Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Box Review: 2001 Upper Deck Vintage (Hobby)

The 2001 Upper Deck Vintage set is a 400 card set with zero short prints.  The hobby boxes come with 24 packs (10 cards per pack) which means you need at least two hobby boxes to have any shot at a complete set.

The pack wrapper is quite nice, sort of a waxy feel (no foil) which adds to the Vintage "feel" of the set.

As with most sets from the era, there are plenty of insert sets to chase as well.  According to the pack wrapper, you can find the following sets in 2001 Upper Deck Vintage:

  • 20 Matinee Idols (1:4 packs)
  • 15 Glory Days (1:15 packs)
  • 15 Retro Rules (1:15 packs)
  • 10 All-Star Tributes (1:23 packs)
  • Timeless Teams Bat Cards (1:72 packs)
  • Timeless Teams Combo Bat Cards (numbered to 100)
  • Timeless Teams Jersey Cards (1:288)
  • Timeless Teams Combo Jersey cards (numbered to 100)
  • Fantasy Outfield Combo Jersey Card (numbered to 25)
  • Mickey Mantle Jersey Card (numbered to 100)
  • Mantle.Maris Combo Jersey card (numbered to 100)

All things considered, it's a nice mix of fairly common inserts and a few chase inserts.  Unlike many sets, the box opening experience was not marred by too many inserts - especially nice since this is really a "set collector's" type of set!

Each hobby box also comes with a 25th pack which Upper Deck called a "Hobby Exclusive Pinstripe Exclusive" pack of three cards featuring only Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio.

As a non-Yankees fan, this bonus pack felt out of place in the set - and while I don't mind the bonus aspect (and I certainly wouldn't complain had I pulled one of the Mantle memorabilia cards), I didn't find the pack overly exciting or even necessary.


Once you get past the boring Mantle/DiMaggio cards, the rest of the box is a lot of fun to open!  The regular base cards are quite nice - and you might even say they remind you of 1963 Topps (but don't actually say that in fear of a lawsuit)!

The first 340 cards in the set are all regular base cards of veteran players (and full team lineups).  The back of each base card features full career statistics (yay!) and a cartoon in the upper right hand corner.  I appreciate the inclusion of the cartoon as well though it would be nice if more of the cartoons "made sense" with the caption below the cartoon.

In a nice touch for set collectors, the cards are arranged by team (with the final card for each team being the team lineup card).

Beginning with card 341 and running through card 370, there is a 2001 Vintage Rookies subset.  The Vintage Rookies cards feature three rookies from each team in floating head form.  The best rookie card is the one of Ichiro Suzuki but unfortunately I did not find that card in my box so you get a scan of Jimmy Rollins instead.

After the rookies comes a 20 card Series Highlight set (card #317-390).  The Reds weren't in the postseason in 2000 so this isn't a very exciting subset for me to look at.  You do get the full game's line score on the back of the card though which I happen to like.

Finally, the base set concludes with a 10 card League Leader subset.  For the League Leader cards, you get the top five players in floating head form with the best of the best in the middle of the card.  The subsets "feel" Vintage which means the entire base set works!

My box gave me 208 different base cards plus 11 duplicates.  Obviously, for a 400 card set I would have preferred for the 11 duplicates to be 11 different cards to help me inch closer to completing the set.  As it stands, two hobby boxes would net you about 440 base cards or so - you'd need a lot of luck to end up with the full 400 base set!

Moving on to the inserts:

As I mentioned earlier in the box review, the most commonly seeded insert set is the Matinee Idols set (seeded 1:4 packs).  Given that the box held 24 packs, you would expect to pull six Matinee Idols.  However, my box only yielded five (Bonds, Helton, Sosa, Giambi, and Pedro).

I find the Matinee Idol cards to be "ok."  I realize the point of the set is the base cards...but given how boring the Matinee Idol cards are, I almost think having an extra five base cards would have been preferable.  Even worse, the Matinee Idol set is 20 cards in size which means I have little to no hope of ever completing the set.

There are two insert sets seeded 1:15 packs (Retro Rules and Glory Days).  You would expect to get one of each in the box with the outside chance of a second representative from either set.  My box "beat" the odds here.  I ended up with one Retro Rules card (Brian Giles)...

...but I got three Glory Days cards (Piazza, Bonds, Helton).

Given the look of the three most common inserts, I think I like the Glory Days best.  The blue with a giant red circle seems to be the best looking set to me.

All-Star Tribute cards are seeded 1:23 packs - so you have a 1:24 chance of getting two if the odds are correct.  My box only gave me one - but at least it was a good one (for trading purposes)...Derek Jeter.

Finally, I was lucky enough to land one of the 1:72 packs Timeless Teams bat cards.  Mine was of Ed Kranepool of the New York Mets.

The bat chunk is a nice size - and the card design is simple (yet elegant, or at least as elegant as a primary colored card can be).  I like it.

Overall, I give the 2001 Upper Deck Vintage Baseball box the following rating:
Set design:  A-
Collation:  B
Opening Thrill:  C+
Overall:  B+

Sometimes the sum of the whole is greater than that of its parts.  You shouldn't buy a box of Vintage if you are looking for all sorts of hits and autographs (there are no autos at all) but as long as you realize that it is a fun box to bust.  I docked the box on collation (both for the duplicate base cards and for the wonky insertion rates).  I also couldn't give a full A grade to the set design since Upper Deck basically ripped off Topps (but at least they ripped off a nice Topps design)!  The best thing I can say for the box is that I'd happily open up a second box if I had the opportunity - and that's all you can really ask for in a box!

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