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Thursday, November 8, 2007

2008 Topps Sell Sheet Review

Ok, after rumination, deliberation, consternation and procrastination, here is my preview of the 2008 Topps set. It only took blackmailing myself with a box of Bowman Heritage to force it out of my brain on onto the screen. Scheduled delivery date is 2/04/08, so only three long months to go before we can open up some of this stuff.

All the info for the set can be found here. Just scroll down until you see a hot chick with wings and a big sword and look to your left (if you can) and you'll see the links to the 2008 Topps sell sheets. Here are the direct links to the downloads, but it's worth going to the site for the painting of bird woman.

Sell Sheet (Acrobat .pdf document)
Checklist (Excel document)
Product Information Sheet (Word document)

Ok, once you're done looking at the girl, here's my thoughts on 2008 Topps Baseball.

Base Cards:


This is my favorite design in a long, long time. There was a long stretch in the 90's were things looked really blah. 1995 started the ugly "Attack Of The Foil Names" theme and after a really attractive set in 1998, Topps mailed it in for a while with a bunch of metallic border sets that all blended together. There's been a few good ones lately, 2005 is really nice, 2002 and 2003 are pretty good as well. This year's effort was at least distinctive, even if it rubbed some people the wrong way with the chippy black borders and bizarre little squares. I like it simply because it has it's own unique look. Black borders haven't been used at all since 1986 and it was about time. We don't need a black border every single year (I'm talking to you, Bowman), but every fifteen years or so is about right. 1953 (on half the cards at least), 1971, 1986, 2007... Here's to more black borders around 2022. My point is, even if you don't like the '07 cards, at least they are distinctive, and don't look like every other set out there.

This is why I love the way the 2008 set looks. It has a unique, distinctive design, yet it is also fairly elegant. Most of Topps' classic sets can be described in a word or phrase. This edition can be identified as circus retro or little circles since there's no other design like it. While unique, it does build on the successful sets from the past. Circles were used to good effect in the '59, '63 and '83 sets. Using small circles to spell out the team name has been seen in the 1986 Topps 3-D oddball set. Many sets have effectively used the team name on top, player name on the bottom setup, notably 1964, 1975, 1986, 1988 and 2004. Using team colors on the circles will be nice for team sets. There are a few problems with the design, most notably the Topps logo dipping into the photo. That's an odd choice and it must have made life difficult for whoever cropped the photos. The borders look a little wide on the sell sheet, but I have a feeling they will be tightened up in the actual set. Finally, I am sick and tired of the player's name being stamped on the card in foil. Topps has done this every single year since they added foil to gold gards in 1992. The positives far outweigh the negatives in my opinion, and I'm looking forward to seeing if the backs look as good as the front. I don't know about you, but I'd like to see cartoons in this set.


The base set is pretty typical for Topps. 330 cards divided up into Vets, Rooks, Managers, League Leaders, Postseason Review, Award Winners and Classic Combos. No Team cards, which is surprising. I'm not sure if they've killed them off completely or saving them for Series 2. Only 15 managers too, and they seemed to insert only skippers with serious job security. Francona, Cox, LaRussa, Randolph, but no Joe Torre interestingly enough. The Dodger airbrush specialist is disappointed.The rookies look decent enough at first glance. Clay Buchholz, Luke Hochevar, Wladimir Balentien, Brandon Jones and Daric Barton jump up at me off the checklist. There's a few others like Clint Sammons who got a cup of coffee this September, but probably won't have a big impact in '08. I'm not sure how many of these guys already have cards out there, I'm guessing most are at least in some Bowman set. I'm going to be pissed if when it's all said and done the Bowman prospect inserts end up being the true rookie cards, just as I've given up on the base brand.

The subsets are your average star-studded leaders and awards cards. The Classic Combos cards features the Tigers, Nationals, Red Sox, Twins and a team to be named later. Howzabout a nice card of Smoltz and McCann, perhaps? Mantle is back at #7. Plenty of stars in the set, and they have given them the primo "divisible by 5" slots. A-Rod and Bonds bookend the set and Ryan Howard, David Ortiz and Chien-Ming Wang get the coveted 100, 200 and 300 cards. No Mark Teixeira though. I'll have to wait until Series two to get a Topps card of him where he isn't wearing a stupid poofy sweater.


Same stuff as usual. Gold numbered to 2008. Black (returning after being replaced by Copper) numbered to 57. Platinum one of ones. I don't see First Edition cards anywhere, maybe they are finally dead. Press plates are back if you consider them a parallel. There is some new thing called Gold Foil in the sell sheet that looks like it is in every other hobby pack. The only description of them is 'glittering cards'. I'm frightened. Hopefully the red stealth has been retired for good.

Insert Cards:

(takes deep breath)

As usual, there's a lot of them. I'm going to go through them from my favorite to my least favorite.

#1 Baseball Card History

I love this set. No, I really really looooove this set. I want to lay this set down and make sweet, sweet love by the fire. The sell sheet states this is a new set, but it's actually the same theme as the bonus cards in this year's Wal-Mart box blasters. This is the Topps insert set I've been collecting all year and as a result, I've passed up on hobby packs to get the blasters. Now I can go ahead and get the hobby box and not have to wait for the trucks to arrive at Wally World. This year's cards were done very well and included vintage card standards T206 and Goudey as well as some obscure sets like Helmar Stamps and Post cereal cards. I'm a retro fiend and this set is as retro as it gets. The checklist looks great too and has a Mark Teixeira/Jeff Francoeur combo card that I'm already losing my mind over. Is it a combo Topps card from the 60's? 1941 Double Play? T201 Mecca Double fold? I wantttsss it, my pressssioussss! Plus half the set is inserted into hobby boxes at 1:6 odds, and the other half are being given away at HTA stores each week. The shop I go to is real good at helping customers complete the weekly set even if they miss a few weeks so I've already got half the set in the bag. You just don't know how happy I am about this set.

