Saturday, February 28, 2009

Then & Now

The main idea behind topps heritage is to pay homage to the older topps sets by using the old design but with modern players. Even though these are modern sets,
the vintage players still take on a big role in the sets. This is no better shown than with the insert set called "now and then". This set matches a star of the vintage set with a current star, usually a star at the same position or with the
same team. These comparisons also haunt the base set, as the card numbers usually
match up too (a trait that only hardcore heritage collectors will notice.)

However as this set goes on there is becoming another kind of now and then...a
now and then within the actual heritage set!

Take the career of Gil McDougald. Gil came up the same year as Mickey Mantle and even won the rookie of the year that year barely edging another heritage mainstay, Minnie Minoso. He would play almost every infield position for the Yankees and would lead the league in double plays turned. He is perhaps most notably known for hitting a ball that struck pitcher Herb Score and ended his career, it is almost ironic
that Gil would be hit with a ball years later and that would lead to the end of
his the age of only 32!

Gil signed in the first heritage set back in 2001, the card above was his rookie card. He has also signed for the 2009 set being the only vintage player who has spanned so far the entire heritage run in autograph form. There are other heritage mainstays also. Duke Snider comes to mind, also Yogi Berra even though he wasn't on the checklist in 2001.

Gil's playing career was over in 1960 and his last appearance was in the famous game that Maz beat the Yankees in. A true now and then, heritage has now span the lifetime of some players. Gil will most likely never sign another heritage card and
as times goes on and more players retire "again", they will leave their legacy behind in the topps heritage autographs of the past.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Incredible Disappearing Checklist!

So we enter day 2 of topps heritage and as the clouds lift, we start to see more product, and are learning more about the checklist. What might be remembered more about this product isn't what is in the product, but what isn't!
Topps has once again promised us great cards only to change course at the release. Take the card above. This is what topps heritage is about...pairing a legend with a current star. Ryan Howard is coming off a championship season and everyone knows Sparky Anderson...mostly as a manager. Now where it gets confusing is that this picture is not from a box bust, but from the presell sheet that topps had on it's
website. It shows some nice cards from the new 2009 Topps Heritage, but the only problem is that several of these cards are NOT in the product, as a matter of fact large parts of valuable cards that showed up on the presell sheets and checklists are now gone!

We have seen this before, mostly recently with Topps Mayo football. The autograph checklist promised was amazing and what came out with the product after all the presales were made, was less than great, and in the case of topps heritage, really not that great at all. I don't see any autograph on the checklist that should break the 80 dollar mark, and if you know the history of topps heritage then you will know this is very unheard of.

I will be contacting upper managment at topps over this and see what they say. I will post a response here. I would caution anyone who is doing this set, to avoid paying a high price because a dealer says this stuff is limited. We have already seen popular websites selling this stuff in the 840+ range for a case. I have estimated the hobby print run at half a million packs and retail will hit very soon!

I estimate the price of boxes and packs to take a huge dive over the coming weeks as people will realize just how weak the value is. I know there are plenty of you out there who do the master set every year (as I do) and the prices for boxes can go up as demand gets higher, but I can tell you that there is plenty of product out there and there will be few other collectors buying this product who won't collect the set.

In the mean time, find a good price on a box, sit back and enjoy the simple elegance of this set but pay close attention to the team cards and their checklists on the back and maybe ask yourself..."where did all the good cards go?"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

IT'S HERE!!!!!!!

2009 Topps Heritage is finally here, I am excited to say that it appears I am one of the first people to open it. I was able to get 6 boxes only, but I think that is enough to review it. Here we go!

First off these cards are amazing. They really have a lot of eye appeal this year. The bright colors of the 1960 set have been duplicated here very well. Many of the cards give you that 60's feel. Philly fans will be happy to know that there are several cards chronicling their world series run. There are also Tampa Rays cards, including one of them "kicking" the ball around the outfield! OUCH. Other sub sets include award winners, player combo cards, team coaches cards, managers and the very popular All Star cards.

It appears through my 6 box rip that cards #'s 426 and higher are short printed, they are also printed with a darker back, so there will be no mistaking short prints this year. Im sure there will be some other surprises too. Chrome cards were quite plentiful and refractors were one
per box. The black refractors are top notch.

If you are looking for value I am afraid you are looking in the wrong box. What topps lacks in value they make up for in the looks of the base set, but that doesn't provide bang for the buck. A 12-box case will not even guarentee you an autograph card. It appears that topps went with a much smaller checklist of ink this year. You are most likely going to pull 12 game used cards in a case of this product which is unheard of in todays market, but topps knows they can sell this on name alone. Also gone from the checklist are retired players game used cards. Only the much rarer dual relics have the big names in them. The entire game used checklist is comprised of a few stars and mostly semi stars.

Here is a breakdown of what I pulled from these 6 boxes. All 6 boxes were from the same case.

