2021 Topps Series 2 Vs. Series 1

Just when all of us baseball collectors vowed we would never get another blaster of Topps Series 1, they dropped Series 2. You probably have questions like: is it worth getting if you invested in Series 1? Is there even a significant difference? We examine 2021 Topps Series 2 Vs. Series 1 for you.

What is Topps Series 2?

Topps has been producing its flagship baseball card sets since 1952. Over the years, it has split its flagship releases into three parts:

  • Series 1 – released about two months before the seasons starts
  • Series 2 – released about two months into the season
  • Update – released at the season’s conclusion

The best way to look at the releases is as a trilogy. Topps uses the three sets to cover the developments of the entire baseball season.

The idea behind releasing a second collection is that a lot has changed since the release of Series 1. It includes trades and callups executed since the release of the first series.

For example, as a Mets fan, I am pretty displeased at seeing my Francisco Lindor in his Indians uniform. Perhaps the biggest draw fror collectors are that Series 2 also includes rookies making the show in the interim.

Because Topps Series 2 is meant as an add-on to the previous series, the company numbers them as a direct continuation of the last series. The cards start where Series 1 ended, going from #331-660.

Series 2 is part of a complete set of flagship Topps. (Picture taken from Amazon).

What Has Stayed the Same In 2021 Topps Series 2 Vs. Series 1?

The design. For many collectors, this is not a plus. They are not the most popular design Topps has ever featured, and I agree they are pretty unattractive.

Like the previous release, 2021 Topps Series 2 has inserts inspired by the classic 1986 Topps release.  That was a beautiful set, so their inserts remain a welcome addition.

The short print format is basically identical. The format includes SPs, SSPs, and SSSPs.

Just like the previous series, there are 25 ‘Unique Topps Experience’ cards available as well. These cards are usually a ticket to a Topps event, often involving major league stars of the past and present.

Here are the parallels for Series 2:

  • Rainbow Foil – 1:10 hobby
  • Gold Foil – 1:2 hobby jumbo (exclusive)
  • Gold – /2021
  • Vintage Stock – /99
  • Independence Day – /76
  • Black – /70 (hobby and hobby jumbo only)
  • Platinum Anniversary – /70
  • Father’s Day Blue – /50
  • Mother’s Day Pink – /50
  • Memorial Day Camo – /25
  • Printing Plates – 1/1
  • 70th Anniversary – 1/1

The only difference is that in Series 2, the Gold Foil parallels are hobby exclusives. That’s about it.

You can also expect the return of the fun Home Run challenge cards, with 30 new ones available.

The series is fairly similar in structure to Series 1. (Picture taken from dcadworld.com)

Manufactured Relics Still Count As Hits

Despite collectors’ complaints, Topps insists that manufactured relics count as a hit in hobby boxes. A manufactured relic is one that the player did not use during a game but rather in a publicity event intended to sell memorabilia. They have lower retail value than game-used relics as a result.

So watch out. When you get that hobby box, you just may end up getting one of those as your only hit. That remains a serious deterrent to being flagship hobby boxes.

New Inserts in 2021 Topps Series 2

Let’s face it, a good bunch of base cards just doesn’t cut it in the hobby anymore. To keep things interesting, Topps tries to add new inserts to spice up their releases. Series 2 includes three new insert categories, which did not appear in Series 1.

One of those is called DH inserts. It covers National League designated hitters from last season. As you probably know, last year, the league had DH’s in all games for the first time, and these inserts commemorate that crazy time. Sure Topps, if you want to celebrate the near destruction of the National League, go for it.

The Zero to Sixty series is a new addition. It compares player achievements in the shortened 2020 season to 60 game streaks in other seasons.

One of the new inserts in 2021 Topps Series 2 is the Zero to Sixty series, covering achievements in the shortened 2020 season. (Picture taken from Twitter).

Another set that was not in Series 1 is the Significant Statistics cards. They are returning after appearing in 2019 and 2020. The cards highlight some of the more impressive stats players have compiled over the year. This subset also includes 17 autos.

One cool difference is in the retail-only series of redux cards. Series 1 retail included 1952 Topps Redux cards in the style of the classic first set. However, Series 2 features a tribute to the 1965 set instead. The series comes in chrome and cardboard versions and includes Mike Trout, Cristian Pache, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Nate Pearson, Joey Votto, and Christian Yelich.

Similarly, Topps will be changing up their All-Star auto series. While they were in the style of the 1951 cards in Series 1, Series 2 has them in the 1986 set design.

The inserts in Topps 2021 feature the following numbering:

  • Blue and black variations are #/299
  • Platinum #/70
  • Red #/10
  • Gold 1/1

Rookies In 2021 Topps Series 2 Vs. Series 1

Topps Series 1 is printed well before opening day (the first game, not the Topps product!). This year it was released in February. Therefore, the rookie class featured is limited to those likely to appear on rosters in April.

Topps is also in the habit of holding back coveted rookie cards for Series 2 and even Topps Update. This strategy allows the company to drum up interest for their releases later in the season.

Indeed, the blue-chip rookies are very often the ones called up during the season. For example, Fernando Tatis Jr. had his first rookie card in the 2019 Series 2.

This year the series has no less than 59 brand new rookie cards. We will be dropping an article rating them here on Cardlines very soon, so keep an eye out for that.

This iconic Tatis Jr. RC was a Series 2 release. (Picture taken from Pinterest).

Print Run Of 2021 Topps Series 2 Vs. Series 1

While Topps doesn’t release the numbers for their print runs, there is little doubt that the company printed a ton of Series 1. Honestly, Topps greatly overprinted that product.

Traditionally, series 2 is a smaller release, and there is no way Topps will repeat the massive numbers it printed for Series 1. Especially now, with the card market softening and Target not selling sports cards.

The Resale Price of 2021 Topps Series 2 Vs. Series 1

The card market is softening right now, and the Topps flagship series seems to be dropping in price daily. Serie 1 was released at the height of the card bubble and enjoyed some excellent prices and resale value.

Series 2 is coming out just as prices are dropping. I saw Jumbo Hobby Boxes pre-listing for $250, and now they are listing at around $215 even though they are brand new. Even the Series 1 Jumbo Hobby Boxes are worth more right now, which is surprising.

The resale values are good news for set collectors but bad news for investors and flippers.

Overall Verdict

The main shortcoming of this release is the inserts. The Zero to Sixty and DH series seem uninspired. It is hard to imagine them holding value. Series 1 was far better in this regard.

It was always going to be hard to get people excited about a new flagship product when the card market is softening, and Series 1 was so overproduced. However, Topps 2 does not seem even close to meeting that bar. It is far too similar to Series 1, and the new sets are just not that exciting.

Does this mean the set isn’t worth your time? Glad you asked. No, it doesn’t. What really matters in the long term is the quality of the rookies. Primarily since Topps will produce them at lower numbers than Series 1. Stay with us for more on the rookie cards in Series 2 this week.

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is a former history and political science professor at UCLA. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary. Shai also worked as a diplomat and journalist on three continents.


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