2018 Topps Finest Baseball Box Break & Review

Its hard to imagine, but there was a time when chrome technology, parallels, and refractors didn’t exist.  Now the hobby thrives on those three key elements.  Completing that rainbow keeps getting more challenging as new, brightly colored pieces of cardboard make their way into products.  A lot of people like to focus their attention on 1993 Topps Finest Baseball as to where chrome cards got their start.  In many ways that is correct, especially when it comes to giving credit to the product that put chrome cards and refractors on the map.  If you dig a little deeper though, another set predates 1993 Topps Finest Baseball that utilizes chrome technology.  I’m talking about 1992 Topps Football’s Finest.  Topps issued this 45-card set in factory set form, and all of the cards contain a chrome finish.  Very few collectors pay attention to this set which is a real shame because the cards look really well done.  Sealed sets can easily be found for under $10.  Prototype cards occasionally show up for sale, and command major dollars.  These prototypes don’t contain the Topps name, have airbrushed logos, and on the back say “Signs and Glassworks, Inc.”

Topps Finest has gone through a lot of changes over the years.  Remember back in the 90’s when so many cards came with those peel-off stickers?  At the heart of it though has always been nicely designed chrome cards, and a wide variety of colored parallels.  Topps continues this tradition with the 2018 incarnation of the Finest brand.  Last year I pulled a monster hit from my box of Finest.  Inside one of the mini-boxes was an Aaron Judge Blue Wave Refractor Auto #’ed/25.  It was pulled in June during all of the madness surrounding him.

Much like previous years, a master box of Finest is made up of two mini-boxes.  Inside each mini-box are six packs.  Every mini-box should come with at least one autograph.  That’s two autographs per master box.

For those collectors who enjoy putting sets together, this base set consists of (100) cards.  Card numbers 101-125 are short prints, and fall 1:28 packs.

In addition to the base set, there are a bunch of inserts to look for such as Finest Careers Die-CutFinest CornerstonesFinest Firsts, and Sitting Red.  All of these have autographs and parallels.  Finest Hour, Finest Mystery Redemptions, and Finest Original Buybacks are all autographs.  The Finest Mystery Redemptions usually turn out to be autographs of players who didn’t have autographs in the product when it shipped out.  I think there is a good chance that Juan Soto, Gleyber Torres, and Ronald Acuna will end up being the three mystery signatures.

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Brandon Woodruff RC
  • Sandy Alcantara RC Red Refractor #’ed/5

Parallels

  • Alex Verdugo RC Red Refractor #’ed/5
  • Raisel Iglesias Purple Refractor #’ed/250
  • Nick Williams RC Refractor
  • Dominic Smith RC Refractor
  • Eric Thames Refractor
  • Carlos Carrasco Refractor

Inserts

  • Amed Rosario RC Finest Firsts
  • Manny Machado Sitting Red
  • Joey Votto Sitting Red
  • Rhys Hoskins RC Cornerstones
  • Carlos Correa Cornerstones
  • Justin Bour Cornerstones
  • Robinson Cano Cornerstones

Rookies

  • Nick Williams
  • J.P. Crawford
  • Rhys Hoskins
  • Lucas Sims
  • Rafael Devers
  • Dominic Smith
  • Nicky Delmonico
  • Brandon Woodruff
  • Austin Hays
  • Jack Flaherty

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2018 Topps Premier League Platinum Soccer Box Break & Review

How about another soccer box?  This time around its a box of 2018 Topps Premier League Platinum.  Between my box of ’18 Topps MLS and ’17/’18 Topps Chrome UEFA Champions League, I’ve seen some decent pulls.  Will the luck continue?  Lets take a look.

A master box is made up of two mini boxes.  Guaranteed inside each mini box is one autograph.  That means there are two autographs per master box.  Also, one of those mini boxes will have a relic card.

The base set consists of (100) cards.  Parallels include Green #’ed/100, Purple #’ed/50, Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/10, and Holographic Foil #’ed 1/1.  Beyond the base set, the card numbers continue with a good number of short prints – Global Star (#101-#140), New Signing (#141-#160), and Icon (#161-#180).  Each of these have Purple parallels #’ed/50, and a FoilFractor #’ed 1/1.

