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...
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.
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...