One blog threw a curve suggesting that 2012 Topps will be split into seven series, with Bowman being inserted. Reading that comment reminded me of the Wikipedia war that raged when the Mr. Men Show ended after two seasons, and people were "vandalizing" the site by saying that there would be a season 3, with new characters and voice actors to boot (don't ask me how I know about this). And just like the speculation of a season 3 never came to fruition, I'm glad that there was no way in h-e-double hockey sticks that 2012 Topps would be distributed the way it was described.
There are a few things I like about this set, and a lot of things I wish Topps could have done to improve upon it. But after watching the videos from the National of Topps Town Hall Meet-and-Greet, I can see that most of what I would have liked to see is just wishful thinking.
I like the design of the set...if the cards appeared with a wood border. That Adrian Gonzalez card looked great with the wood frame. Now I know that this isn't the first time that Topps made full blown wood cards (see 1997 Topps Team Timber). But I hope that none of the one-of-one cards bow, or worse, splinter, like the these inserts (none of my Team Timber cards splintered or cracked, but the fear was always there when handling and even after years of staying in plastic sheets, they will not stay flat when taking the card out of the pocket). But again, the design could grow on me, and I'll like it eventually. Or maybe I won't (see any Random Card of the Day post of any card from 2002, and you'll understand).
Another 330 card series? They said in the video that when they last did a Topps Total set, it didn't sell as well as they had hoped and that the market didn't seem to want another set like this. The guy questioning the panel interrupted saying that "the market has changed since then." True, it has. But as a business, if a product didn't sell the way they had hoped, they're not going to invest resources into building upon it. Topps Total had run its course, and it looks like the mop up relievers and third string catchers in MLB will never get a regular Topps card going forward.
Mickey Mantle is back. WHY??? Because Topps has a deal with Mantle's family and can put him in every product if they choose, including the flagship. Could this stop? They didn't even point this out in their sell sheet when doing the breakdown:
- 265 Veterans
- 30 Rookies
- 10 League Leaders
- 6 Award Winners (Cy Young, MVP, Rookie of the Year)
- 5 Record Breakers (which will wind up being the checklist for the base set)
- 4 World Series Highlights
- 10 Cards recognizing the Active Leaders in 10 categories (not something necessary in a 330 card-series, but acceptable).
That's 330 cards all right. But the preliminary checklist shows that card #7, once again, is...guess who? Does he even count as a Veteran???
I'm not really a fan of relics or autos, so I'm not going to discuss my opinions of them. I'll focus on the basic inserts. Based on the information from the Sell sheet, Topps Master Set collectors like myself will be adding a whopping 265 insert cards in our 2012 Topps binders. And that's not including what will pop up as exclusives for Target and Walmart (and Toys 'R Us/KMart/Sears/Meijer, etc...if they even do one). And you just know that at least four of the seven insert sets will be carried over into Series 2 and the Update Series (or whatever Topps will be calling it). My money is on the 1987 minis (which will probably look more like the mini leaders cards than the actual 1987 Topps set), the Golden Greats (really a repeat from 2000 Topps where a player is featured with five different highlight cards), Generations (the third consecutive year that a young player is paired up with a veteran/retired legend on a card), and Gold Futures (finding 75 young players isn't going to be that hard).
The inserts sets otherwise look very nice, and I will probably get them all at once (I can't imagine myself hunting these cards otherwise). But I pointed out in an earlier post that the Golden theme was already done...in 2001? Why do it now? There isn't an actual traditional 61st Anniversary present. Oh well, at least there aren't any Presidential Election inserts this year (unless it's something not on the sell sheet and a Campaign '12 series will just be included somehow...)
One thing that I also didn't see are any signs of any Legendary Shortprints? Does this mean there won't be any in 2012? Doubt it. As much as some collectors want the companies to disclose EVERYTHING, I agree with Topps to a point when they don't announce SP's, super SP's, and "gimmicks." Before the internet, opening up a pack of cards and finding something that you wouldn't expect was a thrill and a good thing (maybe there's more...I'll buy more cards and see). Now, some people treat gimmicks like they're a crime against humanity. They're fun. They're supposed to be fun. And besides, if some of you don't like them so much, why are they on your want lists? If Topps disclosed everything, that element of surprise is gone. It becomes boring. And it wouldn't generate the kind of buzz that products like this need in the digital age. So Topps, you are certainly welcome to surprise me.
It was also stated on the video that Topps couldn't just make a retired-player-only product. Per MLB Properties, Topps was allowed to include retired players in TEN products as long as they were mixed in with active players (Topps' agreement with the Mantle estate is the exception). In 2011, that excluded the five Bowman products, Topps (1 & 2...that's one product folks), and Topps Update (a separate product from the eponymous set). This means we will never see a set like Topps Archives again.
Sigh. But back to the point.
I can't wait for 2012 Topps. Overall, it looks to be a fantastic product, and a great preview for the 2012 MLB campaign. Yes, they could have picked a better card to use for the preview (nothing against Ryan Braun, but it's not your most flattering picture). But at least we get the idea of what to expect. This set may not be THE game-changer, but maybe it sets up what will be a great year for the Hobby.