Topps Releases Two Huge Previews – 2017 Dynasty Baseball and 2018 Topps Series One!

There are only a few things that get the majority of the hobby up and on their feet. The release of the Topps Series One design for the next year is ALWAYS one of them. Coupling that with the release of previews for 2017 Topps Dynasty Baseball is about as hearty a punch of fun as we get these days. Considering that both look exceptionally great, its cool to see what everyone else seems to think.

2017 Topps Dynasty

I thought last year was boring. I didnt even buy any of the singles, and I think it was a missed opportunity to take the brand to a new level with Derek Jeter’s recently added autographs.

To me, Dynasty is the best high end baseball product Topps makes. It has the best checklist, the best looking cards, and is one of the most interesting case breaks to watch. Some argue the set content is too skinny to be a real force, but I completely disagree. It offers the most premium cards of the year, even with Transcendent in the mix.

Check out these beauties:

2015 Topps Dynasty Mike Trout Auto Patch

2016 Topps Dynasty Derek Jeter Auto Patch 2/5

2014 Topps Dynasty Bryce Harper Auto Patch

The 2017 design is everything I had hoped for last year, and its going to be enormous with Judge and Bellinger in the mix. We also see more variety in the designs, and the introduction of Triple Threads style MLB logo autos as 1/1s.

I have to believe this will be a limited product as it always is, and the demand for the crazy Judge patch autos will have to be a factor in buying cases worth of this product, and Im curious to see how that will work. We have seen Judge relics in 2017 Inception, but outside of that, not much.

2018 Topps Series One

I thought this year’s design was a bit weak. I just didnt like the criss cross line look for the nameplate, and the way parallels were done were a bit odd to me. Its far from the worst design Topps has done, but its not the best.

Looking at the 2018 template, I am enthralled with the way Topps has modernized the look of this set. Opting to go with another borderless design and full bleed photos is right up my alley, and the wave like digital nameplate looks sleek and cool. Its hard to picture 2018 being as big as 2017, but there are always surprises.

We still do not have a full preview of the way parallels will work, or any of the inserts, but you can imagine that is coming soon.

I think as we begin to close out the year for 2017 and start to see Topps moving on from a record year, its going to be intriguing to see how they look to manage their designs in 2018. They can either move on from Judge but keep a progressive outlook, or avoid the risk of putting sets out that might not jive with an ultra traditional collecting crowd. Both of these previews definitely strike chord with me, and I hope there is more to come.

2017 Panini VIP Party Gold Pack Cards – Worth the Price of Admission?

Panini has made it a point to have the best NSCC giveaways of any of the companies at the show, and for the most part, they have succeeded in generating buzz online about the cards in the packs. Over the last few years, aside from some odd photo choices, I have really liked their designs and have picked up a few singles here and there.

There are always two flavors of cards each year, with silver packs and one type of card used for wrapper redemptions for the general public, and gold packs with Chrome cards for those attending the VIP party.

Here are some of the top hits from this year’s gold pack set:

2017 Panini VIP Party Aaron Judge Auto /25

2017 Panini VIP Party Lonzo Ball Diamond Auto 1/1

2017 Panini VIP Party Andrew Luck Auto /5

2017 Panini VIP Party Cody Bellinger Auto /25

My question has always focused on whether the party was worth ponying up the crazy amount of dough to attend? The first year or two was small and had some big names in attendance. You could get close to the players and they signed their stuff in front of people. Since then, things have changed, with some players not looking to participate in the actual party and photos being signed ahead of time.

The photos do go for good money for the one or two big names who attend:

2017 Panini VIP Party Lonzo Ball Signed 8×10

Similarly, the cost to attend has changed too, increasing in product bought at the show. However, they have added a number of extras to the pile of stuff as well, with more Silver and Gold packs for each attendee, a black box per person, and a fun night with food and drinks.

I think its a give and take all around. You might have to end up ripping a ton of product you dont necessarily want to. But you get all of those cards to sell. Similarly, VIP gold packs fetch about 15-20 a piece, and many attendees just sold their whole rake for a lump sum.

