Where Bowman goes, Bowman Chrome invariably follows in its wake. The jazzed up version of one of Topps' most well-known football sets returns for 2008 with a full complement of rookie cards, Refractors and a rookie autograph in every hobby box.
Eighteen packs of four cards each come in every hobby box of 2008 Bowman Chrome Football. Along with the rookie auto, each box also contains a box topper pack with a special rookie parallel card.
Base Cards and Parallels
If you've seen this season's Bowman Football set, you'll know what you are getting with Bowman Chrome. The black borders are business as usual, but the semi-circular areas that visually separate rookies from everyone else (blue for rookies, red for veterans and green for coaches) are different, and they really pop on the Chrome stock.
The base set totals 220 cards, but you can't find them all here, because the first 55 cards (all rookies) were inserted in regular Bowman packs. All of the big name rookies are in Chrome packs though, including Matt Ryan, Chris Johnson and Matt Forte.
Veterans and a few coaches make up the second half of the base set. It will take a couple of boxes to finish it, as I opened a random hobby box and came up with 18 of the 55 rookies (one per pack) and 42 of the 110 veterans and coaches.
As in all Chrome products, the parallels are various levels of Refractors. The first level is unnumbered, while the others - distinguished by different colored borders - are numbered to varying quantities.
Between the rookies and veterans, the Refractors are pretty generously seeded. I pulled 11 in all, including an Isaac Bruce X-Fractor numbered to 250 and a Blue Tony Gonzalez numbered to 150.
Autographed Cards and Relic Cards
Rookie autographs are a staple of Bowman Chrome, and they are present again in the form of Autographed Rookie Variations of the 55 rookie base cards. Regular rookie autos are unnumbered, though they have six Refractor versions - including a yellow level that adds a player-worn jersey swatch - that range between one and 75 copies.
Some boxes may also have a 2008 Signature Series card, which is an autograph program that has been running through various Topps football sets. The About.com sample box contained a standard Autographed Rookie Variation of Vikings quarterback John David Booty.
Relics (Topps' name for memorabilia cards) are pretty rare in Bowman Chrome. Rookie Premiere Relics feature pieces of material worn at the preseason photo shoot by 14 different players. They also have autographed versions numbered to 25.
A one-card box topper pack offers one more chance at a rookie parallel or autograph. The possibilities include Copper parallels numbered to 329, Silver parallels numbered to 199 and Silver versions of the rookie autos numbered to 10.
Topps originally solicited the box toppers as uncirculated cards that would be encased in heavy plastic holders, but this turned out not to be the case. My box topper was a Copper Tashard Choice.
The Last Word
Whether you find Bowman Chrome superior to the regular Bowman set will be largely a matter of personal preference. Chrome has a bit less going on this season than its sibling, which is unusual, though there is added value in the Refractors and the relatively small group of top rookies.
It still seems like a bit of a disservice to make collectors buy both Bowman and Bowman Chrome to put this set together, but Topps has been doing it that way for several years so there can't be too much of a backlash. This is another solid set and should have Chrome enthusiasts busting plenty of packs.