Good: Improvement on last year's rookie campaign, gone are the “self short-printing" black borders, deep checklist, solid auto and cut signature line-up, price point is reasonable and affordable.
Bad: Lack of vision and direction. It tells a story; unfortunately it's not the story of Football, unless the Buffalo Bills lost the 1893 World's Fair. The card design feels odd, like they're meant for the museum crowd with a massive need to roll the dice. It is for all intensive purposes Allen and Ginter.
As a collector and sports enthusiast, what excites me about a product is being able to see it's collectability. The fact that Mayo cannot convey a concise vision is where it loses me. Is it taking 08' Mayo into 09' or is it cloning 09' Allen and Ginter?
It's got all the bells, whistles, and box toppers, but leaves you wishing they had tied the package together with a little more thought. Football cards are a different beast than baseball. The historical cards fit into baseball better because it helped shape much of the early 20th century. Football is on an equal footing with baseball, it's just up to the card companies to figure out how to best tell its story. Opening a pack of cards based on a vintage product should be like opening a time capsule, it should conjure up ghosts of the game, it should tell a story, offer us a chance to collect something we never had the chance to collect. If you're looking for a great vintage product, “Topps Magic" does indeed exist.
Design - 7/10
Nice looking they are, revolutionary they are not! The design of Mayo is a mixed bag. The thick stock makes for a sturdy card. There's something to be said for cards that don't drop 2 grades during the “sleeving" process.
The photography is majestic, artistic, and feels distinguished, perhaps a bit too distinguished for a Football product. The Victorian look better suites the basement bathroom at Buckingham Palace than a card collection. While ripping a box, I half expected a rich couple to stroll into my T.V. Room and discuss the artistic merit of my cards over a glass of wine. Fortunately, this never did happen. But the fear remains that it still could!
After getting several framed mini autos, it finally struck me why they felt so un-rewarding. The “Mini-Frame" is the modern equivalent of the Topps Finest peel! Upper Deck “Philadelphia" may have been a mediocre product, but they were onto something with the National Chicle Mini Autos.
Checklist - 6/10
The checklist is Large and definitely not in charge! A well conceived Base and Mini Set are the hallmark of a well done Retro product, this doesn't offer that.
We all vote and we all probably pay attention to politics (to some degree), but can someone remind me why they are a part of Sports Cards? After getting 4 of the 50 U.S. Governors Set, I wanted to know when to vote, cause I can't take 4 more years of Political Cards!
The saving grace of the checklist was the presence of Famous Inventors like Thomas Edison and the World's Fair Mini Insert Set. The set fails to connect the 1890's to today in a way that comes full circle. More than any other sport, the story of football can be told through coaching. It's a travesty to not include Rockne, Lombardi, Walsh, and other greats that helped shape the game of modern Gladiators.
The quality of the pulls is a mixed bag. The Rookies feel like fillers. I got an over-printed Pat White Auto, a Matt Stafford Jersey Card, and what I can only assume would be a “case hit", though I would probably trade the Jericho Cotchery Silk Framed Mini #2/5 for a couple packs. Like a printing plate, they are too limited for their own good. One of my biggest problems with Ginter has always been the “chasing the dragon" aspect, meaning, unless you're a millionaire, you're not going to ever be satisfied or fill out your checklist in any meaningful way.
Topps should have used their “Topps Magic" Model for this. Don't include anyone in the base set that wasn't represented with an Auto, put 3 Autos in a box, and do away with Relic Cards!
Enjoyability - 7/10
If you can look forward to a Relic Card after getting a bad Auto within the first few packs, you are a stronger man than I. If set building was possible beyond the base set like Topps Magic or Goodwin Champions, I would be a lot more excited to break a box. After a few boxes, the only thing I was semi-intrigued about putting together were the 1 per pack Silver Parallel Cards. Then it struck me that this would be the same thing as putting together a “Topps Gold" set!
That's not to say Mayo doesn't have it moments. It's just not what I was hoping for. I was hoping for an NFL Films like experience, instead it felt more like “60 Minutes".
Value - 7/10
Buying any well conceived product should feel like an investment. With things like Rip Cards, Cabinet Cards, and no clear collecting angle, this felt more like gambling.
The question I always ask myself when opening a box is “Are the cards outside of the hits worth the price of the box?". The answer is “No" as far as I am concerned. I noticed a strange trend with Allen and Ginter this year, people didn't care about putting the sets together, they just wanted to open more cases, boxes, and packs. That adds up to an “Inconsistent" at best re-sale value.
The value of the hits is relatively strong. The Rookie Autos will probably end up in the middle of the pack due to it being a vintage product, but there are plenty of other intriguing and interesting Autos, Relics, and Cut Signatures. The presence of a Usain Bolt Auto should do for Mayo what the Michael Phelps Auto did for Allen and Ginter.
Fortunately, with a decent pack and box price, it is affordable to test drive Mayo to see if it the product for you. It's just that I would recommend enjoying this product in moderation only. The novelty lasts only as long as you let it. Meaning, this isn't the product to drop a fortune ripping. Like Allen and Ginter, Mayo has the potential to leave you a broken and bitter man.2009 Topps Mayo Football Product Review,