Preview: 2011 Topps Tier One Baseball

With 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter so close to release I am psyched right now about baseball products. All that is on television right now is baseball with the lockouts of the NFL and NBA. The NHL is always quiet this time of year unless there are some huge free agent signings. There has been some of those huge signings, but baseball is just at the top of it’s game. Sort of like Manny Pacquiao, top of their games.

Speaking of Manny Pacquiao, he has an autograph in the previously mentioned Allen & Ginter, but also in this brand new product put out by Topps this season. 2011 Topps Tier One baseball. And frankly, I’m not hugely impressed when I really want to be.

Topps has sunk it’s teeth into the 1 pack per box products and this is another one. Each pack will net you 3 base cards, 1 parallel, 1 relic card, and 2 autographs. Every 12 box case will yield 1, just 1, top tier autograph. Top Tier autographs are what everyone will be chasing, but they only fall 1 in 12 boxes. The best part about the autographs though is that they are all on-card, except for cut autographs and the triple autographs. Again, this should not be a selling point but it is.

If you do not hit one of these Top Tier autographs you will probably hit a On The Rise autograph or Crowd Pleaser autographs. There are also dual and triple autographs available to pull as well. The On The Rise subset and Crowd Pleaser autographs look alright, but no where near the Top Tier autographs. At least all autographs appear to be numbered to 25 or less so that should help with some of the value.

You will also find relics that come in patch form numbered to 10 or single, dual, or triple jersey form. And I’m guessing the regular swatches will all be single colored and boring as usual from Topps with their jersey swatches. At least they do a decent job on patches, but they make them so hard to get.

Finally you will find 3 base cards each numbered to 799 and a parallel numbered to 199, 50, 25, or 1.

And for once I am not impressed at all with Topps design on this product. It just looks lazy with a faded background to a single color on the base and parallel. Although the autograph designs look decent.

I can’t find a price on this product but it could fall from anywhere between $85 and $200 if I know Topps correctly. I’m hoping it will be closer to the lower side as Topps doesn’t have many products like this that is around the same price point as Panini Limited or Upper Deck Ultimate Collection. My guess is that it will be higher, kind of like Tribute or Triple Threads because I just have a feeling it will be higher. I hope I’m wrong as right now the product doesn’t stack up and baseball needs a product in that range like Panini and Upper Deck.

We have found a preliminary 2011 Topps Tier One baseball checklist available too so you can see what I’m talking about. Let me know what you think of this product that arrives in November 2011.

Quick Contest Pimp!

I have a busy day lined up for me since it’s really the last day I get to hang out with my fiancee before she leaves for Montana for 2 weeks to do some schooling. So all you get out of me on this Saturday is a contest pimp.

My own 3 separate contests are running until tonight! So get your comments in on my recent reviews. View all the details on my 3 contests here. Prizes are awesome and I thank Panini America for their support of this blog.

I’ll have two posts tomorrow. One announcing the winners and something actually useful. But most of you will want to know the results of the contests anyway because the cards are that awesome. Good luck to everyone!

Just In: 2010-11 Upper Deck The Cup…It’s Coming!

I know I have been lacking in the Upper Deck news. However, they just aren’t putting out a lot of products with only one fully professional license. But this news is great for hockey collectors as arguably Upper Deck’s best product, and most high end, finally has some information on this year’s product.

With one of the best rookie classes since the class that brought us Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, this year’s product should not only fly off the shelves, may be a great product to invest in. I’m going to say this only once, if you aren’t into stock or into gold, this may be one of the product you want to throw a couple grand in and just sit on the cases. If I had the money, I would do it.

A new edition to this product and I believe hockey products in general is the booklet cards. They look sorta like this:

While I’ve never been a HUGE fan of booklet cards, these look like solid additions to the product. That P.K. Subban autographed rookie gear booklet on the left looks great and would make a great addition to any collection. That is probably one of my favorite rookie subsets and would almost rather pull that than a regular rookie patch. Imagine displaying that bad boy.

It will also mark the return of Limited Logos autographed patches, Property Of game used stick nameplates, Team Canada hockey autographs from stars of the past and present, and the ever popular shield autographs.

But 2011 Upper Deck The Cup comes with more awesome new goodness.

On stick autographs! (Slapshoterific!)

Base card autographed laundry tags! (Made in Canada!)

And dual cuts! (Let’s hope they aren’t as bad looking and cut up as Legendary Cuts was!)

All we really have is pictures and a retail price of $380 for one pack with 5 cards in it. And it releases sometime in August. I’m sure there is more to come. Learn more from Upper Deck’s announcement post on their blog.

A little birdie who has his own blog called the Topps Archives told me I need more pictures in my posts because reading lots of text hurts his head. I hope this post is colorful enough for him. I think I’ll add more pictures from now on though, good idea?

And here is my 2010-11 Upper Deck The Cup haiku:

My eyes shed great tears,
When I see The Cup released,
I must open it.

Let’s hope I can come up with the Benjamins to have a head to head breaking battle with 2010-11 Upper Deck The Cup vs. 2010-11 Panini Dominion. It would be the battle of the century.

More information on this product when it is announced!

Preview: 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars Football

This is the last product I have to preview for July 2011 releases and we are going out with 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars football. Panini attempts to put the “rookies” back in Rookies & Stars football this year. But we will see how that works out for them with this product. Let’s hope there is enough “stars” as well to keep things interesting and worth the price of admission.

2011 Panini Rookies & Stars football releases with 24 packs with 8 cards per back. Each pack is $4 which makes this product…some quick internet math tells me that a box would cost around $96. You will find 4 total autograph or material cards with at least 1 of them being an autograph. 24 rookies, 4 parallels, 1 Rookie Revolution, 1 Studio rookie, and 2 other inserts or parallels. So I’m guessing this is a 1 rookie per pack product this year.

