Sunday, June 17, 2007

Box Break and Review: 2007 Topps series 2

One Hobby box of 2007 Topps Series Two (paid $55)
36 packs per box, ten cards per pack (MSRP $1.99)

The Details:

Base Set: 331 cards (no short-prints)

Red Letters: 331 cards
Gold: 331 cards (1:11/packs, #2007)
* 1st Edition: 331 cards (1:36)
Platinum: 331 cards (1:24,000, one-of-one)
Variations: seven cards (1:30)

* Topps Stars: 15 cards (1:9)
Opening Day: 15 cards (1:12)
Trading Places: 25 cards (1:9)
Home Run Derby Contest: 50 cards (1:177, #999)
The Mickey Mantle Story: 15 cards (1:18)
Distinguished Service: ten cards (1:12)

Mirrored Inserts:
Mickey Mantle Home Run History: 100 cards (1:9)
Generation Now: 194 cards (1:4)
The Streak: 56 cards (1:9)
* The Streak Before The Streak: 61 cards (1:9)
AROD Road to 500: 25 cards (1:36)

Highlight Autographs: 35 cards
Trading Places Autographs: ten cards (1:3055)
Generation Now Autographs: 194 cards (1:94,000, one-of-one)
AROD Road to 500 Autographs: 25 cards (1:750,000, one-of-one)
Highlight Relics: 35 cards
Trading Places Relics: ten cards (1:2435)
Mickey Mantle Home Run History Relic: 100 cards (1:12,106, #7)
1953 Mickey Mantle Reprint Relic: one card (1:199,750, #53)
Distinguished Service Cut Signatures: 58 cards (1:165,000, one-of-one)

* Hobby Only

The Pulls:

Base Set: 241 of 331 (72.81%)

72 Red Letters
4 Golds: Jeff Weaver, J. Seo, T. Tankersley, W. Bloomquist
1 1st Edition: T. Hoffman
1 Variation: P. Lo Duca

4 Topps Stars: D. Wright, Pujols, Dice-K, M. Cabrera
3 Opening Day: NYM-STL, ATL-PHL, WAS-FLA
4 Trading Places: J. Conine, G. Sheffield, S. Hillenbrand, W. Helms
2 Mickey Mantle Story
3 Distinguished Service: DiMaggio, W. Spahn, Musial

Mirrored Inserts:
4 Mickey Mantle Home Run History: 321, 345, 355 & 368
9 Generation Now: A Either, Zimmerman (2), H. Ramirez (3), N. Markakis, N. Swisher (2)
4 The Streak: 18, 19, 37 & 47
4 The Streak Before The Streak: 53, 54, 55 & 56
1 AROD Road to 500: 225

Autogamers: NONE

The Review:

After the disaster of 2007 Bowman, I needed something a rip that didn't suck. Thank God for the second series of 2007 Topps.

The base set is exactly one card greater that the first series -- Topps was able to tack on Barry Bonds at the tail end with card #661. Bonds is joined by 260 other veterans, fourteen Team Cards, a nice panoramic photo of Royals Stadium, fifteen managers, a couple dozen MLBPA approved "Rookies," and a gaggle of multi-player cards.

Among those rookies include a pair of Japanese pitchers: Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa. But the key rookie card in Topps 2 is the first-real-honest-to-God-and-this-time-we-really-mean-it-because-he's-actually-played-in-a-Major-League-game rookie card of Alex Gordon. Yes, sixteen months after Topps jumped the gun, '07 Topps 2 has the first legit "Rookie Card" of Gordon -- and you won't have to shell out $7500 to get one, like "you-know-who."

As an added twist to the second series -- or perhaps an attempt to cash in on the buzz created by the Derek Jeter card in the first series -- Topps has made variation cards for six players: Yadier Molia, Jim Thome, Jason Bay, Paul Lo Duca, and the aforementioned Gordon and Matsuzaka. For Molina, Bay, Thome, Lo Duca, and Gordon, the "variation" is that the player's facsimile autograph has been deleted. For Dice-K, there are two additional versions of his card to be on the lookout for. On both variations, his foil-stamped name is printed in Japanese characters. One version has his facsimile autograph, the other doesn't. According to information I've been able to scrounge up, the Dice-K's are scarcer than the other five variations, and the "no autograph" version is tougher to find then the "autographed" one.

The "Red Letter" parallels return, and although I despise the existence of these "stealth" parallels, I'd be just as disappointed if Topps omitted them from the second series. There's something to be said for brand consistency -- even if it is stupid.

Speaking of stupidity, there are five, count 'em, five "mirrored" insert sets in '07 Topps 2 -- which I believe is some sort fo record. The Mickey Mantle and Alex Rodriguez homer mirrors continue, as do another 194 Generation Now cards. And since Joe DiMaggio is now in the Topps camp, naturally, they had to make a mirror set for him as well. In this case, two.

The 56-card "The Streak" mirror set commemorates Joe-D's 56-game hitting streak in 1941, while the 61-card "The Streak Before The Streak" (TSBTS) honors a 61-gamer he had in the minors in 1933. Unfortunately, as with the Josh Gibson mirrors in the first series, the TSBTS mirrors give no specific details regarding Joe-D's exploits in that particular game. With the exception of a large number on both sides of the card, all 61 cards in the set are exactly the same. You've seen one TSBTS, you've seen them all.

As for non-mirrored inserts, all your favorites from the second series of last year's Topps return: Topps Stars, Trading Places and Opening Day. Although, in this reviewer's opinion, the Trading Places cards would probably be best suited for the Traded, errr..., Updates and Highlights set. There's another 15-card Mickey Mantle hero worship set (these done in the style of the '53 Topps set), and another batch of Distinguished Service inserts.

The Bottom Line:

In my review of the first series, I recommended getting an HTA box. I tried to find one but was unable to, so I had to settle for Hobby. Just like the first series, the second series Hobby yielded about 70% of the base set -- which would have been more if not for those pesky Red Letter parallels. All other inserts, mirrors, and parallels ran accordingly.

On the surface, pulling 116 inserts out of a 36-pack box would seem to be a good thing. Unfortunately, when 78 of them are parallels and 22 are mirrors, it actually sucks.

Product Rating: 2 1/2 Gumsticks (out of 5)

... and another thing

As Ben Henry points out, Jose Guillen's card features the picture of his Mariners teammate Yuniesky Betancourt. This appears to be an uncorrected error.


Anonymous said...

Also, whats up with Bengie Molina being in both series? I mean, its the exact same card with a different number.

Anonymous said...

As much as I prefer to frequent local dealers, I'd actually recommend buying retail packs of 2007 Topps. There are fewer insert/parallel sets and no red letter cards.

That being said, hobby and HTA packs do have some advantages. Hobby/HTA boxes seem to have better collation and I don't know if any of the variations listed above are in the retail product.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I could take the red letter variations--the mirror cards are brutal enough. I have bought about 70 packs at retail (buying them in blaster boxes of 10 packs) just to avoid the red letter cards. So I'm $70 in and still have only about 3/4 of the first 330 cards. If I could trade my mirror cards for the cards I need, I would.

I am cutting my losses and not buying any of the Series 2 at retail (or "at hobby"). I will buy a factory set and put my 420+ Series 1 cards in a box to be found by my heirs upon my death (and probably sold for less than I paid for them, even if I live another 75 years).