This year’s design was awful looking and plain, and had a lot of weird photos of the players. However, Judge, Bellinger, Lonzo Ball, and others have some autographs that are going to go for a considerable value. In the VIP boxes, they have special diamond cards, with autographed 1/1 parallels, and those have already been generating a nice little buzz on their own.

Overall, I think the people who go to this really dont really mind the cost. They are either big dealers who can move the product, or whales that have the cash to burn. I get that you have to keep your fans happy, but at some point I question whether the party is actually necessary. The cost to put it all together is better served to make everything else better around the company, right? Hell, just hand out the gold packs, the black boxes and the signed photos on the show floor and I think many of the people who go to the event might not even care. There are some who will, but a lot of things could be improved with that budget.

Its clear this party isnt going anywhere, and my skepticism isnt going to change the way people feel about it. The least I can hope for is hard signed VIP autographs instead of stickers some year, and a nice looking design I can pick up on the secondary market if so desired.

My Week at the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention

Its always a treat when I can attend an event like this and not have to figure out a way to make it work. All the stars aligned and I was able to get there and get back without much impact to my family or work. If you are in a position like me with two young kids and a crazy busy job, you know that is a miracle. As a result I decided to make the most of it. I posted a ton of pictures on Twitter – be sure to check out the gallery below if you dont care about my ramblings. I also had some really nice pick ups, but most importantly, I got to hang out with all the other people just like me who love cards. If you were there, you know that was more than usual this year. Here are some of my observations.

Show Traffic

I have been to four NSCCs and this was the busiest by far. It wasnt even a contest. Every day was busier than I ever remember it, with Wednesday night being about as busy as Friday of previous years. Yeah, baseball is having a good year. More importantly than that, there was such a wide variety of people, even though Aaron Judge brought all the boys to the yard. Kids, vintage collectors, autograph seekers, and memorabilia collectors mixed in with the normal crowd, and that was just the start. Dealer tables were more impressive than I have ever seen them, and its clear that the best of the best were in Chicago this weekend.

Giveaways/Manufacturer Promotions

I think both Topps and Panini had a strong showing this year, despite Topps running out fast and Panini’s design being quite a bit more disappointing than some of the previous years.

Basically, Topps was relying on the parallel factors in Bowman to drive their packs, and it did by a significant margin. Topps had both Judge and Bellinger in the packs, alongside favorites like Jeter, Bryant, and others. Each card had parallels to both 50, 10 and 1, and there were autos too. The design was a special parallel of 2017 Bowman, so naturally it was super popular. Pulling a Judge on day 1 was a 50 dollar return, which was awesome on boxes that cost 90 to begin with. Problem is, lines were long and packs ran out quickly on Thursday and Friday. So much so that they started the giveaway at noon on Saturday. I can only imagine the line, as I left on Friday night.

Panini counted on Judge too, but their cards were significantly tougher to move if you pulled something nice. I want to say the Basketball cards were more of a draw than anything, and that’s because Lonzo Ball and Ben Simmons were in packs, along with relics and autographs.

I personally HATED the rookie design, which is fucking annoying, because in 2016, it was great all around. They brought back weird towel relics again, but thankfully I didnt see any of those horrific Santa hats this year. I think the best cards in Panini’s stable were the private signings, which actually looked better than most of the content in much of what Panini has already released. I wish the base and parallels looked this good.

Judge Mania

If you were at a modern table of baseball cards at the show, it was guaranteed that Judge had a full case of cards, or a large plot of real estate at least. The guy was everywhere, and for the most part, the dealers werent really looking to add to their giant stash unless they were running low. I saw the BGS 9.5s at around 1000, but haggling was available in most cases. Because there was so much Judge at the show, if you didnt find someone who would work with you on what you wanted, it was very very easy to get in touch with another dealer who has the same stuff.

Vintage’s Huge Presence

If you havent been to an NSCC, it has been dominated by vintage since the beginning of having national shows. Many vintage collectors and groups of vintage collectors make it a point to schedule the convention into their year, as it is a place where many wants can be filled and extras sold.

