Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Topps Series 2 - The Good and the Bad

Over the weekend, I finally convinced myself to sample the latest baseball product to hit the retail shelves - Series Two of Topps Flagship.  With a major vacation coming up at the end of this week, the wife and I have been spending a lot of time at the local big box retailers preparing for our eight hour trek down to Tennessee - car snacks and portable toiletries don't just buy themselves.  Anyway, being in and out of both Target and Walmart several times, it was simply a matter of time before my cheap ass caved and I purchased some of Series Two... a man can only walk past the card aisle and resist the siren song of temptation so many times, after all.

Additionally, the SII checklist actually offers a fairly healthy selection of cards I need for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection.  With that rationalization in mind, on our last trip to the Bullseye, I added a hanger box to our shopping cart filled with potato chips, cheese balls, and mini tubes of toothpaste:

Not wanting to drop a twenty on a blaster, I figured a 72-card hanger box for a ten-spot gave me the best opportunity to grab a few cards that I wanted and protect my wallet.  I mean, I want to have some spending money for vacation.  Anyway, my initial daliance with the annual summer update to Topp's Flagship checklist was both good and bad... and I haven't quite decided how I feel about the product yet.  Please allow me to elaborate and come to a decision along the way.


Out of the 72 cards contained within the cardboard container, a surprisingly healthy amount featured my favorite team.  All told, from this hanger pack, I was able to walk away with one-third of the Cubs portion of the checklist, including the first Major League card of back-up catcher, Vic Caratini.  Not bad, considering my luck with retail purchasing often results in snake-eyes.


Yu Darvish was not one of the Cubs that I pulled, the card that I most want out of this particular product.  Series II marks the first appearance for the Chicago's big free agent signing in blue pinstripes in a traditional, pack-based product... although he does appear as a Cub in the premium, print-to-order Topps Now Road to Spring Training money grab.

Oh well.  Them's the breaks.


While I was not so fortunate as to pull Darvish's first Cubs card, I was lucky enough to come across Justin Wilson's maiden appearance.  I must admit, I was quite pleasantly surprised to see that a lefty reliever made the checklist.  So far, we've seen a back-up catcher and a LOOGY show up in this post - that's a good sign for a more inclusive future.


Factual errors. While Justin Wilson was acquired at last year's summer trade deadline, part of why he was brought in was that he came with a year and a half remaining on his contract. Thus, as underlined above, someone was not well-informed when they typed up the information for the backside. Justin was not a free agent over the winter.

Nit-picky? For sure, but fans notice these things.


In addition to the actual Cubs, there was a nice variety of former Cubs also included within. These old friends will make great additions to my Cubs of a Different Color binder. In fact, that "Straily Dan" might just make it into my CATRC binder on the strength of those glorious socks. After all, the short-term Cub never appeared on a true Cubs card.

Also, boy oh boy does Welly Castillo look weird as a White Sox... sock?


One of those former Cubs was the abusive Aroldis Chapman... blech.


I don't know that this is actually a good thing - more like a neutral to me - but, there was a good amount and a variety of inserts included within the 72-card hanger box. Luckily for me, while none of them were Cubs, most of them were of highly trade-able players. Also, perhaps that 1983-inspired, Bryce Harper insert will come in handy for my CATRC at some point this offseason...

Do we really need a whole insert set based around a player with one year of MLB experience?  
Look Topps, we know you got caught with your pants down when Bellinger broke out last year and you've been trying to make up for it since, but a whole set revolving around this guy is a bit much.  Inevitably, it's filled with generic fluff, seeing as the guy has only been around for one season. No matter how great that season was, you're going to run out of  legitimate things to talk about really quick.

I'm a Cubs fan and I thought the Kris Bryant-centric insert from last year's product was a bit premature... this is just ridiculous.

I hate to end this exercise on two bad things in a row; but, unfortunately, I've simply run out of nice things to say.  As you can see with Steven Wright above, factual errors weren't the only mistakes made with my hanger pack.  Right across Steve's forehead, you can see where the card was stamped by the machine intending to seal the inner cello pack.  Either that, or this is just a really weird idea for a rare parallel.

Wright was the very first card I pulled out of the pack and, sadly, he wasn't the only one who showed this damage:

The sealer was strong enough that it left it's mark on not one, not two, but the first FOUR cards in the hanger pack.  Luckily for me, these weren't any of the cards that I was chasing, but that's disappointing quality control.  I'm just grateful that my Justin Wilson was found more towards the middle of the pack and spared.

In conclusion, on the positive side, I ended up with more current and former Cubs than usual from a retail purchase, saw a deeper look at the roster than is normally expected, landed one of my main targets, and pulled a variety of inserts.  On the negative side,when it comes to legitimate gripes, there were factual and production errors that marred the pack and a wholly unnecessary insert set to boot.  All in all, I must say that my experience with Series Two was decidedly blah - not great, not terrible... just blah.

How do you feel about SII?  Have you opened any of the product yet?  If so, did you notice any of the issues that I had with the set?  Was my pack-ripping experience an aberration?  Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.


  1. Actually, they technically did re-sign Wilson. He was under team control for another year, because he didn't have enough years to become a free agent, but he didn't have a contract. He could have gone to arbitration, but he signed a new deal on January 12.

  2. Like almost every year, I'm pretty much just lukewarm on Series 2. I've bought my fill already (and then some) and will probably resort to picking up singles cheap at the next show I attend. Some of the player choices are just bizarre though -- Drew Smyly has a card and he hasn't even pitched a single game for the Cubs yet (and likely won't until 2019).

  3. Those cards left the factory damaged. Topps needs to make it up to you. Have fun in TN!

    1. I enjoyed TN when we visited a few winters ago. Gatlinburg was where we went... a little touristy, but there was some great hiking! Have fun!

  4. Topps put the double whammy on the one-year wonder inserts: The Bellinger cards are Target exclusive, while Wal-Mart has an Aaron Judge insert set. I'm already convinced Topps has an Ohtani series planned for next year...

  5. Heck, Ohtani will probably be in Update....

    I'm gonna try to get a base set through trades or quick purchase, so I haven't opened any Series Deux, but I've seen enough to compose a (mostly rant) post about it. Stay Tuned.

  6. If I found a blaster on clearance, I'd probably grab it. Other than that... I really don't have any desire to pick up any Series 2. There are a few singles I'm interested... but I'll pick them up individually.