2018 Topps Triple Threads Baseball Box Break & Review

Love it or hate it.  Triple Threads has been a staple in the hobby for the last twelve years.  You’ve got to admire that type of lasting power.  Just think about how many other products have come and gone within that time.  Its a lot.

I’m a fan of Triple Threads.  Always will be.  The first time I opened a pack was way back in 2007.  This is when the packs came in that crazy triangle shape.  It was during my first trip to the National Sports Collectors Convention.  That year it was held at what has become my favorite location, the I-X Center in Cleveland.  While browsing the show floor, I came across Dave & Adam’s Card World.  They were selling Triple Threads by the pack, and I decided to take a shot.  Taking it over to the food court, I opened it while devouring a hot dog.  To my surprise, waiting inside that pack was a Dwight Gooden/Tom Seaver/Roger Clemens Triple Auto Relic #’ed 1/1.  Talk about a tremendous hit that made my first National even more memorable.  I know that I’ve told this story before, but its something that I like to do while busting my annual Triple Threads box.

Triple Threads has and always will be about the hits.  There is a nice looking base set to put together.  It consists of (100) cards, and has the following parallels: Amethyst #’ed/299, Emerald #’ed/259, Amber #’ed/199, Gold #’ed/99, Onyx #’ed/50, Sapphire #’ed/25, Ruby #’ed 1/1, and Printing Plates #’ed 1/1.  All veterans and retired stars.

Like I said before, Triple Threads is 100% hit driven.  Its always been a high-end, hobby-exclusive product.  We’ll never see a retail version.  Each box comes with (2) mini-boxes.  Inside each mini-box you should find (1) autograph and (1) relic card.  Plus (2) parallels.  A master-box should cost around $200.

Rookies, veterans, and retired stars/Hall of Famers highlight the hits.  There is an endless amount of autographs, jerseys, patches, cut signatures, and booklets that you can get.  Its the beating heart of Triple Threads.  The fact is, if you enjoyed this brand for the last twelve years you’re most likely going to have fun with it again in 2018.

The windows housing many of the relics spell out interesting (at times funny) tidbits about that specific player.  I’d like to see some specially made Triple Threads cards for the National Sports Collectors Convention.  Relic windows could easily be made to spell out “NSCC”.  I could see these as high-end giveaways at the Topps booth or what collectors receive during the Q&A session.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto/Relics

  • Justin Bour Triple Threads Autograph Single Jumbo Relic #’ed/99
  • Tom Glavine Triple Threads Autograph Relic Gold #’ed/9

Relics

  • Wil Myers Triple Threads Single Jumbo Relic Silver #’ed/27
  • Aroldis Chapman/Gary Sanchez/Masahiro Tanaka Triple Threads Relic Combo Emerald #’ed/18

Parallels

  • Don Mattingly Gold #’ed/99
  • Evan Longoria Amethyst #’ed/299
  • Adrian Beltre Emerald #’ed/259
  • Albert Pujols Emerald #’ed/259

Base

  • (2) Noah Syndergaard
  • Roberto Clemente
  • Johnny Bench
  • Ryne Sandberg
  • Byron Buxton

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2018 Topps High Tek Baseball Box Break & Review

Acetate stock, on-card autographs, and a quick-thrill (1) pack per box configuration.  Yes please.  Sign me up!

Don’t let the (1) pack fool you.  2018 Topps High Tek is for both fast ripping thrill seekers, and collectors looking to complete that ultimate rainbow.  At first glance the patterns and parallels can be mind bending, but after awhile you’ll understand how things flow.

(112) cards make up the base set.  The National League and American League each have (4) distinct levels of pattern rarities.  Patterns 1-4 will look a certain way for NL players, while AL players will have their own set of patterns.  #1 is the easiest, while #4 traditionally is the most difficult.

Packaged inside every (1) pack box are (40) cards.  Yes, I said (40).  That’s quite a brick.  When breaking down the pack, you should find Rainbow Foils, Magma Diffractors, Orbit Diffractors, and Galactic Diffractors.  Each of these have their own parallels:

  • Rainbow Foil – Blue #’ed/150, Green #’ed/99, Black #’ed/50, Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/10, Gold #’ed 1/1
  • Magma Diffractor – Green #’ed/99, Black #’ed/50, Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/10, Gold #’ed 1/1
  • Orbit Diffractor – Black #’ed/50, Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/10, Gold #’ed 1/1
  • Galactic Diffractor – Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/10, Gold #’ed 1/1

(5) players – Aaron Judge, Kris Bryant, Mariano Rivera, Mike Trout, and Shohei Ohtani have Black & White Image Variations #’ed/50.  You can also find Gold SpecTEKular Diffractors of these #’ed 1/1.  From the looks of it, the parallels only apply to the first pattern.  In other words, you won’t find an Orange Orbit Diffractor #’ed/25 featuring the NL or AL third pattern.

