The day is finally here. After making collectors wait a bit longer than usual, Topps has released 2013 Allen & Ginter.
Now, with Topps' flagship set, my buying has definitely tapered off, as I haven't even bought any Series 2, and with Heritage, it all depends on whether or not I liked the original design (loved 1962/2011 & 1963/2012, hated 1964/2013). Allen & Ginter, however, is the one set I am sure to pursue every year.
Like a lot of young collectors, my interest in cards really dropped off once I was at the high school/college age and my interests were focused on other things, like girls. I made a short return to the hobby in 2007, though, when I discovered that companies were actually making cards in tribute to past sets, like Allen & Ginter and Turkey Red. I bought both products, but what really drew me to Allen & Ginter was the fact that the set really resembled the tobacco cards specifically, and I was really impressed with the extent that Topps went to in order to recreate the past design. Then, in 2010, when I made my full-time return to the hobby, Allen & Ginter was the first product I went all-in with, picking up numerous boxes, and completing the full 350-card set.
So, here we are with the 2013 release. It's a new year, but Topps hasn't strayed too far from the formula that made it a success. It's a baseball-centric set, but the base cards are still filled with athletes from other sports and even some non-athletic subjects. Every year, there seems to be one big non-baseball name included that has collectors going crazy. In 2011, there was Manny Pacquiao, in 2012, it was Kate Upton, and this year brings us Pele. The soccer legend is billed on the sell sheets as a "Living Legend," and his cards are fetching major bucks on Ebay.
For the first time since collecting the product line, I am REALLY intrigued by the non-baseball hits. The biggest one, for me, is former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins, who has autographed cards, as well as an appearance in the base set. There are also autographs of former Artie Lange, Axl Rose, Abe Vigoda, Barry Melrose, Ed O'Neill, Mark Cuban, Mike Richter, Monty Hall, McKayla Maroney, Penny Marshall, Scott Hamilton, Tommy Lee, and plenty of others. I past years, you'd dread pulling the non-baseball relic, like the domino champ or YouTube dancer (I pulled both), but for this particular release, I'll be looking forward to it.
Speaking of looking forward to it, let's get on with the break. I'll go into details of all the SPs, inserts, and hits to give you a good idea of what one box may contain.
SPs (12): George Brett, David Price, Andrew McCutchen, Alex Rodriguez, Marco Scutaro, Avisail Garcia, Bill Walton, Robin Yount, Shaun Marcum, Bob Lemon, Tommy Hanson, Tommy Milone
Minis (12): Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Andrew McCutchen, Robin Roberts, Willie McCovey, Russell Martin, Darryl Strawberry, Neil Walker, Artie Lange, Adam Richman, Yoenis Cespedes, Bill Walton
Mini A&G Back (5): Ike Davis, Josh Reddick, Alex Rodriguez, Lou Gehrig, Jean Segura
Mini Black Border (2): Jered Weaver, Jacoby Ellsbury
Across the Years (12): Ryne Sandberg, Jim Rice, Tim Lincecum, Yoenis Cespedes, Joey Votto, Joe Mauer, Manny Machado, Adrian Beltre, Gio Gonzalez, Jason Heyward, James Shields, Justin Verlander
One Little Corner (3): Uranus, Mars, Haumea
Palaces and Strongholds (3):Potala Palace, Fort Knox, Gyeongbokgung
Martial Mastery (3): Romans, Knights, Aztecs
Civiizations of Ages Past (3): Vikings, Egyptians, Assyrians
The First Americans (1): Lakota
Inquiring Minds (2): Plato, Sun Tzu
Heavy Hangs the Head (1): Ferdinand & Isabella
Peacemakers (1): George Washington
Box Topper: Wonders of the World Cabinet Card - Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Hits (3): Madison Bumgarner Mini Jersey, Matt Cain Mini Jersey, Chris Heisey Jersey
Well, there you have it. In my opinion, we have another successful year. There's a lot of variety in the base cards and the inserts have plenty of interesting subjects. I just have the one box for now, but I'm sure there will be plenty more to come. Overall, as usual, I love the set and think that there are plenty of interesting and new things to be found.
My particular box, though, presented me with two problems. First of all, six cards came severely dinged on the bottom right corner. The box was not damaged, so it must have been during the packaging process. I know mistakes happen, but still, that's a full pack worth of base cards, which matters to a set collector like myself. Secondly, Topps, in their sell sheet, promised that of the three hits included in each hobby box, each will be a different design. Their relics are done in three different designs, one full-sized and two different mini frames, so it is still possible to pull just a three-relic box, like I did, but both of my Giants hits have the same design to it. Maybe I'm nitpicking a little too much, but if I'm promised variety and I don't get variety, I'm a little disappointed, even though I got the promised number of hits. Maybe I'll contact Topps and see if there's anything they can do. At the very least, I'd like those damaged base cards replaced, but who knows. We'll just have to see what happens.