Topps Chrome and the Quest for the Best

My love affair with Topps Chrome has been well documented on this site. Aside from my yearly boxes of SP Authentic and a few sporadic boxes here and there, it was the only product I spent a considerable amount of money on. With recent previews showing a new and improved product, I am confident that Topps Chrome will once again contend for product of the year, and here are the reasons why I think it will.

Product Additions

In terms of content versus price, Chrome has always led the way in most respects, mainly because of how much collectors value the hits and non-hit cards. This year, with the addition of Bowman Chrome, Dual Rookie Autos, Red Zone Rookie Autos, and the Flashback Signature cards, Topps Chrome has added a considerable amount of content to a product that was already at the forefront of the game. Its like adding the hellfire conversion kit to a grenade launcher – it just adds that much more awesome.

Although the addition of Bowman Chrome is great for this particular product, I think it detracts from the overall calendar that Topps puts out. Despite the similarities between the two products, Topps low end never disappoints, and I will say that adding more products like Platinum and Finest, takes away from the overall feel of what makes Topps, well, Topps.

Lack of Relevant Competition

With Upper Deck not producing licensed products, Topps was able to reenter the football market again. Yay for us, no joke. Because SPA, Ultimate, and Exquisite will not function in the same capacity again (if at all), Topps has the opportunity to hit it so far out of the park that it should land in the street. Because the availability of hard signed veteran signature cards has dropped from a whole calendar’s worth with Upper Deck to nothing with Panini and Topps, the second age of sticker autographs has been crowned. Therefore, products like Topps Chrome and Bowman Chrome, as well as Topps Flagship no longer look like they are behind the times. Though people like us, who are very on top of the way the general calendar shakes out, the general collector probably wont be able to recognize the shift – at least consciously. Topps Chrome will be more visually appealing as any foilboard riddled set from Panini, and that registers with even the Joe-est of Joe Collectors, even if they don’t understand why. Its because when you compare a rookie focused set like Elite and Classics to a rookie focused set like Chrome, its like comparing a Kia to a BMW. I would even go so far as to say that Limited and National Treasures are the only products remaining on the ENTIRE calendar from Panini that have a chance at living up to what Chrome is going to provide for the money. Now, Upper Deck isnt completely out of the game, and we have yet to see the direction of where they are heading. SP Authentic, even with a focus on NCAA stuff, could still rake, and at that point, all bets are off.


If Topps ever had a trump card, it’s the refractor. Refractors are like crack to most people, and even someone like me who HATES rainbow foil, loves what they bring. It has to do with the stock and the way the cards themselves are printed, and when it comes to the “chromium” tech that Topps made famous in 1993, accept no subsitutes. I think that fact is even more evident when you hold up a parallel from any Panini foilboard product next to a refractor. Again, there is no comparison.

Then when you factor in that refractors have the ability to maintain a great premium price despite a lack of autographs or jerseys, and it only furthers the point that they are at the pinnacle of low end collecting.


I don’t think there is a better price point for any product in any sport than Chrome in football. When it comes to value in cards outside of the box hit, Chrome is in territory all by itself due to the content of the base and base parallel cards. This is just as much a result of consistency and follow through each and every year of release, as well as collector loyalty to the brand as a direct correlation. The autos, when they are of good rookies, are some of the most valuable low end cards in existence, and that only adds to the allure of the miniscule price tag. When a box of Elite (more of a mid-end product) costs 60-70 dollars more for cards that aren’t worth half as much, things start to come into focus. With Topps adding further content this year, it only makes more of case for why Chrome remains a collector favorite.


With the exception of 2008, Topps photography for their base set and Chrome tends to be amazing. Dynamic rookie poses (the sell sheet cards are mock ups, not finals), great design, and awesome game shots lead to display worthy low-end cards. How often does that happen? Rarely ever.


Even my mom knows what Topps Chrome is, and its because its been the best for the longest. For most people, due to the basic human characteristic of vanity, building a collection has as much to do with gaining notoriety among your peers as it does with loving the cards. You can deny it all you want, but being able to display your rainbow is pretty awesome when you see the oooo’s and ahhhh’s from the peanut gallery. Topps Chrome carries that through with each new year, and it has been pretty evident when you see the sales trends in the hobby going in the wrong direction for everything except cards like that.

When it comes down to it, buying a box of Chrome is a great time. Building the set is fun, and displaying your top singles is great. Then to find out that doing so is very inexpensive in most cases, makes it that much more appealing.

My name is Adam Gellman, and I am an addict of the worst kind.

One Of My Favorite Days of the Year: Topps Chrome Preview Day!

Saw the Chrome sell sheet on FCB, and I am both ecstatic and kind of sad at the same time. I absolutely love Topps Chrome and I dont think this year will be any different from the looks of things. However, they have added in Bowman Chrome cards and some weird subsets for the second year in a row, and I have a feeling I may get pretty annoyed with this.

