Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Topps UEFA Champions League Chrome Box

The World Cup got me in the mood for soccer much earlier than normal this summer, but we're not far away from my favorite European leagues kicking off for the season at this point.  The Premier League, my personal favorite, starts up its 2018-19 season a week from Friday, and I'm excited for kick-off.

With soccer on my mind, I was in the mood recently to pick up a hobby box of something to rip open.  I haven't busted a hobby box all year, in fact I haven't really picked up much unopened product at all in 2018.

After a bit of poking around I settled on this box of 2017-18 Topps UEFA Champions League Chrome.  Why this product?  Well, there aren't a ton of Premier League sets out there, and the UEFA Champions League is something I've been meaning to learn more about.

Comprised of the best teams from all of Europe, the UEFA Champions League in turn features many of the best players on the globe.  I figured this would be a good way to learn about some teams and leagues that I'm not all that familiar with.  The top teams from the Premier League get entry into the Champions League each year as well, so I knew I'd see at least a few faces that were familiar to me.

Since my favorite team, Liverpool, had a pretty epic run in the Champions League last year (reaching the final!), they are of course featured on the checklist.  I went into the box with pretty low expectations, honestly just hoping to land a cool Liverpool card or two, learn a few things, and maybe if I was really lucky pull a Kylian Mbappe card!

Let's see how it went for me...

Here's a look at a pack, just four cards per, which isn't all that uncommon for Topps Chrome product.  There were 18 packs in the box, and each one yielded three base cards and either an insert or parallel.  Quick math, you're getting 72 cards in a box.

That seems light, and I'd normally count that as a con against the product, but the price point was reasonable.  I paid less than $60 for this box, compared to Panini's Prizm World Cup product which is going for about twice that much for a hobby box.  When I think about it as buying sort of half a hobby box at a reduced price, it's actually not too bad.

The base cards use a design that you're probably familiar with from Topps' flagship baseball product this year.  One thing I will give Topps credit for is making the base set 99 cards in size, which means it fits perfectly within 11 binder sheets.  Always bugs me having that one last card on its own page with 100-card sets, so have to give credit where credit's due.

I won't show too many of the base cards, but I really enjoyed this celebration shot of striker Romelu Lukaku.

Pulled my first card of top United States youngster Christian Pulisic.  Though the US sadly failed to qualify for this past World Cup, Pulisic has been lighting it up in the Bundesliga, Germany's top league.  Still just 19 years old, he was ranked #77 on The Guardian's Top 100 Footballers list last year.  Also one of the cover guys for this product.

Plenty of names that I easily recognized within this relatively small checklist.

With the inserts and parallels accounted for, you're going to land just over half of a base set in any one box, so there's no guarantee that you're going to land even the base card of any one player.  I was pleased to pull the base card of 2018 World Cup Golden Ball winner Luka Modric in my box.

As well as World Cup winner Paul Pogba!

Lastly, as far as the base cards go anyway, my man Luis Suarez.  Always happy to land any new card of Mike Tyson's soccer counterpart.  When the dust had settled I ended up with 54/99 base cards in my box.  I'm not sure whether I'll try tracking down the ones I'm missing or not.

Of course, there were inserts to be found as well.  There are two common inserts that you will find in every box, the first of which are these Future Stars cards.  Some of you may recognize the design from Topps Chrome baseball a couple of years back.  You can expect to land three of these in a hobby box.

The other common insert is Lightning Strike.  Honestly, both of these are just an excuse to cram a few more cards of the game's best and brightest into the product.  They're visually appealing anyway.  A typical box will yield three of these as well.

Then we have the parallels, after all what would a Topps Chrome product be without refractors?  This is a generic refractor, not serial-numbered.  Pulled half a dozen of these in total in my box, but chose to show this one because of the interesting facial expression:

Moving on...

Colored refractors include purple, numbered to /250.  Landed just one of those.

