#B3 Mike Trout (Blaster Box cut-out)
I guess, by virtue of being on the box, this has the honor of being the first card. Although the border is a different shade from the base set, I can still talk about the set design here. Overall, I like the concept of the design - the pictures scattered on a table/desk motif. I've always loved the wood grain look on baseball cards, and here it is used subtly and is very well-done. The team flags are fantastic, too. My main quibbles are with the name banner and the execution of the scattered photos. I don't mind that Topps used a tilted frame to showcase the photos, but the fact that the photos themselves aren't tilted along with the frame annoys my undiagnosed OCD tendencies. The name plate is also skewered at a different angle than the frame, which makes it look even more off.
#311 Aledmys Diaz
#375 Christian Yelich (AW)
Now this is an amazing card! A beautiful shot of Yelich receiving his Hank Aaron award from none other than the legend himself! I would love to see more cards of current players interacting with players of the past. The J.D. Martinez counterpart is officially a wanted card now...
#245 Taylor Ward
#117 Scott Kingery
#SCR-LG Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (Star Caricature insert)
#233 Evan Longoria (Gold parallel)
#209 Ian Desmond
#119 Mallex Smith
#347 AL Runs Scored Leaders (Betts/Lindor/Martinez) (SK)
The hot streak continues! This is the 3rd straight set I've done a First Impressions on that has given me a Mookie Betts card. I guess winning an MVP for the World Champs makes a player stand out!
#61 Kyle Seager
#36 Marcus Semien
#164 Luis Severino
#45 Xander Bogaerts
#365 AL Wins Leaders (Snell/Kluber/Severino) (SK)
#WC-6 Billy Hamilton (Wall Climbers insert)
Here's one of the inserts from the set, Wall Climbers. I think they could have done better with this card. Besides the poor angle that makes it look like he's laying on a tarp, Topps makes the unfortunate decision to celebrate a play that Hamilton made last year as a Cincinati Red and then change his uniform to his current team. It's one thing to Photoshop a new uni on a generic base card, but when you're specifically highlighting a particular game/play/achievement, then stick with historical accuracy.
#216 Pablo Sandoval (Gold parallel)
#56 Mark Trumbo
#202 Paul DeJong
#101 Travis Jankowski
#156 Daniel Palka
#159 Justin Verlander
Here's what the back of the cards look like. It's pretty much the same as last year, although the white makes the extra unused space stick out more. The Did You Know? section returns again, to my personal delight. Verlander gets my vote for best trivia fact of the blaster.
#139 Welington Castillo
#373 AL WHIP Leaders (Verlander/Snell/Kluber) (SK)
#38 Kyle Gibson
#PW-18 Starling Marte (Nicknames insert)
Big Leagues does the Players Weekend nickname cards again, only this year they are a separate insert set. The great thing about this particular set is the back actually explains the meaning behind nickname! I now know why Marte had "Tato" on his back - that's important information people!
#67 Touki Toussaint (Gold parallel)
#294 Kyle Tucker
#108 Corey Kluber
#302 Kyle Freeland
#15 Ryon Healy
#100 Jose Altuve
#273 Eddie Rosario
#167 Adam Duvall
#144 Jose Peraza
#BO-14 Joey Gallo (Blast Off! insert)
#352 NL RBI Leaders (Baez/Arenado/Yelich) (SK) (Gold parallel)
#183 Victor Robles
Big Leagues has some great action shots, including this one. Victor looks like he's showing us his "jazz hands!"
#40 Blake Snell
#111 Joey Lucchesi
#299 Roberto Osuna
#385 Christian Yelich (AW)
#28 Marcus Stroman
#133 J.D. Martinez
#360 NL Slugging Leaders (Yelich/Story/Arenado) (SK)
#SCR-CD Chris Davis (Star Caricature)
#249 Franklin Barreto (Gold parallel)
Take the Field contest card
#262 Eugenio Suarez
Kurt Bevacqua would be proud!
#90 Brandon Belt
#231 Scooter Gennett
#37 Derek Dietrich
#154 Jose Berrios (Blue parallel)
#308 Tucker Barnhart (Blue parallel)
#283 Shane Bieber (Blue parallel)
Each blaster box comes with a pack of 5 blue bordered parallels. Each pack seems to contain a gold/yellow parallel also. As with color parallels, they seem to look better depending on the team represented.
#350 NL Doubles Leaders (Freeman/Rendon/Markakis) (SK) (Blue parallel)
All in all, not a bad follow up to the premiere release. There's no sophomore slump here!