Thursday, September 20, 2012

Topps Represents The 2012 WWE Universe

It seems like trading cards have dominated the majority of topics on this blog as of late.  It makes sense.  Past or present, wrestling and trading cards have gone well together with no end in sight.  Some wrestling collectors collect them.  Some sports card collectors collect them.  Even some non-sports card collectors collect them.  They're an ultimate crossover collectible.

Topps has produced two WWE trading card offerings per year over the past several years.  Earlier this year Topps introduced its WWE Classic set, featuring studio photos of the stars set on foil cards.  This month collectors are treated to the release of Topps WWE 2012.  Although a release date was set for the end of September, retailers such as Toys "R" Us and Wal Mart had the cards for sale in the first week of the month.

The normal 90-card base set is supplemented by a TON of subsets.  Hall of Fame.  First Class Champions.  Divas Class of 2012.  CM Punk's Top Class Matches.  There's even a subset entitled World Class Events that features pay-per-view poster art similar to a subset from a Fleer WWF set a decade ago.  Each seven-card pack includes one subset card and most seem to also include an alternate-colored border parallel card.  Cards are also sold in twenty-one-card "jumbo" packs that are similar to the old rack packs.  An alternate-colored border parallel card different from ones you would find in the seven-card packs are included in these jumbo packs and vary depending on where you made your purchase.

There are also the now mandatory "hit" cards featuring special cards such as relics, autographs, printing plates, sketches (by Jerry "The King" Lawler), and even a Triple H signature card limited to one in every 36,000 packs.  Whether or not the latter actually even exists has already been the subject of debate among collectors.  The card is mentioned on the back of each pack as well as the "odds" of pulling one, so we'll just have to wait and see.

Purchasing a full 24 pack hobby box guarantees the buyer two hits: one shirt relic card and one autograph card or a WrestleMania XXVIII mat relic card.  As nice as some of the relic cards are, every buyer is looking for an autograph, so the potential for disappointment is there.

The box that I opened surprisingly had three "hit" cards and a nice assortment at that.  Although the autograph could have been a better name, Diva autographs usually don't disappoint.  I particular liked this Alicia Fox autograph as it was on her Divas Class of 2012 subset card as opposed to her base set card.  The box also contained a shirt relic of Randy Orton.  Finally, a printing plate was pulled.  Although printing plates have been included in both WWE and TNA card sets before, this is the first one that I've pulled.  Unfortunately, the plate was of Tyler Reks.  Still, it's a fun and unique pull.

The base set cards are, well, very basic.  They're the same design as other Topps 2012 sports cards although the color differs as to whether the star is supposed to represent Raw, Smackdown, or NXT.  Though some good photo choices were used (Goldust, Brock Lesnar, and Kaitlyn spring to mind), they're still a very basic set.  The different colored parallel border versions really don't do much to help.

The real gems in this set are the subsets.  If Topps did an entire WWE set full of just subsets, I think I'd be very pleased.  First Class Champions features former WWE Champions with a foil spinner belt at the bottom of the card.  Divas Class of 2012 gives us a chance to see all of our favorite Divas (Natalya, Kaitlyn, A.J.) and ones that most fans couldn't pick out of a crowd (Maxine?!?) for a second time in the set.  Best of all is the Hall of Fame set.  Utilizing the standard WWE Hall of Fame graphics, thirty-five legends are represented ranging from "Mean" Gene Okerlund to Rocky Johnson.  There are even some Hall of Fame autograph cards out there!

John Cena is the sole pack poster child this time around, while the hobby boxes feature Cena, Lawler, Punk, Roddy Piper, Kelly Kelly, and Cactus Jack for a nice mix of new and old.  There are $20 blaster boxes also available at most retailers.  Although you are guaranteed one relic card per box, keep in mind that you will NOT find any autographs or other hits in these boxes.  The blaster boxes themselves are also a bit shorter than usual, which is apparently a growing industry standard.

I'm very mixed on this set as a whole.  The subsets are amazing, but if you're going to collect them via pack you're going to end up with a LOT of base cards.  There also seems to be an issue regarding the base cards distribution via pack.  Although it may not be the case with every pack, many packs seem to hold the same sequence of base cards.  For example, if you purchased a pack that contained William Regal, Kane, Aksana, Tensai, Sheamus, Wade Barrett, and Josh Matthews you may pick up another pack with the same lineup. 

I'm rather bored with the base card design.  It's changed very little over the years.  As I say almost every time I tackle cards, I want another Heritage set.  Topps has brought it back Heritage a regular set for other sports, and even jacked up the price a bit.  I would have no problem paying a bit more for Heritage cards.

Ultimately the subsets are the gold here.  Each subset seems to be averaging around $10 per set on the secondary market.  If you're like me and find these to be the most appealing cards in the set, purchasing them separately may be the way to go. If you're strictly out to pull autographs, avoid purchases at the big retail stores.  You have more of a chance to pull them from hobby packs at a hobby store.

Although the recent TNA Tenacious box was about double in price of the Topps 2012 WWE box, I think I enjoyed the former just that much more.  The TNA designs change constantly and seven hits per box was a ton of fun.  Still, a wrestling card with a non-glossy finish would ultimately win me over...

...somebody make it happen!

No comments: