Project70 recently reached the end of its run. But what is it? And most importantly, what kind of value and social importance will it hold in the future? The complete guide to investing in Topps Project70 has the answers you seek.
Project70 was a follow-up to the successful Project 2020, which the company released during the relevant calendar year. That project took 20 iconic Topps cards, starting with 1952 Jackie Robinson and ending with the 2011 Mike Trout, and commissioned 20 artists to reimagine them. The production of those cards would end after the allotted time, thus limiting the print run.
The distribution of the cards was based on a limited print run concept. Two new cards were released every business day and made available for 48 hours. You could then buy each card for $19.99 each or $34.99 for both of the cards available that day. There were also Gold Frame versions randomly inserted into purchases.
Collectors could invest more into these cards. First, Topps released limited Silver Frame Artist Proof parallels, each limited to 20 copies, and went for $99.99. After that, the price gradually increased all the way up to $299.
Topps was happy enough with this project to give it a broader and more ambitious sequel the following year.
Topps retained the services of almost all of the 20 artists who participated in Project 2020. In addition, however, they expanded the list to an appropriate 51 creative partners for Project70.
That wasn’t the only difference. While Project 2020 focused on 20 specific iconic cards, the new iteration provided a good deal more creative leeway for participants. The 51 artists involved could combine any design or player from the deep Topps catalogs to reinterpret.
The set ended up being far more significant than Project2020, which looked like an appetizer by comparison. The original plan was to release 1,020 cards from the 51 artists involved. But, predictably, there were some snags. As a result, Topps was left with 936 cards when the project concluded, created by 52 different artists.
The first batch of cards was released on February 17, 2021, and the series continued to drop subsequently until February 9, 2022. You could buy each during a window of 70 hours on Topps.com for $19.99 each.
The reception for the product has been mixed. However, there is a market for it, and we will discuss the popularity of some of these cards in depth below.
However, there is no shortage of criticism towards the project. One long-standing thread on Blowout Forums is titled: Topps Project 70 is the worst product since 2018 Topps Update. So why do some collectors intensely dislike the project? Some claim it’s a cash grab continuation of Project 2020, which dilutes the original value. One particularly funny comment was: “Next year, Topps will be doing Project Junk Wax. 10000000 cards by 10000000 artists.”
The sales figures and print runs for Project70 cards are identical. Since Topps printed, the exact number sold and then ceased producing more.
Here is the list of the 10 most popular cards:
The gap between the highest print runs and the lowest is quite large. Here are some of the lowest selling cards:
If so, the most popular cards have over 20,000 printed, while some of the least ordered have around 500. So, keep that in mind. Some of the cards that people are currently overlooking may be the most scarce in the long run.
The parallels list was short and sweet:
Project70 had a limited number of autographs. However, the right one can be pretty valuable.
202-A Jarred Kelenic by Blake Jamieson
234-A Bo Jackson by Keith Shore
266-A Vladimir Guerrero Jr. by Jeff Staple
273-A Yermin Mercedes by Naturel
309-A Ken Griffey Jr. by Lauren Taylor
337-A Bo Jackson by UNDEFEATED
339-A Ken Griffey Jr. by Chinatown Market
346-A CC Sabathia by Action Bronson
357-A Mike Trout by Ermsy
362-A Shohei Ohtani by Brittney Palmer
366-A Ronald Acuna Jr. by DJ Skee
377-A Don Mattingly by CES
389-A Will Clark by Matt McCormick
405-A Ke’Bryan Hayes by Jacob Rochester
463-A Deion Sanders by Snoop Dogg
472-A Tim Anderson by Jonas Never
493-A Shohei Ohtani by Mister Cartoon
513-A Vladimir Guerrero by Distortedd
527-A Darryl Strawberry by Futura
550-A Shohei Ohtani by The Shoe Surgeon
583-A Vladimir Guerrero Jr. by Solefly
589-A Mike Trout by Greg’ CRAOLA’ Simkins
592-A Nolan Arenado by Mimsbandz
638-A Mike Piazza by New York Nico
654-A Mike Trout by JK5
706-A Ken Griffey Jr. by Chuck Styles
713-A Derek Jeter by Gregory Siff
724-A Mike Trout by Mikael B
747-A Mike Trout by Tyson Beck
758-A Vladimir Guerrero by Fucci
765-A Shohei Ohtani by Oldmanalan
766-A Tim Anderson by Efdot
795-A Mike Trout by Toy Tokyo
808-A Mariano Rivera by Joshua Vides
823-A Ron Guidry by Sket One
835-A Deion Sanders by Infinite Archives
871-A Cal Ripken Jr. by Morning Breath
921-A Buster Posey by Sophia Chang
930-A Mike Trout by Ben Baller
The list also includes celebrities not known primarily as artists. For example, noted rapper Snoop Dogg and UFC Octagon girl (that sports version of a ring girl) Brittney Palmer, produced cards for the series.
