The 2021 Topps Complete Baseball Factory Set was released on July 28, 2021. Though traditionally a somewhat bland product, Topps has tried to spice these up in recent years. But have they succeeded?
If you did something that disappointed you 95% of the time, why would you keep doing it? That seems ridiculous, right?
The obvious answer is yes, but many sports card collectors—myself included—have that sort of relationship with ripping packs. Usually, they don’t yield the cards we hope.
So why do we do it?
Because when we do get lucky—when we pull that big card—the excitement offsets the much more frequent disappointment. We’re drawn to the rush. We’re drawn to the chase.
Complete sets are not known for the thrill of the chase. They essentially combine the cards of Series 1 and Series 2, in order to give the collector all the base cards in the flagship releases.
However, Topps has been playing upon the element of chance with its complete sets. While complete sets are usually straightforward in that you know exactly what you’re getting in the box, Topps has begun to make them more attractive by inserting parallel cards and entire sets.
Let’s take a look.
In 2020, Topps released several versions of the 2020 Topps Baseball Complete Factory Set. The easiest way to tell the sets apart is the color of its box.
The kind of set depends mainly on where you buy them. Some sets have different variations of the 700-card checklist, while others have special inserts that make the set unique.
Let’s look at all the variations of this year’s Topps complete set release.
The Variations of Topps 2020 Sets
Here’s a look at the different box sets of Topps 2020 baseball. The “color” of the set is the box’s color, and the estimated print run is calculated based on the stated odds.
Blue sets are the standard base set. They were available everywhere—retailing at $50. There is no estimated print run.
Recent comps place this set at $80 (sealed).
The Green sets hit Walmart and proved tremendously popular among collectors. At $60 retail, they were unique because one in three of them contained a parallel set. The estimated print run was 37,000.
Of the parallel sets, the vast majority were gold (estimated 12,000 of the 37,000), while there were also 299 blue sets, 99 orange sets, and a 1/1 rainbow foil set. The blue and orange sets were numbered, and if you were lucky enough to find one, it could be sold for big bucks.
Sealed Green sets sell for about $90 now.
The red set is considered the “hobby set,” and it was only available through Topps. At $65 it is the most expensive of the sets, but with reason: each set included 5 foilboard shimmer cards /229, and these cards have proved tremendously popular with collectors. The estimated print run is 32,000.
These sell for about $90 now.
The purple set was the Target exclusive, and the estimated print run is 24,000. This set included 5 rookie variations and 1 chrome rookie variation card.
The set retailed for $50 and now resells for about $80.
Finally, the orange set was also a Target exclusive. It was the rarest, with a print run of about 16,500, but also one of the most expensive–$65/box. Every box contained a rookie relic variation of either Lux, Aristides, Bichette, Robert, or Alvarez, and there was a chance that relic was also autographed.
These resell for about $90 now.
Looking ahead to 2021 release and the variants
This year’s release has followed a similar model as the last, but with a few differences.
For one, the 2021 Topps Baseball Complete Factory Set is a smaller set total (660 cards instead of 700 cards) because both of the 2021 MLB series sets are growing slightly smaller this year.
Additionally, the set comes in two different options instead of five: the hobby factory set, which is in a red box, or the retail factory set, which is in a purple box.
The hobby set includes the foilboard cards just like last year, but the five cards are numbered 310. The retail set, on the other hand, only has five rookie photo variations.
If recent years are any indication, sealed sets can be quite a good investment. Regardless of which set you bought last year, the selling price seems to be up about $30 on the retail price. The cheaper sets were the best investment because they have a higher return rate (the $50 sets are up about 60%).
And many of the sets age well, too. The 2019 complete set sells for around $160 dollars now, and the 2018 sets are going for about $170—fueled by Tatis and Ohtani, respectively. So while there’s no guarantee that there will be a big-ticket rookie in every set, they should all increase in value the longer they are sealed.
In no particular order, here are 5 Topps Sets to consider investing in.
As mentioned above, this is the set with the Ohtani rookie, and based on this year’s results, it could be a great set to hold onto for a long time.
Recent comps: $170.
Another set mentioned above, 2019, is a deep rookie class featuring Tatis Jr., and the sets are recent enough that they aren’t crazy expensive yet. So now could be an excellent time to buy in and hold.
Recent comps: $160.
Too soon? On the contrary, if you can pick up a few of these sets at the retail price of around $50, this might very well be the best investment of the list. And that’s not because of a particular player or card, but because of something even more valuable: time. The earlier you get a set, the cheaper it will be and the more room it has to increase value.
If baseball isn’t what you’re looking for, don’t forget that Topps used to make other cards, too! One particularly noteworthy set is the 2005 Topps Football sealed set, including the Aaron Rodgers Topps Rookie. Other honorable football mentions include 2012 (Russell Wilson and Tannehill) and 2007 (Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Marshawn Lynch).
Comp Price: $160
Perhaps the most glossed over of all Topps sealed sets is the 2007-08 Topps basketball rookie set. This is only a 14-card set, and it came in a hanger-pack, but the Kevin Durant card with the iconic white border makes it a gem to add to any collection. This set will only go up over time.
Comp Price: $80
Now that you’re a Topps set expert, you’re prepared to invest if you see fit. So next time you’re at your local retailer, be sure to check the shelves for a 2021 set. If you buy them and sit on them, you very well might be glad you did!