Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Card-Ola: 2009 Triple Threads

One box of 2009 Triple Threads (provided by Topps)
Two packs per box, six cards per pack

The Video

The Pulls

Base Set: 6 of 136 (4.41%)
short set (three-per-pack, numbered to 1350): 6 of 100 (6.00%)
Autographed Rookies & Rising Stars (1:11, numbered to 99): 0 of 36 (0.00%)

2 Sepia (one-per-pack, numbered to 525): B. Ruth, D. Ortiz
2 Emerald (1:2, numbered to 240): J. Peavy, M. Holliday
1 Gold Autographed Rookies & Rising Stars (1:41, numbered to 25): D. Pedroia

Inserts: NONE


1 Triple Threads Relics (105 cards, numbered to 36): M. Schmidt

The Review

Before I start, let me state that Triple Threads is not a product designed for collectors like me in mind. It not just the $100/pack price tag -- although that has a lot to do with it. Triple Threads is for those folks who buy a lot of wax, but don't actually collect the cards inside. You know the type. Like the guy who buys a box of (as an example) Upper Deck Series Two, rips all the packs, pulls a Rick Porcello rookie card, complains that "It's not numbered," then leaves it, along with all the other cards he just ripped with the exception of the one-per-box autograph and two-per-box jersey cards, on the dealer's table and walks away, goes home, then posts a YouTube video of the BIG MOJO HITZ!!!! he just got at the card show. You know, that guy. (And no, I didn't just see that guy at a card show in Tysons Corner this past weekend.)

So needless to say, Triple Threads isn't for me. But Topps sent me a waxbox to review anyway, so the least I can do is give it an honest review. You're promised two hits per box (one in each pack) and a short-stack of base and parallel cards. But if I had actually paid $200 for this box of Triple Threads, would I be happy?

Let's start off with the base cards. There's one word to describe the base cards in Triple Threads: cheap. It looks like Topps bought up Donruss/Panini's supply of old blank "dummy" cards and used them for card stock. I realize that the typical Triple Threads "collector" could care less about base cards -- which is why most of them eventually end up in dealer's buck bins -- but they certainly don't look like cards that belong in a $100/pack product.

The Mike Schmidt jersey card I pulled was a nice hit, but I have one big problem with it. If the product is called "Triple Threads," you would think that all the "hits" would have at least three different jersey swatches on the card? Most rational-thinking people would be led to believe this, and that would make sense, right? Unfortunately, it looks like Topps cut one long strip from the same powder blue 1970s-era Phillies uniform, and framed it to look like three different swatches. Don't get me wrong, those powder blue away uniforms the Phillies wore in the 70s and 80s were sweet looking. But in a product called "Triple Threads" there should also be at least two other swatches.

The other hit of Dustin Pedroia did at least have three different swatches (home jersey, batting practice jersey, and bat). But the autograph was on a sticker. Are you kidding me? $100/pack? For sticker autos? In a $10, $20, or even a $50/pack product, sticker autographs would be tolerable; but in a $100/pack product that's unacceptable.

The Bottom Line

While writers of a certain Hobby magazine will praise it, the rest of us can probably take a pass. Even if you're "that guy" who rips wax just for the "hits," you'll never get your money's worth out of a box of Triple Threads. The Mike Schmidt card I pulled, while nice, is a card that wouldn't fetch more than $25 on eBay. Same thing with the Dustin Pedoria. The base cards and parallels are just filler.

"High-end" products like Triple Threads are to Topps what retro-themed products are to Upper Deck. They keep trying, but they just can't seem to get it right.

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

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Video Box Break and Review: 2008 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects

One box of 2008 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects (paid $75.60)
24 packs per box, seven cards per pack

Part One

Part Two

The Pulls

Base Set (two-per-pack): 47 of 55 (85.45%)


Prospects (two-per-pack): 48 of 110 (43.64%)


24 Golds (one-per-pack)
1 Blue (1:19, numbered to 399): B. Gardner
44 Chromes (two-per-pack)
2 Chrome Refractors: C. Pennington, J. Todd
1 Gold Chrome Refractor (1:150, numbered to 50): B. Hunter


1 Autographed Chrome Prospects (18 cards, 1:38) L. Chisenhall

Product Rating: 2 Gumsticks (out of five)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First Impressions: 2010 Topps

If you haven't seen it on the Beckett Blog, what are you waiting for?

My reax...

Things I Like

The design. The '02-Post-meets-'91-Topps mash-up is starting to grow on me.

