2002 Topps Total Baseball Review

Topps Total, Topps Total, Topps Total.  Bring back Topps Total.  Why won’t they bring back Topps Total.  I’ve heard it from bloggers over and over lately.  I figured it was time to see what all the hype was about.
This was a product I didn’t know existed until I started reading blogs.  It came and went and I was none the wiser.  So, will I join the ranks of people clamoring for the return of this long gone budget release?

36 packs per box, 10 cards per pack (actually 11 if you count the set/team checklist)

Come back and clean up our mess as you cleaned up that bat, Girardi.

Main Set
990 cards strong, the set prides itself on including basically everyone to put on a MLB uniform during the year.  Of course this means that you’re going to have the opportunity of finding a bunch of people you may not have heard of and/or will have not had virtually any career.  How many of the guys above do you recognize?  You’re probably batting .500-.600, which may be pretty good.  I could have loaded up the scans with more obscure types.
So, one of the first things you’ll notice is the complete lack of foil or flair, obviously an indicator that this is meant to be a low-cost option.  It’s just a big picture, the player’s name in a blocky, not so good of a choice font, and a giant Topps Total logo.  I’m not so hot on the design.  The stunted checkerboard looks like it took absolutely no effort to come up with.  The team logo is creeping inside a little bit too close to the plate. I think someone needs to brush it back.
The picture selection is actually better than the samples I gave.  Sure, you’re going to get a lot of standard action shots like these, but there is enough variety that looking at 990 different players won’t feel too redundant or boring.  And if you do happen to get bored with the fronts, you can always flip it over and increase your knowledge base exponentially.
The one downside of the back sides is that there’s only one line of stats, and that line is limited at that.  Instead, it’s taken up by a couple different blurbs.  One describes the player’s role within the team, and another more standard “History” paragraph to give you the background.  Sometimes these blur together for the bigger names, but if nothing else, they’re a fun read for the lesser-knowns.  Another nice feature is the dual card number.  There’s the set number and then the internal team number, which will help take the guesswork out of building your teams, should you so decide.

Rule 1: Don't name an insert the same thing as your set

Here’s one of the very similar inserts you can find inserted in packs.  I truly don’t understand why they couldn’t have thought of some other name for this.  I guess they really didn’t want you to forget what packs you were buying.  There are 50 different players in this sucker, so expect to buy a few boxes to come close.  In the two boxes I opened, I did get several doubles.

Everything you see is shiny.

I would have preferred to see fewer cards in this and a fourth insert added.  Look at how ugly this thing is.  My guess is some Topps employee took a look at his childhood bed sheets and decided it was a good idea to translate them onto foil cardboard.  That person was wrong.

Perhaps proof there are too many awards

The team logos have been replaced with an MLB logo wallpaper.  This too is a 50 card set, which is about 30-40 to many if you ask me.  There’s really no reason to include all the silver sluggers, is there?  Plus, there are half as many per box as the Topps Total Topps Total Total Total cards Topps.

A third kind of shiny

Lastly, we have the Total Production, which come three per box.  I can only assume this is another reason to pump in the stars, which is fine and expected.  But with the globe thing in the background, I would expect to see some sort of worldly theme.  I dunno.  I guess there was just too many cards to produce to take the time to think of decent inserts.

One of the big appeals of this product is that there are no relics or autos to drive up the price or take away from the set collecting fun.  If only more products adapted this format.

I can sort of understand the appeal of this product.  It’s cool getting cards of people you’d normally never see on card otherwise, but personally that’s not enough of an incentive to buy something.  The bigger draw is a lower price point and something designed for set collectors, rather than hit hunters.  I always enjoyed Collector’s Choice and other 99 cent products.  Having one with a deeper checklist sounds good in theory, but this deep is counterproductive to me.  I don’t want to buy three boxes worth to only have a shot at a complete set.

And if I am going to buy three boxes, I want it to be more visually pleasing.  It doesn’t need gold foil or anything in the main set, but it should catch your eye.  The inserts also don’t need to be the complete extreme opposite and caked in foil, or so massive.

When push comes to shove, I’ll say I don’t care that much if Topps Total returns, but I don’t have the nostalgic attachment to it.  I’d rather see a smaller, budget friendly set void of parallels and autos and relics.  But it sounds like that’s just me.

Design – **
Set Collecting – ****
Inserts – **
Hits – N/A
Overall – ** (0ut of 5)

3 comments to 2002 Topps Total Baseball Review

  • Yeah… I never really understood the appeal of Topps Total. If it was SO popular back way back when, Topps never would’ve discontinued it. It sounds good in theory, but 900 cards?? WTF?

    It’d cost a ton to put this set together by hand, and there’s no chance of anything nice along the way. What’s wrong with having ‘just’ Topps flagship? It’s 660 cards, with a heavy dose of role players and situational relievers. That’s enough for me.

  • To continue…

    I get the impression that most bloggers only want what they can’t have. Wasn’t O-Pee-Chee a really big set? That never caught on. If Total were around, it’d be “boring” and nobody would buy it because there’d be no value in each box. But it’s not around, so it’s awesome. If you want $0.99 packs, go buy Opening Day. It’s got numbered parallels and can be put together in three boxes, probably.

    • Jon

      I completely agree with you here. Although, I would have been all over ’09 O-Pee-Chee if I had started collecting again in time. I still will most likely buy a box or two of that eventually. As much as we bitch about hits and value, it’s what drives our hobby financially these days. I think what collectors are really begging for with the Topps Total rant is for Opening Day to be the same as it is, but with a different design than flagship. Total was quirky and fun as a concept, but cost prohibitive for something that was marketed as a set collector’s set.

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