It is tradition for me to buy one box of Topps Chrome and one box of Bowman Chrome each year. We'll see if that tradition holds up again this fall, because this year I decided to jump early and grab a box of Bowman. At this moment, you can buy one of these for $275 on eBay. $275 would have sounded insane 5+ years ago, but the hobby boom of the past year has driven prices up across the board.
For those of us that have been in the hobby for a while, this might sound insane... but relative to what other hobby boxes are, $275 is not unreasonable. I realize that many collectors won't pay that - or anywhere close to that - for a hobby box, and I understand completely. This was a bit of a treat for me, however I've been opening a few hobby boxes each year since I started collecting in 2013 and I'm not ready to give that up just yet. I'm also pretty certain that I won't find any retail... so considering all of those factors, I felt comfortable coughing up the money. I have no regrets - I believe there is a lot of value to be found in this product and I had a blast opening it.
24 packs per box, 10 cards per pack gives you a total of 240 cards total, so I'm going to stick to the highlights.
Starting out with rookies. This year's Bowman boasts what I feel is a very strong rookie class. For whatever reason, these rookies have very little value compared to Topps flagship, but's still a fun way to add a bunch of rookies to your collection.
Above we see a quick selection of some 1st Bowman's of top prospects in their "paper" versions. Austin Martin is the premiere name in this bunch. He's the #2 prospect in the Blue Jays system, and currently in the top 20 in the MLB.
This box had a great selection of chrome prospect cards, including many 1st Bowman cards. Lots of good names here. It's great to get a chrome version of Martin. Blaze Jordan is the #10 prospect in the Red Sox system, and seems to be another popular name. Mick Abel projects to be a strong starting pitcher some day.
Each box promises one autograph. I landed a refractor #/499 of Jeremy De La Rosa, a 19 year old outfield prospect in the Nationals system. Skimming some write-ups about him, De La Rosa is described as "toolsy" which is apparently a modern-day way of saying he's talented in many areas.
This box had some color, and I landed two parallels in the chrome department and two paper. The Perdomo blue is #/199. The Yusneil Diaz atmoic refractor is by far the prettiest... atomic refractors are just awesome. Both of the paper stock parallels are fuchsia parallels, #/299. I'm excited about the Mountcastle rookie. The pink parallel wouldn't be my top choice, but it's always great to have a short print of a top rookie.
I love these 1991 Bowman inserts.
Here's a look at two other inserts on the checklist: Rookie of the Year favorites and Futurist. Both of these look great. I really love the Futurist design, although I find that specific shot of Bobby Witt to be rather unflattering. Classic situation of "That's the best you can do, Topps?"
To round it out, we must see the Pirates! This is a Pirates blog, after all. The fact that Nick Gonzales is being featured on multiple inserts is good news, and I was excited to pull the Futurist insert with him on it. His photo is cooler than Bobby Witt's, at least. I was also lucky to pull two Ke'Bryan Hayes rookies. These mark the first "official" RC-stamped rookies Hayes' that I own.
I haven't mentioned this yet but I really wanted to make mention: I didn't receive a single duplicate card in the entire box. I've seen some complaints about dupes before. I'm not sure if those were Topps products or not, but I was pleased to see no dupes in this box.
Overall Design: I'm very indifferent on the base card design. It's a little busy, but they have borders and that's always a huge plus for me. The inserts, however, get a big thumbs up. I think the 1991 Bowman and Futurist inserts are absolute slam dunks. The Top 100 and Rookie of the Year Favorites look clean as well.
The Hits: One autograph per box might be a little light, but there's value to be found in other areas. The 1st Bowman cards, specifically the chrome ones, are becoming a hot commodity. To give some perspective, the Austin Martin chrome is going for about $30, and the "paper" stock is going for $10. I have a copy of Ke'Bryan Hayes 2015 1st Bowman, and it's value peaked around $70. This was in April, when he hit a homer in the Pirates opener after a strong (yet abbreviated) 2020 campaign. Fernando Tatis' 1st Bowman Chrome is going for just shy of $200 right now. I didn't buy the box strictly to invest in cards, but I want to make the point that YES, the price is high for this box - but there is value.
Positives: No dupes, beautiful inserts, nice mix of parallels, strong rookie checklist.
Negatives: Light on hits, smaller base checklist (100 cards).
Rating: 9/10. I think I got lucky with a pretty good box, and that probably helps the cause, but I really enjoyed tearing through these 24 packs.
Thanks for reading!