2019 Topps Big League Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

Along with Opening DayBig League is one of the most affordable baseball products on the market today.  A single hobby box will run you about $40, with retail options costing even less.  With that lower cost does come the fact you’re not guaranteed any hits, but that certainly isn’t what Big League is about.

If I had to choose between opening a box of Opening Day or Big League, I believe I’d go with Big League.  Mainly because it utilizes it’s own base card design.  Opening Day usually borrows the design of that year’s flagship set.

A single hobby box contains (24) packs with (10) cards each.  The checklist is quite deep coming in at (400) total cards.  Subsets include Stat-Kings, Award Winners, and Highlights.  Parallels include – Gold (1 per pack), Blue (Retail Blaster), Rainbow Foil #’ed/100, Artist Rendition #’ed/50, and Red Foil #’ed 1/1.

Three variations can be pulled, and they’re really easy to identify – Fernando Tatis, Jr. #6, Pete Alonso #20, and Eloy Jimenez #74.  Most of the time these cards will be of Kevin Gausman #6, Matt Carpenter #20, and Buster Posey #74.  But sometimes you can get lucky and pull one of those star rookie cards instead.

Hits are difficult to come by.  If you do get one, its going to be an autograph.  This product contains no relics.  Autographs that you can pull are Big League Autographs, Rookie Republic Autographs, and a Mystery Redemption A (Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.).

Inserts come in all shapes and sizes – Ballpark Oddities, Blast Off, Players’ Weekend Nicknames, Star Caricature Reproduction, Wall Climbers, and Topps Now World Series Set Instant Win.  Although I didn’t pull an autograph like last year, I did hit a Ballpark Oddities insert which falls 1:435 packs.  Its also possible to pull the original artwork used to make the Star Caricature Reproduction cards too.

Set collectors, collectors on a budget, and/or baseball fans looking for a product with interesting photos should thoroughly enjoy Big League.

Complete Checklist

Here is what I pulled:

Parallels

  • Jake Arrieta Rainbow Foil #’ed/100
  • Adam Duvall Gold
  • Gleyber Torres Gold
  • Max Muncy Gold
  • Pat Neshek Gold
  • Marcus Semien Gold
  • Kyle Gibson Gold
  • Jose Altuve Gold
  • Jesse Winker Gold
  • Christian Yelich/Trevor Story/Nolan Arenado Stat-Kings Gold
  • Juan Soto Gold
  • Felipe Vázquez Gold
  • Welington Castillo Gold
  • Wilmer Difo Gold
  • Justin Verlander/Blake Snell/Corey Kluber Stat-Kings Gold
  • Marcos Stroman Gold
  • Joey Votto Gold
  • J.D. Martinez Gold
  • Joe Panik Gold
  • Hunter Dozier Gold
  • Justin Verlander Gold
  • Miles Mikolas Gold
  • Jose Peraza Gold
  • Eddie Rosario Gold
  • Jay Bruce Gold

Inserts

  • Jose Reyes Ballpark Oddities
  • Bryce Harper Blast Off
  • Khris Davis Blast Off
  • J.D. Martinez Blast Off
  • Avisail Garcia Blast Off
  • Aaron Judge Blast Off
  • Joey Gallo Blast Off
  • Max Kepler Wall Climbers
  • Corey Dickerson Wall Climbers
  • Kevin Pillar Wall Climbers
  • Odubel Herrera Wall Climbers
  • Mike Trout Wall Climbers
  • Adam Engel Wall Climbers
  • Billy Hamilton Star Caricature Reproduction
  • Chris Archer Star Caricature Reproduction
  • Nomar Mazara Star Caricature Reproduction
  • Starlin Castro Star Caricature Reproduction
  • Dee Gordon Star Caricature Reproduction
  • Gleyber Torres Star Caricature Reproduction
  • Juan Soto Players’ Weekend Nicknames
  • Javier Baez Players’ Weekend Nicknames
  • Mookie Betts Players’ Weekend Nicknames
  • Tim Anderson Players’ Weekend Nicknames
  • Starling Marte Players’ Weekend Nicknames
  • Salvador Perez Players’ Weekend Nicknames

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2019 Topps UFC Knockout Hobby Box Break & Review

Enter the octagon at your own risk.  Be warned.  Two contestants will enter, but only one will come out victorious.  Que Queen’s Princes of the Universe song from the Highlander films… haha!

