Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Highs & Lows of Topps WWE 2016

Topps keeps churnin' em out, and we keep buyin' em. It's evident by how fast nearly all retailers sell out of product that WWE trading cards are a popular item. They appeal to a variety of collectors. They're more often than not a well produced product. Thanks to "hits" they offer a lottery feel of possibly pulling an autograph or other premium. They're usually a win-win purchase. Even regular cards can feel special when you're opening your first few packs of that particular series and pull one of your favorites.

Seemingly now settled at three mass retail WWE sets per year, Topps is now on their second for 2016. This time it's the aptly named WWE 2016 set. These sets named only by year usually mirror the sets produced by Topps for other sports in the same year such as baseball and football. A particularly handsome design was chosen by Topps this year, which instantly forces a minor hit with me. If I'm not a fan of how the base cards look, I usually won't invest much into a set. The Topps WWE Road To WrestleMania 2016 set resembles that remark. Aside from the Dusty Rhodes Tribute subset, I largely ignored the rest of the cards.

Topps WWE 2016 boasts a nice 100-card base set. Going through the cards you may notice something interesting: the biggest current stars do not appear. Names such as Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar, and The New Day instead appear twice each in the "Perspectives" subset. These cards feature each star on two separate cards, one of which is from the "files of The Authority." As gimmicky as this may be, it does help two other views of collecting. For one thing, it frees up space in the base set for names that may not have necessarily made it in otherwise. For autograph collectors looking to try and get as many cards signed in the base set as they can, the larger, harder-to-obtain names won't be an issue.

For those who enjoy variants there are parallels in the set of bronze, silver, and even a rare red. To be honest, the silver and bronze are barely noticeable. While on the topic of parallels, I must point out something that I noticed after a box break. Topps has been good for a few years now about building a complete base set out of one single box. While I was able to do that, I would have had to have used a parallel card to do it had I not pulled the same regular card from an outside pack. In my book, a base set should be included in every hobby box without any parallels involved.

Several subsets are included, most notably a 28-card NXT set. Many of these names are no longer in NXT, with assuredly more to follow with the upcoming brand extension. There are also continuation subsets of The Rock, Triple H, Bret Hart, and Brock Lesnar. This style of subset is beyond boring to me. I know that there was an oversaturation of product in the "Attitude Era," but is it just me or does every card of Triple H and The Rock basically look the same? Personally I have no interest in collecting these subsets and pulling one of the cards in a pack elicits more of a groan from me than anything resembling happiness.

There are also plenty of different "hits." Some of us always want that autograph to be pulled, even those of us who mainly obtain our own signatures. After being spoiled by "on-card" autographs of recent sets, Topps has gone back to the stickers. It was disappointing to see this. For awhile I didn't think that it would make much of a difference to me, but I now see that it does. In my box, I pulled Nia Jax. While you can never go wrong with pulling a female related card (see one of my past card set reviews for the sad commentary on that), Nia wouldn't have been my first choice. Nonetheless, she is a new autograph for me, and with NXT as hot it is, you can't go wrong with that brand name slapped onto anything.

Other pulls include medallions, Divas kiss cards, multi-autographs, autographed relics, shirt relics, and mat relics from NXT Brooklyn and SummerSlam. My pull in this category was a mat relic from the latter event featuring The Undertaker. Again, not my first choice, but The Undertaker is another name that will always hold major ground with collectors. Between my two hits, I probably could have resold the two of them and gotten my investment back on the box while keeping all of the other cards. With that kind of figuring, it's easy to come out feeling good about the purchase.

It's definitely a middle-ground set. I'm very pleased with the base card style as well as the choices in both names and photos. Whoever made the call on including a Mr. X (the Danny Davis version who is also in the set under his regular persona) card deserves a raise. Sensational Sherri Martel, Miss Elizabeth, Kevin and Kerry Von Erich, and J.J. Dillon also brought a smile to my face. On the flip side, many of the subsets are once again snoozers. I realize that the casual fan still wants cards of The Rock and Triple H, but many of us regulars are well past that. At least past subsets of Sting and Hulk Hogan offered images that have never appeared on cards before. It was refreshing.

The next time that trading cards grace this blog will likely be in August, just a few weeks away. At that time Topps will bring us their 2016 installment of WWE Heritage. As longtime readers know, the Heritage sets are my favorite. I'm anticipating a lot of loving for this new set as well, as the design is based on Topps 1986 baseball which was a favorite of mine as a child. Bring on that cardboard goodness...


FP said...

Pretty honest review. I agree with just about everything you said.

Keep up the good work, I enjoy reading your blog.

J\/\/ said...