Some of the things I saw at the show were absolutely jaw dropping, with multiple high grade 1952 Mantles on display next to high grade Ruth Goudeys and Joe Jackson Cracker Jacks. The vintage tables were honestly more crowded than the modern tables, even with Judge’s meteoric ascent, with many dealers catching up with friends they havent seen since the last NSCC.

I even saw a number of vintage collectors who didnt match the age demographic that one would expect. Younger guys are probably tired of chasing the next guy to make the hall of fame, when there are so many that are already there. They are not going about things in the wrong way AT ALL. I envy their patience and desire to pad their already impressive collections.

Basketball Trends Remain the Same

There were rumors last year that Upper Deck was making a huge push for an NBA license, and after seeing how collectors still treat the glory days of UD, that would have gone over like gangbusters. Current Panini stuff has a place, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, especially when your brand was maybe as strong as Topps is in Baseball.

Collectors go after Panini stuff because its the only option, but would switch back to Upper Deck loyalists the second any news could break. Their loyalty to the new guard is paper thin at best, and I would actually add Topps above Panini at this point as well. A set of Chrome would rock the foundations of what Panini has tried to accomplish and failed at over the years, something im sure the brass in Dallas cant be too excited about.

In the end, it comes down to relatively two names in the NBA, and Panini owns neither. Jordan and Lebron remain the top names in the sport, even though Curry is creeping up. I didnt see the fawning over Steph Curry autographs the way people were gawking at NBA Exquisite and SP Authentic cards. I counted five tables where cards were on display but not for sale. All were Jordan and Lebron from Upper Deck, none were Panini.

To think that the brand was so strong it has survived almost 10 years without losing steam is insane to me. I think they would see the same fondness in both baseball and football if they ever returned to the game, and I sit here thinking about what might have been if McWilliam never got involved with Yu-Gi-Oh.

Football’s New Golden Children

As judge mania sweeps baseball, modern football has really been whittled down in terms of truly sought after names on the modern side. First and foremost is Tom Brady. Every modern football table had a table of Brady all by himself. Brady cards were highlighted in every showcase that had them, with a few other big names like Rodgers and HOFers like Montana and Smith to accompany.

Next to that, it was Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot, who were there to try to recapture some of the lightning in a bottle from 2016. Two new names were on the velvet rope list, with one being so hot that it was insanely difficult to find.

First is Derek Carr, who has quickly become the new Andrew Luck of the football hobby. Carr’s stuff is white hot, mainly because of Raider prospects for making a deep run this year. Chrome autos from 2014 were almost non-existent at the show, and Contenders were selling at insane money, despite a horrible design that year. Treasures are already up near where Luck was in 2012, and its shocking to me how quickly this darling became a hobby legend despite a shortened post-season last year.

The second name is Jameis Winston, who people are tagging as a Derek Carr-lite with all the media coverage around the Bucs being a sleeper team this year. Vegas is in line with that way of thinking too, and collectors arent stupid.

As for the Texas twosome, it couldnt be more different of a story. Dak was the talk of the show, but not because the Cowboys are a favorite again this year. The autopen scandal was coming up at every table, but dealers were still looking for his stuff. I sold a number of Dak cards in thinning out my collection, and his freshly signed Treasures cards were among the most sought after premium cards on the floor. They were not as tough to find as Carr Chrome, but difficult to find at a good price.

Zeke, on the other hand, was almost on the no-buy list for dealers for what I had witnessed. I saw many Elliott treasures cards sitting on tables, but no one could move them and no one was buying more. With domestic violence and other off the field issues clouding the future for the biggest name of 2016, the tide has turned with people looking to prospect rather than just collect Elliott.

Topps’ Q&A

I was fortunate enough to get to go to the party on Friday night, and it was a good time to hear the different answers that Topps provided to some actually good questions this year. In previous years, collectors have gone to this thing to ask some crazy specific question that only matters to them, and it gets old. The whole joke about Santa getting cards in sets comes from this event.

