Product Spotlight: 2015 Topps Archives Signature Series

Buybacks are back, alright!

It was a dismal year for Topps Archives, so the announcement of another Archives product at the end of the year was a bit confusing. Would this be a second helping? A non-card product like those Tristar autographed 8x10s? Or something completely different? As it turned out, 2015 Topps Archives Signature Series was the second coming of 2004 Topps Originals and brought with it everything good and bad about that release.

2004 was the height of the retired player autograph boom. In addition to the usual retired player products that were all the rage back then, buyback autographs took center stage with 2004 Topps Originals and 2004 Donruss Timelines. All four (yes, four, such a foreign concept today…) licensed manufacturers had done buybacks previously (though Fleer didn’t get the autograph part and just slapped handwritten serial numbers on some old cards and stuck them into packs), but these products merged the concept with the one-hit-per-pack insertion method. The end result was a pack that, for about $50, would yield a $5 autograph from a minor ’80s star on a card that was far from pack fresh.

Archives Signature Series takes that model and, um, does the exact same thing. There are some notable changes though. First, cards are packed in magnetic holders instead of cheap snapdowns. Second, players who were active in 2004 and have since retired are now included. And third, the choice of cards is more like Donruss Timelines with all sorts of oddballs in the mix, many as 1/1s. And that’s really all that’s changed in 11 years.

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2015 Biggest Pulls

A Case of Redemption

After a dismal 2014, I’d had enough. This just wasn’t fun anymore. My plan was to back off of hobby boxes and go with breaks whenever that made more sense. As plans go, it wasn’t necessarily a bad one. It lasted 8 months. Despite a strong start to 2015, I stuck with my plans to cut back, limiting myself to whatever retail I could find and an occasional hobby box for a select few products. Team and player breaks filled in the gaps, along with the usual purchases on the secondary market. And then this happened.

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Product Spotlight: 2015 Topps Heritage ’51 Collection

Old hobby formats die hard

If you look at the biggest failures of the last few years for Topps, two factors are recurring themes: mini cards and novelty factory sets.  Topps Mini was a no-show at this year’s national convention after last year’s version hit 75% off at the Topps web site.  Bowman Chrome Mini has been a tough sell even at 50% off the wholesale price (and shows no signs of coming back for 2015).  Topps Heritage High Number ditched the factory set format after two years of dismal sales and turned into one of the best products of the year.  2015 was the year of Topps learning its lessons, apparently.

But old habits die hard.  Unable to resist temptation, Topps dipped back into the well of failure twice in late 2015.  Topps Mini returned in factory set form, embodying the worst of both worlds and trying to make work what even Bowman Chrome couldn’t succeed at.  And Topps Heritage ’51 Collection came seemingly out of nowhere, adding a fourth 2015 Topps baseball product to the Heritage lineup.  The only one in factory set form.  And with lots of minis!  This is not the product the hobby needed or wanted, though it isn’t without redeeming value.  Not entirely.

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Product Spotlight: 2015 Bowman Chrome

The firsts keep coming

2015 Bowman brought consistency to the convoluted Topps parallel system. After several months of smooth sailing, 2015 Bowman Chrome kept the same formula (a first, at least among recent years) and brought us the first Kevin Plawecki base Rookie Cards and the first MLB-licensed autographs from Akeel Morris, Jhoan Urena, Milton Ramos, and Michael Conforto? Um, what’s his 2014 Bowman Draft autograph doing here?

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The Many Autos of Matthew Reynolds

A case of life imitating art?

When the World Series rosters were announced today, there was only one small change on the Mets side – Juan Uribe is back! After missing the NLDS and NLCS due to injury, clubhouse sensation Uribe was back on the roster, not quite 100 percent but good enough to get a spot. And why not? It’s not like the Mets have been relying on their bench for much in the postseason. Uribe’s presence alone is a big add.

But it came at a price. Matt Reynolds, who seemed due for a 2015 debut at the start of the season, only made it onto an active roster in October because of Ruben Tejada’s injury in the NLDS. He did not appear in the remaining three games of the NLDS. And he did not appear in the four-game NLCS sweep. And then he was bumped off the World Series roster for Uribe. An improbable postseason MLB debut now looked impossible (barring another shortstop injury). But for Matt Reynolds, this is nothing new. Story of his life, in cardboard at least.

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2015 Mets Debut Autographs

Well, that’s a relief…

With Cespedes on board, the Mets cruised to their first NL East title since 2006. But not without getting some extra relief help first. Eric O’Flaherty got the first shot, but that didn’t work out so well. Next came Addison Reed, who has earned a spot on the postseason roster. Barring an emergency postseason call-up, the 2015 list wraps up with Tim Stauffer, who was picked up to bolster the AAA staff. As usual, the “throw a bunch of relievers against the wall and see who sticks” method of bullpen construction doesn’t yield the best results, but at least the Mets had some time to experiment in games that didn’t really matter.

Michael Cuddyer John Mayberry Jr. Jerry Blevins Alex Torres
6 April 2015 6 April 2015 6 April 2015 9 April 2015
Sean Gilmartin* Daniel Muno* Kevin Plawecki* Hansel Robles*
10 April 2015 17 April 2015 21 April 2015 24 April 2015
Jack Leathersich* Johnny Monell Noah Syndergaard* Darrell Ceciliani*
29 April 2015 9 May 2015 12 May 2015 19 May 2015
Akeel Morris* Logan Verrett Steven Matz* Michael Conforto*
17 June 2015 18 June 2015 28 June 2015 24 July 2015
Kelly Johnson Juan Uribe Tyler Clippard Yoenis Cespedes
25 July 2015 25 July 2015 28 July 2015 1 August 2015
Eric O’Flaherty Addison Reed Tim Stauffer
5 August 2015 1 September 2015 13 September 2015

*MLB Debut

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