Card of the Day: Shohei Otani 2017 Bowman Chrome Mega Box Prospect Refractor #31

Advertisements

2017 Topps Clearly Authentic Box Break & Review

I’m a risk taker.  Boxes with one card inside don’t frighten me.  In fact, this type of configuration is what I prefer.  If you’re a baseball collector and enjoy quick thrill products, 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic is probably right for you.

Once again Topps has tapped into their flagship brand design.  This time it comes with a massive twist.  Every card is printed on clear acetate.  On-card autographs are a big draw too.  When opening a box you have a few different options of cards that can be pulled.

(82) cards make up the main set and feature the 2017 Topps flagship look.  Photos of the players have been changed compared to the flagship set.  The base autographs aren’t serial numbered, but the parallels certainly are.  Parallels include Green #’ed/99, Red #’ed/50, Blue #’ed/25, and Gold #’ed/1.

Outside of the base set and it’s corresponding parallels, the only other type of card you can pull are the reprint autographs.  These are AWESOME!!!  You’ll find them 1:10 boxes which means two come per case.  The reprint autographs showcase classic Topps designs printed on acetate.  For the most part, this portion of the set is for retired stars and Hall of Famers.  But a few current players have been thrown in.  This is by far my favorite part of this product, especially when it comes to the rookie reprints.  All of the base versions of these cards have serial numbering that varies.  They also have Gold parallels #’ed/1.  Its entertaining to see how much more collectors are willing to spend on an acetate reprint autograph.  Rarer cards from other products in some cases don’t even come close to the price level of these cards.  That just goes to show you how important the design of a card really is.  Although it might not be as rare as another card, people will spend more for something that looks really cool.

Box prices are under $60.  I personally don’t have a problem with that.  Whenever you have a product with that type of pricing and there is a guaranteed autograph per box, you’re bound to find many common autographs.  That’s just how it goes.  Every single autograph looks great.  You can’t go wrong with an all on-card autograph acetate set.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Don Mattingly Clearly Authentic Rookie Reprint Auto #’ed/110

2017 Topps Chrome Baseball Box Break & Review

Collectors enjoy chrome-based rookies.  That’s no shocker.  2017 has had one of the best MLB rookie classes.  Aaron Judge may have calmed down a bit, but his cards continue to bring in top dollars.  Dodgers fans have had a blast watching Cody Bellinger go yard night after night.  Chrome is king!  Its interesting to see how much more someone is willing to spend on an unnumbered Chrome base rookie autograph compared to something similar from another product.  That player’s Chrome rookie almost always comes out on top.

The Topps design team has to think long and hard about the design of their classic flagship brand.  Its something that collectors will see all year across at least four different products.  One aspect that needs to be considered is how that design will convert over to Chrome stock.  Especially when it comes to distinguishing between the array of colored parallels.  Trust me, there are a lot of parallels to pull.

You’ll find (200) cards make up the base set.  Everything in this product has it’s share of parallels.  The photo variations are easy to spot as the most common versions have a refractor-like finish.  To be 100% sure whether or not you have a photo variation checking the CMP code can help.  Photo variation’s CMP code end in #57 versus base with #25.

If you weren’t familiar with 1987 Topps Baseball, by the end of this year you definitely will be.  That classic design has been everywhere in celebration of it’s 30th anniversary.  Chrome versions of these cards look awesome especially when it comes to the parallels and on-card autographs.

My favorite cards out of the entire product are the Then & Now inserts.  These came out nice and designing them horizontally was the way to go.  I’ve always enjoyed seeing older cards pictured on newer ones.  The parallels and on-card autographs of these really standout.

Topps has already unveiled what the 2018 flagship design will look like.  The wave by the team logo is cool and the pixels breaking apart looks neat.  An insert set featuring pixel-themed player images would be fun.  Making players look like characters from a retro Nintendo game would really bring back some memories.