Dark Back Short Prints (expected: 48) Actual: 47
Chromes /1960 (expected: 24) Actual: 27
Refractors /560 (expected: 6) Actual: 6
Black Refractors /60 (expected: 0) Actual 1 D. Uggla
Blue Autographs (expected: 0) Actual: 0
Red Autographs (expected: 0) Actual 1 F. Carmona
Clubhouse Collection (expected: 6) Actual: 6 Buchholz,MaybinX2,Crawford,Podsednik, Baldelli
1960 Box Toppers (expected: 3) Actual: 2
Ad Panels (expected: 6) Actual: 6


Stay tuned for much more information including possible surprises!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Collecting Heritage 101

So you are now interested. Hopefully you have visited some websites and seen some product and have now decided that this is for you. Where do you start? What do you collect? Where do you get it? I will attempt to answer all your beginning heritage questions.

First off we need to decide what we are going to collect. A master set of topps heritage is considered every base card with all the short prints and the three insert sets. These three insert sets are the now and then cards, the new age player cards and the flashback sets. The later of the three is divided into baseball flashbacks and historical flashbacks. This is the kind of set that most collectors build. It will require a good 5-8 boxes and plenty of trading partners. In the past two years topps has done a great job making sure that boxes within cases didn't have a lot of doubles in the short print set. The short print set is a group of usually 100 cards that are rarer to pull than the other "base cards". These and the insert sets will be the hardest part of putting a master set together. This is where it becomes essential that you have a few trading partners.
There are other ways to collect. Some try for all cards from a certain team, some build only the chrome sets (the chrome set is 100 cards and are inserted a few a box). Some collect the rarer game used sets and then some try to get all the cards including dual relics and autographs.
Once you have decided what you are going for then it is time to track down some product. Your first stop should be your local card store. Check and see if they have gotten any in and buy a couple of packs to see if you like it. Better test it first before you commit to a box or case. A box of topps heritage in hobby stores can run you from 50 bucks to 90 dollars. There are also online stores and ebay in which you can buy boxes, these boxes are often cheaper than you local store, but remember you have to play taxes and shipping and you can't test a few packs if you don't like it. Boxes that are found at target or walmart, which are called retail boxes, are found in several forms..per pack for 2.99 or jumbo packs for 4.99, in boxes of 24 for 72.00 and in smaller 8 pack boxes (called blaster boxes), for 29.99. Look for retail wax to be available a week or so after you see it in the card stores.
So you have the what...well for starters open them. If you are keen you will notice that the cards have a certain order. In the past the rarer cards are inserted in a certain part
of the pack, sometimes the second card in the pack, sometimes the 2 to last card in the pack.
If you keep all the cards in the packs in order, you might be able to then go back and pick out the cards that might or might not be short the beginning no one knows what the rarer cards are. At the end when you sort them, you might have a better idea of which ones are rarer.
You will of course find other cards in those packs, you will get either one game used card or an autograph in each box of 24. Of course in retail packs of less than 24 packs, all bets are off,but usually retail has the same odds as hobby. There will also be chrome cards, these will easily stand out and will be numbered on the back...1960 for regular chromes, 560 for what is called refractors, and 60 for black refractors which are the rarest of the chromes. The game used set is very large representing dozens of players. In the past the retired players have been the rarer ones. The autographs speak for themselves, they are rare and they are beautiful. Ones signed in blue ink will have a print run of 200, and those signed in red ink will be three times as rare and will be numbered to only 60. Any game used card or autograph card that is numbered is a true great pull.
I have always sorted my cards the same way. First I sort out all the inserted cards, then I go through and sort the remaining cards by 100's....that is 4 stacks...0-99, 100-200, 200-300,
and 300-400. After that I break them down into 10's and then put them in order. There will usually be a few checklists in the boxes too. You can use this to keep track of what you have for your set, and what extras you have for trade. Topps website at has a great
checklist for this product. You may wish to put your set in a binder or in a box. I have usually found that a 3 inch binder works for a master set. A few rigid holders are good for the game used and autographs. Penny sleeves are a good idea for the chromes, so they don't get scratched.
If you are ready to trade the best place on earth to trade is the collectors universe message board. It can be found here: All you have to do is find the 2009 heritage post and you will be able to make contacts. You will have to set up an account (free) to begin trading. I suggest that you introduce yourself first and list what you need. It is also the best place for information regarding topps heritage.
Whatever your set building goals are, topps heritage is an amazing collection of cards. The great part is that you can collect an easy set, or one that will take years to collect. Start small and see what is out there. The message boards are a great place for any questions. So grab some packs and get ready to chew A LOT of gum!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Return of the Game Used Card

