by Phoenix Desertsong, Sports Card Fanatic
This post features products available at ThePit.com - where you can trade sports cards and hobby boxes like stocks!
Topps Update prices soared in 2019. Why is that? Has the popularity of the 2011 Mike Trout Topps Update rookie card worn off on the entire brand? Because these sets often have what are considered the “true” Major League rookie cards for MLB players, it’s no surprise that sets with big name players have value. But, why have they sold so fantastically well in 2019?
Update sets have existed for a long time, going back to when they were called Topps Traded back in 1981. These sets consisted of players who were traded during the season. They also included rookies that were called up during the season.
In the past, Update sets were typically factory sets, in which you got the full set in one purchase. This was a popular trend in the 80s, fueled by competition between the three major brands (Topps, Fleer and Donruss). For Topps Update, sets were sold in complete form all the way through 1994. But, in 1995 Topps turned Update into a set that had to built the traditional card collecting way, through opening packs.
Topps seemed to decide that variations were the way to sell the Update product, which started out as “Traded” and would later become called Updates & Highlights and later just Update. That was probably a good move, since the popularity of the factory sets depended entirely on whether there were hot rookie cards that people wanted to chase. By turning them into pack sets, rather than complete sets, they could include some inserts and create a chase for the rookies and stars in the set.
Turning the Update sets into a pack-based product worked out well for Topps. Eventually, they would start including relic cards and even autograph cards. They later included photo variations and other short printed versions of cards in the set.
Photo variations and other short printed cards are hot with collectors, especially player collectors. So, even though the Update sets don’t have large base checklists, pulling individual cards is actually more difficult than you would think. Now, you don't just chase key rookie cards. You now have multiple other cards of those rookies to chase, as well.
Is Topps Update produced in smaller quantities than the Bowman sets? There isn’t any data to show this, but there is definitely a crazy amount of demand for these sets. Having short printed (SP) variations, especially ones that are serial numbered, has made the Topps Update set a major favorite every fall. The scarcity of the SP's clearly helps to create enthusiasm for the product.
People really do like the photography and design of the Update cards. But, what drives the recent Update sales are the pure amount of good players included in the sets. Then, when you consider the short-printed photo variations and serial numbered parallels, suddenly you can be opening multiple cards of the same player - something that is pretty cool for collectors..
Let’s take a look at three of the best Topps Update sets in recent memory: 2015, 2017, and 2018 Topps Update.
* * 2015 Topps Update * *
Key players: Kris Bryant, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, and Noah Syndergaard
Kris Bryant is featured right on the box of 2015 Topps Update. After a 2018 season that was awful by his standards, Bryant bounced right back in 2019. Bryant’s rookie card is the chase card in the 2015 Topps Update set, along with the rookie card of Indians superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Beyond the big five names, there are also rookie cards for hot 2019 players like Gio Urshela of the Yankees and Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto also has a rookie card in the set. It also has the rookie card of Texas Rangers’ slugger Joey Gallo. You’re guaranteed at least one auto or relic card (aka a “hit”) in every box.
Available on thePit:
2015 Topps Update Series Baseball Hobby Box 2015 Topps Update Sealed Box - ONLY $125!
* * 2017 Topps Update * *
Key players: Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge was incredible in his 2017 rookie season and while injured some in 2018 he still put up good numbers. 2019 was extremely unkind to Judge on the injury front, though. Fortunately, Cody Bellinger decided to become the talk of baseball during the first couple months of 2019. With his National League MVP, he’s become the key player to chase in the 2017 Topps Update set.
2017 Topps Update also has rookie cards for Oakland A’s star third baseman Matt Chapman, Astros’ third baseman Alex Bregman, Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong, Yankees first baseman Luke Voit and rising starting pitcher Domingo German, and Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi.
Many collectors opt for the Jumbo box which has 10 massive 50-card packs. A regular box of 2017 Topps Update contains only one autograph or relic card, but the Jumbo box guarantees an autograph AND two relic cards.
Available on thePit:
2017 Topps Update Series Baseball JUMBO Hobby Box
* * 2018 Topps Update * *
Key players: Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, Gleyber Torres
2018 was a GREAT year for rookies. The Braves had Ronald Acuna Jr and Ozzie Albies perform, and Acuna broke out in a BIG way in 2019! Juan Soto was a nice surprise for the Nationals, won a World Series, and has become one of the hottest players in the entire hobby.
Shohei Ohtani lived up to his hype in 2018, though injury set him back big time in 2019. Even unable to pitch, he still provided value with the bat. Gleyber Torres turned out to be an awesome steal by the Yankees. He’s bloomed into an everyday power-hitting infielder who has become an anchor for the Bronx lineup.
There are also rookie cards of 2019 breakout performers like Austin Meadows and Shane Bieber in the set. So, there is even more potential for this set from an investment standpoint.
Available on ThePit:
2018 Topps Update Series Baseball Sealed BLASTER Box
2018 Topps Update Series Baseball BLASTER Sealed 16 Box CASE
2018 Topps Update Series Baseball Sealed Hobby Box
Which is your favorite of these three Topps Update sets? Do you think 2019 Topps Update will come anywhere close to the value of these two sets in the coming years?
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