Here is the complete list:
Blue the Great
Greg ‘CRAOLA’ Simkins
New York Nico
The Shoe Surgeon
Among the many artists featured in Project70, a few stand out in terms of popularity and the distinctiveness of their cards. Here are a few to look out for.
Ben Yang, better known as Ben Baller, is one of the best-known artists to participate in the project. He is the founder of Icee Fresh Jewels, a provider of extravagant diamond-encrusted jewelry to mega-rich celebrities. The clientele of Icee Fresh Jewels has included Kayne West, Drake, and Mariah Carey, among many others.
Baller was a collector as a child and brings an enthusiasm for the sport into his designs. He explained, “I thought it’d be cool seeing my name on such a household sports card. To me, Topps, that’s the biggest baseball card… and it’s been around forever, right? So when I think about my name and my logo going on these cards, that right there already drew me in.”
Ben has also had a long and deep cooperation with Topps over the years. Most notably through the Topps Chrome Baseball Ben Baller Edition releases of recent years.
As possibly the highest-profile artist on the Project70 list, the value of Baller’s cards is exciting to follow. Note that despite his celebrity credentials, Ben’s cards were generally outsold by Alex Pardee and Ermsy. So the print run is somewhat lower than you ould expect.
|#454 Shohei Ohtani||$14.50|
|#223 Fernando Tatis Jr.||$31|
|#1 Mookie Betts||$20|
|Fernando Tatis Jr. Gold Frame 1/1||$9,500|
Most of the regular Baller cards sell for lower rates than the $20 initial price. However, their relatively low print runs may see the popular ones rebound. But clearly, the play here is the short-printed cards. If you can land a 1/1 Ben Baller and get it graded, you may have a solid investment on your hands.
Alex Pardee is easily the marquee name amongst the artists involved. If you see any of his cards, you will immediately understand why. They are entirely different from the traditional aesthetic of baseball cards in an instantly striking way.
Pardee was not a natural choice for Project 2020 and Project70 and was hesitant to take part. He remembers thinking, “I’m not going to be able to do this. Have they even seen my work?” But Topps firmly believed that Pardee’s signature “Brightmares” designs were a natural fit for the project.
The artist had always combined the ridiculous with the terrifying in a pleasing manner that had proved commercially popular. He had risen to fame by designing album covers, most famously for The Used, a rock band from Utah.
However, his connection to sports was not very direct. Sure, Alex had collected in his younger days but had not utilized this influence directly in his art. However, another Topps favorite was a significant influence. Alex remembers, “When I discovered GPK, it kind of opened my eyes that regular people like these, and not just weirdos. So I began to think if I do something weird or monstrous or gross, maybe people will like it.”
Pardee came on board when Topps and the MLB assured him that they did not want to change the trademark “Brightmares” style. And they were correct in their judgment. The first release was a monstrous version of Ronald Acuna Jr., taking social media by storm. By the time Pardee was done, he had produced 7 of the top 10 selling cards in Project70.
When it comes to Project70, we have a pretty clear benchmark for value. Each card is worth $20 upon its initial sale. So how much are Pardee cards selling for on the secondary market?
|#666 Babe Ruth||$14.20|
|#355 Pete Alonso||$17.50|
|#566 Shohei Ohtani||$11.61|
|#635 Aaron Judge||$6,666|
As you can see, despite the popularity of Pardee cards, the supply of the regular releases currently overwhelms the demand. Therefore, you can get a lot of these cards for a lower price than the original launch.
