Topps Platinum Is Live With Early Big Hits

Topps platinum is live this coming wednesday, and some of the bigger hits from the product are showing up early thanks to an early retail release. Despite the fact that the product was one of the more uglier sets of the year from 2009, it was one of most popular retail releases of the year thanks to strong hit concentration in the packs. This year, the product may look much better, but the jury is still out on the overall success the set will have once it hits hobby shelves.

Platinum will never live up to the type of success that SP Authentic had, but it is trying awfully hard to fill the void left behind with a more  conservative design. Contrary to early reports that this product was being turned into Topps’ big hard signed patch product, it still features 100% stickers as all the Topps products normally do, something very disappointing to my hopes for Topps this year. The design isnt TERRIBLE, as evidenced by this Tim Tebow Patch Auto Refractor /99, but it isnt anywhere close to where it needs to be either. Both Panini and Topps have had a huge oppotunity to step up on the design front with Upper Deck leaving the licensed arena, but neither have released products that are in the same zip code as to where UD’s products usually delivered in visual appeal. This one had a chance, but delivered only on the most basic of levels. Maybe if Topps’ design team figured out that not every element needs a border (especially the stickers), they would have a much better look to everything they do. Right now, the borders do nothing but draw focus to the wrong parts of the cards. Think of what this card would be like without the border partially covering the player picture.

I will say this, Topps Platinum blows Threads and just about all the Panini stuff out of the water, but it will continue to be a boredom filled calendar as long as designs like this continue to be the norm. Unfortunately, Topps has adopted the Platinum design for almost all their sets this year, most evident in the upcoming Finest release, and that is not something I consider to be a good thing at this point. Who knows once we get a better look at what Platinum brings to the table.

How many more weeks until Chrome again? Ugh.

2010 Bowman Sterling Is Cringeworthy, Golden Rule Still in Effect

Just when you think Topps has finally started to put the right foot forward, they take three steps back. I really don’t get what it is that Topps cannot see about their high end products, but the stuff is just horrible. I cant even tell you how tired I am of seeing the same stupid ideas product after product, year after year. Seriously, I am wondering if one group of people designs the low end stuff and another group of people designs the high end. Even outside of the continued stupidity regarding the way the stickers are used, the designs never look up to par with even the worst of their low end products.

First off, let me start with the box hits of this product, the rookie material signatures. These cards used to be a matter of taste because they were horizontally oriented and they always had the players with their helmets off. I hated the pictures, so I didn’t buy the cards. Now, the pictures are game style, but the vertical orientation forces Topps to cover up the player with the unnecessary swatch placement, and then it no longer becomes a question of taste when it comes to liking these cards. Its absolutely shocking to me that Topps’ design team is willing stamp their name on a finished product like that, especially when you also see that they cut out a place for the sticker AGAIN. Oddly enough, there is no sticker cutout space on Dez Bryant’s non-memorabilia signature, and it obviously looks THAT much better. Not that it even would make a difference when the player is just barely peaking over the stupidly placed relic, at least in this case.

Secondly, I have no clue why Topps needs booklet cards in every goddamn product. It wasn’t even that novel of an idea when it was first started, and now its getting worse than the Panini manupatch autos that they spread over 25 different products. When you count up the different elements that they factor in to each of the booklet cards, it makes you wonder what the purpose of the card is. Is the purpose to create a good looking card, or is the purpose to pack so much crap onto the front of a card that you actually need two front sides and two back sides to do it. Give me a break.

Lastly, the price point of this product is still one of the most ridiculous on the market. Based on what you get out of a box, this product is so completely overpriced that it makes Triple Threads look like a good deal. Even though you may get 10 or whatever autos per box, all but one or two is going to be a scrub. That means, that you have to count on one or two cards to make up for 250 dollars, and even the Mr. Golden Bronco cant live up to that. That puts the collector at even more of a disadvantage, especially when you consider how terrible these cards sell on the secondary market after the initial release.

Ill give it to Topps, the overall design looks better than last year, but that is like saying this year’s Chevy Aveo looks better than last year’s. In the end, its still looks like an Aveo, and that’s the problem.

Topps Unrivaled Football Preview Is Just Like The Rest

Topps released info on a new set for 2010 this year, and all I can think about is how it is same shit different day. I have always said that the golden rule of Topps is that all mid to high end products should be ignored, because in most cases, Topps shows that they are incapable of designing a product that actually looks good. Although they believe they can trick the type of collectors who don’t value design to buy a product like this, especially through the inclusion of terrible looking booklet cards, Im not as easily fooled.

The most frustrating thing about Topps products in general, is that the design team always feels the need to border the components of the hits. All stickers have huge thick borders rather than seemlessly fitting into the overall layout, and from what we are seeing here, the borders have become so thick on some of the cards that they are starting to cover up the players themselves. Its completely terrible and draws away from a set that may actually be passable if Topps actually took hints from Upper Deck and Panini about how to use a sticker auto.

Right now, the prospects of the coming year’s success are dwindling, and when every set that Topps puts out starts to look the same, I start to wonder who is asleep at the wheel.

