July 15, 2018

Big League Surprise

For several weeks, I've been hot on the trail of retail Stadium Club and each time I've searched another Target or Walmart for those elusive blasters/jumbo packs I have come up empty. This week, I added Topps Big League(BL) to my search. New product, same results...until yesterday. I still haven't found any Stadium Club, but I found these staring back at me from the card shelf at Walmart:

Not only did I find some BL, but the blasters have cards on them!!! I was so excited to see that. I'm pretty sure this is the first time the collecting community has seen cards on packaging since 2009 OPC. The 'box card' set contains 4 cards. I haven't seen a checklist, but I lucked into two pretty popular players.

I can't remember the last time I was so careful about cutting something out. Though the scans don't reflect it, I made sure to keep the dotted lines intact. As cool as 'box panel cards' are, the best part came after I opened the blasters to take the packs out.

They're not just blank backed, they're fully printed!!! To my fellow collectors who are searching this product out, I say being patient on the search for retail will definitely pay off. Now let's move on to the rest of the cards I found.

Here are a few of my faves from the 2 blasters. Manny's sweet swing, the great Pirates throwback, and Benny's concentration at the moment of contact are really cool shots. Albies is having a great rookie season, Mengden looks like he's playing in the '70's with that cool 'stache, and Sano is pretty happy that there's two down in the inning. I love the pic selection. Most of the cards I pulled just have a different feel than flagship's photography choices. The borders are a welcome departure from recent set designs and I like that team colors are incorporated into the framing. Subsets also make a triumphant return.

Though these Player's Weekend and Ballpark Landmarks look like inserts, they're part of the base set. This certainly harkens back to times gone by. He card stock isn't quite old school cardboard, but it does have a different feel than the overly thin and slick stock used for flagship. Add all of this to a 400 card checklist and I feel this is a really solid offering with a lot of positives for set collectors and team collectors alike. If there's one thing I don't necessarily like it's that gold border parallels appear at a rate of one per 10 card pack. They're done nicely, but it makes building the set a bit more difficult.

I don't have much to write about the parallels, though I was happy to pull the Rickey. Each blaster also had a pack of 'exclusive' blue bordered parallels.

I think I prefer the blue borders, they 'pop' quite a bit more than the gold ones. Lastly, unlike most modern sets, inserts aren't a primary draw for this set. That being said, I did pull 4 total inserts from the two blasters.

For me, the inserts aren't much to get excited over. I honestly think I would have preferred 4 additional base cards. Maybe if I find some more of this product, the insert designs will grow on me. Despite mediocre insert designs, this set is really strong for an initial offering. I'm hoping it does well enough that Topps decides to bring it back next year. Maybe they could put all of their 'affordable set' ideas in one basket and move a few of the great insert set concepts from Opening Day over to this set and eliminate OD altogether, leaving behind a really great entry level set that could appeal to kids and any coll chores that aren't interested in all of the crazy bells and whistles that most sets have crammed in these days. (deep sigh)...I suppose that's unlikely, but a guy can dream, right? Thanks for reading.