It’s so far from unique. Even though the set is pretty nice on the eyes – it’s hard to see this insert set without rolling those eyes. I got 5 of these in my box.
The next one is a 30-card insert called Highlight of the Year. Like some of the other inserts, this set picks a date of a notable accomplishment. The design isn’t bad – I like the old beat up baseball in the back. Unfortunately a lot of the cards are bad choices – 3 of the cards below are just the last day of the season the year a guy won the MVP. The Lou Gehrig one is great – the first day of his legendary games played streak. I got the 10 cards below.
Topps did another sensible thing with the numbering here. If you’ll notice – the cards above are all ordered sequentially by year. They are on the back, too. So card #1 is Lou Gehrig from 1925, and that’s the earliest year on there. Beckett is card #28 – there are 2 more after that and they’re both later than 2003. Common sense, yes. But Topps hasn’t done that in the past and I’m glad they did this year.
Next up is a 25-card insert set called Archetypes – which is exactly what you would think. It’s players who personify a type of trait – like Rickey Henderson with speed / stealing bases. It’s an OK design, but mostly it just seems like an excuse to get good players Topps has into another insert set – it’s not a particularly keen idea. Mike Piazza’s archetype is “power”. Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire – that makes sense, but it’s not the first thing I think of when someone mentions Mike Piazza. I also got 10 of these – 1 per pack.
Next up is Gallery of Greats, which is 25 cards done in a similar way as framed paper cards from Gypsy Queen sets. They have a holofoil type background, and they aren’t super thick like some similar cards Topps has made. They don’t blow me away – but they are nicely done, and are the rarer insert (like “The Greats” and “Elite” from last year) in this year’s product. I got these 2 guys.
The next insert is called Baseball History. There are 30 cards total – 15 dates with a world event and a baseball event on the same date. The design seems a little too much like Upper Deck’s 20th Anniversary set from 6 years ago – but I really like the concept. I wish I’d pulled 2 matching cards to show here – but this will be a really fun set to recap when I finish it off. This came every other pack – 5 cards in the box.
Two more sets here (there really are a few too many). My next favorite is called Free Agent 40. This is 15 cards celebrating 40 years of Free Agency. A really cool idea – and a nice design. I hope Topps continues it in series 2. 5 cards.
Finally – my favorite insert isn’t even baseball players. I wish Topps would throw something different like this in each year. This set is 15 cards, and it’s called First Pitch. It highlights famous people who threw out first pitches at ballgames. I love it. First pitches are a tradition that has been around for a long time – and it’s one of the many cool things that adds to the baseball experience. Whether it’s a celebrity like Jeff Bridges or a touching reunion for a military family – first pitches are part of baseball. And I prefer my baseball card sets to mirror some of those neat parts of baseball. I also got 5 of these.
By the way – this is also one I hope Topps continues in series 2. I would suggest they add some of the first pitches like the father/son military one above. You can’t lose with that idea!
That’s all for insert sets from my HTA box. Next up are the hits and I’ll post something about the call your shot game, as well.