On the Radar: 2015 Topps Chrome Football

I am sad. I am sad because this will be the last time I get to talk about a Topps Chrome football preview.

With Panini taking over the NFL license next year, Topps Chrome will likely unable to be made in the same capacity as it will be this year, thus forcing 2015 to be the brand’s farewell tour. Chrome has always been a product I go nuts over more than any other product, save Five Star maybe, and its frustrating that it will be gone next year. Exclusives fucking blow, and now my favorite set of the year will be a casualty of that new deal. Wonderful.

Knowing that this is such a cheap break, its insane what comes out of the boxes:

2014 Topps Chrome Odell Beckham Superfractor 1/1

2014 Topps Chrome Kelvin Benjamin Auto Superfractor 1/1

2014 Topps Chrome Peyton Manning Base Auto Variation SSP BGS 9.5

2014 Topps Chrome Teddy Bridgewater Black Refractor Auto BGS 10

2014 Topps Chrome Andrew Luck Base Auto Variation SSP BGS 9.5

I think that this version of Topps Chrome is going to have a lot of questions, mainly stemming from the wax breaking train wreck of 2014’s edition. Because of a massively inflated production run, Chrome’s box breaks suffered to the Nth degree. It was close to impossible to pull anything of worth, and even harder to pull one of the better cards in the product. Although Topps Chrome Mini was significantly better in almost every way, it wont curb the collectors from questioning their stance on the product. It could have a lasting effect, as no one will want to buy in until they see the checklist and the odds, and I can guarantee that it may impact how 2015 Chrome goes into play.

Now, Chrome is still the undisputed king of football cards, regardless of wax issues in 2014, but at the same time, the cards could be the coolest design ever and it wouldnt matter. Wax breaks are just as important to the people that break this product, almost above and beyond design. Last year's product looked amazing, but because of how bad it performed on the breaks, the whole thing came apart at the seems. This year, I would have to guess we will get a run somewhere in between where it was last year and where it was in years prior. I dont think Topps wants to sit on closeout product from their last year in the game.

This could also serve as an opportunity to produce a larger veteran and retired autograph checklist, as they will want to clean out the stickers in the warehouse. Vet autographs have been a valuable part of the set over the last two years, and I would be interested to see how they play it out. This can be both good and bad, as a sticker dump may not be the best situation for a product with a knack for low performance in the box format. It could also be a cool way to finish out the run with some top autographs.

Either way, I love the 2015 design, and I love the way it looks to transfer to Chrome. The autographs will look stunning, as they always do, and the inserts look great too. I love the 1976 throwback cards, and to see the added content is pretty damn cool. There is a lot of dreariness and downtrodden feelings floating around football right now, as I dont see many people happy that Panini is going to be the only game in town. Seeing cards like this really does provide a momentary relief from that impending doom, but its just that – momentary.

Panini is going to fuck up the football hobby like never before, thanks to a number different reasons, and to see Topps and sets like Chrome disappear is nothing but disappointing. You hate to lose that history, and you hate to lose what Chrome brings to the table. Its not every day that one of cheapest boxes of the year delivers the top chase card of the year, and Panini still hasnt figured out how to make a similar concept work. The Superfractors are the cards that all the big buyers want, and pay more than Treasures and Flawless, sometimes combined. All of it will be gone in 2016, and that should be a testimony that things arent going in the right direction.

Its going to be a bitter goodbye for Chrome, and yet I still cant wait for it to come out.

On The Radar: 2015 Topps Football Takes a Final Bow?

This is a day I look forward to every single year, mainly because it is the first solicitation of the licensed products released after the rookie premiere. This is the first Topps product that features rookies in their NFL jerseys, and it is also the base design for Chrome and other aspects of the card year. Its bittersweet this year, because it may end up being the last licensed version of the Flagship Topps Set. Thanks to Panini, the set that everyone has known and loved for the last 60 years may be gone. In 2016, Panini is set to take over the NFL exclusive, which will make this set a lot different. I could not be more angry about that.

Check out some of the more iconic cards, which will likely get some time in the sun for this set:

1981 Topps Joe Montana RC BGS 9

1986 Topps Jerry Rice RC

1976 Topps Walter Payton RC

1956 Topps Johnny Unitas RC

Because this is the 60th anniversary, we already know Buybacks will be a part of the set, as are a number of other commemorative items. We could see some really fun surprises.

Base Design

I really like that they did not play it conservative, as this is a very different approach from what they have done in previous years. A bigger nameplate, more futuristic type of an approach, and definitely a modern take. It reminds me a BIT of 1993, but this is its own animal. They were right to preview the Odell Beckham card, featuring his now infamous catch, as the card looks absolutely stunning with that picture plastered across the front.


Rookie Premiere Autographs

Last year, for the first time, Topps moved away from cards that featured photos taken at the premiere and then signed the next day. Instead, they used retouched photos used in sets like Inception, and did the rookie premiere autographs that way. The result was SO much better than it had been in the past, as the erratic arrival schedule didnt play into who got their photos done or not. This year’s design looks simple and sleek, which will make for a VERY good looking set. I have always liked this set, because they are on card and look cool – even with my pet peeve of studio shots.


Base Autographs

I thought last year's base autographs were good not great. This year, I think the design looks so much better, as it plays into the look and feel of the overall product in a way that didnt happen last year. The team logo background separated by the different shapes is really cool, and I will definitely be interested to see who is on the checklist – especially if Aaron Rodgers is the cover boy. Topps has done great with checklists as of late.


