Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Product Review: 2012 Topps Chrome Baseball Hobby Box

As soon as the Sell Sheet was out this was the one product I was looking forward to this year. Topps has packed this product for 2012 with a lot of hits. Not only do you till get 2 Autographed cards per pack, but this year they have added veterans to the mix. And if that wasn't enough, they have added Die-cuts, Buy Back Autographs, an uncut sheet redemption and Hot Boxes!
The basics on the product this year are as follows: 24 Packs per Hobby Box, 4 Cards per pack. With Refractors running at 1:3 packs with the additional colors of Blue /199, Black /100, Sepia /75, Gold /50, Red /25, Atomic /10 and Super-Fractors 1/1. Pretty much the same this year with the difference of Sepia are a lower serial number and the Atomic Fractors jump from 2011 /225 down to /10. The Dynamic Die-Cuts are listed at 1 per Hobby Box and should be tough to put together a set unless using the secondary market. With the Veteran Autographs I mentioned that were added into the product, well these will be even tougher to find as the highest serial numbered auto is /25! Most are out of 10, so for those autograph seekers your in for a challenge. 
Chrome has a certain following, some just wait for this product to come out and put all their collecting cash into it. It's shinny, has autos, and always has kept it's value over the years. It seems to be the one product with a solid collectors base very similar to Allen & Ginter collectors. More so this year than any other, Topps has pushed the envelope and brought more to this product to lure more collectors into the Chrome drool fest. The ever so sought out for Hot Box has been introduced this year for 2012 Chrome. These boxes will be found 1 out of every 3 cases. All cards within these Hot Boxes will be all Refractors, no base Chrome. The ultimate Refractor collector dream, can you imagine each card in a box being a refractor?  Amazing they have done this with Chrome, and with this I bet more cases will be sold than individual boxes this year.
As with every year Chrome packs in it with Refractor Parallels. So nothing changed here with colored Refractors, X-Fractors and Super-Fractors. Of course you have your assortment of Rookie Card Autographed cards seeded 2 per box on average, but with the veteran autographed inserted into the product you might end up getting 1 RC Auto with a Veteran Auto, either way you win with this product. Most of the Veteran Autographs are numbered from 25 or less, so your odds of obtaining one might be harder than you would think with this product. Also they have added a small number of Autographed Relics numbered to 10. One last added new item are the Dynamic Die-cuts set at 1 per box.
So of course this was something I was planning on buying already but how much would I buy? Well, I set aside 4 boxes from a sealed case to try my luck at a hot box. With the odds of 1 out of 3 cases I figured breaking 4 of the 12 gave me pretty good odds (if this was the case). Lets see how I did:

Box 1                                              
Base: 63 (Trumbo, Arod, Jeter, Braun, Ichiro)
Base RC: 15 (Harper, Nieuwenhuis, Reed, Moore)                                              
Refractor: 8 (Montero RC, Falu RC, Chipper Jones)                                      
X-Fractor: 4 (Beltran, Latos, Cueto, Duda)                                      
Blue Refractor: David Wright /199                                                                    
Sepia Refractor: Eric Surkamp RC /75                              
Gold Refractor: Kirk Nieuwenhuis /50                                                               
Dynamic Die-Cut: David Ortiz                  
Autographs: 2 (Matt Dominguez RC, Wily Peralta RC Refractor /499)                                                                 
Box 2                                              
Base: 59 (Strasburg, Tulo, Votto, Kemp, Trout, Bautista)
Base RC: 20 (Adams, Cespedes, Valdespin, Middlebrooks, Darvish)                                              
Refractor: 8 (Trumbo, Lester, Johnson)                                      
X-Fractor: 4 (Aoki RC, Kinsler, Gordon, Cabrera)                                      
Blue Refractor: Brian Wilson /199                                                                                                  
Gold Refractor: Jon Lester /50                                                               
Dynamic Die-Cut: Curtis Ganderson                  
Autographs: 2 (Drew Hutchison RC,  Kirk Nieuwenhuis RC Refractor /499)       

Box 3                                            
Base: 62 (Pujols, Wright, Fielder, Hamilton, Ortiz, Cano, Kemp, Trout, Bautista)
Base RC: 17 (Lawrie, Cespedes, Montero, Mesoraco, Adams)                                              
Refractor: 8 (Cain, Crawford)                                      
X-Fractor: 4 (Garza, Iwakuma RC, J. Upton, Stubbs)                                      
Blue Refractor: Michael Taylor RC /199                                                                                         Red Refractor: Mike Napoli /25                                                              
Dynamic Die-Cut: Ichiro                
Autographs: 2 (Jarrod Parker RC,  Drew Hutchison RC Refractor Blue /199)    

Box 4                                            
Base: 58 (Chipper Jones, Hosmer, Jeter, Longoria, Kershaw, Sabathia, Stanton)
Base RC: 21 (Middlebrooks, Valdespin, Taylor, Betances, Hutchison)                                              
Refractor: 8 (Ganderson, Herrera RC, Hendriks RC, Liddi RC, Halladay)                                      
X-Fractor: 4 (Bruce, Braun, Crawford, Ackley)                                      
Blue Refractor: Nyjer Morgan /199                                                                                           Sepia Refractor: Ryan Braun /75                                                              
Dynamic Die-Cut: Troy Tulowitzki                
Autographs: 2 (Zack Cozart,  Tyler Pastornicky RC)

So out of 4 random boxes from the case I picked out I came out with none being Hot Boxes. As for the product, Chrome is one of the cleanest and nicest products on the market year in and out. The Refractors are great parallels to this product and add to the chase of finding tough rookie autographs. I did decently on these boxes, again with Chrome you are only getting 96 cards total in a Hobby box so building the 220 base set could be a little tougher with the mix of parallels and autographs in the product. You would need a few boxes to get close or hit the 220 mark. In my case I have a good start and so I will try to make a Chrome Base set. The Dynamic Die-Cuts are really nice added insert into this product. Somewhat like the Cutting Edge Stars in Bowman Platinum, these die-cuts standout and pictures don't do them justice at all. As of the Release there are 50 players to collect. A complete set of these would be really nice to display as part of any collection.
The Autographs I pulled were all rookies except for the Zack Cozart, and the signatures were all On-card (a Hobby favorite) which were all cleanly signed. The one thing I did notice on the base Autographs is that 2 of the 5 seemed to have a manufactured defect of the printing press. The lines on the card front were noticeable and not very appealing to them. However I noticed on the Refractors they did not have this and were very clean card faces. I hit two Sepia Refractors and 1 Red Refractor out of the 4 boxes from the case. Again if you are a Chrome collector you will be delighted in this product. The cards are nice and crisp, not bending like previous years past. And with the lineup of players this year and the addition of more autographs you can't go wrong. This is not one of the Higher end products for baseball but is certainly one that could temp those in the Higher-End market to dabble into the product like myself. in previous years I didn't really bother with Chrome. Don't get me wrong though as I've always enjoyed the On-Card autographs the past years. I just didn't buy boxes of it, instead bought in the secondary market for those players I wanted for my collection. This year though it turned me into a Chrome Collector for years to come, just because of the new product offerings in the this year that I know will continue down the road.
Overall I would say this is in the top 3 baseball products of the year and a definite buy for any collector looking to make sets or chase down those hard parallels or autographs.

Gambler Overall Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Cost: 5/5
Autographs: 4.5/5 
Parallels: 4.5/5
Design: 5/5
Rookies: 4.5/5
Fun Aspect: 5/5

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