One HTA box of 2008 Topps Series Two (Paid $45)
10 packs per box, 46 cards per pack
Base Set: 330 of 330 (100%)
20 Gold Foils (two-per-pack)
5 Golds (1:2, numbered to 2008) W. Rodriguez, J. Payton, K-Rod, E. Chavez, J. Keppinger
10 Topps Stars (25 cards, one-per-pack) A-Rod, M. Ordonez, J. Morneau, J. Beckett, ManRam, J. Peavy, D. Ortiz, J. Reyes, M. Cabrera, M. Holliday
10 Trading Card History (25 cards, one-per-pack) V. Martinez, B. Webb, C. Beltran, R. Martin, P. Hughes, A. Dunn, R. Cano, J. Thome, C. Young (OF), C. Zambrano
10 Topps All-Rookie Team 50th Anniversary (55 cards, 1:5) C. Young, H. Okajima, R. Adams, D. Pedroia, C. Tracy, T. Wigginton, N. Johnson, R. Furcal, R. Durham, J. Cruz
10 Year in Review (60 cards, one-per-pack) CC Sabathia, C. Figgins, F. Thomas, D. Haren, B. Butler, R. Garko, J. Maurer, C. Young (P), J. Isringhausen, C. Crawford
10 Historical Campaign Match-Ups (55 cards, 1:6) 1796, 1804, 1852, 1860, 1868, 1888, 1892, 1916, 1936, 1952
3 Mickey Mantle Story (10 cards, 1:3)
1 Home Run Derby Contest (50 cards, 1:125, numbered to 999) L. Berkman
1 Red Hot Rookie Redemption (20 cards, 1:10) #4, KosFu
1 2007 Highlights Autographs: T. Tankersley
3 2007 Highlights Relics: D. Lee, D. Ortiz, D. Wright
* One Autograph and two Relics per box
2008 Topps Series Two went live six months ago. Now that the Stale Gum Topps Boycott over, I'm playing catch-up with all the Topps releases that I missed.
To refresh your memory, there were three things Topps did to Topps Series Two that I was either ambivalent about, or hated.
1) Each Hobby box would include either an autograph or a game used card, and each HTA box would yield three. Topps' stated reason for adding "hits" to its flagship was slow sales of first series Hobby boxes, but I disagreed.
Yes, pulling additional gamers is nice; but a product like Topps' flagship is, and always has been, a collector's set. Poor sales of '08 Series One Hobby (and of Series Two for that matter) had more to do with it being a lackluster product than the lack of a jersey card. The addition of more "hits" would make little, if any, difference. The fact that I purchased an HTA box for only $45 six months after it's release seems to confirm my view.
2) The establishment of the "Red Hot Rookie" redemption program also seems to have had little impact on box sales. The redemption rookie gimmick may appeal to the "high-end" hobbyist, but the concept never quite caught-on with the the traditional collector -- which is flagship Topps' demographic.
3) Gimmicks which backfired. Much virtual ink has been spilled on this blog (and others), so I won't repeat myself.
I picked up an HTA box, not because I wanted the three "hits," but because it was so cheap. I bought an HTA box for about the price of a regular Hobby box went for when Topps Two went live. I could have bought a regular Hobby box for $35 -- again for less than I was when it went live -- but with 100 more base cards and a crap-load of more inserts for only $10 more, going with HTA was a no-brainer.
So with three hits in an HTA box, what exactly did I get? I pulled a sticker autograph of Taylor Tankersley and three gamers: Derrick Lee, David Wright, and David Ortiz. (For the record, the Wright and Big Papi were both in the same pack.) The theme behind the autogamers is "2007 Season Highlights" and the Tankersley commemorates....
... I don't know. For some reason Topps thought that Tankersley's .179 OPP AVG against left-handed hitters in '07 is worthy of an autographed "Season Highlights" card. Ummm, yeah.
The three gamers celebrate more meaningful accomplishments: Lee reaching base in 32 straight games; Big Papi setting the single-season doubles record for DHes; and Wright breaking the Mets' single-season TB mark.
Now let's just say for a moment that you actually did buy this box just for the hits. Would you be happy with a Taylor Tankersley autograph, and three un-numbered jerseys?
If there's one thing I've always liked about HTA -- dating back to when Topps first introduced the HTA program back in '97 -- is that they're chock-full of inserts. You'll get at least five inserts and either a Gold Parallel or another insert in each pack. What a deal!
The inserts include extensions of the Trading Card History, Year in Review, and All-Rookie Team 50th Anniversary sets. In addition there are two inserts exclusive to the second series: Topps Stars and Historical Campaign Match-Ups. In each pack, I received one card from each of these sets. There's also another batch of Mickey Mantle hero worship cards and two exchange inserts: the aforementioned Red Hot Rookies and the Home Run Derby Contest.
The Bottom Line
The box yielded a full base set and a healthy stack of doubles. Given the size of the box, anything less than a complete set would be disappointing.
No, you can't find a legitimate Kosuke Fukudome rookie card in Topps Series Two. But I did get the next best thing: a KosFu Red Hot Rookie redemption (yay). It should be noted that these are the first on-line redemption cards Topps has issued. However unlike Upper Deck, the Topps redemptions do NOT have those lottery-esque scratch-off strips that conceal it the secret code. Keep this in mind if you see these cards for sale.
I did not pull any of the gimmick cards, nor did I expect to get one.
Product Rating: 2 1/2 Gumsticks (out of five)
... and another thing
The front of the Lance Berkman Home Run Derby Contest insert I pulled says "If he wins, you win." However, if you examine the fine print on the back it reads, "If you receive a HRDC with player who wins, you have not won a prize."
... and yet another thing
For the second consecutive year, Yadier Molina is card #660. I don't know if someone at Topps really, really likes or really, really hates Molina.