I can’t open a box of UFC Knockout without thinking about the first box of this stuff I opened back in 2015.  Waiting for me inside one of the mini-boxes was a Ronda Rousey/Miesha Tate Auto/Relic Booklet #’ed/5.  Absolutely nuts!

UFC Knockout is a staple when it comes to the Topps brand of UFC products.  Collectors look forward to it as it is very hit driven.  The 2019 incarnation has (4) packs per box.  Each pack comes with (2) hits.  That’s a total of (8) hits per master box.  Lots of opportunity for some interesting looking relics and autographs.

Most fans open boxes of UFC Knockout for the hits.  But there is a base set to put together.  (100) cards make up the base set.  Its a good mix of veteran fighters along with rookies.  I like the smokey design.  Three levels of parallels can be found – Green #’ed/149, Blue #’ed/88, Purple #’ed/25, Red #’ed/8, and Gold #’ed 1/1.  Outside of the base set there is one insert – UFC Fire.  The UFC Fire set consists of (24) total cards, and comes with that artistic Fire look we’ve seen in other products.

As I mentioned before this is a very hit driven set.  Hits include Knockout Autographs, Knockout Autograph Relics, Autograph Jumbo Fight Mat Relics, A.K.A. Ink, UFC Fire Autographs, UFC Champions Autograph Relic Books, Dual Autographed Jumbo Relic Books, Knockout Relics, Jumbo Fight Mat Relics, and One-Two Combination Relics.

The on-card autographs found in the Knockout Autographs, A.K.A. Ink, and UFC Fire Autographs sets looks extremely cool.  Not everything is signed on-card though.  Some are on stickers.

My box delivered quite the variety of hits.  Much more than just base-level cards.  A lot of color compared to what I’m use to seeing from this brand.  When opening this box things felt more exciting.

Complete Checklist

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Max Holloway Auto Purple #’ed/25
  • Cynthia Calvillo Auto Blue #’ed/50
  • Deiveson Figueiredo Auto #’ed/99

Auto/Relic

  • Tyron Woodley Auto/Relic #’ed/99

Relics

  • Darren Till Jumbo Fight Mat Relic Purple #’ed/25
  • Jessica Andrade One-Two Combination Relics Blue #’ed/50
  • Mackenzie Dern Relic #’ed/150
  • Jessica-Rose Clark Relic #’ed/150

Parallels

  • Conor McGregor Purple #’ed/25
  • Zabit Magomedsharipov Blue #’ed/88
  • Marlon Moraes Blue #’ed/88
  • Justin Gaethje Green #’ed/149
  • Dominick Reyes Green #’ed/149
  • Karolina Kowalkiewicz Green #’ed/149
  • Colby Covington Green #’ed/149
  • Joanna Jędrzejczyk Green #’ed/149

2018/19 Topps Chrome Bundesliga Soccer Hobby Box Break & Review

Bundesliga!  That sounds like something Farmer Fran would yell in The Waterboy.

Hang on!  We’ve got one more product to talk about which features that 2018 Topps Baseball pixel-party flagship design.  I’m talking about 2018/19 Topps Chrome Bundesliga Soccer.

The Bundesliga is a German soccer league.  Although Topps has created cards for this league before, this is the first time its gotten full distribution here in the United States.  The Topps Chrome brand has a huge following, no matter the sport.  If you’re a soccer fan, that’s an additional plus.

You’ll find (18) packs per box, with (4) cards per pack.  This is a hobby-only release.  A single box will cost about $55.

The entire set consists of (90) cards.  Parallels include Blue Refractor #’ed/199, Green Refractor #’ed/99, Blue Wave Refractor #’ed/99 or #’ed/75, Gold Refractor #’ed/50, Orange Refractor #’ed/25, Red Refractor #’ed/10, and Red Wave Refractor #’ed/10.  Standard Refractors are suppose to come 1:3 packs, but I did not pull any.  Purple Refractors #’ed/250, and Superfractors #’ed 1/1 have yet to surface.  A few sources have indicated that there are photo variations.  I don’t think these exist.  To me, it looks like some changes took place between the time this product’s details were initially released, and when it actually came out.

Just like most Topps Chrome products, every box should have (1) autograph.  Parallels include Blue Wave Refractor #’ed/75, Gold Refractor #’ed/50, Orange Refractor #’ed/25, Red Refractor #’ed/10, and Red Wave Refractor #’ed/5.  Autographed Blue Refractors, Green Refractors, and Superfractors have not popped up.

