Thursday, March 31, 2011

Q&A with Clay Luraschi + Variation Info

Today we have a special Q&A with Topps rep Clay Luraschi. He will answer some of the burning questions collectors have had about the new 2011 topps heritage. Here we go!

Q) The 2011 issue of topps heritage brings a lot to the table this year, lets start with what wasn't in the product...first the gum. What happened to the gum?

We’ve received a lot of requests over the past couple of years from collectors asking us to remove the gum and to replace it with an extra card. At first, we were hesitant to do this, because we really wanted to stay true to the original product. Eventually, after reviewing it with buyers and consumers, it made more sense from a value standpoint to take out the gum and put in an additional card.

Q) The chrome set was missing many of the stars. Why did topps feel they could leave those names out? Will they appear in other products in the future?

Yes, the Heritage Chrome Parallel will be continued in 2011 Topps Chrome baseball starting with card # 101.

Q) Why the addition of the unnumbered green refractor cards. Did you mean to issue them as one per case hot boxes?

We thought it would be fun to have an additional layer of the GREEN TINT since that’s a big part of the 1962 set. And yes, it’s a one per case hot box.

Q) It appears like the super short prints ARE out there. How great of an eye are we going to have to have to spot them? Care to tell us how many there are?

See below. We released this today

Q) The addition of Sandy Koufax might be the biggest news of the product. How hard was it to secure a deal with Mr. Koufax? Did he only sign blue inked cards?

Koufax and Aaron only signed in blue and their autographed card is much shorter than the rest.

Q) Topps witnesses all their autograph to assure the collector of their authenticity. Who is the poor soul who has to go out there and sit with all these legends and talk to them while they sign cards? LOL

We have reps in different regions. The older players always have amazing stories and are always great to work with. I’ve personally done a couple of signings with the older players and they are a lot of fun.



*Base Cards 426-500 are short printed and can be found 1:3 packs.*Replicating the original 1962 Topps , there are short printed GREEN TINT variations. Subjects include cards 110-158 and 160-196. These are found in hobby boxes only.
*There is also a BLUE TINT variation (found at Wal-Mart) and a RED TINT variation (found at Target) featuring the same subjects. These are also short printed.
*Collectors can also find GREEN REFRACTOR parallels (100 subjects) that are only found in Green Refractor Hot Boxes. These Hot Boxes are 1 per hobby case.
*And at retail outlets, collectors can find a special 100-card BLACK BORDERED parallel. They are exclusive to the $8.99 3-pack blister.
*There are 6 short printed ERROR VARIATIONS, which mimic the original set:
* Alex Rodriguez (Photo Reversed w/ bat in left hand image attached)
* David Wright (Cincinnati Reds)
* Joba Chamberlain (Card # 139)
* Bengie Molina (Wrong birthday)
* Ryan Zimmerman (Wrong batting average)
* Vlad Guerrero (Listed as Pitcher on card back)

*And exclusive to hobby boxes, there is a special 10-card JACKIE ROBINSON STORY variation that has the look and feel of the Babe Ruth Story insert. In addition, there is a relic version of each card numbered to 42.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 Topps Heritage Review Up Close and Personal.

That green glow coming from my house isn't radioactive, it is 2011 topps heritage and it is everywhere! Green wrappers and some green cards to boot. Today I indulged in 10 boxes of the new topps heritage. It wouldn't be February, urrrrr March without another topps heritage review.

For many, topps heritage rolls on year after year and while the design always changes, the product is always about the same. I would say this year there is more that is new to heritage than old. The base set is as we expected....wooden. The design for the most part works well. Topps did a good job with cropping these pictures to mostly head shots and many without hats, just like the original set. We see some interested hair-do's. Brian Wilson's hair looks like it came right our of the movie Something about Mary, but then again don't we expect that from some of the more colorful characters in baseball? 10% of the shots you will recognize from past topps issues and even past heritage issues. These are always a disappointment, but for the most part topps kept things fresh. There is a green tint parallel which are hard to pull. The cards I pulled had decent centering.

Chromes: Chromes are of course a heritage staple, but even these get spruced up a bit. The regular chromes, refractors, and black refractors are all there, numbered to 1962,562 and 62 respectively, but there is also an unnumbered green chrome set which fall all in one box of a case. I believe that these might of been the unsuccessful first run of chrome cards, perhaps the printer forgot to number them and topps threw them in as a bonus. These could be kinda hot. I would also add that the backs for the first 20 or so chromes look a bit different from the rest. Again this might be a mistake, it makes no sense. Another thing to keep in mind is that the chromes are more difficult to pull this year. Chromes at 1:11 and refractors at 1:37! The green chromes make up a hot box and pull 1:1 but only in one box of a case. I have not studied the chrome checklist, but my chromes all were of B and C level guys, I didn't pull any stars.

