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2000-01 Topps Gold Label Hockey Review

Prior to this post, have you ever noticed that the title of every box break of mine has had the word “baseball” in it? Since those previous breaks had been exclusively baseball, there surely had to be a reason for it, right? You don’t see the word “baseball” in the titles of breaks done by say, Field of Cards for example. Why would I bother?

Truthfully, when I started this blog nearly 2 years ago, the intent was to make this a multi-sport box breaking blog. I planned to review older baseball, hockey, and even occasional football boxes. When I started blogging, I made it a point to put the word “baseball” in each title as I was new and people didn’t know what to expect of me. Since then, I’ve made sure to keep the formula of each title consistent with the rest. However, shortly into the blogging adventure, I dropped the football idea and had trouble finding good deals on old hockey boxes that I actually wanted to break, leading the blog to be exclusively baseball. I know that was an unnecessarily long intro so I’ll cut it here. Here is the long, long overdue debut of hockey to OSB…

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 5 cards per pack, $29
Baseball Card Exchange

Base set (Class 1): As was the case with baseball, in 2000, Topps fractured the Gold Label set into Classes 1, 2, and 3, with 1’s being the most common and 3’s being the rarest. The card’s Class is listed on both sides. On the front (click scan to enlarge), you’ll see it listed in the area hosting the nameplate and Gold Label logo. There are 100 short set cards followed by 15 shortprinted rookies, each numbered to 999. This structure is similar to the one used in 2001 Gold Label Baseball. This box yielded 64 short set cards (64%) with 22 doubles and 2 triples. Good grief. I also pulled 2 of the shortprinted rookies: Justin Williams (392/999) and Alexandre Kharitonov (206/999). These rookies are seeded 1 in 14 packs.

It didn’t hit me until after I scanned this trio of cards that I put Justin Williams next to Saku Koivu. For those that don’t remember their little playoff incident, read about halfway down.

Class 1 Gold (1:6 packs, numbered to 399): All cards from all 3 Classes are mirrored by a gold parallel with varying print runs. The Class 1 Golds are numbered to just 399, of which I pulled 4: Evgeni Nabokov (201/399 – reserving for Fuji), Brad Richards (131/399), Alexei Yashin (074/399) and Patrik Stefan (276/399).I chose not to include Stefan in the scan for two reasons: 1) I wanted to limit scans to 3 cards or less and 2) If you Google his name, check out the video results. Patrik has the puck and breaks away towards an empty net. Hilarity ensues. Yeah, you wouldn’t show his card either. Oh, and yay for bad Islander trades. Alexei Yashin was dealt to NY in one of the worst deals of the decade, giving Ottawa two future stars in Zdeno Chara and Jason Spezza. There will be more mentioning of crazy transactions from the Island later…

Class 2 (1:4 packs): Class 2 cards are a slightly tougher pull and fall at a rate of 6 per box. My pulls: Sergei Fedorov, Miroslav Satan, Mark Messier, Byron Dafoe, Jason Allison, and Valeri Bure.

For the longest time, I wanted Miroslav Satan to somehow end up a New Jersey Devil. And for the non-hockey fans, no, his name is not actually pronounced that way.

Class 2 Gold (1:7 packs, numbered to 299): Class 2 Gold parallels fall 3 per box and are numbered to just 299. I pulled 3 veterans, all with ties to New Jersey, and 1 rookie. My vets were Martin Brodeur (069/299), Brendan Shanahan (237/299), and Jeff Friesen (075/299 – not pictured). Score!! It’s not very often that I actually pull something I need for my PC, but that Marty was my favorite pull of this box. Class 2 Gold rookies are numbered to just 66 and fall just 1 in 219 packs! Once again, I had the pleasure (not so much) of pulling Alexandre Kharitonov (14/66). For the record, the Class 1 and Class 3 Gold rookies are numbered to 99 and 33 respectively. But you’ll see this later…

Class 3 (1:8 packs): Finally, Class 3 cards are the rarest and are seeded 3 per box. I pulled Steve Yzerman, Jaromir Jagr, and Jeremy Roenick.

All of my Class 3 cards came from the very last 3 packs of this box and talk about lucky! Out of a field of 100 random players, my 3 were Stevie Y (who was a no-brainer HOF choice and director of Team Canada 2010), Jagr (obvious HOFer #2), and JR (terrific player, but HOF worthy? Ehh, maybe not). Still, that’s 4,570 career points between the group.

