Friday, February 20, 2015

2015 Topps Allen & Ginter's: My (Super) Early Impressions!!

Topps has lifted the veil (at least a bit) on their 2015 edition of the popular Topps Allen & Ginter's line of baseball cards.  I found a basic checklist here, along with a pair of early looks here and here from which I am basing my own opinions.

2015 marks the tenth (!) anniversary of Topps' reintroduction of the Allen & Ginter brand name.  As with most of the Ginter releases, the set will clock in with 350 cards (the final 50 of which will be short prints).  The one good thing about Ginter sets of the past is that the short prints are still relatively easy to track down since they have historically been seeded one-in-every-other-pack.

It certainly appears that Topps will be playing up the tenth anniversary idea hard.  There are 10th Anniversary parallels this year along with a bunch of different buyback cards.  Yes, Topps is including buyback cards for cards released ten or fewer years ago.  From Dave & Adam's preview, I found some more information about the nature of the buyback cards:
Topps has included plenty of buyback cards from the first three Allen & Ginter releases (2006-2008). Hobby boxes will have one Mini buyback and two regular-sized buybacks that are stamped with the 10th anniversary logo. Look for Mini buybacks that are signed, hand-numbered to ten and come in a special 10th anniversary frame. Previously released autographed mini cards will also be available as buybacks with the stamp, frame and numbered to ten. Look for one of 100 original Allen & Ginter buyback cards that are framed and numbered one-of-one.

I love when Topps includes original Allen & Ginter cards (from the late 1800s) in the pretty frames.  I'm happy to see that those are returning.  Those buybacks are awesome - and Topps (wisely) doesn't "ruin" them by adding any sort of foil stamp.  However, adding a buyback of cards released from 2006 through 2008 seems incredibly pointless to me.  Even worse, I probably own the majority of the so-called buyback cards since I've collected the Ginter brand since it's beginning!

Moving on to other things that one can reasonably expect to acquire - the inserts!

The Allen & Ginter's brand has become known for off-the-wall inserts of crazy, non baseball subjects and if that's your thing then this year's edition will not disappoint.  However, for those who want some baseball inserts in their cards, Topps seems to have you covered as well (mostly in the full-size insert realm).

Speaking of full-sized inserts, Cardboard Connection has a nice, brief description of them all:
2015 Topps Allen & Ginter Baseball has several basic inserts, both full-sized and minis. This is where a lot of the non-baseball content and signature quirks come into play. Starting Points (100 cards, 1:2 packs) are the most common. They take today's stars and look back to their MLB debuts. Ancient Armory digs into the history of war, highlighting different types of weapons used throughout history. Great Scott! celebrates scientific discoveries (no word on whether the Flux Capacitor is one of them). Menagerie of the Mind features mythological creatures. Outside of Starting Points, all other full-sized basic inserts combine to land in every other pack.
As you can see, Topps is using another huge insert set as the most common (Starting Points).  As a Ginter completionist, I'll almost definitely collect the set but I'm never happy to see a 100 card insert set!  It's even worse when you consider that the rest of the full-sized insert cards are seeded one-per-every-other-pack meaning they are basically short prints!

The other full-sized inserts interest me quite a bit more.  The Ancient Armory cards are right up my alley as I love historical inserts.  I also think the Menagerie of the Mind could be great if Topps uses high quality images!

Moving on to the real draw of the set, the mini inserts.  Once again, borrowing from Cardboard Connection:
Mini inserts fall 1:5 packs. Birds of Prey looks at some of the strongest feathered creatures that take to the air. First Ladies offers a history lessons on the wives of Presidents. Pirates are on display in Hoist the Flag. Magnates, Barons & Tycoons are all about business. If a fairy tale gave you nightmares back in the day, there's a decent chance they'll be in Mythological Menaces. Finally, A World Beneath Our Feet gives bugs cards.
Now that's a fun mix!  The seeding ration of 1:5 packs is painful for me (I'm still working on many of 2014's mini insert sets) but I don't mind if the sets are cool enough.  I'm definitely looking forward to Hoist the Flag - and the Mythological Menaces should be cool (even if that's the second mythological-based insert set in 2015 Ginter).  I'm not sure about the bug cards - but if Topps provides good information about strange bugs then I could definitely be on board that set too.

Finally, Topps will also include the usual box toppers and such but I've grown sort of uninterested in most of them since they are so difficult to acquire.  There are also rip cards, double rip cards, book cards, and other super rare stuff - but given that in the past I've opened up three or four cases and to date I've only actually pulled one rip card from a pack, I'm not optimistic that I'll land anything like that.

All told, the preliminary checklist puts the 2015 Allen & Ginter set firmly in the middle of past releases.  There are a few insert sets that I'm definitely looking forward to but this year's 10th Anniversary gimmick doesn't do anything for me.  I'm hoping that there are still a few other surprises in store for collectors (there almost always are with Ginter) so I will withhold final judgment until closer to the release date.  That said, I'm still looking forward to the set - and I think I'll probably try to run some sort of group break based around Ginter this summer if my work allows me enough time!

One more thought:  I didn't see any mention of a new Ginter code for 2015 but I hope that feature returns.  However, if it does return, I hope it is done in a way that doesn't rely on clues being slowly doled out on Twitter.  I know that I quickly grew bored of waiting for clues and simply gave up even contemplating the code.  I get why Topps uses Twitter (it slows down the contest and allows more people time to play - plus it helps even the playing field for those that don't buy cases of the product).  That said, it's also way too slow the way it is currently being fact, I'm pretty sure the 2014 code still hasn't been fully broken!

What do you think about the set?  Has Ginter run its course for you?  Are there any insert sets that interest you?  What about the 10th Anniversary celebration with the buybacks?  As always, I love to hear what you think!


Billy Kingsley said...

Those Ancient Armory inserts are a must have for me. I love ancient history, and it's surprisingly poorly represented in cards.

Ryan G said...

As always, I have to wait and see on the inserts for Ginter, because there's no way I can chase the rare ones. But if they're accessible, I'll probably go after both Great Scott and Menagerie of the Mind. As for minis, First Ladies, Tycoons, and Mythological Menaces all pique my interest.

And I'll get the base set (probably without SPs) and one of everything for the type collection.

Billy Kingsley said...

Also, remembered just after I hit post...the Trading Card Database has the sell sheets up.

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