Monday, September 18, 2006

Box Break and Review: 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter

One Box of 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball (paid $95)
24 packs per box, seven cards per pack (MSRP $3.99/pack)

The Details

Base Set: 350 cards
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
  • Short Set: 300 cards
  • Short-Prints: 50 cards (odds not stated)
  • Short Set Minis: 300 cards
  • Short-Print Minis: 50 cards (1:13/packs)
  • A&G Back Short Set Minis: 300 cards (1:5)
  • A&G Back Short-Print Minis: 50 cards (1:65)
  • Black Bordered Short Set Minis: 300 cards (1:10)
  • Black Bordered Short-Print Minis: 50 cards (1:130)
  • Non-Numbered Minis: 350 cards: (1:60, limited to 50)
  • Bazooka Back Minis: 350 cards (1:125, numbered to 25)
  • Wood Minis: 350 cards (1:3100, one-of-one)
  • Rip Card Minis: 25 embedded cards
  • Press Plates: 350 cards: (1:865, four for each mini card)
* One mini parallel per pack

  • Dick Perez Sketches: 30 cards (odds not stated)
  • Dick Perez Original Sketches: 30 embedded cards (one-of-one)
  • A&G Postcards: 15 oversized cards (1:2 chiptoppers)
  • N-43: 15 oversized cards (1:2 chiptoppers)
  • Rip Cards: 50 cards (1:265, production varies from 10 to 99 copies)
  • Framed Originals (1:3227)
  • Framed Autographs: 54 cards
  • Red Ink Autographs: 54 embedded cards (numbered to 10)
  • Framed Relics: 52 cards
  • N-43 Autographs: 2 oversized cards (1:970 chiptoppers, numbered to 10)
  • N-43 Relics: 2 oversized cards (1:379 chiptoppers, numbered to 50)
  • Personalized Postcards: 15 oversized autographed cards (1:3000 chiptoppers, one-of-one)
# Stated odds of finding an autogamer: two-per-box.

The Pulls.

Base Set: 144 of 350 (41.14%)
No doubles
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
  • Short Set: 132 of 300 (44.00%)
  • Short-Prints: 12 of 50 (24.00%)
  • 14 Short Set Minis
  • 1 Short-Print Mini: Queen Victoria
  • 4 A&G Back Short Set Minis: J. Kendall, K. Wood, J. Santana & H. Killebrew
  • 1 A&G Back Short-Print Mini: C. Lee
  • 3 Black Short Set Minis: R. Harden, S. Rolen & Wilbur Wright
  • 1 Black Short-Print Mini: J. Lieber
  • 13 Dick Perez Sketches
  • 1 A&G Postcard: M. Tejada
  • 1 Framed Autograph: D. Lee
  • 1 Framed Relic: M. Buehrle

The Review.

In what has become the latest in a string of products that have the appearance of pre-War (or in this case pre-20th Century) card sets; but in structure resemble more modern ones instead, comes Topps' latest "nostalgia product:" Topps Allen & Ginter. "TA&G" has been out for a couple of months, so forgive me for being a little late to the game, but the word on The Hobby street is that TA&G is one of the best (if not the best) products of 2006. Judging by the number of singles available, it's certainly the most broken-up product of 2006. With such praise, I finally had get in on the action, and while I wouldn't go as far as giving it the "set of the year" -- my money's still on Upper Deck's flagship -- TA&G is a pretty solid product, nonetheless.

More like 'The Worst Ratings in the World'For all intents and purposes, TA&G is same product as Topps 206, Topps 205, Cracker Jack, et al. Just like in the aforementioned products, you get an original-sized parallel in every pack, and every box contains two framed autogamers and an essay written by the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann. (No, that picture you're looking at is not Photoshopped, nor is it taken out of context. That really is the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann behind the O'Reilly mask giving it the ol' "Seig Heil!" to a recent gathering of TV critics. Infamous, deplorable? More like despicable. But I digress.)

The base set contains 350 cards -- 300 more than the original -- and as the case with the other "Topps nostalgias," there are some short-prints. Of course, none of the 50 cards are marked as being short-printed, and (as usual) Topps did not make public a list of SPs until well after the product's release. I will not reprint the full list here, but if you pulled a card with a "5" in it's number, chances are, it's probably short-printed.

