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2002 Topps 206 Series 2 Baseball Review

While most of today's nostalgia's driven sets draw from the modern age of collecting, essentially the Topps age of the 1950s and 1960s, the hobby predates that by more than 50 years. So Topps went way back for the inspiration to its new 206 line, all the way back to a time where cards came from packs of cigarettes. Series Two picks up where Series 1 left off (duh!), adding new players, revisiting some old players and tossing in a handful of rookies.

The design comes on classy cardboard, with photos looking like they were run through a Photoshop filter. The result is mixed with some cards looking hideously washed out, while others turn out just fine. The card backs remain faithful to the old T206 series, providing some fancy border graphics, a classy font, a short bio, but no stats.

Every good card line should have a distinct signature gimmick to separate it from everything else. Topps 206 has a couple. The first are card variations that actually mean something. While the checklist has only 127 players, 180 cards make up the entire second series set. Some players have two and even three different cards, each with a slight or major difference, a tribute to the old days where political squabbles, new print runs and whatnot brought on new cards for the same numbers. Although I do not generally like variations, specifically the types found in the Topps Gallery line, because they're more or less chase cards with a minor difference such as a different color wristband or some added grass stains, I like the approach in 206. The differences are big, normally an entirely new photo. And because the inspiration comes from the past, I'm not one to fault something for paying respect to the past.

Topps 206's second gimmick comes with the one-per-pack tobacco mini parallels. There are five different card backs to each 180-card parallel set, ranging from the common Polar Bears to the ultra rare Bazooka backs. The shrunken size really sharpens the images of the cards, giving them an even classier appeal. Plus the chase factor is tough, as it would take 15 boxes with perfect collation to build the common Polar Bear set.

My box presented me with 109 different base set singles (including variations) and 11 doubles. So it wasn't perfect collation, but it could have been much worse. As for the tobacco minis, I think I did a little better than most. I got 12 Polar Bears, three Piedmonts, three Piedmont Reds and one Carolina Brights. The Piedmont Reds were supposed to be 25% of the print run of all the Piedmonts so I must have gotten a couple of extras which is fine by me. Each pack that didn't have a game-used card came with a Team 206 dummy card featuring a big-name star. This insert set is small and relatively easy to track down. It's not a highlight for me.

Each box of Topps 206 Series Two should have at least two relic or autograph cards. I came up with a Tom Glavine jersey (yawn) and a John McGraw bat card. I'm not sure what the rarity is on either, but getting the old-timer certainly beat getting one of the saturated present-day stars.

Because it is so distinct in its design and offers lots of fun possibilities, Topps 206 is one of the year's better offerings. With a third series on the way, it'll be interesting to see how Topps rounds out the set.

2002 Topps 206 Series 2 Box Breakdown:

Packs per box: 20
Cards per pack: 8
Total cards: 159

Cards in set: 180
Singles: 109
Doubles: 10
Triples+: 0

Inserts: 40

 


2002 Topps 206 Mini Black Polar Bear Back 164 Kirby Puckett Minnesota Twins Card
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2002 Topps 206 Mini Black Polar Bear Back 164 Kirby Puckett Minnesota Twins Card
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2002 Topps 206 Mini Black Polar Bear Back #443 Harmon Killebrew Minnesota Twins
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2002 Topps 206 Mini Black Polar Bear Back #443 Harmon Killebrew Minnesota Twins
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2002 TOPPS T-206 MINI GAME USED JERSEY BAT PARTIAL NEAR SET LOT 126 DIFF NC169
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2002 Topps 206 Relics ap2 Albert Pujols Jersey b2
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2002 TOPPS 206 JORGE JULIO AUTO BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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2002 Topps 206 Relics #SG1 Shawn Green Jersey Dodgers TR-SG "Game Worn Jersey!"
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Chipper Jones 2002 Topps 206 Relic GU Game Used Worn Jersey Atlanta Braves
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*Rare* 2002 Topps 206 Polar Bear Mini #236C Derek Jeter Kneeling
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2002 Topps 206 Tobacco Relics, Tony Gwynn Game Used Jersey - #TR-TG PSA 10! POP2
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2002 Topps 206 Albert Pujols Framed Mini GU JERSEY RELIC CARDINALS
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