Monday, April 24, 2017

Flagship Hobby Box, Part 1

For some inexplicable reason, I decided to splurge a little on a box of Series 1 last week.  I really hadn't intended to do so, but I did.  Last year, I didn't open a single pack of flagship and planned on continuing that course this year.  I think my reasoning had something to do with the sheer number of Cubs thrown into the base and insert sets.  I know a lot of people have been critical of the past two years' designs, but I haven't really minded them.  As I've said before, they beat 2012-2014, in my opinion.  No, I just focused last on those little sets that I could put together with one cheap retail box (Opening Day and Bunt) and Archives.  This year, I've changed course already, passing on Opening Day and procuring a hand collated Heritage set.  Now, I've gone and bought a hobby box of flagship (for the first time ever, I might add) and I'm going to put at least Series 1 together.  We'll have to see about Series 2 later.

I'm going to present my findings in four parts, as I divide the box break into four days of opening nine packs each day.  I really don't want to show every card, so I'll just show you the base cards I find most interesting and the inserts.

We have some airborne players . . .

Some players keeping their eyes on the ball. . .

and some baseball exuberance.  This picture turned out way blurrier than I expected, but the D-Backs team card shows some great Gatorade drops flying out to Goldschmidt's left.  Great photography.  And I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing the Cubs celebrating a Game 7 win.

We also have Wilson Ramos staring deep into your soul . . .

and Adam Lind doing whatever he is doing.

While it is true that the design does cut out a good portion of the picture, I don't know that it takes out that much more than a border around the entire card.  Plus, I look at certain Panini brands and see that focal part of the card is the design and there are small pictures inside the keyhole of the border.  I think Topps often does a better job than Panini in this respect.

The back is not quite as good as the front.  In this picture, the problem is obviously not the design, but the giant misprinted line down the middle of the card.  I actually pulled a few cards that looked like this.  Was it just my box, or has anybody else seen the same thing? 

Typically, I find an insert set in lower end products that I really like and try to complete.  That wasn't really the case with this year's flagship.  None of the insert sets really stood out to me.

I think the 5-Tool set is the best of the bunch, and I really like the design.  However, I don't like Topps's loose interpretation of "5-Tool."  There are a few guys on the checklist that had me scratching my head.  Truly, I think the number of true five tool players would make for a pretty small set.

Here is an example of what I mean.  From the back of this card, I learned that Miggy stole four bases during his Triple Crown season.  Four bases!  Now that indicates some top-end speed, right?  Pitchers and catchers alike are shaking in their cleats with Miguel Cabrera threatening on the basepath.  Now don't get me wrong; Miggy is unquestionably one of the best players of this generation and I have the utmost respect for him. But does he qualify as a five tool player?  Topps thinks so.

Not a bad group of players for the 1987 insert.  I like the feel of these cards.  They're more of the "real" cardboard feel--a bit thicker and a bit grainier on the back.  And this is not a bad group of players to pull for the first few of them that I got.  Like many others, though, I have seen enough tributes to '87 wood paneling.

The Topps Salute is a decent-looking insert set, but it's all over the place.  Here we see a throwback uni.  Others are Father's Day, Mother's Day, Legends, etc.  When I first saw them on the blogs, I couldn't figure out why there were so many insert sets with identical designs.  They are all part of the same set, though.

First Pitch is back.  These are fun cards and I like the idea.  I don't think I'll ever chase the set, though.  I just don't care enough about non-athlete celebrities to make it that interesting to me.  Honestly, I have to Google most of the people on the checklist, as I had to do for Leslie Jordan here.  He looks like he's doing his best impression of another celebrated Jordan's silhouette in this picture.

Count me among the buyback detractors.  I don't like opening a pack of new product pulling junk wax commons.  Now, if I were pulling vintage cards, that might be a different story.  But stamping an overproduced card from 25 years ago and passing it off as an insert doesn't really work for me.  Maybe it means I'm too old to be collecting, because I could see this being a thrill for a kid who was born in 2006 to get a card from over a decade before he was born.  But for me, I don't get excited about this 1993 Charlie Hayes.

I also pulled a couple of advertisements.  They look great on the front, but the back is just an ad.  These don't bother me much, though, because as far as I can tell, these were extra cards that didn't count toward the number of cards in the pack.  I'll probably keep these, because they are great players whose actual rookies I will probably never own. 

Overall, I like the base set, but the inserts are lackluster.  That has been my biggest beef with flagship for the past few years: the proliferation of unimpressive inserts that have huge checklists.  Personally, I would prefer either smaller sets or fewer sets.  And they have to be attractive enough for me to decide I want to put the set together.  These inserts were not.

Stay tuned for a few more days of this box.  We'll see how much of the set I can complete from this one box.

1 comment:

  1. I'll trade you your remaining base for a few of the inserts if I have enough. You're right about the Five Tools checklist being way too long. And there are FIFTY of them. Geez Topps, you've got three series to spread these out in, why do FIFTY in one shot? Like you mentioned, there aren't 50 true five tool players, maybe EVER, much less being active in the majors in 2017. Same with the '87s - A HUNDRED of them in one series? Ye gods! It's a tribute, not a Heritage set!