First off, the cards look great, as did the base cards from flagship Topps. The autograph cards are still stickers as expected, but they arent done horribly. They still feature borders that call your attention to the fact that stickers are on the cards, but with Topps Chrome, you cant see them any other way. Plus, the boxes cost around 50 bucks a piece, so they get a pass in my book.
Secondly, they are adding in red zone rookie autographs for this product as well, and I am wondering if only part of the checklist will be in base Topps and others will be in Chrome. I would expect we will have to wait for Bradford and Tebow to be in chrome, if that were the case. Who knows, maybe its just a value added type of thing. In that case, the more on card sigs, the merrier. I just hope that the red zone cards are numbered similarly to the rookie premiere autos, as it would be terrible and tiring to have to redo the fake auto fiasco all over again.
Also, I really like the Bowman Chrome cards this year, and it sucks that they wont get their own set. I would much rather have Bow Chro than Finest any day of the week. Hell, take Platinum too, I dont care. Low end Topps = win.
On the bad side of things, the dual autos look kind of stupid, and the patch refractor autos /25 are pretty bad for the third year in a row. Did that patch really need a border on it? No, it just covers up more of the player. Plus, who needs the event used stuff in a product like this anyways? Its like 2008 Topps Stadium Club all over again.
I am eager to see the Topps reprint autos that they mention without pictures, because those could be some of the coolest cards ever. When this was done in both baseball and football a few years ago, people went nuts over them, but a lot of it had to do with hard signed signatures. If they arent hard signed, I will probably pass. Who knows, they could be cool.
Im not saying I will buy as much of this stuff as I did last year, but its going to be close. I love the 2010 Topps design and that should transfer into some awesome stuff from the rookies. The final product will be eagerly awaited here on my end.

My Card Collecting Love Affair Is Over

Its been a long and convoluted love affair between Chrome and I, lasting over a decade. Since 1998, I have always chased the Chrome cards of my favorite players, even when I stopped collecting cards. Based on emails I have received from many of the other people in this hobby, they feel the same way. The parts of Chrome I always loved the most were the refractors, as the chromium technology made rainbow foil look like wrapping paper on other products. These cards were everything they were hyped up to be, and I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the refractor is quite possible the best tech feature in the modern card.

In fact, chrome rookies and refractors are possibly the only non-numbered card to still hold value in this hobby. It is very rare that a non-auto, non-numbered card has any value what-so-ever, but the refractor has bucked this trend since its inception in 1993 finest baseball. This also means that the low numbered colored refractors are worth even more, and the Red refractors from both Topps and Bowman chrome have been known to crack 100 bucks without an auto. Think about it, look at all the other low numbered parallels that are present in just about every set. Will any of them frequently draw big bucks without a jersey, patch, or auto? Rarely if any will have that power.

Of course, 2009 is the final year for Chrome in football, and I am very sad to see it go. I will always have a special spot in my heart if it comes back, but for now, this is the end. Although I havent ever had much success with pulls out of either product, I think the singles are always going to be part of my collection. I was lucky enough to pull a coveted red refractor auto last week, and I was happy to finally have the feeling of pulling something like that. However, knowing that those kind of singles will not be available for the forseeable future makes me pretty angry that Topps is out of football. I am very glad to see the end of Triple Threads and Sterling (both kinds), yet I cant help but think that I would be willing to put up with those fluffy turds if I could have another shot at some chrome cards of the 2010 rookie class.

Lastly, its rare that I love a product like chrome through most of its run, and I credit the way that Topps approached the product each year. Instead of rehashing designs or lazily working with new concepts, there was a new fresh look every year. The refractors stayed the same, but I always looked forward to seeing the new design that was coming. Most of the time, they did very well with both Topps and Bowman chrome, and no matter what, those refractors always held their own. Collectors still chase the original Finest set because of the refractors, and I think I may start to join them without a new product each year. After all, my love didn’t come from staying with tradition, it came from appreciation. I never collected Chrome because I needed to be the person who had them all, I collected Chrome because I wanted to.

Sometimes You Need More Than Rarity For Value

Earlier last week I posted that Demitrius Byrd’s chrome auto may end up being the most valuable scrub auto of the year. For those of you who are curious, Byrd was injured pre-draft in an accident, thus making his auto pretty hard to obtain for the companies. Byrd had obviously signed some of his stickers, but not enough to put him in the number usually reserved for a scrub auto. Topps put him on the checklist, though his auto is listed currently at 1:7000 packs. At that rate, his autograph exceeds the odds of pulling a superfractor, but it isnt enough to drive value for a player that may not have a career.

There have been a few that have surfaced on eBay, with a recent one selling at $41.00. All things considered, thats still a huge amount for a player in his position, though not the numbers one would typically expect for a ridiculously rare pull in high print run product.
Interesting, none-the-less.

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.