I've been binging on Topps's 2011 set ever since it came out. Being that I'm a big fan of the flagship set, I'm always impressed with the overall product. However, this year I feel that I've been let down compared to last year's monster effort. 2010 Topps was a great product, with a great base set, awesome inserts and a good design. This year's set, I feel, is just trying to duplicate the success of last year's, in those same areas.
Base set: Last year's set had the engaging purpose of making you feel interested in the regular set with an intriguing design, and a bunch of cool rookies. This year's set has a design that isn't as good as last year's, a semi intriguing base set, and some okay rookies. While last year's base set had the future Rookies of the Year in the base set (Both were in series 1), time will only tell how well Aroldis Chapman will do, and if the other ROY ends up in series 2.
Inserts: This is the main area where I felt Topps was trying to duplicate the success of last year. Just take a look at every insert, and you'll see it's kinda been done before. For example, Topps 60 Years (Or as I call them, NotYo Mamma cards.), is basically just Cards Your Mother Threw Out: Mach 2. And the cards are less relevent than last year's.
Topps 60 is basically Peak Performance with a different emblem. Diamond Duos is just Legendary Lineage again. The Million Card Giveaway is obviously the diamond giveaway. Even Target and Walmart had similar exclusives last year to the Kimball Minis- just some unneccesary minis that you don't need to collect. The only breath of originality is the Before Topps reprints. And they might not be the best insert in the product. So that alone says a lot.
Parallels- This may be the only area of visible differences. While last year had the gold numbered and black numbered, this year's product has gold, black and assorted other parallels thanks to the 6Oth Anniversary Flaunt Fest. There are a lot more parallels this year, and whether that's a bad thing or not is your decision.
In the end, it's safe to say that Topps tried to duplicate the success of last year's set, with the patented "If it ain't broke, use it" strategy. Soon, this tried concept might get broke, if Topps keeps using the same concepts every year.
Which is why I want to say something directly to Topps. I'm saying this as a fan, as a small critic, and not a naysayer in any way. I love your products, and always have, better than anything else out there. I just hope you here what I've said, that the 2010 and 2011 sets are similar because you tried to use the same concepts again. But Topps, I won't give up. Hopefully, the rest of the year will hold new, original concepts, newer inserts. Hopefully, the 2012 set will have an original design, new intriguing inserts, and a sense of orignality that differentiates it from the last two years.
All I'm saying is that collectors want to pick up your products every year, so that they can feel that last year's was different, and so they can contrast the two products, or the products from years before. And I hope that the 2012 set is completely different from the 2011 and 2010 sets. I'm sure the collectors hope this too.
Please, Topps. Listen to the collectors, and make a change for the better. We'll thank you later.