Three types of inserts can be pulled – Future StarsSuperstar Sensations, and Top 11.  Non-autographed versions should have Gold Refractor #’ed/50, Orange Refractor #’ed/25, Red Refractor #’ed/10, and Superfractor #’ed 1/1 parallels.  No Superfractors have hit the secondary market as of this writing.  The autographed counterparts vary in serial numbering.

2018/19 Topps Chrome Bundesliga is setup very similar to 2017/18 Topps Chrome UEFA Champions League.  Between the one autograph, stack of refractors, and a box price of $55, you can get a nice balance of pulls.  I believe that’s what makes Topps Chrome so popular.  Great looking cards!

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Takashi Usami Blue Wave Refractor Auto #’ed/75

Parallels

  • Michael Gregoritsch Orange Refractor #’ed/25
  • Marco Reus Green Refractor #’ed/99
  • Ja-Cheol Koo Green Refractor #’ed/99
  • Weston McKennie Blue Wave Refractor #’ed/75
  • Yann Sommer Blue Refractor #’ed/199
  • Péter Gulácsi Blue Refractor #’ed/199

Inserts

  • Rouwen Hennings Superstar Sensations
  • Enrico Valentini Superstar Sensations
  • Julian Brandt Superstar Sensations
  • Janik Haberer Future Stars
  • Christian Pulisic Future Stars
  • Nadiem Amiri Future Stars

2019 Bowman Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

Prospecting is never ending.  There will always be a group of people looking to pour thousands of dollars into players that have yet to make their major league debut.  Its very entertaining to watch.  I wish people didn’t use modern day cards as investments.  Cards made today are meant to be for fun.  I’ve seen people get way too stressed over how their “investment” hasn’t panned out.  In my personal opinion, if you pull a rare card of a minor league prospect who has convinced the world they’re the next Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, or Babe Ruth, move it as soon as possible.  Take that money and put it in the stock market.  I believe in the long run you’ll be much happier.

There are three key prospecting prospects released each year – BowmanBowman Chrome, and Bowman Draft.  Whenever any of them come out the prospecting community gets a big surge of excitement.  2019 Bowman saw this right away.  Collectors and prospectors quickly began picking up the latest cards of Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Wander Franco, Joey Bart, and Ronny Mauricio.  As of this writing, a Wander Franco Chrome Orange Refractor Auto sold for $9,000 according to eBay.  Someone is obviously looking to take a massive risk.  That’s assuming the transaction went through.  Its nothing compared to his Superfractor Auto #’ed 1/1.  Not only has that card been pulled, but its been sold privately for $60,000 to $100,000.

A hobby box will yield (24) packs, with (10) cards per pack.  (1) autograph per box.  The main base set consists of (101) cards.  Why (101) cards you may ask?  That’s because there are two card number 3’s.  Joey Wendle is featured on card #3 the most.  But if you get lucky that card #3 you pulled also has a chance to be of Bryce Harper.  This is the first pack-inserted card to feature Bryce Harper in a Phillies uniform.  Its a Short Print, and has parallels just like the rest of the set.  In addition to the 101-card main base set, there is also a 150-card Base Paper Prospect, and 150-card Base Chrome Prospect set.

Low numbered parallels and/or autographs is the heart and soul of this brand.  I have a feeling it always will be.  30 years ago Topps revived the Bowman brand.  I distinctly remember those green wax packs labeled “The Comeback Edition”.  My favorite part of 2019 Bowman is the tribute made to that set from 1989.  Old-school Topps designs on chrome stock is a nice look.  These 30th Anniversary cards have various autographs and parallels.  Redemption cards for original Buyback Autographs from ’89 Bowman have been thrown in too.  Those Griffey, Jr. rookies I’m sure will look cool.

I will reiterate what I said earlier.  Please open prospect focused sets such as this for the FUN.  Buy singles for the FUN.  Please don’t do it for the money.  Too many people buy into the hype, and do what they see and hear others doing.  On The Rich Eisen Show recently a wealthy entrepreneur named Gary Vaynerchuk talked about sports cards making a comeback.  I think its awesome to see sports cards mentioned on a platform like that.  But when a rich guy talks to the public as if there’s going to be a big sports card boom, people may interpret that incorrectly.  All of a sudden if Gary Vaynerchuk says he’s buying rookie cards of a certain player, other people start to do the same.  You can’t think like that.  Following that model is a dead end.  Its like taking stock advice from CNBC.  By the time it reaches T.V., its way too late to get in on it.  FYI – Gary Vaynerchuk has been attempting to recruit bloggers to pump-up players and cards he’s purchased.  Lots of people answered the call, but not me.

