2018 Topps Luminaries Baseball Box Break & Review

Luminaries is a fairly new high-end product produced by Topps which got released for the first time last year.  When I opened that first box in November my jaw dropped.  Waiting inside was a redemption for a Frank Thomas Autographed Letter Book Card #’ed 1/1.  I did something I usually don’t do with cards that come in encased holders like this.  I broke the seal.  I had to do it in order to access the redemption code.  About a month later it arrived.  Zero problems.  No complaints.  I’ve never had an issue when it comes to Topps and their redemption process.

The 2018 edition of Luminaries is very similar to it’s 2017 counterpart.  Housed inside every box is (1) encased autograph or autographed relic.  Whatever is awaiting you, it’s guaranteed to be numbered to (15) or less.  At almost $200 per box, Luminaries is targeted towards those breakers willing to take a risk.  If you feel that’s too expensive, the secondary market is probably your best option for singles.

Notable rookies, current stars, and retired/Hall of Famers are at the core of the Luminaries checklist.  No minor league prospects here.  The main categories this product focuses on are Hit KingsHome Run Kings, and Masters of the Mound.

When it comes to just the autographs, each of these categories has Red #’ed/10, Blue #’ed/5, and Black #’ed 1/1 parallels.  Hit KingsHome Run Kings, and Masters of the Mound autographed relics all have patch versions with parallels as well.

Luminaries is a quick thrill.  I like the on-card autographs and booklets.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Ozzie Smith Hit Kings #HK-OSM Auto #’ed/15

This is the first Ozzie Smith autograph I’ve pulled.  He has a nice signature that you can actually read.  Back in August he was the Grand Marshal of the 2018 Little League World Series Grand Slam Parade.  His rookie card can be found in the 1979 Topps Baseball set.  Card #116 to be exact.

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2018 Topps Fire Baseball Collector’s Box Break & Review

During the 90’s, we saw some of the most innovative and creative card designs.  Today’s hobby really focuses in on nostalgia.  Classic sets are making a comeback all the time.  Topps Fire never existed in the 90’s, but it looks and feels as if it should have.  That especially goes for the inserts.

Like last year, 2018 Topps Fire is a Target-exclusive set.  Graphic designer and digital artist Tyson Beck is back with all of his fiery creations.  There are three ways to enjoy Topps Fire – Collector’s Box, Value Box Blasters, and Fat Packs.  A Collector’s Box is the closest thing to a traditional hobby box as it guarantees (1) autograph and an additional hit.

A total of (200) cards make up the base set.  Parallels include Blue Chip (Fat Packs), Gold Minted (Value Box Blasters), Flame, Orange #’ed/299, Green #’ed/199, Purple #’ed/99, Magenta #’ed/25, Onyx SSP (Collector’s Box), and Inferno #’ed 1/1 (Collector’s Box).

As I mentioned before, a Collector’s Box is your best bet at pulling any hits.  You can find hits in Value Box Blasters and Fat Packs, but nothing is guaranteed.  You can find single, dual, and triple autographs.  Single autographs have Green #’ed/75, Purple #’ed/50, Magenta #’ed/25, and Inferno #’ed 1/1 (Collector’s Box) parallels.

Your standard relics have the same parallels as the single autographs.  Autograph patches are a difficult pull at 1:518 packs.  These have Blue #’ed/15, Magenta #’ed/10, and Inferno #’ed 1/1 (Collector’s Box) parallels too.

Where this product truly shines the brightest is with it’s inserts.  Topps and Tyson Beck really hit one out of the park here.  Inserts include Cannons, Fired Up, Flamethrowers, Hot Starts, Power Producers, and Speed Demons.  Each has Blue Chip (Fat Packs) and Gold Minted (Value Box Blasters) parallels.

2018 Topps Fire, specifically the inserts, come off as a modern interpretation of what a new 90’s product would look like.  That’s exactly how I would describe it.

Looking for a checklist?

