Topps Heritage: The Review

Author: Matt Warburg

To start with, I should thank Mario & Topps for arranging for me to receive a free box to review. Although I have collected Heritage on and off since its inception (2001-2005, 2007, 2009), for reasons which will become clear later in the review this is the first box I have ripped since 2005.

To start with, the base cards and checklist are good but unspectacular. My only quibble would be the fact that both Tim Lincecum and both David Wright cards are SP’s. Being an issue based on a previous release, you know exactly what you are getting in terms of design, although I have to say that I find the player photographs to be rather uninspiring due to the fact that almost all of them are posed shots rather than action photos in keeping with the original design. The only photo that struck me as being particularly horrible was the one of Jim Thome, and the airbrushing was done very skillfully for those players who changed teams during the offseason.

The main problem I have with Heritage, and the primary reason I do not buy boxes any more, is number of SP’s and how they are seeded. With 75 SP’s in the set, and only eight per box, you are looking at 10+ boxes (assuming near-perfect collation) costing $600-700 to acquire enough SP’s to complete the set by ripping wax and trading, something that is both patently ridiculous and decidedly unaffordable. So Topps: either reduce the number of SP’s and/or increase the seeding ratios!!! If you want to continue having 75 SP’s per set, then seed them 1:1 so that three boxes would get you 72 out of the 75 SP’s. Alternatively, reduce the number of SP’s to 50, but seed them 1:2, so that four boxes would get you 48 out of the 50 SP’s. Either option would make it much more affordable for collectors to complete the set solely through buying wax boxes, which would then encourage collectors to do so and increase sales. Given that it currently takes only $200-300 to complete the set using Ebay versus about $1000 using wax boxes alone, many collectors such as myself don’t even bother to buy any boxes when building the set.

The other issue I have with Topps Heritage are the inserts, which I find to be rather boring and uninteresting. Given that most Heritage collectors buy the product primarily to complete the set, there is really no need to have seven different insert sets (Baseball Flashbacks, News Flashbacks, Then & Now, New Age Performers, Chromes, Dice Game, and Babe Ruth 61) plus relics and autographs. I’d get rid of everything except the Chromes, which are fairly popular, and make the Baseball Flashbacks and Then & Now inserts subsets within the regular set (like the Baseball Thrills subset), instead. News Flashbacks have no place in a baseball set, and the New Age Performers not only look virtually identical from year to year, but seem to be an insert set without a theme (the two I got from this box were Tommy Hanson, a hot rookie, and Albert Pujols, a nine-year veteran superstar, two players with absolutely nothing in common).

As to the relic and autograph cards, the less said the better. The autograph checklist is absolutely horrible, with only four HOFers, only eight current players, and twenty-four retired nobodies, and let’s face it….nobody buys Heritage for the relics. Mine was a swatch of Kevin Millwood’s pants, which I’m not sure I could give away even if I tried. So Topps…if you are going to do relics in Heritage, at least limit them to HOFers whose jerseys/pants/bats are actually scarce and somewhat valuable. As the owner of my local card store put it, “…nothing quite beats the thrill of pulling a 1:367 autograph except discovering that the guy you pulled (Bobby Malkmus in his case) was a career .215 hitter with a whopping 8 career home runs and 123 lifetime hits.” And enough with the seat relics…those got boring about two weeks after the first one came out ten years ago.

As to the “dice game” cards, my comment would be that while they are an interesting idea, it was poorly executed. At eighteen cards, and seeded 1:72, there is no hope of completing the set, and the fronts would have been much more interesting had they used different photos than each player’s regular card. The fifteen-card Babe Ruth insert set is pathetically lame, as evidenced that completed sets are going for about $1 each on Ebay, if they even sell at all.

The bottom line is this: out of the 192 cards in the box I opened, only 170 of them helped me to accomplish my primary goal of completing the set. As good as the cards often look, that doesn’t change the fact that Topps Heritage makes it way too difficult and expensive for collectors to complete the set. This is why both I and many other collectors choose not to buy Topps Heritage wax boxes and instead choose to complete the set via Ebay, where a base set can usually be had for about $20-30, and the SP’s for about $2-3 each. Right now, Topps Heritage is a good base product cluttered by too many pointless insert sets, lousy relics/autos, and overly numerous and stingily seeded SP’s. Make it easier and more affordable for collectors to complete the set, and it becomes the best set out there.


Base set – B

Inserts – D

Cost of completing the set solely through buying wax – $600-$1000

Overall grade – C



  1. I am a huge fan of Heritage, but I’m not touching this year’s set.
    I love last year’s 1960 design (one of my all time favorites), but hate the 1961 Topps cards. What a difference in one year.

    I am going to try to finish my 2009 Heritage set – both regular and high number sets. I have a few more sp’s in the first set and am making good progress on the high number set.

    LMK if you guys want to trade!

  2. Completely agree with everything you said, you nailed it. I would actually chase the set if Topps did what you suggested of having 50 SPs and seed them 1:2 packs, great call. This year I just bought a team set a few chromes that I wanted. Not even one pack this year, let alone a box.

  3. Do you know how much you’d spend trying to complete just the base set? I don’t care about SP’s and the dice game back confused the heck out me until I read the back of the wrapper. (or was told to) It really makes me want to shy away from the set now, but I don’t want the cards I do have to go to waste. (I have various non base cards if anyone wishes to trade)

  4. After completeing the 2010 topps set, I thought why not do Heritage, after 3 boxes and one blaster, I’m no were near complete. My first box was a Bobby Malkmus auto, 2nd and 3rd crap relics, I did get a 61 buy back but nothing worth the box. I will complete this set either through trade shows or shops but for the boxes forget it, the 3rd box I bought only gave me get this 20 cards I needed for the set, so the rest I traded in. It was a waste of money, but the set is nice.

  5. wow… honestly brutal review… A- on base set design, C-/Borderline D on subset likeability…

  6. I like the Thome. It’s so weird, it’s like seeing Harmon Killebrew in a Royals uni.

  7. I would be much less likely to collect Heritage if the SPs were less rare, so I totally disagree with you on that point. In my opinion, sets without SPs or with too few SPs, or with SPs that are too easy to pull, are boring to collect. The large number of SPs and the challenge of collecting them all is what makes Heritage fun for me.

    And of course, anyone who tries to build the set through buying wax is an idiot. Buying the SPs that you need online or through trading is the only way to do it.

  8. I actually really like this years product and when I pull in some dough, I’ll probably buy a box of this and Pro Debut. As far as the Millwood card goes, I’ll gladly take it off your hands 🙂

  9. A very tough critique of the set, which I find refreshing. The difficulty of obtaining and the number of SPs in the set is why I have stayed away from the Heritage sets. Some collectors may enjoy the challenge of obtaining the SPs to complete their sets. Others, like myself, find it challenging enough to try and put a set together without an additional challenge. I guess also having boring insert sets also doesn’t help in making this set attractive to collect.

  10. I LOVE THIS SET. ANYBODY want to tade get a hold of me ,got a lot of doubles looking for short prints chrome and dice. lets talk chris

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