Another prospecting season is upon us.  Time to check Baseball America on a weekly basis to see if you’ve got any cards of the players on their Hot List.  Good luck, but remember to think and have fun first.  Collect what you like and can afford.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Genesis Cabrera Bowman Chrome Refractor Auto #’ed/499

Parallels

  • Beau Burrows Bowman Chrome Orange Refractor #’ed/25
  • Noelvi Marte Bowman Chrome Atomic Refractor
  • Nolan Gorman Bowman Sky Blue #’ed/499

Inserts

  • Mike Trout Bowman Sterling Continuity
  • Colton Welker/Roberto Ramos/Brendan Rodgers Talent Pipeline
  • Bryan Mata/Bobby Dalbec/Josh Ockimey Talent Pipeline
  • Casey Mize 30th Anniversary
  • Jacob deGrom 30th Anniversary
  • Jose Altuve 30th Anniversary
  • Kyle Wright Rookie Of The Year Favorites
  • Danny Jansen Rookie Of The Year Favorites
  • Chris Shaw Rookie Of The Year Favorites
  • Yordan Alvarez Ready For The Show
  • Brendan Rodgers Ready For The Show
  • Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Ready For The Show
  • Brendan McKay Ready For The Show
  • Sean Murphy Bowman Scouts’ Top 100
  • Leody Taveras Bowman Scouts’ Top 100
  • Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Bowman Scouts’ Top 100
  • Brandon Marsh Bowman Scouts’ Top 100
  • Jason Groome Bowman Scouts’ Top 100
  • Jackson Kowar Bowman Scouts’ Top 100

Hobby Oddities: Fleer’s All-Star Collector’s Hat

Our hobby is filled with lots of crazy stuff.  When it comes to odd merchandise, Fleer’s All-Star Collector’s Hat has to be at the top of the “What were they thinking?” list.

Mail-in offers have been around the hobby since the beginning.  During the 80s though, card companies started to offer all kinds of weird stuff on the back of their packs.  Topps, Fleer, and Donruss all offered something as a thank you for your purchase.  Card storage units, team hats, and albums are among some of the items you could get.

1986 Fleer Baseball is remembered for rookies of Jose Canseco, Cecil Fielder, Paul O’Neill, and Lenny Dykstra.  The set’s blue borders are notorious for chipping which can make high-grade examples very desirable to collectors.  In a million years you couldn’t have guessed what the Fleer marketing team settled on as their mail-in offer for this set.

With a cost of $2.95 plus (3) proofs of purchase, you could be the proud owner of this ultra-cool Fleer All-Star Collector’s Hat.  This just isn’t any regular old hat either.  It has pocket sleeves that can hold eight of your favorite cards.  You heard correctly boys and girls.  Now you can proudly display your favorite cards on your head.

What a dumb idea.  I can’t imagine many people actually sent away for this.  You rarely find them today.  Which eight cards would you put in this hat?  I’d fill mine with eight ’52 Topps Mickey Mantle cards, and wear it outside on the sunniest summer day.

2019 Topps Series 1 Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

2019 marks professional baseball’s 150th anniversary.  If those original players from 1869 could see what today’s players get paid, they’d go nuts.  Cards really didn’t get their start until the mid-1880’s.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, had any clue that someday those tiny pieces of paper would end up to be so incredibly valuable.  I’d like to own an original Old Judge card, but that’s not something you can just pickup quickly.  A lot of research in my opinion has to be done.  I wonder what the sport of baseball will look like in another 150 years?  What about collecting?  Will cards even be a thing?  Maybe packs of cards will get beamed into our brains while traveling to Mars.  I won’t be around to find out, and my guess is neither will you.

Its the middle of winter, and there is snow on the ground.  With the release of 2019 Topps Baseball Series 1, I can begin to see a glimpse to the end of the coldness outside.  Baseball season is coming!!!

