1998 Topps Stars Baseball Review
Topps has had a history of making sets containing many variations and parallels: Moments and Milestones, Tek, Gold Label, and so on. At one point, Topps Stars fell into the same category. In its 1998 edition, these accounted for almost all the pulls one could expect from a box as most of the actual insert sets were limited to 100 or less. Each box of Topps Stars contains 24 packs of 6 cards each and EVERY CARD IS SERIALLY NUMBERED! For about $50, I decided to try one out and here’s what I pulled….
Base set (Red/Bronze): The top 40% or so of each card features a blue background with stars (that look like actual stars) and foil writing at the top. The base set is comprised of 150 cards, each of which come in 5 different foil variations. The most common foils are Red and Bronze. Each of these are numbered to 9799 and in most cases, 2 bronze cards and 2 red cards can be found per pack. In this box, I received 50 bronze cards and 56 red cards. I got most of the big stars so no need to list them all. For most of the players I pulled in the red set, I also pulled their bronze counterpart as well. You’ll see just how many later. A fun fact about the base cards is that each player is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars on certain attributes (For Hitters: Average, Power, Speed, Defense, and Arm Strength; For Pitchers: Velocity, Control, Savvy, Consistency, and Endurance.) The back of each card also contains a trivia question, to which the answer will be found in the next consecutive card in the set.
Silver (1 per pack): Found in every pack, the Silver parallel cards are limited to 4399. Out of the 24 I received, some notables included Mark McGwire, Manny Ramirez, Wade Boggs, Carlos Delgado, Mark Grace, and Juan Gonzalez. Now, I’m not into “ebay 1/1s” or anything like that, but I couldn’t help but notice an interesting serial number on my Wade Boggs. It is number 3000 out of 4399. Of course, 3000 represents the milestone number of hits that only 26 Major Leaguers in history have reached (Boggs being the only one who homered for number 3000).
Gold (1:2 packs): Found in every other pack on average, the Gold parallel cards are limited to 2299. I received 12 of these cards, including Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Tino Martinez, and Chipper Jones, who happens to be hitting .418 at the time I write this!
Gold Rainbow (1:46 packs): The Gold Rainbow parallels are by far the most difficult to obtain, falling in every other box or so. The foil on these cards look a little bronze-ish, but are brighter in color, have sparkling text, and are limited to just 99. I was lucky enough to pull one, even if it was just Brian Hunter. Speaking of which, I forgot how lethal this guy used to be on the basepaths (when he actually got on base that is). He led the AL in stolen bases twice, including 74 swipes in 1997! Unfortunately, he couldn’t hit for average or draw many walks, and struck out way too much for a leadoff hitter. Just 6 years later, he was out of the league.
Rookie Reprints (1:24 packs): In every box, there will be a special reprint card of a baseball legend’s Topps rookie card. Mine happened to be of Jon Miller’s good buddy, Joe Morgan, who started with the Houston Colt .45’s. This set only has 5 cards in total with the others being Whitey Ford, Johnny Bench, Mike Schmidt, and Carl Yastrzemski. If you’re lucky, you could find an AUTOGRAPHED version of these reprints as well, seeded only 1 in 273 packs. Man, would that have been nice!
Familiar Faces: No, this is not an insert. I just want to quickly review the number of players that appeared in more than one foil version in my box. There were a total of 43 players that I pulled BOTH a Red and Bronze card of. Out of these 43, I also pulled a Silver card of 11 of them, so they appeared in THREE different foils. There were an additional 7 players that I pulled a different combination (either red/silver, gold/silver, or gold/bronze) of as well. There was even 1 card that I pulled FOUR variations of (bronze, red, silver and gold) and that was Hal Morris, of all people! Have I confused you enough yet?
Final Thoughts: This product is OK, but opening a box can be pretty maddening when you’re repeatedly seeing the same players and the only difference is a little font tweak. Before I sorted out the cards, I thought I had a handful of doubles, but it turns out there were none to be found. I only pulled 1 real insert, the Morgan reprint. There are 3 other insert sets, all with unfavorable odds, that can be found in this product: Galaxy, Luminaries, and Supernovas. Finding a star player in any of these sets can basically make your box. Like the base set, these inserts also come in foil variations. Here are the print runs for those: Bronze – 100, Silver – 75, Gold – 50, Gold Rainbow – 5! I can’t say I’d recommend this set to everyone. I think you’d have to be dedicated to building a base set if you decide to open any of this. However, the sets are pretty doable given the high serial numbering (though more than 1 box would be required). Those looking for the high-end hit may not find the rare, low-numbered insert or HOF autograph they so desired and would be disappointed. It was a pretty decent box overall, but there could’ve been some improvement. If you decide to give this a shot, just remember my advice. Hopefully, you’ll pull a sweet autograph or Gold Rainbow card numbered to 5!
As always, thanks for the read and good luck with your own box breaks!