19 November 2014

Pack of the Day 81: A Box of 2014 Topps Stadium Club

After a couple of group breaks that didn't fall my way, I thought I might cut out the middle man and open a box of cards myself. I love the Topps Stadium Club base cards with their fine photography and I've been chasing cheap examples of the Members Only parallel set, but the initial box prices on the product seemed pretty high given the 'value' that people were getting out of their box breaks. Prices dropped pretty rapidly, though, and after my Best Offer on an eBay listing was accepted I had a box in-hand to try it out for myself.

Each box consists of three mini-boxes, and each mini-box contains six packs. The odds are all based on the mini-boxes, though, so they kind of count as the official packs when it comes to the odds. The individual packs inside the mini-boxes are just there to make you feel like you're opening more stuff, rather than busting open a mini-box and having a stack of 30 cards sitting out there in the open.

I got 74 base cards in the box. These are a few of my favorite shots from the selection that I pulled. That Griffey is nice, although having the ball in-frame would add a lot to the photo. There was plenty of Astros goodness in the box, with Singleton, Springer, and Altuve all showing up. Other PC players I got were Bo Jackson and R.A. Dickey. That Eddie Murray photo has got a lot going on in it, with that rubberized jacket, the mustache-sideburns combo, and the mesh in the background. And Hunter Pence made the cut with an autograph-signing photo. That Evan Gattis card is probably one of the most-featured cards in the set, as you don't often see a baseball card featuring a player wearing a bear. I don't think there were any doubles in this box, which is a plus for collation. I do think that collation is an issue in the set. The card sequence in packs is pretty repetitive, so if you have one double pop up you are likely to have a lot of doubles.

Each mini-box contains one of these Rainbow Foil parallels, for a total of three per Hobby box. I got a decent selection, with a couple of decent young players from some of my favorite teams and a star of yesteryear sporting a mullet, pinstripes, and a beard that mimics the one wielded by one Chuck Norris. You kind of have to be a bad-ass if you want to be taken seriously while wearing pinstriped pajamas.

The Gold Giancarlo Stanton card is a parallel that falls one per Hobby box, or one in three mini-boxes. Not visible in this scan is the gouge in the gloss that runs pretty much all the way down the center-front of the card. Kind of irritating to have your box-hit parallel come out of the pack with that much damage.

The Elvis Andrus is a Foilboard parallel that only shows up once in every eleven mini-boxes, or about one in every three to four Hobby boxes. I guess that makes up a little bit for having the Gold Stanton card come out of the pack in such bad shape.

The Andrus is a Christmas card, numbered # 12 / 25. That makes it a bit better than other cards with similar print runs. That neckbeard is pretty epic, too. The Stanton is not numbered, but I scanned the back because the two cards were already next to each other.

I think you are supposed to get three of the base Field Access inserts per Hobby box. Odds aren't listed for them. The stated odds for the Rainbow Foil parallel are 1:23 mini-boxes or about 1.5 of them per case, so that Joe Mauer is a pretty rare pull. The basic inserts I got were Jose Fernandez, Willie Mays, and Derek Jeter. 

The backs of the Field Access cards list the various career highlights of each player, which is fairly standard insert-back material. I mostly scanned the backs so I could show that the Joe Mauer card is numbered # 98 / 99. Moving the number stamp down a bit might have helped to make it more visible, but then it could have interfered with the player name on guys like Fernandez, whose name is long enough that it stretches out toward the middle part of the card.

These four insert sets all are seeded at one per Hobby box. Each of them also has at least one parallel that can be quite rare. I didn't pull any of those rare parallels. The Beam Team set takes a design straight from the Beam Team inserts of the early 90's. I don't really I'm sure it looks a little different, but it's very close. Evan Longoria is an okay pull, I suppose, although he isn't my favorite guy on the checklist.

The Triumvirate cards are die-cut and fit together in groups of three to make a little picture puzzle. The most recent incarnation of this set was found in Topps Archives, which is one of my favorite products. I think I am still missing a couple of cards from the 2013 Archives Triumvirate set. In fact, looking at my want list, I am missing 8 cards from that set, including Justin Verlander. Maybe I can just put this card in the binder and pretend:

They look about the same, right?

