The WWE Heritage box from my last post was the last break from the pile of boxes that I got during Blowout Cards’ Black Friday sale. This box was one that I got around the same time, but this was from my local card shop, Kenmore Collectibles. They were running a promotion similar to one that Blowout Cards had also run. Blowout was offering $1.25 in cash or $1.75 in trade for baseball autograph and relic cards. Kenmore was offering a dollar for autograph and relic cards from all four sports as well as any cards numbered to 25 or less. The Blowout promotion had ended at this point, this offer didn’t require any packages sent through the mail and it allowed me to get something for a bunch of hockey, football and basketball cards that I didn’t want and couldn’t even get a dollar for on eBay.
I’m a big fan of the 206 set. I wasn’t in the hobby in 2002 when they did this the first time around so it is all new to me. This set combines a lot of the things that collectors look for in sets. You’ve got short prints, a retro theme, minis, on-card autographs, serial numbered parallels and rainbows for player collectors.
The retro filter that they applied to the pictures on these cards works very well for the close-up portrait cards. It doesn’t work that well for some of the cards where the player is further away. There’s a Ken Griffey Jr. card in the set that comes to mind which is far to blotchy and blurry for my tastes. The bad looking cards are by far the minority in the set.
I’m also a fan of the Allen & Ginter sets, but the short prints can make the set a bit of a chore at times. While there are short printed variations in Topps 206 packs, I love the fact that they aren’t part of the regular set. Master set and player collectors can track them down if they’d like, but in order to put together the regular set, you don’t have to chase down a single short print. Another good thing that the short prints have going in favor of them is the fact that they have different pictures on them. Check out the base and SP Lincecum cards here. I would think that a master set displayed in a binder would look beautiful with all of the variants right next to their regular versions. The two different Pujols here look great as well.
Even if you were to choose to pursue all of the short printed cards, there are only 50 of them which falls in line with what you normally see in a set this size. The regular sized SP aren’t too tough to come by and you’ll get around 5 per box. The mini SP are a lot tougher and you’ll only get one of those per box. Since I’ve been pulling him in every other type of variation and parallel, I of course ended up pulling Rick Porcello. If he continues to pitch well, I’ll have a nice little collection of his cards.
The mini SP cards have the variant picture on them, but you can also tell them apart by the fact that they are printed on a white card stock that is easily seen on the side if you’ve got a stack of minis in front of you.
One of the few negatives to this set are the bronze parallels. While they seem to be doing a good job at thwarting would-be pack searchers, it can be annoying getting two different parallel sets in one pack. The fact that there are 9 cards per pack keeps this from being too annoying. If this were an Upper Deck product, there would only be 4 or 5 cards per pack and the parallels would get annoying. Think of a Goodwin pack where you get two minis. It’s a huge reason why I won’t touch that stuff in pack form.
There are different ad backs on the minis similar to the original T-206 set. The Piedmont, Old Mill and Polar Bear variants aren’t numbered, but the Cycle backs are numbered to 99 and the Carolina Brights are 1/1.
My box contained a Cameron Cycle along with a Cunningham Old Mill, Burrell Polar Bear and Adrian Gonzalez Old Mill. Unfortunately, it now looks like I’ll have to wait until the trade deadline to possibly see Gonzalez in a Red Sox jersey. Could someone please tell Jed Hoyer that Clay Buchholz will be an absolute beast pitching in a weaker NL with half of his game in mammoth Petco. Ellsbury’s no slouch either.
While this is just another bat card of A-Rod, is has an Old Mill frame which makes it a little rarer and a little more valuable. This is definitely a card that’s not staying in my collection. There was a time when I was rooting for A-Rod to be the guy to wipe out all of Bonds’ records, but then it was revealed that A-Rod was just as dirty as Bonds. At least A-Rod has come clean and isn’t trying to pretend like he hasn’t done anything wrong.
One interesting thing about this card is that it is an uncorrected error. The back reads that this is a Game-Worn Jersey Relic Card. In this day and age, something like this is no big deal. It’s not that rare to see relic cards with swapped jersey swatches or cards just completely manufactured wrong.
Personal feelings aside, this is a 1:105 relic card of one of the top players in the league so it’s a nice pull. This card will eventually make someone else very happy.
I absolutely love these framed, on-card autograph. These cards are mainly rookies and younger players who Topps could get to sign this year cheaply. There are also full sized autograph cards with stickers on them. This is where you’ll find most of the bigger stars, but since it is the same stars that you’ll find sticker autos of in almost every other set out there, are these cards really that desirable?
When it’s all said and done, I think this may be my favorite baseball set of the year. Keeping the short prints out of the regular set gives it a slight edge over Ginter. I also like the inserts a lot more than Ginter. There’s not as much empty space in the frame and the frame isn’t something you might see on a Hawaiian shirt. The set doesn’t try to do too much which Ginter seems to do with all of its insert sets. Yes, some are great like the Mythical Creatures, but those don’t even fall one per box.
As far as grades go, I would give the Topps 206 set an A with some points off for the second parallel set. I would give my box an A as well. I got two very nice hits and no misses. I pulled some nice short prints. The only way that this box gets better is if my hits are of players that I collect.