I've always had an appreciation for painted sets. Based on the long successful run Diamond Kings/Dick Perez had, and the continued popularity of sets like modern day Turkey Red, it seems many feel the same way. Topps Gallery is a can't miss set for fans of baseball art.
The 200 card set is comprised of 150 veterans, 40 rookies, and 10 retired stars.
Click the pictures to see an enlarged image.
This card reminds me a lot of a less colorful Turkey Red portrait.
An interesting thing about the back of the cards is how much space they devoted to blurbs about the artists. It looks like there were about eight different artists involved in this set, although it's tough to differentiate who drew which portraits without flipping the cards over.
One of the pitfalls of painted sets is there's usually a handful of portraits that share little resemblance with the actual real life player. This set has very few clunkers. Almost all are impressively done.
46 of the 144 cards pulled are stars (32%).
I don't see a lot of 2002 Topps Gallery floating around in player lots, so opening a box is a fun way to fill in gaps in your player collections.
The rookie cards are distinguished by a red bar running across the bottom.
Joe Mauer's rookie is easily the most valuable in the 200 card base set. It regularly sells for around $5.00 on Ebay (without shipping included).
Mauer is the only rookie card of note.
If you are hoping for a lot of inserts in a box, 2002 Topps Gallery isn't for you. I received three inserts total (which I'll show soon). However, the Retired Stars cards feel like inserts.
I ended up with five. The others include Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Robin Yount, and Ryan Sandberg. Unfortunately my three favorite of the ten (Robinson, Killebrew, and Puckett) didn't come my way.
Now for the inserts:
The Topps Gallery Heritage insert set has 25 cards. All of them depict portraits of player's original rookie cards and are seeded 1:12 packs.
This concept should be revived instead of the current trend of simply remaking nearly identical cards from past years (like Topps 2010 Cards Your Mom Threw Out). An entire set of portraits of past cards would really spark my interest.
I was quite pleased to land this card. Who doesn't love a card of Reggie?
Some of the best gems in this insert set include Kaline, Brooks Robinson, Nolan Ryan, Yaz, Musial, Schmidt, and Seaver.
There's also modern rookies such as Gwynn, Arod, Griffey Jr., and even Bret Boone and Shawn Green.
The worst choice for the set would have to be Tsuyoshi Shinjo (statistically speaking).
Ah! There was a long stretch when Maddux was my favorite pitcher. I have massive respect for his career.
Maddux had a seven year run that, when compared to league era, was one of the best stretches in the history of baseball (1992-1998): 127-53, 2.15 era. It is hard to come up with any pitcher who trumps Maddux's amazing peak. Pedro Martinez is the only modern pitcher I found who had a similar statistical stretch.
The overall odds of getting an Auto or Relic are stated as 1:44 packs.
So, there's the lowdown on the break. It was about what I expected. I received a nice assortment of stars and three inserts. I wouldn't buy another box of 2002 Topps Gallery but I'm glad I bought one. If you aren't building the set, it's a one box and done type product.
What do you guys and gals think of the set? Good, bad, or middle of the road?