The Legends set is pretty self-explanatory, featuring various greats of the game on a die-cut card. The card I really want from this set is Nolan Ryan, as it shows him in a rainbow Astros uniform. George Brett isn't a bad pull. I guess it's hard to pull a bad card from an insert set called Legends.

The Future Stars set is another self-explanatory insert, featuring some of the newer 'name' players on the card scene. I was hoping to get the George Springer Astros card, but it was not to be. I don't really have any feelings about Wil Myers, except that he is probably at the bottom of the checklist as far as cards I would like to pull from this set, right next to Jose Fernandez and Xander Bogaerts. It's printed on thicker cardstock and has a holofoil effect to it.

And finally, we get to the autographs, which are one of the things loudly advertised all over the packaging. Unfortunately, the autograph checklist in this product is very poor. It also seems to have real collation issues, with multiple duplicate autographs being pulled from adjacent boxes. The issues that collectors have with the autographs in Stadium Club are probably the main reason box prices fell so quickly and so far. I honestly didn't recall hearing the names of Chase Anderson and Mario Hollands until I pulled these cards and looked them up. I think I'd heard of Rafael Montero before, but these guys have about 200 innings played between the three of them. They're not exactly setting the world on fire.

Based on the autographs I pulled I was ready to write this box off as a bad break. I actually sat at my desk for a while and felt bad that I had been lured in by the falling price point. But then I compared the price point per mini-box to buying a blaster box of Chrome or something similar. Each one costs about the same and nets you about the same amount of stuff, although the chances of pulling an autograph out of a Chrome blaster are somewhat less than guaranteed, and you probably have slightly better odds of pulling a serially-numbered parallel or two from it.

So I pulled around 25 base cards, 1 autograph, and four inserts from each mini-box. The base cards are good-looking, the inserts are kind of cool, and I got a couple of decent serially-numbered parallels. The Andrus card is one that only drops a handful of times per case, and the Mauer card might only drop once or twice per case, so between the two of them this would probably be one of the better boxes in a case unless you were to pull a higher-value autograph or something that only came once in a few cases like the really rare Beam Team parallels or something. I wouldn't say I hit it out of the park, but I went from feeling bad about the break to feeling like it was a decent buy at that price. Folks who bought boxes or cases at full price got hosed, though.

If you can get a mini-box for the price of a retail blaster box or less, I'd say go for it. And you probably have better odds of a decent break if you can spring for a full Hobby box and ensure that you don't get only the dud mini-box out of the three. It seems like one or two of the mini-boxes will be pretty loaded, and the other one will just contain the bare minimum according to the odds.


  1. You have to go into a box of Stadium Club not expecting to pull a good auto. Like you said the checklist is full of guys who have done nothing at the major league level. That is fine in most cases, but a lot of the guys on the list are not even prospects. Still, not many products offer 3 on card autos for such a cheap price.

    Seems like your box yielded more serial numbered cards. Those don't seem to be showing up very often in the breaks I've seen.

    1. Yeah, my really bad first impression was based on the autographs I pulled, but once I started looking at the odds and the numbered parallels I pulled I felt a little better. What really sealed the deal for me to feel okay about the break was comparing each mini-box to a retail blaster of Chrome, which will get you like 32 cards in total and you just hope one of them is something more than an X-Fractor or base Refractor.

  2. At some point, perhaps Topps will figure out how to issue a decent high-end set that doesn't include 100s of parallels or inserts and provides real quality cards. Until that time, I will probably continue buying from the secondary market at shows or on eBay or trading to get cards I want.

    1. The secondary market is really a much better way to get cards than busting wax, but the thrill of the gamble draws me in more often than I'd like to admit. Especially when I have good pulls like the Charlie Sheen autograph from Topps Archives or the Derek Jeter Rip Card from Allen & Ginter. After a couple of big hits in a year it's easy to forget about all the money spent on packs and group breaks that yielded nothing at all and would have been better spent on a few key cards of favorite players.