2018 Topps Baseball
Christmas in January!
While a lot of sports fans were getting ready for Super Bowl XLI, which turned out to be very entertaining, another contingent of sports fans were restless with anticipation for an equally important day. That day is “Topps Release Day” and there is really no day like it for avid baseball card collectors. The Super Bowl for many people marks the culmination of a hard fought season on the gridiron. For others, it marks the end the baseball offseason. The “Die Hard’s”, as I refer to them, begin their countdown to when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training and baseball fever starts to set in.
Topps is acutely aware of this time of year and this is when they hit collectors with the first release of the upcoming baseball season, the Topps flagship set. There will be a subsequent Series 2 release, followed by an Update Series later in the year; but nothing helps you begin to thaw out from a long cold winter better than that first batch of baseball cards that hit the shelf. And the fact that this is the only product we have to buy and sort for the 2018 season at this particular time makes it even more exciting. It is reminiscent of the days when there were only a couple of products to choose from. But have no fear if you are one of the collectors that like the 9,000 products that flood the market every year, just wait a few weeks.
As for 2018 Topps, it was released on January 31, 2018. Several shops had countdowns and fun photos in the days leading up to the release on their social media pages to add to the hype. Series 1 has a checklist of 350 cards and adds in subsets that include; 1983 Design (35th Anniversary), Superstar Sensations, Topps Salute (includes Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Jackie Robinson Day, and Memorial Day), and Home Run Challenge. There are other hobby/retail exclusives that can be found as well; MLB All-Star Medallions (Hobby and Jumbo), MLB Spring Training Patch (Hobby and Jumbo), Players Weekend Patch (Retail), Legends in the Making (Retail Packs), Opening Day (Retail), Topps Now, Derek Jeter Highlights (Target), Kris Bryant Highlights (Wal-Mart) and others. *Thanks to Ryan Cracknell and his Beckett Release Checklist Page for this info.
BASEBALL 22 x 28″ outside frame dimension. Cards are not included.
Hobby boxes are configured with 36 packs of 10 cards each, while Jumbo boxes are 10 packs with 50 cards each. Hobby boxes have stated odds of 1 Autograph or Relic on average, while Jumbo’s offer 1 Autograph and 2 Relics. Autographs and Relics can be found in numerous designs throughout the checklist as well; including Derek Jeter in Target Packs and Kris Bryant in Wal-Mart Packs. Inserts are found in a hobby box based on the following averages; 1983 MLB (9), Superstar Sensations (4), MLB Awards (4) and Topps Salute (4). As with other modern day products, there are also color parallels to chase. Rainbow Foil parallels are found 3 per hobby box on average. These can be any of the following; Gold (#d to 2018), Vintage (#d to 99), Independence Day (#d to 76), Mother’s Day Pink (#d to 50), Father’s Day Blue (#d to 50), Memorial Day Camo (#d to 25) and Platinum (#d to 1). Printing plates can also be found.
While that is a lot to unpack, Topps’ flagship set remains one that attempts to stay true to the Die Hard’s and not get too far out into the weeds with strange set inclusions. That may seem like a weird statement based on all of the activity above but go back and look at some other products that have released and you could be chasing for years. The best part of Topps for me is that it remains an affordable option in the hobby. I picked up a hobby box at my LCS for $65 and they can be found through various online sources for as little as $55. That is 360 cards, a hit and a handful of parallels for half the price of the average box today. The Jumbo box runs around $100 and gives you 3 hits to go with all the parallels. Topps’ flagship product remains a very affordable product.
Let’s take a look at the 2018 design before we get to the full box break. One issue I have had over the years with the flagship set was the design. It’s totally a “purist” issue for me and doesn’t really mean the designs were bad. When I think of Topps, I think of bordered cards with a little color infused in the name plates. I think of cardboard backs where you can see pieces of the material that make up the card. There is a reason that ’87 and ’83 are still popular designs for collectors. But for the last several years, Topps has been a borderless, almost futuristic looking card design. This year is no different but for some reason; I like it a little more than in the past. I really like the colorful banner at the bottom with the team logo.
They also include RC for the rookies and have a Future Star set as well, as with most previous releases. I have always loved Future Star cards but the design this year doesn’t hold a candle to the old designs from the past. 1987 was the best and 1989 was a close second.
One of the inserts is called “Combo” player cards. These picture two players and a theme that ties them together.
I also enjoy the throwback designs so I love the 1983 inserts. There are approximately 9 in a hobby box and the subset is loaded with superstar players. Each card has a gold foil “35th Anniversary” stamp in the top corner.
As expected, Award Winners commemorates that best of the best from the 2017 season and highlights the awards they won. As you can see with Jose Altuve, some players may have multiple cards in this insert set.
The Salute inserts are pretty cool because they include the players wearing the jersey that ties in with the card label. Chris Sale is wearing #42 on Jackie Robinson Day, Paul Goldschmidt is wearing all blue for Father’s Day and Andrew Benintendi has the pink accents for Mother’s Day.
Even though I am partial to the throwback inserts, I am also a sucker for anything space like that’s included in card sets. I loved the old Fleer Metal Universe cards and these Superstar Sensations have a similar feel. I really like this insert set!
The Home Run Challenge card is an entry into a contest that relates to the Home Run Derby. There is a scratch off on the back where you receive a code to enter on the Topps website. You then have to choose a game during the season that you think the player on the front will hit a home run. If the player hits a home run, you win a prize and are entered into the Grand Prize Drawing for a trip to the 2019 Home Run Derby. I need to get my crystal ball (or at least Magic 8-Ball) out and figure out when Charlie Nazty is going to go yard!
The Topps Now inserts countdown the best selling cards from 2017. It should be no surprise that I pulled two Aaron Judge cards. His Topps Now cards for 2017 were big sellers!
The Gold insert numbered to 2018 is a base card with a gold splash design on the front. The serial number is found on the back of the card.
This is the Vintage parallel and you can see the Topps logo on the front is an old school logo. The back has a canvas type texture and the serial number is found here.
The Rainbow Foil insert is not numbered but they are easy to spot when looking at the front. They have a shiny look and resemble a chrome type card.
I noticed the photography in this set as being very good as compared to previous flagship years. Some photos have a Stadium Club feel. This Byron Buxton is probably the best looking card in the set.
This Beltre was pretty sweet too! I am a big fan of Adrian Beltre and he has had some really good looking cards over the years.
If you looked at this card on its own without any context, you would swear this was a Stadium Club card!
I pulled a relic in this hobby box of Yasiel Puig. The relic was a “Game Used Bat” but was not numbered.
I got really lucky with my box and pulled a second hit! This 1983 Adam DuVall was numbered to 99 and this was a tremendous surprise! Love this card!
As a bonus for buying hobby or jumbo boxes, Topps is giving away Silver packs! You receive one silver pack for a hobby box and two for a jumbo. Each silver pack includes four special 1983 refractors. You have the chance to pull autographs in these packs as well. These were my four cards and I was very pleased!
That sums up the 2018 Topps flagship release. I am not the biggest flagship collector but I do like this set better than some of the recent releases. I am a little worried that these cards feel like the old Stadium Club cards and may have a tendency to stick together over time. I could be wrong but they are a little sticky to the touch. Regardless, I like this set and I am excited that baseball season is upon us. What are your thoughts on 2018 Topps?
2-5/8 x 3-3/4″ 2 mil POLYETHYLENE NO flap.