In the middle of the 40-card brick is all the good stuff.  Every box should come with (2) on-card autographs.  You’re most likely going to get (2) autographs from the High Tek Autograph checklist.  Parallels include Green #’ed/99, Blue #’ed/75, Black Orbit Diffractors #’ed/50, Orange Orbit Diffractors #’ed/25, Red Orbit Diffractors #’ed/10, and Gold SpecTEKular Diffractors #’ed 1/1.  All of them feature either the NL or AL first pattern.  No autograph will come on patterns 2-4.  Having parallels and autographs for each pattern would be way too much.

Other autographs besides the High Tek ones that you can pull include Black & White Image VariationsPortraiTEKPyroTEKnicsRookie TEK, and Tek Buybacks.  All of these except the Tek Buybacks have non-autographed inserts.

Its a lot to take in.  This product is heavily concentrated with patterns and parallels.  If you feel like busting a box and focusing on just the autographs and parallels, that’s perfectly fine.  Despite patterns 2-4 being more rare, they don’t command too much more on the secondary market.

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Mark McGwire
  • J.D. Davis RC

Parallels

  • Whit Merrifield Rainbow Foil Orange #’ed/25
  • David Ortiz Orbit Diffractor Black #’ed/50
  • Pedro Martinez Rainbow Foil Green #’ed/99
  • Kris Bryant Rainbow Foil Blue #’ed/150
  • Johnny Bench Galactic Diffractor
  • Byron Buxton Orbit Diffractor
  • Aaron Altherr Orbit Diffractor
  • Bernie Williams Magma Diffractor
  • Paul Goldschmidt Magma Diffractor
  • Jordan Luplow RC Magma Diffractor

Notable Patterns

  • Mike Trout #4
  • J.D. Davis #4
  • Tomas Nido RC #4
  • Carlos Santana #4

2018 Topps Update Series Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

Whenever Update rolls around the Frank Sinatra song “My Way” starts to play in my head.  It marks the end of the current flagship design.  I’m a fan of the pixelated-look Topps went with this year.  It translated well over to Chrome.

Update Series showcases players in their new uniforms, and rookies who didn’t make it into Series 1 or Series 2.  A hobby box comes with (1) autograph or relic, and costs just under $60.  Jumbos yield (1) autograph and (2) relics, with a cost of a little over $100.  As usual, retail options are also available.

(300) cards make up the base set.  Parallels include: Rainbow Foil (1:10) packs, Gold #’ed/2018, Vintage Stock #’ed/99, Independence Day #’ed/76, Black #’ed/67 (Hobby/Jumbo), Mother’s Day Hot Pink #’ed/50, Father’s Day Powder Blue #’ed/50, Memorial Day Camo #’ed/25, Negative (Hobby/Jumbo), Platinum #’ed 1/1, and Printing Plates #’ed 1/1.  (100) cards have Clear parallels #’ed/10.

There can’t be a Topps product like this without SP and SSP variations.  2018 Topps Update Series has a ton.  CMP codes can easily help you identify them.  SPs end in #30, while SSPs end in #32.  Autograph variations also exist.  My favorite variation is that of card #107.  Normally this card is of Craig Kimbrel, but for some lucky breakers #107 will feature the Rally Goose.  This bird means business.  Examples sell for $30-$75.

Inserts are plentiful.  You’ve got 1983 Topps Baseball 35th Anniversary, 2018 Hall of Famer Highlights, An International Affair, Bryce Harper Highlights, Don’t Blink, Legends in the Making, Postseason Preeminence, Storybook Endings, and Topps Salute.  All have Blue, Black, Gold, Red, and Platinum parallels along with autographed counterparts.  Those Don’t Blink inserts look really cool.

Lots of high-end hits can be pulled, but that’s not the main reason why you bust this product.  Most of the time your hit will be a one-color relic.  Its mainly targeted towards set collectors.