There Is A Perfect Strasburg Storm A Comin’…

Topps is plowing through their late 2010 release calendar, and most of the products that populate that calendar are ones that I would love to see burned as a sacrifice to the almighty cardboard deities. The recently re-released Topps Tribute, Topps Sterling and Topps Triple Threads form the unholy trinity of Topps High end that I talk about as what to avoid, and I stand by that regardless of the gimmicks they use. This is mainly because the products focus more on packing cheap relics onto the cards than making cards that actually look good or have unique concepts. Topps Tribute may be a newer product than the old and stale Sterling and Triple Threads, but it is already falling into the familiar pattern of a design that doesn’t change, retina burning neon foil board, and stickers that are built into the design to draw your eye. Sounds like I have heard that one before, I wonder where?

Regardless of my feelings on these terrible excuses for products, there is one card that I believe could make more waves than people are expecting. Well, with all the parallels, its probably closer to 9000 cards. Of course, I am talking about the Triple Threads Stephen Strasburg Triple Relic Auto (OMGZ STRAS-JO!!11!!!!). Because Topps is actually taking the step to get some hard signed cards into the product for once in their life, this particular card should be one of those instances. Now, think about how perfect this storm is turning out to be. The people who pay 800 dollars for those Strasburg autos are probably the same people who buy four cases of Triple Threads each year. I see a distinct correlation between the two. I say this because it takes a certain type of person to buy Strasburg cards when they are selling as high as they are, and it also takes a certain type of person to love what Triple Threads brings the table each year. I think you catch my drift. When you combine the two, things could get ridiculous.

Even though the Stras cards from Triple Threads could end up being redemptions as a result of the timeframe needed to produce and sign the cards, it wont matter. Those people, you know which ones I am talking about, will go nucking futs when one is posted on eBay. Hell, they may even send it to Beckett and get it graded first, because after all, that group of people also overlaps this venn diagram from hell. Of course, this is after they post a card by card break on a message board, and combine it with a recap from their latest mail day. Yup, that’s about right.

The cards from Triple Threads will also be some of the first to have MLB Strasburg relics in them, something that will drive the prices even higher than they already would be. Yeah, see what I am saying? Its going to be like that movie with Jake Gyllenhaal, a hobby apocalypse, and I am going to be stuck shivering in the New York Public Library while the Triple Threaders are going to be making snow angels in the piles of two dollar hits they will get from their boxes outside.

Don’t get me wrong, Topps is doing everything right in this case. They have a player they can exploit like a sweatshop worker, and they have shown that they will plaster his face on any possible thing to sell more cards. Funny enough, collectors sure are responding like it’s a new concept. They don’t care if Topps puts out blowup Strasburg dolls that they can use in the privacy of their own home, they just want them and they will pay through the nose to get them. Its that crazy right now.

I still stand by the frame of reference of how popular a Nationals pitcher can become when someone like Tim Lincecum has already won 2 Cy Young Awards. Lincecum’s cards arent worth half of what Strasburg’s are right now, and he plays for a much more popular team. When was the last time you met a Nationals fan outside of Washington? Im pretty sure they don’t exist actually. So, if Strasburg goes on to win 2 Cy Youngs, like Lincecum already has, where does that put his value? Lincecum’s has already peaked and it isnt anywhere close to the value of a Bowman Strasburg auto. What does that say for future prospects of value? Its NOT likely that Strasburg will accomplish anything close to what Timmy Longhairs already has, and its actually more likely that he wont last more than a few years if fireballer history lives up to its name.

In all reality, I am going to sit back with a cold beer and watch the fireworks when Triple Threads hits shelves. Its like watching that kid open his Nintendo 64 on Christmas. Triple Threads collectors have very similar reactions in most cases, and it is equally hilarious. Even more so when this Christmas is Stras-mas too.

Triple Threads = Ratings

Topps released pictures from my absolute favorite set of the year today, and I think you will see why its my favorite each and every year it comes out. With what we saw from the 2010 set in the preview, it brought nothing but everything we expect from a Triple Threads set. Horribly designed cards with stickers built into the layout, so that they draw the eye away from the train wreck below. Cards printed on eye obliterating bright neon foilboard with more parallels than Panini could shake a stick at. Fold out booklet cards that are more concerned with spelling out obscure accomplishments in confusing die cut windows than actually making the card something to collect. A 180 dollar price point for two hits, one of which does not have an autograph. It makes me feel dumber knowing that I associate with collectors in this hobby that think this is ALWAYS the product of the year.

See that paragraph above? I wrote that two days after the release of the preview for the 2009 set. Almost 365 days ago. This set is so utterly predictable, that I could write an intro without even knowing what the 2010 cards would look like. In fact, these cards are so much more like 2009, 2008, and 2007, that there is not a visible difference other than the players on the card. I guess thats what you get with Topps High End. Overpriced boxes with ugly cards that only appeal to the people who dont consider what the actual product looks like, as long as it is stuffed full with “OMG MOJOZ!!!!111!” cards stuffed with 280 jersey pieces and five billion 1/1s.

I dont even think I need to say anything more about it. Its all been said before. Here is the preview, have fun. Im out.