With the release date of Series 1 just 2 days away, the 2019 Baseball card collecting season is almost underway, bringing with it a wave of new set designs, including Topps' most popular set, Series 1.
I usually stay away from Series 2 because it's released around the same time as preferred products such as Allen & Ginter and Stadium Club, but Series 1 is a completely different story. After going roughly 2 months without an affordable product being released, Topps kicks off the new collecting year with a product that has continuously featured a wide variety of base cards, inserts, and parallels.
I can't say for sure what I think of the set design until I have the cards in person, but the product certainly appears to be better than 2016 and 2017 and if nothing else, more exciting than 2018 Topps.
The team name and position are a bit too small for me, and I'm not too crazy about the players' last name being above their first name. It just doesn't make sense. However, a preview of card #1, Ronald Acuña Jr, on Topps' Instagram, revealed that the card backs could feature a career's worth of stats, not just from the past few seasons.
First and foremost, borders are (half) back. With a design fairly reminiscent of the 1982 Topps set, the borders cover roughly half of the card. Thanks to the return of borders for the first time since 2015, we're able to have much better parallels for not just Topps Flagship, but Topps Chrome as well.
One of my major issues with 2018 Topps was how the parallels and refractors seemed to block almost the entire background on every card. This time, it looks as if the parallels are designed so they don't take anything away from the rest of the card.
One of the major promotions that Topps appears to be running in 2019 is the 150th anniversary of Professional Baseball. With Aaron Judge and Babe Ruth sharing the cover of Series 1, Topps seems to be bridging the gap between old and new with the Series 1 set.
I'm not sure if the gold stamp and the gold Topps logo are the only differences between the 150th-anniversary parallels and the base cards, but I am certain that Topps will have to do better in order for me to be impressed with their efforts in this product.
Side note, but I'm really excited about ballparks being included within the 2019 Topps base checklist. This idea was tested out in the 2018 Topps Big League set, and I was instantly a big fan since it's been far too long without ballpark cards in sets. Forget some random rookie pitcher from the Padres, let's see a card of Wrigley Field for a change.
For the 3rd year in a row, Topps will be featuring another one of their previous sets, once again from the 1980s, as a giant insert set that will likely be stretched out across Series 1, Series 2, Chrome, and Update.
I didn't have a problem with 1987 Topps going into 2017 nor did I with 1983 Topps last season, but something about the redundant and unnecessarily-large insert sets took away from my enjoyment of the original product. Hopefully, Topps doesn't ruin the incredible product that is 1984 Topps for me in their 2019 sets.
I don't really know anything about some of Topps' Series 1 insert sets like Greatness Returns, but I'm just happy that we're finally rid of Topps Salute. As if 1 giant, continuous insert set wasn't enough, Topps Salute featured mediocre designs and truly lacked personality. I'll take a few of these smaller insert sets over a gigantic Salute set any day of the week.
As I previously stated, Topps' main promotion for their 2019 Series 1 set is the 150th anniversary of Professional Baseball. In addition to the 150th-anniversary parallels, there's a humongous, 150-card insert set that's divided into 3 groups, featuring the Greatest Moments, Greatest Players, and the Greatest Seasons in MLB history.
Based on the brief glance I took at the insert set, it appears to feature a ton of Red Sox and Yankees players. Shocking, I know. I'm not sure if each of the cards will look like the Greatest Moments Jackie Robinson card above, but I'm more excited for the card backs and what's being said about the moment, player, or season rather than the insert set design.
New releases are always fun, but when it's Topps Series 1, the first set of the year, there's an added sense of excitement. With only 2 days to go until release day, I'm excited to see what these cards end up looking like in-person before I can truly assess what I think of 2019 Topps.