Triple Threads has settled in nicely as the main memorabilia-focused brand in the Topps lineup for baseball, football and basketball. It continues to push the envelope on what can be expected from game-used cards, as the 2008 baseball set has some book cards - cards which actually have hinges and open like a book - with as many as 24 swatches.
Boxes of 2008 Topps Triple Threads Baseball hold two mini-boxes, each with a single six-card pack. Every pack contains either a relic (memorabilia) card or autographed relic card with at least three swatches of material.
Base Cards and Parallels
All 145 cards in the 2008 Triple Threads base set are numbered to 1350 copies, and the subjects include both present and past MLB stars. Photos are set against a single-color background that fades out to white on both sides, with funky stripes along the top and bottom. The entire card has a textured surface that kind of makes it look like canvas.
Parallels come in five different levels (plus 1-of-1 printing plates) and are easy to identify thanks to color changes in the background. The most common level is Sepia (#'d to 525), while the rarest is Platinum (1-of-1).
I opened a single mini-box of Triple Threads Baseball to review and found three base cards: Reggie Jackson, Frank Thomas and Gil Meche. I also pulled a Sepia Freddy Sanchez and an Emerald Andruw Jones.
Triple Threads offers up a large mix of memorabilia cards, all of which boast at least three swatches. The most common sets are Triple Threads Relics and Triple Threads Relic Combos, which show off three pieces from a single player or three players respectively. Topps does a nice job utilizing creative shapes for the swatches and uses different shapes for the same players to come up with multiple cards.
When even a super-thick card isn't enough to hold the relic pieces, book cards that hinge in the middle are on hand to hold even more. Triple Threads Relic Double Combos have six swatches from one, two or six players. Several insert sets - including Triple Threads Jumbo Plus Relics, Triple Threads Letter Plus Relics, Triple Threads All-Star Logo Man and Triple Threads Bat Nameplates - have two regular swatches plus one oversized special swatch on the other side of the book card.
But the most eye-popping book cards of all may be the Triple Threads XXIV Relics, book cards that open up to show off 24 (or more) swatches on a single card. All of the relic cards in the set are numbered to no more than 36 copies, with many also available in lower-numbered parallel levels.
My mini-box held a triple bat card with game-used swatches from three players who have suited up for Team USA in international baseball competition: Jason Varitek, Alex Rodriguez and Chase Utley. Appropriately, the swatches are shaped to spell out "USA."
Autographed Relic Cards
At a rate of one in every other mini-box, the odds of finding an autographed relic card in Triple Threads are pretty good. Some, in the case of the Rookie & Rising Star Auto Triple Relics, are even numbered as part of the base set. These cards feature an autograph and three swatches (and are numbered to 99), and as the name implies, are devoted to 2008 MLB rookies and young stars. Triple Threads Autographed Relic Pairs pair up two of the rookies and rising stars with signatures and swatches from both players.
Veterans get their due on Triple Threads Autographed Relic Combos, with three players and one autograph and game-used swatch apiece, and Triple Threads Autographed Relic Double Combos, which focus on two players and serve up two autographs and six total relics.
Some of the most unique cards in the set incorporate cut signatures. Triple Threads Autographed Relics combine a cut sig and three relics from the likes of Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Roberto Clemente. Triple Threads Cut Above Relics are similar, but the subjects are political figures instead of baseball players.
With my review mini-box yielding a regular triple relic card, I found no autographed relics.