Inserts: They are all there, the sets we have known to love...and hate (putting together). The New Age set looks nice, but I pulled way too many doubles. I also don't know how Jim Thome is considered New Age. The Flashback set is back with two versions, baseball and world events. Of course the conflict with Cuba is mentioned several times. Then and Now pairs old and new. This year some new blood..Bautista and Juan Pierre and of couse the heritage mainstays...Mantle and Spahn.

Game Used: I wasn't impressed by these cards but I was blown away by some of the patches topps has been using in the dual patch cards. These could be VERY popular. Topps did a great job on the higher end relics. Again something a little new and I think improved.

Autographs: This is what truly makes us salivate and topps has thrown us some very nice bones. Topps has said that they are trying to focus more on players who played their last season rather than just Hall of Famers. You will find many players that you don't know, guys who called 1962 not only their rookie season but their final season, but you will also find higher tier autographs. Quite Frankly topps hasn't given this much fire power to the autograph set in a long time. Koufax is in as well as Hank Aaron, who unfortunately is a redemption. Followed by popular guys like Ernie Banks, Stan Musial and Bob Gibson. VERY impressive. Don't expect to know print runs, there was nothing on the boxes and early reports suggest that the blue inks in some cards are rarer than the numbered red inks. Topps has gone to an up and down feel for the dual autographs. There are some really nice pairings here. Brooks Robinson/Evan Longoria and Musial/Utley come to mind. As a topps heritage autograph freak, I was really happy with what topps did here. Hopefully the redemption's will be fulfilled very soon.

Show me the money: Well not really called that, but topps has doubled up the case hits this year. The stamp set is there, numbered to just 62 copies each, but also there are 62 Mint cards, which feature a player or event along with a real coin minted in 1962. As you can see by the picture above, the coin is in amazing shape. Almost looks uncirculated! These are nice additions and by early info on ebay, collectors are adding these to their shopping lists. Also heritage gets an added box topper in the form of topps bucks. One dollar, Five Dollar and 10 dollar version each featuring a ballplayer. The wrapper for the original cards can't be seen through this year which is much needed addition.

Overall, topps has another hit on their hands. I would tell collectors out there who have been hearing that hobby boxes are drying up to keep in mind that there appears to me plenty of retail boxes around. Sure the odds are astronomical on some of the higher end cards, but set builders shouldn't care about that. You will also find target and walmart exclusive cards in packs. Retail packs include single packs, 3 packs (with bonus cards), jumbo hanging packs and blasters.

What are you waiting for? The gum...well is ain't there, but everything else is. Woof woof!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

2011 Topps Heritage is LIVE!!!

I have been getting early reports from Brent Williams that 2011 heritage has hit walmarts and sports authority. There looks to be blue tinted cards and green tinted cards and they may be retail exclusives. I hope to have a first look and maybe some pictures up today. WOO HOOO!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Are you ready for some 2011 Topps Heritage?

That time of year is almost here, the time when spring training is in full gear and our collecting taste buds are watering for a new topps baseball release. Base brand topps now seems like a distant memory. It is now time for that big one we expect at the end of February.....well, now March.

This time last year we already had topps heritage in our hands, it was a fun year and we were giddy trying to find, and pull, any and all of the super short prints. I was also hard at work trying to pull ink from my boxes, something that has been harder to do in recent years. The above card will be not only #1 on my list but the big pull for anyone busting packs and boxes of this product.

Sandy Koufax will make his first topps debut in a week. He has never signed cards for topps which seems kinda odd given topps history. There will be no doubt that the Koufax card might break sales records on heritage autograph cards. I myself have even thought of cutting down on the boxes I open, just so I can afford a Koufax autograph. I could think of no better card to add to my heritage autograph collection than that of Koufax, who has had few autograph appearances in recent times. Heritage has actually promised quite a few HOF'ers in the 2011 edition. Guys scheduled to sign include, Hank Aaron, who has only appeared on 2 heritage autograph cards, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Stan Musial, Al Kaline, Bob Gibson and Ernie Banks. Of course true heritage collectors know that they won't believe that list until they see the live cards coming out of packs. Topps has been known to shift the checklist prior to release and in 2009 made quite a bit of cuts to the list. We are hoping that topps makes good and gets all those guys into the product.

There will also be some coin cards, a card that topps has experimented with in the past. It will remain to be seen weather or not these will be popular with heritage faithful. The stamp cards from last year did get hot. Heritage tends to avoid innovation. collectors collect ceratin sets every year and don't need gimmicks. These coin cards, which include a half dollar, are supposed to be case hits.

If its a peek at the past, or that new rookie that you want, topps heritage has something for everyone. Of course the best part of topps heritage is once again making all those trades with long time collectors. There are some guys I have been trading with since 2001 now. I know what they collect and they know what I collect.

My search for a real one Koufax starts soon. Who are you after?