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Bob D’Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.

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Collect call: 2012 Topps Chrome football

Posted Dec 2, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Mar 27, 2013 at 10:17 PM

It’s ironic that the card that shined the most in the hobby box of 2012 Topps Chrome football that I opened tonight wasn’t shiny at all.

That’s because it was a 1/1 magenta plate of Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley.

Not the biggest name you’ll find in Topps Chrome, but it’s still an exciting pull.

The shiny stuff is not too bad, either. And there are plenty of nice inserts and refractors, too.

A hobby box of 2012 Topps Chrome contains 24 packs, with four cards to a pack. There is a 220-card base set, evenly divided between rookies and veterans. The box I sampled had 73 base cards, or slightly more than a third of the set. I found the rookie cards of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Justin Blackmon — and also the rookie card of former Plant High star Orson Charles, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. Another key rookie for me was of Eric LeGrand, the former Rutgers player who was paralyzed during the 2010 but was drafted by the Bucs this year.

It was a classy move by Topps (and also by Panini America) to include LeGrand in their products this year.

Topps promises one chrome autograph in every hobby box, and this particular box had an interesting one. It was an on-card, military camo autograph of Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright, numbered to 105. The camouflage border was a nice touch.

Refractors are abundant in Topps Chrome; there were six “regular” refractors in the box I opened.

But some of the refractors were colorful, like the pink-bordered card featuring the Bucs’ LeGarrette Blount, numbered to 399 and featuring the running back wearing a Tampa Bay throwback orange uniform. And some had an old-fashioned feel to it, like the sepia-tone card of Dolphins running back Reggie Bush, numbered to 99.

A more colorful example was displayed in an X-fractor of Vikings rookie receiver Greg Childs, numbered to 216.

Die-cut inserts are a part of Topps Chrome, too, falling one per box on average. The box I looked at yielded a card of Bengals rookie quarterback Brock Osweiler.

The design of the base set sports a photo of the player set against a chrome background set in soft focus. The player’s name and position are presented in white block letters across the bottom of the card, with team colors and logo slightly above it. That leaves a large area for the action shot, and I am glad that most of them are vertical designs. Certainly there are some horizontal shots, but I guess I just enjoy opening a binder and seeing the cards without having to turn it around. Personal preference.

Speaking of designs, Topps Chrome employed several classic designs for its inserts. The nicest ones in my book are the mini-cards that employ the design of the 1965 Topps “tall boy” set. Interesting that tall boys are depicted as minis, but the design is true to the original. These cards fall two to a hobby box on average, and this particular box hit that number with Arizona wide receiver Michael Floyd and Denver running back Ronnie Hillman.

The second insert design mirrors the horizontal, two-photo design of the 1957 Topps football set. There are 30 cards in this subset. The player’s mug shot is on the left-hand side of the card, while a 1950s-style posed action shot adorns the right side. In a nice touch, Topps uses the position designation from that era. So Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon is simply referred to as an “end,” while Giants running back David Wilson is called a “back.” On average, expect to pull two of these cards per hobby box.

Make sure you read those card backs. If you don’t, you’d miss this gem about Wilson: “A fascinating personality complements David’s off-the-charts athleticism.”  Wish Topps had more space to elaborate.

The third design is a throwback to the 1984 Topps set, and a hobby box will average four of these cards. The box I sampled had Panthers receiver Joe Adams, Ravens running back Bernard Pierce and a pair of receivers named Wright — Kendall (Titans) and Jarius (Vikings). There are 35 cards in this insert set.

Another insert that tips its hat to the past is the Quarterback Rookie reprints subset. There are 21 cards to this retro-looking set, and a collector can expect one per hobby box. The card I pulled was a 1962 Fran Tarkenton reprint; the black borders from that ’62 set look really good in chrome, by the way. Other reprints in the set read like a who’s who of great quarterbacks — Joe Montana (1981 design), Bart Starr (1957), Joe Namath (1965), Terry Bradshaw (1971), Dan Marino and John Elway (1984) and Roger Staubach (1972).

There are plenty of nice cards to be found in this set. A hobby box can cost as low as $98, depending on your hobby shop or the Internet site you frequent. While one autograph per box may seem like a low number, the large numbers of rookie cards and refractors should make up for that.

And if you happen to pull a printing plate, it could be a shining moment.

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