Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Different Kind of Stadium Club

I've been sitting on this post for quite a while now because I wasn't entirely sure how I wanted to approach it.  I was slightly behind the times when Topps released what I would probably consider the best set of the decade in 2015 Topps Stadium Club.  I was never able to get my hands on a box of it, but I did acquire some cards through both trades and a blaster or two.  Eventually it'll be a set that shows up on my want list.

I did look into collecting 2016 Stadium Club, but I really didn't enjoy the design or photos nearly as much as I did the 2015 set, so I passed.  I also had already decided to collect last year's Heritage set (something I certainly won't be doing this year), so that ate into my budget.

When I heard that Topps had announced a new Premier League set with the Stadium Club moniker attached to it, I was immediately interested and honestly quite excited.  To me, this was exactly what I was looking for... a low to mid-end set collector's set with beautiful design and/or photography.  The release day was December 22nd and boxes of this immediately went on my Christmas list.

I received one hobby box of the product and immediately ripped into it.  Here's what I got.

This Andre Gray is technically a parallel (that PL logo in the top right is unique to this card), but this is essentially what your base cards look like.  The logo, nameplate... heck, even the card backs are spitting images of the 2016 baseball set.

I suppose I don't mind this too much, especially since I don't have all that much of the baseball version.  The lack of stats and personal information on the soccer card is probably to be expected.  I don't really expect Topps to go diving into advanced soccer statistics just yet.

Before heading more into the base set, there were also your standard inserts in this box.  Other than the fact that I was happy I pulled an Aguero Contact Sheets card, I wasn't overly impressed with any of the inserts as a whole.  There's just a bit too much going on in these 'Golazo' cards and...

...this Team Marks insert is quite boring.  On a related note, how boring is it that I got two inserts of the same player in my box, when it only came with five total?

Hey!  More soccer players that don't know how to write!  I really don't understand this phenomenon.  The Terry auto is actually a fairly decent hit considering the auto list for this set.  These autos were just icing on the cake for this box and certainly not the reason I wanted it.

Just like your typical Stadium Club sets we get parallels.  I pulled four of these gold foils, two of these First Day Issue cards, and the above Andre Gray PL logo parallel.  Don't care.

I bought the box for the base cards, the good photography, and the set chase.  What I didn't know was that there would be no chase.  I received the entire base set of 100 cards in my lone box.  While I suppose I don't mind this, I can tell you that Topps lost out on more of my money.  I would have bought another three boxes of this to try and put this set together.  I guess it's not my concern... I have the set.

One thing I will say is that the base set photography seems very hit or miss to me.  The five above 'base set' cards (autos/parallels) are your standard 'in the run of play' type photos.  While I certainly don't mind some of this, they tend to get very old if its not one of your favorite players featured in the photo.  While I think there is certainly room for improvement, I also think Topps really outdid themselves on the top 20% of the set.  There are some really outstanding photos in this set... so I give you my top 10 favorites.

Former Southampton man celebrating his late game-winner earlier this season against Crystal Palace.  Wanyama kept this game from being an embarrassing opener at White Hart Lane.

One of the better goalie cards in the set with Cech getting up high.  It helps that Nacho Monreal and Arsenal are sporting their awesome blue and green kits.

Firmino is emulating the Karate Kid here complete with ponytail and all.  Enough said.  Awesome shot.

I don't know why I enjoy this shot so much, but you'll see two themes in this countdown.  The first being these goal celebration cards.  They always make great photos.

See... great photo.  Which brings me to the second theme... Manchester United.  I can't stand the team, but they absolutely have the best cards in the set.

Point proven.  It helps that this card features a superstar, is set in the middle of the night, and encompasses half of the stadium.  Zlatan's widespread arms also just show you how big this guy really is.

Hate the player.  Love the picture.  Is that allowed?

This card is simply awesome.  This rainy photography is something that we didn't get to see in the baseball version of Stadium Club since no one plays baseball in a downpour.  I really love the effect it gives the card.  Meanwhile, De Gea is floating.

Man U's young phenom gets one of the best cards of this set.  Celebration.  Rain.  Teammates.  The referee giving the goal in the background.  A Hull City player looking dismayed.  What more could you want in a card? 

Oh, this... this is what you could want.  What a stunning photo.  The only thing that could have made this shot better was if Fellani wasn't creeping in the background.  Even still, this photo gives the impression of one vs. one hundred, red vs. black.  The fact that the photographer caught the ball in the shot is just a bonus.

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