These last few days my Blogger dashboard has been inundated with posts regarding Series 1 of the new Topps Flagship set. For good reason too. Not only is this the first major set of cards we've seen in months, but its the signal of the start of a new year in baseball! Pitchers and catchers week is right around the corner, college baseball is starting to play some scrimmages down in the warmer part of the world, and heck, we've even got some minor leaguers hittin' home runs in the Caribbean World Series (or Serie del Caribe if you prefer).
Well, I'm not joining the flagship hype train. It's not because I don't like the set... actually, I really have no idea what I think about this set as of yet. Obviously I've seen all the cards that people have posted pictures and scans of, but I haven't gone out and grabbed any off the shelf yet. No, the real reason I haven't gotten overly excited about this release is that I simply prefer not to collect Topps flagship sets.
I'm a set collector above all things. Nothing annoys me more than spending time and money on collecting a set and then later seeing the set released as a factory set sealed and pristine. For me to want and collect something, not only does it have to catch my eye, but it has to be "worth it." I want to end up with a finished product that looks good while also being something that not every collector can say they have (or can go to their LCS and pick it up for 50-60 bucks).
Two years ago a card collecting friend of mine started opening 2014 Panini Donruss. He loved the Diamond Kings inserts of the past and the ones they put out in that set as well. I don't remember how many boxes he opened of the product, but he ended up chasing the set (which had some obnoxious SP's in it as well) only to find out that Panini ended up releasing a factory set for the product. He was extremely upset because he felt he wasted a whole lot of time and money on a set that is now available for $29.99.
In a way, I feel the same about Topps Flagship. The set's existence doesn't bother me, I just have little desire to collect it. It also helps that very few of the insert sets they produce for these sets tend to strike my fancy.
In recent years, I've actually tried to collect the Topps Chrome set instead. Yes, I know it doesn't include all the cards, and yes, it usually leaves out a few that I would REALLY enjoy having, but I think this is a good compromise. I get to chase a set that's harder to complete than flagship, while still (basically) getting to collect the set design!
All of this leads me to a recent, relatively smaller, trade I made with Jimmy of Talking [S]Mack Cards. He sent me a conglomeration of cards off my wantlist from 2014 and 2015. There was a lot of Chrome-y shinny stuff included which made me happy. Here's a couple of the better ones.
2014 Chrome. I'd be surprised if I owned more than 30 of the non-Chrome version of this product. I wasn't overly impressed with it, and I was completely burned out from chasing 2013 flagship (along with the vast majority of its inserts). I think I bought a couple Wal-Mart packs of 2014 Series 1 and then called it quits. Chrome I did collect though, and I'm getting there! The wantlist has gotten pretty short!
I did end up breaking down and buying a bit more 2015 flagship this past year simply because the set was so much fun. I still don't plan on collecting the whole thing, but I have a healthy stack of those sitting around in boxes. Ironically, I think that making this set shinny didn't actually do anything good for it. In fact, it might have made it worse in a way with the glare the Chrome provides. Doesn't matter. Still collecting this. Reason: no factory set.
Lastly, Jimmy sent me a bunch of this past year's Bowman set... a set that I think is vastly underrated. I don't do Bowman every year, but I usually get a hobby box of it for prospects and then decide if I want to spend more money on it. This past year, the answer was a resounding "yes." Bowman's presentation is usually quite awful, but I happened to really like this idea of having a pseudo-full bleed look with creative borders.
It's usually Bowman that fills the void for me between Opening Day and Allen & Ginter. Every now and then something else cool catches my eye and I end up chasing that instead (last year Stadium Club was too close to Ginter for me to spend money on both...). We shall see what that set will be this year. I'm already committing myself to Ginter and Topps Chrome again. One more will probably sneak in!