Tuesday, May 21, 2024

2024 Topps Heritage and the Big Bamboozle


I’m late to the game.

            That’s been happing a lot to me lately.

            2024 Topps Heritage came out on April 10th and I’m just getting around to it. There’s a story about that…but it’s not a long or very interesting one. Really, it came down to me wanting the authentic experience of buying my Hobby boxes in an actual sports card store as opposed to buying them online. That can present a problem being a card collector in NYC. There’s the lack of card stores. How spaced out the card stores are.

            Then there’s dealing with the subway.

            That said, this isn’t really a post about 2024 Topps Heritage.

            Although I like the cards.

            Even though I’m not a big 1975 design fan.

            I guess you had to be there.

            If this blog post has anything to do with 2024 Topps Heritage, it has to do with how Heritage helped me to finally (after 5 years back into collecting) see what kind of a collector I truly I am. Maybe not 2024 Topps Heritage directly.

            Honestly, I should just be thanking the Topps/Fanatics corporation in total. Through their actions they’re the ones who truly helped me figure it all out.

            And save some money along the way.

            To explain…we need to start here.

            Ah, 2023 Update. That magical time when Topps/Fanatics chose to go from 24 to 20 packs in a Hobby Box, and at the same time going from 14 to 12 cards per pack. 

            That choice was a “boon” for us folks who enjoy (enjoyed) building set from ripping open packs of cards. It took me a Hobby box, a Jumbo box and an order on SportLots to complete the 2023 Update set.


            Flash forward to February 2024 and the release of 2024 Topps Series 1. Now, and I’ll be honest here, I fucking LOVE 2024 Topps’s design. It’s the best design for anything Topps has done since I got back into collecting, and looking back on all of the collecting years that I missed and the collecting years that I did experience (1980-1992); I honestly thinking 2024 Topps might ne one of my favorite designs ever. I had a Twitter (X whatever etc) post to the effect that I was going to buy a SHIT TON of these. Or something to that effect. And I did buy a shit-ton of 2024 Topps Series 1. Just not in the way that I imagined.

            Full disclosure: I purchased two Hobby boxes and one Jumbo box of 2024 Topps Series 1.

            That’s probably the most that I ever spent on a base release of product to rip.

            But I turned 50 this year…so…Happy Birthday to me, I guess.

            Here’s the funny thing though: two Hobby boxes and one Jumbo box later…and I still need 16 cards to complete my series 1 base set.


            Two Hobby boxes and one Jumbo box later…and I didn’t get a single Mitch Keller or Yordan Alvarez card.

            The Keller I bought via SportsLots and the Yordan I found in a Cooperstown card shop.

            What Topps/Fanatics seems to have done, aside from scaling back on packs and cards (in at least Hobby boxes) is also mess with the card collation. Since 2023 Update I’ve seen more doubles in single Hobby boxes/Jumbo boxes than I’ve experienced in five years back collecting cards. It’s hard enough putting a set together with less cards…but add a bunch of doubles.

            I mean this isn’t 1987, right?

            Ah, 1987...

            And what about 1987?

            Based on packs costing $.40 cents in 1987, a 36-pack Wax box of Topps retailed for, oh, let’s round up…$15.

            That’s approximately $42.00 in 2024 money.

            2024 Hobby boxes of Serries 1 run anywhere from $89.00 to $120 depending.

            Even with the bells and whistles inside the boxes, that’s on helluva mark-up from 1987.

            And judging by the angry Tweets I see from collectors on and shortly after new release day, it’s not a very fair mark-up.

            But I digress.

            When I got back into collecting, I accepted what the newer product cost. But with that, came the experience of not have to shell out a shit-ton of money to put together a 300-330 card base and/or update set. That’s not the same experience now. Just ask the 17 cards that I still need to complete 2024 Series 1.

            And what does any of this have to do with 2024 Heritage?

            And why am I thanking Topps/Fanatics?

            Well, I made my little 2024 Heritage wish come true. A couple of weeks ago I bought two Hobby boxes at an actual real live sports card store in Upper Manhattan. The next morning I got up with my iced coffee, my Grateful Dead, my checklist, and I began ripping packs and collating the cards to start building the 2024 Topps Heritage base set, even with the ugliness of the first 100 cards being this year’s short prints.


