Wednesday, December 9, 2009

'09 Topps 206 Box Break & Review

Fasten your seat belts, this is a long one.

Topps 206 100th Anniversary Edition is a release I was most definitely looking forward to. After all, it's not every day that the hundredth anniversary of quite possibly the greatest card set of all time comes around. Topps pretty much had me at framed relic & auto cards, which I am a sucker for, and after seeing some of the old-timer game-used cards from various box breaks, I decided that despite my terrible box breaking luck, to go ahead and order some up for myself.

After busting this box, ordered from Blowout Cards, I am left feeling the same way I do about most new releases, there are some nice cards, and beautiful hits, but once again, the price point doesn't match up to what you walk away with.

We'll start with the base cards, which are pretty solid overall. You know the design, we all know the design. Topps didn't even have to really think with this one, especially since they just released a T206 set 7 years ago. You would think given that fact, that all of these cards would look stellar, which sadly, they don't.

The Ian Stewart card below is a prime example of bad photography. If it weren't for the jersey, we'd have no clue who the player featured on this card actually is. There's still no real proof that it's Stewart.
To me this looks like Nick Swisher when he was with the White Sox. This Chien-Ming Wang card looks pretty awful as well. He looks like a freakin' real girl doll.

That's not to say that there aren't some nice looking base cards in this set...
Cole Hamels' base card caught my eye almost immediately. The composition is excellent, and I really like his pose as well. Is it just me, or is this a pose you don't see a whole lot?

I also found myself really digging the horizontal base card design. In general the horizontal layout leaves more space for creativity when it comes to composition. Below are 2 prime examples of what I'm talking about, and I think both of these cards look great.

So as not to let the hurlers outdo the batters, these two are also quite nice:
One of the other appealing things about this set are the mini cards. They come one per 9 card pack, and offer one of 5 different back variations. I found 4 out of the 5 in my box, the only one missing was the 1 of 1 only Carolina Brights.


The front of this card belongs to "The Mick", and it's absolutely gorgeous.

Polar Bear

A nice Walter Johnson card. There were 2 Polar Bear backs in this box, I forget who the other one was.

Old Mill

This was the only Old Mill back I pulled. Bay had a pretty nice season, and rumor has it he may not be back in Beantown next season.

Cycle back

This design might be my favorite. The Cycle back minis come one per box, and are stamped out of 100. If there's one thing I don't like, it's the stamping. These cards would have been much better with hand numbering, ala Allen & Ginter's.

The minis aren't the only cards in this set that come with back variations. Topps also included short prints of several star players, both old and new, which are not numbered on the back, and only feature the player's last name. Here is the back of one of the short prints I pulled.

In retrospect, I should have showed you this one first...

The rest of my short prints consisted of a veteran who's been all over my breaks as of late, and 2 rookies.

Here's what the back of both rookie short prints looks like...

In my haste to get to the hits, I forgot to mention the one-per-pack gold inserts. These cards are a little thicker, thus serving as a deterrent for those pesky pack searchers. They've also got a snazzy gold border, which looks sort of odd.

There were a bunch of Orioles in this box, and it's nice to see so many of them make the checklist of any product. Unfortunately, a few of them are no longer on the team, which is a big no-no in my book for any product that is released well after the season ends.

Oh, yeah, there were some Mickey Mantle checklists in here somewhere too. I pulled 2 of them I think, along with that beautiful Mantle mini from earlier. Topps has made him someone who you're so used to seeing it doesn't feel special anymore. Way go Topps.

Lastly, we have the 2 promised hits per box. They weren't too great at all, and for $75, you should do better than this every single time.

Michael Young Piedmont bat relic
These framed cards look totally awesome, and I was hoping to pull two. I wasn't that lucky, but these still look amazing.

Jordan Zimmerman 206 autograph

Sticker autos in a retro product like this one? WHY?!?! This looks absolutely terrible! There are hard signed framed autos in this product, which look great. I don't know why they felt the need to incorporate their trademark rainbow sticker nastiness into this product as well.



In reality, it's probably somewhere between Sutcliffe, and Kristofferson, but there are no in between ratings on the Beardometer. My honest opinion is that this is just another mediocre retro set. The base cards are wholly unoriginal, and in some cases downright lazy. Oh, and don't even get me started on the use of rainbow stickers in a retro product. If it weren't for those beautiful framed autos & relics, it would score a lot lower, possibly even as low as the land of Affleck.


  1. Nice recap! From what I've seen out there, T206 isn't that interesting to me. I think I'm burned out on the whole retro thing, though I do really like the framed relics in this set. I'm actually looking forward to Topps '10 base set (don't shoot me, but I like the design) since it's NOT retro. I'm still trying to come up with something to get that Young bat card from you though.

  2. I actually had a lot of fun busting this product, though I have to agree (some) of the cards are remixes, while some are actually pretty original and nice. I will be posting my old-timers if you are interested in parting with any that you might have busted.

  3. Sweet recap Beardy, the box didn't look too great unfortunately, and I completely hate those sticker autographs in a set like this. There are some very nice cards in the set, and the design is great, but it has it's ups and downs. The sad part is that we can't appreciate this as much due to the success of Allen & Ginter, and other nice retro sets this year: Heritage, Goodwin, Goudey, etc. If you're not collecting the set, I could really use the Swisher as well as any of the other Yanks you pulled.

  4. Solid Recap - thanks.

    THe Hamels photo is an edit of the shot they used for Cole's 07 Turkey Red Card.

  5. I did pick up a couple of retail packs and enjoyed them, but I've been noticing how hit or miss the pics they chose can be. I'm so sick of the same damn photo getting reused all the time. The Kenji Johjima card just ticks me off... it's the same photo from his Bowman Heritage rookie card in '06! WTF topps?! Think I'm missing Upper Deck already... :(

  6. Yeah the hits sunk the box for you.

    I do like this set a lot though. At $50 I'd buy but $75 is too high.

    Nice Orioles! I'm surprised to see Freel in the set.

  7. If you look at the checklist, the on-card, framed autos are mostly rookies and players who they could get to sign cheaply this year. The sticker autos are the stars and most likely come from sheets that they have had sitting around for a few years now. While the framed autos look a whole lot nicer, there are much better players available on sticker cards. Then again, these are the same players that are in every Topps release so maybe they aren't so great when you get down to it.

    I agree with you about the quality of the cards. Anything where the player was far away seems to come out blurred and blotchy. One example of this is the Griffey card. A lot of the closer shots look great. One card that really stood out to me going through the cards quickly was the Chipper which looks really nice.

    I'm still not decided on the price. The cost is about the same as Ginter, but you get more base cards and one fewer hit. The big thing for me is that the SPs are not part of the set which is a great thing to me. Let the people who want a master set collect the SPs, but don't force it upon the people who just want a base set.

    I had a lot of fun busting my box, but I was lucky enough to pull a framed auto and an Old Mill framed relic so I did alright on my hits. With what most hits sell for and can be acquired for these days, I'd much rather get more base than hits anyway. I could have done without two parallel sets, but the decoys seem to be really good in this set because I've been reading a lot of people where people have pulled hits out of retail packs.

  8. This set looks alright, but seems to be no more than Allen & Ginter, version 2.0. Does it not? At least A&G didn't have stickers. I'll add this set to the list of boxes to keep an eye on as prices drop over the next 6 months or so.

    Nice break!