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Harrison Bader RC Auto

Relic

  • Kyle Schwarber Relic

Parallels

  • Ronald Acuña Jr. RC Purple #’ed/99
  • Jake Arrieta Green #’ed/199
  • Mike Moustakas Orange #’ed/299
  • Gleyber Torres RC Orange #’ed/299
  • Garrett Cooper RC Flame
  • Wil Myers Flame
  • Chance Sisco RC Flame
  • Hunter Pence Flame

Inserts

  • Carlos Correa Fired Up
  • Marcell Ozuna Power Producers
  • Miguel Sano Power Producers
  • Tucker Barnhart Cannons
  • Ichiro Cannons
  • Starling Marte Speed Demons
  • Trea Turner Speed Demons
  • Kenley Jansen Flamethrowers
  • Robbie Ray Flamethrowers
  • Jarlin Garcia Hot Starts
  • Jed Lowrie Hot Starts

Blockbuster, Baseball, & Holograms

A video rental store and hologram baseball cards.  Wow!  Talk about two things that can easily describe the 90’s.  Kids born today won’t have any knowledge of what its like to walk into a store and rent a VHS tape.  Those days are long gone thanks to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and every other streaming service.  Disney is the next big player to enter this field.

I have a lot of fond memories of renting videos.  Before the internet became big, you could wander around a video store and discover movies that you had no idea existed.  A couple that come to my mind is the 1966 Batman film based on the show featuring Adam West.  I knew of the show, but never heard about the movie.  The other is that god awful Captain America movie from 1990.  I also remember renting the 2-hour pilot episode of the 1990 The Flash T.V. show.

When it comes to video rental stores, Blockbuster was the big one.  There were smaller mom-and-pop stores, and other chains like West Coast Video.  But Blockbuster was a monster.  Before going defunct in 2013, at one time there were just over 9,000 locations worldwide.  Over half of them were in the U.S.  The corporate stores shutdown when the company went under, but some of the franchise-owned stores remained open.  As of today, there is only one of these stores left in America.  Its located in Bend, Oregon.

In 1994, Blockbuster (along with World Holographics) created three promotional cards for Yankee Stadium, Tiger Stadium, and Comiskey Park.  I came across these cards one day, but could find very little information about them.  World Holographics printed the cards.  As it turns out, they are still in business.  Now they’re called World3D Lenticular Printing.  I sent them an e-mail to see if anyone could shed some light on these cards.  Given that it has been 24 years since they were made, I knew it was a shot in the dark.  I quickly received a response from a Greg Schuman.  Not only does Mr. Schuman work for World3D, he worked on the actual Blockbuster project.  Bullseye!

According to Mr. Schuman, 50,000 copies of each card were printed.  At first they were used as stadium giveaways.  The Yankees, Tigers, and White Sox gave them out to the first 25,000 fans.  The remaining cards found their way to local Blockbuster stores in New York, Detroit, and Chicago.  For about a month, Blockbuster tied those cards in with a video rental for $2.99.  Due to the MLB strike, many were sent back to World Holographics and got destroyed.

Despite many of them ending up in the garbage, all three cards are readily available on the secondary market.  Each can be bought for under $10.  They’re a neat snapshot in time when holograms were all the rage, and a video rental store was a titan.

Unrelated to the Blockbuster promotion, World Holographics also created hologram cards of Dodger Stadium and Roberto Clemente in the 90’s.

FYI – Here is a list of Billboard’s Top 10 video rentals from 1994:

  1. Sleepless In Seattle
  2. Philadelphia
  3. In The Line of Fire
  4. The Pelican Brief
  5. The Fugitive
  6. The Firm
  7. Carlito’s Way
  8. Silver
  9. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  10. Mrs. Doubtfire

Piece of the Game & Monty Sheldon Prepare Baseball Authenticated Masterpieces

Alright you high-end baseball collectors.  Mark your calendars.  On Black Friday, 11/23/18, a new product will be hitting the market.  Sports artist Monty Sheldon has teamed-up with Piece of the Game to bring you Baseball Authenticated Masterpieces.

