Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Needlessly Analytical Blaster of 2018 Topps Big League

First, there was Topps Kids. Then, there was Bazooka. Then there was Opening Day. Then there was Topps Bunt.

Now, the newest kid-centric Topps set? BIG LEAGUE. The base set alone had intrigued me thus far, as well as the collectable, simple feel to it. I'd enjoyed Bunt, but I'd disliked its overblown quality, as well as its affiliation with the money-sucking app of the same name. So, I got this on a whim, as I was mildly amused by the sell-sheet.

There's 5 packs per box, including a 4-card blue parallel pack.  10 cards per pack. For 10 bucks, I could do a lot worse, but I could also do a lot better.

Let's get into it, then:

 Pack 1-
These are your base cards. Arguably a simpler design than we've got from Topps in years. Something like this could have been a base design around 2006 or 2008. The pop-out quality of some cards, including Moose, also is reminiscent of the 1990 Topps set.

Photo wise, it's not THRILLING, and some cards are scaled either too far back or too far forward.

 More base. Rookies land pretty much in every pack. The Harvey is outdated, as he's now in Cincinnati. The Crawford uses a similar, if not same, picture as Stadium Club.

Each pack comes with a gold parallel, which is unnumbered, similar to Bunt's blue parallels. I like that it's the outline border, and not the tint. And, there are legends in this set, like Johnny Bench, because kids need to be educated on who the legends are. Bench's card-back has more stat lines than most base cards, who have up to 2013.

 Pack 2-
More base. This set is reminding me a lot of two different, more maligned, sets.

1. 2011 Topps Lineage. Minimal base set, mix of legends and stars, elements of good ideas of past and future, but fundamentally flawed.
2. 1999 UD Choice. Dwarfed version of previous set, with wider, blander photography, minimalistic base design, copious subsets, and lack of originality.

This set does have A BIT more originality than those two, but the resemblance is making me a bit wary.

I do like that Adam Jones card, though.

 A trio of Nationals, which is nice. I like how color coordinated the cards, even the backs, are; additionally, the stock is thin and simple, reminiscent of early-90s cards. They're making an effort to make this set feel retro, while simultaneously making it feel very new, and very now. Which is NOT  great combination.

 Fear not, as there are sideways photos in this set, like this cool one of Ivan Nova. I also like that Escobar shot, our gold parallel.

And...this insert set is AWESOME. MINISTERS OF MASH? That is stupid-cool. The red-white-blue scratch design across the photo is a nice, minimalistic effect. And it's of Rhys Hoskins, who's already gonna be in the Home Run Derby tuesday night.

 Pack 3- Couple things:

1. Dominic Smith gets a RC emblem and Tsu-Wei Lin doesn't??
2. I like that Topps actually found pictures of Kemp, Cain, etc in new uniforms. Unless they got a Kemp photo from pre-2015?
3. A-Rod doesn't deserve 'legends' status. He doesn't. I say that as a Yankee fan, too.

 AL Standouts. Right two have been in and out of the minors, though Alfaro seems to have more staying power, and is doing better as an everyday catcher than Andrew Knapp. Freeman is incredible this year, though.

I like that this set devotes card real estate to Ballpark Landmarks, like the Mets apple that goes off whenever someone hits a home run. I really like that, because there's a lot of possibilities in that, and it gets kids into wanting to go to different ballparks for landmarks.
I also dig that Profar photo, our gold parallel.
The Players Weekend subset is a great one, and I'm glad it exists,'ve got to do better than "TONY". You should use this set to showcase the great nicknames in the sport, like "All Rise", "El Torito", "Big Sexy", "Bison", etc. Tony is just...half of his name. It's not really original.

 Pack 4- I like the Stat Kings cards. They're very 2005 Topps, and I mean that in a good way.
Swanson and Ziegler's photos are also pretty good, though Ziegler doesn't look too pleased.

 Mish-mosh of base. Nothing truly stands out, though I find it interesting that the base set is large enough to fit a lot of one-off fringe season guys like Justin Smoak and Tucker Barnhart. If you're trying to get kids into baseball, maybe pick predominantly stars? This is a very small nitpick though, and I may be VERY WRONG about Barnhart, as he's beginning to show staying power.

I love these Star Caricature inserts. I'll excuse the outdated uniform.
I'm even fine with a slightly-commonplace Thor photo, solely because it's Thor.

 Pack 5- Cool sideways base, and another Stat Kings card.

 More base. Again, with some exceptions the base photography is generally blah here, but at least some design elements of the set are a little more impressive. kinda nice. a Landmarks BASE PARALLEL of the Frank Thomas statue in Comiskey, WITH FRANK THOMAS, #'d to 100. I'm counting this as a Frank Thomas card, and it's a pretty nice capper on an interesting but flawed box.

Oh, and here are my 4 blue parallels. Didi is the sole Yankee of the box, while Albert's photo is very cool.

So, in summation....nothing much, but nothing horrible either. Amusing for kids, I guess. I don't know how much retail staying power it has, but it could be a low-key success this year.


  1. I'm really looking forward to having these in hand and will probably pick up a hobby box. The design is fine and I love being able to break lots of packs which this allows for. As a designed for kids set this is pretty cool. I also liked the Bunt brand though I'm sure I'm in the minority. Good post. Thanks.

    1. To be honest, the Bunt brand was a lot more well-liked than my one-sentence review gives off. I remember a lot of blog support for it, despite it being fairly simple. This, IMO, does what Bunt was trying to do, only 10x better.