Monday, January 21, 2008

Box Break and Review: 2007 Topps Heritage

One Hobby box of 2007 Topps Heritage (paid $55)
24 packs per box, eight cards per pack (MSRP $2.99)

The Details

One of 16 13 Individually Wrapped Felt Team Logos

Base Set: 494 cards
Short Set: 384 cards
Short-Prints: 110 cards (1:2/packs)
Yellow Letter Name: 17 cards
Yellow Letter Team: 16 cards

*Overall odds of finding a Yellow Letter: 1:6 packs

Chrome: 110 cards (1:11, numbered to 1958)
Chrome Refractors: 110 cards (1:39, numbered to 558)
Black Bordered Chrome Refractors: 110 cards (1:383, numbered to 58)

Individually wrapped stick of bubble gum: one-per-pack
New Age Performers: 15 cards (1:15)
Then & Now: 10 cards (1:15)
Flashbacks: 10 cards: (1:12)

Alex Rodriguez Bullshit Waste of Space: 25 cards (1:24)
Mickey Mantle 1958 AL Home Run Champion: 42 cards (1:6)

Clubhouse Collection Relic: 66 cards (production varies)
Clubhouse Collection Dual Relic: three cards (1:13,900, numbered to 58)
Flashback Relic: ten cards (1:484)
Flashback Dual Relic: three cards (1:82,544, numbered to ten)
Real One Autograph: 37 cards (1:327, limited to 200)
Real One Special Edition Autograph: 37 cards (1:1129, numbered to 58)
Flashback Autograph: five cards (1:19500, numbered to 25)
Clubhouse Collection Auto Relic: six cards (1:16,100, numbered to 25)
Flashback Auto Relic: five cards (1:19,500, numbered to 25)
A-Rod Road to 500 Autographed: 25 cards (1:100,500, one-of-one)
1958 Cut Signatures: three cards (1:403,200, one-of-one)

The Pulls

Chiptoppers: One Fierce Cincinnati Red Legs Beer Coaster

Base Set: 175 of 494 (35.43%)
Short Set: 163 of 384 (42.45%)
Short-Prints: 12 of 110 (10.91%) W. Ledezma, B. Abreu, B. Hawpe, C. Hamels, J. Vidro, C. Lee, J. Conine, A. Sanchez, Red Sox Team Card, J-Roll, K-Rod, R. Hernandez
1 Yellow Letter Name: R. Zimmerman
3 Yellow Letter Team: R. Cano, M. Buehrle, H. Ramirez

2 Chrome: J. Zumaya, Delwyn Young

24 sticks of gum
2 New Age Performers: D. Jeter, R. Clemens
2 Then & Now: Aparico & Reyes, Podres & Harang
2 Flashbacks: W. Spahn, Sen. J. Bunning

1 A-Rod Bullshit Waste of Space: #54
4 Mickey Mantle 1958 AL Home Run Champion: #2, 20, 30, & 41

Autogamers: NONE

The Review

As of this writing, it has been almost ten months since the release of 2007 Topps Heritage. Don't ask why, but I just never got around to collecting last year's Heritage. I don't know if I can fully explain it, but it's just that Topps has done the whole "Retro" thing to death and the thought of collecting yet another Topps Heritage set just doesn't have the same panache as it did five years ago. Don't get me wrong, Topps has issued some great retro-themed sets over the last few years (Allen & Ginter); but they've also put out some stinkers. (Topps 52)

With that said, I went to the New York Ass Slap wanting to rip something. This being the two-month interregnum between the last of the '07 sets and the first of the '08s, there wasn't much of anything new and the available junkwax was just as unappealing. But there they were: a stack of surplus 2007 Topps Heritage waxboxes. "Oh, what the hell!" I thought as I handed the dealer $55 for the box.

What the hell.

I never liked the design of '58 Topps ('56 and '59 were much better), but for some reason I like 2007 Heritage better than I did 2006. Why? One word: authenticity.

For the first time since the inaugural Heritage set, the size of the base set matches that of the set it's based on -- 494 cards. Also, as a nod to the '58 Topps set, there is no card #145 and some selected players have "yellow letter" variations. (Not unlike the "black back" variations in '01 Heritage.) But they didn't make variations of any old players mind you. The exact same card numbers that were "Yellowed" in 1958 Topps are also Yellowed in '07 Heritage. Give Topps a +1 for keeping it real.

