Now that's I've busted open a few more (ok, a LOT more) packs of Topps series two, here is some more of my thoughts toward the set.
The variation cards are kind of neat, and I like that they are actually obtainable unlike the Wal-Mart variations from series 1. However it would be nice if Topps would let us know what cards had variations for once. Maybe with a press release or heck, even on the checklist.
Since Topps won't tell ya, I will:
411 Jason Bay - no signature
437 Paul LoDuca - no signature
481 Jim Thome - no signature
630 Daisuke Matsuzaka English front - no signature
630 Daisuke Matsuzaka Japanese front with signature
630 Daisuke Matsuzaka Japanese front - no signature
634 Alex Gordon - no signature
660 Yadier Molina - no signature
Even with 3 different variations, I still can't pull a Dice-K to save my life. Plus I'm convinced the Bonds card is a figment of my fevered imagination.
We finally get Alex Gordon's RC (which I also can't pull). In my perfect world, Topps would take all those 2006 Gordon cards they had to yank from packs and insert them into this set. Then I could finally fill in that hole in my 2006 set. Sure, Keith Olbermann would take a bath on the ones he bought up, but he's getting good ratings right now, he can afford it.
Seriously, that one card missing from series one bugs me. I'm tempted to take the scans I saved from Beckett's online article and print one up on my color printer just to complete the set. I would have done it already if the printer ink cartridges weren't more expensive than the actual card.
The 1st edition parallel is useless. The only reason I can think of for its continued existence is that Topps already paid for the die to stamp the logo onto the cards, so they're going to use it as long as they can. Kind of like how Pacific dropped a million bucks on the Pacific Crown Die-cut machine and then had to have Die Cut Crown cards in every set they produced until they folded.
The Hit Parade inserts look like the love child of 1996 Topps Pro-Files and Fleer Lumberjacks inserts. I'm also convinced that the Stars insert set is actually surplus from an old MVP or Pros and Prospects set that they bought off of Upper Deck.
The Opening Day set is completely irrelevant, unless you are a hard core collector of a certain team. Even then, 14/15ths of the set is irrelevant to that particular collector.
I like the 1953 design on the Mickey Mantle Story cards. Of course if Topps put out a "Great Moments in Welsh Chartered Accountancy" set with the '53 design I'd probably buy it, so maybe I'm not the best one to judge these things.
As I feared, the Joe D Streak before the Streak cards are all the same except for the number. The actual Streak cards have the date, opponent, pitcher and type of hit though. The design is very attractive as well. This would be a good set for any DiMaggio fans out there that couldn't afford the hit streak set from Play Ball that came out a few years ago.
The Generation Now inserts initially irritated me. Too many damn cards, and why did Topps need another 'count down the stats' insert set? But now that I look at it if you ignored the numbers and focused on just collecting one of each the players it's not a bad little set. It does have a good player selection as far as up and coming players are concerned, and collecting one of each (or all of one if you're the player collector type) would be much easier on your sanity than trying to track down all 394 in the set.
Finally, the Wal-Mart 120 years of baseball card history set is probably my favorite insert set in quite some time. I love old obscure cards and this set seems to have them all. Dice-K on an old Japanese card design is brilliant and it doesn't get better than Manny's big noggin on a 1938 Goudey card. I'm looking forward to Updates and Highlights when they will have to start really scraping the bottom of the barrel for vintage card designs.