            Not counting the 85 short print cards, after two Hobby Boxes I still needed 120 of the base cards to collect to finish the base set.

            In previous years when I did the same thing, I maybe made a big SportLots purchase to finish off the base set.

            It was the doubles again.

            It’s great when one Hobby box yields two of these in one box

            Not so great at other times.

            Not slagging either player, but these are the doubles of them...from two Hobby Boxes..,I didn't even include their cards from the set I was trying to build.

            And I get it…less packs…shoddy collation…Topps/Fanatics wants collectors to spend more money on their product. They’re a corporation. This is America. I’m not going to fault their capitalist drive. It kind of puts a damper on a collector trying to build sets from packs. The same goes for trying to be short prints on the secondary market. Short prints average $1.50-$4.00 for common cards, with star cards costing more. When you need 70-80 short print cards on top of the base...well...yeah. While it might still be financially feasible for some collectors to build sets this way…it doesn’t seem fun. And the doubles just take up more space in the good ol’ card area.

            But, again, I’m not blaming and/or faulting Topps/Fanatics.

            And I'm not blaming collectors selling cards on the secondary market, trying to make back what you spent on the product.

            With this blog post…I’m actually thanking them.

            When I got back into collecting, I used to think that the cost of buying Hobby boxes necessitated that I build sets. As I've said here before, when I was a young collector, I was never a set builder. I PC’d players and collected Pittsburgh Pirates cards. I still do that. But now, taking into account all that I’ve written above; maintaining a select player (past and present PC), PC and my Pirates cards are going to be the sole focus of my collection. Not buying Hobby/Jumbo is going to free me up to build some Pirates team sets from the 1950s-1970s, and purchase some of the higher end cards for players that I PC. And that’s going to be the focus of this blog going forward.

            Topps releases a set every year after Series 2…so if I’m feeling completist I’ll just buy that.

            As for Heritage…

            I guess we’re breaking up again.

Thanks for reading! Happy collecting!




  1. I understand the frustration. I might be a set collector... but I tend to leave the set building to others. It's not as much fun, but I'm all about getting the most bang for my buck. My plan is to buy a 2024 factory set... and then a hand collated Update set.

    1. i do that with mid 1980s sets because buying a Wax Box costs too much now to put together what is a $30-$50 set. 2024 is going to be my last year hand collating base. Starting in 2025 i'm going to be doing the same as yourself.

  2. I started collecting as a kid in earnest in 1987 and would get a Topps factory set every year for Christmas. It took me until 1991 to learn that if I was getting a factory set I shouldn't spend money buying wax. So yeah congrats on figuring that out. The factory set has been the financially wise choice for decades. Which kind of sucks since it's not as much fun as building a set and you definitely don't get the same opportunity to see the cards.

    Heritage with its short prints has been set collector antagonistic forever. I don't mind collation where 70% of the box are duplicates if the box is priced cheaply. But at today's prices that's ridiculous. I joined a half-case break this year and didn't even land a complete team set yet I ended up with like six of a few cards.

    1. i know i said it before, I was never a set collector so buying wax as a kid was just for fun....and it was cheap then. I started doing sets when i got back into it in 2019 b/c the cost dictated i do something other than put commons in boxes. The amount of duplicates now has even changed that. And it IS ridiculous what Heritage does. I guess I admire the patience and also financial investment that those collectors put into it...but count me out now.

  3. What never ceases to amaze me is the cost of hand collated sets put together and sold. I can summon the 400 card set of Heritage, i.e. w/o any Short Prints, delivered to my front porch for just $45. Or I could buy 130 some random base cards, 8 SPs, and 8 inserts for $60 in 2 blasters. Opening cards is worse than buying a new car.

    1. it can be. Looking "forward" to the tweets from angry Series 2 Hobby/Jumbo box purchasers in the next few weeks when the inserts don't justify the cost. For me, I didn't mind the hobby box cost when there were still 24 packs and 14 cards and no real duplicates. The doubles I have this year are unreal.


1981 Donruss