The main draw to TA&G has been the inclusion of over fifty non-baseball related athletes and celebrities -- which is a bit ironic for a "Major League Baseball" card set. You all know about Danica Patrick, Hulk Hogan, and that Japanese guy who can eat all those hot dogs. But I found card #347, Billy the Kid, to be the most interesting. The back reads:
"William McCarthy grew up a teenage outlaw in the mid-19th Century Old West. He endures as a legendary figure who has been characterized as everything from cold-blooded killer to romanticized swashbuckler.

"Reputed to have shot dead anywhere from four to 21 men, Billy the Kid most famously headed a vigilante group called The Regulators. Once convicted of murder, he escaped, but was killed at age 20."
I can only imagine what the back of card #347 in the 2123 UpperFleerPlayoffDeck "Topps 2006" set will read...
"Usama bin Laden spent his formative years as a mujahadeen in the mid-1980s Afghanistan. He endures as a legendary figure who has been characterized as everything from a cold-blooded terrorist to a romanticized freedom fighter.

"Reputed to have been the mastermind behind the '9/11' terrorist attacks, bin Laden headed a jihadist group called al-Qaida. Once captured, he was convicted of mass-murder and crimes against humanity. He was publicly executed on September 11, 2011, by being thrown off the New York City's Freedom Tower by President Rudolph Guliani."

As for the inserts, each pack comes with an original-sized parallel, and they all come in a wide variety of flavors and scarcities (just like 20X, Cracker Jack, etc.). In addition in the regular "plain-vanilla" minis, there are: black bordered minis; minis without card numbers (neither sequential nor serial); solid wood, true one-of-one, minis; and my favorite, minis with a picture of the Quaker Oat Man on the back. (Actually, it's not the real Quaker Oat Man, but the original 19th Century Allen & Ginter logo.)

If there is one thing truly sucks about TA&G, it's the "Rip Cards." These allegedly innovative inserts are standard-sized cards with a mini-card embedded inside them. The deal is, in order to get the mini-card, you have to physically destroy -- or "rip" open, as it were -- the larger card. As previously mentioned, Topps ripped the idea off (pun intended) from equally infamous, deplorable, 1998 Zenith set, a.k.a. "Dear-to-Tear." As I said then, and continue to say now: "Dare-to-Tear was a lousy idea that no one in The Hobby took seriously, and should have died the same death as the company (Pinnacle Brands) that came up with it." But at least it's not soup cans!

Another thing about TA&G that sucks are the Dick Perez Sketch inserts. OK, "sucks" is a bit harsh. Disappointing is more like it. While, the set structure does duplicate the old Diamond Kings -- 30 players, one from each team -- unfortunately, Topps had Perez draw his sketches to scale, making it very hard to distinguish each player. (The 30 original sketches have been embedded into the Rip Cards.) Beckett says that if you cover of the player's name and hat logo, you can't tell who's who. I tried it, and I couldn't either.

Rounding out TA&G are the two-per-box autogamers. The demand for these cards, especially the "player-touched" autographs, is the driving force behind the wholesale pack-busting of this prodcut. Again, just like in the 20X products, all the autogamers are mini-sized, and come encapsulated in a 2 1/2" X 3 1/2" frame.

The Bottom Line:

Just about every pack contains something of value, which is why dealers and collectors are busting the bejesus out of TA&G. In my box I pulled 12 base set short-prints, ten "non-vanilla" parallels, 13 Dick Perez Sketch inserts, a framed autograph of Derrek Lee, and a framed Relic of Mark Buehrle. Throw in a Miguel Tejada chiptopper (see below), and that's 38 "hits" in a 24 pack box. A pretty good rip, if you ask me. With so much of the wax being broken, singles are becoming easier, and cheaper, to acquire. At $100 per box, TA&G isn't the most affordable product out there, so two waxboxes should be all you need.

Product Rating: 4 Gumsticks (out of five)

...and another thing

The oversized chiptopper cards are, well, interesting to say the least. My box yielded an A&G postcard of Miguel Tejada. The front a nice team picture of the 1897 Batlimore All-Americans. The back has a Miguel Tejada postage stamp affixed to the upper-right corner and reads, "I love the players, I love the team, I love everybody here. -- Miggy." Yes, it's signed "Miggy." This has got to be the cheesiest concept for an insert I think I've ever seen. But, again, at least it's not soup cans!


Anonymous said...

I know this is your site, but politics is the last thing I want to see when visiting a baseball card site. If you want to put up some unrelated links in your blogroll, I won't care, but please keep the extraneous stuff out of the main posts.

Anonymous said...

besides which, Olbermann is right about practically everything!

Chris Harris said...

Nice to see that you've finally discovered the site, Keith!

Anonymous said...
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