Why Topps Retail Chrome May Be Better Than Hobby

Topps Chrome has always been the exception to the Hobby vs Retail debate, at least in my mind. I never think buying retail is even close a good idea, unless its something that is offered more efficiently in retail, or more cost effectively. When it comes to buying products outside of chrome, the good hits are at ridiculous odds instead of favorable, you usually pay a ton more for a lot less (in terms of hits), and the cards are even different sometimes. I am familiar its a little different for people who are out to collect the sets, but even then, hobby packs can usually live up to an beyond anything retail can offer.

With Chrome, its completely different. In addition to being able to pull all the normal types of cards from hobby, they have also added the Blue Refractors and XFractors to the product. The Blues look and sell great, and are even worth more than the coppers for some players.
Speaking of the coppers which come 2 per hobby box, those are available as well in retail, along with the blues and regular refractors as well. Paying 20 bucks for a blaster may actually net you some nice hobby cards, as well as an auto or some of the retail exclusives. Instead of paying 65 for 1 auto and 2 coppers, you are instead paying 20 bucks for 3 blues, 3 x fractors, 3 regular refractors, a copper (usually), and a possible auto, all which sell better than the hobby config. Considering that most of the autos in chrome sell for under 10 bucks, its not a big deal to give them up for the possibility of the other cards.
On top of all of this, the retail packs seem to be doing very well on the boards, and even here on SCU. I have bought 1 blaster and 3 fat packs, and I have ended up with a Sanchez copper and a Stafford xfractor among others. Those two cards alone have paid for my stuff. I have seen people pull black autos, gold autos, and regular autos aplenty over on blowout too, which only adds to the fun.
Im going to be picking up some more, as I think this year’s chrome is the best in years. Its the first time I have actually bought retail over hobby.

First Look: 2009 Topps National Chicle Football


The sad fact is that Topps opted to make this set after the Chicle cards in Topps Flagship, Topps Chrome, and UD Philadelphia were already out on the market. The even sadder thing is that these cards dont even compare to the ones from their base set, and they sure as hell dont compare to the ones in Philadelphia, so why even try?

The bordered sticker spaces on the autograph cards cut into the picture, and just draw attention to the fact that there is a sticker on the card. Why not just slap the sticker on the card without the border? It would look a little better than it does, right? With UD Philadelphia offering hard signed cards with better designs, this just isnt going to compete.
The dual looks borderline racist for the Moss painting as he kind of looks like those 20’s era depictions of black people on theater posters. Of course, it wasnt meant that way, but im not sure why they would use that particular painting for the card. Then when you factor in that BOTH the Brady and Moss paintings look weird, and feature bordered sticker spots, the card just looks even more awful.
National Chicle is going to suck from what this is showing, and I think I should use an example of what the autograph cards should look like versus what they do look like. Its a stark comparison.
EDIT: I just saw this one, and I almost spit my coffee all over my computer. Obviously Topps’ wonderful design team wasnt thinking too clearly (The Perez Hilton crap is my addition, though I think it adds to the overall presentation).

Product Review: 2009 Bowman Sterling Football

Over the last few years, there hasn’t been a high end set created quite like Bowman Sterling. Trying to equal the success of the prospector’s baseball favorite, Topps tried to create a similar set for football. The problem is that prospecting is very tough to market in football because all of the players are usually on the field from the beginning. This year, the previews were promising for a design that looked much better than it had in previous years. After seeing the finished product, I am less than enthusiastic about what was produced.


I have never been a fan of Bowman Sterling because I don’t think it offers much to the people who buy it. My feelings on the design are very similar as well, as this year’s just looks as distracting as ever. You know those ruler designs you did in elementary school where you drew two axis and connected dots to form a cool looking star like thing? Yeah, Topps used those as part of the background. Normally, it wouldn’t be any more distracting than a normal element, but they have added a different grain of refractor to them so that they reflect differently than the normal rainbow foil. It makes the card so hard to look at that someone at the shop last night said he had a headache just from opening the packs.

