I honestly think that Topps is going to have a very difficult time recapturing the magic of the last couple of years worth of standard sets. There was just something crisp and clean about the last two years worth of base card designs, and while this year's version is incredibly similar to the others, it feels more retread than retro. That isn't to say they're bad looking cards, they're not. They're just not that special anymore. On the front.
On the back they threw collectors a bone, look at that HUGE number on the top right side in white on black lettering. For someone who's eyesight is slowly but surely getting worse, this is a huge boon. Sorting these bad boys won't be such a chore after all.
It wouldn't be a modern day Baseball Card Set without parallels, and while I only pulled the single Gold card above, I think it's safe to say that parallels don't sell the set. I also liked last years version MUCH better. The platinum parallels and their cognac and blue flavored cousins were a sweet and shiny bit of goodness that could save even a bad pack. This year's gold versions get a big MEH from me. But gold being the theme this year I had better get used to it right? Because Topps is certainly shoving the "gold" down our throats. Just look at the more "common" inserts below:
The only one without a "gold" theme is the "Walk Offs" which really isn't that special of a moment to celebrate. Though the one I pulled was actually a nice moment, Posednik's 2005 WS Game 2 homer, his first in over 500 ABs. One time "minor" feats don't really capture my attention as much, but I guess it does leave room for Jersey Cards, and that's what they're really pitching here. Once again most of the insert sets look like they're designed for autographs or jersey swatches instead of being a complete set unto themselves, and that's just cheap if you ask me. Topps could put a little more effort into inserts, and when they do, they are pretty nice.
For example: Golden Greats, of which I pulled two Jackie Robinsons with consecutive numbers. I do believe there are also versions of these cards with real coins in them as well. I do know there are autographed versions of some of them.
I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the mini-insert this year, which is an homage to the 1987 woodies. I don't have anything good to say about that set, other than ever single one I pull will end up on eBay or trade fodder. I don't like Minis. There I said it. I know there must be something wrong with me. The thing is I have something like 60 of the Kimball Champions inserts from last season still and I hate them. I don't need more Minis. I really don't need minis that are reminiscent of a set that I can still buy for pennies a pack. Save the Minis for Allen & Ginter or Gypsy Magic or whatever non-base level set that they would be a better fit with. Geeze, I remember 1987, it wasn't that great a year.
Also I didn't pull any of the "Golden Giveaway" redemption cards, which doesn't bother me that much, apparently this year you can't get a vintage single for each code, so that really doesn't thrill me. I still have to send away for my 2011 Diamond Giveaway Cards (mostly Angels that I traded for), which I should get free shipping on since I won a free "vintage" pack and a Diamond Die-Cut (I forget who I originally pulled, but I traded him for Dan Haren and subsequently traded HIM for Howie Kendrick!).
In 2012 we also get the return of "Topps Prime 9" which is a Hobby Only insert that you bring
back to your store to redeem. I managed to acquire a complete set of last years' inserts after I pulled more than half of the redemption cards. I had a devil of a time finding a shop though, but then the aforementioned California Sports Cards got them in and finished me off, which was awesome, thanks Matt! I beat the odds out of my 7 packs to get Card #1, whomever that might end up being. I'm hoping for Pujols.