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

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 Allen & Ginter Hobby Box Break & Review

Allen & Ginter is an odd duck.  And that’s what makes it so incredibly popular.  Sure, baseball is at it’s core.  But all of the weird, wild, and wacky other things are what make opening a box fun.  Even when the checklist is announced, you still don’t know all of the possibilities a box could hold.  Who knows?  This product has been out for a few weeks, and there could still be some undiscovered surprises.  Everything and anything goes with Allen & Ginter.  Just by saying the phrase, “Allen & Ginter has everything including the kitchen sink.”, could trigger Topps to come up with a special catchphrases insert set for next year’s version that literally pictures a kitchen sink on the card.  Like I said, anything goes.

The set this year consists of (350) total cards.  #301 – #350 are short prints.  Parallels of the normal size cards include Silver Glossy (Hobby Hot Box), and Glossy #’ed 1/1.  Mini cards have and always will play a major role in Allen & Ginter.  Each pack should contain (1) mini card.  Parallels of the minis include A&G Logo Back, Black, No Number, Brooklyn Back #’ed/25, Gold (Retail), Glow-In-The-Dark (unannounced (1) per case), Metal #’ed/3 (Hobby), Wood #’ed 1/1 (Hobby), Glossy #’ed 1/1, and Framed Printing Plates #’ed 1/1.

Inside every hobby box there should be at least (3) hits.  For some reason, some box breakers have reported not receiving all three guaranteed cards.  The same goes for the mini Wood parallels #’ed 1/1.  The mini Wood parallels aren’t the easiest cards to pull to begin with, but collectors opening many cases haven’t found a single one.  During the National Sports Collectors Convention I attended the Topps Q&A.  These topics were brought up.  According to Topps, “We have been investigating with our manufacturer and they say they’re in the product.  It doesn’t make sense.  We’re continuing to dig.  Usually when there’s a collation problem, it shows up in other areas.  When I come into work, I look on eBay to see if any are in there.  It’s odd.”  This mainly pertains to the Wood minis not found in Rip Cards.  Ones found in Rip Cards seem to be the only Wood minis to popup.

There are (42) non-baseball related autographs.  People like Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jon Lovitz, Bill James, and Tommy Wiseau highlight these cards.

Unique and odd relics make for some interesting pulls.  DNA, Fabled, Sunken Treasure, and World’s Greatest Beaches relics are instant Allen & Ginter classics.

Truth is, if you enjoyed Allen & Ginter other years, you should like the 2018 set as well.

Here is what I pulled:

Relics

  • Dustin Pedroia Mini Framed Relic
  • Anthony Rizzo Full-Size Relic
  • Lewis Brinson Full-Size Relic

Parallels

  • Gio Gonzalez Glow-In-The-Dark Mini
  • Austin Hays Black Mini
  • Randy Johnson Black Mini
  • Tom Segura A&G Mini
  • Nick Castellanos A&G Mini
  • Amed Rosario A&G Mini
  • Jason Kipnis A&G Mini
  • Tim Anderson A&G Mini

Short Prints

  • Gregory Polanco Mini
  • Carlos Martinez Mini
  • Hideki Matsui
  • Kevin Kiermaier
  • Starlin Castro
  • Gregory Polanco
  • Max Kepler
  • Brandon Woodruff
  • Carlos Martinez
  • Tyler Glasnow
  • Aroldis Chapman
  • Zach Davies
  • Rickey Henderson
  • Anthony Rendon