Class 3 Gold (1:11 packs, numbered to 199): Here’s the last parallel, at least for now. Class 3 Golds fall about 2 per box. I pulled the 2 you see in the scan, plus a third I’ll reveal at the end of this review. Here we have Alex Kovalev (139/199) and Jeremy Roenick (137/199).

I don’t think there are enough background Rangers in this scan, do you?

Golden Greats (15 cards, 1:5 packs): Brett Hull, Joe Sakic, John LeClair

Pretty shiny gold. Here’s a prime example of how strange the collation of this box was. According to the odds, I should’ve pulled 5 of these. I got 3. It gets better though…

Behind the Mask (10 cards, 1:7 packs): Mike Richter, Curtis Joseph x2

Here are some more great looking inserts, but why did I need 2 of Curtis Joseph? Why didn’t I get 1 of the other 8 netminders I didn’t have instead?  Better yet, why didn’t Topps just replace Richter with another Cujo and minibip me? Sheesh.

Bullion (10 cards, 1:21 packs): Detroit (Yzerman/Shanahan/Fedorov) and Phoenix (Roenick/Tkachuk/Numminen)

New Generation (15 cards, 1:14 packs): Marian Hossa

Some of you may have seen the Bullion insert in baseball. In any case, each card features 3 core players from a given team. The New Generation insert comes off as green from the scan, but I’d say the color most resembles that of 2008 Spectrum baseball. Somehow, the card still looks decent and the player depicted isn’t too shabby either.

Gold Label Jersey (6 cards, 1:37 packs):
Peter Forsberg

As if all the Gold Label goodness above wasn’t enough, I managed to find a jersey card in this box. The box makes no guarantees regarding “hits,” but with jersey cards falling 1 in 37 packs and autographs (10 cards) falling 1 in 57, it seems likely that you’d hit one or the other. This Foppa was a nice hit. Hmm. There are only 6 cards to chase and one of them is my man, Martin Brodeur. I’m thinking I’ll put this little set together.

At last, the final card of the box. Remember what I said earlier about “crazy transactions from the [Long] Island” and that there was one more Class 3 Gold card to show? Well, here it is: a Class 3 Gold Rookie Rick DiPietro (16/33) of the New York Islanders. DiPietro, an All-Star 2 seasons ago, was the #1 pick of the 2000 draft (ahead of Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik, who happens to be the standout rookie from this set). Rick struggled mightily in his first year (3-15, 3.49 GAA), but after a couple of years of polishing in the AHL, found his permanent home in the big leagues by 2003. In 2006, following his first 30-win season, the Isles signed him to a 15-year, $67.5 million contract. Seriously. He posted career numbers that following season, but a surgically repaired knee and a variety of injuries have led to him playing a total of 13 games since the beginning of the 2008-09 season.

Anyway, the reason I chose to showcase this card last was because this falls into the “Why Couldn’t I Have Pulled This Back Then?” category along with my 2000 Bowman Chrome Rick Asadoorian and 1999 Bowman Chrome Corey Patterson rookie refractors. Not only was this a card of the #1 pick in the draft, but it was numbered to just 33 copies. That means virtually nothing today, but back then, this would’ve been huge. Heck, pulling anything numbered to 50 or lower was quite a feat. Class 3 Gold rookies fall only 1 in 438 packs!

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: D
Wow, where do I begin? The collation was simply ridiculous. In some cases, it worked out in my favor. Instead of pulling a couple 1:5 Golden Greats, I found very rare Gold rookies numbered out of 66 and 33! In addition, I got 1 more Bullion card than I normally would. On the other hand, 37.5% of Class 1 base cards I needed came in doubles or triples and bip jokes aside, I got duped on an insert. As someone who likes to collate most base sets (and sometimes some of the small inserts) from the boxes he breaks, this drives me nuts.

Condition: A
Like I mentioned in past Gold Label reviews, these glossy cards tend to come from packs very clean though sometimes they’ll stick together in packs. This time around, I didn’t encounter very much of that at all, for which I’m grateful.

Pulls: A+
This box certainly wasn’t short on the starpower! Great names overall in this loaded box, but the Brodeur and SP DiPietro (and to a lesser extent, Forsberg) really did it for me. I got way more than I could’ve anticipated.

Value: A+
This was the first box of its kind I’ve seen in quite a while so I’m not exactly sure what these would normally sell for nowadays. For $29 plus shipping, it’s definitely worth a shot, but I’m not sure you’d be able to find it for that cheap elsewhere (in fact, Baseball Card Exchange no longer lists these for sale last I checked). For the record, this box came to me with original price tags of $130 and $107 scratched out with $29 placed over them. Hell yeah! If you do happen to find a box of this stuff at a price point you’re comfortable with, by all means go for it. Honestly, I can’t think of another break that was this much fun.

