Preview: 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter Baseball

One of the favorite products amongst baseball card collectors and set collectors alike has returned with 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball. A&G has been a staple of the Topps baseball card lineup since 2006 where it was a huge breakout hit amongst collectors. This marks the 7th year of the retro product with some of the hits as good as ever.

A&G is a mix between baseball and pop culture. It leans on baseball side, but it also has many current and historical cards to pay homage to the original cards way back in the last 1800s.  It is both an educational and fun product where you have no idea what you might get while opening each pack. While Topps has cut down on some of the non-baseball stuff, it should be packed with a little bit of both.

As always, each pack will also feature one mini card and 7 regular cards. You will find mini inserts as well as the mini parallels you have grown accustomed too, except Bazooka backs will not be making a return. Instead, you will find “Baseball backs” in their place. A new addition, direct from Upper Deck’s book, is the inclusion of Entomology style cards where you may find a redemption for dead bugs embedded into cards. Upper Deck decided to end the bugs, and Topps is picking up right where they left off.

As usual, you will have your 3 hits per box in the form of autographs (from baseball and non-baseball figures alike), game used memorabilia cards, and rip cards. Rip cards are making the return where you rip the card to find a SP mini, autograph, wood parallel, or original A&G card inside.

You’ll be able to find 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter on July 11, 2012, for around $85. And don’t forget, crack the Ginter code once again and Topps will spoil you with fantastic rewards.

 

Bring Back the Box Toppers!

It’s time to bring back the box topper. I understand there are a couple of products out there currently with box toppers…Topps Allen & Ginter and Panini Zenith come to mind, but I think the majority of products could use a box topper.

Why should a company take the time and put together a box topper set?

The answer is one word and simple, value. Not only does a solid box topper encourage people to buy full boxes of product, there are so many things that you could do with a box topper to add value to a box.

Let’s just go over some of the box toppers we have seen over the last 10 years or so. We have seen autographed baseballs, autographed mini helmets, 5×7 autographed cards, jumbo patch cards, autographs, memorabilia cards, rip cards, and even parts to complete a set of mini cards.

Why aren’t these more common in today’s products?

I’m guessing it has to do with money, but if a great box topper added more sales to the product line, what’s the problem with adding it in? Topps does a great job changing up the box toppers for Allen & Ginter every year. Panini also did a great job creating some unreleased product designs in it’s Dare to Tear rip cards in Zenith as well.

I know that I have always loved box toppers and I think it still holds well to the collecting community in general. I’ve had conversations with several veterans of the hobby and the majority would love to see more box toppers, especially something like the past Topps Archives with the autographed balls or mini-helmets.

Let’s bring this hobby favorite back to more products and see what the companies can do with it. It may definitely be worth it to at least try some more new ideas.

Review: 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter

It’s hard to believe but this is my first baseball card review. I love baseball cards and I love baseball. The first cards I ever collected were baseball cards. The first boxes of cards that got me back into the hobby in 2005 were baseball cards. I own more baseball cards then anything else. But I’m happy that 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter is my first baseball review because I have always loved Allen & Ginter since Topps brought it back from the dead in 2006.

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter has brought back the success of previous years in one of the most interesting and beloved sets of the year. From baseball players to famous beards and ships, Allen & Ginter is your source of both America’s past time and oddball cards that you can’t find anywhere else. With tons of minis and different types of short prints, it is a set collectors dream. With a large checklist of both sports and non-sports it is just a sports fan’s dream as well.

Base:

Inserts:

Relics:

Rip Card!!!

Design:

Sometimes practically the same design year after year is a good thing. When you’re going for the nostalgic, old school type set and basing your cards off that set, you still have to pay homage to the past. The sketches of the player with the splash of color in the background is what it has always been and that is classic. No frills or anything fancy here, just solid art work on these cards all around. I’ve always loved what they do with the relics as well and that is to put them in a larger frame that usually has like palm trees or something on it in nice colors. Every autographed card is hard signed and rip cards are fun and easy to rip. Nothing new, but sometimes new isn’t always better. Oh, and the Ascent of Man inserts are absolutely GORGEOUS.

Checklist:

I find this product extremely hard to review as far as the checklist goes. You have all the baseball players you need in this product. There are a number of SPs which is great and Ginter backs and Bazooka backs and black parallels. It’s fun to pull the parallels. The famous beards cards was pretty funny and I love the old school famous ships. Some of the people they chose from the world of entertainment, especially in the autographs area is the hard part though. There are some huge name on there, but also names which make you scratch your head. I might as well sign some cards for Topps if they are letting people like Chuck Woolery or the King of Cornhole. Which begs me to ask Topps to let me have some autographs in Ginter next year. I bet my cards would sell better on the secondary market then Jo Frost because I know what collectors like. My inscriptions would be epic. Just saying. Think Olbermann and Hayhurst combined.