Only (15) boxes of this product will be produced.  Housed inside each individually numbered, maple and ash box, will be (10) autographed, game-used, and hand-painted baseballs.  These just aren’t foul balls and wild pitch game-used baseballs either.  They’ve included MLB debut balls, triples, doubles, singles, RBI’s, record breaking hits, playoff hits and defensive play baseballs from current MLB superstars, rookies, and Hall of Famers.  Every baseball comes with a MLB hologram certifying that the ball was in fact game-used by that specific player.  Authentication holograms for the autographs and artwork will also be included.  All baseballs are #’ed 1/1.  An example of a historic baseball would be Ronald Acuña Jr.’s first MLB double ball.  That’s in here.  Painted and already autographed.

The checklist features the best of the best.  Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Derek Jeter to just name a few.  Even Babe Ruth is in here.  That’s correct.  You did not misread.  One of these (15) boxes will have an authentic, hand-painted, and autographed Babe Ruth ball.

Main set players will each have (3) different portrait and action baseballs.  Rookie Balls and Dual Balls can also be found.  Rookies include Juan Soto, Gleyber Torres, and Shohei Ohtani.  Dual Balls pair guys like Chipper Jones/John Smoltz, Craig Biggio/Jeff Bagwell, and Xander Boegarts/Mookie Betts.  All hand-painted, game-used, and autographed.

If you attended the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention, you could’ve gotten an early glimpse of these amazing baseballs.  Monty Sheldon has been using baseballs as a medium for his artwork for over two decades.  You’ve probably seen his work in various Topps products.  Last year, (10) of his painted baseballs were used in Topps Transcendent.

Paul Goldschmidt

2018 Topps Chrome Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

From a visual standpoint both 2018 Stadium Club and Topps Chrome take the cake.  Just like Stadium ClubTopps Chrome offers lots to look for and your (2) autographs guaranteed per hobby box don’t have to be the main attraction.  They certainly can be, but with all of the refractors/photo variations you’re bound to pull something in order to help balance things out.

Topps Chrome is a (200) card set that pulls top rookies and veterans featured in Series 1 and Series 2.  If you’re a soccer fan, earlier this year we got to see what the 2018 Topps flagship design looked like on chrome stock with 2017/18 Topps Chrome UEFA Champions League.  I think it translates well, and is always something that needs to be thought about when designing a flagship set.

You can find 2018 Topps Chrome in a few different formats – Hobby boxes, Jumbo boxes, Mega boxes, Blasters, and Value Packs.  Parallels include: Refractor, X-Fractor (Mega Box), Prism, Sepia (Blaster), Pink (Value Packs), Negative, Purple #’ed/299, Blue #’ed/150, Green #’ed/99, Green Wave #’ed/99 (Hobby/Jumbo), Blue Wave #’ed/75 (Hobby/Jumbo), Gold #’ed/50, Gold Wave #’ed/50 (Hobby/Jumbo), Orange #’ed/25 (Hobby), Red #’ed/5, Red Wave #’ed/5 (Hobby/Jumbo), Superfractor #’ed 1/1, and Printing Plates #’ed 1/1.

In addition to the autographs and refractors, photo variations offer another element to chase.  These are fairly easy to identify as the photos used are drastically different.  As usual, I check the CMP code on the backside of the cards.  Base end in #161, whereas the photo variations end in #195.  The one of Aaron Judge is cool because you can clearly see a fan handing him Topps cards to sign.  These too have parallels – Green #’ed/99, Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/5, and Superfractor #’ed 1/1.

Inserts come in the form of 1983 ToppsFreshman FlashFuture Stars, Rookie Debut Medallion, and Superstar Sensations.  Each has their own set of parallels and autographs.

Hobby boxes come with (2) on-card autographs.  Jumbos have (5).

2018 Topps Chrome was released right in time for the National this year.  It was wildly popular.  I remember seeing collectors lined up at the Topps booth early in the morning with cases.  For the last three years, specially made Bowman Chrome cards were used with their wrapper redemption program.  Given that Topps Chrome tends to come out around the time of the National, it would be nice to see exclusive refractors for that set.  That might be cutting it a little too close though.  Topps Chrome could get delayed, and then they’ed be handing out promos for a product that hasn’t been released yet.  All well.  I’m sure collectors wouldn’t mind.

