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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 in Review: MLB Card Sets

The 2015 baseball card season is basically over, though six high-end stragglers have yet to be released. Including those six, a total of 49 major sets were released. That number also includes a few oddball issues by Topps and some minor league issues. This is comparable to last year, where a quick count shows 50 sets.
This Year's Issues
Here are the sets, copied straight from with links to their listings.
I didn't really chime in about many sets this year, and most of them are old news at this point.

What I Collected
As usual, I put together a mini master set of Gypsy Queen, though I'm still missing some cards (Basics of Baseball, especially). And I got a full set of Allen & Ginter along with a handful of insert sets. The return of Diamond Kings gave me something in place of Golden Age, and I've recently started chasing DK's inserts, too. Panini's USA Stars and Stripes set was a natural addition to my Team USA collection, and Panini's regular USA set will be added to the want lists, too. Donruss has its flaws, but I was happy to get the "short" set for my flagship set run. And continuing a trend over the past five years (plus 2009), I have a full Goodwin Champions base set.

I haven't touched Stadium Club or the flagship offering from Topps yet, as far as set building goes, but those will round out this year's base chase. That looks to be ten sets (including Topps Update) for the year.

I've been trying to avoid getting insert sets just because they look cool, and instead offer interesting subject matter. I put together the Tony Gwynn tribute set from Donruss, and grabbed both series of Topps' First Pitch insert set. The A&G sets that made the cut were Great Scott, Menagerie of the Mind, What Once Was Believed, and What Once Would Be. I always get Topps Heritage's News Flashbacks, and I had to buy Opening Day's Stadium Scenes set. Topps Update's Pride and Perseverance was one of the few "regular" baseball insert sets I put together. Presidential Chronicles was a nice topical set in Archives, too. Finally, Panini Prizm has included a USA baseball insert set each year, and I managed to find all the singles already.

I posted earlier this year about Panini Americana, which was a ton of fun to open. Unfortunately it's too expensive for me to keep opening, but I've been grabbing singles where I can. I've finished the Certified Singles and Certified Albums insert sets, and I need 10 more cards for the base set. Additionally, I have several cards from On The Tube and Screen Legends.

Other than Diamond Kings, USA, and Americana sets, my want list has the High Tek variations and Will Ferrell insert set from Archives.

My favorite set this year is Stadium Club. I have only seen singles in stores and on blogs, but it's a beautiful set, just like last year. A full-bleed issue where the base cards focus on beautiful photography has been missing since Upper Deck last their license. High Tek, another sophomore returnee release, is second on my list. It's a "gimmick" set but it's based on design, not just hits.

Insert-wise, Topps had a huge hit with the Will Ferrell cards in Archives. I can't believe how pricey those cards are! But I think I like the First Pitch inserts from the flagship set more. I've been passive-aggressively begging for Topps to follow BBM's lead and put celebrities on cards. And while there are bigger stars out there who should have a card too, the lineup wasn't all D-list. As long as Topps keep making these cards, I'll keep buying them!

Once again I know they have a place in the hobby, but all the Bowman sets continue to bore me. And there are several high-end sets that I don't have an interest in because there's nothing there for me. Don't get me wrong, autographs and beautiful patches are great. But the sets just don't interest me.

On the other hand, there are some retail sets that I would collect if I was still living in the US - TeenyMates and Topps Chipz especially.

And Panini may have had a few sets I collected, but I feel disappointed by their offerings. I collected Donruss, Diamond Kings, and the USA sets because of their heritage or theme. But the stuff I liked from them in the past - Golden Age, Cooperstown, Triple Play - have gone high end and out of reach, or flat-out disappeared.

2014 was a good year in the hobby (for me at least), but I feel like 2015 was pretty underwhelming. Hopefully some good stuff comes out next year too.

Next post, NPB releases.

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