Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Box Review: 2004 Topps Cracker Jack (Hobby)

The 2004 Topps Cracker Jack set contained 237 base cards (according to the included checklist) but that number balloons to 250 when you include the 10 short print variation cards and 3 regular print variation cards. There is also a 251st card in the base set - an Alex Rodriguez card that is unnumbered.
The Hobby Box Design

Each hobby box contains 20 packs with 8 cards (plus 1 secret surprise) per box.  The hobby box also contains a bag of Cracker Jacks treats (though I wouldn't recommend eating them at this late date)!  
The hobby pack wrapper

Within each pack of cards is a second "secret surprise" pack.

Within each secret surprise pack, you find two cards.  First, a sticker parallel card and second either a (thick) mini checklist or a hit.  In my box, all but one of the secret surprise packs held a sticker and a checklist.  Here's the full checklist:

As for the base cards, my box yielded 132 different regular base card with 0 duplicates.  I received one of the two versions of each of the three cards that have two different versions (Shotten, Lajoie, and Hoblitzell).  The box also had a pair of short print variations - Alex Rodriguez (number 17 version) and Felix Pie (number 80 version).  In addition, there were four regular short prints:  Jeter, Greinke, Ortiz, and Ichiro.

Each pack also included one mini card (with a few possible variations:  Blue parallels 1:10, White Parallels 1:6,189).  My box produced 18 regular minis (one of which was a short print seeded 1:20 - Joe Mauer).

In addition to the short printed red mini, there were a pair of blue minis (which is exactly what the odds would suggest).  The first blue parallel was #21 Paul Lo Duca:

And the second blue parallel was #67  CC Sabathia

In addition to the mini parallels, there is also a mini sticker parallel set.   Each secret surprise pack contains a sticker card so I ended up with 20 stickers.  Once again, there were no duplicates which is appreciated!
The main difference between the design of the stickers and the regular base card is in the "peel here" arrows at the top of the card.  The stickers are printed on a different card stock so they appear a bit brighter than the regular mini cards.

Finally, the box contained 19 mini checklist cards and one relic - but the relic was quite nice!  An Albert Pujols Game-Worn Uniform relic.

The Albert Pujols mini relic is part of Group G which is seeded 1:211 packs.  There is also a bat relic card of Pujols which is a slightly easier pull.

Overall, I give the 2004 Topps Cracker Jack the following rating:
Set design:  C 
Collation:  A
Opening Thrill:  C-
Overall:  C+

In a nutshell, the 2004 Topps Cracker Jack box is a decently fun box to open but ultimately falls victim to its own link to history.  The set design is basic - so basic in fact that the base cards all start to look the same.  The short prints are annoying (and you need a constant reference source to figure out whether or not you have one).  The relics are nice but most of the so-called surprise packs hold a checklist and a mini.  If each surprise pack actually had more in the way of a surprise (stickers, mini parallels, relics, autos, tattoos, etc.) the charm of Cracker Jacks would have played a more vital role.  As it is, the set is a decent break but you won't come that close to completing the base set with a single box (and other than parallels and hits, there are no inserts in the set).

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