Yea - I know - #FirstWorldProblems at their finest.
After being shut out and the Walmart near where I work, my hometown LCS, the Target I dragged my fiance to at 9pm after a lengthy family dinner out of town, I finally spotted some of the newest product on the shelves of my more local Target. I was starting to wonder if it was ever going blow into the Windy City.
In my sudden elation, I immediately grabbed a blaster of the stuff - very uncharacteristic of cheapskate me. After all, there were really only a couple of cards that I "needed" from the set; however, my enthusiasm quickly got the best of me. I also grabbed a cheap hockey repack to cleanse my pallet if this box was filled with disappointment.
*EDIT* Spoiler alert - it was.
Meanwhile, each one of these blasters promises a manu-relic coin card. Manu-relics are a concept that just do not appeal to me. I mean, what's so darn exciting about a coin that is not legal tender and has no real connection to the player pictured embedded in a ridiculously thick card that is damn near impossible to store? I guess these just aren't for me.
Even so, I decided to save this little bonus for last since it's super special and all. I should also note that if it turned out to be a Cub, I'd be hypocritically excited. Anyway, I know you're all just dying to know who would be depicted on my first card of the new season. Fingers crossed that it's Kris Bryant!!:
Well, that grades out as a pure "meh" for me, neither the player nor the team illicit any real emotional reaction for me. That said, the second card in my first pack was a little different:
Ryno on one of those 100 Years of Wrigley inserts? Not bad for the first Cubs card of the year. This is by far and away my favorite insert of the and not entirely because of my Northside fan bias - mostly, but not entirely. The ivy and brick motif really pleases my inner graphic design nerd.
Sadly, after this point, the blaster quickly went downhill. Mostly because I only pulled two more Cubs cards from the whole thing:
Not a bad first (and only) base card of the year so far in Jake the Snake. These MLB Debut inserts are okay - however, the border-coloring reminds me a tad bit of vomit and I'm rather certain that the picture used was taken at Wrigley Field; Starlin made his debut in Cincinnati - lame.
As for the design of the base cards, it's already been discussed ad nauseam; but, I applaud Topps for testing uncharted waters and dropping the traditional border. I, for one, like the smokey/hazy look (even it does sometimes get intrusive) and the slashing nameplates/team designation. Although, they do kind of remind of the graphics used on Sports Center or some other ESPN program.
Also got a couple of cards of former Cubs, which I do collect passively. I do like the concept of the Walk Off Win inserts; although, I wish you could see more of the chaotic scene that surrounds such a victory, rather than a weird, exploding star in space kind of background.
And now - the best of the rest - starting with the base:
A couple of more fun celebration shots. Also, the resolution on these photos are top-notch, just look at those beads of water in that Street shower; the detail is impeccable.
Some big rookies. How often has a player gotten the coveted Rookie Cup as well of the official "rookie card" designation on the same card? I don't recall seeing it before; but for all I know, that happens every year and I'm just not very observant.
Some "Future Stars", I always find myself rooting for Rule V guys - I'm a sucker for a good underdog story and the odds are heavily stacked against these players - so, it was nice to pick up an Odubel. Thor on the other hand, I definitely wasn't rooting for him as he carved up the Cubbies in the NLCS last October. Still, you have to be able to appreciate talent when you see it.
What about parallels?
Got my rainbow foil and my gold, nothing that really moves the needle though. Perhaps the inserts will be more intriguing?:
Got a bunch of these MLB Debut inserts, in addition to the Castro that I already showed off. Still not too keen on these; although, kudos for Topps for going off the beaten path a little bit in using a guy like Jayson Werth. But, then you have a good portion of the usual suspects too.
It's all about Perspective. I read someone describe this insert set as the WordArt set and that is the perfect descriptor. However, with images like that Ozzie Smith beauty on top, I can get over the cheesy font choices and it takes a lot for this Cubs fan to appreciate a Cards card.
These Back to Back cards are horrendous. They would have been better off not altering the images at all if they wanted to use this concept. As it stands, the weird pixelation/fade makes it look like that players are being vaporized.
Two of Berger's Best. I mean, I appreciate what Topps is doing to honor their fallen guiding light; but do we really need reprints of junk wax cards or cards that are from just a few years ago? I don't, anyway.
These Amazing Milestones are exclusive to Target, according to the cellophane that was around my blaster. A couple of the usual suspects being honored for exactly what you'd expect - not that they shouldn't be - but, it doesn't inspire any interest in me.
We've got another Walk Off Winner (JediJeff - it's yours if you'd like) and a Pressed Into Service too. I would stand up and applaud the latter concept if I could - this is something that I'd often dreamed of creating myself. However, it falls kind of flat when you don't use pictures of the guy pitching. Also, no John Baker on that checklist? How can you not?
I want this man's outfit and I'm not even Canadian - so gloriously awful. In fact, it's so loud that you might not be able to read my commentary about it, it's just too distracting.
Lastly, it appears as though Topps is finally combining two of their most iconic brands, baseball and Wacky Packages. While these products might seem like odd bedfellows, I'm kind of surprised that they hadn't tried it sooner. These preview cards foretell a full such set due out in a few months and I'll probably dabble in a pack or two. At least it's something different.
That does it for the insets, that is, except for the super duper special coin card that's so uber awesome that it gets it's own pack. Let's rip into that, shall we?
Meh. Who wants it?
Thus concludes my first experience with Topps' 2016 edition of Flagship. For once, I decide to drop the money for more than a few stray packs and yet I still end up with about the same amount of Cubs that I'd normally get. Not to mention, the fact that is was so unusually difficult to find built up my anticipation to the point that it was bound to fail to live up to expectations. So it goes, I guess.
I'm glad I decided to add on that hockey repack as I was walking away from the aisle - that actually made for a much more satisfying break. But, that story is for a different post for a different time.
Everything you see above is available for trade (except the Cubs, of course). I'd be more than willing to swap some of these out for the rest of the team set.
Next time Bryant, next time you will be mine.