Here is what I pulled:

Relic

  • Carlos Correa MLB Postseason 2017 Logo Manufactured Patch Gold #’ed/99

SP

  • J.D. Martinez #195

Parallels

  • Dereck Rodriguez RC Mother’s Day Hot Pink #’ed/50
  • Nick Markakis Gold #’ed/2018
  • Francisco Liriano Gold #’ed/2018
  • Tyler Skaggs Gold #’ed/2018
  • Tommy Pham Rainbow Foil
  • Kyle Schwarber Rainbow Foil
  • Sam Gaviglio Rainbow Foil
  • Denard Span Rainbow Foil

Inserts

  • Whit Merrifield Don’t Blink
  • Tim Raines Don’t Blink
  • Honus Wagner Don’t Blink
  • Mookie Betts Don’t Blink
  • Shohei Ohtani An International Affair
  • Ozzie Albies An International Affair
  • Jose Altuve An International Affair
  • Gift Ngoepe An International Affair
  • Jose Quintana An International Affair
  • Freddy Peralta RC Salute
  • Edwin Encarnacion Salute
  • Juan Soto RC Salute
  • Cal Ripken Jr. Salute
  • Scott Kingery RC Salute
  • Willson Contreras Salute
  • Didi Gregorius Salute
  • Joe Morgan Salute
  • Rod Carew Salute
  • Andy Pettitte Storybook Endings
  • Cal Ripken Jr. Storybook Endings
  • Jackie Robinson Storybook Endings
  • Chipper Jones Storybook Endings
  • Sandy Koufax Storybook Endings
  • Aaron Judge 1983 Topps Baseball 35th Anniversary
  • Patrick Corbin 1983 Topps Baseball 35th Anniversary
  • Mitch Haniger 1983 Topps Baseball 35th Anniversary
  • Willy Adames RC 1983 Topps Baseball 35th Anniversary
  • Christian Yelich 1983 Topps Baseball 35th Anniversary
  • Jack Flaherty 1983 Topps Baseball 35th Anniversary
  • Steven Souza Jr. 1983 Topps Baseball 35th Anniversary
  • Johnny Cueto 1983 Topps Baseball 35th Anniversary
  • Scott Kingery RC 1983 Topps Baseball 35th Anniversary

2018 Topps Archives Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

OMG!  Darth Vader played baseball with Babe Ruth?  That’s exactly what went through my mind when I found out that Mr. Mertle (James Earl Jones) from The Sandlot also voiced Darth Vader from Star Wars.  Its funny the things you find out as a kid, and don’t initially put together at first.  The same thing happened when I discovered that Batman and Beetlejuice were both played by Michael Keaton.  It was a total mind blower!

Nostalgia is wildly popular in today’s world of sports cards.  No brand better represents that than Archives.  The 2018 version of Archives focuses heavily on the 1959, 1977, and 1981 baseball set designs.  (300) cards make up the base set.  An additional (20) cards are tacked on the end, and numbered 301-320.  These come in the form of 1959 Topps Combo, and 1977 Topps Turn Back the Clock cards.

The base set 1-300 has a slew of various parallels.  First off you have the basics – Purple #’ed/175, Silver #’ed/99, Blue #’ed/25 (Hobby), and Gold Foil #’ed 1/1.  Then come the subset parallels that are a bit more difficult to spot.  Cards in the 1959 design can have a no signature or Venezuelan (Grey Back) parallel.  1977 cards have a no signature parallel.  Finally, 1981 cards can be found with an alternative Topps logo.

Photo variations do have a part in 2018 Topps Archives, but they only apply to (9) cards.  1959 – Aaron Judge #31, Shohei Ohtani #50, and Kris Bryant #100.  1977 – Amed Rosario #108, Clayton Kershaw #150, and Derek Jeter #200.  1981 – Roberto Clemente #201, Ernie Banks #202, and Bryce Harper #300.  Simply check the CMP code on any of these players.  If any of them end in #326, you’ve got yourself a photo variation.

Archives is all about the autographs.  Every hobby box should have (2).  Along with all the big name rookies and legends, Archives is known for having autographs of obscure retired players who you just don’t see that much.  In some cases this is the only product you’ll ever see them have autographs.  I’ve said this for a long time, but as a Phillies fan it would be great to see Larry Andersen receive an autograph in here.  This is the perfect product for him to popup in.  Phillies pitcher and card collector Pat Neshek got some autographs.  He’s had autographs before, but not for a long time.

2018 marks the 25th anniversary of The Sandlot.  Its been a long time since I’ve seen it, but that movie is very good.  Autographs from key cast members can be pulled.  These have been crazy popular.  I’m surprised we didn’t get one of James Earl Jones.  This isn’t the first time Topps has made cards commemorating a classic baseball movie.  In the past they’ve done Bull Durham and Major League.  A League Of Their Own should be next.  Think of all the celebrities who were in that – Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell.  What other baseball movies would you like them to make cards for?