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Brian Anderson RC
  • Jacob Barnes RC Refractor #’ed/499

Parallels

  • Adrian Beltre Orange Refractor #’ed/25
  • Garrett Cooper RC Negative
  • Aaron Altherr Prism
  • Alex Reyes Prism
  • Noah Syndergaard Prism
  • Matt Chapman Prism
  • Gregory Polanco Refractor
  • Jose Berrios Refractor
  • Edwin Diaz Refractor
  • Chris Sale Refractor
  • Brian Dozier Refractor
  • Jon Gray Refractor

Inserts

  • George Springer Superstar Sensations
  • Cody Bellinger Future Stars
  • Keon Broxton Future Stars
  • Trey Mancini Future Stars
  • Manny Machado 1983 Topps
  • Kris Bryant 1983 Topps
  • Clint Frazier RC 1983 Topps
  • Rafael Devers RC 1983 Topps
  • Rafael Devers RC Freshman Flash
  • Harrison Bader RC Freshman Flash

2018 Topps Clearly Authentic Baseball Box Break & Review

Topps introduced us to Clearly Authentic last year.  It quickly became one of my favorite new products, especially after pulling a Don Mattingly Rookie Reprint Auto.  Classic designs, on-card autographs, and acetate card stock can make for some interesting finds.

Housed inside every box of Clearly Authentic is (1) autographed card.  Boxes sell for $50-$60.  For the most part, the card you pull will feature the 2018 Topps flagship design along with a new image of that specific player.  Parallels of these include Green #’ed/99, Black #’ed/75, Red #’ed/50, Blue #’ed/25, Purple #’ed/10, Orange #’ed/5, and Gold #’ed 1/1.

Outside of the flagship design are Salute and MLB Awards.  Both of these have the same parallels as the base – Green #’ed/99, Black #’ed/75, Red #’ed/50, Blue #’ed/25, Purple #’ed/10, Orange #’ed/5, and Gold #’ed 1/1.

Case hits include 1993 Finest StarsReprints, and Legendary autographs.  All vary in serial numbering, but each have a Gold parallel #’ed 1/1.  The Reprints have really caught the eye of collectors, and are my personal favorite cards that you can pull.

I’ve noticed that boxes containing redemptions come with (2) autographs.  That certainly is a nice bonus.

Too many people bash products because what they pull might not get all of their money back.  You’re not thinking correctly if that’s all you want to do.  For some, picking up singles on the secondary market might work better.  Either way lots of collectors can enjoy this product.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Jose Altuve MLB Awards Blue Auto #’ed/25

2018 Topps Museum Collection Baseball Box Break

The two corporate booths that I spent the most time at during the 2018 National were Leaf and Topps.  Panini and Upper Deck weren’t doing anything for me this time around.  When the show opened, many people lined up at the Topps booth in order to secure their spot in order to get some exclusive wrapper redemption packs.  The type of product opened at the booth determined the amount of packs you could receive.  Some people waited hours to participate in this promotion.  I waited for the line to die down, and then checked to see if they were still doing the wrapper redemption program that day.  I didn’t have to wait at all.  My box of 2018 Topps Museum Collection Baseball I purchased at Marty’s Sports Card Exchange got me (2) promo packs.  I’ll be doing another post about what I pulled from those.  It was some cool stuff.  In the meantime, here is what came out of my box.

If you weren’t able to attend, be sure to checkout my Day #1, Day #2, and Day #3 coverage.

Auto/Relic

  • Jacob deGrom Momentous Material Jumbo Patch Auto #’ed/15

Auto

  • Craig Kimbrel Archival Autographs #’ed/299

Relics

  • Aaron Nola Primary Pieces Quad Relics Copper #’ed/75
  • Hunter Pence Meaningful Material Patch Copper #’ed/35

Parallels

  • Clint Frazier RC Ruby #’ed/50
  • Chipper Jones Sapphire #’ed/150
  • Justin Upton Copper
  • Adam Jones Copper

Insert

  • Babe Ruth Canvas Collection Reproduction