Sunday, July 29, 2012

Early Preview: 2012 Topps UFC Bloodlines

Topps just released 2012 UFC Finest and within days they began teasing fans with the next UFC product on the horizon, 2012 UFC Bloodlines. Arriving in mid-November, Bloodlines is building on the popular insert, this time the entire set is built around the fighters and their heritage. UFC has a world-wide appeal and fighters come from every corner of the globe and Topps wants to share this with the fans.

Right now we are seeing some preview images and some basic information but at this point not a whole lot else is available. It is expected to be a high-end product and each Master Box will contain 10 mini boxes. Each mini will contain one pack with 5 cards; two base cards, one parallel, one insert and one hit. Each Master Box will include two relics, one jumbo dual-relic, one manufactured patch, three autographs and two auto-relics and like 2011 Title Shot and 2012 Knockout you have the possibility of pulling a box topper, a Bruce Buffer Announcement Card. It will be the actual card that Buffer uses to announce each fighter as they enter the ring, and each card will be signed by Buffer.

The base set contains 150 fighters from UFC and Strikeforce. There are five parallels: Flag Parallel (#/188), Black (#/88), Red (#/8), Platinum (1/1) and Printing Plates (1/1). There will be First Signature cards from first time signers plus a parallel Red Ink (#/15) autograph that includes the fighter’s nickname.

There is a nice selection of inserts, with many of them having autographed or relic parallels, as well as numbered parallels. Every insert will have something to do with fighter’s lineage as well as paying tribute to the fighters who laid the ground work during the UFC’s early years as it was trying to get established. The manu-patches include a Patriotic Patch, which includes a patch representing the fighter’s homeland, and International Airmail, which contains a stamp from the fighter’s country.

The Fighting Forefathers is an inset that pays respect to the men who were there on the ground floor. UFC was a street fight inside a cage back then, fighters did not wear gloves and the fights lasted as long as it took to beat the other guy (the longest fight ever was Gracie vs Shamrock at UFC 5 and lasted 36 minutes). Sometimes fighters went on to fight 2 or 3 fights in a night. To see what it was like take a look at some clips from any early UFC event, specifically UFC 1-14.

I am disappointed that Topps decided to use a horizontal design for the Forefathers base and auto versions but went vertical with the relic versions. I like a nice uniform design when dealing with inserts and subsets. They did a similar thing with the Bloodlines but reversed. The base and autographed version were vertical and the dual relics and dual autos horizontally, but this is fine because the horizontal works with the dual fighters.

The Global Conflict autographs contain the autographs of fighters who faced each other in a match while the International Incident autographs have singatures from two fighters from the same country who faced each other.

The manufactured patches are the Patriotic Patch and International Airmail. The Patriotic Patches have manu-patches with an emblem that represents the fighters country, there are autographed versions. The International Airmail has a stamp from the fighters country embedded in the card. Again Topps went horizontal and then verticle with the base and autograph versions of the Patriotic Patch.

There are a couple of booklet cards that include jumbo relics of Champions and autographs and multi-autographs.

This set will also include a UFC first, sketch cards. I actually know two of the artists who will be working on the sketch cards through an MMA collector community and while they are not allow to display the work they are doing for Topps I have seen other MMA work from both artists and collectors will be happy. The Bruce Buffer Announcement Card box topper is pretty cool, I like the Fist-o-Graph from 2012 Knockouts but I definitly would not cry if I pulled one of these.

I have been quite happy with Topps run with UFC sets, they have put out some quality designs and have included the right fighters and this looks like it will be a set following in the steps of some awsome sets. From what I have seen I would say this is easily a set to consider for UFC collectors, while the price will most likely be in line with 2012 UFC Knockout (@ $200), if you have the spare cash it is the one to get.

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