September 19, 2011

Hobby Box Break and Review: 2011 Topps Chrome Baseball

This year, I was anxious to check out 2011 Topps Chrome, but I am not sure if it's because I actually wanted it or because it felt like it had been a long time since I opened wax. I had ripped a few rack packs from Target and was very pleased with the cards in general and was eager to open a hobby box to see what refractors I might get. The blue refractors in every set are my favorite so I was cheering for a Robinson Cano, but let's see how I did and more importantly what I think of the set.

Here are a sample of the base cards.

What I liked about this year's cards most was they maintained the same maple syrup smell, but without the coiling and curling of the cards. The curling cards has made past Chrome sets annoying to collect and just shoddy looking. It was nice to see that corrected this year along with the major machine marks down on most of the cards. You can see minor marks on some cards, but overall this year there was a huge improvement in that area as well.

There were no doubles in the box and there were around 22 or so rookie cards. Not bad if you are into collecting just rookies. Did I pull any "shiny" cards? Well, I'm glad you asked. This to me is the "funnest" part of Topps Chrome- the inserts and parallels.

Read the full review after the jump ... 

I know how terrible this might sound coming from a Yankee fan, but haven't we all had enough of Mickey Mantle base cards/parallels? I honestly couldn't care less about getting his cards and they end up in a box of commons and not in my binder. If it's not from his playing days, it's really not that important to me.

One blue refractor in the box of Jake Peavy. While he isn't a bad player to pull, he's no Robbie Cano (don't ya know).

The atomic refractors may be running a close race with the blue refractors in terms of which one I like best. These cards are amazing looking in person, and I think they were a fun new addition to this years set. I can't wait to pick up or trade for a couple of my guys.

Heritage Chrome cards are also improved in terms of curling and card stock. I've had these out of the pack for a few days and everything is still flat which is a big plus when storing these either in a box or a binder (or trying to get them into a toploader cleanly).

There were two Heritage Chrome refractors in the box as well. The Chapman one may be a card to hang onto or just use as Pujols/Cano/Jeter trade bait later.

As most of you know I am a big fan of vintage cards, so the Vintage Chrome comes as a nice surprise insert set. I was pleased to pull Cano and Mauer cards from this set, and I even contemplated collecting a set but then realized I say that often and never bother. I still haven't finished 2009 OPC yet...

Last but not least, we have the "mojo" of the box. While I wasn't impressed with the players I pulled it was nice to pull a blue refractor auto. There weren't many autographs in this year's set that would have been fun for me to pull personally, but there was a great overall selection. I would have liked to seen a Brandon Belt auto just to add a new random autograph to my collection of a player that will probably be pretty good.

Darwin Barney

Jordan Walden

Now it's time for the official score card...

2011 Topps Chrome Report Card:

Design: A

I have no more comments on this design after seeing it across what is now a fourth set this year. Refer to Topps Series 1 & 2 breaks, and Topps Opening Day.

Value: B+

I think you get a great variety of nice cards in the product but four cards per pack is a little cheap. I know it's been this way for years, but I don't think it would break the bank for Topps to make the packs eight cards. It stings a little bit when you purchase this product by pack and end up with four crummy cards for $5 per pack. That's I can't give the product an A in Value.

Quality: A+

I don't think I have given anything an A+ in any category this year, but this one deserves it. Topps finally addressed the Quality Control issues with the crummy card stock that curled and all the machine marks on the cards. This alone drives up the interest for collectors, just to know you won't have a bunch of curled cards that don't sit or look right anywhere is awesome. I didn't notice any cards that were vastly off center, but there were some in both hobby and retail that are off center, but nothing worth pointing out- same goes for machine marks down the cards.

Overall: A

I think this year's Chrome has made a major improvement in terms of quality, and the addition of the vintage chrome cards was a nice bonus. At around $65 per box you can have a good time opening this product and pull a variety of different inserts without being overwhelmed by them. Considering there are four cards per pack and one insert in almost every per pack, it is a decent ratio of base cards to inserts. I know set collectors hate when there are a bazillion insert sets, but one or two per product really isn't that terrible.


  1. I've got a case of this coming tomorrow and I can't wait to bust it. Walden had a good season, but it's rare for cards of closer to obtain any type of value. Even Mariano rookies from one of the best sets of the 90s (and one that wasn't overprinted) sell for a very reasonable amount. Anything low numbered from Topps seems to do well though so it could surprise you.

    I agree that this year's Chrome is a huge improvement over last years. I also think that this year's design looks really sharp on the Chrome cards. I think I also like the lack of indented outlines around the players. I don't know if that's what caused the curling of the cards, but if it was then I'm even happier to see it go.

  2. I'd like to know what Topps did differently to the cards to prevent the curling. In my experience, curling is caused by two different card or paper stocks being used. The stronger stock (in this case, the "Chrome" side) adhered to the weaker stock (the back side) would be too heavy for the weaker stock to maintain a flat hold.

  3. The Chrome cards look great, and I have to agree about the Mantle cards. I'm just not interested in any current varieties that Topps puts out.

    If it's not pre-1970, then I can't be interested enough to pick one up, let alone spend my money on it.

  4. The reason the Chrome cards don't have that terrible curl is 'cuz Topps changed their supplier/vendor who make the Chrome finish. They had so many complaints last year they changed the company they dealt with.