Thursday, September 24, 2009

2009 Topps Sterling Baseball

Topps recently released a preview of the 2009 Topps Sterling Baseball set, which is scheduled to be released in January 2010. The base set is 130 cards and contains a decent checklist including many of the standard players from the past, present and future. Ruth, Cobb, Cal Ripken Jr and Alex Rodriguez all are on the checklist as expected but you will also find future stars like David Price and Joba Chamberlin on the checklist.
Obviously absent are players currently under contract with Upper Deck like Derek Jeter and Ken Griffey Jr.

The boxes contain 5 cards, plus a Mystery Pack, and are expected to have a SRP around $230 each. Included in each box will be 3 base cards and 2 hits. The 2 hits will be one Relic Card #/25 and either one Autograph or Relic Card #/10 or less. The Mystery Pack will contain a Base Parallel card that is numbered and framed or contain a Cut Signature from Classic Baseball or Historical Figure.

As with previous releases there are plenty of autographs and relics available to pull including Multi-Autograph and Multi-Relic cards. Additionally there is a Sterling Spectators Relics set that includes relics from John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, George W Bush and Franklin D Roosevelt. Does anyone else find it odd that a five-card set contains 4 strong Democrat politicians and a Republican politician with a “less then Sterling” legacy? This leads me to believe that George W Bush was an after-thought addition to the set. Topps has some serious pull when it comes to hits, you are telling me that they could not get relics of Regan or Eisenhower for a top end set?

One thing that you will notice, besides the Base cards, the hits are the focus of the card design. Many of the inserts are basically relics and sticker autographs with a tiny image of the player. The Chronicles, Sterling Moments and Jumbo Swatch inserts are the worst offenders of the entire set. I know people love to pull relics but when you have to flip the card over so you can read the player info to figure out whom you pulled then something seriously went wrong during the design phase.

I am not down on the entire set, like I said I actually love the simplicity of the Base card. The border really accents the player photo, the silver foil name and border design really pop out. The Sterling Cut Signature cards are pretty sweet too; a cut signature and three relics are a nice pull. The relics are not overpowering either; the cut signature is the focus of the card especially when the signature is clean like the Babe Ruth and Mickey mantle cards.

Some of the book cards are nicely designed too while others seemed to be put together solely around the relics. The Bat Barrel Name Plate really caught my eyes. The blue coloring is nice and sets off the autograph and relics while the barrel sits on the opposite side. This set up works well, the player, autograph and relics are not over-powering and have a visually appealing look.

The Season Autograph Relic set is another nicely design insert. The player stands out nicely and the relics, while small, are presented well along the bottom of the card while the autograph sits on the opposite side from the player’s image. The coloring is done well and the background design adds a nice tough.

While the Season Auto Relic cards are nicely designed the basic Season Relic cards are just appalling in comparison. You have to wonder why Topps would create two different overall designs for the same set (minus the autograph). With the base Season Relic set they should have placed the relics along the bottom with the players image on one side and the team logo on the opposite side in place of the autograph. This would have offered continuity throughout the set. I added a mock-up design of what I am talking about to compare the original Sterling Season relic with what I suggest.

This is one product that I don’t think I will be picking up any boxes. Being a Griffey collector I have nothing to shoot for here and with my luck I would end up pulling a George Sisler or Dan Haren theme box. Not bad players but definitely not someone I would be interested in collecting. If any cards do draw my interest I think I would be better off picking up singles.

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