Secondly, the photography they used in this set is completely awful. For some of the cards, they didn’t even use actual shots, they just blew up their player pics from NFL.com. Rather than accomplishing their goal of providing a good look, it looks like they are putting mugshots on the cards. Most of the players didn’t quite know what to do for those pics, and therefore most look bored or angry. Not a good look for a close up trading card.

The entire set is printed on ridiculous rainbow foil or mirror foil board that somehow makes the cheaper chrome set look like it is a more focused execution of the technology. They even added colors to the parallels, which further detract from everything on the card.

There is one good thing, and that is the fact that they incorporated cards for the rookie material auto cards where the players have their helmet on. Although there are some of them that are still helmet off and goofy, a few are done the correct way.

The golden dual autographs arent that bad despite the incredible gaudiness of the cards. Although the bordered stickers are weird looking, the overall presentation of the cards are the best of the set. Of course, that isnt saying much for this.

Rating =

Autograph Cards

The single autograph wouldn’t be that bad if they were printed without all the busy lines and added crap on the sides. Of course, since this is a Topps product that costs more than 100 dollars, they look pretty bad from most of the ones that I saw pulled. This product offers much less in their normal autos that Chrome does at less than a quarter of the price, which truly says something about the concept of this set.

More importantly, the focus of this set, the rookie material autographs look worse than they have in a long time. Ditching the horizontal orientation that gave them room for a huge foil sticker and a swatch, they instead packed every element into a vertical card. The result is a player that is almost being attacked by the swatch, as it looks to be creeping up their chests to eat their faces. The swatches obscure most of the player picture in some cases, thus making me question why it was even necessary, a la the Chrome auto patches with the same problem.

Another bad part of this is that Topps sometimes uses this type of situation as a sticker dump, meaning that non-star rookies from last year could be making an appearance. We already saw on youtube that players like Devin Thomas are put in this set, and those non-rookie jersey materials cards are rarer than case hits. How would you feel if you pulled that?

Lastly, there is no reason to release a product that costs THIS much with the stickers. Unlike Panini, Topps has the resources to get on card signatures, but doesn’t pursue it. I cannot understand why that would be the case, nor why the stickers are highlighted with a border in the design. I thought the point of a sticker was to hide the fact that it wasn’t on card, not make it a focus.

Rating =

Relic Cards

Although there are rookie jersey cards, the veteran jerseys are pretty much throwaways in this set. There are multiples per pack, and they become as boring while breaking as the overall concept of Bowman Sterling altogether. All it does is add unnecessary cost to the product, as its pretty obvious that Topps has had a tough time figuring out what a box would contain.

The rookie jerseys are expected and are basically just another card that you flip through to get to your scrub auto numbered to 15 billion. The pics are similar or identical to the auto parallels, and that is not a complement to any of them. Big disappointment.

Rating =

Value To The Collector

Of any of the sets that hit the market during the year, this is the worst possible one to buy a box of, hands fucking down. Boxes cost over 200 dollars, and you get 10 autos that are worth less than the rainbow board they are printed on, a bunch of plain swatch jersey cards, and one or two premiere rookie autos that never hold their value. I am completely serious that you need to have electro shock therapy if you are going to buy any of this. I cannot think of a bigger waste of money. Its that bad.

Even though the cards come out of a high end product, they very rarely equal the value of a card that comes out of a comparable priced set. Personally I think its because the cards are stickers and always look like crap, but Im also starting to believe its because people are getting sick of high end Topps product that offer nothing for the people that buy them.

Rating =

Overall Impressions

This set is complete crap. Poorly conceived, poorly designed, poorly executed. Go buy 5 boxes of chrome instead of buying this. Im serious. Remember the golden rule of Topps and you’ll be fine.

Average Rat
ing =

2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1. Topps Chrome (4/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Upper Deck Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Philadelphia (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Topps Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Icons (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Heroes (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Bowman Sterling Football (2/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Donruss Threads (2/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
8(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)
14. Score Inscriptions (1/5 GELLMANS)
15. Leaf Rookies and Stars (0/5 GELLMANS – NR)

SCU Breaks: 2009 Topps Chrome Three Box Break

My three boxes of Topps Chrome came in today, and I think I did pretty good. Not great, but good enough to be happy. I ended up with a few really nice refractors, and one nice autos. Ive laid out each box, the third definitely being the best.


