Big Week Ahead – Releases of 2014 National Treasures and 2014 Five Star

This is one of the biggest weeks in the hobby coming up, with two of the biggest products of the year coming out this coming Wednesday. These two products have become the biggest releases for the high end space, with each having some massive hits in the course of the breaks.

Five Star

I love the look of the product this year, with the first time that baseball and football have had the same look. Baseball had some really nice looking cards, and I cannot wait to see what Five Star has in order. Last year's product looked similarly great despite a horrible RC class, and continues the long standing tradition of Five Star being the best looking product in the tier.

It does not come without disappointment this year, as the non-rookie checklist does not look like it matches what it has been in the last few years. This comes as a bit of a surprise considering how star studded the on card checklist was for Museum Collection. Not only that, but my favorite cards of the year, are no longer part of the checklist. Previously, the inscription cards have always been the gem, but they have been seemingly left off the checklist for 2014. This is borderline blasphemy for me, and I cannot express how disappointed I am that none of them are part of the set.

Check out what I mean:

2014 Five Star Bo Jackson Auto Inscription Quotables

2010 Five Star Adrian Peterosn Auto Inscription Quotables

2012 Five Star Andrew Luck Auto Inscription Quotables

2011 Five Star Peyton Manning Auto Inscription Quotables

Overall, I think that this product will still be on par, and the rookie content will still make the product worth checking out. This year’s single logo autographs are the first time that Five Star has offered cards like this (usually dual logos), and I am quite interested to see how they perform. Because Topps does not offer many logo cards over the course of the year, hopefully they will be special, unlike Panini who puts out 10 per rookie per product.

National Treasures

Over the last two years, I think the design for Treasures has been better than it has been in the previous years combined. I have often said that it does not deserve the fanfare it has relished over its run, as the cards have been so ugly to describe with normal adjectives most years.

One of the biggest factors that I see making treasures such a disaster each year is that it uses sticker autographs in a product that costs as much as NT does. Additionally, this year they are using stickers for the rookies more than I have seen in previous years, which makes me question why an ultra high end product cant have 100% hard signed rookie content, but other products from Panini can? That makes no sense. Maybe Panini should spend less time putting together horse shit products like Spectra and Black Gold and focus on delivering for their biggest release of the year.

That being said about the stickers, I am a huge fan of the rookie auto patch design and a bigger fan of the cards that are on card. This year’s design is EASILY the best design treasures has ever had, and its sad that wax breakers will have to endure the sticker embarrassment just to get at the good stuff. Similar things could be said about the shitty throwaway relics that have plagued this product for so many years. Dear Panini, THE JUNK RELIC IS DEAD. Let it rest in peace, instead of annually digging it out of the shallow grave you are responsible for putting it in.

Despite collecting the hell out of Teddy Bridgewater all year, this is likely the first year I will not be buying any boxes of either product. I will be picking up singles from both, but I just cant see spending a ton on this year’s stuff – especially when we havent seen any previews that showcase a reason to buy either set.

Diving Deeper Into 2014 Topps Museum Collection Football

Museum Collection has been live for a few days now, and now that we have had a few days to digest the product, I have grown more and more intrigued by the content in the set. Not only do the cards look REALLY nice, but there are some major hits in this product that add to its overall allure. Here is a break down of my favorite parts.

Framed Autographs

Since their initial release in Baseball, these cards are easily some of my favorites that Topps does all year. As a subset in a product called “Museum,” it makes sense that an autograph set is done with build in frames. It adds a high end look to a very high end style card, and the black background with Silver/Gold pens looks awesome.

More importantly, the checklist is nothing short of the best of the best, with some of the best players a company can get for a set. When you see guys like Topps managed to get into this subset, its clear that they were swinging for the fences. Sometimes, when you take a big hack, you come up short. From what we are seeing, they knocked it out of the park.

Check these out:

2014 Topps Museum Collection Tom Brady Framed Auto

2014 Topps Museum Collection Emmitt Smith Framed Auto

2014 Topps Museum Collection Barry Sanders Framed Auto

2014 Topps Museum Collection Brett Favre Framed Auto

Signature Series Dual Autographs

Its rare to see dual autographs with hard signed signatures these days. There is just a lot of logistics in play that are required to make a set like this work, and Topps is really banking on some big names to make these cards as awesome as possible.

