Thursday, December 3, 2015

Back To Wrestling's Future...2015 Edition

In my book, nothing says "trading cards" like thick cardboard and a nice matte finish. No gloss! It's what many of us grew up on, and it's why I really enjoy the Topps Heritage cards. The company produces a few different sports under the Heritage banner. Even some Star Wars card sets have been done in a retro style. After a three year wait, Topps has once again revived the WWE Heritage brand.

Once again, a 110-card base set is surrounded by several subsets and seemingly endless hits and parallels. In the Heritage sets it's the base cards that I enjoy the most. In 2015, Topps is celebrating thirty years of WWF/WWE cards. The base card design is based off of the Topps 1985 baseball set. Seeing as that the 2012 WWE Heritage set already used the 1985 Topps WWF design, this was a good choice.

The base set is divided into Legends, Divas, WWE Superstars, and NXT Superstars. There is some crossover, however. The Divas section includes some retired ladies and superstars such as Christian and Santino Marella are thrown in with the current WWE roster. The NXT section features Kevin Owens, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte, but the card designs were switched to the Superstars and Divas designs, respectively, presumably at the last minute.

An abundance of stars, both past and present, has given Topps the ability to spread names, and gimmicks, throughout the set. Some stars only appear in subsets while others such as Alundra Blayze, Eva Marie, and Pat Patterson, make their sole appearances on autograph cards. Even more names, especially NXT midcarders, only appear on relic cards featuring clothing, turnbuckle, or mat swatches. Many big stars such as Ric Flair, Lex Luger, and Terry Funk are only on tag team or group cards. It's an interesting switch likely due to the rights to so many stars being available this time around.

The 2015 subsets include NXT Call Ups, Then & Now, and Rookie of the Year. The latter two are based in design on the Topps 1985 Baseball "Top Prospects" and "Father & Son" subsets, respectively. The "rookie" cards are very nice and mark the first WWE year of thirty different Superstars, not their first year in the business. Yet another subset yields just eight cards and uses art from the WWE 2K16 video game. Of these cards, Paul Heyman makes his lone appearance in the whole set and is a major stand-out.

There is also a ten card subset spotlighting the New World Order. I do believe that these ten cards are replacing what would have been the final ten in the Hulk Hogan tribute subset which was spread out over past sets. It's cool to see Miss Elizabeth and Big Bubba Rogers show up, but they should have completed the Hogan set. Although technically these cards are a subset, since they aren't retro in style I don't technically count them as Heritage. They are glossy and on the modern, thinner, card stock. It's a shame that Elizabeth didn't get an actual Heritage card with a classic '80s shot, but there's always the next set.

A hobby box (twenty-four packs) is guaranteed to have two "hits" inside. These hits can be an autograph, relic, or printing plate. This is the first WWE Heritage set to utilize the ever-growing in popularity "on-card" autographs. For those unfamiliar with trading card sets, it has long been practice for the signers to autograph rows of clear stickers which are then affixed to the cards. In recent years the companies have been switching to getting the autographs right on the card itself. In my hobby box, I pulled a Jack Swagger shirt relic and a Roman Reigns autograph.

For the best shot at obtaining something special like an autograph, as usual your best bet is a hobby box. In the results that I've seen so far, one has been either an autograph or a redemption card for one, so the odds are looking good. This hasn't always been the case with past Topps sets, where autographs can sometimes be slim pickings. Target has been carrying single packs and Wal Mart once again has exclusive Sting cards (and a shot at his autograph) in their jumbo packs and blaster boxes.

I've been asking for this set for three years. Topps delivered. It isn't my favorite Heritage set, 2012 still holds that distinction, but it's close. I think it might be tied with Heritage II back in 2006. I don't see myself going as crazy getting this set signed as I did with 2012. There are too many tag team cards to make me want to make it a project, but I already know a few that will end up in my signed album. Some of the "Rookie of the Year" cards practically scream "get me autographed!" How can I ignore that?

I've admitted before that a Heritage set every year probably won't ever happen, but I hope that Topps doesn't make us wait three years again for the next one. Two years would be perfect to make the thirtieth anniversary of the 1987 Topps WWF set. The patriotic design of that set is begging to be redone with another great mix of current stars and legends.

Maybe even including...a stick of gum?

No comments: