Owens - Buffalo
My very first impression of this set:
TO plays for the Bills? WTF??
To all my twenty-something readers out there, that old chestnut about how people get dumber as they get older, it's totally true. I few years ago I would not only have known what team Terrell Owens played for, but the number touchdowns he'd scored this season, the number of catches he has lifetime against Philadelphia, the number of arguments he's had with his head coach on Fridays before a road game and the name of the girl he had sex with the morning before his most recent appearance on Monday Night Football. Now, I see him in a Bills jersey and my mind is blown. THIS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU. Don't think it won't.
As for the cards themselves, even though the design isn't authentic (I looked through my 19th century tobacco card price guide and found nothing remotely like it) it actually looks pretty good. The fancy schmancy border fits in with card designs found in the 19th century and the picture looks better with a little bit of color. Last year's design - while very authentic - got oppressive with the black borders and muted colors after a while. It was like the trading card version of a German Expressionist film. Using gold ink is very 19th century as well, half the old style cards I've seen from that period use metallic ink in the design.
Um.... maybe not THIS much metallic ink. This scans really well, but this back is really hard on the eyes. Especially my old-geezer-haven't-upgraded-my-eyeglass-prescription-in-over-two-years-because-I-lost-my-vision-insurance eyes. Other than the shiny ink, the backs are more or less the same as last year's backs. The name font is differnet, the flourishes at the top are a little more flourishy and there's more legalese at the bottom, but they're the same backs.
Namath - Broadway
This card ensured that I would have at least one good card in the pack. It's number 304, so it might be a short print. Or maybe not. I haven't seen a list of SP's yet and I'm not entirely sure if I care or not. See what happens when you play games with your short print list, Topps? Eventually we stop caring.
Next up is the Mini card. The card back was facing me when I opened the pack and this is what went through my mind when I pulled it:
Huh. They're doing team cards in this set now? A helmet logo is going to look tiny or squashed on a mini card.
WHAT THE FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU????
This is an insert card???
Great, now I'm going to be obsessively hunting for a 1:48 pack mini insert of a bloody bird that has probably been chucked in the trash by half the case breakers out there who have pulled it.
One other thing on the mini card: When I first looked at it, I thought that they had shrunk it down to Allen & Ginter size from the 'just large enough to not fit properly in any plastic sheet on the market' size used last year. I was wrong, it's the same size as 2008. I guess I'm going to have to pull out my Xacto knife and a one pocket page and get to customizing.
Grant - Green Bay
This is the one-per-pack super thick relic decoy parallel card. I'm not sure if I like this better than last year's Super Bowl logo set that they used for the decoys. One one hand, parallels suck and are boring. On the other hand, it is a card of a player and not a stupid Washington Redskins helmet. The main difference between these and the base cards (other than that they are three times as thick) is the silver ink on the border.
Oh dear Lord, these are even harder to read than the gold backs. The silver backs are glossier than the gold ones so if there is any kind of light source near you the text will immediately become invisible. Man, I miss the black backs from last year.
Bulger - St. Louis
The look on Bulger's face pretty much perfectly sums up the Saint Louis Rams' season.
Hobson - Admiral
I was lucky (?) enough to pull a non-sports character in the pack. According to the back Admiral Richmond Hobson is the "Father of American Prohibition" as he was the first congressman to probose a ban on alcohol. Oh goody. That worked out well, didn't it? He was also captured during the Spanish-American war and held prisoner. Maybe he was denied delicious Cuban rum by the Spanish while he was incarcerated and it made him bitter.
So there's a pack of Mayo. All in all, it looks like Topps gave up on redoing the original Mayo Cut Plug set and just took the "Football A&G" motif to its logical conclusion. It's an ok looking set. Retro doesn't seem to work as well on football though. I think part of it is that when I think old timey football cards, I think 1960's and 1970's, not 1890's. It's not bad though, and I think Topps learned their lesson from the bait & switch nonsense they pulled last year. At least I haven't heard a lot of complaining about the set on other blogs so far. Whether that is due to the fact that the set is better or that everyone already gave up on Mayo, I can't be sure...