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Brett Phillips RC Refractor Auto #’ed/499
  • Seth Lugo RC Auto

Parallels

  • Eduardo Rodriguez Negative Refractor
  • Brad Ziegler Purple Refractor #’ed/299
  • Gavin Cecchini RC Prism Refractor
  • Ryan Braun Prism Refractor
  • Ivan Nova Prism Refractor
  • Chris Owings Prism Refractor
  • Ryan Schimpf Refractor
  • Anthony Rizzo Refractor
  • Yoan Moncada RC Refractor
  • Kris Bryant Refractor
  • Joe Mauer Refractor
  • Andrew Toles RC Refractor
  • Chad Pinder RC Refractor
  • Kenley Jansen Refractor

Inserts

  • Matt Carpenter Bowman Chrome Then & Now #19
  • Alex Bregman Freshman Flash #10
  • Luke Weaver Freshman Flash #16
  • Willson Contreras Future Stars #2
  • Nomar Mazara Future Stars #8
  • Francisco Lindor Future Stars #10
  • Manny Machado 1987 Topps #4
  • Yoan Moncada 1987 Topps #20
  • Francisco Lindor 1987 Topps #11
  • Jacob deGrom 1987 Topps #21

Notable Rookies

  • Yoan Moncada #75

2017 Topps Allen & Ginter Box Break & Review

If any product were to go out on a limb and create a card containing the piece of Aaron Judge’s chipped tooth, Allen & Ginter would be the one to do it.  Collectors and the media would go nuts.  I’d buy it, extract the DNA, clone my very own Aaron Judge, and ride his coattails to fame and fortune.  This sounds like a scheme only Lex Luthor could pull off.

Allen & Ginter is one of the most popular sets released each year.  With rookies such as Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger performing so well, even more attention is being given to this brand.  Both have autographs in here, although they are redemptions.  None of them should take that long to get.  I’ve had nothing but good experience when it comes to Topps redeeming my cards.  Cody Bellinger was called-up a little late for Topps to include anything else other than redemptions for autographs.  Aaron Judge on the other hand has a lot more.  Not only does he have autographs, you can find base, minis, relics, and rip cards of him.  Plain, one-color, unnumbered relics of his are currently selling for about $40.  Its insane!  You could pickup a lot of Hall Of Famer relics for that price.  Non-ripped rip cards of Judge are #’ed/60, and range anywhere from $350 -$600.  Although expensive, if Judge’s cards were to fall in value these might not take as big of a hit due to there still being an exclusive unknown mini card sealed inside.

One thing Allen & Ginter is known for is it’s oddities.  Outside of the baseball autographs, Floyd Mayweather is probably the most popular.  William Shatner and Sarah Michelle Gellar aren’t far behind.  MySpace may never be what it once was, but even Tom Anderson got an autograph.

Fictional FiguresGems, and Ancient Fossils really showoff Allen & Ginter’s oddball relic side.

Fictional Figures:

  • Easter Bunny
  • Leprechaun
  • Neptune
  • Santa Claus – What do you mean he’s a fictional character?
  • Sasquatch
  • Unicorn
  • Vampire
  • Yeti

Gems and Ancient Fossils:

  • Amethyst
  • Crystal
  • Dinosaur Bone
  • Dinosaur Tooth
  • Gold
  • Lightning Strike
  • Meteorite – Probably infected with alien parasite 🙂
  • Peridot
  • Sapphire
  • Shark Tooth
  • Shark Tooth
  • Tourmaline
  • Woolly Mammoth – Furry elephants!

This product remains one of Topps most fun and creative to open.  You never know what you’re going to find.  If Topps decides not to make special Stadium Club promos for next year’s National, I’d like to see them return to Allen & Ginter.  An actual Allen & Ginter themed card based on the I-X Center itself would be cool.  Cards trigger memories.  Many memories are made during the National.

