May contain trace amounts of MLB players
Last year, Topps added a premium thick card product to the Bowman lineup in the form of Bowman Inception. Unlike the other Bowman products, Inception features autographs on thick card stock with a mostly matte finish. For the subject matter, Inception mixes a few token RC autos (to appease the MLBPA) with a mix of top prospects.
Which is how we wound up with this pairing: Jeurys Familia, the default Mets Rookie with autographs in everything, and Travis d’Arnaud, the top prospect received in the R.A. Dickey trade. This was d’Arnaud’s first Mets autograph, but otherwise there isn’t much notable here. The concept may have been new, but the generic ballpark sky background and the focus on established prospects and Rookies took away any sense of excitement. Would things be any different the second time around? Well, sort of.
Bowman Inception doesn’t have a base set, so the prospect autographs are about as close as it gets. This year’s background is a grayish wood grain pattern and the only gloss is on the player photograph above the signature area. It’s not all that exciting, but if you want an on-card prospect autograph that isn’t chrome or foil, there isn’t much else to choose from. Chipping has been a problem on a lot of thick Topps cards, but Inception manages to avoid that issue for the most part (though some bad chipping does still show up occasionally). Corners on the other hand remain a problem area; some are sharp but others show extreme wear. That’s certainly one benefit of chrome – plastic is much more durable.
Despite Topps going overboard on RC autographs of Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores in 2014, neither appears in Inception. Instead, the Mets lineup only includes prospects and lots of them. Between Noah Syndergaard, Dominic Smith, Rafael Montero, and Kevin Plawecki, Inception has autographs from four of the Mets’ top 10 2014 prospects. That’s a good showing, but there’s nothing really new here; all four had autographs in 2013, with all but Plawecki featured in a Bowman product late in the year (Plawecki’s only 2013 autographs, in January 2013′s 2012 Panini Elite Extra Edition, were issued as redemptions and didn’t ship until 2014, just to make things more confusing). This is the first time that all of them have been in a product together, so you’re in luck if you like matching autographs. Otherwise, it’s a second chance to pick up an autograph you might have missed last year.
If you like your autograph cards with a heavy dose of color, Inception has what you want. With six pastel colored parallels (Gold #d/99, Blue #d/75, Pink #d/50, Green #d/25, Red #d/10, and Purple #d/5) on top of 1/1 Inception and printing plate parallels, you’re sure to find something in your favorite color. That certainly helps to dress up the bland base design, but the value added by the color and serial numbering is minimal. At a pack price of $100 for five cards, even the Green parallels can often be found for less than the $20 average card cost. Most of the rest can be had for around $10 or less. That makes for some great deals if you’re buying singles, but where are the big hits?
Nope, not here. Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard are featured here with sticker autographs and pieces of their 2013 Futures Game jerseys (World for Montero and USA for Syndergaard). These are the first common Syndergaard memorabilia cards and include patch variants in some (but, frustratingly, not all) of the low-numbered parallels (many of which use such subtle color variations that you have to look at the serial number to tell them apart). Other memorabilia inserts include one-of-one Futures Game patches and multi-player autographed patch cards from Montero and Syndergaard as well as Brandon Nimmo and Dilson Herrera (who was not with the Mets during the Futures Game but is now shown as a Met). Those would be some of the big hits we’re looking for, but it’s hard to get too excited about a handful of 1/1s and similarly impossible pulls.
This would be the main event. After a lot of $10 filler cards, we have finally found cards that are worth the price of admission. Two or three of Smith, Syndergaard, and Montero can be found in the Inceptioned Autograph (#d/35), Silver Signings (#d/25), Bowman Black (#d/25), and Inscription Autograph (#d/10) sets (Silver Signings also include parallels numbered to 5 and 1). These add some much-needed variety to Inception’s offerings and are the most common Mets autographs to break the $20 barrier.
For the price of a five-card box, you can get a good variety of Bowman Inception Mets cards (all six base autograph and autographed memorabilia cards, a premium autograph, and one or two colored parallels). If you’re not an obsessive collector though, the base versions are easy to skip. That doesn’t leave much. It is common for autographs in the “other” Bowman products (Platinum, Sterling, etc.) to rate well below the corresponding base Bowman Chrome prospect autographs, but Inception’s value seems to be another level down. Premium cards at a discount price? It sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t bode well for the future. Best not to think about it too much, I guess. Just get what you like and ignore the rest. Bowman Inception has a few nice pieces, but it is hardly essential.