Breaking Down the Best of Topps Chrome Football’s Last Hurrah

As I mentioned earlier, the release of 2015 Topps Chrome Football is both great and bittersweet. With Panini taking over the NFL exclusive next year, this will likely be Topps’ last edition of Chrome, and that should make everyone really fucking sad. Because of the way Chrome has impacted the hobby, its chase hits are the biggest of the entire card year, including the products that cost 10 times the box cost. Chrome’s release is a hobby holiday, and unfortunately, this year is the last celebration. As one of my favorite sets ever made, Chrome will always have a special place in my heart. Here are some of the top cards from this year’s set.

Rookie Auto Patches

Back in 2011, these became some of the more sought after cards in the whole product. Not only were they rare, but they offered some of the first jersey autographs of Topps’ calendar. Now, that has changed, but there is a wrinkle this year that makes these even better than they were last year. Like 2013, this year’s set is hard signed. In 2013, Chrome was released much later in the season, which made it easier for the cards to get completed. This year, they are the first hard signed relic autos of the year. Not only that but they look awesome.

2015 Topps Chrome Jameis Winston Auto Patch /75

2015 Topps Chrome Todd Gurley Auto Patch /75

2015 Topps Chrome Marcus Mariota Auto Patch /75

1989 Retro Super Rookies Auto

Ever since Topps has inserted retro autographs in their flagship and Chrome products, I have been a fan. I absolutely loved the choice to use 1987 in the first edition of the set, and I like the use of the 1989 Super Rookie design as well. These cards are crazy rare, and very tough to pull, but when you get one, they rarely disappoint.

2015 Topps Chrome Melvin Gordon 1989 Super Rookie Auto /25

2015 Topps Chrome Jameis Winston 1989 Super Rookie Auto /25

2015 Topps Chrome Todd Gurley 1989 Super Rookie Auto /25

Rookie Variation Autographs

Like we saw with the auto patches, the 2011 set also introduced the autographed version of the SP variations that were first available in Flagship. This year they are back and very low numbered at 75 copies per. Most of the photo variations feature some cool changes to the photographs, many of which look awesome with the on card autographs.

2015 Topps Chrome Marcus Mariota Variation Auto /75

2015 Topps Chrome Ameer Abdullah Variation Auto /75

HOF SSP Variations

We have seen photo variations of players in the base set since 2011, but 2015 is the first year where they have used HOF players as another variation. Players like Emmitt Smith and Steve Young populate the checklist, and if you are extra lucky, you might pull one of the autographs of these cards out of 10.

2015 Topps Chrome John Elway SSP Variation

2015 Topps Chrome Bo Jackson SSP Variation

2015 Topps Chrome Roger Staubach Variation Auto /10

Rookie Autographs

One of the main reasons people buy Chrome is because of the rookie autographs. Since 2011, they have been hard signed, and each year, remain some of the most coveted cards of the rookie class. The lower the more valuable the card. My favorite of the bunch are the Black and Red refractors, which always look really good with the borders used by Topps. These cards hold value as much as they do because of how tough they are to pull, so it might be in your best interest to buy a lottery ticket if you pull one.

2015 Topps Chrome Matt Jones Red Refractor Auto /5

2015 Topps Chrome Todd Gurley Black Refractor Auto /25

2015 Topps Chrome Amari Cooper Blue Refractor Auto /50

Again, this year’s Chrome might be last year, but its not going out without a bang. This will be one of those sets that people will miss terribly, and I dont think that Prizm is even close to measuring up. Unfortnate that we wont be given a choice any longer.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Topps Chrome Football

Its here! Its here! One of my favorite days of the year!

Chrome has always been a set that I absolutely love, and being that this is the final year, Im bittersweet about the release. The cards look great as always, and the set is just like everyone expected, but its the last year this set will be done. That sucks. That sucks balls.

Even though this is the last year, I will follow the listings like any other edition, as its clear that Chrome remains a collector favorite. Check out some of the big hits so far:

2015 Topps Chrome Marcus Mariota Pulsar Refractor Auto /15

2015 Topps Chrome Jameis Winston Camo Auto /99

2015 Topps Chrome Todd Gurley Black Refractor Auto /25

2015 Topps Chrome Amari Cooper Auto RC

I love that the autographs are on card, this year with on card patch autographs as well! Considering how long it can take to print cards on Chromium stock, then get them fitted with patches, and sent to/signed by the player, this is insanely impressive. Although there are some stickers in the set, the vast majority of the rookie autos are on card. The low parallels of the autos will continue to sell well as a result.