Overall Grade: A-

Technically, I guess those grades should average to a B/B+ or so, but who cares, it was one of my all-time favourite breaks.

2002 Topps Gold Label Baseball Review

The first time I ever mentioned this product, I referred to it as an “ugly mess of a product.” I know those seem like harsh and shocking words (in fact, I take them back), especially coming from a fan of the Gold Label series, but in my opinion, this product just never quite measured up to its predecessors. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a nice set. In fact, if I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t have included it in Old School Group Break 2. However, it still is what I consider the “weak link” in the series, which happened to end with this very set. See if you agree.

Box Details: 18 packs per box, 4 cards per pack, $32
Baseball Card Exchange

Base set: The base set is comprised of 200 cards and if you’re into hugely nameplated surnames, this set’s for you! That was actually a small pet peeve I’ve always had with this product (but the biggest one will be revealed later). Anyway, you might notice that these cards don’t shine the way the older GL cards do. Compare. Here you’ll notice a holofoil effect as opposed to a heavily glossed refractor effect, a different look from the “super premium” cards from previous sets. My box yielded 64 of 200 basic cards (32%) and 1 duplicate.

Gold (1:7 packs, numbered to 500): There are 3 parallels that mirror the base set: Gold, Platinum, and Titanium. The Gold cards, the most easily attainable, are seeded 1 in every 7 packs (1 in 11 retail) and are numbered to 500. I pulled 3: Garret Anderson (312/500, there he is again!), Derek Bell (002/500), and Tim Hudson (346/500).

Platinum (1:13 packs, numbered to 250): Slightly harder to find than the Golds, the Platinum parallels are seeded 1 in every 13 packs (1 in 28 retail) and are numbered to 250. I beat the odds and pulled 2 in my box: Tom Glavine (181/250) and Matt Morris (174/250).

MLB Award Ceremony Relics (seeding below): Just as they did in 2001, Topps decided to insert game-used relics into Gold Label with the MLB Award Ceremony set. Like the base cards, these also come in variations of Gold, Platinum, and Titanium, with Gold being the most common. The insertion ratios are as follows:

Gold Bat (1:32 Hobby, 1:84 Retail)
Gold Jersey (1:38 Hobby, 1:106 Retail)
Platinum Bat (1:79 Hobby, 1:217 Retail)
Platinum Jersey (1:57 Hobby, 1:159 Retail)
Titanium Bat (1:158 Hobby, 1:435 Retail)
Titanium Jersey (1:115 Hobby, 1:317 Retail)

My box yielded a Tim Raines Gold Bat and a Steve Garvey Titanium Jersey. I like how the Topps card corresponding with the award-winning year hangs in the background. Overall, the design is decent enough (though not as good as the previous year’s), but it just seems so weird to have cards this dark in the Gold Label brand. The same can be said for the parallels.

Also, new to 2002 were Major League Moments relics, which were considerably tough pulls. There were only 12 different cards, each with the 3 previously mentioned variations. I can’t link to a pictue of one of these right now, but you can Google for them if you’re curious. 🙂

Oh yeah, and these have to be the thinnest game-used cards ever. They comfortably fit in your standard toploader.

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: A
No complaints here. 1 duplicate sure beats out the 15 duplicates from that last box I broke, both of which were made of 4-card packs.

Condition: B
There were a couple minor blemishes, but they were few and far between. I have pulled creased cards from this product before though.

Pulls: B
Overall, I was satisfied with my pulls. The parallel cards (minus Glavine) left a lot to be desired, but I was happy to pull relics of some new players for a change. This product has multiple game-used cards of superstars like Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, and Tony Gwynn, but how many game-used cards does Tim Raines have? Considerably less. That makes it cool.

Value: B
Somewhere in the $30-40 range is pretty decent for this box when most want $50+. Retail boxes sell for a little bit cheaper, have slightly longer odds as noted above, and contain only one game-used card as opposed to the two for Hobby.

Oh, and remember that little peeve I mentioned earlier about this product? Well, here it is. Most of you know that I’ll try all sorts of boxes at least once and in some cases, will try to complete base sets for some of my favorites (such as Fleer Showcase, Topps Gallery, and of course, Gold Label).

