Because it might be difficult to complete the set by simply relying on retail blasters—something I have done for years — I will buy the complete set when it is available. That will make it three years straight. No suspense there.
However, for the sake of reviewing, I bought a blaster box. These include seven packs, with 14 cards to a pack. Among those cards is an MLB Medallion, which is a manufactured relic. Blaster boxes have player jersey numbers, and I pulled a Miguel Cabrera No. 24 card. There are 25 different medallions that can be found in retail blasters.
As usual, Topps’ flagship set consists of 330 cards in Series 1. A collector can expect to see a diverse offering of veterans, rookies, Future Stars, League Leaders and team cards. Thanks to off-season fan voting, the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani is card No. 1 in the set. It is the first time the pitcher-slugger has been placed at the coveted leadoff spot.
Last year’s No. 1 card was Fernando Tatis Jr.
There are examples of vertical and horizontal designs for the card fronts. I prefer vertical designs, but do have to concede that Tony Kemp’s card (No. 114) is a wonderful example of how to emphasize a horizontal look. Well done.
The Topps logo is stamped in foil in one of the top corners of the card. Some are stamped on the right, while others are on the left. Not sure about the inconsistency, but it honestly does not detract from the card’s overall appeal.
One big flaw I saw with this set was that the card backs, which utilize a horizontal design, are not lined up in the same direction. If you put cards in a binder, the backs will not be in alignment. One will be right-side up, and the next card back could be upside down. Very reminiscent of the backs of 1954 Topps cards. If you are OCD, this will drive you nuts.
The blaster box I bought had 83 base cards. There was also a blue royal parallel of Austin Riley and a Rainbow Foil parallel of Ketel Marte.
There are plenty of inserts to be found.
By far the nicest was a Diamond Greats Die-Cuts card of Carl Yastrzemski. This insert honors 25 greats, including Yaz, Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Roberto Clemente, Johnny Bench and others. It’s a shiny card, with an action shot of the player.
Stars of MLB is a retail-exclusive insert that comes one to a pack. I did pull seven of them — Ohtani, Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betts, Bo Bichette, Kris Bryant, Rafael Devers and Jacob deGrom. I also pulled a chrome version of this insert, which appear once in every 10 retail packs. That card was of Tatis Jr.
As it has done in previous years, Topps pays tribute to a retro set. This year’s honor goes to the 1987 Topps set, which had a woodgrain look to it. It is amazing that this set is already 35 years old. The card I pulled was Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
If he does, the collector wins a parallel card. If a collector decides to “double down” to predict whether the homer travels more than 425 feet, then a special parallel will be awarded.
All collectors who register will be entered into the grand prize drawing, which is a trip to the Home Run Derby during the All-Star break.
With Mickey Mantle back in the Topps fold, the company released a “limited and very rare” subset. The Salute to the Mick will have three cards each in Series 1, Series 2 and the Update series.