Because autographs arent necessarily the only draw for this set, the base parallels are also a big part of what Chrome is all about. This year, some of the cards arent numbered in colored refractor form, which is disappointing as it was in previous years, but the design does lend itself quite well to the chrome structure. As with the autos, low parallels will sell well.

I also love the 60th anniversary autos on Chrome stock as much as I did when they were released on regular stock earlier in Flagship. These iconic designs featuring some updated players would have been amazing as hard signed cards, but we will have to wait for mini Chrome for that.

The biggest drawback each year to Chrome is the box break, with many of the top autographs being short printed by a large amount. This year is no exception, with another 60+ signers on the checklist. Thankfully its not the 74 of last year, but its still a lot. When Chrome was 45, things worked much better. Right now, opening a box of Chrome is a losing venture way too often, and that makes me upset. I want nothing more than to rip a case of Chrome and get the A tier auto, but its close to impossible these days.

I think the difference is that there are a few more numbered refractors in each box over 2014, which should help to shoulder the burden of a larger print run than a set like 2012.

On the Radar: 2015 Panini Luxe Football

Im not a basketball collector by any means, so I dont know much about Luxe as a product other than the way it looked. I remember seeing the Framed autos and thinking that taking those from Museum Collection is something worth copying, but outside of that, it looked like another sleek high end product. After seeing that Blowout has steep discounts on Luxe boxes, im curious if the crowded high end market in Football will support ANOTHER product of this type, similar to the rejection it seems to have taken on the NBA side.

Here is what it looked like for Basketball:

2014-15 Luxe Andrew Wiggins Gold Framed Auto /10

2014-15 Luxe Kobe Bryant Die Cut Auto /25

2014-15 Luxe Kevin Durant Jumbo Relic Auto /35

2014-15 Luxe Joel Embiid Jumbo Patch Auto /25

Next year, the football market will not be as crowded, but its definitely possible that the lack of products that feature 100% on card signatures will drive popularity in this. At the same time, Basketball has a significantly more focused high end crowd, and Andrew Wiggins to drive the market, and still looks to have struggled.

Although I like the way the cards look, and fully support 100% on card autographs, im not sure if this is something that I am buying into for 2015. It will be released in February, around the same time when Topps is looking to release their super premium type products, which means it could be vying for the same crowd. The question remains how thin the money in the hobby can be spread before people just start resenting the number of products on the market.

Panini High End Basketball has rarely disappointed in the way cards look, and Luxe FB as a copy of the BKB product does not veer from that precedent. The jumbo patch autos and framed autos looked good for Luxe basketball, and the design plays well, maybe even better for football.

This is basically a one pack version of Museum Collection, right down to the framed autographs, which should entice some of the people who are die hard collectors of that product to open a box or two. This one is a wild card for me, im curious to see what happens.

Best of the Best: Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant Win ROY

I want to say this is one of the best rookie classes that we have had in MLB for many many years. Hobby wise, there might not be a comparable year, with so many players coming up and making an impact. Now that the ROY has been announced as Correa and Bryant, the hobby’s love affair can continue with these two young superstars. As we are seeing, that love is justified and then some.

Carlos Correa – AL Rookie of the Year

Although Bryant started off the year as the top guy in the hobby, I have to believe that Correa finished it atop the mountain. His Chrome autos surged to gargantuan prices, and with a playoff run ALMOST getting past the eventual world champions, the sky was the limit.

Check out his prices now, heading up again after the award:

2013 Bowman Chrome Carlos Correa Auto RC BGS 9.5

2013 Bowman Chrome Carlos Correa Blue Wave Auto RC BGS 9.5

2013 Bowman Inception Carlos Correa Silver Signings /25

2015 Topps Heritage High Number Carlos Correa Red Ink Auto /66

Every so often a rookie comes along that people will expect to define the generation. I dont think Correa is that guy, but man is he going to be fun to watch. We dont have an indication of his progress yet, with only one season under his belt. As for that generational player, he is going to have to unseat Mike Trout, who put up MVP type numbers again for the 4th season in a row.

The hobby loves Correa because he plays a position where options are thin, plays with a vigor that inspires others, and has the power to match his wonderful personality. Its a recipe for hobby success. Houston isnt the greatest team to help his value further, but it almost doesnt matter. He is amazing.

Kris Bryant – NL ROY

In 2013 Puig set the world on fire with a run that was historic. Bryant had that kind of hype coming into 2015, and for the most part, he lived up to it. Although he had some original competition from Joc Pederson, he stayed much hotter through the final weeks of the season when the Cubs were primed for a playoff run. His prices soared again, and tailed off when Chicago was knocked off.

