With Spring Training right around the corner, we get the first new signs of spring. After a very cold few days, any sign is welcome. It’s a fairly standard release, but it seems to have a few unwanted surprises this year. It seems the production has greatly increased once again. As a result, the chances at many of the number parallels are much more difficult than recent years.
Another unfortunate surprise is the apparent reconfiguration of the Jumbo box release. Aside from the more difficult odds for parallels, it seems many possible cards are either completely unavailable in Jumbo boxes or are on much steeper odds than the regular hobby release. In particular, the alternative image SPs and legends SSPs seem to be much more available in regular hobby box.
There’s a bit of a lull right now for baseball releases, so it’s a good time to step back in time and open an older release. The lucky winner is 1994 Topps Series 2.
This is just as cards were getting a little more modern. Gone were the plain cardboard backs, and in were the glossies finish cards, with full pictures on the back as well. This wasn’t the first year of a glossier finish, but it was still relatively new, and a big step up from the 80s releases. While it was impressive at the time, it causes problems almost 25 years later.
While it is certainly not a unique problem to this release, many of the cards were stuck together inside the packs. There are numerous tutorials online suggesting ways to solve this problem, and we tried a couple of different methods. None of them were 100% effective. That’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning to open these releases. There’s no real high dollar card in this release, but I can’t imagine it would be very fun to pull a great card, only to find it damaged inside a mint pack.
This release comes as the post season is coming to a close. That’s rather fitting because while it is not the last release of the year, it does provide a bit of a wrap up for a lot of collectors. It features players making their debut during the season, as well as veteran all stars and other traded players.
It’s a very familiar set. Boxes contain 10 packs of 50 cards each. Every box advertises three hits, one of which is an autograph. We see the continuation of some insert sets, like the 1983 35th anniversary, but also includes some new insert sets such as international affair. As an added bonus, during the initial hobby shop release, each box also included two bonus packs, containing 4 special 1983 Chrome cards.
This is an interesting release this year. Archives normally comes out around late May, but as the summer started, there was talk about it being pushed back until August. That much isn’t particularly unusual. Releases get delayed frequently for any number of reasons. What is unusual, is what happened in August.
The cards hit retail in August, but hobby was nowhere to be seen. It
wasn’t really clear when hobby was coming, or why the delay, but hobby was eventually released on October 24th. There are a lot of rumors about why, but I’m curious to see what it does to the product. I feel like a lot of people had a chance to get their fill at retail long before hobby hit stores. It’s interesting to see how few of some autographs really hit the market from retail, though. It’s also apparent that some retail redemptions came back and were packed in live for hobby, which is a benefit, I guess.
Heritage High Numbers exists as essentially an update set for the regular Heritage release. It picks up where the first set ends, containing cards 501-725, of which the final 25 are SPs. The SPs are a much smaller portion of the set for High Numbers, so they are easier to complete.
This set has cards for some traded veterans, people left out of the first release, as well as hot rookies making their debut this year.
Once again, we have the return of short print variants with team color swaps, errors, traded, action, and others. There’s an extra wrinkle to those this year, which I think it long overdue. At least for this release, gone are the days of trying to read a tiny product code to be sure which variant you have. Instead, Topps includes a label below the card number telling you which variant you have. Hopefully this is a feature that sticks around in future releases.