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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 football

Posted Aug 15, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Aug 15, 2012 at 09:21 PM

Collectors who love quarterbacks are going to enjoy Topps’ 2012 football, particularly the inserts. Signal-callers past and present will be getting their due.

The tone is set with Topps’ box top, as it features quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts’ No. 1 draft pick this year. What I really like about the quarterback idea is the reprint set that depicts the rookie cards of notable players like Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Roger Staubach. That’s what I pulled from the hobby box I opened. Gorgeous-looking reprints, and I wish I had the real Bradshaw rookie; it’s one of the cards that has prevented me from completing my 1971 Topps football set.

Another insert set, Quarterback Immortals, features action shots of greats ranging from Y.A. Tittle and Bart Starr to Phil Simms and Troy Aikman. While full bleed photography (or, full bleed with white borders) are a nice design for base sets, the feathered technique used in Quarterback Immortals does make it look special. The only criticism I’d have with it is that the gold foil stamp in the right-hand corner is tough to read. Once you determine it says “QB Immortals,” well then it’s OK. But the players’ names in gold foil looks good against a thin-blue background. There were six in the hobby box I opened.

The other exciting element of 2012 Topps football are the inserts that pay homage to the “tall boys” put out by Topps in 1965.  Topps was in the second year of producing only American Football League cards that year (NFL cards from 1964 to 1967 were “Phillys,” from the Philadelphia card company), and that set is coveted by many vintage football collectors.  The big card from that set was Joe Namath’s rookie card.
The 2012 version follows the 1965 design faithfully, the only difference being that the cards are minis in width and are not as tall as the originals (the card height is the same as a standard 2012 base card).

Love them.

A hobby box will contain 36 packs, with 10 cards to a pack. The 440-card set has plenty of rookies, and in fact, Topps promises at least one rookie card in each pack. From what I observed, Topps more than met that quota.

The hobby box I sampled produced 304 of the 440 cards, with no duplicates. I was starting to wonder if there were any Bucs in the set though, as I didn’t find one until the seventh pack I opened. LeGarrette Blount finally broke the ice for me, as card No. 263 showed him in a Bucs throwback uniform.

In a move also done by Panini, Topps issued an Eric LeGrand rookie card. The former player who was paralyzed in a game during his Rutgers days is shown on card No. 21. It’s a horizontal shot, and I am not sure I like the angle of the photo (I thought Panini’s choice from the news conference was better), but I applaud both companies for including him in the set. He’s definitely an inspirational person.
Parallel cards are a staple in Topps sets, and there are gold cards numbered to 2012, camouflage numbered to 399, and black numbered to 57. A new addition this year is a pink-bordered parallel, numbered to 399, to call attention to breast cancer research. Classy move.

The box I sampled had three gold, one black and one pink parallel.

Prolific Playmakers is another example of putting the feathered photography technique to good use. The box I opened had nine of them, and included players like former USF star Jason Pierre-Paul, Ravens star Ray Lewis and newcomers like Luck.

The final insert set in the hobby box I saw was called Paramount Pairs. This card pairs players with similar abilities or attributes, or some other common thread. The Bucs are represented nicely, with one card featuring receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Blount is also featured on a card with 49ers running back LaMichael James. Topps did go a little overboard with Luck in this subset, featuring him on cards with John Elway, Jim Plunkett and Robert Grifffin III.

Topps promises one autographed card or a relic in every hobby box, and the box I sampled yielded an on-card signature of Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman, numbered to 90. Nice photo, odd-looking signature, but it’s a rookie card so that makes it a nice pull.

Also inserted in every six packs are Game Time Giveaway cards. Collectors go online to and enter codes to unlock prizes. It’s a concept that has worked well in the baseball set, too.

This is the type of set that has something for everyone. Set builders can build, parallel lovers can chase those cards, and insert fans will have plenty of variety to choose from. The emphasis on quarterbacks is a good move, especially since Luck, Griffin and Ryan Tannehill possibly can have an impact in the NFL over the next few years.

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