Last night after work I stopped at Wal-Mart to get some hearing protection for my kids (Monster Jam is today! Woo!). The Wal-Mart I stopped at was not the same one I usually visit, so I went way out of my comfort zone and asked an associate where the cards were. Not wanting to sound like a loser, I told her I was trying to find Pokemon cards for my kids. That was a lie.
This is what I was looking for. 2017 Topps Baseball Series 1. I debated between the blasters and the hanger boxes. The rack packs and regular packs showed obvious signs of having been molested already by pack searchers, so I ignored them. Not because of the hits, but because pack searchers in my area tend to damage the cards while trying to detect the hits. Ultimately I opted for the hanger box.
Here are the odds for hanger boxes, as well as the No Purchase Necessary information.
This Dallas Keuchel base card was my first 2017 Topps baseball card. Not bad, pulling a card for my favorite team as the first one of the year. I wonder which finger that is poking out of his glove? I hope he's not flipping me a stealthy bird there. I don't mind having the players' social media info on the back of the cards, but I do miss the full career stats. I know I can go and look them up online, but often while flipping through my cards, I will stop on an unfamiliar face or a guy who I wouldn't normally think to look up and see what their stats have to say about them. Cutting the career stats down to 5 years leaves an incomplete picture, and I hope they come back for 2018.
There are some decent photos in this set. I was glad to see Evan Gattis come out of my stack of cards. As far as the design goes, I like it better than I thought I would. I think I prefer a full border for the flagship set, but this design isn't going to make me boycott the product for the year. It takes up a lot of space at the bottom of the card, though, and from what I pulled it looks like you're not going to see much of what's going on below knee level in the action shots. I personally like to see the dirt and the grass and the bases and such. The nameplate and logos look pretty good. The team names in-hand are more readable in-hand than they are in this scan.
I didn't pull the Kris Bryant #1 card that was voted on by fans, but I did get a League Leaders card with his picture on it. Topps brought back #7 in this years set, after retiring it for many years in honor of Mickey Mantle. There a Facebook Live video on the Topps Facebook page yesterday where Sooz busted a couple boxes of cards and mentioned that Topps wanted to bring that card number back and celebrate all of the exciting young players in the game.
Gary Sanchez was an obvious choice to fill the #7 spot, as he is the most popular young Yankee in card collecting circles at the moment. I hear that Corey Seager is pretty popular out on the West Coast, and Gregory Polanco's card had probably the best action photo in the box.
There were some decent horizontal cards in the mix, as well. I think that Jonathan Lucroy card was the 2nd-best photo in the box, with Votto coming in from the left side and almost matching the lean angle on the border graphic. The Addison Russell card is an example of an already-good card that would be made great by having less bottom border, as you'd be able to see the rest of the base runner.
I've got a few more nice photos to show here. That Denard Span is especially nice. Most of the logos wound up looking pretty good on this design, but the Cleveland logo needs a little more contrast to keep it from getting lost in the nameplate.
I didn't pull any parallels from the box. I will probably have to track down at least one so that I can see what they are all about.
That Joc Pederson card is the first insert in this post, although it was the last card in the box. It's from the 1987 Topps Baseball insert. It's printed on slightly rougher stock. I don't have an actual 1987 card on my desk right now, but in the video above Sooz does a feel test between a 1987 insert and the real deal, and she says they nailed it.
Here are a few more inserts that I pulled from the box. Al Kaline is a Legend insert. That Mike Lowell MLB Network insert is the rarest pull of the box, as they are seeded 1:5 hanger boxes while the other inserts are all listed at 1:2 hanger boxes.
I think the 5-Tool insert is my favorite insert design in this product. The checklist is surprisingly large, at 50 cards. I might have to look into getting the full set. My favorite ongoing insert is First Pitch, and I already have the 20-card set on order. When it comes to First Pitch, you are just about as likely to pull a card with a Cubs logo as you are to pull anything else. The Cubs have a whopping 8 cards in the set, or 40% of the checklist.
I think the Award Winners cards are retail-only inserts, with Silver Slugger Award Winners being exclusive to hanger boxes? That's what I gathered from the packaging. I got a pretty good group here, with Yoenis Cespedes and Miguel Cabrera being Silver Sluggers, and Terry Francona and Mike Trout filling out my pulls.
I am pretty happy with this year's flagship baseball set. My main complaint is the stats on the back, but I think the cards look pretty good in-hand. The photos are pretty good, and the backs are colorful. There are some good inserts, and I am happy to see First Pitch back again. I thought I might dislike the design, but I think it looks pretty good in-hand. My only complaint is that the bottom border sometimes interferes with the photos. I'll probably go the factory set route as far as building the base set, but I'll probably pick up a little more Series 1 at retail and a little Series 2 when it releases, as well as a set of Update when that comes out.