Here are his prices after the award:

2014 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Auto RC BGS 9.5

2014 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Blue Wave Auto RC

2015 Topps Chrome Kris Bryant Purple Refractor Auto

It should be abundantly clear that Bryant is going to have the eye of collectors for years to come, even if the production doesnt continue to match the hype. Although his hype predecessor in Puig has cooled off significantly, his cards still sell incredibly well. Its hard to shake the love from the hobby when you were hotter than the sun in your rookie year, and still young enough to recover.

Bryant is part of a Cubs battery that has years of productivity ahead of them, including Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, and Addison Russell. Even though they didnt make it to the World Series this year, there easily could be one in the future.

Again, I dont see Mike Trout in either guy, as that just doesnt happen the way it did with him. That being said, these guys will be hobby ambassadors regardless. Both are great faces to put forth for baseball, and as they develop its going to be fun to watch them become true household names.

Go Live Report: 2015 Prizm Football

I have ALWAYS hated Prizm. Hated the design and look, hated the fact it was a chrome rip off, and hated that they really went bonkers with a bunch of different elements. It was never a product I would ever rip, and never a product I would buy singles of. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked how much I liked the way 2015 Prizm looked, enough to buy a few boxes myself.

Here are some of the nice stuff up so far:

2015 Prizm Todd Gurley Purple Mosaic Auto RC /35

2015 Prizm Marcus Mariota Red Tire Tracks Auto RC /50

2015 Prizm Antonio Brown Pulsar Finite Auto 1/1

2015 Prizm Jameis Winston Red Refractor Auto /99

I think that Panini is finally starting to understand what makes a Chrome style product appealing. Its not stupid backgrounds or gimmicky presentations. Its about simplicity in look, with the Borders being the place where things can get a bit nuts. This year, they reigned back on MOST of the horrible practices from 2012-14, and came out the other end with a simple looking presentation and good looking cards.

With Chrome due out (supposedly) this week, they will need to compete with the final installment of the product Panini ripped off to build Prizm. Its not a fair fight, never has been, and its clear that Prizm is already struggling to get off the ground, much like previous years. Lower prices, even on low parallels of big name guys , are already becoming common for week 1, and its going to be interesting to see if Chrome is the same way. Panini has never been able to climb out from under the shadow of the original, and now that Chrome football is over, this might be a time to figure out the best way to capitalize on its future absence. So far, I think the 2015 edition is the first in the entire run to make that a partial reality.

It still has a ton of problems, but they are far less egregious than previous runs. The photo variations are inexplicably still included, despite looking fucking terrible with goofy ass player pictures. The crazy eye burning patterned cards are back from Spectra, of which I cannot understand the popularity or their appeal to collectors. The autographs are all sticker, and that is a big bummer. Chrome has been mostly on card since 2011, and Panini is years behind there.

In 2014, if you asked me whether or not Panini would ever pull their heads out of their asses with Prizm, I would have laughed in your face. Loudly. The set, as it had existed prior to 2015 would never be something that could function in place of the top set of the year in Chrome. There is a reason why Chrome 1/1 superfractor autos are the top chase cards of the year. Even over Flawless and National Treasures. Collectors are loyal to the brand that has consistently delivered year after year for over 2 decades. Prizm hadnt even managed to escape from the toilet bowl, and that should have scared everyone.

Now that we are seeing that someone at Panini seems to understand the situation at hand, we get a set that I can get behind a little. Im not going to fall all over myself chasing down singles yet, but I like it enough to buy in more than I would have ever thought.

The issue is that Collectors dont seem to be matching that same interest. With Finest on shelves next to Prizm, and Chrome on the way, the release schedule isnt in anyone’s favor. I might not be able to see the sales numbers, but ebay isnt showing the volume of singles for sale that I would have expected.

Similarly, players like Cooper, Mariota and Winston seem to have very few autos listed, with Cooper only having one or two that I found. Because I dont think these cards are super hard to find, im wondering if maybe the product just isnt being ripped as much. In the 8 boxes I watched, I pulled a Mariota, someone else pulled Gurley, and a third person pulled a nice insert auto. Better than the 2 cases of Finest, where the only nice pull was a 1/1 Green-Beckham patch auto I was lucky enough to pull. Every other box was a relative dud.

Prizm is worth a look, it really is. I would at least try a Hobby box and see what you end up with, as you would be surprised at what you might end up with. I literally cannot believe I am saying that.