I normally buy a hobby box to start off Series One, but this year I went all in and bought a jumbo. The goal was to complete the 350-card base set, and that was accomplished easily. There are 10 packs in a jumbo box, with 46 cards to a pack.
There was a change in the packs for hobby boxes this year. Instead of 36 packs, with 10 cards to a pack, a hobby box now contains 24 packs, with 14 cards to a pack.
So, there are 24 fewer cards in a hobby box.
As usual, the base set highlights the key veterans and rookies, and there are team cards, too. Subsets include Future Stars, League Leaders and World Series Highlights. The advantage of buying a jumbo box means there is at least one autograph cards and two relics. Plus, there are two exclusive 2019 Topps Baseball Silver Packs, which were taped on top of my jumbo box when I received it in the mail. The cards are designed to look like the 1984 Topps set, except in foil. It looks attractive.
This year’s frame lines include one of the team’s primary colors. Outside of the frame is a background that looks like either large pixels or bleached out burlap, depending on your perspective. I’d lean more toward the pixels.
The major flaw — or, perhaps it’s just an issue with me — is how the player’s name is displayed at the bottom of the card. The player’s last name is in large, gray capital letters, which is fine — but it is positioned above the player’s first name. It’s very disconcerting and reminds me of a school roll call, where the student’s last name is listed first. The player’s first name is part of the frame line and is in thinner, white capital letters.
The player’s vital statistics are included underneath his name, and his position and team are included just underneath the card number. Each card back has a short biography of the player, along with year-by-year, major- and minor-league statistics. In the case of Shohei Ohtani, his stats from the Japanese league are included.
My goal in buying the jumbo box was to complete the base set, and that was done easily. For those collectors who like to chase parallels, this set offers Rainbow foil, Gold (numbered to 2019), Vintage Stock (99), Independence Day (76), a hobby/jumbo exclusive Black (67), Mother’s Day Pink (50), Father’s Day Blue (50), Memorial Day Camo (25) and 1/1 Platinum and Printing Plate cards.
In the jumbo box I opened, there were five Rainbow parallels, two Gold parallels (Avisail Garcia, which included with a 150 Years stamp and Franmil Reyes), one Father’s Day Blue parallel (Jordan Zimmermann) and five cards stamped with the “150 Years” logo.
The autograph card I pulled was Legacy of Baseball card of Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt. The card has a nice horizontal design, and the signature is on a sticker. It’s always preferable to have an on-card autograph, but it was not to be in this instance.
The second relic was a 150th Anniversary Commemorative Medallion card of Astros star Jose Altuve. It’s a thick, heavy card, but a jersey or bat swatch would have been nicer. This card looks like it could have been pulled from a blaster, although those are different cards altogether. The card’s weight and thickness are impressive, but it just doesn’t provide the same buzz as game-used memorabilia.
Another 25-card subset, Greatness Returns, focuses on two players from different eras. The card I pulled featured Milwaukee Brewers stars Robin Yount and Christian Yelich.
Looking back at the 1984 Topps design, a 100-card subset will feature today’s stars in the distinctive ’84 layout. I pulled 10 of these cards, including Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts and Yadier Molina. Each of these cards carries a silver foil stamp commemorating the 35th anniversary of this design.
The 150 Years of Professional Baseball insert set consists of — you guessed it — 150 cards, broken into three groups of 50. The first 50 are called Greatest Moments, and I pulled three of those cards. The second group is called Greatest Seasons, and I also found three of these inserts. The final group, Greatest Players, did not show up in the box I opened, but they include Hall of Famers and some players likely to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Rounding out the inserts is the 10-card Topps Now subset. I pulled three of these cards, including Trout, Ohtani and Juan Soto.
As always, Topps’ flagship product is not radical in its approach to design, thus appealing to traditionalists who have been collecting for many years. The insert sets are a little larger this year, particularly the 150 Years of Professional Baseball offering.
Collectors who have completed the base set can now concentrate on the inserts. Whether you do it by trading or by buying retail blasters, it’s still a challenge. And for me, always a fun challenge.