2009 Topps Updates and Highlights Baseball Box Break and Review

In the hobby, the end of the baseball season means one thing to me: Topps Traded - or Topps Updates and Highlights as they prefer to call it now. Whether it's a box set or a stand-alone product, the set brings the season full-circle, covering all the late-season roster moves and rookie call-ups. 2009 is no different. In fact, it's been in the same pattern for a while now. While I still love seeing players in new uniforms and getting a look at the future, Topps Updates and Highlights has become a set of bloated card counts and endless subsets that cover the most menial details of the season with far more detail than it needs. 2009 Topps Updates and Highlights takes no chances, but in the name of continuity - something that I don't think there's enough of in the hobby - the set plays it safe with a familiar mix of inserts.

The base set carries the exact same design as the flagship Topps set. The difference on the card back is the numbering. Rather than picking up at 661 and going to 990, the numbering is reset and given a prefix UH-. The checklist has the rookies and traded players collectors have come to expect from the final series, but it's also watered down with seemingly every All-Star participant and way too many "highlights." I would have much rather seen the base set capped at 200 to 250 cards and maybe make the All-Stars a common insert. Better yet combine them with the Topps Town inserts. I see the logic of including as many Alex Rodriguez and other superstar cards as they can muster because they drive pack sales for casual collectors.

Coalation wise, I was very pleased with my box. I am 49 cards short of the 330-card base set but I also have no doubles. It can't get any better than that.

Returning again are the serial-numbered Gold and Black parallels. Golds are inserted in every third pack and are numbered /2009. I got the expected 12 pulling a few popular names like Brian McCann and Francisco Rodriguez but nothing spectacular. I see the Gold cards as basic trade bait for team collectors and little else. The Black cards are limited to 58 copies and fall 1:44 packs. I managed to beat the odds and get one: Gregorio Petit.

One of ost popular parts of the 2009 Topps Baseball set were the relatively hard but not too hard to find variations. They return big-time here with 25 cards falling 1:32 packs. I pulled a Willie McCovey featuring him as a member of the Padres. Although I haven't actively been pursuing the variations, I can definitely see myself going after them down the road once I've finished the basic sets. The final parallel of sorts are the Chrome Refractor rookies that are inserted as a box topper. They do look very nice, although I wish Topps went back to the dual Topps Traded/Topps Chrome Traded sets like they had in 2001 through 2004, I think it was. Particularly since there was only one Topps Chrome series this year, it would have been a way to shrink the checklist yet still maintain pack and box sales as there'd be few base cards in each pack on a per set basis.

Topps continued many of the basic insert sets from 2009 Topps Series 1 and 2. Turkey Red, Ring of Honor and Legends of the Game all return, although Legends of the Game have been given an Updates monicker. The Turkey Reds are one of my favorite inserts of the year. The fall 1:4 packs and I got the expect nine in my box. Only 41 more to go to finish the set. Both Ring of Honor and Legends of the Game Updates are 1:6 packs. I received six of each. I like the idea of continuity in insert sets but it also goes to show that no matter what Topps want to dub these, it's really 2009 Topps Series Three.

The Topps Town redemptions also return, offering a little bonus interactivity. While I don't use the Topps Town site regularly, it is fun in a mindless kind of way. Plus I think the online cards look all right. I was able to make a full set of the basic Topps Town cards with a handful of extras. I also got four of the First Classic Ticket to Topps Town cards that offer bonus online cards and points.

The new addition to the set are the gorgeous Propaganda Posters, which salute each team with art from Chris Speakman. Hearkening back to the times of World War II where poster art was used as a way to rally the troops and those at home, the Porpaganda Posters bring a new look to an otherwise largely stale lot of insert designs. My only beef with them is that there almost seems to be a template that they follow. Sure, it might have cost more to produce 30 different design templates, but it would have taken a great insert set and made it an all-time classic. Over time I plan to build this set so I was happy to get seven Propaganda Posters instead of the expected six (1:6 insertion rate).

I can't say that I've ever bought base Topps products with anything other than the base set in mind but there is the token promise of either a relic or autograph card in each hobby box. With so many levels of each available, individually the odds make them look pretty tough. I was very pleased to pull an autograph and a pretty good one at that: Braves up-and-comer Tommy Hanson. The use of stickers still sucks but other than that I do like the somewhat minimal design elements.