With a new flagship set comes a new design.  Its one that will be around all year.  So you better like it.  The card backs have been receiving the most attention.  Many collectors enjoy seeing full statistics listed, along with an easy to follow color scheme.  On the fronts, Topps took an unusual approach and placed the player’s last name above the first.  The last name is also considerably larger.

A standard hobby box will cost $60.  (24) packs are inside, housing (14) cards each.  That’s a bit different compared to (36) packs with (10) cards.  (1) autograph or relic should be found per box.  Jumbos are more expensive, but come with (1) autograph and (2) relics.

(350) cards make up the base set.  Parallels include Purple (Meijer), Yellow (Walgreens), 150th Anniversary, Rainbow Foil, Gold #’ed/2019, Advanced Stat #’ed/150, Vintage Stock #’ed/99, Independence Day #’ed/76, Black #’ed/67, Mother’s Day Pink #’ed/50, Father’s Day Blue #’ed/50, Memorial Day Camo #’ed/25, Platinum #’ed 1/1, and Printing Plates #’ed 1/1.  (100) cards have Clear parallels #’ed/100.

I really like the cards that feature shots of various stadiums.  As a Phillies fan, my favorite one is of Citizens Bank Park.  If they zoomed in on the left side we could see the Harry Kalas statue.

There are a lot of SPs to pull.  Regular SPs come (1) per hobby box at least.  SSPs are really difficult to pull, and fall 1:444 packs in the hobby format.  Flipping the cards over to see the CMP code always helps in identifying them.  I’ve always seemed to find them near the center of the pack too.

  • Base – #1910
  • SP – #1967
  • SSP – #1968

Inserts are plentiful.  The Home Run Challenge cards make a return.  These make the season extra fun.  Simply log in to your Topps account, enter the code, and pick the date you think that player will hit a home run.  If your prediction ends up being correct, Topps will send you a special card.  I got Javier Baez from the Cubs.  My birthday is on June 16th.  That’s the day I picked for him to go yard.  They’re playing the Dodgers that night.  Hopefully he stays healthy and can play.

Another insert set that grabs my attention are the Iconic Card Reprints.  (50) cards are in this set.  These have one parallel, 150th Anniversary #’ed/150, and depending on the player command more on the secondary market than I’d expect.  (25) of them have autographs.  I like the Babe Ruth cards Topps included.

As I mentioned before, a hobby box such as this comes with (1) autograph or relic.  Flagship products have their share of very impressive high-end hits, but are extremely difficult to pull.  You can’t open up a box and be angry that you didn’t get a rare hit.  Retail options allow you to experience the first set of the season without having to spend too much.

Checklist

Here is what I pulled:

Relic

  • David Ortiz 150th Anniversary Commemorative Medallion

Short Print

  • Dee Gordon #292

Parallels

  • Ichiro/Shohei Ohtani Greatness Returns 150th Anniversary #’ed/150
  • Austin Hedges Rainbow Foil
  • Richard Bleier Rainbow Foil
  • Wade Davis Gold #’ed/2019
  • Josh Hader Gold #’ed/2019
  • Joe Musgrove Gold #’ed/2019
  • Niko Goodrum Gold #’ed/2019
  • Randal Grichuk Gold #’ed/2019
  • Chance Adams 150th Anniversary
  • Jeff McNeil 150th Anniversary
  • Michael Kopech 150th Anniversary
  • Ramon Laureano 150th Anniversary

Inserts

  • Bryce Harper Iconic Card Reprints
  • Vintage Baseball Glove Equipment Evolution
  • Javier Baez Home Run Challenge
  • Rickey Henderson/Mookie Betts Greatness Returns
  • Kyle Schwarber 2018 Topps Now Review
  • Trout/Pujols/Ohtani 2018 Topps Now Review
  • Lou Gehrig 150 Years of Professional Baseball Greatest Players
  • Mariano Rivera 150 Years of Professional Baseball Greatest Players
  • George Brett 150 Years of Professional Baseball Greatest Moments
  • Jesus Aguilar 1984 Topps Baseball
  • Eric Hosmer 1984 Topps Baseball
  • Starling Marte 1984 Topps Baseball
  • Nolan Arenado 1984 Topps Baseball
  • Max Scherzer 1984 Topps Baseball
  • Cody Bellinger 1984 Topps Baseball

Card of the Day: Bodacious 2018 SAGE Sportkings Volume 1 Hobby #18