Thursday, September 22, 2011

The chrome switcheroo

I received this card from both A Cardboard Problem and Cardboard Catastrophes within a few days of each other.

I noticed immediately that the Chrome version of Jonathan Broxton was different from the Topps base version of Broxton.

There's the base version.

It was a pleasant surprise, because like many collectors, I enjoy when the Chrome card is not merely a repeat of the base card. I made the unfortunate choice of attempting to collect the 2009 Chrome set, in which the vast majority -- if not all -- of the cards repeat the photo in the '09 base set (rookies exclusive to the Chrome set excluded). I may be forgetting some very few differences, but I don't have the time today to match up every single card.

I have noticed a few other examples of this year's Chrome photos differing from the base card photos. I don't know if there are more examples of this happening in this year's set than last year's. I have purchased only a couple rack packs of 2011 Chrome, so it's a tiny, tiny sample size.

But here are some other differences that I've noticed. Chrome card on top:

Joe Mauer.

Mark Reynolds.

Drew Storen.

Mike Nickeas.

I'm sure there are a number of other examples.

The puzzling part for me is: why does Topps choose to change the photos of some players in Chrome but not others?

I have some guesses:

1) The Topps base card features a player photoshopped into his new uniform. The Chrome card is an update with the player actually in his new team's uniform.
2) The Topps base card features a hurried, sub-standard photo of a new rookie. The Chrome card is an update.
3) There is some legal issue with the Topps base card photo. The Chrome card fixes that.
4) Topps got the wrong player's photo on the base card. Another Chrome fix.
5) The player's mom called Topps and demanded a different photo be taken for the Chrome card.

My guess is example No. 3 doesn't happen much, if at all. But I already half-jokingly guessed that this is what happened with the Mauer card.

I don't have great knowledge of the Orioles' uniforms, but I'm guessing that Reynolds is photoshopped from a Diamondbacks uniform in the base card and is shown wearing actual Orioles gear in the Chrome card. Or not. I'm sure some Orioles fan will be all over this.

The Storen Chrome card baffles me. The Storen base card -- which is a Series 2 card -- looks fine. It's up to date. It's a nice card. The Chrome card looks older than the Series 2 card (anyone know when Storen grew his chin-strap beard?), which makes me wonder if Chrome was produced before Series 2.

I'm similarly stumped by the Nickeas card. The base card doesn't look too bad. But I don't know what Topps knows, and I'm not going to argue with a different photo, especially if it's an action shot/horizontal card.

And that brings me to the Broxton card. There isn't much of a difference between the two photos, although Broxton appears to be pitching in an actual stadium on the Chrome card, as opposed to the base card.

So maybe Mom Broxton is the person to ask. ... Ma? What didn't you like about the Broxton base card? (Hey, I have just as good a chance of a player's relative answering a question here as I do getting an answer from Topps).

Puzzling or not, I hope there are many more differences in the Chrome set. It'd make me buy more product.


  1. whatever the reason... Topps should be using white lettering on their base cards instead of foil.

  2. Both Reynolds images are Photoshopped, and pretty cheesily at that. The base card is the bigger offender: the O's wear black socks, not orange, and if you look closely, you can tell that the jersey lettering on the back is in that funky D-Backs font. As for the Chrome photo, it looks like it was taken at Wrigley, where the O's did not play this year. The Orioles have uni numbers on the front of their jerseys, and the shoulder patch just looks off. Too small. Here's what bugs me: Chrome came out in September, right? If they were going to use a different photo of Reynolds, couldn't they have gone to the trouble of actually getting a shot of him in an Orioles uniform? Boy, we're all benefiting from Topps' monopoly, huh?

    Mini-rant over.

  3. Whatever the reason, I'll be checking my cards this week. I hope a lot of them are different.

  4. The weird thing about the Mark Reynolds Chrome card is that I believe it's the same photo used in the Opening Day set, so it's almost like they reverted to an older photo - even though both are photoshopped?

  5. Domonic Brown's Chrome card shows a different photo than his regular Topps card as well. However, the photo on his Chrome card was used in the special Phillies team set that Topps distributed via blister packs. I wonder if this is also true for the other players who have different photos in the regular Topps and Chrome sets.