Here is what I pulled:

Relics

  • Manny Machado #FSRA-MM Relic
  • Corey Kluber #FSRB-CKL Relic
  • Kris Bryant Mini Framed #MR-KB Relic

Auto

  • Tom Rinaldi Mini Framed #MA-TR Auto

Short Prints

  • Drew Pomeranz #321
  • Trey Mancini #301
  • Matt Moore #341
  • Brian McCann #343
  • Braden Shipley #342
  • Jeff Bagwell #350
  • Justin Turner #322
  • Seung-Hwan Oh #337
  • Kenley Jansen #336
  • Stephen Vogt #338
  • Corey Dickerson #331

Mini Parallels

  • Frank Thomas #144
  • Ollie Schniederjans #127
  • Luke Weaver #242
  • Andrew Miller #238
  • Reynaldo Lopez #339
  • Marcell Ozuna #306
  • Christian Yelich #282
  • Jorge Alfaro #288
  • Garrett Richards #16
  • Jose Altuve #184
  • Cal Ripken Jr. #74
  • Corey Bellemore #12
  • Dave Winfield Black Border #85
  • Randy Johnson Black Border #279
  • Brandon Crawford Black Border #310
  • Wesley Bryan A&G Back #163
  • Khris Davis A&G Back #244
  • Kirby Smart A&G Back #179
  • Sean Manaea A&G Back #106
  • Jurickson Profar A&G Back #202

Inserts

  • Robert Heller Magicians & Illusionists Mini #MI-14
  • Bust A Move Waltz Dance Mini #BAM-14
  • World’s Dudes Conductor Dude Mini #2
  • World’s Dudes Fisherman Dude Mini #43
  • Terry Leach 1993 Rediscover Topps Bronze Foil #443
  • Jason Bay 2006 Rediscover Topps Bronze Foil #220
  • Chad Kreuter 1990 Rediscover Topps Silver Foil #562
  • Rick Leach 1989 Traded Rediscover Topps Silver Foil #68T
  • Revolutionary Battles – Battle Of Trenton #RB-5
  • Revolutionary Battles – Surrender Of General Burgoyne #RB-7
  • Revolutionary Battles – Battle Of Guilford Court House #RB-9
  • Sport Fish & Fishing Lures – Trout & Flies #SFL-7
  • Sport Fish & Fishing Lures – Bass & Hula Popper #SFL-4
  • Sport Fish & Fishing Lures – Barracuda & Jerkbait #SFL-19
  • Sport Fish & Fishing Lures – Bluefin Tuna & Metal Jigs #SFL-15
  • Sport Fish & Fishing Lures – Redfish & Jerkbait #SFL-10
  • World’s Fair – Solar Generator #WF-13
  • World’s Fair – Life Savers Parachute Jump #WF-1
  • World’s Fair – Space Needle #WF-11
  • World’s Fair – Diesel Engine #WF-7
  • World’s Fair – Conical Pendulum Clock #WF-10
  • What A Day! – Corey Kluber #WAD-85
  • What A Day! – David Ortiz #WAD-62
  • What A Day! – Gary Sanchez #WAD-40
  • What A Day! – Troy Tulowitzki #WAD-70
  • What A Day! – Don Mattingly #WAD-56
  • What A Day! – Jacob deGrom #WAD-97
  • What A Day! – Chris Sale #WAD-4
  • What A Day! – Chipper Jones #WAD-46
  • What A Day! – David Price #WAD-9
  • What A Day! – Byron Buxton #WAD-95
  • What A Day! – David Wright #WAD-55
  • Bryce Harper Box Loader #BL-BH

2017 Topps Stadium Club Baseball Box Break & Review

We live in a very “hit” driven time within the hobby.  To many, it is all about the autographs and relics.  Stadium Club reminds collectors that this doesn’t have to be the case.  At the heart and soul of Stadium Club are outstanding photographs.  A simple base card from this brand could easily be a high point in your collection just based on the picture.

When it comes to the base set, there really isn’t much of a design.  Topps allows the photos to do all of the work.  The base set comes in at (300) total cards with the following parallels:

  • Gold Foil
  • Black Foil
  • Sepia
  • Black/White/Orange
  • Rainbow Foil #’ed/25
  • First Day Issue #’ed/10
  • Members Only
  • Gold Rainbow Foil #’ed/1

Photo variations play a massive role.  Stadium Club’s base set photos are unique, so the variations are a little more difficult to spot.  Luckily the CMP code for variations ends in #3055 compared to #3023 for the base.  The amount of variations has doubled since 2016.  You have (50) to look for this year.

