In terms of baseball cards, this has been the best birthday I can remember.
My dad got me a great assortment of vintage (plus a few other odds and ends), and my mom took me to a card show last week as an early gift.
My mom was also gracious enough to get me a 2012 Topps hobby box for my birthday yesterday. This continues a tradition of receiving a box of Topps' inaugural offering for my birthday. It's been that way since 2009.
I don't open a whole lot of boxes. The only other box I busted in 2011 (besides Topps Series 1) was Topps Update. I've gotten a box of Update every year since I got back into baseball cards in 2007.
It will probably be the same story this year. I'd like to pick up a box of Heritage at the card show I'll be attending in March, but we'll see if I have the available cash.
When I do get a box, I'm not really looking for the "hits". I just like going through the base and inserts, picking out the ones I need for my massive amounts of player collections, and then making the necessary trades for the rest I need. It's a rewarding process.
It's no different with 2012 Topps. I really wanted the Tim Hudson base card from Topps flagship, but I hadn't pulled it from any of the packs I'd opened before yesterday's break.
Boy, was I happy to see it fall out of one of the 36 packs I opened. It's up there with Tom Gorzelanny and Reed Johnson for the best card in the set. Plus, it's another one for this collection of mine.
As I've said before, Topps really nailed it this year with the photography for their initial 2012 offering.
There's a lot of great horizontal shots, including this great card of Jacoby Ellsbury.
I previously called 2012 Topps the "celebration set". There's a lot of great shots of players celebrating (like Billy Butler) in the base set. Heck, a lot of the SPs this year are devoted to that very theme.
Say what you want about this year's short prints, but they're a lot better than the "sparkle" SPs from last year, in my opinion.
There's some great non-celebration action shots from this year's set as well. Bobby Abreu joins Melky Cabrera in the "robbing a home run" category.
Base cards are fine and dandy, but now onto the inserts.
I've had horrible luck pulling Gold parallels of guys I need in years past. Even though Topps omitted the numbered Gold parallels in 2012 (an interesting decision considering everything else seems to be gold-related), I still didn't have much luck with the sparkly parallels. (While these sparkly parallels are cool, I personally liked the gold-bordered parallels from years past a little better.)
The only one I needed from the box was this Vernon Wells card. Oh well, at least I've got a little more tradebait.
Topps struck gold with the '87 minis insert set this year. (I can't say the same about most of the gold-themed inserts, interestingly enough.)
The Uggla might be my favorite from the entire set. I love those throwback Braves uniforms.
I don't care what anyone else says. I actually like these cards.
Granted, they could've at least gotten a few different pictures of Mazeroski instead of using the same one three times. A team shot (like on the Carlton Fisk one) would've been a nice touch.
They're still cool in my book, though. And gold is nowhere to be found on them.
If there was actual gold in all these Gold inserts from 2012 Topps, we'd all be rich.
I've mentioned it many times, even before 2012 Topps came out. I wish Topps would change up the selection of Hall of Fame players for their insert sets.
Give me some more cards of Bill Mazeroski. Give me more Robin Roberts. And I'd love to see an insert set devoted to pre-1900 players.
I don't hate on Topps very often (the packs are still just two bucks, after all), but this is an area where I'd like Topps to step up their game.
I'm a big collector of old-time HOFers like Ruth and Cobb. I love getting cards of them. But I think it's time to see a little change, don't you? I don't need ten different Jackie Robinson or Mickey Mantle insert cards in each set.
I didn't think the HOFer selection could get much worse. But then I saw the "Golden Greats" insert set. There's not just one more Cal Ripken card, there's five different Ripken cards in this set. And five different Nolan Ryans. And five different Jackie Robinsons...
I'll let Bill and Ted speak for these two cards.
This was the big "hit" of the box.
There was also another good pull from the box. Luckily, it was an O's card that I can send to William from "Foul Bunt" to help repay him for the great cards he's sent me lately. I don't want to ruin the surprise, so I won't show it.
I pulled this card in the 36th and final pack from the box. It's for trade if anyone wants it.
That wraps up the "haul" from my birthday this year. A heartfelt "thank you" goes out to both of my parents for the fantastic gifts this year!
Now that my birthday is over, I've got just one thing on my mind.
Spring training is here!