Monday, August 22, 2016
They're real and they're unspectacular
I've used the term "digital cards" in the past. I've decided I'm not going to do that anymore.
Because there is the phrase "digital cards," Topps has now come up with the term "physical cards" to describe, you know, actual cardboard cards. That is too weird. People don't play a video football game and then play a game in the park and call it "physical football" (unless the game gets physical). I'd hate to see where that would lead. ("I took my physical dog for a walk in the physical park where he physically pooped on some physical grass.").
Those pieces of cardboard you can touch, scuff and ding are simply cards. No adjective needed. And those "cards" that you see on your phone are images of cards. Sure, they're collectible. I won't argue that point. Collect all the images you want. But you're collecting images of cards. The cards I can touch without a screen between me and my fingers are real, honest to goodness cards. If you want to separate them with terms, the cards I can feel are "real cards." I won't be mean and call the ones on your phone "fake," but they're screen images and that's all until I can experience that tactile sensation.
This new definition of the cards that I've collected for close to half a century came about because Topps has issued a set based on its digital collectible game, Topps Bunt. These real cards mimic the images created on the Topps Bunt app. I can't tell you more than that because I can't get into collecting pictures of players on my phone when there are real cards to collect.
But I am pleased that there are finally cards to collect of those images. I was completely surprised by this. I had no idea this set was coming out -- probably because I don't pay attention to the Topps Bunt thingy. Then I started seeing a couple people opening the product and, lo and behold, there the cards were in my very own town.
Topps Bunt is very affordable, and you'll see why in a minute. Paying $2.99 for 24 cards is a big plus in my mind and in those of a lot of collectors. And it's an easy set to complete at 200 cards. I realize the intent of this set is to intermingle the tangible with the digital, advertise the app to those who collect real cards, etc. But I'm approaching it from the traditional angle that I prefer, so that's how I'll continue to look at it here.
There is your typical base card. I will say right off that these cards look better in scans than they do in person. That probably makes sense as I'm assuming these images on the cardboard cards come straight from the Bunt app. But they work a little better in the virtual world than they do in reality.
The star of this set is the giant logos in the background. This has always been the appeal of online cards from eTopps to Topps Bunt. I've always wanted giant logos to appear on actual cards and finally they have. This is the No. 1 selling point.
As for the rest of the look of the set, it's passable. The formica countertop background for the name, team and position comes in ghastly gray. If you've been paying attention you know that I despise gray as a primary color for sets. It makes the set look generic. And it hurts the appeal of this set for me.
You'll also notice the smoke is back and the cards have an overall appearance of the player playing in front of a screen door (it is not quite as apparent when you have the cards in hand).
When I opened my two hanger packs, I noticed a lot of cards from the same teams.
Four Tigers in one pack. That same pack also was heavy on Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox.
All the Sox help me point out something else:
The logo changes depending on how recently the player has played. That's kind of cool, and reminiscent of 2011 Topps Lineage, which did the same thing (although I think it kept to two images for teams).
The Lost Collector, who busted a box of this product and sent me a bunch of Dodgers from the set, also mentioned Lineage, and it's a good comparison. Not only is each set the same size but the backs of both sets are very mundane with only a short write-up (Bunt has vital stats, while Lineage did not).
In fact, to me, this set looks like Lineage and 2010 Toppstown had a baby:
I don't know about you, but that resemblance to Toppstown is a little scary for me. Buying a whole pack of Toppstown would have been unthinkable five years ago, but there are definite similarities. Wrapping your set in gray will do that.
The old-timers in this set are fun.
And, yes, like every Topps set for the last however many years, the young players have to be squeezed in no matter how established they are.
This insert looks A LOT better as a scan than it does in person.
And perhaps an indication of how much I paid for each pack is the fact I received the same Unique Unis insert in each pack.
Again, this looks better on a screen than it does in person. But it's not bad and quite collectible, even if Peter O'Brien to me is the Rangers infielder of the 1980s.
Here are all the Topps Bunt Dodgers that AJ of The Lost Collector sent:
Good thing, because I only pulled the Koufax and Pederson.
Overall, this is a decent, adequate-looking set. Some have said it would be a good replacement for Opening Day, which is getting more repetitive by the year. That would work for me. But I think Topps' priority is how this set draws more interest to its online stuff, and not how it competes on the store shelves.
For me, it's nice to have real cards of those images I've seen on people's screens. In person, the cards don't look as great as the backlit images, which is to be expected.
In short, they're real but they're not spectacular.
Sorry, Bunt. You're no Teri Hatcher.