Nothing resonates in the minds of collectors and non-collectors like Topps Baseball, a tradition for 56 years. The 2007 edition of the hobby staple has a sharp look with black borders highlighted with silver foil.
2007 Topps Baseball (Series 1 and 2) come packaged in several forms. The About.com review samples are standard hobby boxes with 36 packs of 10 cards each. Retail boxes have 24 packs with 12 cards per pack, and Home Team Advantage (HTA) jumbo boxes have 10 50-card packs, with one relic (memorabilia) card and one autographed card per box on average.
As mentioned above, the 661-card base set has a dramatic, black bordered look with team color squares in the four corners. Silver foil is used for the Topps logo and team name above the photo, as well as the player name on the bottom. The photo area also shows off a facsimile autograph from the pictured player.
The card backs use green, yellow and brown to set off the stats and write-ups from the black borders. Complete player stats are present as always, and Topps seems like they will make the font as small as necessary to fit even the longest careers.
The Series 1 roster lists 241 MLB veterans, 30 players with the MLB Rookie Card designation, 15 team cards, 15 managers, 24 award winners and 5 Classic Combo cards with two players each. Series 2 adds 31 more cards with the official Rookie Card logo and Barry Bonds, who appears on the final base card. Combined, my hobby boxes turned up 512 of the 660 base cards with 121 duplicates.
Series 1 parallels range from fairly common to unique. Gold-bordered parallels are numbered to 2007, copper parallels (found only in HTA jumbo packs) are numbered to 56 and platinum cards are 1-of-1's. There are also hobby-only 1st Edition parallels, which are unnumbered cards with a foil 1st Edition stamp in the upper right corner. Series 2 drops the Copper level but keeps all the others.
About.com's sample boxes yielded seven gold parallels (four from Series 1 and three from Series 2) and a single 1st Edition card from each series.
Series 1 Insert Cards
Topps is known for unleashing a flurry of insert cards with Topps Baseball, and this year's set is no exception. Old standbys Own The Game and Hobby Masters (hobby boxes only) are back for another run with rainbow foil elements.
Generation Now focuses on the accomplishments of eight young players, with a separate card for each number of a significant stat - like each game of Chase Utley's 35-game hitting streak. Other big names in the insert set include Ryan Howard and David Wright, and there's also an autographed parallel.
Historic home runs are the subject of two other inserts. Josh Gibson HR History celebrates 110 of the 800-plus round-trippers of the "Black Babe Ruth" with art by renowned sports artist Dick Perez. The Road to 500 has a card for each of Alex Rodriguez's first 25 career homers, and the insert will continue (along with rare autographed versions) through all of the 2007 Topps baseball products.
All told, I pulled six Own The Game, six Hobby Masters, nine Generation Now and four Josh Gibson HR History inserts, along with a lone Road to 500 card, from my Series 1 review box.
Series 2 Insert Cards
Generation Now continues into Series 2 with 194 additional cards. The A-Rod Road to 500 also chugs along with career home runs 201 through 225.
Series 2 also has plenty of its own inserts. Topps Stars and Opening Day cards are mostly self-explanatory. Trading Places spotlights 25 players who changed teams between 2006 and 2007, and Hit Parade is a 30-card set that focuses on the top 10 active leaders in homers, RBIs and hits.
A cool interactive element is the draw for Home Run Derby Contest cards. Numbered to 999, the cards picture 50 players who Topps thinks are likely candidates to make up the field for the 2007 Home Run Derby. If someone in the insert set wins this year's event, collectors who own the winning player's card can enter a drawing to win the champion's actual event-worn jersey.
My Series 2 sample box was packed with inserts, including nine Generation Now, four each from Topps Stars, Trading Places and Hit Parade, three Opening Day and one A-Rod Road to 500.
Mickey Mantle Insert Cards
Topps has a longstanding relationship with Mickey Mantle and his estate, so it's not surprising to find more cards dedicated to the fan favorite in this year's set. Home Run History cards are back for 2007, with different cards for Mantle's career homers 202 through 301 in Series 1 and 302 to 401 in Series 2. There are also relic parallels numbered to just seven copies.
The Mickey Mantle Story is a 30-card insert (15 in each series) highlighting different moments from the legend's early career on cards modeled after the 1952 Topps design. And Unlock The Mick features game cheats for the MLB 2K7 video game that enable a number of in-game tricks including the ability to use Mantle as a player.
Eight Mantle inserts came in my Series 1 review box: four HR History, and two each of The Mickey Mantle Story and Unlock The Mick. Four more HR History and two more Mantle Story cards popped up in the Series 2 box.