For the price of a couple packs of cards I was able to acquire 5 complete insert sets from 2016 Topps Series 1 Baseball. It seems like most inserts have become devalued these days, outside of a few that are particularly innovative or rare. I know that I am guilty of ignoring most inserts in favor of base cards, numbered parallels, and relics or autographs. It's a shame, because many inserts have creative themes or offer something that isn't covered in the base sets. I would like it if inserts felt a little more special when they came out of a pack. I guess the place to look for inspiration would be the card sets of the late 1990's, the heyday of the insert. There needs to be foil, acetate, crazy colors, and variance in pack ratios so that your flashy inserts are harder to get than your basic inserts. Maybe that ship has already sailed, but I just wish there were insert sets out there that gave me the same feeling I had as a kid in the 90's when I busted a pack and saw a glimmer of colorful foil in the middle of the stack of cards. I get a hint of that these days when I see the colorful border of a nice parallel card, but I'd like it if that excitement extended to the insert sets.
This Pressed Into Service set covers times in baseball history when position players were called on to pitch in games as emergency relievers. It's a good idea for an insert set, and although some of the cards in the set don't feature the players in pitching poses, some of them do. This is one of the inserts I had earmarked to pick up from the 2016 set, and the full checklist was part of this lot.
The Perspectives insert set focuses on photos taken from interesting angles and inserts the insert name and player name into the images. The photography is pretty nice, looking like the sort of stuff you might find in a Stadium Club product. The big gold lettering all over in the backgrounds and foregrounds of the pictures is distracting to varying degrees, but this is a nice enough set that I had it on my list of inserts to complete.
Even the backs of the Perspectives cards look a little like what you'd find in a Stadium Club set. If we hadn't already seen the sell sheet for 2016 Stadium Club I'd be wondering if this was a thinly-veiled teaser for that product.
I didn't really care about these Wacky Packages cards, but they were part of the lot and I scanned them. For some reason the whole Garbage Pail Kids / Wacky Packages / MAD Magazine / Cracked Magazine scene passed me by. I had cousins and friends who were in to that stuff, but I never really got it.
These Back To Back cards weren't really on my want list either, but now I have them. It's a decent idea for an insert, but the execution is a bit off-putting. The pixelated area between the featured players comes off as looking more like a corrupted JPEG than it does some cool visual effect from The Matrix. The checklist is decent enough.
This is another set that was on my list to acquire. While I've heard mixed reviews around the blogosphere regarding the First Pitch concept, I like the idea of featuring various folks who have been called on to throw out the first pitch in a baseball game. There are bound to be a few cards in the set that don't interest me personally each year, but I like the variety that a set like this allows for in a checklist. I hope that Topps keeps putting the First Pitch insert in the flagship product, because each time it comes out there are a handful of cards that I definitely want to add to my collection, as well as a few others that make me say, "Oh yeah! I remember that D-list celebrity!"
Even some of the non-celebrity cards are cool, as that Rebekah Gregory card carries an inspirational story with it. Sports are one thing that America uses to cope with tragedy, and sports history tends to intertwine with U.S. and world history in interesting ways. It's good to see baseball cards that document that interaction from time to time.
So those are all the insert sets I got in the lot. There was another slightly more expensive lot that included the 100 Years of Wrigley set, but I wasn't interested in that one. I got all five insert sets for $11 after shipping was figured in, good for a per-card price of less than fifteen cents. I am still holding out on a factory set this year for the base Topps set, but it's been hard to keep away from buying packs here and there. I did buy a hanger box when Series 1 was first released and two Toys"R"Us packs a couple of weeks ago, but that's been it so far. The release of Heritage has presented me with yet another test of willpower. I'll probably pick up a couple packs of that sometime soon to tide me over until I can pick up a complete set from some online seller.