1997 marked the year of the first game used card. There were three of them total and they were very hard to pull. Today, game used card are everywhere, sometimes several per pack. It is no wonder that collectors have fallen out of love with these swatch cards.
Along the way the card companies have tried to up the ante with what is game used. Today there are game used uniform cards, game used bat cards, game used hats and gloves, just about anything a ball player would get rid of has been on a card.
The excitment around pulling a game used card has been gone for a while. It is now common to throw to the side the game used pulled in a box. They are after all a dime a dozen...right?
Hold the phones though, topps has stuck a great balance with what they use in topps heritage. Sure there are plenty of game used cards, but there are also some very rare offerings. Usually the past stars have short printed game used cards. These cards always remain hot, as master set builders scramble to put their set together. In many products a jersey card of a guy like Bob Gibson might not be that great but in topps heritage you have just paid for several boxes! I have seen many times where a game used jersey card from heritage has outsold its autograph!
There are also the dual game used cards. These usually feature a retired star with a current player. There have been some amazing combinations over the years- Mays and Bonds, Eddie Mathews and Chipper Jones, Mantle and Arod and of course two fan favorites, Musial and Pujols. These cards have always been numbered low. They will be numbered to 60 this year and will feature some interesting pairings. Also look for dual autograph relics, those will be very hot this spring.
So don't be disappointed when your box of heritage only yields a game used card, you never know it might be worth a bunch!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Birthday Wishes

So it just so happens that my Birthday falls around the same day that Topps Heritage is released. A few years that has meant actually seeing the product on my Birthday. Back in 2004 I had a special surprise. I had been to my local Walmart almost everyday trying to find topps heritage. The first spotting of retail product is usually a big deal to us heritage guys. It was my Birthday and I hadn't seen any topps heritage for days. I walked into this store at around midnight and sure enough topps heritage was sitting there like presents under the Christmas tree. Blaster boxes, and packs and everything.
I often have wondered what the cashiers think when you bring a bunch of boxes of baseball cards up to the register to buy. Do they wonder why anyone would spend that much money on cardboard? Over the years I have gotten some funny reactions when the total price comes up.
Well I had bought my stuff for the night and parked myself on one of the benches inside the store. As you can imagine there isn't a whole lot of action at midnight, so I wasn't bothered at all. I began to rip and marvel at this new set. Taking in the aroma of gum and cardboard. Seeing the white of a game used cards that contrasts the dark base cards.
All of a sudden there it first autograph of the year, none only than Don Newcombe! Don was an important cog in the Dodgers championship run. He was one of the better autographs in the set and I was very happy to pull one. Sometimes I wonder what someone walking by would of thought of a grown man sitting at midnight on a bench with wax packs all around him greatly smiling? I really didn't care, I had a memory that will be with me forever.

Friday, February 13, 2009

February for most is still the dead of winter, but for some it is the true start of baseball season and it's spring training schedule. For collectors, February brings us the new products.
Topps heritage is always one of the early year products and around January there is always buzz on what the new product will look like and who will be in it. There are also those "surprises" that come with any product, but especially with heritage.

Many people opened up 2008 Topps Heritage and did a few things, first they opened every pack and pulled out inserted cards, these included chrome cards, game-used cards, autographs cards and sub set cards. These are considered the true gems of the products. What is left is a massive stack of base cards. These are cards that make up the base set and some of them are rarer than others. Most of the time these base cards are not that sought after, but on occasion topps throws us a curve ball.

The Johan Santana card above, was one of those surprises. A special insert card that had no markings on it. It looked at first like all the other base cards, but the true heritage collectors, those set building maniacs, spotted that this card pictured him with his new team...the New York Mets. Collectors then realized that this was a rare card and instantly the search was on. Suddenly that stack worthless commons could contain gold!

The anticipation in 2009 is in the air. Could it be a back variation, or team variation? Could their be a corrected error card on the checklist? You never know what is going to be out there. The next time you are sitting down with a pack or two of topps heritage, keep your eye out for the shinny cards yes, but don't forget that some of those other cards might be rare too!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Here is where it all started, some 9 years ago. I opened my first packs of 2001 topps heritage baseball. I though the design (based upon the 52 topps set), was bad. I remember looking at the Mark McGwire card and it looked like he was a space alien! Then all of a sudden my first big hit...a Warren Spahn real one autograph
I had never really seen cards from the original 52 set, but this one was beautiful. The players were somehow etched in time. The backgrounds were bold colors which made the players stand out even more. These cards were true works of art.
I would later pull my second real one autograph, Gil McDougald, the ROY from the 52 season. I was hooked and made it my goal to get all the retired autographs from the 2001 heritage set
I of course built my set how any collector would..lots and lots of packs! Along the way the 2001 part of the set grew on me. Topps did a great job making the 2001 set feel like the 1952 set. Famous players in the 52 set had current star mirrors in the 2001 set. The first 90 cards could be found in both red backs and black back.
My autograph set was built slowly. I was able to pick up the cornerstone of the collection from a fellow message board user over at Collectors Universe (more on them later!). His name was Craig and back then it was he and I talking about how the set looked. He had 4 of the retired autographs I needed and we made a deal. Several years later, when I thought Craig was gone, he appeared again and we made some more deals. There were so many collectors like Craig that helped me out.

My last autograph was the tough Duke Snider. Duke is still today a very popular ball player and of course this card was red hot. I had to bite the bullet and pay a lot for the Duke I have. It was well worth it
This set contains 24 cards. The original set was supposed to be 26 but Eddie Mathews died soon after the release and Larry Doby never signed his cards
Hello All

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