#2 Presidential Stamp Collection

I know I said I was sick of President cards in my Turkey Red review, but I'll make an exception in this case. Goofy oddball cards with stamps on them are always fun in my book. There is no indication that they will be numbered but there's no odds on the Product sheet. I'm afraid these might end up super short printed, but it would be neat to get one of them.

#3 All Rookie Team 50th Anniversary

50 years ago, Topps inserted the first Rookie Stars cards in the 1959 set. To commemorate this event, Topps has created this insert set in the design of the 1960 All-Rookie cards. Heh. I guess the designer of this set had just finished working on '59 Heritage and was sick of that design. It's still a cool idea for a set and will be easy to get at 1:5 packs. The checklist is a neat mix of old and new players, ranging from Ron Swoboda to Dan Uggla. I see at least 4 Braves in there too, and that's with 15 players to be determined. This is light years better than another mirror set. There are Auto, Relic and gold parallels of this set as well.

#4 All Rookie Team Promo

This could be cool, or it could be a crummy advertisement. From the sell sheet:
Promo cards will be inserted into packs directing consumers to vote online at www.topps.com for the Topps Golden Anniversary All-Rookie Team.
The product sheet states odds of one in 6 packs, and the checklist has TBD for the subject. At this point I'm going to assume it's just an ad. There is one other thing, however...

Instant win cards give the winner a replica Rookie trophy.

#5 Year in Review

Continuity set that is 100% improvement on last year's Gen Now flustercluck. One card per day in the season, 60 per series. This is what Gen Now should have been, if you want to honor a big Ryan Howard home run or Kenji Johjima cutting down Aaron Boone at second, just put it on one card and move on. Nice one by Topps, although the newspaper design has gotten a bit hackneyed. People get their news from TV and the internet nowadays, keep up with the times and swipe Digg or the Drudge Report design for an insert set. Developing...

#6 Own The Game

Solid insert set that's been around forever. I have nothing bad to say about these cards although they don't excite me too much.

#7 The Mickey Mantle Story

These cards are actually not that bad compared to the stupid mirrors. At the very least Topps uses a different year's design for each series and includes different photos on each card. These should be the 1955 design.

#8 Campaign 2008

We've finally entered Fear and Loathing territory. When I first heard about these things I thought, "Ron Paul trading card! Sweet!". Now that I've thought about it, they are going to be coming out right in the middle of Primary season. I am going to be completely sick and tired of these clowns by then and now they will all be invading my baseball cards. The only thing that could save this set is if someone at Topps has a sense of humor and inserts a Stephen Colbert card in without telling anybody.

Oh crap, I think I just figured out the 2008 Series One Gimmick card.

#9 Mantle Home Run History

Thank God, it's finally over.

#10 Barry Bonds Home Run History

Just go away already.

Autos and Relics:

This section is all that stands between me and my Bowman Heritage box topper, so please don't be offended if I half-ass it.

Really, autos are autos and relics are relics. They aren't seeded 3 or per box so they are actually somewhat tough to get in Topps.
Jumbo boxes have an auto and relic per box. Regular boxes are a crapshoot.

Autos can be found in these sets:

2007 Highlights
World Champion Autographed Relics
Campaign 2008 Cut Signatures
All Rookie Team 50th Anniversary Autographs

Relics can be found in these sets:

Replica Mini Jersey Cards
Barry Bonds Home Run Triple Relic Cards
In the Name patch
World Champions
2007 Highlights
All Rookie Team 50th Anniversary Relics
Mantle Home Run History Relics

There are two new things in 2008 Topps. Topps is inserting letter patches from their All-Star jerseys in the In The Name relic set. It features 52 players and 312 total cards, all numbered 1 of 1. Letter patches are pretty popular and this should be a nice hit.

The other newcomer is a little strange. Topps created teeny little patches that sort of look like jerseys and put them on a card, all numbered to 499. There are 35 cards in all in the set, no Braves on the checklist as of yet. They aren't really relics, and they look kind of goofy, so who knows how well they will go over especially when they end up being one of the hits in a Jumbo box.

Conclusion: I really like the base set, I will definitely be collecting at least one of the insert sets. Barring a ridiculous publicity stunt, I have a really good feeling about this set. Let's cross our fingers and hope things go well in '08. Only three months to go!


Anonymous said...

Wow. Good job on being the first review.

The Dawson card looks badass, specially since it's in an Expos uniform.

I think I'll pass on the set, though. I prefer to get Chrome...a little less boring for me.

-Wax Heaven

Bayside Baller said...

Great review. Should be a good set.

Unknown said...

Liked the review. Agree on the foil names...they need to go. Bring back the color!

I don't like the large borders nor do I like the team name circle design. It makes the set look like a Bazooka baseball set.

However, it is different looking versus the last few years so maybe it will grow on me.

Message to Topps....please study the 1967 design. That year had a PERFECT design. Perfect border size, nice photos of the players, nice team name color and best of ALL....no topps logo smack dab in the middle of the card!!!

Anonymous said...

I discovered your site this morning. Excellent work! I am looking forward to the Topps 2008 set and will visit your site often. Keep up the good work.