Topps did a wonderful job of designing these cards.  They look really nice.  You don’t see Topps using a lot of foilboard.  Very clean looking too.  I like the plastic feel.  It would be very neat to see a baseball set designed like this.  Even the font used for the serial numbering isn’t what you’d traditionally see.  I think that has a lot to do with these cards being printed in the UK.

Boxes cost about $80.  Considering you receive (96) cards per box, it wouldn’t take that much to complete the base set.  Eric Cantona of Manchester United is a top autograph to pull.  Base autographs sell for $200.  It’s parallels are worth even more.

Even if you’re not that into soccer, products like this are fun to open if you want something different.  I’ve had a lot of luck with them recently.

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Grzegorz Krychowiak
  • Alvaro Morata

Relics

  • Christian Atsu
  • Adam Federici

Parallels

  • Jordan Henderson Purple #’ed/50
  • Heung-Min Son Purple #’ed/50
  • Leighton Baines Green #’ed/100

Icon

  • Matt Ritchie

Global Star

  • Morgan Schneiderlin
  • Chris Lowe
  • Gabriel Jesus
  • Gylfi Sigurdsson

New Signing

  • Mohamed Salah
  • Harry Maguire
  • Wesley Hoedt

2018 Baseball Treasure MLB Coins 3-Pack Break & Review

Wow!  These bring back some memories.  During my early collecting years I remember buying packs of Pinnacle Mint baseball and football cards at my local shop called The Penalty Shot.  Everyone remembers those cards that came with coins.  I had a ton of them.  John Connor and Rick Canale of Baseball Treasure have decided to bring this idea back in what I think is a bigger and better way.

Housed inside each $6.99 pack is (1) baseball coin.  There is (1) player coin made for each MLB team.  Officially licensed by both MLB and the MLBPA.  On the “heads” side you’ll see the portrait, name, and position.  The “tails” side has a career highlight and action shot.

Baseball Treasure minted most of the coins in one-ounce of copper.  Falling about 1:432 packs are rare one-ounce silver coins.  Even rarer, 1:21,600 packs, are special coins redeemable for a one-ounce gold coin of Aaron Judge.  Just to be clear, Aaron Judge is the only player to have a gold coin.  Everyone else only has copper and silver.  It would be neat to see someone complete the Aaron Judge rainbow and own all three coins.  Here is what the redemption card looks like for the Aaron Judge one-ounce gold coin.  By the looks of it a copper coin comes attached to the redemption.  That’s a good idea otherwise the pack with the redemption card in it would feel much lighter making it easier to pick out.

I like the fact the focus is mainly on the coins.  Its also nice that the coins already come inserted within the card.  Having the collector do that can really damage the card.  I did that plenty of times with Pinnacle MintAn album to help store the coins is coming out soon.

For those wondering who all is included in this first series, here is a checklist:

  • José Altuve, Houston Astros
  • Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
  • Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Adrián Beltré, Texas Rangers
  • Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
  • Justin Bour, Miami Marlins
  • Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
  • Robinson Canó, Seattle Mariners
  • Michael Conforto, New York Mets
  • Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics
  • Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
  • Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
  • Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies
  • Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
  • Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
  • Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
  • Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
  • Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox
  • Wil Myers, San Diego Padres
  • Salvador Pérez, Kansas City Royals
  • Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
  • Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
  • Travis Shaw, Milwaukee Brewers
  • Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
  • Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

Here is the result of my 3-pack break:

2018 Topps Major League Soccer Box Break & Review

Lately, soccer products from Topps have been quite solid for me.  Opening this box of 2018 Topps Major League Soccer kept the solid streak going.  For about $70, my box delivered a wide range of nice hits.

The base set is (200) cards strong.  Parallels include Blue #’ed/99, Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/10, and Black #’ed 1/1.  Over the years, Topps has changed the base set design significantly.  Unlike some other soccer products who borrow the Topps baseball flagship design, MLS does it’s own thing.  The design for 2018 encapsulates a majority of the team logos in a diamond shape.  My eyes are immediately drawn to this feature as I think it resembles a window housing a relic.

