Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Spontaneous Blaster of 2016 Topps Series 2

Have you ever gone to a supermarket or someplace, with the single objective of getting one exact thing...and then you found something in that exact same section that you had no idea would be there, but now that it was, became even more of a priority than the thing you came there to get?

Series 2 is out. And I had absolutely no clue until I saw it on the shelves of my local Target.

I was not expecting this outcome. I was thinking I had another week til it came out. I was absolutely flabbergasted. Meanwhile, I'd come there to get more Topps Archives (which I, uh, did end up getting, in a less abundant form), and i was standing in front of a huge layout of Series 2, WAY EARLY, which was the exact opposite of how my Target usually gets shipments of cards.

So yeah. I snagged a blaster of Series 2, because even if I wasn't too jazzed about Series 1, it's Series 2, it's in front of me, and I might as well get some before it gets stale.

So here's my blaster of Topps v2. Ten packs and a guaranteed manufactured coin card, which actually ended up being... of the best players in baseball right this second. So that was a good sign for the blaster.

Here are the highlights of the rip:

Pack 1- One of the biggest improvements from Series 2 (vs S1) is the change in photography. Last issue there was a lot of sameness, a lot of boring old shots. Now there's a ton more flexibility and spontaneity, and a TON more shots pop. Topps finally knows what to do with this base design, I think.

The inserts are a step up, but definitely still one of the weaker points of the set. I will say I enjoy the 'Changing of the Guard' inserts, as they remind me of something out of a mid-2000's Topps product. MLB Debut is still pretty tired, and That A-Rod isn't much better.

The horizontals are probably this set's biggest tool. The design lends itself to action and fury and smoke-clearing intensity, and these horizontals are zoomed-in, intense shots. The Santiago is especially zoomed in, and makes a regular ol' pitching shot into something cool. Gose is definitely a standout as well.

Pack 2- Yeah, a ton better. I'll say that something like Ackley's would have been better without the smoky edges, but it's still a great shot. The ultra-filtering is still there, but it at least helps something like Archer's.

Now this is a great idea. Ichiro gets his own career-spanning insert set, possibly as a way of making up for all the lost time Topps had. The design's less that perfect, but the idea's a solid one. The Canha is numbered to 2016.

Another upside of Series 2- LESS AIRBRUSHING! Scott Kazmir's card is UNDENIABLY a Spring Training shot, and a pretty damn nice one at that. Chisenhall's is a nice celebration card, and also I wanted to show it because he's one of the MLB's most underrated fringe players.

Pack 3- The Eduardo Escobar card is one of those shots that you can't overlook. So much atmosphere. You can tell Topps is trying their damnedest to outdo S1. Tanaka' a fairly standard shot, but he's Tanaka. I have to show his cards.

Hallowed Highlights is a good idea for an insert set, but...that is a pretty bad execution. The photo's out of focus, and I think Topps has tried to scrub Butch Wynegar from the photo entirely. He looks like he's being pulverized. The CarGo's a little better. Can't get enough cards of him on the A's. 

Outstanding. Shots like these are where the smoke comes in handy.
Look, overall, the photography's getting a ton better and quirkier that the design has become a ton easier to stomach. It's a lot like 1995 Topps to be honest.

Pack 4- Just an array of impressive base cards. The Mathis and Loney are among the highlights. Nice of Mesoraco to give his one facial expression for us, too.

Another one of the cooler inserts in Topps is one dedicated to Ken Griffey Jr. Would have preferred an M's one, but this one's still pretty cool.

Fun shot, plus AJ Burnett cameo. Too much to love on this one. And the smoke isn't too overbearing, either.

Pack 5- A ton of leaning. Fun fact- none of these guys are starting games tonight. Spangy's not an everyday guy, Holland's been benched, and Longo's on the DL.

Much better inserts. Griffey's a great choice for even a piss poor insert like MLB Debut. Maddux is a pretty nice one. I can't argue with cards of him on the Cubs.

Two more awesome horizontals. Giavotella's was captured at the right moment. Wong's is a pretty awesome slide shot.

Pack 6- Some great base choices. Nice to see Jurickson Profar's gotten back to his old tricks. Rupp will probably be a nice catcher option after a nice decade of Carlos Ruiz. 

Two fantastic inserts. One's a well-designed Mike Trout, the other's a Topps reminder that Ichiro was a Yankee, here hitting his 4000th all-around hit.

The Perez has a pretty sweet Trout cameo, the Hechavarria is a great mid-throw shot, and the Mets absolutely delightful...

Pack 7- The Segura's a bonafide Spring Training shot. The Aoki is definitely an airbrush job. Still shots like the Segura and Garcia are making me feel a little easier about this set.

My First Pitch is of Miguel Cotto, famed boxer. Not too bad, but would have preferred Billie Joe. And Anthony Rizzo as a Padre is always a nice touch.

It's the zoom, as well as the purple, that makes this one so great.

Pack 8- Michael, Mike, Michael and Marco. The Big Mike's great, the Taylor's got a great facial expression, and the Leake's an actual Cardinals shot, not an airbrush.

This pack didn't have any decent inserts, so here's an awesome base card of an awesome player.

Two phenomenal long shots. The Angels dugout constantly lends itself to great horizontals. Watson's has the right amount of dimensions in it.

Pack 9- Only 2 base cards of note- a Philly pitcher and a Cincinnati infielder. So...not much.

Two solid inserts- Keuchel's works because the beard even gets cut out. And it's nice to stock up on Refsnyders, even if he's not playing everyday.

Pack 10- A trio of awesome base cards. Singleton's is the most fun, but I really dig the Reddick.

This Ichiro insert commemorates his 2000th total hit, which is a nice one.

Two awesome horizontals to close us out. SO MUCH GRITTINESS in that Locke, and the Wood has a nice amount of zoom-out.

A ton more impressive than Series One. I actually enjoyed the heck out of this box, even if the inserts can be pretty pathetic.

I'll get to posting the other part of my Target run sometime tomorrow. 

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