Inserts come in the form of The Sandlot commemorative cards, Topps Rookie History1981 Topps Future Stars Trios1993 Coming Attraction, and 1980s Coins (blaster).

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Adam Kennedy Fan Favorites Auto
  • Rhys Hoskins 1993 Coming Attraction RC Blue Auto #’ed/25

Parallels

  • Clayton Kershaw Topps Rookie History Green #’ed/50 – I believe this is an error.  Green is suppose to be #’ed/99, while Blue is #’ed/50.
  • Luis Castillo Purple #’ed/175
  • Monte Irvin Silver #’ed/99

Inserts

  • Dave Winfield Topps Rookie History
  • Mike Piazza Topps Rookie History
  • Nick Williams 1993 Coming Attraction
  • Clint Frazier 1993 Coming Attraction
  • Dominic Smith 1993 Coming Attraction
  • Miguel Andujar 1993 Coming Attraction
  • Acuna/Albies/Gohara 1981 Topps Future Stars Trios
  • Robles/Stevenson/Fedde 1981 Topps Future Stars Trios
  • Hays/Sisco/Scott 1981 Topps Future Stars Trios
  • Hamilton “Ham” Porter The Sandlot
  • Timmy Timmons The Sandlot
  • Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez The Sandlot

2018 Topps Gold Label Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

Its not Bronze Label.  Its not Silver Label.  Its Gold Label.  Topps first introduced us to Gold Label in 1998.  Between 1998 and 2002 it was a regular release.  Then it took a long break before Topps brought it back a few years ago.  Gold Label is structured, and reminds me a lot of Fleer’s Flair Showcase.

The 2018 Topps Gold Label set consists of (300) cards.  There are only (100) players, but each one has multiple cards among the three classes – Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3.  Class 1 cards are the easiest to pull, and Class 3 are the most difficult.

Among Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3, there are (4) parallels you need to watch for.  They are Black, Blue, Red, and Gold.

Black

  • Class 1 – 1:2 packs
  • Class 2 – 1:6 packs
  • Class 3 – 1:20 packs

Blue

  • Class 1 – #’ed/150
  • Class 2 – #’ed/99
  • Class 3 – #’ed/50

Red

  • Class 1 – #’ed/75
  • Class 2 – #’ed/50
  • Class 3 – #’ed/25

Gold

  • Class 1 – #’ed 1/1
  • Class 2 – #’ed 1/1
  • Class 3 – #’ed 1/1

Packed inside every box is (1) Framed Autograph, Golden Great Autograph Relic, or MLB Legends Relic.  I like the on-card autographs, and metal frames.  Those two together make for some classy looking cards.

Maybe its just my eyes, but I had a difficult time telling the base apart from the black parallels.  The coloring isn’t that much different.  Having them serial numbered would have helped.

If you’re both a set collector and someone who enjoys the thrill of a quick break, Gold Label might take care of that fix.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Alex Verdugo RC Auto

Parallels

  • Don Mattingly – Class 1 Red #’ed/75
  • Ted Williams – Class 1 Blue #’ed/150
  • Eric Hosmer – Class 2 Black
  • Paul Goldschmidt – Class 1 Black
  • Trey Mancini – Class 1 Black
  • David Ortiz – Class 1 Black
  • Greg Maddux – Class 1 Black

Notable Base

  • Cal Ripken Jr. – Class 3
  • Miguel Sano – Class 3
  • Aaron Judge – Class 3

2018 Topps Heritage Minor League Baseball Box Break & Review

There are a lot more minor league baseball teams than major league ones.  Its a fact.  Minor league teams can be found all over the country.  Some are literally in people’s backyard.  That level of closeness can produce a dedicated amount of fans who attend their hometown team’s games on a regular basis.

Topps produces two minor league products per year.  I believe its part of their exclusive agreement with MLB.  Pro Debut comes first and then Heritage Minor League Baseball.  This version of Heritage Minor League Baseball showcases some of MiLB’s best prospects in the 1969 Topps Baseball design.

The main set consists of (200) cards.  Subsets include Topps News All-Stars and League Leaders.  Card numbers 201-220 are short prints.  Not only can the short prints be identified by their card number, but they state “Short Print” on the back.  Six parallels can be pulled – Glossy (box topper pack), Blue #’ed/99, Magenta Back, Black #’ed/50, Team Color Change #’ed/25, and Red #’ed 1/1.  The parallels DO NOT apply to the short prints.

