With 2012 Baseball cards about it kick off with Topps Series 1 here in a week or two, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the products coming down the pipe in 2012. Taking a look at the lineup, I’m actually only excited about a couple products. Of course, to each their own, and everyone’s tastes will be different. So, what’s on deck for 2012?

2011 Topps Series 1

First up is, and has to be, Topps flagship, base set. Why? Well, because they have the damn license and no one else can make a set. It’s stupid, I know. It’s also a discussion for another time. For the time being however, this is the set of baseball cards that 99% of people will be buying and I’m very much on the fence about it…

The base cards are ok, nothing fantastic, nothing that really move me one way or another…

But, as always, the inserts and parallels are completely over the top. There are different colors, foils, borders and the usual smattering of wood, printing plates and all the other things I’d never actually find. They’re also doing a “golden anniversary” which doesn’t make ANY sense since 2011 was their “60th” and the “Diamond Anniversary” and I’m pretty sure that “50th” is considered “golden”. So, either Topps is going backwards in time, or they just needed another BS excuse to do something with metallic ink and foil stamping. Check out the preview over at Beckett.

Collecting: Yes – but just the base team set

2012 Gypsy Queens

My favorite set from last year returns for 2012 and I’m pretty excited about it. The design doesn’t really thrill me as much as last year, but it’s not bad. It’s got a 1960’s/1970’s, folk-art sorta feel to it. I’m ok with it. It is pretty faded back though, which lets the image pop out, but I’m not sure how impressive a bunch of lite-gray cards are going to look in a binder…

I was on board 110% until I read about the “coin inserts”. Why Topps? Why? The relics are cool, the mini’s are cool, even the sub-sets (like Wall Climbers from last year) are kinda cool. Why did you have to make some of the relics “Indian head” pennies? That’s BS. I don’t collect pennies. I collect cards. Cards with stuff RELATED TO BASEBALL embedded in them. Pennies have nothing to do with cards. Useless insert “hit” which I guarantee you’ll be getting more than cards with jerseys per box. I won’t let that spoil my interest though, check out the preview for more.

Collecting: Yes – and trading all my stupid coin cards

2012 Allen & Ginter

I have to admit, I was severely disappointed in A&G last year. The design was terrible. It looked nothing like any of the previous years, it didn’t go with the theme of the cards and was plain ugly. To make things worse, the insert and relics lists were pathetic. I know I’m going to piss off a lot of people by saying it, but A&G was really terrible last year, at least in my opinion. As a “fresh perspective” to the hobby, seeing those for the first time really bummed me out. I think collectors more or less agreed and mini relics were going for $2, in lots of 5, on ebay, a week after the product launched. Everyone wanted a big hit and came away with Carlos Pena pants instead. That said, after seeing the design for 2012, I think I might have renewed interest…

That’s an awesome design. I really really like it. The black border mini are also really exciting. The white cards inside a black frame really pop. Even the look of some of the inserts (Currency Around the World, What’s In A Name) look well designed. Last year it was a cheesy map with a mini picture of the player on it for the “Homerun Heroes”. Take a look at some of the previews, they’re not too shabby. I think they might have realized that people were disappointed last year and actually tried some new things to get people excited again.

Collecting: Undecided, but will probably buy a team set off ebay.

2012 Topps Heritage

I must admit, I completely ignored 2011 Heritage. It might be heretical to say, but I just didn’t like the wood-border 1962 design. I like that design on cards FROM 1962, not throwbacks in 2011. I didn’t collect the Heritage set and I only have a small number of the Heritage inserts from 2011 Topps Chrome. This year, they’ve moved up the throwback calendar to 1963. The 1963 design is bright, colorful, and kinda interesting…

I like the circle design, I like the retro colors, and I like the “Clubhouse Collection” jersey inserts. 2012 certainly has my attention at the moment. I haven’t decided if I’m going to collect them yet, but it’s certainly a possibility. One of my goals this year was to cut back, and I think Heritage might just suffer from the “I can’t really afford another set right now” syndrome. Check out the preview.

Collecting: Probably Not.

