SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Last weekend we got two major events in the WWE, NXT Takeover Chicago and the Smackdown Live exclusive Backlash. Both were entertaining at spots, and both may have some impact on the Topps Slam Game. As usual the NXT special before the WWE main event was a better show all around in most viewers opinions. From the amazing UK Championship match that saw Pete Dunne vanquish Tyler Bate to the heel turn by Tomasso Ciampa and the destruction of #DIY, to Bobby Roode’s successful title defense, it was by and far a better show. But then WWE went and did something outrageous by crowning Jinder Mahal WWE Heavyweight Champion.
Neither Bate nor Dunne had cards in the game previously, so the upcoming Topps Now for Dunne will be his first in game card. Jinder Mahal has relatively few cards in the game thus far, two 2017 base (he moved from RAW to SDL don’t forget), the Dark Blue & Purple base variants, two Royal Rumble base, the two Backlash base and a predictor, and his four Power variants. So far, that’s it. If you are a Jinder fan and want to catch up you should be able to do so for relatively cheap as none of his cards are lighting up the secondary market thus far. I’d say the Dark Blue and Purple base variants plus the standard Black base would be your best bet if you want value. Personally I don’t see Jinder as more than a placeholder champion and will be surprised if he actually holds the title going into the next PPV.
Since my last update we’ve seen the end of a couple sets and a couple of new sets released. Power Series 2 finished up it’s 8 card run and the award, yet another Triple H, will be issued on Wednesday the 24th. Not only are there four variant awards, but there’s a 5th for collecting every single card in the set. While that card will likely be very low (the lowest cc of any Power is 183 for the Jason Jordan red), I don’t see it as being very popular. Who needs yet another Triple H?
Slam released another Personified set, this is series #4, and the player selection was incredibly lackluster, with every single card being a repeat of a previous card with different designs; Brock got his 2nd, Dean got his 3rd, Rollins got his 2nd, Stone Cold got his 3rd, New Day got their 2nd, Warrior received his 2nd and Undertaker got his 3rd. Sure most of the cards are nice pieces of art, but we’re retreading well worn ground here. The entire sets only saving grace (besides the 750cc cap and long odds) is that the award is a brand new Finn Balor Demon King, and it looks amazing. Of course Topps didn’t bother to tell anyone that the award was Finn until the set was complete! This news sent this Finn fan scrambling to find a full set at the cheapest possible price, and I did, I paid $12 for a set of 7. After the award drops I will be more than happy to trade the singles off.
As of this week we are almost back to having seven weekly sets to complete, as they issued a dual-sided “Then and Now” set on Monday. The release schedule is now as follows with the latest card # in ()
• Monday – Then & Now (Card 1)
• Tuesday – 205 Live (Card 8)
• Wednesday – NXT (Card 7)
• Thursday – Topps Archives (Card 2)
• Friday – Colorful Characters (Card 5)
• Saturday – Focus Famous Finishers (Card 6)
Then and Now is an interesting idea with an older photo on one side and an newer photo on the back. Card number 1 is Seth Rollins and the odds are pretty long, 1:45 for basic packs and shorter with a $5 bundle purchase. It’s a 12 card set with 4 different awards. Cards are not capped, but available for 24 hours. 9 hours after release the Seth card is over 1600cc and is selling for $1.50 to $2.50.
Topps Archives is a set of current performers in older classic Topps sports designs. The first two cards of Becky Lynch and Bobby Roode proved to be very popular, and easily obtainable. There are two variants, a blue OE and a yellow LE. The OEs will stack, as during week two in just 5 packs I pulled 3 more Becky cards. Apparently each wave will have a different design, wave 1’s design is based on 1964 Football. The award for wave 1 will be a 1982 AJ Styles, and the overall award will be a 1970 Trish Stratus. Thus far the blue variant has virtually no collectibility at all given it’s 1:3 odds and stacking. The yellow though is going for $2-3.
Updating the current weekly sets we got cards 6 & 7 in NXT in Eric Young and Otis Dozovic. 205 Live added #8 Noam Dar. New Colorful Characters #4 Kalisto and #5 Godfather were released and two more Focus video cards of Sheamus and American Alpha (#5 & 6) hit the card sheet.New base variants include a Bobby Roode Lime Green (for coin subscriptions), and Purple Bret Hart, Cesaro, Mickie James, Primo, Epico and Rusev. The latest high-end cards are Gold Rush of John Cena and Kane, and a new signature series of Ultimate Warrior. Once again I keep asking “why Warrior”?
NXT Takeover Chicago & Backlash Sets
Over two days last week Topps unleashed a huge amount of content for collectors in the event focused sets. Sadly neither set was all that interesting or popular. Sure there are regular set collectors (I am one), and people sure like their sigs and individual player collectors are happy, but neither set broke much new ground. Unless you count a new sigs of Fandango, Eric Young and Hideo Itami. The design on both sets was similar and featured diagonals which is a new feature. Sadly though the photos are pretty much the exact same shots we’ve seen time and time again. The NXT set had a first card of Aleister Black (who wasn’t even on the card, but was at the event). Sadly we still don’t have a Ruby Riot card and this was her second Takeover match.