Variations make a return.  These come in the form of image and circle color variations.  You can use the CMP codes to locate them.  Image variations end in #482, while the circle color end in #483.  Its even easier though if you look just beneath the card number.  They’re now labeled either “Image Var.” or “Color Var.”

Every single box comes with (1) autograph and (1) relic.  Royce Lewis, Brendan McKay, and Hunter Greene each have image variation autographs #’ed/50.  For the most part, your autograph will be a Real One Autograph.  These come in Blue #’ed/99, Black #’ed/50, Team Color Change #’ed/25, and Red #’ed 1/1 parallels.  Other autographs include Dual Autographs1969 Deckle Edge Autographs1969 Mint Coin Relic Autographs, and Bazooka Autographs.

You’re likely relic will come from the Clubhouse Collection which has Blue #’ed/99, Black #’ed/50, Orange Patch #’ed/25, and Red Patch #’ed 1/1 versions.  Others include 1969 Mint Coin Relics.

The 1969 Collector Cards/Transogram and Deckle Edge cards highlight the inserts.  Back in 1969, those Transogram cards had to be hand-cut off a box that housed an action figure.  Having those figures return would have been neat.

As I mentioned when I opened my Pro Debut box, it would be cool to see retired stars/Hall of Famers thrown in here.  Especially since its a retro set.  Tracking down minor league uniforms of those older players for relic cards probably wouldn’t be the easiest though.  But base, parallels, inserts, and autographs could be done.

Cards of Phillies prospects Kyle Young #130 and Spencer Howard #52 are my favorite.  The photos were taken at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, PA.  Its a ballpark I frequently attend during the summer to watch the Crosscutters.  They have great bobblehead giveaways.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Drew Ellis Real One Auto

Relic

  • Domingo Acevedo Clubhouse Collection Relic

Parallels

  • Zack Burdi Team Color Change #’ed/25
  • Royce Lewis Glossy #185
  • Franklyn Kilome Glossy #104
  • Brendan Rodgers Glossy #136

Short Prints

  • Michel Baez #210
  • Alec Hansen #204
  • Adrian Morejon #209

Inserts

  • Tim Tebow 1969 Collector Cards/Transogram
  • Nick Senzel 1969 Collector Cards/Transogram
  • Corey Ray 1969 Collector Cards/Transogram
  • Jose Albertos 1969 Deckle Edge (Black/White)
  • Jorge Mateo 1969 Deckle Edge (Black/White)
  • Estevan Florial 1969 Deckle Edge (Black/White)
  • Fernando Tatis Jr. 1969 Deckle Edge (Black/White)

2018 Topps Archives Signature Series Retired Player Edition Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

2018 Topps Archives Signature Series Retired Player Edition.  Wow!  That’s quite a mouthful.  Buybacks are awesome.  Especially when you have a company like Topps who has such a rich history of classic sets to choose from.  I don’t think a buyback product such as this could exist without that long history to draw upon.

Round #2 of this brand covers a wide array of retired stars and Hall of Famers.  Back in July we got the version full of active players.  Its a very quick-thrill box to bust.  A single box costs just under $40 and contains (1) encased buyback autograph.  Players have multiple buybacks with each varying in numbering.  Cards can be numbered anywhere from (1) to (99) copies.  Signed relics and special buyback autographs of deceased players can also be pulled.

As I mentioned before, Topps dives deep into their vault and gets these players to sign lots of neat stuff.  Not just cards from the mainstream sets either.  Its not uncommon to find Topps cards that were made for Kay Bee Toys, Toys “R” Us, and even Cap’n Crunch cereal.  Any set can bring back memories, but sometimes these really make collectors feel nostalgic.  And that’s a feeling that drives the industry today.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Bo Jackson ’89 Topps Royals Leaders #789 Buyback Auto #’ed 1/1

When it comes to opening boxes, I’ve had a lot of luck this year.  This card goes right up there with some of my other awesome pulls.  Bo Jackson is one of the greatest athletes of all-time.  If he hadn’t gotten hurt, there is a good chance he would’ve made it into both Canton and Cooperstown.  I like that Topps chose this card for him to sign.  Bo Jackson’s name isn’t anywhere on the card other than his signature.  ’89 Topps featured these “Team Leaders” cards.  On the back they list batting and pitching leaders from the previous year.  The person pictured on the front doesn’t necessarily have to be mentioned on the card.  It makes for a nice conversation piece.  You couldn’t ask for a better picture.  And no.  That isn’t a picture of Bo Jackson throwing out Harold Reynolds at home plate.  That game was played inside the Kingdome where Bo wouldn’t have needed sunglasses.