It’s that time of year again. Baseball activities are about to ramp up as many teams are engaging in various fan fests and caravans. With Spring Training poking its head around the corner, Topps strikes, as always, just as fan excitement for baseball also ramps up. You know baseball season is about to get into gear when you see Topps’ annual flagship Series 1 stocked on retail and hobby shelves. It’s a great time of year for baseball fans and trading card collectors alike–but can Topps capitalize as they did in 2013?
Topps continues the trend of theming their flagship brand, this time with the phrase “The Future Is Now!” With a bit of a weaker draft and rookie class heading into the season, Topps seems to be refocusing on recent rookies who have blossomed within the last few years. The obvious poster boy for 2014 is Yasiel Puig. Bryce Harper and Yu Darvish, who have both shown great strength in the trading card industry, are also helping to anchor sales for this year’s flagship release.
330 is the target number yet again for the Series 1 base set, not counting any unannounced short prints that extend beyond that number. Topps continues the trend of infusing the low-end product with a plethora of chase cards and mid-range hits. This includes an extensive amount of parallels, the usual die-cut inserts as well as relics and sticker autographs. Even rarer but still available are the higher-end on-card relic autos. If Topps wants to keep the purchasing demographic of this product wide, they are smart to include a few upper level hits in the product, such as the Babe Ruth cut auto from last year’s S1.
When I first saw the base card previews last year on Twitter, I wasn’t sold on the design. I expected that Topps would continue their successful baseball themed design from 2013 much like they did for football the last two seasons. Of course, outside of the home plate and baselines concept from last year, there may not have been many aesthetically pleasing baseball-themed design options from which to choose. One idea might have been to somehow incorporate a batter’s swing into the left and bottom portions of the border. Then again, that may be too tricky to pull off. Anyhow, initial reservations of the preview design aside, the look of the base card has grown on me a bit. I’m still not sold on the tiny vertical team name lettering on the right side of the card, and the whole thing looks a bit “Bowman-ish.”
Parallels this season include Gold (#/2014), Camo (#/99), Hobby-only Black (#/63), Pink (#/50), Platinum (1/1), Red Hot Foil (1:6 packs), Hobby-only Clear (#/10) and Hobby-only Printing Plates (4 colors, 1/1 each color). 100 subjects from the 330 card base set will be featured on Silk Collection Partials (#/50).
As usual, there is little shortage of inserts. Not only are there plenty of inserts to chase, there are also insert parallels. While the parallels are not nearly as extensive as the base parallels, they do play a part in bloating the master set.
The Future Is Now (30 subjects, 1:4 packs)
Upper Class (50 subjects, 1:4 packs)
50 Years of the Draft (10 subjects, 1:18 packs)
Topps All Rookie Cup Team (10 subjects, 1:18 packs)
Before They Were Great – Hobby Only (30 subject, 1:18 packs)
Before They Were Great Gold Parallel – Hobby Only (15 subjects, #/99)
1989 Topps Mini Die Cut (50 subjects, 1:18 packs)
Commemorative relic cards (essentially the same type of manufactured metal relics we’ve seen Topps produce in recent years) fall at 1 per hobby case or 1 per hobby jumbo box. I expect these will be just as monstrously thick as they were in the 2013 flagship sets.
Topps All Rookie Cup Team Rookie Cup Relic (10 subjects, #/99)
Topps All Rookie Cup Team Rookie Cup Relic Vintage Parallel (10 subjects, #/25)
Topps Rookie Cup All-Stars Rookie Cup Relics (25 subjects, #/99)
Topps Rookie Cup All-Stars Rookie Cup Relics Vintage Parallel (25 subjects, #/25)
Class Rings Silver (25 subjects)
Class Rings Gold (25 subjects, #/99)
Class Rings Gold Gems (25 subjects, #/25)
Class Rings Gold Gems Autographs (10 subjects, #/10)
What trading card product in the 21st Century would be without its share of autographed cards? Certainly not Topps’ flagship. Plenty of vets and rookies can be found on these cards. Until a full checklist is supplied, it is unknown if any Hall of Famers (deceased or living) are included for the following set of autographed cards. Most of these auto’d cards will be stickers, however the Before They Were Great hobby-exclusive set and the 1989 Topps Mini Die-Cut set are on-card.
