With the 2012 Baseball calendar now complete with the release of 2012 Topps Five Star, I think it bears discussion as to wear this product won and lost. It is arguably the most anticipated baseball release of the last few years, and I think there are a lot of reason as to where it came out ahead, and where it came up short. Ill discuss my feelings on both sides of the coin, as this set has sucked me back into buying baseball singles for the first time in a long time. However, I also see where it failed, and that also needs to be discussed.
Where Five Star Rules the Roost
I dont think anyone can argue whether or not Five Star is a B-E-A-U-tiful looking set. Every card is meticulously constructed, and I think it definitely lived up to its name as the most expensive product in baseball history. Each card looks high end, and it does not take much to see how much of a focus was put on the way each card was composed. Huge signature areas, understated and simple design work, and a complete focus on each part of what collectors usually want.
2012 Five Star Hank Aaron Auto Bat 1/1 – Might be one of the best Aaron auto cards ever.
I will never argue with a set that contains 100% on card autographs, and Five Star takes that to another level that has not been seen for years. With the above mentioned focus on designs that cultivate a great look to each of the autographs in the set, its obvious what the goal was for this set. The auto relics are definitely my favorite cards, but they are not to be outdone by the autographed base cards. Even the booklet cards look great, as they have in Football, and I compliment Topps for avoiding some of the pitfalls that can be present in producing a set like this.
Whenever a collector pulls a 1/1, it should be a special experience. I stand by that. The great thing is, that will be the case in this set. Each 1/1 is a special card, including nameplates from bats, the ever popular bat knobs, or even dual logo hard signed autographed cards, something that hasnt been offered in a baseball set before – at least from my review. These are definitely the best bat themed cards of the year, as the bat knobs look about 100x better than they were in previous sets like Tier One. Even the cut signature auto booklets look great, which is a hard thing to accomplish these days. For the longest time, companies have done cut signature cards without player pictures on them, but that is where Five Star brings it back full circle with full sized pictures to accompany the giant cuts.
There are a lot of autographs in this product that collectors will be thrilled to pull, and that is something that has always been an issue with product like this. Its very difficult to have enough star players to maintain the price tag, but Topps definitely has a great stable. Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, and Willie Mays accompany awesome on card content from Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey, Justin Verlander, and even guys like Chipper Jones. Sure doesnt hurt to have guys like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, but you cant forget that others like Jose Bautista have never had much in terms of on card autographs before.
I wrote a post earlier this week about the sweet inscriptions that Topps secured for Five Star. After seeing more of them, I am growing more and more fond of these cards. Whoever was the person who thinks of the inscriptions has done a tremendous job getting the players to agree to writing them, and I have to scream this success from the rooftops much like I did in football.
I know this seems to be one of those things that not many people appreciate, but I do. I love that the box is like a jewelry box in the way it opens, and has a gold material covering the outside of the inner packaging. It goes as far as showcasing the true high end appeal of a product like this.
Where Five Star Dropped the Ball
I am only putting this on here, because I know its something that everyone is taken aback by. Redemptions will always be a part of a product with hard signed autographs and released at a time when five star was released. However, to open a box, and get 3 redemptions is borderline heart breaking. I think that Topps should have planned it out a bit better along the way, adding extra content or a program for people that have a ton of redemptions on their account from this product. Big names like Mays and Griffey are redemptions, which suck. Alot.
The laminate used in Five Star has issues, even in the cushioned packaging. It has led to chipping and corner damage, which is a huge detriment to a product like this, in a hobby where condition is everything. Again, I completely understand why this happened, and I dont really care, but its an issue that is driving people nuts. I would think that an adjustment in the materials for next year (if there is a next year) are in order.
Similar to 2011 Five Star football, there are very few prime swatches attached to the autographed cards in this product. Although there are some awesome patch cards for some of the unsigned cards, it takes a miracle to find one on an autograph card. When Museum Collection had a ton of them, and other products did too for significantly less money, it makes me question why Five Star didnt get the same treatment. That, my friends, is what we call a big miss.
Lack of 1/1 Content
Even though the cards that are 1/1 are completely awesome, there arent enough of them for a super high end product. I never thought I would say this, but every autograph card in this product needs a platinum parallel like this Pujols card. Bottom line. There needs to be more cards that give collectors room to make up money on a hit that isnt normally desirable at a high numbered parallel. I also think it would have been awesome to have autographs on the bat knob cards to make them THAT much more desirable. With Five Star, the plan should have been to take everything to a new level. That does not mean that hard signed autographs are the sole answer. There has to be more.
Lack of Historic Content
Its crazy to think that Ruth, Cobb, Gherig and the like are pretty much invisible in this product. Topps had all the things they needed to bring these guys to the forefront, and instead chose to focus on more modern players. Even the Mick is pretty much non-existent, which is crazy. The Babe and guys like him have a few bat cards here and there, but its not enough to make this product better.
Pen Quality on Silver Signatures
I think that this picture speaks for itself, and I have been told its because other markers led to too much smudging because they dried to slowly. I would take that risk if the autographs continue to turn out like this.
Dont get me wrong, I love Five Star. Its a product that brought me back to baseball card buying. That has been YEARS in the making. The product was a huge success in showing a super high end box can work in Baseball, and I hope that they try it again next year with some more improvements. I am a big fan of the different parts of the football product that transferred so well to baseball, and I think that collectors agree. There are a lot of examples of why this is one of the coolest products of the year. That being said, there is also a lot to work on.