Value:

The autograph ratio compared to relics this year is crazy and collation was terrible. If you are going to decrease the number of autographs then drop the price of the box as that is where things get expensive. The relics while nice, are just the same thing as every other product in baseball and Allen & Ginter in the past. Small relics that won’t fetch much on secondary market unless it’s a top celebrity like Shawn Michaels or Manny Pacquiao. The insert ratio of the major hits inside rip cards has been terrible as well. The product has been out a week and no one has seen a mini autograph or really any wood parallels or sketches yet. I know they are 1/1s and the reds are numbered very low but where are they? Maybe people just aren’t ripping the rip cards?

Overall:

Again, it’s hard to review something so beloved and at the same time such a wide range of different types of cards you can pull. The design is nothing new, but keeping it old is what the product is and you can’t change that for anything. The checklist is both jaw dropping and head scratching at the same time. Again, I’m going to make my play into the market next year as an Allen & Ginter signer because I think mine would be more interesting then half of the people chosen to sign this year. Not many people would know who I am, but I would make it collectible. Seriously, who wants Jo Frost or even knew who Jo Frost was and collected sports cards? Not really the target market. The collation problems and the lack of autographs while maintaining a higher price is kind of a disappointment as well. But there is nothing we can do about that. This product is often sold by the case because of how much people love it.

So here’s a pretty video of me opening my box of 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter and you can see my reactions as I pull cards. This box will also be used for my 2011 Gint-A-Cuffs submission and hopefully I beat a couple other bloggers out there. But I will post more about my score when the scoring rubric is released.

Videos coming up shortly, uploading to the YouTube. You get to see me try and pronounce Penultimacy with my slight stutter. Not a pretty sight.

Preview: 2010-11 Panini Zenith Hockey

Dear hockey collectors,

Do you love rookie cards? Of course you do, especially with this season’s rookie crop. This is the best rookie crop since 2005-06 with the first draft after the lockout. Well 2010-11 Panini Zenith hockey will bring you 200 different rookie cards for this season. Every rookie that took the NHL ice and every backup goalie that sat on the bench will most likely be in this product. That is a lot of rookies.

Your box of Zenith hockey will have 10 packs and 5 cards per pack. You are going to need a TON of boxes if you want to hand collate the entire set. The one really cool feature about this box is the Dare to Rip box topper. I’ve been saying for years that every box of cards should come with some sort of box topper. Box toppers are awesome and companies can really let their creativity flow with the types of cards in there. Well the Dare to Rip is just that. The Dare to Rip box topper can be a regular base card OR an exclusive signed rookie from any Panini product like the unreleased National Treasures or Elite hockey. Personally, I love rip cards as it brings a whole new dimension to opening boxes. You have a decision to make. You could keep it as a collectible if you like what’s on the card, which you will as it’s a rookie or a legend, or you can sell it. But you could also rip it and get something good or just another base card. All I hope for is Panini has taken the steps to avoid some way to determine if there is an autograph in the pack or not.

Panini has been making this the year of the inserts and it continues here with more inserts and parallels. I love inserts so I’m not complaining and I’ve always enjoyed the Zenith inserts. The Red Hot and White Hot parallels look great as always with a shiny, fiery background. In 2005 Zenith baseball I pulled a Ted Williams White Hot and it looks awesome. The same technology to make those is still in use for this set it appears. You will also find 4 short print legends, 1 Crease is the Word insert, 1 Gifted Grinders insert, and 1 Z-RC.

Finally, everyone loves the hits. You will find 3 autographs or memorabilia cards per box with at least 1 being an autograph. One of the coolest autograph hits is the Yours Truly subset with the player on the card and Yours Truly written in beautiful lettering above where the star player signs. It’s a neat idea to bring to the table for autographed cards. A case break seems to contain 4 Yours Truly and 5 autographed rookies which makes me think the 1 autograph will be for most boxes. A great thing about this product is there will be SP rookie autographs of the top rookies numbered to just 199 which should keep them very collectible.

Overall, this looks like a great product for hockey prospectors and rookie collectors as well as if you want to have some fun with the Dare to Rip cards or try pulling one of those nice looking Yours Truly autographs. 2010-11 Panini Zenith hockey releases around July 6th, 2011, with a price tag around $85 for a box.

Yours Truly,

Alexander Ovechkin

PS: To hold you over here is some images from the Panini Peek of Zenith hockey.

(SCB Note: PSS: Need the 2010-11 Panini Zenith hockey checklist? Or how about some good ol’ fashioned 2010-11 Panini Zenith hockey box ripping?)