You know that super-cool die-cut card of the 2010 NL Cy Young winner and NL MVP that Topps leaked to Beckett last week? The one that gave The Hobby a collective boner over the possibility that Topps might be bringing back some of the design concepts of the mid-to-late-1990s? You know this card?
Well guess what? You will not be able to find this, or any other "Diamond Die-Cut" card in any pack of 2011 Topps Baseball.
Let me repeat that. The Diamond Die-Cut inserts will not be in any pack of 2011 Topps Baseball.
The only way to get them is through the glorified video slot machine known as the Topps 60th Anniversary Diamond Card Giveaway website.
Yes, you'll have to redeem code cards in order to have a chance of getting a Diamond Die-Cut. And since there will be plenty of leftover "Cards Your Mother Threw Out, But Don't Really Want Back Anyway," chances are, you'll probably get five cards the caliber of an '87 Buddy Biancalana before the Transmogrifier grants you one of these.
But wait, it gets worse.
That's because the size of the Series One Diamond Die-Cut set is (and I'm not making this up) 150 cards.
One Hundred and Fifty Freaking Cards! Assuming that another 150 cards will be added for Series Two and TU&H, and you'll have to redeem twelvity-five thousand code cards and make elevity-seven bazillion trades in order to complete the full 450-card set. It's almost as if Topps just created an insert set that IS LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO COLLECT, EVEN IF MONEY WERE NO OBJECT.
But let's suppose you've redeemed those twelvity-five thousand code cards and made elevity-seven bazillion trades and completed that 450 card set. You're probably going to want Topps to deliver that set to you, right? Assuming that the shipping & handling remain unchanged from this year's Million Card Giveaway, then ZANG!!! $240 in shipping charges!
Seriously, how could Topps fuck up something this potentially epic, this badly?
The rest of the product follows the same tiresome, phone-it-in, formula we've seen for the last few years. A way-too-small 330-card base set, the same numbered parallels, a autogamer in every Hobby box, et al. Even the inserts are pretty much the same as 2010.
Plug in "60 Years of Topps Reprints, Topps 60, Kimball Champions, and Diamond Duos" in place of "The Cards Your Mother Threw Out, Peak Performance, Turkey Red, and Legendary Lineage," and there really is no difference between the structure of the 2010 and 2011 Topps insert programs.
Speaking of Kimball Champions, I'm going to ask this again: What the hell are these doing in 2011 Topps? If you're going to make 2011 Topps a massive celebration of Topps Baseball, then make it a celebration of TOPPS BASEBALL! Besides, you got to start thinking ahead for 2012 Topps, right?
Yes, there will be (again), whether you like it or not, "Veteran Variations." Or, more accurately, there will be Veteran Variations whether Topps is even aware if you actually like them or not.
The fact that Topps devotes one line, in very small type, on the sell-sheet and doesn't even bother mentioning them at all on the checklist, says a lot about how ambivalent collectors have become to these gimmicks -- and I think Topps is beginning to notice. Topps could (and should) drop these cards the week before pack-out, and collectors wouldn't notice nor care.