Although we did get some odd ranting about digital to a team that really had no digital presence, there were some great questions about top concerns with the company and the industry in general. We saw that Topps still tries to witness every signing, with 98% having some sort of rep in the presence during the process. We also know that they want to add MLB authentication to as many things as they can, but dont always have that option.

Similarly, they know that expansion is a huge issue for growing their audience, and they seem to have a good understanding that Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger or Kris Bryant wont come along every year, let alone all in one. I have said time and time again that everyone recognizes that the current model of doing business doesnt seem to be a sustainable thing, but no one really knows how to fix the problem. I have outlined a few ideas, especially in the way product makes it into the hands of the end users, but for now, that doesnt look to be in the cards.

Lastly we saw that Transcendent will be back for another year, likely offering a party with someone like Judge or Bellinger as the guest of honor. They are also going to offer a crazy ultra premium version for Star Wars too, with 40 autos per box. Curious to see how that all works out.

Closing Thoughts

If you havent been to one of these, go. Figure out a way to get there for next year, I promise it will be worth your while. Even if the only money you spend is on the accommodations to get to the area, that’s fine. Its an amazing feeling to belong to a crowd like this, as there are so many like minded individuals at these events. The passion of the people in attendance is palpable, and its one of the main reasons I continue this site after 9 years of the grind.

Funny thing is, I even got the chance to catch up with Panini and their creative team with an opportunity to provide some feedback. Im not sure if it will go anywhere, as they feel as strongly about the way they do cards as I feel they are doing it wrong. They were happy to get feedback from someone who has been one of their most vocal critics, but we both understood that some things were just not going to change just because I wanted them to. I never really expected that to be the case, and I reminded them that my site has always been about providing my own personal opinion on how I saw the hobby.

I also got the chance to catch up with the team at Leaf and Topps, and had a great time reminiscing about the good ole days when things were a bit more simple. Its always great to catch up with Clay, Kevin, Dave, Gregg, Brian, and of course Sooz, along with all the “twitter celebrities” that I got a chance to say hi to.

What a great week I had, and cant wait to hear more about what happened after I left.There was a lot of time left on the clock for Saturday and Sunday, and hopefully next year I will get to be there for the whole thing.

Five Things Worth Talking About as We Begin the National Sports Collectors Convention

Looking back over the last few weeks, things have gotten quite a bit out of hand. Its been one thing after the other, some good and some bad. Being that so many people have their ears perked up around collecting thanks to national attention, it breeds a great atmosphere and buzz heading into the NSCC this week in Chicago. Here are five things I am going to be talking about as I think about how to enjoy the show.

1. How will Panini deal with all the negative attention brought by the Dak Prescott scandal?

The timing could not be better for collectors to get an opportunity to interact with Panini on a large scale. Although I doubt anyone on the floor is going to offer anything outside of what has already been communicated, I think this is a unique opportunity for collectors to share their thoughts. There are only a few times over the course of the year where Panini wont be able to mute a tweet or just not respond, and this is one of those times. Will their show sales be impacted by the news? Probably not much, to be honest. That doesnt mean they wont face a number of people who want to say their piece and hear what the reps are going to be saying on the floor.

Events like the VIP party will also be at the forefront of this discussion, as its likely that the people at this party have seen the way that Panini handled the scandal, and the lack of communication that resulted. It was a terrible face for the hobby to wear, and it was handled extremely poorly by their team. Being that the people at this party will be the top customers Panini has, its not going to be rainbows and butterflies in that way. Regardless if the NFL/NFLPA dictated the process by which the scandal was communicated, its clear things went completely sideways. Someone has to answer, and Panini is the logo on the door. Good luck.

2. Will Aaron Judge / Cody Bellinger be center stage as people experience the show?

If you have been to an NSCC in the past, it has been as much about vintage and autographs as modern cards, and Im curious how that will play out. With everyone and their mother looking for any deal they can find for Judge, im curious how that might play out on the show floor. As much as the show has its roots in tables of cards, its become a vendor spectacle over the last decade more than anything. Less focus has been put on the show each and every year, with group breaks and giant booths now dominating the way the floor is laid out. In this sense, it will be all Judge and Bellinger all the time, as it has become clear to everyone that putting Judge’s name on a garbage bag will add value to the final price.

