Santa Claus came early in 2013 Topps Strata Football. He was a surprise inclusion on the Signature Relics portion of the checklist, which is otherwise reserved for rookies.
The shadow box-style card features a Santa "autograph" -- complete with a gold star -- as well as a festive piece of Santa-worn memorabilia.
The first of the 2013 Topps Strata Football Signature Relics Santa Claus cards to surface came during a group break on Cardsmiths Breaks.
Such relics are nothing new. Topps has done it several times in the past, although not recently. 2011 and 2012 Triple Threads had American History Relics featuring the likes of Casey Jones, Pecos Bill and Davy Crockett.
However, usually these cards came as extra hits in addition to the promised cards. Combine that with better-than-average selling prices and it's tough to complain about them. Not so with Santa.
Cardsmiths Breaks owner, Sam Smith, said that the Strata Santa was the lone Signature Relics card during the case break. Signature Relics are considered a case hit.
"I think that was the worst thing about it," said Smith. "It would have been best as an extra hit."
He said the reaction was mixed among those during the live break. "Some people were like 'What the heck?' Others said how much their kid would love it. We had fun joking about it," Smith said.
The card, which is numbered to 35, was given away at random to the participants in the break.
Christmas cards are nothing new in the world of sports cards. Santa Claus has a bit of a history in the hobby, particularly when it comes to short print chase cards. He was featured on a handful of popular Pro Set cards. In fact, the 1989 Pro Set Santa Claus still commands a solid amount.
In the mid-1990s, card makers and NFL Properties teamed to make Christmas-themed mail-away sets. Many of these had Saint Nick.
In 2007, Topps made a small box set that placed Santa Claus on various baseball designs. The affordable set also comes with an autograph and memorabilia card.
What's your take on the 2013 Topps Strata Santa Claus card? Would you be happy to pull it, even if it replaces a case hit?