Topps Finest Is Here, Or What Is Left of It

A decade ago, Finest was just that, the finest around. In recent years, it has become a stale mid year release from Topps that has ranged from high end at over 150 a box, middle end around $80-90. It even has switched formats a number of times, going from one box of 24 packs to three mini boxes of 8 packs each, to now two mini boxes, all of which makes us long for a simple product with simple cards. In lieu of a review that has little purpose with the way the product is set up, I just want to talk about what I have seen so far out of a product I used to love. For the record, going back to 1993, I have bought a finest card of every player I collected. From Kirby Puckett, Joe Mauer, Adrian Peterson, Shawn Kemp, Drew Bledsoe, and the rest, I still have all my cards. This year, for the second year in a row, im passing on this offering.

First is the configuration, something that has bothered me to no end over the last few years. The mini box idea is a complete waste of packaging and time, especially when you look at the success this product had before the switch. We would all have just as good of a time opening one big box, but then it would be harder to justify the mystique of being able to buy half the box and come away with a hit. I think with any finest, chrome, and similar products, they should be more adept at keeping it fresh and old school at the same time.
Speaking of needless “improvements,” I still have yet to find out why Topps felt the need to shoehorn (thanks Slette) a relic into the rookie autos. Like Chrome, these DID NOT need a relic, and the definitely didnt need to be placed where they were on the card. They arent as bad as the Frankenstein abominations from Bowman Chrome, but they are still completely useless. Companies need to realize that adding relics to existing designs is never a good idea, even more so when the collectors have gone for years loving the other way.

Still in the “Improvement” column, the Letters are making another appearance, this time sticker free. Im hoping the good part of this addition will be a lack of Topps Lettermen this year, but I know I am not that lucky. The letters arent horrible, signed on the letter in the right kind of pen, even with pro color letters instead of black or college. They arent too elaborate, as all of them are one color, even the Eagles, something that speaks more to the speed they were built than anything. Personally, im not all that disappointed with them, but when you factor in that finest has never needed them before, its kind of like putting a headrest TV screen in a Duesenberg.
One thing that has improved without a doubt is the design of the cards. Last year, Topps Finest was full of cards that had no heart and no purpose, using weird color schemes and stupid concepts. Those are all gone this year, sticking with the normal colored refractors and xfractors. I like it that way, and Im guessing a lot of the Finest collectors out there do to.
Im still wondering when they will figure out that they should go back to less refractors per box, more like the 90s when the refractor was something you looked for due to the rarity and value. Instead of contrived scarcity in the colors, maybe make it even more of a chase some how. That will drive value more than anything.
When it comes down to it, Finest is just another mid year set I am going to avoid, but at least its much more worth your time than other products like SP Signature Edition.
Rating =

2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1. Topps Chrome (4/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Donruss Limited (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Bowman Chrome (3/5 GELLMANS)
2(t). Donruss Certified (3/5 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)
11(t). Topps Finest (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Upper Deck SP Threads (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Upper Deck SPX (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Playoff Absolute Memorabilia (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Bowman Sterling Football (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Donruss Threads (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
11(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)
20. Score Inscriptions (1/5 GELLMANS)
21. Leaf Rookies and Stars (0/5 GELLMANS – NR)