Overall, this was a fun break for a base product. The set isn't perfect but it's also not the most expensive on the block either. Topps Traded, Rookies, Highlights and Updates, the name is somewhat irrelevant. I wanted closure to the baseball season and the collecting season and this is exactly what I was hoping for.

Box Breakdown:

Packs per box: 36
Cards per pack: 10
Total cards: 361

Cards in set: 330
Singles: 281
Doubles: 0
Triples+: 0

Inserts:

82 total

  • Gold (1:3): 12
    UH35. Tom Gorzelanny
    UH36. Paul Konerko/Jermaine Dye "Season Highlights"
    UH39. Jake Fox
    UH61. Jamie Hoffmann
    UH113. Francisco Rodriguez "All-Star"
    UH167. Julio Borbon
    UH182. Mark Buehrle "All-Star"
    UH201. Jordan Zimmermann
    UH249. Brian McCann "All-Star"
    UH252. Justin Verlander "All-Star"
    UH257. Adrian Gonzalez "All-Star"
    UH266. Jonathan Broxton "All-Star"
  • Black (1:44): 1
    UH225. Gregorio Petit 28/58
  • Platinum (1:6,250): 0
  • Printing Plates (1:615): 0
  • Base Card Variation (1:32): 1
    UH260. Willie McCovey
  • Turkey Red (1:4): 9
    TR102. David Price
    TR103. Jorge Posada
    TR111. Koji Uehara
    TR116. Rick Porcello
    TR118. Ryan Dempster
    TR131. Jermaine Dye
    TR136. Jake Peavy
    TR144. Randy Johnson
    TR145. Gordon Beckham
  • Legends of the Game Updates (1:6): 6
    LGU5. Tris Speaker
    LGU7. George Sisler
    LGU11. Nolan Ryan
    LGU13. Steve Carlton
    LGU14. Reggie Jackson
    LGU22. Wade Boggs
  • LOTG Gold Parallel (1:950): 0
  • LOTG Platinum Parallel (1:3,800): 0
  • Propaganda Poster (1:6): 7
    PP3. Albert Pujols
    PP4. Andrew McCutchen
    PP11. Grady Sizemore
    PP14. Ichiro
    PP19. Justin Upton
    PP24. Roy Halladay
    PP30. Zack Greinke
  • Ring of Honor (1:6): 6
    RH77. Jackie Robinson
    RH83. Chone Figgins
    RH87. Jimmie Foxx
    RH88. Hideki Okajima
    RH90. Rogers Hornsby
    RH96. Lou Gehrig
  • Sketch Card (1:8,100): 0
  • Stadium Framed Stamp Collection (1:2,280): 0
  • Baseball Card History Buybacks (1:3,200): 0
  • Framed Silk Collection (1:163): 0
  • Ring of Honor Autographs (1:3,900): 0
  • Career Best Autographs (1:352): 0
  • Career Quest Autographs (1:546): 1
    CQA-TH. Tommy Hanson
  • LOTG Cut Signature (1:90,000): 0
  • All-Star Stitches Autograph Relic (1:5,500): 0
  • All-Star Jumbo Patches Autograph Relic (1:13,000): 0
  • American Legends Cut Signature (1:150,000): 0
  • LOTG Relic (1:4,075): 0
  • All-Star Stitches Relic (1:58): 0
  • All-Star Stitches Relic Gold (1:616): 0
  • All-Star Stitches Platinum (1:30,442): 0
  • All-Star Stitches Dual Relic (1:8,154): 0
  • All-Star Stitches Triple Relic (1:3,238): 0
  • World Baseball Classic Stitches Dual Relic (1:3,285): 0
  • World Baseball Classic Stitches Triple Relic (1:1,294): 0
  • 1960 Mickey Mantle Reprint Relic (1:34,000): 0
  • LOTG Letter Patch (1:408): 0
  • All-Star Jumbo Patch (1:2,040): 0
  • Ticket to Topps Town (1:1): 32
  • First Class Ticket to Topps Town (1:9): 4
    FCTTT56. Josh Beckett
    FCTTT58. Andrian Gonzalez
    FCTTT72. Jacob Ellsbury
    FCTTT73. Matt Cain
  • Chrome Rookie Refractor: 1
    CHR16. Jhoulys Chacin

 

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