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.
As a follow up to the A New Hope release from 2018, Topps releases a new set featuring The Empire Strikes Back. When it first showed up last year, I wasn’t sure what to really think of it, but over time the release grew on me. The black & white photos bring a less familiar feel to the thirty-six year old images.
It follows the same format as last year, with a 150 card base set, parallels, and a few insert sets. There is nothing really surprising, but this is more about the images than anything else. This is going to be a tough set to put together from packs, however. A box contains 7 packs with 8 cards in each. Each box also advertises one autograph or sketch card.
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.
The Topps series two release continues on much of the first release of the year. It features base cards 351-700, along with many new and familiar insert sets. It comes at a time when the top rookie from the beginning of the season, Shohei Ohtani, is out with a potentially season ending injury. He’s still heavily featured in this product, and we see his first flagship Topps base rookie card.
As the season has moved on, other top rookies have emerged. This has led to some rookies that may be able to replace Ohtani for hobby prominence. To partially solve this, Topps issued SP variants for a couple of the top guys in Acuna and Torres, rather than include them in the base set. These SPs join alternate photos along with many legends as extensions to the set. This seems like a reasonable compromise to me, to get these players in, without making them part of the set.
This is the normal jumbo box configuration, consisting of 10 packs of 50 cards each, including three hits. On release day, two additional silver packs were included, containing four 1983 Chrome cards each.