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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 Inception football

Posted Jul 18, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Jul 18, 2012 at 08:15 PM

With its thick card stock, interesting background, generously sized patches and a high percentage of big hits, Topps Incentive football offers plenty of potential for high-end collectors.

The background of the cards certainly intrigue me. Action shots of the players are cut out and dropped into what looks like a pebbly, jagged concrete-like background (although one colleague suggested it looked like blotches of paint). The cards are a little darker than I expected, but it’s certainly not a disappointment.

A hobby box of Topps Incentive contains one pack, with seven cards to a pack. The breakdown is two base cards, two numbered parallel cards, and three hits — on average, two of the hits will contain autographs.

The boxes are selling anywhere between $85 to $105 (check your local dealer or online and shop around; I’d especially advise that for high-end products). The base set consists of 100 cards; in a nice twist, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman is listed as card No. 5. Other Bucs included in the base set are running back LeGarrette Blount and wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

On the other hand, Bucs rookie running back Doug Martin has 15 cards in the set, spread out among the big hit parallels, relics, patches and autographs. In fact, one of the big hits I pulled from the pack I sampled was a rookie patch card of the former Boise State star, numbered to 75. The patch contains two colors, dominated by original Buccaneer orange (remember those Creamsicle days?) with a dash of red in the bottom left-hand corner.

Rookies do carry the day in the Inception set, and collectors can look forward to pulling cards of high draft picks like Robert Griffin III and And
rew Luck.

The other big hits: an on-card autograph of Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, numbered to 50; and an absolutely gorgeous, autographed three-color jumbo patch card of Carolina wide receiver Joe Adams. It’s a sticker autograph, but the size of the patch will take your breath away.

There were two numbered parallel cards. One was a red parallel of Saints quarterback Drew Brees, numbered to 50; and the other was of Bears running back Michael Bush, numbered to 252. If I was going to chase a parallel set, I’d go after the reds, because they look quite sharp.

The base cards are every bit as thick as the parallels, and the pack I opened contained Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Raiders running back Darren McFadden.

The only flaw I saw in this set was a tendency for cards to be chipped or dinged around the corners. In the box I opened, three cards were slightly dinged in the lower left-hand corner. It might have been the way I opened the packs (I hope not) or the way Topps packaged the cards (I hope not), but that was a flaw I was not expecting. It was particularly acute on the Martin rookie patch card.

Incentive is definitely a nice set to chase if you are looking for jumbo patches, autographs and other combinations. You are not dropping this kind of cash to build a set, so having two base cards is not really a negative. The more hits, the better.

And Topps Incentive has some nice hits.

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