The "Tales of the Game" insert. Especially card #TOG-30 "Topps Dumps 1952 Cards in the River."

No short-prints, base set variations, squirrels, fake Japanese "prospects," or other assorted gimmicks. At least not yet, anyway.

Things I Don't Like

330 card base set. Is a 396-card first series base set too difficult to ask, or what?

Too many inserts. By my count, there will be just as many non-parallel, non-autographed, non-relic inserts (303 cards, spread out over seven different sets) then base cards. I like lots of inserts, but over 300 in one release is just excessive. Did we really need another year of Turkey Red? Or a sixty-card set of players pictured in their Little League uniforms?

Manufactured Hat Logo "Relics." Just die already.

Things I'm Indifferent About

The "Cards Your Mother Threw Out" insert. Hey look, it's yet another '52T Mickey Mantle reprint! FEEL THE EXCITEMENT!


I don't understand the logic of another reprint set. Hasn't Topps gone to the well a little too often with this concept already? Besides, I seriously doubt that my mother threw away my '09T Evan Longoria. On the other hand, you'll finally be able to add that Alex Gordon to your 2006 Topps set.

Big Mojo Hits. Nobody buys Topps for autographs or gamers -- even if they are one-per Hobby and three-per HTA box. What's the point of having them?

The newly designed "Rookie Card" logo. The now familiar "Rookie Card" icon (and the eligibility rules that came with it) were the MLBPA's idea. Now that Topps has redesigned it to prominently feature the MLB logo, does this mean that Upper Deck will still use the old one? Is Topps no longer bound to the PA's eligibility rules?

On-Location Box Break: 2009 Topps UFC

One box of 2009 Topps UFC (provided by Topps)
16 packs per box, eight cards per pack

Part One

Part Two

The Pulls

Base Set
: 93 of 150 (62.00%)


13 Golds
1 Black (1:13, numbered to 188) B.J. Penn


4 Fight Poster Review (25 cards, 1:4)
2 Octagon of Honor (10 cards, 1:8) K. Shamrock, P. Miletich
4 Bloodlines (25 cards, 1:4) A. Hardonk, M. Davis, M. Kampmann, C. Kongo
2 Greats of the Game (15 cards, 1:8) L. Machida, M. Hughes
4 Photo Finish (25 cards, 1:4) M. Davis, Q. Jackson, G. Gonzaga, K. Florian
1 Photo Finish Black (1:56, numbered to 88) C. Liddell


2 Fighter/Personality Autographs (44 cards) D. Sanchez, J. Miller
1 Fight Mat Relics (25 cards) B.J. Penn
1 Gold Fight Mat Relic (25 cards, numbered to 199) A. Silva

Product Rating: 4 Gumsticks (out of 5)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

On-Location Box Break: 2009 Bowman Sterling Football

Base Set: 22 of 201 (10.95%)
Base Rookies: 8 of 50 (each numbered to 799): T. Fiammetta, R. Quinn, C. Barwin, R. Johnson, A. Allen, K. Barnes, T. McKenzie, Q. Lawrence
Veteran Relic Base Cards: 4 of 50 (production varies): S. Jackson /719, J. Charles /999, D. McNabb /249, A. Gates /999
Autographed Rookie Base Cards: 6 of 45 (production varies): I. Johnson /999, W. Moore /999, J. Davis /999, B. Foster /999, M. Teel /299, C. Ogbonnaya /699
Rookie Relic Base Cards: 4 of 34 (numbered to 749) J. Johnson, S. McGee, D. Brown, P. White
Veteran Autographed Relic Base Cards: 0 of 16
Veteran Autographed Base Cards: 0 of 6
2 Rookie Autographed Relic Base Card Variations: L. McCoy /150, K. Britt /500

2 Rookie Base Card Refractors (1:3, numbered to 299) Q. Johnson, R. Brace
1 Rookie Base Card X-Fractor (one-per-box, numbered to 100) V. Davis
1 Veteran Relic Base Card Refractor (numbered to 199) C. Taylor
1 Veteran Relic Base Card Black Refractor (numbered to 50) M. Forte
2 Rookie Relic Base Card Refractors (1:5, numbered to 199) B. Robiskie, A. Brown

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Card-Ola: 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom

One box of 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom Baseball (supplied by Topps)
20 packs per box; 12 cards per pack

The Video

Part One

Part Two

The Pulls

Base Set: 198 of 225 (88.00%)
short set: 198 of 200 (99.00%)
Rookies (1:45, numbered to 199): 0 of 25 (0.00%)

