Each time Spring returns to our calendar, it means three milestones for baseball that generate excitement. The first time players report to Spring Training, Opening Day and when Topps Series One is launched. No other release creates this much buzz in the baseball world. This year’s design is crisp without a frame and features a vertical listing with the player name and team. Series One like Stadium Club also provides a sprinkling of cards in horizontal mode which provides some amazingly crisp photography. This year’s design does not disappoint.
The interesting thing about the release of Topps’ flagship product is the anticipation of what players are in Series One and those that will be delayed until Series Two. Mike Trout, based on the vote from collectors, is your card number one which has become a prestigious distinction. The quest for rookies in a large numbered product becomes a big part of the chase and Series One has a total of 48 with the Rookie Card (“RC”) distinction. These are led by Yordan Alvarez, Gavin Lux, Aristides Aquino, Bo Bichette and Jesus Lazardo. There is one strange down of this checklist and Topps handling of it is head-scratching – the Texas Rangers. The Rangers have one, yes one card in Series One: the rookie card for Nick Solak. Topps stated that they were trying to put a seal on all of the Rangers cards to honor the opening of their new ballpark, but that concept had issues. That means that there will be a flood of Rangers in Series Two and makes the Rangers team collector have a quick pursuit with this release. Great checklist but the Rangers’ debacle deserves some penalty.
Topps flagship (including Series One and Series Two) can probably be labeled as the most collectable product of them all. Everyone jumps in because it is usually the first product of the season. Topps has the baseball license, so it is a true baseball product through and through. And if you ask all of the set builders, all of them will tell you that the Topps set each year is the one they build or even buy in retail when the factory sets come out. Other than Bowman (and the modern Bowman does not compare to the older Bowman), Topps flagship is the last true connection to the baseball card past.
Favorite Parallel/Insert Set:
Series One like most products of today has a laundry list of Parallels to give the chaser something to pursue, to give the flipper something to grab and move immediately or to give the player collector a rainbow of colors to go after to make their collection complete. These include: Gold Foil, Rainbow Foil, Gold (numbered to 2020), Advanced Stats (numbered to 300), Vintage Stock (numbered to 99), Independence Day (numbered to 76), Black (numbered to 69), Blue for Father’s Day (numbered to 50), Pin for Mother’s Day (numbered to 50), Camo for Memorial Day (numbered to 25), Clear (numbered to 10), Platinum and Printing Plates (both numbered 1/1) and the Purple (exclusive to Mejier stores) and Yellow (exclusive to Walgreens stores). As for Inserts, this year’s key set is those reflecting the 1985 design to celebrate the 35th anniversary. That is a 100-card set with parallels. Decade of Dominance is a 20-card set (parallels available) with cutouts. Decade’s Best is 100 cards with parallels and it also has a 100-card Chrome version. Topps Now Review is 10 cards celebrating last year’s major achievements. Decade’s Next is 30-cards of young players with parallels. Home Run Challenge is back with 30 cards. Global Game Medallion has 50 cards of players with foreign ties with parallels. Rhys Hoskins Highlights is a 30-card set exclusive to Wal-Mart retail. Vlad Guerrero Highlights is a 30-card set exclusive to Target retail. Rookie Card Retrospective is 50 cards with parallels celebrating past rookie cards. Topps Choice is a 25-card set with parallels. Turkey Red has a 100-card set with parallels, a 50-card Box Topper set and a 100-card Chrome set with parallels.
If you are looking for signatures and would rather gather them in packs then seeking them in person (a rarity these days) as Spring Training starts, then rip open Series One as there are tons of sets to deliver. The 1985 version features autos for each card with parallels (Black numbered to 199, Gold numbered to 50, Red numbered to 25 and a Platinum 1/1). Baseball Stars is a single set (64 cards with parallels) as well as Duals (14 cards numbered to 5). Decade of Dominance is a 10-card set numbered to 25. Decades Best has 44 cards numbered to 25 while Decade’s Next has 25 cards numbered to 25. Postseason Performance has 18 cards numbered to 50. The Rhys Hoskins and Vlad Guerrero sets both have 30 cards each numbered to 10. Topps Choice has 17 cards numbered to 25 while the World Series Champions is 8 cards numbered to 50. Cut Signatures is an amazing collection of 40 1/1’s from history. As for Relics, the 1985 version has 50 cards with parallels. In the Name Relics has 60 cards (all 1/1’s) with letter patches. Major League Material has 50 cards with parallels, Postseason Performance Relics is a 28-card set with parallels and World Series Champions Relics has 15 cards with parallels celebrating the Nationals. And for those that want the combination of both, there are the following: Global Game Medallion Autographs (29 cards numbered to 10), Jumbo Jersey Sleeve Patch Autographs (25 cards numbered to 10), Major League Materials Autographs (39 cards numbered to 50), Postseason Performance Autograph Relics (18 cards numbered to 50), Reverence Autograph Patches (39 cards with parallels), World Series Champion Autograph Relics (8 cards numbered to 50) and Rookie Card Retrospective Medallion Autographs (30 cards numbered to 10).
Topps Series One is probably the easiest product to review for a host of reasons: it is the first full issue for the season, every collector has a Topps flagship collecting story, it is loaded with all things possible Topps and it has the most hype of any baseball product. This was evident with the “Million Card Rip Party” in Dallas at Cowboys Stadium featuring a host of breakers ripping away. In addition to all of the items listed in the review, if that wasn’t enough, you too can try and be like Charlie and the other kids to visit the Chocolate Factory as you search for the rare Golden Ticket. 25 are available and two were pulled at the party. Whether you hit retail or your local hobby shop, Topps Series One is built to never disappoint.
Overall Score 4.27/5.0