2012 Summer Olympics

Whaaaaaa? A non-baseball related card? Hold up, where are we, what happened to Matt? Yes, I know. Secretly, I’m an Olympics nut. I love watching the Olympics, both summer and winter. Growing up I played baseball (of course) but I was mostly a winter athlete. I was a 4 year Varsity ski team member. I really enjoy those kinds of sports. They may not get much attention, but they’re really fun. When I noticed that Topps signed a deal to do Olympic cards this year I was actually pretty interested. Now that I’ve seen the design, I’m sold.

I like the design, I like the autograph checklist, and I really like the fact that it’s a small base set. I might actually try and collect this ENTIRE set. I couldn’t remember seeing any Olympics cards from the past couple games and after digging around I realized that’s because there hadn’t been any produced since 1996. My only criticism is that the set comes out two months BEFORE (May 5th) the actual games (July 27th). That means that it’s mostly comprised of “Olympic Hopefuls” and not actual champions and medal winners. They’re also being pretty vague about the relics and if they’ll actually exist or not, but I would imagine they’re going to be super rare. I can’t imagine an athlete in the Olympics changing outfits like baseball players do, especially if they only compete in a single event or sport. How many pairs of Hope Solo worn shorts exist out there? Anyway, I know it’s non-baseball related, but I think they’re kinda neat.

Collecting: Yes

2012 Topps Archives

Let see, an entire set celebrating the designs from terrible, over produced decades in baseball card collecting… let me think. Nope. Don’t care.

I think the draw for this set is supposed to be the autographs, but I just don’t care. They chose a whole pile of the worst designs from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s that they’re calling “Fan Favorites” and releasing them as a set. Derrick Jeter on a 1987 card? Don’t care. It’s like Topps Heritage, only they couldn’t make up their mind and just went with anything they had sitting around. No. No thank you Topps. Go away.

Collecting: No

2012 Bowman Chrome

2012 Bowman Chrome is nearly identical to last year, with a little different curving in the “box within a box” frame that makes up that design.

I did collect the team set last year. I bought most of it off ebay for $5 after the product came out. I’m not really a big “prospecting” guy, so a couple guys who immediately got traded and aren’t Red Sox any more don’t really interest me. I also collected Bowman Platinum, which I thought had a better design, and slightly cheaper price point, enough for me to buy a couple blasters. I liked it’s variety, but again, I’m not really looking for prospects these days. Bowman Chrome is the same as last year, just different kids, and I actually can’t find any information about whether Platinum is going to come back at all. Instead, I think Topps is pushing out 8 uber-top tier sets at price points I can’t reach. I think this one is definitely not for me this year. Gotta cut back somewhere, and this seems like just the place to it.

Collecting: No

Everything Else

There’s a whole pile of products I didn’t mention, mostly because I didn’t collect them last year, I have no intention of collecting them this year, and I doubt I’ll ever have enough money to collect them ever. They’re just not for me. Topps Museum Collection, Topps Marquee, Topps Gold Rush, Topps Tier 1, all stuff I’m not going to concern myself with. Looking at the designs of those products, if you’re a collector I would really start speaking with your wallet. A lot of the designs are weak, rehashes of last year, or just plain bad in general. I’m certainly not going to be gaining any sponsorship from Topps for saying this, but if I’m paying $100 a pack, for 4 cards, they had better blow me away. Then again, I think if you’re going after those cards you’re probably in it for the autographs and the card design is secondary.

Collecting: Definitely Not

In Conclusion…

Well, there you have it. A partial look at some 2012 products that will be here before you know it. Pitchers and catchers report to training camps in a month and Topps Series 1 launches at the beginning on February. It seems like I had just finished my 2011 sets and now 2012 is just getting under way. Personally I think I’m just going to be collecting Topps base, Gypsy Queen and the Olympic set this year. I went a little bonkers with my budget last year and bought a bunch of sets I wasn’t really interested in. This year, if I find a team set after the fact I’ll probably get it, but I’m on a strict pack buying diet. No more sets that I’m on the fence about. So, what about you guys? What are you interested in this year? What sets are you going after?