One box of 2009 Topps Tribute (supplied by Topps)
Six packs per box, five cards per pack
Base Set: 18 of 100 (18.00%)
3 Blue (numbered to 219): C. Beltran, J. Mize, L. Gehrig
2 Black (1:4, numbered to 99): C. Jones, J. Maurer
1 Gold (1:8, numbered to 50): G. Carter
1 Relic Base Card (47 cards, numbered to 99): D. Snider
1 Blue Relic Base Card (47 cards, 1:7, numbered to 75): A. Pujols
1 Black Triple Relic Base Card (five cards, 1:10, numbered to 50) B. Ruth
1 Autographed Relic Card (55 cards, 1:8, numbered to 99) T. Hanson
1 Autographed Black Relic Card (55 cards, 1:11, numbered to 50): J. Marichal
1 Autographed Gold Dual Relic Card (18 cards, 1:22, numbered to 25): A. Ramirez
Tribute is a hit-or-miss, "lottery ticket," type of product. It was like that when Topps introduced the brand back in 2001, and it remains the same today. When Topps introduced Tribute back in 2001 it caused a sensation as it was their first fore into a super-duper-premium, $100/pack product. (Remember that triple-swatch Nolan Ryan jersey card numbered to 30 copies?)
But times, and The Hobby, have both changed. Had I ripped this five years ago, this box of Tribute would have been excellent. But now after a decade of similar high-end products, Tribute lacks the punch that made the early-00s editions so great.
What's great about this year's Tribute are the base cards. I'm not normally a fan of rainbow-foiled cards, but these are gorgeous. They remind me a bit of the Topps Gold Label cards of the late 90s, but with a mid-90s Fleer Flair-like thickness. Considering the demographic this product is marketed to, it's a shame that most collectors will overlook what may be the most beautifully designed base set of 2010.
Product Rating: 3 1/5 Gumsticks (out of five)
... and another thing.
I received this e-mail from a Stale Gum reader regarding the Babe Ruth relic cards people have been pulling out of Tribute and Topps 206.
"Hey Chris, what the hell is going on with Topps and their Ruth etc. relic cards of late. Looks like they are trying to pass off some wooden benches as game used memorabilia in Tribute and T206. People are getting pissed I'm sense a Topps uprising. I busted a case of this stuff and now proud owner of a Polar Bear Babe Ruth "Babes Ass Was Here" card.
"Here's the latest email I received from Topps:
Thank you for the inquiry, please note on the back of the card it says memorabilia. We apologize for any confusion but memorabilia can include a wide array of items and is not limited to just a bat piece. Again we apologize and thank you for your continued support of Topps."
Love the site. Thanks again.
To be honest with you, it really doesn't bother me that Topps might have used a piece of a bench or a stadium seat, instead of a Babe Ruth bat. (Upon further review, the left "chip" on the Babe Ruth card I pulled out of this box certainly doesn't look or feel like maple or ash, and probably is from a stadium seat.) What does bother me is that nowhere on the card does it mention what the relics actually are. I'm not a lawyer, I just play one in the cardblogosphere, but Topps is correct when they say that "memorabilia can include a wide array of items and is not limited to just a bat piece." However, if it is not specifically labeled on the card, most collectors would assume (and rightfully so) that a relic card with a piece of wood attached to it is from the bat of the pictured player.
Whether it's stadium seat relics or base-card variations of Carlton Fisk, card companies have an obligation to tell collectors exactly what is (and isn't) in their product BEFORE they release it to The Hobby.
... and yet another thing.
The Autographed Relic card of Atlanta Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson is misspelled "Tomnmy Hanson."