It wouldn’t be a flagship set if Topps didn’t include some SP Photo Variations.  There is a handful of them, about (14) to be exact.  After doing some research and comparing, I discovered that Topps did in fact use different CMP codes for the variations.  Base cards end in #15 where the variations end in #25.  You’ll find a SP Photo Variation 1:51 packs.  So check those card backs!

Every hobby box should have (2) autographs and (1) jumbo relic.  The regular jumbo relics can have some interesting patches, especially when it comes to the low-numbered parallels.  The patch I pulled looks to be from the letter “O” from “BMO”.  “BMO” stands for Bank of Montreal.  Crests of Honor relics are numbered to (5) and contain some really insane team logo patches too.

Three different inserts can be found – Multi-Dimensional, All-Star, and Throwback Topps.  The Throwback Topps inserts pay tribute to 1988 Topps Baseball.  So do the All-Star cards.

Overall it was a fun break.  Its nice to see an alternative flagship design.  I like that the SP Photo Variations are a little more difficult to pull.  It would take about 2.5 boxes to pull one unless you get really lucky.  Solid break across the board in my opinion.

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Tony Tchani
  • Jeff Larentowicz

Relic

  • Jozy Altidore Jumbo Patch Orange #’ed/25

SP Photo Variation

  • Clint Dempsey #74

Parallels

  • Federico Higuain Orange #’ed/25
  • Seattle Sounders FC Blue #’ed/99
  • Keegan Rosenberry Blue #’ed/99
  • Anibal Godoy Blue #’ed/99

Inserts

  • David Villa Multi-Dimensional
  • Kellyn Acosta Multi-Dimensional
  • Graham Zusi Multi-Dimensional
  • Giovani Dos Santos Multi-Dimensional
  • Johan Kappelhof All-Star
  • Hernan Grana All-Star
  • Graham Zusi All-Star
  • Diego Valeri All-Star
  • Miguel Almiron All-Star
  • Nemanja Nikolic All-Star
  • Kei Kamara Throwback Topps
  • Christian Ramirez Throwback Topps
  • Ethan Finlay Throwback Topps
  • Jordan Morris Throwback Topps

2018 Topps Tier One Baseball Box Break & Review

Its summertime!!!  Baseball is in full swing.  My Phillies are performing much better than last year, but they’re still sitting in third place in the NL East.  For a brief moment they held the top spot, but then quickly dropped back down.  Between the Phillies, Nationals, and Braves first place is up for grabs.  Who knows?  The Marlins could end up winning the whole thing.

During the summer is when I break the most boxes.  This is when a lot of the good stuff comes out.  Sure, during the winter and spring we have products like Series 1Gypsy Queen, and even Tribute, but the products that come out in the summer and fall are my favorites.

The first heavy hitter product of the summer to come from Topps is Tier One.  Tier One is not for the casual collector looking to break a box on a whim.  Its a high risk product.  For around $140 inside each box you should find (2) autographs and (1) relic.  No base set here folks.  100% hits.  Mr. Ohtani only has one type of autograph in Tier One.  All redemptions that come from the Break Out portion of the product.  If he had more in here, I have a feeling boxes would be selling for even higher.

Topps did a nice job with some of the upgraded designs compared to last year’s Tier One.  I really like a lot of the ways they incorporated baseball seams into the cards.  The checkerboard pattern on many of the cards grabs my eye too.  One of the best updates is to the Clear One Autographs.  These are printed on clear acetate and numbered to (10) or less.  Last year these autographs were confined to a clear box.  For 2018, Topps designed them to look as if they’re signed onto the side of a clear baseball.  Way better!

Like pretty much every product released today, its a gamble buying a box with the hopes of pulling something big to get your money back.  Too many products are bashed because of this way of thinking.  If you think a product is too expensive to break alone, pickup some singles of your favorite players on the secondary market.  People need to stop crying and spreading negativity just because they spun the wheel and the marker didn’t land on the right number.  There are lots of ways to enjoy this hobby.

