Before we get started with the 2021 Topps Stadium Club Chrome review, a few words are needed about the Stadium Club franchise more generally. The Topps Stadium Club series has a unique place in the hobby. While the cards are not particularly valuable, they are noted for a specific aesthetic. In addition, the series features spectacular action-packed photography covering the entire front of the card.
In most years, the cards do not feature a design in the conventional sense. Instead, the picture takes over, and the text is kept to a bare minimum. More specifically, the classic Stadium Club design does not include borders of any kind and has a full-bleed look.
The chrome variation first appeared last year. The cards have a remarkably different look, just by virtue of the material. The release also has a more significant number of refractors.
As a result of the distinctive tone of the series, collectors are divided on it. I say collectors because investors and flippers are generally disinterested in Topps Stadium Chrome. Some prefer the more traditional design of flagship or Heritage. Others appreciate the action-packed Stadium Club release more.
Topps had a traditional and successful way of doing things for several decades. They had withstood several challenges from other companies and stood their ground with aplomb.
However, in the late 1980s, they faced a new and dangerous rival. Upper Deck was founded in Yorba Linda, California (the home of Richard Nixon) and brought a new visual concept to the hobby.
You see, Upper Deck cards had beautiful photography on both sides of the product. The cards were also issued on high-quality white stock. Though Upper Deck releases were a bit more expensive than their Topps rivals, they became very popular. There is no getting around it; the California company was just releasing nicer cards than their veteran competition.
The New York company was slow to respond to the upstarts. Finally, however, in 1991, Topps announced the release of a new series of what it described as “super-premium” cards.
The cards were not what we would describe today as premium or high-end. Instead, they were printed in large quantities on better material than the flagship products. The company used Kodak paper, which was state of the art at the time. It made the cards look more slick and modern than most cards out there, including Upper Deck.
However, the photography was different. More visceral and action-packed than any Topps products of recent memory.
Despite the relatively high prices, the series was a big hit (packs went for $3-$5, while standard packs were still $1 or so). By the mid-1990s, Topps expanded the series to its then-thriving basketball and football releases. But of course, that ended when the company lost its football and basketball licensing rights to Panini.
As chrome cards gained popularity in baseball, Topps included chrome inserts in the Stadium Club releases. In 2020, the company released its first standalone Topps Stadium Club Chrome line. However, it continued to issue chrome inserts with the standard release in 2021.
The company seemed to pivot its focus towards the chrome version. The first Topps Stadium Club Chrome had a more extensive base set than its standard stock equivalent and more hype surrounding the release. Happily, many of the players that appeared in the regular set had different pictures in the new issue. However, there were some repetitions.
As Topps prepares to drop the second set, we see what has changed and remained the same.
As of now, 2021 Topps Stadium Club Chrome Baseball is only available in hobby box form. It is slated for release on November 10, 2021.
Once again, the Chrome release has a more extensive checklist than the standard variety. The base set comprises 400 cards, as opposed to the 300 in 2021 Topps Stadium Club.
The release has a few main inserts:
The autos in 2021 Topps Stadium Club Chrome are on-card and are quite beautiful. There are a few types of autos, some of which have already been mentioned. However, for completion’s sake, we will note them all again.
Topps Stadium Club Chrome is a relatively new release, and there is not much room for comparison. Therefore, it is hard to say if it will hold a higher value than the standard Stadium Club set. However, we looked at both varieties to get an idea of what this release will be worth in the long run.
Since the release is (so far) only a hobby box one, we will look at how these have fared over the years. But, first, let’s see how last year’s release is doing on the secondary market.
Last year’s boxes are currently selling for $199. Therefore, you are unlikely to lose any money on the box. However, it is not exactly the world’s most lucrative flip opportunity either. But of course, the rookie class of 2020 is not considered a great one. The common wisdom may change if Luis Robert and Bo Bichette continue to blossom, but that is the consensus right now.
How does the regular Stadium Club hold values? Glad you asked. Here are the numbers:
|2017 Topps Stadium Club||$195|
|2018 Topps Stadium Club||$388|
|2019 Topps Stadium Club||$500|
|2020 Topps Stadium Club||$199|
The numbers paint a clear picture. Despite its reputation for being flip resistant, Topps Stadium Club hobby boxes can retain good value when there is a strong rookie class. Meanwhile, when the rookie class is less inspiring, the boxes maintain value, but there is no profit to be made.
Bottom line, when there is a strong rookie class, Stadium Club is worth holding. There is no reason to believe the Chrome variety will behave very differently.
So, we have established that there is a case to be made for holding Stadium Club Chrome. But is it a valuable rip?
Let’s take a look at some big cards from last year’s release.
|Ichiro Suzuki Auto 1/1||$2000|
|Shohei Ohtani Auto #/25||$1000|
|Fernando Tatis Auto #/25||$360|
|Casey Mize SSP RC||$35|
|Alec Bohm RC||$1|
The picture is clear. If you get a colossal auto, you can make back the entire box and then some. But barring that, even some of the “hits” are worth very little. So you really need a card that transcends the set’s reputation for low value to make a tidy profit.
As always, the value question brings us to the quality of the rookie class. Here at Cardlines, we have written quite a bit about the 2021 rookie class. We have some more exciting reporting on that topic planned before we start looking to the 2022 class.
We believe that the rookie class has some good players that will have strong careers. Alec Bohm, Alex Kiriloff, Ryan Mountcastle, Jonathan India, and Trevor Rogers come to mind. But, of course, Topps has been hesitant to include Wander Franco in this year’s releases, saving him for next year’s flagship.
Still, the rookie class could increase in value over the years. This assessment is likely to be accurate if Jarred Kelenic (who we still believe in) is included in this release as he was on Topps Update.
So in the final judgment, we believe that this rookie class will increase value over time. However, it is unlikely to reach the heights of the superb 2019 rookie class.
2021 Stadium Club Chrome Baseball comes with the distinctive look and photography we have come to expect from this brand. This year’s design is classy and refined and probably looks a bit better than usual. Therefore, collectors of this brand will be pleased with the release.
As for investors, it would be tempting just to dismiss this release. Sadly, that holds true with ripping. Since the boxes have only one auto (and even that is not guaranteed), your chances of making money on ripping are minor. However, when it comes to wax, the numbers show that Stadium Club hobby boxes can age well with the right rookie class.
If so, the investor needs to ask two questions. First, will this rookie class be seen as a strong one a few years down the line? Second, will the chrome version of Stadium Club last and gain in popularity? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be no, since Topps will not have licensed baseball for long.