Prior to 2002, GL’s configuration was standard:
Hobby: 24 packs/5 cards/100-card base set*
Retail: 24 packs/3 cards/100-card base set*

In 2002:
Hobby: 18 packs/4 cards/200-card base set
Retail: 18 packs/3 cards/200-card base set

So, just to mess with us who like to actually hand collate sets of GL, Topps increased the size of the set while drastically decreasing how many total cards you got per box. Add in the fact that the designs weren’t quite as strong as in years past, it’s not surprising, at least to me, why this brand didn’t last another year.

* In 2001, the set had 115 cards, 100 base and 15 numbered SP rookies

Overall Grade: B

2001 Topps Gold Label Baseball Review

Before it was turned into an ugly mess of a product in 2002, Topps Gold Label had been one of my favorite releases. The product was known for thick, glossy, colorful, refractor-like cards and levels upon levels of parallels (though that might not have been a good thing necessarily). 2001 was the first year Gold Label had introduced game-used relics, all of which were just as brilliant as the base cards that made the product what it was. The following year, Gold Label was given a makeover in base design/technology and plenty of relics were added. Unfortunately, it was no longer the Gold Label that I loved and was discontinued thereafter. Let’s take a look at a box of 2001 Topps Gold Label, issued a year before its death.

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 5 cards per pack, $45
From: Baseball Card Exchange

Base set (Class 1): The base set is comprised of 115 cards altogether: 100 short set cards plus 15 serially numbered rookies skip-numbered throughout. If anyone out there is trying to hand collate the short set and notices some numbers missing, here are the card numbers of the skip-numbered rookies: 2, 19, 41, 61, 62, 92, 93, 97, 106, 108, 111-115. Like they were in 1998 and 1999, the set was fractured into three classes with Classes 2 and 3 being tougher pulls. In this box, I pulled 97 of the 100 short set cards (97%) with 8 duplicates.

Class 2 (1:4 packs): Class 2 cards are seeded at a rate of six per box and in 2001’s set, are harder to differentiate from their Class 1 counterparts, compared to previous years. Honestly, I can’t even do it without looking at the card back (it states the class in the lower left corner). The six I pulled in my box were Albert Belle, Pedro Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire, Adrian Beltre, and Christian Guzman.

Class 3 (1:12 packs): Class 3 cards are seeded at a rate of just two per box and feature not only a white background but two separate images of the player (the only class to do so). My pulls were of John Olerud and Barry Bonds.

Shortprinted Rookies (1:52 packs, /999): I also pulled one of the shortprinted (aka “Gimmicked” as per Chris Harris) rookies in this box, failed Blue Jays prospect Rick Brosseau (011/999). These SP rookies are also available in Class 2 (/699) and Class 3 (/299) varieties. The only one worth mentioning is Brian Roberts.

Gold Parallels (varied numbering by class): Every card in every class is mirrored by a 1/1 parallel, but I wasn’t lucky enough to find one in my box. Instead, I found a handful of gold parallels, which I’m just fine with. The print runs for these varies by class and are as follows:

Class 1 (1:8 packs, numbered to 999)
Class 2 (1:11 packs, numbered to 699)
Class 3 (1:26 packs, numbered to 299)

The above scan shows examples of golds from Classes 1,2, and 3, in that order. My Class 1 gold parallels were Jorge Posada (474/999), Moises Alou (015/999), and Rick Ankiel (732/999). My Class 2 gold cards were of Tom Glavine (642/699) and Phil Nevin (687/699). My lone Class 3 gold card was of Scott Rolen (168/299).

For those wondering, gold parallels of the SP rookies are limited to 99, 69, and 29. I think you can figure out which print run goes which class.

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: B-

Overall, the collation in this box wasn’t horrible. I nearly completed the short base set and received a tolerable amount of duplicates. The gold parallels delivered as promised and I even beat the odds on pulling one of the “gimmicked” rookies. With that said, what could bring this grade so low? Remember this Old School Hits post? MLB Award Ceremony relics fall at a rate of 1 in every 24 packs but this box didn’t yield one. That was a bit of a downer.

Condition: A

These super glossy cards came out of the packs virtually unscathed. I’m VERY happy about that!

Pulls: C+

Relic or no relic, this box was just pretty average overall. It’s not a good sign when the best card (arguably) was a Class 3 parallel of Barry Bonds. All in all, a little more star power would’ve been nice, but at least I didn’t pull numbered cards of Terrence Long or Quilvio Veras. That would suck.

Value: B

One can expect a relic, tons of parallels, and a very big chunk of starter set (if not a complete set) in each box for $45. In my opinion, that’s not bad at all, especially for a set as brilliant as this one. My box certainly wasn’t the best but I’d still highly recommend this product, as I would any Gold Label set (that didn’t come from 2002).

Overall Grade: B