The format is much the same as the basic Heritage set. A hobby box will contain 24 packs, with nine cards per pack. Topps is promising either one autograph or relic card in every hobby box. There also is a guaranteed box loader, which could be a foil-stamped original card from the 1967 set. The other possibilities are three-card ad panels from 1967, or a Punchboard card numbered to 50. The Punchboards have parallels, too with Jumbo Patch Relics numbered to 25, autographs numbered to 10 and Jumbo Patch Relic autographs (also numbered to 10).
My box loader was a buyback, stamped foil card of Astros reliever Turk Farrell, who was an original member of the Houston franchise in 1962. Farrell had been a starter but was sent to the bullpen when he was traded to the Phillies during the ’67 season.
One of the short prints I found was a Flip Stock card of Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez. While most of the cards from this set have a smooth front and a rough back, the Flip Stock card reverses the texture. You can see the shiny back when you tilt the card. Topps also offers card variations, too. The ones I pulled were of the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist, and this was a posed image shot (base) and an action shot (variation). What’s interesting about these cards are not the same numbers. The Zobrist base card is No. 564, while the variation held No. 668. Weird. Another variation shows different colors for the team names featured in block lettering.
The design of the original 1967 Topps set was the cleanest and crispest of the decade, with a large photograph unencumbered by logos and designs and background borders. The card was basically a shot of the player—some oversized mug shots, others posed “action” shots — with the player’s name and position at the top of the card and the team name in colorful block letters at the bottom. It’s a gorgeous, but simple design.
In one quirky pack, I pulled back-to-back cards of pitchers Matt Bush (Rangers) and Matt Buschmann (Diamondbacks).
There are 50 chrome cards that are parallels to corresponding cards in the base set and are numbered to 999. I pulled a card of Dodgers pitcher (and former Rays ace) Scott Kazmir. There also was a chrome refractor card of Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon, numbered to 567.
Rookie Performers is a 15-card subset that honors the top first-year stars, while Now and Then is a 10-card offering that notes a player’s performance in early 2016 and then provides a notable feat that occurred on the same date in 1967. I pulled three of each of these two inserts.
While the Bench autograph was the highlight of the box I opened, other collectors may find hobby exclusive Real One Dual Autographs, numbered to 25. If relics are your thing, the venerable Clubhouse Collections relics set returns, with Dual Relics numbered to 64, Triple Relics (25) and Quad Relics (10). Autograph Relics (numbered to 25) and a hobby-exclusive Dual Autograph Relics (numbered to 10) round out the hot cards available.
Despite their beauty, the 1967 originals tended to be condition sensitive (at least in my neighborhood). So it’s nice to see a 2016 version that looks so much nicer.
Now, burlap fans can get ready, since next year’s Heritage product will pay homage to the 1968 set. It’s not as clean-looking as the ’67 set, but those burlap-looking borders certainly make that set distinctive.