Pulled a Gold Refractor as well, numbered to just /50.  I'm not very familiar with either of these guys to be perfectly honest with you.

To close it out, I thought it might be fun to do a countdown of my 10 favorite cards from the box...

#10 - Philippe Coutinho Lightning Strikes Insert

He's no longer with the Reds, but it sure was fun watching Coutinho most weekends over the past few years.  With this one my wish for an interesting Liverpool card was granted.  In fact, this is the only Liverpool card included within the Lightning Strike insert set.

#9 - Cristiano Ronaldo 

Yes, it's a base card in my top 10.  Ronaldo and Messi are typically two of the pricier singles to track down for any soccer set, so I was psyched that I landed both in this box.  This is not the best Ronaldo card of the box, however!

#8 - Kevin De Bruyne Refractor

One of the better refractors I landed was of midfielder Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City.  Kevin was a major part of City's historic Premier League championship season last year, and was named the club's Player of the Year for the second time in his career.

#7 - Keylor Navas Blue Refractor

I showed off my purple and gold refractors above, but my Blue Refractor was the best colored refractor I landed in my box.  In addition to playing club ball for Real Madrid, Keylor represents Costa Rica internationally and was a big part of their run to elimination play in the 2014 World Cup.  My wife and I had just traveled to Costa Rica only a month or two before that World Cup, so I've always had a bit of an affinity towards that particular team.

#6 - Antoine Griezmann Lightning Strike

I was really hoping to pull a few cards of guys from the French 2018 World Cup champion team, and the box did not disappoint with this Antoine Griezmann Lightning Strike insert.  I actually landed another cool card of Antoine earlier this morning during COMC's first ever summer sale.

#5 - Mario Gotze Blue Refractor Autograph

My hit was this Mario Gotze auto.  While the signature itself is pretty damn weak, it's still a cool card for my soccer collection given that Gotze scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup Final for Germany!

#4 - Kylian Mbappe

Your eyes do not deceive you, I ranked an everyday base card all the way up at #4.  I'd be lying if I said Kylian Mbappe wasn't one of the reasons I picked up this box cheap.  Was hoping I'd be able to land my second card of the 19-year-old phenom, and that's exactly what happened.  There's no hotter name in the sport right now, as evidenced by the fact that the cheapest version of this card on COMC right now, during a promotion no less, is still listed at more than $12.

#3 - Mohamed Salah Refractor

My favorite refractor of the box was this Mo Salah, hands down.  What a great card for a Liverpool fan like myself to have pulled.  Salah led the Premier League in goals last year, and I'm looking forward to seeing how his 2018-19 season unfolds by comparison.  He doesn't have a ton of cardboard out there, so I'm pleased to have this one in hand.

#2 - Kylian Mbappe Future Stars

That's right, I landed not one but two Mbappe cards courtesy of this box.  This Future Stars insert is a $12+ card as well at the moment, meaning the two Mbappe cards I pulled alone covered about half of my overall cost for the box.  I like this one even more than the base card.  My Kylian Mbappe collection now stands firm at three total cards!

So what card did I like even more than this one then?

#1 - Cristiano Ronaldo Award Winners

I pulled this card in the very first pack I opened, and instantly thought to myself "I really like the way these inserts look".  I had no idea how rare they were at the time, but it turns out these Award Winners cards fall at just two per case!  Not only that but I pulled arguably the game's best player, and certainly one of the most collected.  With ten players on the checklist, this Ronaldo card can only be found once in every 5 cases!  There's one listed on eBay right now for $59.99, more than I paid for this entire box, and it's got three watchers.

So there you have it, that was a very fun break if you ask me, especially in the sub-$60 price range.  I'm not sure whether I'll bust another one, but I certainly wouldn't rule it out.  Thanks for stopping by as always, I promise my next post will be something other than soccer...

1 comment:

Greg Zakwin said...

E-mail me! Looked around and didn't see your e-mail listed. Have some stuff you might be interested in.

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