Well it’s Tuesday again, which means we are getting ready for another round of product releases. Thankfully this week is nowhere near as insane as last week, with only 2 products hitting the shelves. First up, it appears the boys of summer aren’t quite ready to sit down, as Topps has yet another baseball release for us. Topps Strata Baseball has returned for another year, with it’s 2 card, hit only, product. The concept of a hobby box with only 2 cards confuses me, but I’m also a fan of ITG 12th Edition hockey, so who am I to complain. With one auto and one relic per box, this product definitely leans towards the higher end collector. And at a price of $76usd doesn’t quite cost as much as some other companies would charge (looking at you Upper Deck).
Topps Strata Baseball – Strata Autographs
As with most products, autographs are the most desired cards, and for this reason they are the main set of Topps Strata Baseball. The Strata autographs set has 35 cards to its name and comes in a variety of colour parallels. With a non-numbered “base” set, as well as Orange /125, Blue /99, Black /50, Gold /25, and Red 1/1, there is a whole range of cards for collectors to chase. Fans can expect a nice variety of names to show up in this set, including Andre Dawson (unfortunately with Chicago and not Montreal), Hank Aaron, and Mike Trout. Purists may not be happy to see Jose Conseco among the signers, but I suppose in this era excluding cheaters would lead to a very narrow product.
Topps Strata Baseball – Clearly Authentic Relics
As I have already said Topps Strata Baseball includes both an autograph and a relic card, so let’s take a gander at that main relic set. The Clearly Authentic Relics set consists of 25 cards with a whole lineup of parallels. Fans wanting player rainbows can expect to pay up here, as many of the parallels are 1/1s, consisting of Red MLB Batter Logo, Red Laundry Tag, Red Button, Red Button Hole, and Red Majestic Logo Patch. On the regular parallel front we see Blue /99, Green /75, Black /50, Gold /25, and Baseball /3. Normally I’d criticize this many parallels, but the wide selection of 1/1s makes is acceptable in this case.
Fans can expect to see names such as Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista, and the soon to be retired David Ortiz. The truly important feature here is the MLB Authenticated logo hologram than collectors can use to trace the history of their specific piece of memorabilia.
Topps Strata Baseball –Clearly Authentic Autographed Relics
On top of the promised 1 auto/1 mem layout we have a set of autographed relics. These fall at 1:2 boxes, and assumedly replace the base autograph. This 24 card set has an identical parallel layout to the main relics set, with the exception that it does not include the Baseball /3 version. The checklist for this set is almost 100% different form the first 2, with only a few names, such as Mike Trout, repeating. Names such as Brandon Bell, Hanley Ramirez, and Robinson Cano all make appearances.
Topps Strata Baseball – Cut Signatures
There is rarely a set that will make someone say “Holy Crap” more than Cut Signatures. These sets feature the greatest players to live, and usually focus on players who died long ago. Needless to say these are almost always 1/1 and Topps Strata Baseball Cut Signatures is no exception. With a 15 card checklist, all 1/1s, this is likely going to be the most desired set in the product. The clear favorite is obviously the Babe Ruth cut, but other names that pop off the page include Don Drysdale, Duke Snyder, and Ty Cobb. This set will be nearly priceless (although I have a feeling eBay will find a price, lol).
Topps Strata Baseball – Dual Autographs
Dual autographed cards are always popular with collectors. They usually highlight 2 great players and don’t present the display problems of an 8 player autograph card. The dual auto set that Topps Strata Baseball has chosen to present is very nicely laid out. With a 15 card checklist, each numbered /5, and no parallels, it presents a nice rare pull for collectors. I personally would like a card that features a bit more action, but with multiple autographs this is always hard to achieve. Collectors can expect combinations such as Carlos Correa/Kris Bryant, and Sandy Koufax/Clayton Krenshaw. These are the types of sets that make collecting fun.
Topps Strata Baseball – Strata Signatures
Ok, so let’s not get confused here. Strata Signatures is a completely different set that Strata Autographs. Yes, Topps probably should have come up with a better name, but they didn’t so just be careful of which set you are looking at when opening/buying. The Strata Signatures set features 19 cards, with 2 parallels (Gold /25, Red 1/1). Personally I don’t fully understand why this warrants its own set, but that’s out of my control. Fans should keep an eye out for Buster Posey, Chipper Jones, and Ken Griffey Jr, among the names on this list.
Topps Strata Baseball – Strata Signatures Patches
Unlike the previous set, I can understand why this one stands along. While previous relic sets featured jerseys, tags, and buttons, this one focuses mainly on patches. Nice patch autographs always resell very nicely so this is sure to be a popular set. The checklists boasts 24 cards and has Gold /5 and Rivet 1/1 parallels to accompany it. Names that jump out at me include Cal Ripken Jr, Ichiro, and Mark McGwire (again with the cheaters). Overall a pretty decent set, depending on what the patches look like.
As I said earlier $76usd for 2 cards isn’t in everybody’s price range, but it isn’t as bad as some products. At least with Topps Strata Baseball you know you are getting at least 1 auto and 1 mem card. Add in the chance at some legendary cut signatures and you have a well rounded product. With only 2 cards in the box, it is unlikely that it will be overly popular with box breakers, as the individual team odds aren’t great, but for individuals this could be a fun tear. Certainly not for beginners or kids looking to spend their allowance, but none-the-less a decent buy.
Unfortunately for my fellow Canadians, Toronto has only a single card in the product, a Bautista relics card. This annoys me, but seems to be a trend in baseball products, where the Jays fans are ignored in favour of a wider US market. Hopefully a resurgent team can catch the eye of our friends to the south and get the team the respect that they deserve.
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