Inserts

  • Natural Wonders – The Antarctic – Box Topper
  • Indigenous Heroes – Sequoyah “George Guess” Mini
  • Benjamin Geaux-Homme Unannounced Mini
  • Flags of Lost Nations – West Germany Mini
  • Flags of Lost Nations – Republic Of Salo Mini
  • Flags of Lost Nations – Ceylon Mini
  • Jose Abreu Home Run Challange
  • Early Catcher’s Mask – Baseball Equipment of the Ages
  • Modern Glove – Baseball Equipment of the Ages
  • Bases – Baseball Equipment of the Ages
  • Catcher’s Chest Protector – Baseball Equipment of the Ages
  • IO – Magnificent Moons
  • Ganymede – Magnificent Moons
  • Enceladus – Magnificent Moons
  • Titan – Magnificent Moons
  • South Beach – World’s Greatest Beaches
  • Roatan – World’s Greatest Beaches
  • Venice Beach – World’s Greatest Beaches
  • Harbour Island – World’s Greatest Beaches
  • Xander Bogaerts – World Talent
  • Ichiro – World Talent
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu – World Talent
  • Clayton Kershaw – World Talent
  • Yasiel Puig – World Talent
  • Carlos Correa – World Talent
  • Greg Maddux – Fantasy Goldmine
  • Bob Gibson – Fantasy Goldmine
  • Tom Seaver – Fantasy Goldmine
  • Ernie Banks – Fantasy Goldmine
  • Sandy Koufax – Fantasy Goldmine
  • Roger Clemens – Fantasy Goldmine

2018 Topps UFC Knockout Box Break & Review

Its been three years since I’ve gotten my hands on a box of UFC Knockout.  The first box of this stuff I opened was in 2015, and I pulled a monster hit.  That Ronda Rousey/Miesha Tate Auto/Relic Booklet #’ed/5 was insane.  It is also one of only a few booklet cards I’ve pulled.  Topps has done really well with it’s line of UFC products.  Boxes of their first UFC product, Round 1, continue to sell for a decent amount.  Upwards of $250 to $300 in most cases.  For a premiere flagship product nine years after it’s debut, I consider that very good.  Sometimes this can happen with new products.  The same thing happened to 2006 Allen & Ginter.

If you’re a UFC fan or just want to open a box full of hits, Knockout is totally the product for you.  Each box comes with (4) packs.  Inside every pack you’ll find (2) hits.  That is a total of (8) hits per box.  A master box goes for about $130.  Considering all the hits you’re guaranteed, that isn’t too bad of a price.

When a product is configured like this, the base set isn’t what most box breakers are after.  With that being said, there is a base set to put together.  It consists of (100) cards.  Parallels that you can pull include Green #’ed/199, Blue #’ed/99, Red #’ed/8, and Gold #’ed 1/1.  You should get (8) parallels in every box.

Outside of the base set and it’s parallels, there is one insert.  These come in the form of Notable Knockouts.  There are (10) cards in this set.  Although they aren’t serial numbered, only (100) copies of each card were printed.  The photos Topps used for these are fairly intense and show a lot of action.

Hits!  Hits!  Hits!  That certainly is the focus of UFC Knockout.  I enjoy the Tier One Autographs signed in gold paint pen.  The AKA Ink set is nice looking too.  I’m a big fan of cards featuring dark backgrounds and paint pen signatures.  Lots of big names.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto/Relics

  • Henry Cejudo Tier One Fight Glove Auto/Relic #’ed/10
  • Joseph Benavidez Knockout Auto/Relic #’ed/199

Autos

  • Michelle Waterson Tier One Auto #’ed/99
  • Cub Swanson Knockout Auto Blue #’ed/35

Relics

  • Dustin Poirier Tier One Relic Purple #’ed/25
  • Daniel Cormier Knockout Relic Blue #’ed/50
  • Tony Ferguson Fight Mat Relic Blue #’ed/50
  • Robert Whittaker Fight Mat Relic #’ed/99

Parallels

  • Rashad Evans Blue #’ed/99
  • Arianny Celeste Blue #’ed/99
  • Ray Borg Blue #’ed/99
  • Joanne Calderwood Green #’ed/199
  • Thomas Almedia Green #’ed/199
  • Karolina Kowalkiewicz Green #’ed/199
  • Dooho Choi Green #’ed/199
  • Tecia Torres Green #’ed/199

2018 Topps Big League Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

Wanting to get more of a younger demographic back involved with the hobby is something I think all manufacturers would like to do.  This hobby started out for kids.  Then it became a business when all of that old cardboard started to gain value.  Follow that up with much more attention focused on autographs/memorabilia.  Newer products can financially be out of the range for some would be collectors.  Some say digital products like Topps Bunt could possibly be the answer.  Physical products with digital tie-ins maybe.  I don’t know because I’m not a fortune teller.  Its tricky trying to create a product for a younger audience.  Kids don’t like being treated like kids.  They want to pull out the big stuff they see others getting.  But at the same time the manufacturer has to be careful not to load it up too much or the price per box/pack ends up being too high.  Its a balancing act.  For years I’ve said that Topps should have a corporate booth on the Little League campus during the World Series like many companies do.  Talk about hitting your target audience.  Little League has been known to be picky and expensive about who can and cannot setup.  There is a whole system to it.

