Much like Topps Archives, Topps' delayed release of information regarding their 2018 Gallery product left me wondering if the revived brand would make a return this year. Luckily, a little over a month ago, I received word from Cardboard Connection that the art-based set would be back for 2018.
After making its debut in the late 90s and early 2000s, Gallery ceased all production for over a decade until Topps brought the brand back as a Walmart exclusive in 2017 which is a problem for me given that the closest Walmart to me, roughly 10 miles away, doesn't even sell Baseball cards.
So, I decided instead to save myself the aggravation of wasting an afternoon driving to a much farther away Walmart and instead just order a box of Topps Gallery online. Along with a discounted box of Ultra Pro sheets, I picked up a hobby box of 2018 Topps Gallery.
There are 20 total packs in the box with 5 cards per pack, resulting in 100 total cards, including 2 autographs. Today, I will be recapping the first half of the box while tomorrow will focus on the 2nd half.
For starters, each box includes 1 over-sized box topper card which came as a pleasant surprise as soon as I opened the box. Wrapped in a gold wrapper, I began to wonder who it could be as I tore open the pack.
It may not look very "over-sized," but I'm fairly happy with pulling a McCutchen box-topper, and even happier that he's shown on the Giants and not the Yankees, though the Pirates would've been my first choice. Moreover, around 10 minutes after I pulled this card, McCutchen signed a rather unexpected 3-year $50 million dollar deal with the Phillies, a team I think he'll work well with.
Poor Cutch. He's been with 4 teams over the last year after spending nearly a decade with the Pirates. Obviously, the Giants and Yankees weren't good fits for him, so I'm truly hoping that Philadelphia is a good fit for the former NL MVP.
As expected, the artwork in the set is nothing short of extraordinary. Topps seemed to up their game after a few cards from last years' set that were slightly boring, though the majority of the product excited me last year. I picked out a few in particular that caught my eye over the first 10 packs, including recent retiree Adrian Beltre and 2018 rookies Rhys Hoskins and Miguel Andujar.
It sure has been an interesting year for Ichiro cards. After agreeing to return to Seattle on a 1-year deal, the 3,000 hit club member retired early on in the season to take up some executive position for the Mariners. Despite that, Topps continued to produce card after card of the 2001 AL MVP, likely as a way to pay tribute to one of the greatest hitters this generation has ever seen.
I pulled a couple of short prints so far, one of a retired player and one current player. The modern day player is Yu Darvish, a card I'm hardly psyched to pull, while the 2nd of the 2 is a Masters short print of Randy Johnson, showing him as a member of the Seattle Mariners.
Though my personal first choice would be the Montreal Expos, the artist perfected some minor details on the card, including the titling of "Big Unit" on his t-shirt.
I don't know if they have any base card colored parallels, but I have come across one of their Private Issue stamped cards in my box so far, serial numbered out of 250 on the back. Despite showing promise, the future for Raudy Read in Washington appears rather bleak given that the Nationals have just got done signing and trading for 2 total catchers, Kurt Suzuki, and Yan Gomes.
As for the insert sets, Topps basically decided to bring back each and every insert set that made the 2017 product what it was. This includes Gallery Heritage, an insert set I've already landed cards from of 2 superstar 1st basemen, Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo. I can't say I know for sure if it consists only of the 1952 set, but even if it does, at least we have the fabulous artwork if the design becomes redundant.
Masterpiece has also returned for the 2nd year of the Gallery product, featuring black and white photos that serve as a nice contrast to all the colorful images throughout the set. I continued my luck with rookie cards after pulling a Gleyber Torres insert, one of the Yankees' most promising players, and that's saying quite a lot.
Even though the art can't really shine as much in black and white, I appreciate the contrast to the rest of the set. As I said last year, they vaguely remind me of the Donruss Diamond Kings cards from the early 80s.
The last of the inserts so far, Hall of Fame Gallery is back with a design that resembles something you'd see out of Panini Cooperstown 75th Anniversary, only with beautiful artwork to accompany the minimalistic design.
While Honus Wagner isn't one of my player collections or a top choice for whose card I'd prefer to pull, the artists are able to pull off such intriguing designs that I don't even mind that I don't collect the player.
As I previously mentioned, each hobby box guarantees 2 autographs. After 10 packs, I had already pulled 1 of them with the final auto lingering somewhere in the final 10 packs.
Well, I can't say Mike Soroka is one of the better names or even one that I had heard of before today, but after doing a little research, I became a bit more hopeful.
For starters, the card is a green parallel, numbered 46/99 which is already a major plus. Additionally, Soroka is just 21 years of age and is a former 1st round pick out of Canada. Given that he was successful in his minimal playing time in 2018, it's likely that Soroka will find a way onto the Braves' 2019 roster.
They're an up and coming team, meaning that Soroka could soon and hopefully find himself as one of the better young pitchers in Baseball.
And even if he doesn't, I'll always have the artwork to keep me happy.