The fact remains, vintage is a HUGE focus on the floor, and I just dont see that changing anytime soon. There are collectors who come from all over the world to find rare cards they might be missing, and the dealers arent going to change their bread and butter just because everyone else is digging for 99.

3. Will there be any big announcements?

There is always something that gets dropped at the National, some years are bigger than others. I really expect some interesting news to come from the likes COMC or other vendors of that nature, especially as they begin integrating themselves into more of the industry. As a whole, I dont foresee bombshells like we have seen in previous years, but look for some nice little nuggets just because there is a big stage for everyone to shout from.

4. Will traffic be up or down?

I think I saw that 650 vendors and 100 exhibitors will be on hand, which I believe makes this a larger show than it has been in the previous few years. That being said, its all about the traffic, and that’s where we could get differing perspectives. I would love to see a ton of people latch onto the hype floating around baseball this year and decide a trip is worth it, but it might not end up that way depending on a number of factors. Chicago tends to be a great place for the show because of its central location, and that will help things, unlike Atlantic City where you couldnt fly directly there from many places. Im interested to see how everything plays out.

5. Will group breakers showcase their hobby influence?

This is where I am most intrigued, as its clear that the breakers have had more and more of a place at the show. Since the creation of the group breaker stage, all the card companies and exhibitors have made it their focus to get on camera as much as possible. More than that, show events and scheduling involves the breakers too, which means its hard to go to the show and not see how much their influence has grown. Because of the way it works, things like the Panini VIP party present a great number of attendees from all the breakers at the show, and I doubt that will change. Its clear that for new products, these type of people are quickly becoming more than just the face of the hobby. They are becoming power brokers in a lot of ways, and the NSCC tends to be a place where they have a chance to shine.

Stay tuned for more coverage all weekend long, as the fireworks will start and not stop once Wednesday gets up and running. Ill have pictures, breakdown from the show floor, and all sorts of stuff to see. Looking forward to a fun week, as always. Follow @SCUncensored on twitter for live coverage as the events kick off.

On Shelves Now: 2017 Topps Allen and Ginter Baseball

I feel like collectors all over the world are running to their shops today like madmen looking to get their hands on Ginter. Its one of the most popular releases of the year, and with Judge and Bellinger mania sweeping the hobby, I dont expect anything to be different this time around. I have already started price watching a number of cards, and man things are nuts to start.

Here are some of the big hits already up:

2017 Allen and Ginter Aaron Judge Rip Card /99

2017 Allen and Ginter Aaron Judge Framed Mini Auto

2017 Allen and Ginter Cody Bellinger Full Sized Auto

2017 Allen and Ginter Ronaldo/Pele dual auto booklet

First off, Judge and Bellinger both have autographs, even though they both look to be redemptions. In all likelihood, these could end up some of the more desirable cards to have this year for both players, if only because of how much hype is behind this set. Add in subjects like Floyd Mayweather and it becomes a race to see who can get the top cards for their set. Red inks will be so difficult to get a hold of that im curious just to see what becomes of the cards. With the NSCC less than a week away, this is going to be a set to remember as long as both players stay hot.

After spending some time looking at the design for this year, I cant say Im impressed in the slightest. I think it can be really tough to keep updating this set each year with the hope of bringing a fresh take, but they are trying. The rounded backdrop looks odd, and I have never been all that much a fan of the posed pictures for this set over action shots from on the field. Although its not the worst they have done, I have to say its quite far from the best too.

Other stars like Tom from MySpace and Gene Hackman are really interesting additions to the checklist, and relics from Yetis and Santa will definitely be a huge chase. I think I saw a sharks tooth as well, but im sure that is just the beginning.

Im curious how this product might fare without the two biggest names, but Topps has gotten lucky for the last few years with tent poles to hold up much of their card year. This stuff is going to be a hot commodity around the group breakers and at the National, so its going to be fun to watch the rarer cards and rip cards get sorted out across the product.