Sunday, February 14, 2021

Party Like It's 2021


That new card smell. 
After reports of elevated prices for hobby boxes and cases and difficulties buying online during release day, I wasn't sure when I would see my first 2021 Topps cards. I even missed out on the case break that I normally buy into due to unfortunate timing, but considering the prices I may have dodged a bullet there. I finally made it through the labyrinth that is the Topps website and placed an order for two blasters on Wednesday (one for me, one for the contest winner.) Later that day, however, I managed to catch the Target employees stocking the shelves with new boxes from Excel Marketing at the very small store down the street from me and, without feeling like I was hovering too much, managed to grab a blaster to open that day. 

Here is the first card that I pulled. Actually, technically, I might have ripped into the relic card pack out of habit, but we'll show that one off last. This is my first real hands-on look at 2021 Topps. I... don't hate it as much as I thought I would, to be quite honest. The nameplate is still awful, but the fact that this looks like a Panini Donruss design only improved with logos actually makes it a bit of a step in the right direction for Topps. I do like the team logo placement and the foil "70" Topps logo. I also like the hexagonal/honeycomb borders. Maybe it's just that the newness hasn't worn off yet? Maybe it's that I was suffering from extreme 2020 set fatigue? (There were way too many sets last year!) I know that I don't like the weird slanted lines and... yeah, the nameplate is garbage. I just wanted to say that again.

There were four Cardinals cards in the box including Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong. Let's look at the others.

Kodi Whitley is one of two rookies on the team checklist. He was part of the huge group of players that suddenly were pressed into their first MLB duties after COVID-19 wiped out a huge chunk of the roster early on in the abbreviated "season".

Speaking of 2020 weirdness, one of my biggest gripes over the years is how Topps treats the backs of officially designated "RC" cards. Starting with 2006, the first year of the official "Rookie Card" designation, Topps gave the rookie cards a different card back with an emphasis on bio and just the most recent year of minor league numbers. The part that always annoyed me is that in most cases the player already had some major league stats logged, and those are always ignored. I would much rather see the wall of stats from the player's various stops along the road to the majors than a single line of stats. Ignoring their major league career that is already underway was my biggest pet peeve, though. This time, with no minor league season at all in 2020, Topps was forced to use their MLB stats - although it lazily keeps the asterisk under the "Club" name.

I'm going to continue to be curious about where the photos for these early 2021 sets are taken from. This is clearly from a spring training game as it features Yadi in a red uniform. There actually aren't too many red jersey Cardinals cards out there aside from various prospects.

Topps also did away with full stats on the back for a few years but wisely returned to it. As one of the longest tenured players in the game, I figured Molina's card was a good one to check. Yes! Full stats!

I heard some complaints about the 'RC' logo placement, but I'm not impressed with how this Future Stars stripe was squeezed in here. If you couldn't tell, there seems to be heavily applied filtering effects used on all of these photos, making many of the player photos look like they're Photoshopped into different uniforms, even if they're not.

The Home Run Challenge inserts pretty much look the same. They're very bland, but I guess you shouldn't expect much out of what's essentially a contest card.

Here's Gleyber Torres on a 70 Years of Topps tribute card, which pays tribute to past sets. It's truly a bold and unexpected move for Topps.

I assumed this was from the same insert set as the Torres card above. I was wrong.

I flipped the card over and it looks like another card. Apparently these are "Double Headers" and fall at 1 in 30 blaster packs.

Gold parallels are also a tough pull this year, as it takes roughly four blasters to get one. Since the numbering didn't go up substantially (2021 copies, naturally), you don't really have to be a math wizard to realize what this means. Topps printed a ton of this set! We are sliding closer to junk wax era territory here, and I'm here for it.

Speaking of numbering, I was very happy to see the classic gold foil stamping of the serial numbers have returned for these. Although the gold border on the front of the card looks a lot more like copper to me, this is a nice touch.

We've come up on 1986 for the continuation of the Topps 35th Anniversary inserts. While I may already made fun of the reuse of old designs in this very post, the 1986 set gives me the most feelings of nostalgia as it was the first packs that I ever opened. It hasn't been reused nearly as much as other Topps designs of the '80s, although it has already appeared in Archives once. I think they did reasonably well with the fonts here, although Posey's card is the only one I've seen in hand so far.

On the other hand, Topps also saw fit to pay tribute to the 1952 set for at least the 381st time. These are a one-per-pack retail exclusive that replaced last year's Turkey Red inserts. It looks like there's only 50 on the checklist this time instead of the 100 Turkey Red cards from 2020 Series 1.

I would flat out be dismissive of these, but their thicker card stock gives it more of a Heritage feel to me than the other inserts.

Of course, there are also Chrome versions of these. This is a refractor, which makes me believe that all of the Chrome parallels are refractors.

Lastly, here's the relic card. This card is practically weightless, especially when compared to the relic inserts from the past couple of years. The patch appears to just be made of a chrome colored plastic. Even though they're the sheer definition of inessential, I had come around to some of the manufactured/pseudo-relics that Topps has cranked out. I just don't like this.


  1. I haven't seen one of those Double Headers yet. With the rookie and sunset cards together, at least in this case, it looks really cool.

    As far as the 86s go, they did well with the player name font, they are virtually identical. But the N in Giants look a lot more "lightning-boltish" than it did in the original set.

    That being said, if the Posey is available, sign me up. Gotta be the first time I ever asked anyone for a Posey. My head hurts now.

  2. Thanks for the great overview of this product/blaster. Not too big a fan of the cards, but I have to say if I come across any I might be tempted to grab a blaster simply due to the fact that it's been over a year now since I've been able to do that!

  3. Hmm...I haven't even thought of to find blasters. I do have two coming from, so we'll see how that goes. Thanks for sharing your pulls. I too am glad that the gold number is back instead of those weird dotted numbers.

  4. I've said I'm going to avoid going out of my way to buy packs from this set, but I may be tempted to order a blaster online. It's not that I am warming to the set -- those player names are even more difficult to read after just waking up -- I just need to see the newness up close.

  5. I wonder why they decided to remove the RC logo. Lol. Just when I was getting used to it. On a positive note... I do like full stats too.


Comments are highly encouraged, but then again, so is eating your fruits and vegetables.