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!