Saturday, February 22, 2014

Blaster break: 2014 Topps US Olympic & Paralympic Team and Hopefuls

Since I had some "free" Meijer money to play with (rewards programs are great!), I made an increasingly rare decision to pick up a retail blaster, but only a very specific one:
I'd seen some fun breaks of this year's Olympics set, the hits look fun, plus there's a nice Michigan connection thanks to the presence of five Wolverine figure skaters in Sochi.  For a typical blaster price of about $22, you get seven packs of 10 cards and a guaranteed hit, which can be an autograph, relic, one of two types of manupatch, or a pin.  My goal was to pick up some of skater Meryl Davis' stuff since it's so expensive after she won the pairs gold with partner Charlie White, but I'd be getting into the Olympics enough this year to be excited about some of the other athletes too.

First up, here's highlights from the base cards:
Bronze medalists

Silver medalists

 Gold medalists (except for Shibutani, who I included with fellow Wolverine skaters Davis and White)

And while I'm at it, here's a back for completeness:

I ended up with 61/100 of the base set with ZERO doubles.  Wait a minute, this is a fun, interesting set with excellent collation?  Hmmm....

I landed a total of 15 inserts in my seven packs, which was pretty cool, even if I tend to favor base set completion first.  Here they are:
First up are the Bronze parallels, which feature a Bronze logo stamp on the bottom-right corner.  These are apparently at least one-per-pack since the odds don't list them.  I pulled eight from seven packs, so you do the math.  As you can imagine, I was happy to pull the Meryl Davis.
Here we have the rest of the inserts.  The top three are Silver parallels, which are 1:2 pulls, so I "lost" the coin flip for the fourth, which is no big deal.  Side note:  "Sled Hockey" sounds like an amazing Paralympic sport!  Wagner, meanwhile, is a 1:8 Gold parallel, while Daly is the Gold Rainbow version, which comes in at 1:24, which is a tad tougher than one per three blasters, so I really lucked out!  The Brown curling card is from an insert called "Games of the XXII Olympiad" and falls 1:8, and the insert showing off the Iceberg Skating Palace is from "Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Venues," and was a bit tougher at 1:12.  Overall I did very well in beating the odds, and I'm very happy with this haul.

Ok, onto my promised blaster hit:
Actually, it wasn't this autograph of figure skater Evan Lysacek, which was certainly an exciting pull.  At least, I consider it a bonus hit because as usual I sorted through the packs until I found the "thick"one so I could open it last.  This card showed up in the penultimate pack, much to my surprise!  He wasn't part of the 2014 team but did win gold in Vancouver four years ago, so this looks like an especially nice pull, and a tricky one at 1:38 packs.
Well this certainly explains why that last pack was so thick!  It really was a fantastic pull, not just because it's a tri-color relic (and a 1:22 pull), better looking than most I've seen around the internets.  It's also nice that Mancuso is a pretty well known skier, and I was happy to see her win a bronze in her sport this year, even though she surely considers her lone medal a letdown.

To sum up, the set looks nice and is well-done, the collation is flawless, I beat the odds with the inserts, and got twice the number of expected hits, both of which look great.  Ok, all the evidence is in, and this is clearly NOT a Topps product, as it literally meets the opposite of each requirement.  In all seriousness, congrats to the company for making a worthwhile product, and I can only hope they apply what they did with this set to the rest of what they make!

I haven't decided if I want to pick up another blaster yet, but I will be working on the remaining 39 base cards one way or another.  Everything else except for the Bronze Davis is available for trade, and my main interests here are picking up the remaining inserts and hits of Meryl Davis--so if you ask me what I'm looking for in return for the autograph or relic, there's your answer!  I may eventually try to sell those, but as usual, my preference is to trade.

It's always worth waiting until sale prices on these, but if you're at the store eyeing blasters and see these available, they carry the TMV seal of approval!



  1. I've been debating on whether or not to buy a blaster or not. Now that they meet the TMV standards, I might have to take the plunge. I don't know what I'm going to do on Monday when the games are over since I've been glued to the NBC family of networks since the Opening Ceremony!

    1. Cool, let me know how you do, and pull me some Meryl Davis! Yeah, I'll definitely miss the action too--the winter games are always my favorite (nothing against the summer version).

  2. I really like the two Olympics sets Topps has released in the past couple of years. It would be great if they went one step further and released a more international set with medalists and pictures from the games. I'm guessing they are going to do some kind of historical set at some point (Legends/Heroes/etc).

    1. I totally agree, that would be a lot of fun, and despite the level of patriotism here, I think lots of others would be interested as well, especially with a historical-type set.

  3. I agree with Ryan about going beyond Americans. Congrats on getting two nice hits!

    1. What are you doing commenting on this post? Your name isn't Ryan! Yep, next year would be a great time to do a World set during the lull between Olympics. And thanks!

  4. For those of you wanting to pick up more of this set, better do it fast. Topps declared they'd stop selling it when the games were over. So, whatever is out on the shelves now is all there is going to be. :(

    Also, I've got a bunch of duplicates from putting together my own set. Let me know which ones you need. :)

    1. Thanks for the heads up, Matt! I may try to grab one more this weekend, which will definitely give me some doubles to trade (and hopefully finish my one set!).