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 TBO.com on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.
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Collect call: 2012 Topps U.S. Olympic Team & Olympic Hopefuls
Posted May 23, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo
Updated May 23, 2012 at 02:37 PM
If you enjoy the Summer Olympic Games and love to collect cards, then Topps’ 100-card set is the perfect combination for you.
The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team & Olympic Hopefuls puts faces to the names we’ve been reading about as the United States prepares for the Summer Games in London later this summer. Even casual Olympic fans know about Shawn Johnson (gymnastics), Michael Phelps (swimming), Brandon’s own Chris Colwill (diving) and Florida State’s Walter Dix (track and field). But how about Sarah Robles (weightlifting), Matt Emmons (shooting) and Kari LaRaine Miller (volleyball)? You will know more about these competitors after seeing and reading their Topps cards.
Each card has a oil painting look to it, with each athlete in an action pose. The United States flag waves in the background, which makes for a nice, subtle patriotic feel.
A hobby box includes 24 packs, and there are eight cards to a pack. The biggest positive to this set aids the set builder — you should get every one of the 100 base cards. That was the case in the hobby box I sampled. The negative to this set is duplication — there were 27 doubles, or slightly more than three packs.
Each card has a parallel, with the athlete’s name and USOC logo stamped in either gold, silver or bronze foil (depending upon the medal that particular athlete has won before). The box I sampled had eight gold cards, 12 silver and 24 bronze.
Topps promises one autograph card, one relic and one commemorative relic per box, and the hobby box I looked at was right on the money. In fact, two of the special cards were of swimmer Nathan Adrian — an autograph card on a sticker, and a relic card that was a piece of one of Adrian’s swimsuit.
The commemorative relic was a U.S. flag patch featuring triathlete Gwen Jorgensen. A nice thick card, the flag was manufactured specifically for this Topps set. So it’s not a patch from an Olympic jacket, for example. But still, a good-looking card.
It didn’t happen in this particular box, but some collectors will pull U.S. Champions autographs, featuring big names like Bruce Jenner, Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Kerri Strug and Mark Spitz. Olympic Games cut signature cards have even bigger names, like Al Oerter, Bob Beamon, Floyd Patterson, Glenn Davis and Joe Frazier (sure seems a shame that Topps couldn’t get Muhammad Ali, but the group of cut signatures are still formidable).
Some collectors will pull Olympic Games event pins, or USOC pins. Others will pull Olympic Games stamps or even commemorative gold, silver and bronze medals.
Topps is offering four different insert sets to chase. Games of the XXX Olympiad will feature athletes in 25 different sports, like Maya Moore (basketball), Hope Solo (soccer) Timothy Wang (table tennis) and Merrill Moses (water polo).
A second insert set is called London 2012 Olympic Games Venue cards. This 30-card set will feature many of the event venues for this summer’s games in London. A third insert set is called Heritage of the Olympic Games and features 30 cards, representing each of the Olympiads since the first Summer Games were held in Athens in 1896.
Finally, a 26-card Opening Ceremony set will feature the flame lighting festivities at the Games from 1896 in Athens to 2008 in Beijing.
There is plenty to go around for the Olympic collector. The card designs are simple and effective, and there is a wonderful cross-section of athletes represented.