2014 Topps Baseball Retail is LIVE!

As I mentioned in a previous post, 2014 has the potential to be big for Baseball. With Masahiro Tanaka coming over, its clear there will be some big cards to be had as long as he will sign. The first big set of the new year releases soon, and has a few elements in it that I really like. However, it also has some MAJOR flaws in its design, and many of the cards continue to be lacking in visual appeal.

A few retail 2014 Topps cards have started to show up as well:

2014 Topps Bryce Harper Upper Class Insert

2014 Topps Yadier Molina Jersey Relic /99

2014 Topps Dodgers Team Set With Puig

For a lot of the baseball cards we have seen in the flagship set, I don’t think the baseball design team is even close to as good as the football design team. Even funnier, is that they may be the same people, but may be acting with different limitations. Either way, im not a fan of the way this product has turned out over the last few years.

That being said, for the first time, Topps Strata Signature Relics will be crossing over to Baseaball, and all collectors should be EXTREMELY excited about them. They are easily some of my favorite football cards of the year, and I cannot be more excited they will be in this year’s baseball product. The checklist looks to be pretty good, and I would guess the cards turn out as nicely as they have before.

Here are the football versions for reference:

2013 Topps Strata EJ Manuel Auto Shadowbox /35

2012 Topps Strata Andrew Luck Auto Shadowbox /40

As for the rest of the cards, I like that they are making clear acetate versions of the base, which have worked VERY well in other sets. I also think the base design is really nice, over 2013 which I didn’t like as much. Topps baseball is almost always about the set than about the hits, and that leads to some of the issues that are going on, I would guess. I just wish that companies would move away from the trapped signature and relic designs and integrate the stickers flawlessly as if they were on card autos. No reason AT ALL to make the sticker its own separated element.

Bottom line, I think the hobby is moving away from sets like Topps baseball, and there are quite a few people who aren’t willing to let go. I would go as far as saying that baseball collectors are finally moving towards being more hit focused as the last of the set collectors move on, and I am perfectly fine with that. All things considered, we are approaching the end of an era, and though I don’t really mind, its not a good thing. Losing collectors is bad for business, but I don’t think sets like Topps 1 or 2 really are the big draws to bring them back. Just my opinion.

2 thoughts on “2014 Topps Baseball Retail is LIVE!

  1. I read your blog from time to time and its very clear that YOU are more “HIT focused”. Just because you are doesn’t mean the hobby is. Anymore than just because I loved Topps Total–which had no hits at all–everyone else would. You need to try getting out of your own skin and see the hobby through the eyes of others…people who aren’t so focused on what the rare insert is going for on eBay. And it is about the gamble and the prices; don’t tell me its because the insert cards are so much better looking. Truthfully, back when competition was at its height, towards the end of the junk wax era, a lot of the base cards from what then were considered high end sets (those prices today would be low end) were better looking than any of today’s inserts/hits. Since the competition stopped, cards haven’t advanced at all. If anything, they’ve gone backwards. To the extent that set collecting seems to be on the decline, it is because 1) the base card designs all look the same, lack creativity and are, frankly, fugly; 2) Topps puts very little thought into player selection (and what thoughts they do employ are wrongheaded), and 3) with all the “hits” and inserts and parallels and short prints and high numbers, it is nearly impossible for anyone who isn’t independently wealthy to put together a true “complete set”. As just one example, this is the first year I will not be building Topps flagship set (I gave up on Bowman years ago). The cards are truly about as ugly as I’ve seen in many years–sort of base Score at their worst–and the player selection sucks. Even such ugly cards as these, I would love to rip packs in February in search of the first Mets card of Curtis Granderson or the only Mets card of Dice-K (yes, Mets fan, that’s me). Instead, I get the usual rehash of last years “big” rookies (Wheeler, Flores) and a rehash of vets like Murphy and Turner (always have to wait for Series 2 for Wright). Don’t tell me they couldn’t get Granderson in because they have to “plan in advance”–they used to do a much better job. Don’t tell me Dice-K won’t be a Met; he was one and deserves a card as such. How about, instead of Flores, a card of Wilfredo Tovar? Instead of Lagares, a card of Matt Den Dekker. We got Lagares last year and we’ve been getting Flores for what seems like decades (albeit in Bowman products). How bout a card of Scott Rice? Hasn’t he waited long enough? Or a card of Miguel Socolovich? They used to mix it up. You’d get stars and scrubs, new guys and guys who were gone, rule 5 picks and organizational cannon fodder. Yes, in Series 1, you’d get all that. You’d get a well rounded feel for the team rather than twenty new cards of Puig and Harvey. There will always be set collectors; Topps flagship just doesn’t serve us anymore. There will still have to be a Topps flagship because it remains the entry point for the 11 year old kid with a couple of bucks to spend (well, technically, that’s Opening Day, since the flagship has been priced beyond the kids, now, but same thing). Set collectors like me aren’t going away and we sure as heck aren’t becoming more “HIT” focused. We’re just redirecting our energies to products that still serve our segment of the hobby. I love Heritage. It’s less the nostalgia factor than that those remain the best card designs Topps ever produced (up until the late 80s anyway, then I’ll stop). I like Archives (and, fwiw, the autos in Archives are of players the fans really cared about for something more than dollar value; you pull an Al Toon auto and you’re not getting rich, but it brings a smile to your face), though Topps has been using some of their uglier designs in that product lately. And go to any card shop and they’ll tell you the low end unlicensed Panini products (like Golden Age and Hometown Heroes) are flying off the shelves. Its not because of the “hits”; its because they’re fun and you can actually build a set. And we’ve gone back to finish some of the old card sets–the ones with good design and great player selection. While others are chasing the latest Puig insert, the prices on key cards in those sets has come down tremendously, making pursuit of those sets affordable once again. I see you breaking down those $50, $60, $125 pack products sometimes and, if that’s your audience, cool. But understand that there’s a large portion of the hobby that finds a $125 pack both unaffordable and ridiculous. Sure, we’ll scoop up the “commons” you leave on the LCS counter in search of your “hits”–we’ll get ’em cheap–but we’ll also mourn that Topps has directed all of their creative energies to those products and let their flagship go to seed. In sum, its a large hobby and it encompasses all types. The problem with Topps flagship is that they’re moving THEIR energies away from the set collector in hopes of capturing the high end gamblers as well; in that pursuit, they’re pleasing no one. Let the “hits focused” crowd buy Triple Threads or whatever and build a better flagship set that actually appeals to flagship set collectors; trying to be all things to all people is a fool’s errand that is hurting Topps. But the set collectors aren’t going away…just elsewhere.

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