One of the biggest additions to Stadium Club this year includes Chrome cards.  Not only do we get cool looking cards with awesome photos, but now some of them are chromified.  I doubt “chromified” is a word.  That’s how great this product is.  You need to invent words to describe it.  There are (90) Chrome cards.  All have various parallels, and most have Chrome-style autographs.  If Topps produces Stadium Club Chrome cards like this next year, it would be great for those autographs to be on-card versus stickers.  Seventeen years ago Topps made an entire product called Stadium Club Chrome.  After 2000 it was never seen again.  Perhaps we could see another standalone Stadium Club Chrome set down the road given the success of the 2017 cards.  Maybe we’ll even see other products get chromified.  Allen & Ginter Chrome works for me.

Its fun to see collectors willing to spend money on non-autographed/relic, unnumbered case “hits”.  A good example of this would be the Instavision inserts.  As of this writing, the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention is being held.  Sets such as Gypsy QueenBowmanAllen & Ginter, and Heritage have all had specially made promos for it in recent years.  Its been a very long time since collectors have seen Stadium Club promos at the National.  Given that this is the second year that Topps has made Bowman Chrome cards for National attendees, I think we can look for something different next year in Cleveland.  Stadium Club just might be the next brand they tap into.

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Henry Owens Auto
  • A.J. Reed Auto

Parallels

  • Noah Syndergaard Scoreless Streak Black #’ed/99
  • Bo Jackson Chrome #11
  • Johnny Bench Black/White/Orange #159
  • Gary Sanchez Black Foil #247
  • Garrett Richards Black Foil #210
  • Jose Canseco Gold Foil #227
  • Dave Winfield Gold Foil #200
  • Jose De Leon RC Gold Foil #243
  • Billy Hamilton Gold Foil #277
  • Braden Shipley Gold Foil #68

Inserts

  • Michael Fulmer Instavision
  • Bryce Harper Beam Team
  • Bo Jackson Power Zone
  • Nolan Arenado Power Zone
  • Miguel Cabrera Contact Sheet
  • Mike Trout Contact Sheet
  • Yu Darvish Scoreless Streak
  • Alex Reyes Scoreless Streak

Notables Rookies

  • Aaron Judge RC #64
  • Andrew Benintendi RC #149

2017 Topps Pro Debut Baseball Box Break & Review

Tim Tebow is a marketing machine.  The way collectors eat up his cards is mind blowing.  He never gives up and will forever be cemented into pop culture.  His name is catchy too.  It almost sounds like a superhero – Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Susan Storm, Reed Richards, Doctor Doom, Stephen Strange, and Tim Tebow.  I think it has a lot to do with the fact his first and last name both start with the same letter.

Topps makes two MiLB products per year.  I believe they have to as part of their agreement with Major League Baseball.  Those two products would be Pro Debut and Heritage Minors.  With the Mets giving Tim Tebow a contract, Topps jumped at the opportunity to make his first MiLB licensed card.  Tim Tebow had baseball cards prior to the one found in Pro Debut, but none of them received this kind of attention.  The media was all over this card.  Its great to see the hobby get such widespread positive media coverage for once.  Topps made the excellent decision not to overproduce the card either.  They made it one of the most difficult cards to pull.  Although it looks like a regular base card, it is anything but that.  You’d almost need to open (500) packs just to find one.  Treating as if it were a normal card would have driven the price way down.  At it’s height, prices reached $400.  Since this product’s release, prices have calmed down to around $150.

Baseball can be very gimmicky at times.  This is very true when it comes to the minor leagues.  With inserts such as Ben’s BizFragments of the Farm RelicsPromo Night Uniforms, and Promo Night Uniforms RelicsPro Debut really taps into the cool things minor league baseball does in order to bring fans to the ballpark.  For me, its fun to see cards of the Williamsport Crosscutters in here.  Local MiLB teams have die-hard followings.  Shortly after this product came out, I purchased a Fragments of the Farm Williamsport Crosscutters parking lot banner relic.  I remember seeing these banners last summer.  Its this type of connectivity that draws collectors to this brand.  Being able to connect a memory with a card can make all the difference.

