Before 2012 Topps U.S. Olympic Team and Olympic Hopefuls, autographs from American Olympians were usually sprinkled throughout sets that focused more on other sports. The first notable Olympic autograph cards can be traced back to the multi-brand Donruss Fans of the Game inserts from 2004 and 2005 that gave collectors signatures from such athletes as Michael Phelps, Kerri Strug, Rulon Gardner and Abby Wambach. In the years that followed, more and more U.S. Olympic stars were included in other sets, including Topps Allen & Ginter, Upper Deck Goodwin Champions and Upper Deck Goudey.
But there was still nothing comprehensive. Until now.
2012 Topps U.S. Olympic Team and Olympic Hopefuls Autographs has a checklist of 50 cards. They're skip-numbered parallels of the base cards. And while they do use stickers for the signatures, they're clear and somewhat less noticeable. Also, it looks as though the athletes contained their autographs within the stickers and the autographs didn't get cut off by the edges.
The cards see a slightly stylized photo of the athlete cast against a backdrop of the American flag. For baseball card collectors, it's almost what you'd expect from a modernized full-bleed version of Topps Allen & Ginter. The autograph sticker is centered in the bottom third of the card. A small frame helps incorporate the sticker into the overall design. The nameplate includes the athlete's name, their sport and a U.S. Olympic team logo.
Each of the 50 cards in the 2012 Topps U.S. Olympic Team and Olympic Hopefuls Autographs set has four numbered parallels: Bronze (#/50), Silver (#/30), Gold (#/15) and Gold Rainbow (#/1). The Bronze, Silver and Gold parallels are noted with appropriately colored medals replacing the Olympic logo in the nameplate.
Highlights in the set include Phelps, Hope Solo, Shawn Johnson and Sue Bird. An autograph of Alex Morgan, a forward on the women's soccer team, sold on May 2 for $197.25.
Overall, 2012 Topps U.S. Olympic Team and Olympic Hopefuls autographs fall one per box. This is combined with the Champions autographs. Every second hobby box comes with a second autograph card.