2016 Topps Series 1 – HTA box

5 02 2016

Unlike last year, I decided to be right on top of the release 2016 Topps.  Last year, this first series 1 post came in the middle of March.  I stopped by the local card shop (Baseball Card King) yesterday and picked up a hobby jumbo box.  I like getting the jumbo; there are 3 guaranteed hits, with one autograph guaranteed.  It feels like it’s worth the extra.

Here was my first card – #327, the best player on the odds-on World Series favorite in 2016.  Much more exciting than Matt Joyce from last year!

2016 Topps Rizzo

The last couple of years, I got retirement-based cards in my first few packs.  I don’t know of anyone along the lines of Mariano Rivera, Todd Helton, Derek Jeter or Paul Konerko this year.  Tim Hudson and Torii Hunter were the biggest names calling it a career at the end of 2015.

2016 Topps Harper

I don’t see a card of them in the checklist (or on eBay), nor do I see a base card of Barry Zito or Aramis Ramirez.  But I did get the 2 National League award winners in the first pack.

2016 Topps Arrieta

Here are my thoughts after opening 3 packs:

  • Design.  Topps really has changed it up the past 2 years!  After what seemed like an eternity of white borders, 2015 brought a colorful new look – I think it was the 3rd time where the border color would differ from card to card (1975 & 1990).  I loved the 2015 design.  2016 is an even bigger departure.  These are the first full bleed cards in the history of the flagship Topps set.  It kind of reminds me of the change Upper Deck made from 1993 to 1994 (I liked both of those designs as well).  These cards look pretty futuristic.  There is a team logo in one of the lower corners that’s “peeping” out from underneath the picture.  Then there’s a name plate, and Topps did include the position on the front.  This will probably be called the “cloud set” or the “dream set” because of the fading white in the corners.  Personally, I really like the change.  I hated the endless string of white borders, so I would feel hypocritical to criticize when they finally went with 2 straight years of something different.  I like 2015 better, but I still like this set.
  • Photography.  The photos are cropped extremely closely, which can be good or bad depending on the player and the particular shot.  The backgrounds are blurred to put the focus on the player.  I don’t particularly like this.  For basketball cards, that’s the right approach.  I think hockey cards would be the same way.  But for baseball, some of the charm is what’s going on around the player, not just the player himself.  Still, it is something different and I don’t completely hate it.  But I don’t feel like there will be as many memorable photos as there were in 2011, 2012 or 2013.  Typing this out has made me wonder – it’s probably pretty difficult to get a bunch of amazing photos and an amazing design to work well together.
  • Parallels.  2011 – 8 full parallels (ignoring anything 1/1).  2012 – down to 6.  2013 – ramped up to 11.  2014 – a whopping 13.  2015 was down to 8, which was more reasonable but still a bit high to me.  The Gold, Black and Pink cards are back, numbered to 2016, 65, and 50, respectively.  The cloud portion in the corners is replaced with a gold or black honeycomb effect.  I was expecting these to be tougher to tell apart than the border colors in previous years, but you can definitely tell the difference.  The rarer clear and framed parallels are back as well, but there are two new parallels.  The negative cards have the appearance of a negative photo and look really cool.  And there are cards with vintage card stock.  Gone are the snow camo parallels.
  • Inserts.  I really like the inserts from what I’ve seen so far.  100 years of Wrigley Field is great, even though it’s off by 2 years in my opinion**.  The first pitch insert is back.  I love the concept, though I wish it wasn’t so similar to the base set.  I’d actually recommend having its own design and keeping it the same across the years.  So your 2016 set would feel like a continuation of the 2015 set.  The “Pressed into Service” set highlights position players who ended up on the mound – another great insert idea!  “Berger’s Best” is the requisite reprint set, with one from each year of Topps history.  And then there’s a “Perspectives” insert set that is probably my least favorite, but is actually a pretty nice set.  So overall, I think Topps did well here.
  • Other.  There are again cards with a “future stars” designation, though the font is exactly the same as last year; I like when they change it year to year.  Team cards, Highlight cards with checklist backs, and 3-player league leaders cards are back as well.

Bottom line – it’s the new Topps set, and opening it is a ton of fun.  This was a real break from prior years as far as the design goes.  This is Christmas for those of us who collect baseball cards.  I had my 2-3 packs on “Christmas Eve”; tomorrow I’ll finish up the rest of the box and post a bit more on the set.  But I’ll be damned if I’m leaving cookies or milk out tonight!




6 responses

5 02 2016

Nice write up on the new Topps flagship. I completely agree with you on the Wrigley Field cards being two years late.

6 02 2016

Thanks! Yeah, it doesn’t bug me too much, but it’s weird because 2 years ago the Cubs had a season-long promotion for “100 years of Wrigley”.

6 02 2016

Yeah, it’s a funny thing because Wrigley opened in 1914 (hence the celebration by the Cubs two years ago) but the Cubs didn’t start playing there until 1916, so the Topps set still works from that perspective. Still kind of weird, though.

I wasn’t sure about this design when I first saw it online, but having the cards in hand, I really think it works. I picked up my jumbo box on Wednesday, and while I’ve opened all the packs to see what sort of hits I got, I’ve been enjoying sorting through each pack slowly (1 or 2 packs a day), to absorb the set and read all the backs. I’m four packs in so far and I’m liking it more and more. I like how the back design is very similar to last year’s, but modified to match this year’s front design.

6 02 2016

Yeah, I get why they said 100 years. It’s 100 years of the Cubs being at Wrigley. But that’s not what the set says. The set says “Wrigley Field celebrates 100 Years”.

I have a post for tomorrow with a bit more about the design.

7 02 2016
Paul Hartshorne

The pink parallels are back again this year, there’s 3 on up on Zistle already.

7 02 2016

Thanks Paul. I realized that a day or two ago then forgot I’d written that wasn’t the case.

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