Good: brilliant base set composition, cool Dual Relic Rookie Box Toppers, 19 hits per box, deep rookie checklist, insanely fun product to rip
Bad: Expensive, better to buy singles than bust box, so-so sticker drop autos, weak relic selection, card design take a step backward from 2009
The card design as a whole takes a step back from 2009 Bowman Sterling, which featured a far more intricate card design and the refractors seemed to shine a bit brighter. This year's card design feels a bit too plain, with the regal-esque background replaced by nothingness. That said, the card design is still pretty solid, the only reason I can think of that would explain 2010's plain card design would be the late start Topps got on the 2010 football card season. Still, I would have liked to see them finally take Sterling to the next level instead of rushing out junk like Unrivaled. Sterling always seems to be on the cusp of football card greatness, hopefully next year they will finally fulfill Sterling's destiny.
I absolutely love the composition of Bowman Sterling's checklist every year. Card value always comes back to the strength of a product's base set and Sterling's is as well conceived as any Topps base checklist. The base set checklist starts off with 50 rookies then transitions into a fantastic mixture of rookie autos, rookie patches and veterans autos and patches. Instead of ending up with meaningless base cards of players James Jones and Santana Moss, you end up with base autos and relics of every veteran in the base set. Bowman Sterling's checklist is a blue print for what a base set should look like.
This is tricky part about Bowman Sterling, it's an extremely cool and collectible product that offers plenty of value, the only problem is that the value is never in ripping a $250 box, it's in grabbing singles on eBay that often go for far less than they should. That's not to say that I don't recommend ripping a box, just make sure that you have the money to be doing so.
Another oddity about this product is that I've never understood is why it hasn't caught on more in the set building community, as I noted above, the set composition is awesome. Set builders can do wonders for the overall value of every card that comes out of a product. The most valuable products are always the ones that are able to appeal to set builders and hit seekers alike.
This is an insanely fun product to rip, how could it not be? 19 hits and a stack of rookie cards and refractors adds up to a trading card thrill ride. Bowman Sterling might be the only product that doesn't offend me when they seed a Santana Moss relic or James Jones Auto in a pack due to the fact that they are almost always part of the base set, hence making for an intriguing set build (if I had the money to do so). The only two things that hold the excitement level down are the low, yet present level of buyer's remorse that follows paying $250 for a box and the step backward in card design.
Also, I absolutely love the bonus dual relic box toppers, if I wasn't putting together the 2010 Topps Magic master & mini sets together at the moment, I might be putting together the box topper insert set, they are pretty sweet looking.
The Bottom Line: 4/5
The latest rendition of Bowman Sterling takes a step backward in card design from 2009, but as a whole Sterling is an extremely intriguing product due to it's brilliant base set composition and 19-hits per box. Bowman Sterling is the one Topps football product I always feel is a few adjustments away from football card immortality, unfortunately that dream will have to wait until 2011. Bottom line, 2010 Bowman Sterling is a solid football card offering that is perfect for set builders and hit collectors with a fairly deep pocket ($250 per box).