Retro Rookie Autographs

Let me say that they are just not going to beat last year's 1985 tribute, and its just as tough to beat 1984. Seeing that they went with 1987 is still a nice homage, but its just not on the iconic level that the previous two were. The cards will look nice, dont you fret, and I will buy the shit out of them, but 1985 is my favorite of all time.


Other inserts

During 2014, the insert quality skyrocketed over a dismal performance in 2013. This year, I think the inserts are especially nice again, especially with the retro cards celebrating the 60th anniversary of the set. Seeing the 1984 Lynch and the Emmitt Autograph make me remember how awesome those sets were, and how much I continue to despise Panini for ruining this sport for me. The other inserts are similarly nice, and it looks like this year is going to be pretty freaking solid for this set.

Like I mentioned at the top, this is a sad situation. But, as I have said a ton of times, the trading card industry is going down a path that benefits no one but Panini. Even then I question how much understanding they really choose to have, as their overspending for license on top of license is only going to hurt the hobby more when they cant make their money back. Seeing that this is the final year of a 60 year old set makes my blood boil, especially one that is responsible for some of the most iconic football cards of all time.

2014 Topps Chrome Mini: What Regular Chrome Should Have Been

After writing this blog for what seems like a lifetime, there are a few things that are always a constant with me. One of those things is that a Chrome branded set will always been worth breaking a few boxes, a situation that was called into question this year. 2014 Topps Chrome was plagued by overproduction and terrible box breaks, and as a result collectors have become apathetic over any new Chrome style product, including the recent releases of Bowman Chrome and Topps Chrome Mini. After a few days since the release, Im starting to think that if Chrome was structured the way the Mini set is structured, we would be singing a very different tune.

We also get to see how the biggest card in the product is going to perform against the biggest card in regular Chrome, as the Odell Beckham Superfractor Auto Mini 1/1 was listed recently:

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Odell Beckham Auto Superfractor 1/1

The superfractors are not the only cards that people are chasing in this product, as there are quite a few nice pulls that are generating prices reminiscent of the regular set:

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Odell Beckham Pulsar Refractor Auto /15

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Sammy Watkins Auto Red Refractor /5

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Blake Bortles Gold Refractor Auto /10

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Teddy Bridgewater Pulsar Refractor Auto /15

Personally, I am pretty excited that a product like this is performing the way it is on the secondary market. There were a lot of individuals who thought this product would tank, and they had every reason to believe that was going to be the case. However, we are seeing that there are quite a few examples that are showing a 60 dollar investment in a box is not only going to be a fun time, but maybe a pretty good likelihood of a solid return.

Chrome is one of the only products on the market, where the hit in the box isnt necessarily the end all and be all of what your experience is going to be. Rare parallels can bring enormous prices, and even pulling a low numbered refractor of a veteran can make up almost 50% of the box cost. That is something to be missed come 2016 when Chrome goes away with the pending Panini exclusive.

Bottom line, I remain in line with the statement that Chrome mini is what regular Chrome should have been. If that was the case, Topps might have saved some of the criticism of one of their biggest products of the year.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Topps Chrome Mini Football

When Topps first announced 2014 Chrome Mini, I was skeptical but intrigued. For me, as long as we get more on card Chrome autographs, im on board. However after we saw box after box of 2014 Regular Chrome fall flat due to vast over production, things have gotten dicey with collectors. People were so turned off by what Chrome delivered on a box and case level, that it will surely impact how Mini sells. Being that it was already a relative niche product, im not sure what is going to happen.

Here are some of the bigger hits so far:

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Teddy Bridgewater Red Refractor Auto

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Johnny Manziel Die Cut Auto /15

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Odell Beckham Red Refractor Auto /5

2014 Topps Chrome Mini Derek Carr Black Refractor Auto /25

I will say this. From the breaks I have watched, Chrome mini looks to be the set we were all hoping for in terms of regular Chrome. It has a reduced autograph checklist and lower print run, and is look to run 3-5 lower number color autos per case from what I have seen. That is what we needed to see before. The number of autographs from top tier rookies is still yet to be determined, but even that should be easier considering the run is shorter.

If you liked the main Chrome design, it transfers almost 100% to Mini. There may be fewer parallels available, which is expected due to lower production run, but you should get more of them per box. Additionally, for boxes that dont have color autographs, I saw those boxes are more likely to produce color from the base side. The base parallels have a much better numbering scheme too, a lot lower than normal Chrome.

Overall, Chrome Mini is not going to get much love because of what happened earlier in the year, but I think it deserves some credit. The cards look as good as ever, and the box break improvement should be a huge improvement overall. Because fewer boxes will be broken, the rare hits are really going to sell higher than I would guess people are going to expect. I have already seen some collectors trolling the boards trying to get a head start on rainbows and sets. That is a good thing on a short run product.

My complaint is that they didnt update the pics on the cards with new pictures, which is so fucking disappointing I cant even put it into words. If we could get game shots on these cards for the whole set, and release it later, I would break cases of this product. Because its the same pics we got in mid 2014 with base Topps, Im not as excited. This was a missed opportunity, even though this product was an afterthought. Chrome takes forever to print and sign, but the wait would be worth it to me. The combine pics in February are inexcusable, regardless of the original release date.

I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.