The set includes the first dual autograph (that I can see) of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson, a card that may be one of the better combo autographs of the last few years. Even though it is a redemption, the chance that the card could get done shortly is enough to make the combo worth talking about.

Here are some of the better ones:

2014 Topps Museum Collection Russell Wilson Marshawn Lynch Dual Auto

2014 Topps Museum Collection Teddy Bridgewater / Johnny Manziel Dual Auto

Jumbo Rookie Patch Autographs

Last year, these cards were a really nice example of a high end type of example in a set that people werent feeling as much due to a poor rookie class. Even though 2013 really was a low point, these jumbo patch cards were pretty impressive and nice looking.

This year, the cards look just as good, and there are even 1/1 versions that have logo patches. On card autographs pop on the simple design and the players stand out. Its a very nice case hit that plays in addition to the case hit framed autos. Its really too bad that Beckham is a redemption.

2014 Topps Museum Collection Sammy Watkins Jumbo Patch Auto 1/1

2014 Topps Museum Collection Kelvin Benjamin Jumbo Patch Auto Logo 1/1

1/1 Sketch Originals On Card Autographs

The canvas collection cards are always fun to see, as Museum has had a high quality of results when commissioning the sketches. The originals, which are all 1/1s are highly coveted, and some of them are even autographed. To have the originals as hard signed pieces of sports art is so cool, and I am excited to see more of them as they turn up. These cards are really hard to find, and can go for quite a bit more than a typical 1/1.

2014 Topps Museum Collection Johnny Manziel Sketch Original Auto 1/1

2014 Topps Museum Collection Russell Wilson 1/1 Original Sketch

Overall, I have been really impressed with Museum as a surprising success for a second straight year. After seeing what Panini did with Immaculate, Museum isnt as big of an explosion, but it also focuses more on the autographs than the patches. As someone who couldnt care any less about event used material, Museum is a satisfying foray into the later part of the year.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Museum Collection Football

Other than the Chrome style products that Topps has made a staple of all sports and non-sports they own, its rare that an established brand from one sport crosses over to another. Topps is very determined to build equity in brands separately in each sport, and that is why they really only choose the best to make that jump. We saw it when Inception and Five Star were brought to baseball from Football, and also in Museum Collection coming back the other way. Now that Museum is back for another year, I am really interested to see how it has improved.

Here are some of the bigger hits up so far:

2014 Topps Museum Collection Teddy Bridgewater Framed Auto /25

2014 Topps Museum Collection Kelvin Benjamin Auto RC On Card

2014 Topps Museum Collection Frank Gore Dual Patch Auto

2014 Topps Museum Collection Brandin Cooks Jumbo Patch Auto On Card

There is a big reason why I think Museum stands out for me, and it has to do with the autograph content and the way it is set up. Unlike many of the other Topps products, not only are there a lot of veteran autographs in the product, but there are a lot of on card ones. Even better, there are dual autographs and other fun things as well, all based around non-rookies.

Additionally, the metal framed rookie and vet auto cards remain some of my favorites from the year, and I love that they are almost presentation pieces all on their own. Though they are easily searched out due to their weight, the cards themselves are exactly as promised – Museum style pieces. I already have a few from last year on display, and I am eager to get this year’s to do the same thing. They just look awesome. My only complaint is the thick silver/gold pens, which can ruin one of these cards very easily. The pens have a tendency to streak, so they can look very faint in some cases.

Another rock star from this set is in the presence of some serious chops in the art department, as the Canvas Collection is always a treat. They have commissioned artists to put together some sketches and pieces, and man do they look amazing. They have 1/1 works included in packs, so you can actually pull the card that inspired the subject in the set.

Overall, I think the design improved year over year for this set, and many of the cards look pretty fucking cool. I think that as we start to close out the license in 2015, sets like this will either go out with a bang, or fall by the wayside. I hope we get more of the wow factor, personally.