Wednesday, March 6, 2024

In the Year 2024

A look at the ubiquitous 2024 Topps set. 
This would have been a bit more timely if it was posted closer to the release date of a few weeks ago, but I thought I'd show off/give some thoughts on the latest Topps flagship set.

Chances are, you already have a few of these cards and may have formed some opinions of your own. I do really like the design quite a bit, particularly with the way they used foil in the team names. If Opening Day was still around, I could see a cheaper and therefore uglier version of this without any of the foil printing or stamping. With the foil, however, it pops. Aside from this significant turn in design direction, a lot of what you see is going to be the same. Heavily zoomed/focused photos help you get a little more familiar with your favorite (or least favorite) players, but they tend to wash out the background and remove the "action" part of the game, which is a shame. For this particular rookie pair, I do like the way the player positions are stacked when they fit into multiple categories. I like that they chose this route instead of forcing a single position on someone who does a lot of different things on the field.

The Cardinals only managed to get nine cards into this expanded set of 350 cards. There's enough players to field a complete lineup on the field, but that's it. The two rookies likely won't be much of a factor with the big club this year, and Tyler O'Neill is already gone. There's no sign here of Nolan Gorman or Jordan Walker, two of the Cardinals brightest young stars, nor do we see Gold Glover Tommy Edman. Masyn Winn, who debuted last season, is expected to be the team's starting shortstop this year but his RC is also being held back for some reason.

This is why I will never get involved in the deeply stupid RC or rookie card debate. Masyn Winn already has multiple insert cards in this set, and yet he couldn't get a measly base card.

Back to things I do like. The card backs have gotten a bit of a facelift after looking pretty much the same over the last several years. Full stats are represented once again, and everything just looks a bit cleaner.

Let's look at bit more at some of the parallels and inserts. After the success (?) of 2023 Update's holiday-themed parallels (Halloween, essentially), even more retail exclusive parallels were added to fit with this season. This set's theme is Easter, apparently, although the base "Holiday" parallel foil pattern looks a bit like some crappy wallpaper in an old building. It's also going to get confusing very quickly if they insist on calling these "Holiday" if they also continue making a separate Holiday set at the end of the year. (The holiday parallels, it should point out, were ostensibly to replace the one-per-pack manufactured relic cards that used to be inserted into blasters.) Due to the ever popular "shrinkflation", however, you get fewer cards than you used to in a given blaster, as there are now two fewer cards per blaster pack than 2023 Series 1, and still no relic!

The 1989 inserts are back to mark the 35th Anniversary, which is apparently always Topps' favorite anniversary to celebrate. Who knows why? This set is actually fairly large (100 cards in Series 1) this time around, which would make it quite a challenge to complete the whole set if it continues the same way through Series 2 and Update.

Stars of MLB are kind of plague if you only buy retail products. On average, you get around 10 cards per blaster pack and one of these in every pack. With the base set being 350 cards and the Stars of MLB set being 30 cards, it's almost as easy to pull this Goldschmidt insert as it is his base equivalent.

They've been doing this contest for years now, but I never participate. I'm just not much of a gambler and don't want to deface the cards for no reason.

A retired player like Tony Gwynn who was actually in the 1989 set really shows off the deficiencies of this design, with the left justification of the player name font being the hardest thing to swallow. It also looks odd that this uses traditional Padres colors while Gwynn is wearing the '90s (and beyond) shade of blue that they went for at the time.

I think these All-Topps Team cards were supposed to look classy, but I can't say a single thing nice about it. It's so weird that the coloring choices make Julio look like some weird clown alien here.

I'm not a fan of this one, either. I haven't seen much of Buster Posey in sets since his retirement, so that's probably fun for some Giants fans at least.

Yellow parallels are hanger box exclusives and no longer exclusive to any specific retail store (I'm not sure if there are any store chain exclusives anymore.) The design works better for some teams than others.

Royal blue parallels are here once again. I feel like they've never settled on a consistent shade of blue for these, but I don't think I've sat examples from each year side by side to get a good comparison.

And here is a card full of eggs.

I didn't intend this to be an exhausting review of all things 2024 Topps, so I've left out a few bits and pieces. The Superstar Blueprint cards have caused a bit of a stir but every time I pull one someone snatches it up right away. There are more parallels than what I've shown here, of course, but they're mostly just different colors and shiny accoutrements.

In short, I like this set quite a bit and it's one of the few flagship ones I normally wouldn't mind building, but I'm also trying to steer myself away from doing much more set building as it just takes up a lot of space. I'm always going to have more fun digging through my Cardinals binders than I would have in looking through a complete set. For that reason, I do have quite a few base cards that I don't need. Hit me up on TCDB or elsewhere if you're looking for anything. Thanks!


  1. The inserts are so, so bad and boring. ... Topps has been celebrating 35th anniversaries since 2018 when it suddenly decided to move from 30th anniversary celebrations ('87 inserts in 2017) because they couldn't handle the 1988 design then, I guess? Maybe they needed 5 years to prepare.

  2. Probably my favorite flagship design in a real long time. I know some find it too out there with the neon or the foil, but at least they tried something different, and I'm happy about that. Why they make a big deal out of 35th anniversary every year is weird, but no complaints. That's a great set in its own right. As for inserts, make less, and make them harder to pull. I mean are inserts even valuable anymore besides for player or team collectors?

  3. I got excited to see that Gwynn... but after reading your breakdown... it was a little less cool :D

  4. The base set's attractive "Neon Sign" design makes the design of the inserts look rather plain and boring. It makes me wonder if the base card design was first intended to be an insert design or maybe even a design for a premium Topps product.

  5. More plusses than minuses this year so that's good, thanks for showing off the cards!


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