The other week I saw a Facebook post from Topps that was a little too good to pass up. Three boxes of a newer product for $50? That's a steal, and while I am sometimes critical of rehash products, I was happy to pick up some boxes of mini for a great price. 2014 was the third edition of the Topps Mini product, and since I have bought exactly zero packs of the previous two sets, I was excited to see the product in person.
Well, let's start off with the no brainer stuff first. The set is 660 cards and basically mirrors the regular Topps base set that we all know and love. As far as I can tell the checklists and the pictures are the same as the regular full version of the Topps set. Just smaller.
If I didn't tell you that the Matt Holliday card pictured above was a card from Topps Mini you would really not have any way of knowing it was not from the regular set. So, yeah the base set of Topps Mini is a rehash and there is no other nice way to put it. That's really the only negative with this product, but there are three huge positives with this product that still make it a great buy at less than $20 per box:
1. Small numbers of relics and autographs
I bought three boxes of Topps Mini and got three relics. Autographs are actually one every four boxes, so the autograph odds were actually against me. I love autographs and relics, but they are way over done. Relics have been downright stale for awhile and much of the problem, in my opinion, has a lot to do with overproduction. Has anyone ever tried to track down and buy some of the relic cards out of the late 90s Upper Deck products when the odds were long on landing a relic? The cards have held there value very well and are highly sought after. Not to say that reducing the numbers of relic cards is the only way to make them fresh and relevant, but it would help a lot. Topps Mini got this right.
2. Simplified Inserts
Not saying that all sets have complicated inserts, or that only one insert set is a good thing, but it makes it easy to put them together when there are few of them and they are simple. Topps Mini only has one insert set, The Future Is Now, and after three boxes I put together a large portion of the set. How many insert sets did the regular Topps set have? How many of the insert sets have a repetitive feel to them?
3. Simplified Parallels
There are printing plates in Topps Mini, but I did not pull one. I believe that they are one per case, or something like that, so I missed out. I did pull a black parallel of Brandon Belt which is numbered out of 5......
Three pink minis which are numbered out of 25 and.........
a bunch of Golds which are numbered to just 99. How many parallels were in the regular 2014 Topps set? There is orange, green, light blue (Wal-Mart), red (Target), gold, camo, black, pink, acetate, platinum, and the printing plates. That's a lot and I am not sure sometimes how modern player collectors manage to cope with all of these parallels. Pretty overwhelming and I am glad that mini has just four parallels.