About the only thing not authentic are short-printed base cards. Unlike other Topps sets of the era, all the 1958 cards were produced in roughly equal quantities regardless of series. (In fact, Topps actually triple-printed the Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle All-Star cards!) But as has become par-for-the-course in Heritage, 110 of the base set cards are short-printed and seeded at the rate of 1:2/packs. In retrospect -- if only for the change-of-pace it would have brought to the Heritage brand -- 2007 Heritage could have done without the short-prints.

Other observations:

One thing they didn't have in 1958 is Adobe Photoshop; but if you like Photoshopped cards -- especially poorly Photoshopped cards -- then check out card #386. If you look closely, you might notice the "Veterans Stadium Final Season" patch on Chase Ultey's right sleeve. (For the record, The Vet's final season was 2003.) In 2003, Ryan Howard was playing for AA Reading, and Cholly was out of baseball. But hey, any card with Uncle Cholly is a good card in my book.

Willie Mays is card #5 in '58 Topps, but Derek Jeter is #5 in '07 Heritage. Barry Bonds should have been the obvious choice for #5, but the set was issued during the brief period where Barry Bonds' Topps contract had expired.

Other "similar numbers:"
#1: Ted Williams / David Ortiz
#30: Hank Aaron / Ichiro
#150: Mickey Mantle / Alex Rodriguez
#285: Frank Robinson / Ken Griffey, Jr.
#310: Ernie Banks / Ryan Howard
#418: Mantle & Aaron / Pujols & Ordonez
#436: Mays & Snider / Wright & Howard
#476: Stan Musial AS / Albert Pujols AS

On card #91, Royals otufielder David DeJesus appears to be holding the same pre-War era glove that his teammate Zach Greinke used as a prop on his 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter card.

The iconic All-Star cards at the end of the set have a reference to Topps Magazine, as opposed to the now-defunct Sport. For those of you not aware, in the early 90s Topps published a magazine that was essentially nothing more than an advertising vehicle -- think Nintendo Power. I remember one issue had a poster with the entire 1991 Stadium Club set.

Inserts include the good (New Age Performers, Then & Now and Flashbacks), and the bad (Chrome parallels and assorted refractors), and the stupid (a continuation of the A-Rod Waste-of-Space and a 42-card Mickey Mantle mirror set).

Finally, each box comes with one of sixteen thirteen five-inch diameter felt logo patches, packaged as a chiptopper. They're great on a T-shirt, sweater, or jacket. (Says so right on the side of the waxbox.)

The Bottom Line:

Zero doubles and inserts that all ran as promised add up to a pretty decent rip. I got a little more than a two-fifths of the base set, and a tenth of the SPs. If you're a set builder, then three boxes should be all you need. The chiptopper yielded a Cincinnati Red Legs logo. (Ol' Tail Gunner Joe would be proud!)

The only thing that sucks about '07 Topps Heritage are the mirror cards. You know that one episode of South Park when Kyle's cousin from Connecticut comes to visit? But everybody hates him, and it gets to a point where Kyle has to pay Cartman $40 just to stop ripping on him? But then even Kyle had had enough of his cousin's constant complaining and kvetching, and winds up tying him to a sled that's tied to the bumper of a Connecticut-bound bus. But then his cousin came back to South Park? Then they leave him in the woods, and he came back again? Then they put him on a plane to Antarctica, and he STILL CAME BACK TO SOUTH PARK? You know, that one?

The A-Rod Road to 500 mirrors are to Topps Heritage (and for that matter every other 2007 Topps set) what Kyle's cousin is to the South Park kids. You wish they'd just go away. But for some reason, they just keep coming back to ruin everything.

Product Rating: 3 1/2 Gumsticks (out of five)


dayf said...

RE: Chiptoppers. There's not one of 16 team logos inserted because they never issues a Braves logo. I know, because I looked for weeks on eBay for one.

Basically, once again, Topps told us Braves fans to Lift Your Head Up High And Blow Your Brains Out!

Also comparing A-RBWOS card to Kyle's cousin is inspired genius.

Bay Rat North West said...

Is that truly Uncle Cholly or is it really Hulk Hogan's older brother? Hard to tell from the pic. No pythons showing but it looks like a hippo on the stomach.