However, the 1/1 cards do very well. There also seems to be a strong and so far untapped market for grading Pardee short print cards. A PSA 10 1/1 version of the Babe Ruth card sold for $9,800 on eBay in January. There is some good money to be made through buying 1/1 cards for a relatively reasonable price and grading them.
Ermsy is an English artist currently based out of Paris. His original milieu was street graffiti, which he engaged in as a child and a teenager. Ermsy has always excelled at incorporating elements of his favorite cartoons and pop-cultural references into his graphic work.
Not surprisingly, his pop culture aesthetic has appealed to large brands before the partnership with MLB. Ermsy has partnered with Converse and Cartoon Network in the past, and he brings that sort of perspective to his baseball cards as well.
I won’t lie. The Ermsy cards are easily my favorite, and I took a break from writing this article to buy a few of his gems.
As we have seen, Ermsy cards are somewhat less popular than their Pardee equivalents. But that also means that the print runs are somewhat lower. So how are they currently reselling:
|#8604 Shohei Ohtani||$20.50|
|#702 Ken Griffey Jr.||$20.57|
|#357 Mike Trout||$9.99|
|#733 Robert Acuna Jr. 1/1||$50|
The regular cards sell for higher prices than their Alex Pardee equivalents in many cases. That is probably because of their lower print runs. However, the performance of his 1/1’s is nowhere near as strong.
Lauren is one of the more distinctive artists in both Project 2020 and Project70. She has her trademark color scheme, heavy on dark blue. In addition, many of Taylor’s Project70 cards use the player’s body as a veritable projection screen for iconic historical moments.
Taylor explained this choice in regards to her beautiful Aaron Judge card: “If it’s a player like Aaron Judge, I think, ‘OK, what about Yankee history?’ Because the Yankees are so much about the Yankees’ history, they’ve been around forever. So, I started thinking about the facade that’s around the fence. I want to incorporate that in there. So, how do I tell a story about New York and the history behind the Yankees while also using an exciting new player like Aaron Judge?”
Unlike many of the artists in this series, Taylor has firsthand experience playing baseball. However, it ended badly. She had a baseball scholarship at Wenatchee Valley College. However, when hit in the face by a fierce line drive, Lauren sustained an injury while playing third base. As a result, Taylor suffered a traumatic brain injury and suffers from related health issues years later.
To distract from the pain, Taylor adopted art as a hobby. She soon proved to be remarkably skilled at it. Although all the card companies initially rejected Lauren, she kept it, earning a massive following on social media. Taylors prominent role in Project70 cements her place as one of the top baseball artists out there.
How popular are Taylors distinctive designs? Let’s take a look at how they have performed recently on eBay:
|#741 Willie Mays||$12.50|
|#658 Xander Boegarts||$18.95|
|#380 Vlad Guerrero Jr.||$12.50|
|Ken Griffey Jr. Auto 1/1 Gold Foil||$3000|
Similar to Pardee, Taylor is a high-end artist with a good reputation among baseball fans. Therefore, her regular cards are in wide circulation and not worth all that much. However, Lauren’s short prints and numbered cards do well. Like the Griffey in this table, some of the outstanding ones are definitely worth grading.
We know that a low print run will often increase the value of a card. However, in the case of Project70 cards, low print runs also indicate low demand and popularity. So how does the low print run influence prices in this unique case?
|#816 Shane Bieber||$29.99|
|#844 Yogi Berra||$123.99|
As expected, low print run cards do perform better. Indeed, an eBay cottage industry claims that different cards have the lowest print run to increase sales. However, keep in mind that the #905 Wrapper card has the lowest print run, and the others are just pretenders.
Project70 is not particularly popular with collectors. However, many people bought the original releases and moved on eBay reliably (not necessarily at great prices). So, I am also willing to bet that you will find some of the cards appealing no matter your personal aesthetic tastes.
There is also money to be made here. PSA 10 versions of the short prints of Project70 cards are going for very substantial amounts on eBay. Those tend to be sharp prints of the trendy cards, especially the ones by Alex Pardee.
Meanwhile, if you wish to invest in the Project70 regular cards, the ones with smaller print runs tend to go for lower prices. However, exercise caution here. The lower print runs are often low for a reason. Perhaps the design is unappealing, or the players are less popular. Either way, it does not bode well for long-term value.