Back in my day … oh boy, you know when someone starts off a sentence that way, you’re in for a grumpy, “old head” review. Let me rephrase that a little better. In 1989, when Topps re-introduced Bowman to collectors, things didn’t go over so well. It’s fair to say that the Bowman brand really made no significant dent in the hobby until the now legendary 1992 release, thanks in part to the Rookie Card Craze and the magnificent, young talent coming into the league.
Even by the time Refractors were introduced with 1994 Bowman’s Best, it still took some time for collectors to gravitate towards the brand, which they officially did in 1997 with the debut of Bowman Chrome. Luckily for Topps, in 2023, it’s Bowman’s World and we’re just lucky to live in it. There is no other brand that is more popular and for a card collector (or gambler), no other product that can change your financial status more quickly than any of the Bowman brands Topps releases every year.
Unfortunately, due to how massively popular Bowman is, something had to give. That something is a much larger print run than what we were getting fifteen years ago. What that means, sadly, is that unless you’re busting an entire case of 2023 Bowman, there’s less color (Refractors) and a smaller chance to pull a mythical 1/1 Superfractor. Also, much like seemingly everything else in this world, boxes of sealed baseball cards from every company has increased to levels we’ve never seen before.
I am currently giving away a sealed 2023 Bowman Baseball Hobby box on Twitter, which you can join by clicking HERE.
For this review, I purchased 3 value boxes of 2023 Bowman Baseball, which were a somewhat jarring $34.98 a piece at Walmart in Bradenton, FL. I will, however, break down all the different options available for those interested in getting in on the Bowman fun and this year’s top chase card, the Druw Jones 1/1 Superfractor.
Value Box – $29.00 / No guaranteed autographs, 72 cards, including exclusive Green parallels
Retail Box – $169.99 / No guaranteed autograph, 288 cards, including exclusive Green parallels
Jumbo Box – $549 – $600+ / 3 guaranteed autographs, 384 cards
Hobby Box – $250 – $300+ / 1 guaranteed autograph, 240 cards
Parallels – As a Refractor junkie, even I am impressed how much the printing technology has advanced since my last box of Bowman in 2009. Simply put, these parallels look absolutely fantastic and I can finally say, “I get it”, when it comes to the hobby’s obsession and addiction to Bowman products.
Potential – There’s no other brand that you can buy today and keep sealed and/or open and let it sit for a few years to see what comes from it. Modern Bowman products age like fine wine and today’s $10 base auto can be tomorrow’s $1,000 GEM MINT superstar.
Photography – As is usual, some of these prospects are so young that there’s just no photos available in MLB uniforms. Card companies and bad Photoshop is a long standing tradition and 2023 features a few of them, including the #1 card in the set, Druw Jones.
Price – There’s a huge discrepancy between a Value Box and a Jumbo. As a 33-year collector, it would be incredibly hard for me to justify a $600 box of cards over say, something like a new gaming system. Topps’ response is the value box and while we HAVE seen big hits come out of these boxes in the past, the odds are stacked against you.
High price point aside, there’s nothing more fun than opening packs of modern Bowman products. I can honestly say it’s one of the few baseball card releases that you can almost always make 40% or more of your money back on. I spent $96 on three value boxes and pulled a $40 insert, along with a no-name autograph that regularly sells for $20+.
I’ve also watched a lot of videos and from what I’ve personally seen, you may be better off taking the price you’d pay for a Hobby box and instead grab a bunch of Value boxes. There seems to be a 1:4 autograph rate in Value boxes and just way more value and ultimately, better chances of finding parallels.
Below is the big pull from my 3 value boxes. I’ll be giving it away on Twitter next week!
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