2011 Topps Baseball Series 1Box Price: Hobby= $70-$90/Jumbo= $100-$120
Good: Perfect for set builders, Diamond Giveaway code cards, Diamond parallels look great, Highly collectible Kimbal tobacco cards, Tons of variety, Jumbo boxes are great as usual, Great product for kids, Inserts tell the story of baseball and baseball cards extremely well
Bad: Nearly identical to 2010 Topps, 2011 MLB Rookie Class is nowhere near as talented as 2010's was, Falls a bit short of the hype, Too many reprints, Released too early to offer an accurate checklist, Regular hobby box is substantially worse than Jumbo hobby box, Print run concerns based on low Gold card frequency (high print run)
The Bottom Line: 4/5
2011 Topps Series 1 Baseball is essentially the exact same product as last year with the exception of a few minor changes, updates and additions, which means the product is extremely solid. That said, the product doesn't live up to the the sky high hype that came with being the first "Diamond Anniversary" release.
Here's what it comes down to, if you've enjoyed past years, you will love this product. On the flip side, if you've never been a huge fan of base Topps, there's probably not enough new aspects in 2011 Topps Baseball to change your mind. Overall, Series 1 is an extremely solid product that might not have lived up to expectations, but is still a quality product worth looking into if baseball is the name of your card collecting game.
*I can't emphasize enough how much better the jumbo hobby boxes are compared to the standard 36-pack hobby box, it's well worth the extra $30-$40.
The card design is solid and exactly what you would expect from a base Topps product. The inserts look slightly better than last year's, while the base card design is a wash when compared with 2010's.
The two new insert additions that stood out to me where the Kimbal Champions tobacco cards and the various Diamond Anniversary parallels, both of which would make for intriguing set builds. Seeing as how both come at a rate of 1 per jumbo pack, both are affordable sets to build, I think it would be awesome to see a complete Diamond parallel set.
One part that does deserve mention is the amount of time put into the story telling aspect of the product, as many of the inserts do a great job of teaching collectors about the history of baseball and baseball cards in general, even cards that weren't made by Topps are spotlighted.
A few areas where the card design was lacking included the base set photography, which took a step back from 2010 and the "Topps 60" autographs (not the 60th Anniversary inscription autographs #d to 60), which serve as this year's generic "Career Best/Peak Performance" autos.
The checklist layout parallels last year's in nearly every way possible outside of the diamond themed parallels and inserts. One welcome addition to the CL are the Kimbal tobacco cards, which will certainly appeal to fans of mini-cards, especially those who get into Allen & Ginter each year. The one insert set I could have done without was the reprints, as they cheapen the appeal of the cards represent.
One of the subtle aspects of base Topps that I've always loved is the "rookie cup" cards featuring rookies from the previous year. Considering that the 2010 rookie class is perhaps the most talented of all-time, the "rookie cup" CL is loaded in 2011. I think it would add intrigue and value to the product if they were to either short print every "rookie cup" or "rookie card". It would be great if value accompanied these cards.
The value of the $100-$120 hobby jumbo box is significantly higher than purchasing a standard 36-pack hobby box, which costs around $70-$80. Jumbo boxes are where 70%-80% of the product's best cards are seeded, you also get 3 hits (1 Auto), as opposed to the one hit a standard hobby box delivers, which almost always is a junky jersey relic.
Each jumbo box delivers 10 Diamond Giveaway Code Cards (2011's version of Million Card Giveaway), 10 Diamond parallels, 10 Kimbal mini cards, 2 relics (1 of which is usually pretty decent) and 1 autographed card. When you factor in the possibility of pulling a finite parallel or a short print/variation, the box value is well above average. Whether you like the product or not, base Topps always has strong resale value due to the product's loyal legion of followers, especially set builders.
Fun Factor: 4/5
I certainly had a great time opening my jumbo box, it just failed to live up to the hype and high expectations I had for it. Maybe my imagination got carried away a little, which is often the case, but the product lacked the celebratory feel I had hoped for. What I did find exceptionally fun as always was going through the cards afterwards in search of variations and other odd ball cards. I don't want to ruin any of the fun for you, so all I will say is search for the "sparkle".
The collectors who will enjoy this product most are set builders, hardcore baseball fans, kids and those who thoroughly enjoyed last year's Million Card Giveaway, which as I noted above returns in the form of the Diamond Giveaway.
2011 Topps Baseball Review,