2008 Topps Updates and Highlights review

8 12 2008

Ah, yes.  Topps the third.  Much like other sequels, I enjoy it for what it is, but fail to see its long standing contribution to the medium it represents.

Updates and Highlights isn’t a bad set.  It’s just it feels like the same set I’ve already bought.  Twice.  And now I’ve gone and bought it once more.

I have a feeling my complaints will be standard for most of Topps Updates and Highlights:  the set’s too long to keep things interesting, the design gets boring around card 700, and there’s nothing special about the release that makes it a have to collect kind of thing.  Already prices are falling, and by next year I probably could have two boxes for the price I paid for one.

But while I’m guessing that most people don’t care about Topps Series 3, it feels like Topps doesn’t care about it either.  Some of the pictures are questionable, some of their choices for inclusion puzzling (another Jason Jennings card?), and those Classic Combo cards – well, I’d rather pull one of those David Wright filler inserts then see another one of those It just feels filled with needless players and subsets to get Topps to it’s now standard 330 card release.

Clearly for Topps there’s a timing problem with the release, and by nature that can’t be helped.  While Updates appears with the playoffs reaching their climax, there’s a real lag shortly after that.   So I pull a Brian Buscher, but I can’t watch him play until 2009.  Unless he’s the next Willie Mays, there’s not much reason to come back to this set when they’ll be four or five of next year’s products already on the shelf by the start of the next season to get my curiosity piqued.

So how do you hype a non hype-worthy set?  Topps doesn’t.  For the most part, it’s a throwaway set, and it feels like Topps knows it.

Upper Deck was set to release an update set that was only 100 cards and available only as a whole.  As a bonus, they’d throw in a box to store your complete Upper Deck flagship set.  While I wasn’t thrilled at spending more money on Upper Deck, I did like the simplicity of it all.  The set has since been cancelled, but I’d like to see Topps take a page from their competitor here and do something to make this thing better.

After all, while looking over the checklist, there are a number of veterans that Topps had passed over for series one and two that get included here. And do I really want a third tier veteran staring at me from behind the mylar curtain?  No.  Do I want to spend a lot of energy chasing down a Shawn Riggans or a Paul Hoover card to complete my set?  No.  And I can’t imagine anyone else would either, unless they are a huge Riggans fan or their collecting quirk is players named after household appliance manufacturers.

In the face of all that, I actually enjoyed my box for the silliest reason of all:  a low numbered parallel made of silk.  As I said before, if you’re going to bother with a numbered parallel, make it something interesting.  Don’t just use a different colored border or slap a serial number on it and try to make people think it’s precious.  Make it stand out.  That DeRosa silk card sure did.

Is it worth much?  Not financially.  But it is an odd novelty to pull out for others every now and again.  And it has led to a discussion or two about cards that I wouldn’t have gotten into otherwise.  It’s not a draw to the hobby box in and of itself, but it was a nice surprise as I hit the throes of tedium halfway through.

I mentioned guys like Riggans and Hoover because I need them for my set, and I’m a bit flabbergasted as to they the merit inclusion at all.  Here’s the list, Hoover and Riggans included:

2008 Topps U & H
7, 9, 16, 31, 43, 60, 66, 79, 101, 111, 127, 139, 141, 149, 160, 217, 245, 250, 281, 285

Next year, I’m going HTA and being done with it.  And by next year, you could do a lot worse then dropping $30 on one of these.