I get criticized a lot for being overly negative, especially when it comes to upcoming products. However, with two of my favorite sets of the year on the horizon, I can tell you my level of excitement is unparalleled. With the two products that now compose the low end part of Topps’ football calendar, Chrome and Flagship, its like they are playing on a different level. Topps Flagship is being released next week, and I have a feeling that it may do enough to re-energize exactly what I am looking for in the 2010 card season. I mean, the crap that is coming out of Panini’s butt sure isnt doing it, so for these two sets, its make it or break it. Im sure most of you are wondering why these particular sets are my favorite, and I am more than happy to explain.
Most of the time, the base set design for the Topps products is solid. This year, it’s a little more than solid because I always am a fan of the use of the team word logo design. In all of sports, the NFL team word logos are some of the best looking, and it’s a shame they arent used more often in cards. Those logos are an integral part of the design this year, and the overall simplicity of it other wise, makes the stuff from sets like Rookies and Stars look like it may as well be a traffic jam. This year’s design will also translate VERY well into the chrome sets, and the colored refractors with the eye-popping border additions should look amazing. I will say, also, its one thing to use shitty foil board to produce an ENTIRE set, its something completely different to use the chrome tech. The quality of the base cards is THAT much better, and that quality leads to some of the only base unnumbered rookie cards that are worth any sort of money.
The fact that a box of Chrome costs 50 bucks for what you get is great. Because you don’t need the 2 dollar jersey cards to drive up cost and carry a box, the cards do the talking. Even though you only get one auto per box, there is usually enough other draw to busting that makes up for it. Flagship is very similar, especially for the jumbo boxes. When Topps added in the red-zone signatures to rake with the Rookie Premiere autos and the rare variation cards, this product got that much better. Also, much like Chrome, the box is one of the most fun rips around. You cant beat the amount of fun you get ripping into 50 card packs that actually have value in what you pull.
In Flagship, there once was very little content outside of the RPAs. That has since changed. The addition of a parallel structure that is more friendly to the collector, the variation cards, the red zone signatures, and the other inserts like Ring of Honor, make this set great even without the premiere cards. Yet, with a great design added in, even the base cards bring content. For Chrome, Topps sadly folded the Bowman Chrome line into the Topps Chrome brand, which is great for Topps Chrome, but not good for my love of the stand alone product. Because of the added Bowman content, as well as more red zone signatures, and retro autos, Topps Chrome is going to mash this year. Again, the great price point and great design add into the content rather than detract like Bowman Sterling, and that is always a huge plus.
When I heard Topps was out of football, I was pissed, despite my hatred of their high end brands. Their low end brands have been around for decades and my collection is stocked with past players in said products. Collectors associate the Topps base cards with the general happiness of collecting, and a year without them is like a year without football itself. Chrome has a similar legacy with collectors, especially those who loved the invention of premium brands as much as I did back in the day. Even though Chrome is no longer a premium brand, it has the feel of a well put together product each and every year. Like SP Authentic, collectors buy because they know they are not going to be short changed on the construction of the set, and that is something that Panini has lost in creating the crap they have churned out lately. Sets like Rookies and Stars and Certified have a lot to learn from the likes of Chrome and SPA, especially due to the way they look. You can line up the cards for Panini’s long running sets and see nothing but rehashes and staleness, where as the Topps and Upper Deck cards are reinvented visually each and every year. THAT is how you build a legacy.
I hate the fact that Parallels have been blown up like they have in high end Topps products and Panini products. Chrome and Flagship don’t fall into that category. The parallels are tastefully done and add a lot of value to the card itself in some cases. When you pull a rare parallel of a Topps card, you get exponentially more value out of that pull. The difference between a Triple Threads card to 299 and a Triple Threads card to 99 is negligable. That’s when you know there is a problem.
Because of the above and lack of options, I may be purchasing my first case of anything, ever. I opened so much of these products last year that I probably gave away three complete sets to the local kids at the shop. I can tell you all right now that spending 700 bucks on a case of Chrome will definitely be a better investment than buying box after box of the products that blur together on the slate of the other companies. If you are going to blow your money on wax, at least blow it on something worth busting.