24 packs per box, eight cards per pack
1 Chiptopper: Johnny Mize
Base Set: 177 of 329 (53.80%)
short set: 171 of 275 (62.18%)Parallels
Short Prints: 6 of 54 (1:4, 11.11%) A-Fraud, C. Jones, ManRam, D. Pedroia, B. Dlugach, M. Brantley
6 National Chicle Backs (1:4) T. Lilly, M. Kemp, T. Tulowitzki, R. Halladay, A. Gordon, V. Wells
3 Bazooka Backs (1:8) H. Matsui, A. Bailey, J. Vazquez
2 National Chicle Autographs: H. Rodriguez, M. Bumgarner
1 Artist Proof (1:120, numbered to 10): C. Utley
1 Bazooka Back Relic (1:174, numbered to 99) P. Molitor
Babe Ruth as an Atlanta Brave and Ichiro as a Seattle Pilot notwithstanding, National Chicle wasn't as bad as we all thought it was going to be. With that said, it's really not that great either.
After opening a box, I still don't understand the purpose of this product. I guess Topps was thinking that 1) Collectors like art cards, 2) Collectors like "retro" products, and 3) Collectors like BIG MOJO HITZ!!!, so why not combine all three into a new product. Sounds like a winner, right?
Ummm, no. If Topps wanted to make another retro-themed product (as if Heritage, Heritage High Numbers, Allen & Ginter, and Topps 206 weren't enough), why did they choose a brand name associated with a football card set? A baseball card set done in the style of the 1935 National Chicle Football set makes about as much sense as a football card set done in the style of 1952 Topps Baseball.
The artwork is hit-or-miss. Some of the cards look amazing; others, not so much. But on the whole the 275-card short set was better looking than I expected. The 54 short-prints, on the other hand...
Back in January when Topps unveiled the first images of National Chicle, the cardblogosphere was up in arms over the "Babe Ruth as an Atlanta Brave," "Ichiro as a Seattle Pilot," and "Random White Sox Player on Frank Thomas' Rookie Card" cards. These three cards are all part of the three different short-printed subsets. There are 54 SPs in all and in a 329-card set is about the same proportion as other Topps "retro" products like Heritage and TA&G. Unfortunately, the SPs in Nat'lChic are 1:4/packs instead of the 1:2 in Heritage and A&G.
The SPs themselves are just stupid. It's not just Atlanta Brave Babe, or Ichiro the Pilot. Was is Ryan Zimmerman a Montreal Expo? Or Walter Johnson a Washington National? Seriously Topps, WTF?
But by far the worst are the "Rookie Renditions" -- the ones where current year rookies are painted to look like the vintage Topps rookie cards. That aformentioned unidentifiable White Sox player painted into Frank Thomas' rookie card has a name: Tyler Flowers. About the only thing Flowers and The Big Hurt have in common is that they wore the White Sox uniform. To compare a future Hall of Fame first baseman with a minor league catcher with all of 16 Major League at-bats is ridiculous and ten years from now will look awfully stupid.
About the only redeeming value of National Chicle are the two on-card autographs and one relic in each box. And judging by the very limited checklist on the "hits," you're pretty much guaranteed to get at least something of value in a waxbox.
The Bottom Line
I pulled a little over 60% of the base set, nine parallels, and four hits -- one of which was an "Artist Proof" of Chase Utley autographed by the artist. Six SPs in a box is a bit stingy, but considering that the cards the suck are all short-printed, that's not really that much of a loss now is it?
I like the concept of an art set, but National Chicle just doesn't work as a baseball card set. Maybe if they had called it "Topps Gallery" it might have worked.
Product Rating: 2 Gumsticks (out of five)