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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Triple Box Bust of Triple Play

My biggest purchase with my birthday money back in November was three boxes of Panini's Triple Play. I got a great deal on them and based on the odds, I figured I should get pretty close to a full master set from the three. Of course, that depended on collation, but if nothing else I could trade for cards I need.

Let's see how I did. I'll break it down by subset.

 The first part of the set (#1-90) are regular base cards. They fall 2-3 per pack, 196 cards in three boxes. I like this part of the set, which is probably a good thing.

Since these come at the beginning, this is where I first started sorting. Since I combined the three boxes together, I don't know exactly what the "standings" are for each box, though I don't think there were any duplicates of these in any given box.

When all was said and done, I ended up with two complete short sets! I was pretty shocked that collation worked that well. I have some extras for trade, as well.

 The next 144 cards are puzzles (#91-234). They fall two per pack, which means it takes 72 packs to have a full set's worth of cards. That's three boxes, and this was the part of the set that determined how many boxes I bought. They're really just enlarged versions of the base cards, which is a little sad.

When I sorted the first two puzzles I noticed again that collation was on my side. However, with the three boxes, I'm still four cards short. And I ended up with four duplicate puzzle pieces. But that's pretty good collation across three boxes.

 The next subset is "Focus" - 30 cards here, #235-264. A close-up drawing of the player's eyes, I don't care much for this set. It would have been cool to have seen this portion of the set in anime style, with extreme concentration shown in the facial expressions.

They come one every two packs, so I pulled 36 cards. I ended up with 10 duplicates, but I still need four more cards.

 There are two subsets in this release that use actual photographs instead of drawings. Baseball 101 is one of those. I like the idea of teaching baseball terms, but I think these terms are so basic that this set could be titled Baseball 087. Hopefully future releases, if this subset is carried over, will use more obscure terms.

There are 8 cards in the set, and I pulled 12 singles in three boxes (four per box - one in six packs). I have a full set plus four duplicates.

 The best art is in the Hall of Fame subset. This is done in the style of Diamond Kings or other painted sets, but with sepia tones. If I wasn't collecting the entire Triple Play set, I would put together this set alone. It is one of the most difficult subsets to complete (tied with the relic set).

There are 12 cards in the set, and I pulled 6 in my three boxes (2 per box/1:12 packs). No duplicates, of course.

 Isn't Larry Wayne cute here? The When I was a kid subset depicts the players as little leaguers. I think it would be cool to have used this idea as the "fronts" of the puzzle pieces, and maybe even do a little cartoon-style story about the player across the nine cards.

There are 10 cards in the subset, and I pulled six (just like the Hall of Fame cards - 2 per box, one in 12 packs). I need four, with no duplicates.

The last part of the base set is the Real Feel relic cards. Panini claims the pieces are authentic but all that means is they went to the store, bought a Louisville Slugger or something, and chopped it up. There's nothing that mentions this piece was used in anything professional. But it's kind of neat for kids to be able to pull relic cards from $1 packs.

There are six relics in the set. They should fall one per box, but one of my boxes was missing a relic. So I have two (the bat and jersey). I need four more, no duplicates.

There are three inserts in Triple Play. The first I'm showing is Eye Black. The backs explain why players use them and mention that Babe Ruth was probably the first to use grease to reduce glare. They're basically stickers at heart, and each of the different cards has a different design on the stickers. I saw some with words (pictured above) or fancy designs.

There are six in the set. I pulled 12 cards (4 per box, 1:6 packs). Collation was pretty crappy on these: I pulled four of the six cards in triplicate. So I have three copies of each of four cards, and still need two.

The Tattoos give no instructions how to use them which is kind of a problem. Are these ones that are transferred by water? One card has three of the Triple Play logos (seen above), while others have two copies of generic baseball images.

There are five cards in the set, and I pulled 18 cards (6 per box, 1:4 packs). Collation was pretty good, and I have one full set for myself and probably two more full sets of extras (13 extras total). This is the easiest set to complete, as you should get one full set per box.

The most-plentiful insert in Triple Play is the sticker set. Some of the cards use fun generic images (one sticker has an umpire arguing with a player or manager) while others feature players. I was quite amused when I saw the sticker of the brick wall with the cut-out outline of the player on it.

Like the Eye Black, but worse, collation on the stickers is beyond frustrating. They fall one per box, which means I pulled 72 stickers. The set is complete at 30 stickers, so I should have had two complete sets plus 12 duplicates. From three boxes, I have 12 cards toward the set, and 60 extras. I pulled 10 copies each of six cards, and two copies each of six cards. I have nine extras of the googly-eyed baseball up there. How did this happen?

Final thoughts: Triple Play was a lot of fun to open, and if I was a kid I would be able to enjoy the stickers, tattoos, and eye black even more. I'm tempted to put a googly-eyed baseball sticker on my shirt for a day, or wear one of the eye black sets to work. The missing relic and crazy collation of stickers is a big issue. I'll be sending an email to Panini about that, even though I'm sure they're aware, and I doubt they'll do anything about the missing relic, let alone replacing stickers (but I can probably trade those). Hopefully things get better with 2013's release (if it comes back), because I'd love to continue collecting this set.

Note that I opened a few packs of this product before busting these boxes, so I have additional duplicates from those packs.

Puzzle Pieces: 107, 125, 149, 168
Focus: 239, 249, 252, 254
Hall of Fame: 273, 276, 277, 281, 283, 284
When I Was A Kid: 286, 289, 290, 293
Real Feel: 295, 297, 298, 299
Eye Black: 2, 4
Stickers: 1, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 30

One complete base set (#1-90).
Base cards: 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20, 23x2, 25, 30, 32, 33, 50, 52, 55, 56, 58, 62x2, 64x2, 65, 71, 72, 73, 79, 81
Puzzles: 108, 126, 137, 164, 169, 179, 192, 196, 200, 214, 218x2, 222, 229
Focus: 243, 245, 248, 250, 251, 253, 259, 261, 262x2, 264x2
Baseball 101: 265, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272
Eye Black: 1, 1, 3, 3, 5, 5, 6, 6
Tattoos: 1x2, 2x2, 3x3, 4x3, 5x3
Stickers: 3x9, 4, 7, 8x9, 9x2, 12, 13x9, 14x2, 18x8, 19, 23x8, 24, 28x8, 29

Leave a comment if you want to trade!


  1. I had fun opening my few packs of Triple Play last year, and I'm far from the target market. I'm pretty sure that if I had any kids, they'd go bonkers over these cards.

  2. I agree about the terms. If you're target is kids, actually make an effort to teach them something with the terms, not treat them like toddlers or idiots. Kids know what a ballpark is. They don't know what the Infield Fly Rule is. For that matter, neither do most experienced collectors. Explain the foul tip, or tagging up, or the lane running up the 1B baseline. Explain fan interference, or ground rules about ivy or hitting a speaker in a dome with a pop-up. ENGAGE them, don't patronize to them.