The first thing I always notice is something I don’t like about the product and of course I found one right away. People who have been reading this blog for awhile now know of my hatred for manufactured patches. Well Panini Rookies & Stars carries several variations of this manufactured patch goodness. Okay Panini, I get it. Manufactured patches aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. So I have a proposition. Hear me out, this is something that will make these manufactured patches more bearable. Stop having the athlete sign cloth. It looks incredibly tacky. If you want to keep the manufactured patches, that is fine. Embed them in the card as you would a regular patch but have the athlete sign a sticker or the card itself. Seriously, I would rather have a sticker autograph than an athlete sign a piece of cloth. 100% of the time. Take out the American flag, embed just that part in the card and add an autograph to the card itself. I know you have seen Upper Deck Black flag patches and autographs. That is the best way to do manufactured patches in my opinion. I can’t stand the signing of cloth that isn’t even game/event worn. Okay…I’m done with that rant.

Besides the manufactured patches, everything else looks to be on par what you would expect from Rookies & Stars. With a billion rookies and some sweet veteran cards you are in for a treat. If you’re a rookie collector or prospector this is another product for you with the tons of rookies and consequently probably a billion rookie autographs.

As for me, I like veterans. With some great autographs and material cards for veterans I really enjoy the look of some of these subsets, Prime Cuts being my favorite. There is a subset called Statistical Standouts with some random statistic on the front and an autographed patch version for veterans. While I’m not a huge fan of the concept as I feel it is over done, it looks nice too. Panini seems to be doing a great job in the subset and insert department. The Donruss Studio brand of old makes a slight return as an insert as well with Studio Rookies featuring posed photography. I love the back of these cards almost more than the front. They have their backs to the camera showing off the name on the back of their jerseys. Panini has a great blog post about this Studio Rookies insert set with a ton of pictures.

Finally, as far as base cards go, I love the design of this year’s base cards. Panini did a great job with action shots where the whole player isn’t cut out and you can see some of the field before it fades to a white background. It looks pretty slick to me. Everything looks pretty slick, but something needs to be done about those manufactured patches.

2011 Panini Rookies & Stars will release on July 27th, 2011 at a dealer near you.

Let’s see a picture of those Prime Cuts I love so much. Since Panini doesn’t pay to host their blog, I’m just going to hot link this photo. This is for you Jim Irsay!

Want more? Check out the Panini Peek of 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars football on their official blog.

Want a 2011 Panini Rookies & Stars checklist too?

Want to see more awesome cards from this set?

Panini Unwrapped: Opening 2011 Rookies & Stars!

This concludes all July 2011 sports trading card releases. Phew! I wonder what August will have in store for us?

Reply from Upper Deck’s Mike Phillips

So as you may have read with my interview with Thomas Fish of Blowout Cards, I asked about why Blowout Cards was not part of the Upper Deck Authorized Internet Retailers program. I was told to direct any questions about that to Mike Phillips, Director of Hobby Sales, or Richard McWilliams, CEO of Upper Deck. I figured that I wouldn’t get any response from the CEO of a large company like Upper Deck so I went to the source which I felt would give me an answer. In a short turn around time, I received an answer that completely avoided my actual question 100%.

I explained my situation of why I was asking the question and specifically asked why Blowout Cards was not an Upper Deck Authorized Internet Retailer. The response I received seemed like a form letter with my name attached to the top. No answers, no comments, nothing. This is basically like saying “no comment” to the press when you have a question. You know they know the answer, they just don’t want to say it. Here is what was said:

Thank you for your interest in Upper Deck’s Authorized Internet Retailer program. While there are many factors that Upper Deck takes into account when choosing its AIRS, first and foremost to even be considered as an AIR one must own and operate a full time brick & mortar trading card and collectibles store. Any brick & mortar store that has met the qualifications of becoming, AND has been approved as a Certified Diamond Dealer can apply to be considered for appointment as an AIR. Upper Deck will add additional AIRs to its network as it deems necessary. Upper Deck currently has eight AIRs in the US and five in Canada, with a few new AIRs pending in the coming months.”

So there is the answer. I was told that Blowout Cards has a B&M store as well and I’m guessing with their presence in the hobby they have moved quite a bit of Upper Deck product over the years. Why would you not allow one of your best retailers the opportunity to not sell your product in the first 30 days, or whatever the limitations are?

Personally, I don’t see this program lasting for the long run. Not only are collectors unhappy with this program, so are some of your top retailers over the past few years. If you really want to fix brick and mortar sales, it’s not your job to do it. It is 100% up to the B&M shops to fix themselves. I would not mind paying $10-$20 over prices at places like Blowout Cards at a B&M shop if I actually enjoyed going to the B&M shop. The ones I have been to around me are terrible. They know nothing about the products coming out, they are overpriced even more, and rarely do they get their products on the shelves in enough time. They don’t cater to the customer, all they do is cater to themselves. I am going to use my experience at Wayne’s Sports Cards in Edmonton, Canada, is my prime example of how a shop should be run. Great customer service, promotions, and tons of selection. If I lived up there I would be in there whenever a new product came out instead of ordering from anywhere online in Canada. In the end, collectors don’t want to wait to open their boxes. That is what made Chris of Cards Infinity so popular. I will show up at a B&M that deserves the support and pay whatever to open up product myself. I just can’t find one in my area that I am willing to support. And B&Ms are wondering why they are losing money.

Quit whining to Upper Deck and Panini that your sales are down. Take some of the blame yourselves and improve the experience and make people actually want to come to the store. Until that happens, people will just keep buying from places like Blowout or DA Card World online.