50 cards per pack, ten cards per box
One full 330-card base set
1 Variation (19 cards, 1:19) W. Johnson
10 Golds (one-per-pack, numbered to 2009) B. Lidge, Berkman/Lee, KosFu, J. Manuel, C. Jackson, D. Span, E. Burriss, B. Roberts, C. Lambert, B. Bixler
1 Black (one-per-pack, numbered to 58) B. Barton
10 Legends of the Game (25 cards, one-per-pack) C. Young, H. Wagner, T. Speaker, G. Sisler, J. Foxx, Pee Wee Reese, R. Maris, M. Mantle, R. Clemente, C. Yastrzemski
10 Turkey Red (55 cards, one-per-pack) R. Ludwick, B. Molina, Chutley, G. Atkins, C. Granderson, A-Fraud, J. Upton, G. Soto, T. Hunter, M. Caberea
10 Ring Of Honor (25 cards, one-per-pack) T. LaRussa, B. Lidge, D. Snider, L. Gonzalez, G. Carter, A. Pettitte, J. Leyland, A. Pujols, R. Clemens, R. Howard
10 Ticket to Toppstown (30 cards, one-per-pack) J. Santana, HanRam, A. Gordon, R. Howard, J. Peavy, Ichiro, K-Rod, M. Cabrera, C. Quentin, L. Berkman
1 WBC Redemption (1:10)
1 Topps Attax Redemption
1 Legends of the Game Manufactured Patch Bullshit (1:10*, numbered to 50) L. Gehirg "H"
1 Career Best Autograph (47 cards, 1:10) T. Snider
1 Career Best Relic (34 cards, 1:10) Ichiro
* One autograph, one relic, and one manufactured bullshit patch card per box.
Well, that's more like it. After a couple of lackluster years, the Topps flagship is back and it is a marked improvement over what we've seen the past few years. It's not quite where it ought to be, but Topps is on its way back.
The base set is still only 330 cards, which is about 100 cards smaller than it ought to be. It breaks down to 255 players, 30 rookies, 10 league leaders, 15 managers, eight postseason highlights, six award winners, five Classic Combos, and one dead Hall of Famer.
The design is Topps best effort in years, and "effort" is an apt term. As many have commented, the fronts have a mid-90s feel to it, and for some reason, I love the "arch" element on the back. I can't explain why, I just do. I also like the fact that Topps chose NOT to airbrush those players who have changed teams. Mark Teixeira is still pictured as an Angel, Pat Burrell is still a Phillie, and Chan Ho Park is still in Dodger blue. The only airbrushed card I could find is of Greg Golson who was traded from the Phillies to the Rangers.
Another thing that's pretty cool are the Classic Combo cards. Not for what's on the front, but what's on the back: checklists. Call me old fashioned, but I think checklists deserve to be in the base set. The only problem is that Topps didn't include any of the inserts in the checklists, only the base cards.
Speaking of which, each HTA pack comes with a Gold parallel and an insert from one of four sets: Legends of the Game, Turkey Red, Ring of Honor, and Ticket to Toppstown. I don't quite understand why Topps chose to reprint Turkey Red though. Hasn't that set been done already? What's next, Allen & Ginter inserts in 2010 Topps?
One insert this product could have done without are the variation cards. 17 of the 19 variations are of the CMG legends and the other two are of President Obama and CC Sabathia in an airbrushed Yankee uniform. Topps had already included these 17 in the Legends of the Game insert, and I don't see the point of including them in a variation.
The Bottom Line
This HTA box yieled one full 330-card base set and about a third of a second. I also pulled 40 inserts, 11 parallels, 1 variation, and two redemptions. My designated autograph was of Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider. Snider was the 14th player selected in the '06 draft and was the youngest position player in baseball last year. My relic was a plain gray jersey of Ichiro.
My other "relic" (and I use that term loosely) was a manufactured letter patch card with a giant felt "H" on it. Somehow this "H" has something to do with Lou Gehrig. Am I the only collector who thinks these manufactured relics are total bullshit? Does anybody actually collect these things? Memo to Topps and Upper Deck: If it's not actually game used, then what the fuck is the point?
Product Rating: 3 1/2 Gumsticks (out of five)
Box Rating: 4 Gumsticks
... and another thing
If a gimmick card of Captain Cheeseburger is the worst Topps can come up with, then I guess I'm OK with that. I don't like it, but at least it's not a furry animal, fake Japanese phenom, space alien, or an old decrepit quarterback on a lawn tractor.