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Jake Lamb Tier One Talent #’ed/245
  • Marwin Gonzalez Prime Performers Redemption

Relic

  • Salvador Perez Tier One Relic #’ed/335

2017/18 Topps Chrome UEFA Champions League Hobby Box Break & Review

G-O-A-L!!!!!!!!!!  As someone who enjoys listening to sports broadcasters, its very entertaining to hear them when a goal is made.  Lots of excitement is in their voice.  Especially when 90 minutes is almost up, and someone finally scores.

Topps Chrome Baseball isn’t due out until later this summer, but if you’d like to see what this year’s flagship design looks like on chrome stock right now, I’d give 2017/18 Topps Chrome UEFA Champions League a peek.  If the baseball set looks anything like these soccer cards, we’re in for a real treat.  Chrome is king, and having a design that transitions over to chrome stock is important.

The main set consists of (99) cards.  Parallels of the base set include Refractor, Purple Refractor #’ed/250, Blue Refractor #’ed/150, Green Refractor #’ed/99, Gold Refractor #’ed/50, Orange Refractor #’ed/25, Red Refractor #’ed/10, and Superfractor #’ed/1.  These parallels are extremely easy to identify and stand out quite a bit.  As you can see, the parallel coloring is not just limited to the card’s border.  The entire background is a solid color.

A handful of top players have photo variations.  Unlike some other products, these are easy to spot.  Lionel Messi, Christian Pulisic, Neymar Jr., Harry Kane, and Cristiano Ronaldo are the only ones in this group.  From what I’ve seen, all photo variations have a refractor-like coloring to them.  All you have to do is hold out the refractors and check the CMP code on the back.  The CMP code for photo variations ends in #8664.

Autographs fall (1) per box.  Traditionally, sticker autographs aren’t the norm when it comes to Topps Chrome, but given that these athletes are all outside the U.S. it was probably the easier way to go.  Base autograph parallels include Blue Refractor #’ed/150, Green Refractor #’ed/99, Gold Refractor #’ed/50, Orange Refractor #’ed/25, Red Refractor #’ed/10, and Superfractor #’ed/1.

Three inserts can be pulled – Award Winners, Future Stars, and Lightning Strike.  Each come with their share of autographs and parallels.  Award Winners are the most difficult to find (1:108 packs).

For under $70, Topps did a nice job with this product.  UEFA and Chrome fans should really enjoy it.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Neymar Jr. Lightning Strike Auto #’ed/10

Parallels

  • Bruno Varela Green Refractor #’ed/99
  • Pizzi Purple Refractor #’ed/250
  • Pique Purple Refractor #’ed/250
  • Jesus Navas Refractor
  • Pique Refractor
  • Diego Reyes Refractor
  • Kyle Walker Refractor
  • Dele Alli Refractor

Inserts

  • Kylian Mbappe Future Stars
  • Marcus Rashford Future Stars
  • Leroy Sane Future Stars
  • Neymar Jr. Lightning Strike
  • Philippe Coutinho Lightning Strike
  • Antoine Griezmann Lightning Strike
  • Gareth Bale Lightning Strike

2018 Bowman Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

Between the Living Set and 2018 Bowman, Topps has been on quite the successful roll.  Those collectors who didn’t get in early on the first few weeks of the Living Set, are now finding themselves in a bidding war for cards like my Rhys Hoskins.  I couldn’t be happier about this.  Its awesome to see cards that aren’t autographed, game-used, or even serial numbered bringing in this kind of cash.  Nobody does these “print on-demand” products better than Topps.  Other companies have tried, but Topps does it the best.  Hopefully there are more Phillies Living Set cards coming down the line.  I’d be all over a Mike Schmidt, Richie Ashburn, Phillie Phanatic, or dare I say Harry Kalas card.  I paid $7.99 for Rhys Hoskins, and they’ve recently been selling for $50-$100.  It might be time to move it to my safe.

