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A&G set has plenty of history and variety

Posted Jan 11, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Mar 27, 2013 at 09:40 PM

Guess I jumped the gun a little this afternoon with some 2013 Allen & Ginter previews, starting with the inclusion of Pele. It was certainly correct, but later in the day, Topps released a lot more photos and plenty more information about the set, which I’ve always thought was the Midsummer Night’s Dream of cards. After all, it is released in mid-July, right around the All-Star Game. This year’s set will hit stores on July 17.

So I guess I feel like Shemp Howard in the 1947 Three Stooges short, “Hold That Lion,” when a carton of eggs falls on him and covers him in plenty of yolk.

“How do you like that, I feel like a piece of French toast,” Shemp mutters.

A&G’s lineup for its eighth edition is certainly delicious. Topps remains true to the “World’s Champions” spirit of the original Allen & Ginter set, including champions of other sports (some well-known, others quite obscure), celebrities, landmarks, monarchs, and even spiders.

And the autographs. Earlier I mentioned that A&G would have Pele, Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, gymnast McKayla Maroney, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly and boxer Roy Jones Jr.

Some of the other autographs of note will include former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden, musician Henry Rollins, Olympics star Lindsey Vonn, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, paddle boarder Ekolu Kalama, figure skater Scott Hamilton, paintball champ Mattias Blonski and sumo wrestler Byamba.

Oh, there are baseball players too, like current players Yu Darvish, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder and Mike Trout; and Hall of Famers like Sandy Koufax, Henry Aaron, Juan Marichal, Mike Schmidt, Jim Rice, Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken Jr.  and Nolan Ryan. And a whole lot more.

A hobby box this year will have three hits, with the usual relic, autographs and rip cards. What will be new for 2013 are double rip cards and oversized book cards. Want a dead spider? Well, A&G will have that mounted in a shadowboxed card.

I always thought the insects were kind of odd to include in a set. But A&G will have some really interesting inserts. They play to my love of history, so a mini-insert set like Heavy Hangs the Head — which pays tribute to monarchs like Henry VIII of England — have a certain appeal to me.

Other mini inserts will be The First Americans, which will focus on Native American tribes like the Navajos; Inquiring Minds, which will showcase philosophers (as an aside, my wife and I had Philsopher’s Pie tonight at the Mellow Mushroom pizza parlor in Brandon — definitely makes one wax poetic); Peacemakers; Famous Finds; and Codes, Siphers and Cryptographs, which will depict famous codes in history.

The base set follows the formula it has for many years, with 250 cards. The last 50 cards in the set will be short prints. Mini card parallels will have “regular” backs, A&G backs (and an A&G baseball back), and black borders. Look at the backs carefully, since some won’t have numbers.

Lucky collectors will find 1/1 wood mini parallels.

The full-sized inserts include a 100-card Across the Years set, which highlights shared birthdays of maj0r-league players; a 20-card Civilizations of Past set; Our Little Corner, which focuses on heavenly bodies (as in planets and stars); Martial Mastery, which honors 10 famous warriors; and a 20-card Palaces and Strongholds subset.

For those who buy hobby boxes, box toppers will offer the possibility of 1/1 cut signatures or even a Cabinet Book Relic (also 1/1). Topps is promising 20 different 1/1 cut autographs.

The rip cards are going to be interesting and also are limited to hobby boxes. Red autographs numbered to 10 and mini wood 1/1 cards are possibilities, along with Rip Card Reserves. The Rip Cards are redemptions.

Double rips are new and can be ripped from two sides, producing two cards. As always, the question is whether to rip or not. But the double rips will be limited to 10 per card and will contain some exclusive surprises.

I make no bones about the fact that I love the Allen & Ginter set. It plays to my love of history and makes me philosophize about how beautiful and innovative some cards can be. Perhaps that was the Philosopher’s Pie kicking in.

It sure beats French toast.

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