I had planned on doing an end of year post about my favorite "first card" I pulled from various 2018 packs. Then, P-Town Tom announced his annual "favorite card" post. I figure why not wrap them together into one post?
I opened packs from seven different baseball products in 2018 ... Flagship (including Series 1 and 2), Heritage, Opening Day, Donruss, Gypsy Queen, Big League, and Archives. As I mentioned earlier, each card you see here is the first card I pulled out of the first pack of each product and I'll have a brief summary of my thoughts of each product as well.
2018 Topps Flagship (Series 1 and 2)
I went crazy back in February when Series 1 was released and bought a ton of packs and hanger boxes. I have a feeling I'll probably do the same thing this coming February when 2019 Topps hits the shelves. I really liked this years design with the "waterslide" design. The photos on some of the cards were definitely inspired too and a few even had a Stadium Club feel to them with the photography. It's definitely a lot better than when they started the borderless base cards in 2016.
Heritage this year played host to one of my favorite vintage designs, the 1969 Topps set. While it was hard to find at first, once I did find it, I really enjoyed it. Plus the initial two hanger boxes I bought produced a Giancarlo Stanton relic card. I ended up going back for more ... well, lots more ... when Target ran a big Easter sale.
2018 Opening Day
Sure, this is pretty much the same thing as Flagship but it being Opening Day, it had a number of fun inserts and was decidedly cheaper. I imagine I was looking for something cheap to rip into so that's why I bought a blaster of it. Of course, Aaron Judge had to be the first card I pulled from the first pack but the main thing I like about this particular card is the return of the Topps Rookie Cup!
2018 Panini Donruss
I've been a big supporter of Donruss since Panini revived the line about four years ago. I really, really liked the base card throwback design of 2017 but this year, I felt the base cards left a lot to be desired. The design was very busy, the photography was not good, and the airbrushed out logos and team nicknames were patently obvious. However, when I opened my first pack of Donruss this Nolan Ryan card was the card on top. I like it because Donruss did a really good job of throwing back to the 1984 design, the airbrushing is barely noticeable (except for the cap), and I can tell it's from a game at old Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati because of the blue seats in the background. I'm hoping Donruss can step up their game next year.
2018 Gypsy Queen
I've been a Gypsy Queen fan since the 2015 design. I've yet to see a GQ design that can top that one, I really did like this years effort. I was only able to get my hands on some retail packs as part of the aforementioned Target Easter sale but from what I was able to sample, I really enjoyed it. The only thing I wasn't a big fan of were the variations and parallels (because who really needs a parallel of a card where the back plate is missing) but other than that I really liked it.
2018 Big League
My aunt treated me to a box of this back in the summer when she came to visit from Tulsa. I'll admit, I wasn't sure what to expect with these cards. I'd heard they were more of the set builders variety and were low on inserts and hits but were more on the "fun" side of collecting. I really liked the design on them and honestly, that design could've probably worked as a flagship design too. A few complaints I had about it though is that there was one gold parallel card per pack, which I felt was a bit too much, and there weren't all that many "inserts" as well, the main one I even remember are those obtuse and goofy looking caricature cards.
I was so excited for Archives to come out that when I finally found a Target that had some, I stopped in at 10:45 at night to stock up. What I found was a bit of a let down. The cards themselves I felt were a bit thin and the designs weren't all that great this year. It was nice to see 1977 and 1981 in the set but I think maybe the 1961 or 1962 designs could've been used or maybe even 1993 to continue the theme of 1991 and 1992 in the previous two Archives releases. The inserts weren't even that great. Sure there were the Sandlot cards (which I promptly mailed to Dimebox Nick) but there were also the Rookie Reprints cards which I personally didn't care much for.
So that's the seven baseball products I opened in 2018. As for my favorite "first" card?
The winner is ....
Nolan Ryan from 2018 Donruss!
As I mentioned, I thought the 1984 throwback design cards were the best part of Donruss this year. That coupled with it being Nolan Ryan throwing in Riverfront Stadium, just makes it stand out for me.
I appreciate Tom running the contest for another year in a row and if all else fails and I don't win a prize, at least I got a blog post out of the deal. That should count for something I hope.