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 packs..now 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 prints...at 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 www.topps.com 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: http://forums.collectors.com/categories.cfm?catid=11 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!