Sunday, December 6, 2020

2020 Topps Chrome Black Hobby Box Break AND REVIEW!

It's been a while since I've written a product review, so let's throw it back and give it a shot.

Topps Chrome is my favorite baseball release each year. When I heard about Topps Chrome Black, I was interested to take a look. Initially I was a little disappointed to see that each box would only contain four cards - one encased autograph, one refractor, and two base cards.

Despite my disappointment, plainly stated, I am sucker. Especially for new products. I set a calendar reminder in my phone for the product release, and logged on Topps website when the boxes went live. I went in with pretty low expectations. For those of you that have tried to buy products direct from Topps, you'll know that it can be a dreadful process. When I was able to add a box to my cart, I started to get my hopes up. A few more clicks on the screen and my payment processed. My confirmation email hit my inbox. My box was on it's way. 

A few days later, it arrived. At this point my disappointment in the checklist had dissolved and I was just thankful to have gotten my hands on a box at MSRP.

Fancy packaging! Topps has clearly invested some effort into making this product appear to be high end.

To my surprise, the encased autograph was not wrapped. It just sits under the pack of three cards. That's not a problem, I guess it's just not what I was expecting. Naturally I moved the pack aside and checked out the encased autograph. I found myself to be the lucky recipient of an on-card auto from one Domingo Leyba. 

I'll be honest, I had never heard of the guy. I had to look him up, and all I learned is that he's played in less than 25 big league games, and that he was suspended for the entire 2020 season due to PED use. Sweet!

I'm not crazy about the autograph card design. The good ol' "make a big white space where the autograph goes" design is just garbage. Since the cards are, ya know... black... there's no other option. The white diagonal gash across the card just isn't cute. 

*It's worth noting that the autograph checklist is pretty solid.* There are tons of great vets and Hall of Famers. Ichiro, Vlad Guerrero, A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Mike Trout, and so on. I think I may have pulled the single least desirable autograph on the checklist... such is life.

Now for the contents of the three card pack:

Going from left to right, we've got a Jake Fraley Green Refractor #/99, a Brendan McKay base rookie, and Mauricio Dubon base rookie. 

So... yeah, this could have gone better. Not exactly the names that you're hoping for. I'll look for some silver linings here: One, it's nice to pick up a rookie of Brendan McKay. He's an exciting prospect, as a pitcher with the potential to also DH. Two, the design on the refractor is sweet. Do I wish it were numbered lower than 99? Probably. Do I wish it were someone not named Jake Fraley? Perhaps. 

But I will say, the green-metallic background looks incredible. I'm not sure exactly how to describe it, as the print material is not something I've really seen on a baseball card. Here's another look. I tried to catch it at an angle under the light:

The contrast with the matte black really makes it pop. It's not the usual refractor "foil" paper. It almost looks like the whole card is metal, even though it's not. 


Overall Design: The base cards are fine, the refractors are absolutely awesome, and the autographs suck.

The Hits: Only 1 guaranteed autograph is tough for the price ($150 MSRP). The autograph checklist is very solid, but the card design is poor.

Positives: Refractors are gorgeous, autos are on card, autograph checklist has a great mix of stars.

Negatives: Only one autograph, autograph card design, only four cards per pack, price point.

Rating: 6 out of 10. Overall, pretty underwhelming. If I hit an Ichiro or Trout autograph, I'd probably be singing a slightly different tune, but my feelings about this product are pretty strong. The refractors are sexy, the base cards are meh, and it's overpriced. I had fun ripping the box but I'm not itching to get another one. Frankly this feels like another unnecessary release by Topps. If you rip a box, pray for a good autograph. Otherwise the buyer's remorse could set in quickly. 

Thanks for reading!