The real issue at hand though with both of these sets was the fact that Topps in their infinite wisdom decided to put the higher-end base of both sets completely behind a paywall, meaning you couldn’t pull them from packs at all, you had to buy coin bundles that started at $15 for 7 of the blue high-tier base, and a CHANCE at the higher end signatures. Gold base were also issued for coin bundle purchase, including one for a $100 coin purchase. Yikes!
Ultimately the only cards available to free players were the black base and the black non-limited signatures. In the past they have put the high-tier base cards behind a paywall, but at least you only had to pay once and then had access to the high-tier packs. Not this time, this time the high-tiers and sigs were only available in bundles, and that just stinks. I hope this is not the new paradigm, but we’ll find out in two weeks with the release of Extreme Rules cards.
This was not a good release for the very first event to have two dedicated sets, as the first PPV set released in the game after SummerSlam and the brand split was Backlash in September of 2016. Remember that set had a single tier base, dual sigs, predictors, programs and a six-woman sig card, which is still in high demand. I doubt anything other than the gold cards will be in any demand from these sets.
Insert Set Focus Part 4
This time: Charlotte Tribute, Vintage, America the Beautiful and Across the Pond.
13. Charlotte Flair Tribute
For their fourth tribute set Topps chose the then reigning Women’s Champion, Charlotte Flair for a full 7 card set. This time around they actually did something unique and included the card exchange in the mix. If you managed to collect four of the same purple open edition card or two of the limited-edition blue variants you could exchange them for a pink variant which was not otherwise available.
1. 1st Title – Night of Champions
3. 1st NXT TItle
4. Team PCB
5. Wrestlemania Title
6. Wrestlemania Moonsault Award
Neither the open editions (naturally still around in packs) nor the blue LE have much value these days, but the pinks due to their unique nature, can still command more than the average insert. The pink award at 89cc typically sells for more than $10. Charlotte isn’t the most popular woman in the WWE, she has her fans but also many detractors. Most players also considered the card design to be hideous.14. Vintage
Here is a set that many fans had been looking forward to, as the name “Vintage” has a ton of history and meaning in Topps apps. The single most valuable Star Wars Digital Card is “Vintage Han” the very first vintage card in that game and at one point it sold for hundreds of dollars. A set with classic performers in an awesome design had collectors champing at the bit. Unfortunately though, many collectors could have cared less, and as such the cards fell flat. Two variants also didn’t help. The open edition Sepia toned cards looked great, but the limited-edition color cards didn’t set the game on fire. The scratches on the design are intentional to give them that “vintage” look. Kind of reminded me of the old Action Packed 3D cards.
1. Shawn Michaels
2. Iron Sheik
4. Ultimate Warrior
5. Mr. Perfect
6. Rowdy Roddy Piper
Award – Macho Man Randy Savage
The performer selection was a bit odd as well. I can understand Piper, Michaels and Warrior, but Perfect and Sheik really didn’t belong. This set had all the hype in the world, and left so many disappointed. Still color sets are available at between $10-15 and sepia are less than $10. The Macho-Man award sells for $5-10 by itself.15. America the Beautiful
This was an odd release, because it was a small set, and one of the five guys isn’t even an American! Yet another three tier release with a 500cc blue, 1000cc red and open edition white variant.
1. Lex Luger
2. Sgt. Slaughter
3. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
4. Nikolai Volkoff
Award – Sting
Someone please tell me why Nikolai Volkoff is there? I mean I get it, you can’t have Hulk Hogan yet, but Volkoff was always playing a Russian (he was born in Croatia after all). Sure he had a short period of time where he was a face and represented the West, but no one remembers this. At least the design on these cards was something different, they kind of looked like relics to be honest and the background colors on the blue and red really make these cards pop.For some odd reason there’s still some value to these, Sting collectors are always looking for the award and the top two variants can go for between $5-10 each. Open editions are of course worthless.
16. Across the Pond
Finally a set focusing on foreign born superstars, and only a couple of weeks before the 35 card marathon Foreign Imports would hit. The set design was fairly unique, each card looked like an airplane boarding pass and included the city of origin for the performer. When card #1 was Paige you knew the set was going to be popular. Initially released as a 3 variant set, a fourth ultra-limited variant was made available for cash purchase only. The award was Finn Balor adding more to it’s popularity.
2. William Regal
4. Becky Lynch
Award – Finn Balor
Add to the mix, there were no open editions, only limiteds and they ran 2000cc (red) 1000cc (blue), 500cc (green) and 100cc (white). The white Balor award is 80cc and runs over $20. White cards of Becky and Paige can easily still run $5-10, with even the lower tiers having a good return.Here’s an interesting tidbit: Paige has not wrestled a single match since the original release date of Topps WWE Slam, and yet she is still in the top 5 of all female performers. Who are the other 4? Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks & Charlotte. You could add Bayley in there too.
Next time: Personified, Tempest, Monochrome & Earth
Don’t forget you can find me in game at GRENDELSEN, and I’m always happy to trade or answer any questions you might have. Leave questions or concerns here and I’ll see you next time.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: DIGITAL DABBLINGS #10 – What’s New and Insert Set Focus Part 3