20 Perforated (one-per-pack)
3 Blues (1:10, numbered to 99): KosFu, J. Hermida, D. Haren
1 Gold (1:20, numbered to 50): A. Kearns


5 Ticket to Stardom (15 cards, 1:4): C. Maybin, M. Kemp, J. Bruce, J. Mauer, K. Kawakami
2 Big Tickets (15 cards, 1:8): D. Wright, J. Reyes
2 Season Veterans (ten cards, 1:12): A-Fraud, BigPapi


1 Ticket Stubs Plus (72 cards, 1:22) Tae Kyun Kim /90
1 Ticket Stubs Plus 2 (63 cards, 1:22) C. Hart /224
1 Autographed Relics (25 cards) T. Tulowitzki /489

The Review

Do you like poorly designed base cards? Gimmicked rookies? Meaningless inserts? Junk hits?


Then boy does Topps have a baseball card set for you! 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom Baseball!

To be fair to Topps, if you're making 17 different baseball card sets in a year, they all can't be winners. Just like last year with Stadium Club, Topps was bound to make a baseball card set that completely sucks; and Ticket to Stardom is just like the product it replaces.

But it's not just the badly designed base set, it's the lack of effort Topps put into it. For example, even though he was released before the start of the season and didn't play an inning in the Majors for any other team the entire 2009 season, Geoff Jenkins is still in the base set at card #36. Oh sure, Topps could have pulled him from the set and replaced him with another player, or a rookie. But that might have required effort.

The base set is 225 cards with the last 25 forming a serial-numbered rookie subset. With last year's Stadium Club, you got one rookie (albeit autographed) in every-other pack making set building plausible, but not likely. Not so with TTS. The stated odds of pulling one of the rookies is 1:45 packs (not even one-per-two-boxes!) and each is numbered to 199. Assuming perfect collation, you would have to open up almost 57 waxboxes to get all 25. With odds like that, why even bother?

But wait, we haven't even mentioned the "hits."

Ticket stubs.

Ummm, really Topps? Ticket stubs, as "relics?"

The Bottom Line

About the only thing good I can say about TTS is that this one waxbox yielded 99% of the short set with no doubles and all the inserts were pulled as promised. My three "hits" are a different story. I got a ticket/jersey of a Korean WBC player, a sticker autograph/jersey of Troy Tulowitzki, and a ticket/double jersey of Milwaukee's Corey Hart.

Product Rating: 1 Gumstick (out of 5)

... and another thing

The Corey Hart ticket/double jersey card I pulled had two swatches of what appears to be the exact same gray road uniform. Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of a "double jersey" relic card? Shouldn't a "double jersey" relic have, say, a road jersey AND a home jersey? Or a jersey and a bat?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

More like T.S. Owned'Connell

I just came up with this "off the top of my head."

h/t, and a "Thank you very much," to UD's Chris Carlin.

Video Box Break and Review: 2009 Topps Chrome Football

One box of 2009 Topps Chrome Football (provided by Topps)
24 packs per box, four cards per pack

The Video

The Pulls

Base Set: 74 of 220 (33.64%)
short set: 62 of 110 (56.36%)
Rookies (1:2): 12 of 110 (10.91%)

8 Refractors (1:3): E. Reed, H. Ward, P. Willis, P. Manning, A. Smith, Jr., C. Barwin, M. Johnson, B. Pettigrew
2 Copper Refractors (1:12, numbered to 649): C. Coffman, M. Stafford

1 Santonio Holmes Ring of Honor (one card, 1:24)
3 Cheerleaders (15 cards, 1:8)
1 Cheerleader Refractor (15 cards, 1:207, numbered to 199)
6 Chicle (25 cards, 1:4) S. Jackson, L. Tomlinson, P. Manning, L. White, J. Cotchery, J. Porter

1 Autographed Base Card Rookie Variations (47 cards, 1:24): S. Greene

The Review

I can now understand why football collectors go ga-ga for Topps Chrome. ToppChro gives the football card collector what he/she wants: Refractors, stars, short-printed rookies, and autographs. While a similarly structured set wouldn't work in baseball; for football, Topps has the formula down.

Product Rating: 3 1/2 Gumsticks (out of 5)

... and another thing

Another design element that has been missing from Topps' chrome-stock baseball releases the last few years, but has remained in football, are the "etched" outlines. Take a look at a Topps chrome-stock baseball card from this year and compare it with a card from Topps Chrome Football, and you'll see what I mean.