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Collect call: 2013 Topps football

Posted Sep 7, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Sep 7, 2013 at 01:10 PM

Like its flagship baseball product, Topps caters to the set builder with its 2013 football set. And if you buy a hobby box of 2013 Topps football, you are likely to complete about two-thirds of the base set while getting a big head start on the many inserts.

Here are the particulars. A hobby box contains 36 packs, with 10 cards to a pack. Topps promises either an autograph or memorabilia card in every hobby box, plus at least one rookie in every pack. In the box I opened, some packs had three or four rookies, so if you enjoy prospecting for future stars, these kinds of packs are a godsend.

The base set for 2013 Topps football has 440 base cards and 55 variations. Two Bucs have variation cards — running back Doug Martin and rookie quarterback Mike Glennon.

For collectors who prefer jumbo boxes, Topps offers a pair of super-short prints, numbered to 25. One is a card of quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Tom Brady, while the other one is of Brent Williams, who pulled a Golden Ticket from 2012 Topps football. Williams, whose handle is BrentandBecca on eBay, won the chance to have his own card in the 2013 set after his name was pulled in a drawing with other Golden Ticket holders. To find one of these cards will be difficult; they show up one in every 52 jumbo cases on the average.

I’ll stick with hobby boxes.

The box I opened contained 299 base cards and a variation card of Manti T’eo. I am not a huge fan of foil on base cards, but the layout for this year’s set is tastefully low key with foil, with just a dash near the bottom of the card (flanking the team logo on both sides), with the player’s name and Topps logo also getting the foil treatment. It’s not too intrusive.

The action shots are good, and there is a nice variety. I prefer the vertical design for card layout, but there are some cards that lend themselves well to horizontal design. A nice example of a vertical design is card No. 384. One can see the concentration in the eyes of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz as he follows the ball into his hands. And, not to single out only Philadelphia receivers, card No. 345 shows Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin going airborne over the pylon to score. Card No. 366 shows Colts linebacker Robert Mathis doing his version of Fernando Rodney’s arrow-shooting antics (sort of, anyway).

Tony Gonzalez is shown spiking the football over the crossbar of the goalpost on card No. 350. Card No. 154 is a horizontal shot of 38 players who attended the NFL Rookie Premiere. It’s not a great shot, the shot was taken from a distance, but there sure is a lot of talent there.

Speaking of the Rookie Premiere, the players who attended are featured in action shots from the sessions, which works well.  Check out card No. 249 of Cowboys rookie center Travis Frederick and his long beard. Guy looks like a lumberjack.

There are several different parallel cards. There were four in gold and numbered to 2013, a military camo card of Tebow numbered to 399, and a pink parallel of Luke Joeckel also numbered to 399.

I pulled nearly 60 different insert cards from the hobby box I opened. By far, the inserts I liked the most were the mini-cards that had the 1959 Topps design. While the ‘59 set wasn’t one of Topps finest football card designs, it was clean and the block letters (with alternating colors) was simple and straightforward. It was probably the best design Topps had until the 1965 Tall Boys or cards from the 1969-70 era, in my opinion.

I pulled 12 of these minis in the hobby box I opened, so expect one in every three packs. There are 100 to collect in the subset.

Two insert sets commemorate rushing and passing achievements. A typical hobby box will yield nine 1,000 Yard Club cards. What is nice about this insert is the game-by-game yardage breakdown on the back of the card. There are 35 of these inserts.

The concept is the same for the 4,000 Yard Club inserts, which has 10 cards in the subset. A collector should be able to find these in every six packs. The players I pulled included Brady, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Josh Freeman. And the game-by-game breakdown is great information.

Topps has three different legend-themed inserts. Gridiron Legends contains 30 cards and pays tribute to players who have achieved a high level of excellence in the game, like Ronnie Lott or Steve Largent. A typical hobby box will yield six of these cards. There is plenty of foil surrounding the player’s photograph, and the photo is framed by a greenish background. And the player is also set against a gold background. Interesting color scheme.

Legends in the Making also has thirty cards. I pulled nine of these inserts from my hobby box. These are players who have excelled and are on a path to legendary status, like Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, Roddy White and Brandon Marshall, to name a few.

And Future Legends is devoted to those young, emerging stars who could enjoy excellent careers. This would include players like Alfred Morris, Trent Richardson and Janoris Jenkins, who were among the nine cards I pulled from this 39-card set. Doug Martin is in this set, too, along with former University of South Florida star Jason Pierre-Paul.

The hot card promised in the hobby box turned out to be a relic card of Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert. The card has a horizontal design and contains a black uniform swatch. The card is nicely color coordinated with the Bengals’ team colors of black and orange.

As a set builder, I like this product because completing it is attainable. Sure, you’d need two hobby boxes or slightly more than one jumbo box to do it, but it’s not impossible. And I like that.

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