The Future Is Now Autographs (30 subjects, #/25)
Upper Class Autographs (25 subjects, #/50)
Topps All Rookie Cup Team Autographs (5 subjects, #/50)
Before They Were Great Autographs – Hobby Only (15 subjects, #/10)
1989 Topps Mini Die-Cut Autographs (10 subjects, #/10)
World Series Champion Autographs (5 subjects, #/50)
Postseason Performance Autographs (10 subject, #/50)
Of course, if you’re going to include autographs in your set, you HAVE to have relics! The usual suspects, uniforms and bats, are embedded in these relic cards. The In The Name set includes letters from the name plate of each player’s All-Star workout jersey–not a manurelic like many letter patch cards circulating in the hobby.
Trajectory Relics (40 subjects)
The Future Is Now Relics (30 subjects, #/99)
Upper Class Relics (25 subjects, #/99)
Topps All Rookie Cup Team Relics (5 subjects, #/99)
Before They Were Great Relics – Hobby Only (25 subjects, #/25)
1989 Topps Mini Die-Cut Relics (15 subjects, #/25)
World Series Champion Relics (15 subjects, #/100)
Postseason Performance Relics (25 subjects, #/100)
In The Name Relics – Hobby Only (65 subjects, 1/1)
Exclusive to hobby and jumbo hobby boxes and cases are the higher end autograph relic cards. Much like the non-relic autographed cards, most will be stickers and feature rookies, vets and stars. Some sets, such as Strata Signature Relics, include on-card autos as well as cut signatures featuring rookies and vets as well as some Hall of Famers.
Strata Signature Relics (#/?)
Strata Cut Signatures (1/1)
The Future Is Now Autograph Relics (30 subjects, #/10)
Upper Class Autograph Relics (25 subjects, #/25)
Topps All Rookie Cup Team Autograph Relics (5 subjects, #/25)
Before They Were Great Autograph Relics (10 subjects, #/5)
World Series Champion Autograph Relics (5 subjects, #/50)
Postseason Performance Autograph Relics (10 subjects, #50)
Overwhelmed yet? There are still some more fun odds and ends thrown into 14S1 including reprints, buybacks and promotional programs. Absent from this year’s set is the wrapper redemption program.
Framed Rookie Reprint Black – Hobby Only
Framed Rookie Reprint Silver – Hobby Only (#/?)
Framed Rookie Reprint Gold – Hobby Only (#/?)
Rookie Buybacks (50 subjects)
The Pennant Chase (1 redemption card per team)
Spring Fever – Hobby Only (1 per Hobby and Jumbo Hobby box)
The formula for 14S1 remains true to form. There is plenty to be chased by a vast audience of collectors, young and old alike. Player collectors and rainbow chasers will no doubt have tons of fun amassing the great amount of parallels available, and some of the hits in the product are just high-end enough for hit seekers not to completely ignore. This looks like it will be yet another fun set to put together with enough good surprises to keep even the most refined collector interested.
Now that you’ve been properly teased and educated, you may be itching for some 14S1 of your own. I am running a charity case break using a 6-box jumbo case of 14S1. For every slot that is sold, I will donate $5 to charity. If you’re as excited about this release as I am and you don’t mind helping out a great cause, I encourage you to snatch up a team slot as soon as you can! Just hover over the Crackin’ Wax Case Breaks menu at the top of the blog, then click on Topps ’14S1 Jumbo to get started! Our charity case breaks are always a good time with plenty of amazing collectors joining in on the fun. Get the cards you want, be part of something great AND do some good all at the same time! Get in now while you can!