The 2017 Topps flagship design carries over to Pro Debut.  (200) cards make up the base set.  Parallels include Green #’ed/99, Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/10, and Black #’ed/1.  Photo variations are kept at a minimum.  The CMP code for variations ends in #4214, versus base cards with #4204.  These too have Black parallels #’ed/1.

Of all the Pro Debut releases, 2017 has gotten the most attention thanks to Tim Tebow.  This year’s set had a fairly low print run.  Fun break!

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Kyle Lewis Auto
  • Patrick Weigel Auto Green Parallel #’ed/99

Relics

  • Columbus Clippers Fragments of the Farm Game-Used Base from Huntington Park
  • Riley Pint Pennant Patch Red Parallel #’ed/10

Parallels

  • Ben Bowden Red Parallel #’ed/10
  • Austin Meadows Green Parallel #’ed/99
  • Jen-Ho Tseng Green Parallel #’ed/99

Inserts

  • Promo Night Uniforms – 50 Seasons In Reading Night
  • Promo Night Uniforms – Home Improvement Night
  • Promo Night Uniforms – Top Gun Night
  • Promo Night Uniforms – Hockey Jersey Night
  • Ben’s Biz – The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor #4
  • Ben’s Biz – Erik The Peanut Guy #2
  • Ben’s Biz – Todd “Parney” Parnell #13
  • In The Wings – Dylan Cozens
  • In The Wings – Ozzie Albies
  • In The Wings – Gleyber Torres

Notable Base

  • Cody Bellinger #145
  • Nick Senzel #150
  • Clint Frazier #174
  • Gleyber Torres #124
  • Ian Happ #24

2017 Leaf Babe Ruth Immortal Collection Box Break & Review

Leaf is known for creating some fun niche products.  Sometimes these products will return year after year, while others will be a one time event.  Brian Gray and his team over at Leaf are very in tune with what collectors enjoy.  I’d say that they’re one of the most flexible companies in the industry.  The way they can create cards for collectors at the height of a pop culture moment is truly astonishing.

Even if you’re not a baseball fan, its almost impossible for you not to know who Babe Ruth is.  Its Babe Ruth for crying out loud.  A perfect example of the type of niche products they make would be 2017 Leaf Babe Ruth Immortal Collection.  For around $200 per box you get (2) base, (2) original Yankee Stadium seat relics, and (2) Babe Ruth game-used bat relics.  One bat piece will be from a Yankees bat, and the other from a Boston bat.

Where this product really shines is in the design and photography.  All cards are printed on thick white card stock.  They contain just a titch of foil to distinguish between the parallels.  What stands out to me are the photographs.  Seeing that Leaf doesn’t have a license to use MLB team names and/or logos, you won’t find the words “Yankees” or “Red Sox” on any of these cards.  I usually stay away from unlicensed products, but given the wide variety of photos Leaf used you almost forget about it.  Sure, there are tons of pictures in here of Babe Ruth playing baseball.  Its the photos of him doing other things that make these cards stand out.  My favorite is the one of him signing a baseball.  Others show him playing football, boxing, fishing, and golfing.

Major “hits” include a cut signature, bat barrel, and bat knob.  Depending on which part of the bat the piece is from can have a drastic increase in price.  Bat relics numbered 1/1 seem to almost pay for the box itself.  Collectors have been spending big money on the redemptions.

Here is what I pulled:

Relics

  • Babe Ruth Game-Used Boston Bat Redemption Purple #’ed 1/1
  • Babe Ruth #37 Game-Used New York Bat #’ed/20
  • Babe Ruth #41 Original Yankee Stadium Seat Red #’ed/20
  • Babe Ruth #44 Original Yankee Stadium Seat #’ed/50

Base

  • Babe Ruth #43 #’ed/50
  • Babe Ruth #45 Red #’ed/20