Every year there is a new “top rookie” or “major prospect” who’s going to be the next big thing.  This year its Shohei Ohtani.  Collectors are spending many thousands of dollars on him.  Given that Bowman has been “Home Of The Rookie Card” for years, its no surprise that his cards from this product are reaching insane levels.  Base autographs sell for roughly $1,500.  All others just go up from there.  Thomas Fish of Blowout Cards has offered $75,000 for the Ohtani Superfractor Auto #’ed 1/1 when it comes back from BGS a 9.5 or higher.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes back with a BGS Black Label.  That story alone has been circulating the media outlets and drawing lots of attention not only to this product, but the whole hobby in general.  Its fantastic to see the hobby get the spotlight like that.  If you do hit the jackpot and pull an autograph of him, especially from Bowman, I’d move it ASAP.  A lot can happen between now and the end of his career.  Could he go on to be the next Babe Ruth?  Sure.  He could also suffer a career ending injury next week and never play again.  Its a high stakes gamble.  Consider yourself lucky to have pulled one out now.  Don’t push your luck by holding on to it.

Prospecting continues to be a very large part of the industry.  Everyone wants to get in on the ground floor of that possible one day future Hall Of Famer.  Products like BowmanBowman Chrome, and Bowman Draft are still the key brands to do this.  Because of all the attention on Ohtani, 2018 Bowman in particular has been quite popular.  This popularity has carried over to other players.  Topps has gotten extremely lucky over the past few years with so many rookies performing well.  Other top prospects/rookies you’d want to pull include Ronald Acuña, Rhys Hoskins, Hunter Greene, and Luis Robert.

Parallels!!!  Parallels!!!  Parallels!!!  2018 Bowman contains a massive amount of parallels.  Depending on the player, you could have over (50) parallels to chase down.  Forget Skittles, this gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Taste the rainbow.”  Quite the challenge.

Of all the inserts, I’ve got to go with Bowman Sterling as my favorite.  Between 2004 and 2014, Bowman Sterling was a regular high-end standalone baseball set.  Then it disappeared.  Now its back!  From the looks of it, these new Bowman Sterling cards will be inserted throughout other Bowman products this year too.  Parallels include Atomic #’ed/150, Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/5, and Superfractor #’ed 1/1.  Autographs are serial numbered to (99) and have Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/5, and Superfractor #’ed 1/1 parallels.

When it comes to prospecting, there can be a lot of pressure from other collectors about who you should and shouldn’t pickup.  I say collect what you enjoy.  Also, don’t get in over your head.  Modern day sports cards shouldn’t be used as investments.

I think it would be neat to see “print on-demand” exclusive Bowman cards for prospects.  Topps could base them on some of the players featured on that week’s Baseball America’s Hot Sheet.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Adbert Alzolay

Parallels

  • Carter Kieboom Atomic Refractor
  • Evan White Refractor #’ed/499
  • Corbin Burnes Orange Refractor #’ed/25
  • Nate Pearson Bowman Scouts’ Top 100 Orange Refractor #’ed/25

Inserts

  • Clint Frazier Bowman Sterling
  • Jesus Luzardo/A.J. Puk/Paul Blackburn Talent Pipeline
  • Jon Duplantier/Alex Young/Anthony Banda Talent Pipeline
  • Joey Gallo Bowman Birthdays
  • Max Kepler Bowman Birthdays
  • Nick Williams Bowman Birthdays
  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #Bowman Trending
  • Scott Kingery #Bowman Trending
  • Stephen Gonsalves #Bowman Trending
  • Bo Bichette #Bowman Trending
  • Nick Williams ROY Favorites
  • Jack Flaherty ROY Favorites
  • Harrison Bader ROY Favorites
  • Michael Baez Bowman Scouts’ Top 100
  • Luiz Gohara Bowman Scouts’ Top 100
  • Juan Soto Bowman Scouts’ Top 100
  • Sam Travis Bowman Scouts’ Top 100
  • Adam Haseley Bowman Scouts’ Top 100
  • Chance Sisco Bowman Scouts’ Top 100

Notable Prospects/Rookies

  • Shohei Ohtani Bowman RC
  • Rhys Hoskins Bowman RC
  • Hunter Greene Bowman
  • Hunter Greene Bowman Chrome
  • Keibert Ruiz Bowman
  • Keibert Ruiz Bowman Chrome
  • Cristian Pache Bowman Chrome