Enter 2018 Topps Big League Baseball.  Hobby boxes come with (24) packs, (10) cards per pack, and cost about $45.  Its possible to pull a hit, but there is nothing guaranteed per box.  The base set consists of (400) cards.  Parallels include Gold (one per pack), Blue (Blasters), Rainbow Foil #’ed/100, Black & White #’ed/50, and Red Foil #’ed 1/1.

Photo variations are in here too.  The easiest ones to pull are the Base Player Weekend Nickname variations.  These fall 1:3 packs.  I actually consider them more of an insert.  More difficult variations come 1:507 packs.

CMP Codes:

  • Base #106
  • Base Player Weekend Nickname #529
  • Error #530

Like I mentioned before, you aren’t guaranteed any hits per box.  With that being said, autographs can be pulled.  There are two types of autographs.  The first is Big League Autographs which come 1:114 packs.  (34) current stars and veterans make up this checklist.  The other is Rookie Republic Autographs coming in at 1:102 packs.  (23) rookies are in here.  All autographs have Gold #’ed/99, Black & White #’ed/50, and Red Foil #’ed 1/1 parallels.

Star Caricature Reproductions and their original artwork counterparts make for fun pulls.  These add a bit more animation to the player’s face.  I’d have to say that my favorite cards are the Ballpark Landmarks portion of the base set.  You’ll find that they fall between card #351 and #365.  A card of the Harry Kalas statue at Citizens Bank Park would have been neat to see.  The one of B&O Warehouse reminds me of the two times the National Sports Collectors Convention was held in Baltimore.  I can almost see the restaurant I ate at.

If you’re a set collector who wants a break from this year’s flagship design, 2018 Topps Big League Baseball might just work.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Josh Harrison Big League Autographs

Parallels

  • Jeff Bagwell Rainbow Foil #’ed/100
  • Josh Reddick Gold
  • Aaron Altherr Gold
  • Mike Zunino Gold
  • Ballpark Landmarks Frank Thomas Statue Gold
  • Ballpark Landmarks B&O Warehouse Gold
  • Matt Olson Gold
  • Jorge Polanco Gold
  • Aaron Judge/Edwin Encarnacion/Mike Trout 2017 AL Walk Leaders Stat Kings Gold
  • Michael Fulmer Gold
  • Whit Merrifield Gold
  • Ricky Nolasco Gold
  • Zack Greinke Gold
  • Scott Kingery Gold
  • Erick Fedde Gold
  • Daniel Mengden Gold
  • Carlos Gonzalez Gold
  • Francisco Mejia Gold
  • Jason Kipnis Gold
  • Manny Margot Gold
  • Jed Lowrie Gold
  • Jordan Hicks Gold
  • Ballpark Landmarks Swimming Pool Gold
  • Charlie Blackmon/Giancarlo Stanton/Paul Goldschmidt 2017 NL Runs Scored Leaders Stat Kings Gold
  • Addison Russell Gold

Inserts

  • Miguel Cabrera Star Caricature Reproductions
  • Kris Bryant Star Caricature Reproductions
  • Byron Buxton Star Caricature Reproductions
  • Bryce Harper Ministers Of Mash
  • Mike Trout Ministers Of Mash
  • Aaron Judge Ministers Of Mash
  • Giancarlo Stanton Ministers Of Mash
  • Joey Votto Base Player Weekend Nickname
  • Mookie Betts Base Player Weekend Nickname
  • Manny Machado Base Player Weekend Nickname
  • Alex Bregman Base Player Weekend Nickname
  • Adrian Beltre Base Player Weekend Nickname
  • Anthony Rizzo Base Player Weekend Nickname
  • Aaron Judge Base Player Weekend Nickname
  • Paul Goldschmidt Base Player Weekend Nickname