Darrius Heyward-Bey
Andre Brown
Jason Smith
Zack Follett
James Davis
Josh Freeman
Aaron Brown
Mike Mickens
Jeremy Maclin
Nate Davis
Brian Cushing
Marko Mitchell
Rhett Bomar
Roddy White
Senderrick Marks
Matt Hasselbeck
Rashad Jennings
Jeremy Shockey
Mike Goodson
Ernie Sims
Copper Refractors:
Marques Colston
Keith Bullock
Rookie Autograph
Shonn Greene
Tyson Jackson
Tiquan Underwood
Brandon Gibson
Michael Johnson
Brian Orakpo
Kevin Ellison
Brandon Underwood
Andre Smith
Pat White
Larry English
Michael Hamlin
Cornelius Ingram
Drew Brees
Hakeem Nicks
Kevin Smith
Vernon Davis
Chase Coffman
Jerod Mayo
Brandon Tate
Kenny McKinley
Copper Refractors:
Anquan Boldin
Michael Crabtree
Rookie Auto:
Brian Cushing
Matthew Stafford
Alphonso Smith
Austin Collie
Mike Wallace
Brandon Pettigrew
Manuel Johnson
Connor Barwin
Beanie Wells
Everette Brown
Louis Delmas
Robert Ayers
Peria Jerry
Manuel Johnson
Brandon Pettigrew
Robert Ayers
Peria Jerry
Chad Ochocinco
Chad Pennington
Aaron Kampman
Brandon Marshall
Copper Refractors:
Percy Fucking Harvin (YES!)
Chad Pennington
Red Refractors:
Ray Maualuga 12/25
Rookie Autograph:
James Laurinaitis (Pulled in every product so far)
If you would like any of the non-rookie base cards, please email me so I can give you the address to send a self addressed stamped envelope to. If you are interested in any of the bigger hits, let me know as well.
I am pretty fucking excited to pull the Harvin copper, as I can add it to my collection I have so far. I have the auto, the refractor and the copper now, making three out of a billion.
Pretty cool to break this much product in a row too, as the first box was not making me happy. Of course, pulling fucking Crabtree as my copper right after he pretty much solidified the fact that he is going back for seconds in 2010, was also pretty disheartening.
Im happy regardless, though. Thats gonna be it for a while, so Im glad I got it out of my system.

A Comment On Superfractors

When it comes to 1 of 1 cards in this hobby, there have been more mistakes than successes. Obviously the quad logo auto 1/1s in Exquisite are one thing, but they go all the way down to the 10,000+ 1/1s in Topps Moments and Milestones. One specific type of 1/1 has trancended the normal contructs of value surrounding base parallels, and I know that many people buy just to seek them out. Back in the 1990s, when refractor technology made its play, Topps literally put every possible design into its different parallels. Then they started numbering them. Then they started numbering them REALLY low. Then they made the granddaddy of all chrome cards, the 1/1 golden ticket Super-fucking-fractor.

Dont get me wrong, the idea of the Superfractor doesnt bother me one bit. Having a 1/1 parallel in a set built on the success of the different variations of the cards actually make sense. Its the look that I just absolutely hate. The cards look awful in my opinion, they always have, mainly due to the fact that the whole card is printed on that gold atomic mega refracting x-fractor board. Why not just put a nice gold border on it? How about using the gold atomic mega refracting x-fractor board, but only for the outside of the card?
Listen, I know you chromies are going to crucify me for this post, and I understand that the card itself is an icon even with the weird cardstock, but I just cant see myself ever going after one. After seeing the potential for gold bordered cards with the gold refractor autographs that are inserted in this year’s product, it has become clear how awesome a 1/1 like that could be. Instead of putting up with a player pic you cant see, you now have a really sleek addition to the parallels of the base set.
I am not kidding myself with the idea that Topps may actually change the look of the Superfractors, but I will say that its disappointing each time I see a card look like this: