2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations Guide

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The 2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations have lots going on. But that’s the expectation with the brand now. Most are returning themes but there is one new one that integrates seamlessly into the 1972 Topps Baseball design that the product is based on.

Action Images Variations

Kicking off the variations in 2021 Topps Heritage Baseball are Action Images. The idea here is simple. Regular base cards have a lot of posed shots. Action Image Variations swap out the photo for something that actually has some movement like a batter swinging, someone running or a pitcher actually throwing the ball instead of showing a fastball grip with an awkward photo day grin.

Action Image Variations are also home to some single-player rookies. Rookie Cards in the base set have two or three players. The variations focus on just one, although the photo doesn’t change. But for the checklist, they’re usually grouped together with the same odds.

Action Image Variations are exclusive to hobby packs.

More Returning Variations

Nickname, Team Name Color Swap and Error Variations are also back. Nickname cards are about as straightforward as they come in Heritage. Instead of the player’s name on the front, it’s an alternate moniker.

Team Name Color Swap Variations do just that. The team name on the front has two colors making the 3-D effect. On variations, these two colors switch spots.

Errors are not really “errors” in the sense that they’re manufactured mistakes. Typos, shifts in color and messed up stats are just some of the often inconspicuous ways that Error Variations arrive.

Throwback Uniform cards are the toughest 2021 Topps Heritage Baseball variations. Like Action Image, these are photo swaps. But this time there’s a more defined theme with players wearing old-time jerseys and caps from Turn Back the Clock Nights. Throwbacks are incredibly tough to find and can lead to some major sales.

Falling Stars

New this year are Missing Stars Variations. The idea of these is fairly simple. And while easy to miss in the sense that they don’t jump out, they’re not hard to spot. Base cards have a pair of stars under the team name on the front. Missing Stars Variations do not.

Don’t Worry About Codes or Staring at Fine Print

Heritage has become the easiest brand in Topps’ portfolio to confirm variations. Typically, outside of galleries and remembering specific images, collectors resort to looking at the fine print on the back as it’s often a tell.

But here, like the past couple of years, variations are labeled clearly. Not only do the cards tell you they’re a variation, they say exactly what type as well.

Flip the card over and look at the number on the back. Directly below it in the colored area is a label.

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations Label

It’s that simple. And while the writing isn’t the biggest, it’s still much easier and more clear than the typical code method.

One thing to note is that Throwback Uniform Variations have “Alternate” as their label on the back.

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations Checklist

Here’s a quick checklist of all of the variations. If you’re looking for a specific card, click on the links to see what’s currently available on eBay.

11 Alec Bohm – Action | Throwback
13 Bryce Harper – Action | Missing Stars | Nickname | Team Color | Throwback
15 Sixto Sanchez – Action
17 Yadier Molina – Team Color
31 Pete Alonso – Nickname
33 Luis Robert – Action | Nickname | Team Color | Throwback
35 Juan Soto – Action | Missing Stars | Team Color
37 Clayton Kershaw – Nickname | Team Color
45 Joey Votto – Team Color
47 Shane Bieber – Action | Missing Stars | Team Color
51 Javier Baez – Action | Error | Missing Stars | Nickname | Team Color
97 Ke’Bryan Hayes – Action | Throwback
99 Jacob deGrom – Action | Missing Stars | Team Color

101 Kyle Lewis – Throwback
103 Paul Goldschmidt – Throwback
109 Luis Garcia – Action
121 Aaron Judge – Action | Missing Stars | Nickname | Team Color
123 Matt Chapman – Team Color
137 Fernando Tatis Jr. – Action | Error | Missing Stars | Nickname | Team Color | Throwback
163 Alex Bregman – Team Color
167 Mookie Betts – Action | Missing Stars | Team Color
169 Mike Trout – Action | Error | Missing Stars | Nickname | Team Color
173 Cody Bellinger – Action | Team Color
175 Anthony Rizzo – Error | Team Color
179 Joey Gallo – Throwback
181 Max Scherzer – Action | Missing Stars | Team Color
185 Bobby Dalbec – Action
187 Nick Madrigal – Action | Throwback
188 Jo Adell – Action

230 Byron Buxton – Team Color | Throwback
239 Andrew McCutchen – Nickname | Team Color | Throwback
249 Gerrit Cole – Team Color
251 Christian Yelich – Action | Missing Stars | Team Color
253 Casey Mize – Action
293 Bo Bichette – Team Color | Throwback
295 Dylan Carlson – Throwback
299 Ronald Acuna Jr. – Action | Error | Missing Stars | Team Color
301 Nate Pearson – Action | Throwback
307 Nelson Cruz – Nickname | Throwback
313 Nolan Arenado – Action | Team Color

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations Gallery

Use the tabs to easily navigate between variation styles. The gallery is a work in progress. Images will be added as they become available.

Action

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations – Action Image

11 Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies

Action
Base

13 Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies

Action – wearing sunglasses, helmet
Base – wearing cap

15 Sixto Sanchez, Miami Marlins

Action
Base

33 Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox

Action – running
Base – holding bat

35 Juan Soto, Washington Nationals

Action – wearing helmet
Base – wearing cap

47 Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians

Action – red jersey
Base – white jersey

51 Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

Action – blue jersey
Base – white pinstripe jersey

97 Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates

Action
Base

99 Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

Action – throwing, grey jersey
Base – pinstripe jersey

109 Luis Garcia, Washinton Nationals

Action
Base

121 Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

Action – with glove
Base – with bat

137 Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

Action – running
Base – holding bat

167 Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers

Action – wearing helmet
Base – wearing cap, sky in backgroun

169 Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Action – fielding
Base – kneeling with bat

173 Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers

Action – wearing helmet
Base – wearing cap

181 Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

Action – pitching, red cap
Base – standing, clouds in background

185 Bobby Dalbec, Boston Red Sox

Action
Base

187 Nick Madrigal, Chicago White Sox

Action
Base

188 Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels

Action
Base

251 Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers

Action – batting
Base

253 Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers

Action
Base

299 Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves

Action – running
Base

301 Nate Pearson, Toronto Blue Jays

Action
Base

313 Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

Variation – throwing
Base – with bat

Error

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations – Errors

Odds:

  • Blaster – 1:7,354 packs

51 Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

Base

137 Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

Error – no first name on front
Base

169 Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Error – no name on front
Base

175 Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

Error – date under comic spread over two lines
Base – date under comic on one line

299 Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves

Error – back starts with “In August…”
Base – back starts with “Truist Park…”

Missing Stars

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations – Missing Stars

Odds:

  • Blaster – 1:3,076 packs

13 Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies

Missing Stars
Base

35 Juan Soto, Washington Nationals

Missing Stars
Base

47 Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians

Missing Stars
Base

51 Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

Missing Stars
Base

99 Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

Missing Stars
Base

121 Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

Missing Stars
Base

137 Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations - Fernando Tatis Jr. Missing Stars
Missing Stars
Base

167 Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers

Missing Stars
Base

169 Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Missing Stars
Base

181 Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

Missing Stars
Base

251 Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers

Missing Stars
Base

299 Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves

Missing Stars
Base

Nickname

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations – Nickname

Odds:

  • Blaster – 1:3,692 packs

13 Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies

Nickname – Mondo
Base

31 Pete Alonso, New York Mets

Nickname – Polar Bear
Base

33 Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations Luis Robert Nickname
Nickname – La Pantera
Base

37 Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Nickname – The Claw
Base

51 Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

Nickname – El Mago
Base

121 Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

Nickname – Baj
Base

137 Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations Fernando Tatis Jr. Nickname
Nickname – El Nino
Base

169 Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations Mike Trout Nickname
Nickname – Millville Meteor
Base

239 Andrew McCutchen, Philadelphia Phillies

Nickname – Cutch
Base

307 Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins

Nickname – Boomstick
Base

Throwback

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Throwback Uniform Variations

Odds:

  • Blaster – 1:17,772 packs

If you look on the back and see “Alternate” for the label under the card number, it’s a Throwback Uniform Variation.

11 Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies

Throwback
Base

13 Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies

Throwback
Base

33 Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox

Throwback
Base

97 Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates

Throwback
Base

101 Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners

Throwback
Base

103 Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals

Throwback
Base

137 Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

Throwback
Base

179 Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers

Throwback
Base

187 Nick Madrigal, Chicago White Sox

Throwback
Base

230 Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

Throwback
Base

239 Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Throwback
Base

293 Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays

Throwback
Base

295 Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals

Throwback
Base

301 Nate Pearson, Toronto Blue Jays

Throwback
Base

307 Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins

Throwback
Base

Color Swap

2021 Topps Heritage Baseball Variations – Team Name Color Swap

13 Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies

Team Name Color Swap
Base

17 Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

Team Name Color Swap
Base

33 Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox

Team Name Color Swap
Base

35 Juan Soto, Washington Nationals

Team Name Color Swap
Base

37 Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Team Name Color Swap
Base

45 Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

Team Name Color Swap
Base

47 Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians

Team Name Color Swap
Base

51 Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

Team Name Color Swap
Base

99 Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

Team Name Color Swap
Base

121 Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

Team Name Color Swap
Base

123 Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics

Team Name Color Swap
Base

137 Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

Team Name Color Swap
Base

163 Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

Team Name Color Swap
Base

167 Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers

Team Name Color Swap
Base

169 Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Team Name Color Swap
Base

173 Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers

Team Name Color Swap
Base

175 Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

Team Name Color Swap
Base

181 Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

Team Name Color Swap
Base

230 Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

Team Name Color Swap
Base

239 Andrew McCutchen, Philadelphia Phillies

Team Name Color Swap
Base

249 Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

Team Name Color Swap
Base

251 Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers

Team Name Color Swap
Base

293 Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays

Team Name Color Swap
Base

299 Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves

Team Name Color Swap
Base

313 Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

Team Name Color Swap
Base

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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37 comments

  1. Jason D. 24 March, 2021 at 13:44

    What does “alternate” mean on the back of the card. I know “Action” and “Nickname” but this is the first I’ve seen of “Alternate”

  2. Lance Overstreet 26 March, 2021 at 12:41

    I pulled the chrome refractor version of the Luis Robert. It has the same picture as his base heritage, with the All Star Rookie trophy. Except the chrome refractor also has the RC logo on it. Why is that considering last year was actually his rookie year? Any input would help. Thanks

  3. fred 29 March, 2021 at 15:58

    I do appreciate heritage being the only product that clearly lists its variations. I was at a local card show yesterday and I pulled a great many 2020 Panini Prizm variations out of a bin and then spent at least 20 minutes trying to identify them all. There were a good 10 different variations. The serial numbered ones were easy, although the Red Donut and Red Mojo ones would have looked exactly the same otherwise.

    I stumbled upon a virtual sea of 2021 series 1 base in a dime bin also and for a moment I actually considered trying to look at the numbers on the back to see if I could spot a variation that maybe got missed by the dealer, but my 45 year old eyes could barely make out the serial number and I gave up after a few seconds.

    Viva variations, though.

  4. Roxy 2 April, 2021 at 11:20

    Thanks for the information. Also, I noticed many wrong backs appearing on Ebay. Are this intentional misprints or mistakes by Topps? And, where are these being found? Thanks!

    • Ryan Cracknell 2 April, 2021 at 12:56

      @Roxy – I’m keeping an eye on the wrong backs but I don’t think they’re intentional. Historically, it’s a common printing mistake and they tend to clump together. From what I’ve seen online, it looks like a lot of the same sellers. That’s not to say Topps isn’t trying to sneak some by as a surprise but they haven’t confirmed and all signs currently point to printing mistake.

    • Ryan Cracknell 5 April, 2021 at 10:32

      @Roger – Flip stock? Those are parallels that are intentionally printed on the opposite side of the sheet. Basically, fronts feel like backs normally would and backs are more glossy.

  5. Eddie Eaton 6 April, 2021 at 18:07

    For the In Action cards, I’ve seen four different variations on the backs: 1. Puzzle pieces, 2. Topps News 2020 highlights, 3. So you’re a baseball expert and 4. Lists of league leaders. I’ve seen some listed as errors on ebay. Has Topps announced if all are intentional?

    • Ryan Cracknell 6 April, 2021 at 19:05

      @Eddie – From what I’ve seen, individual cards have only one back. For example, every Alec Bohm has a Topps News back, Tim Anderson has Baseball Expert, etc.

  6. Brandon B Melnick 9 April, 2021 at 13:27

    Hey Ryan, have you noticed the wrong back error cards? They seem to always correspond with the error front and back which makes me believe it could be intentional. For example the Tatis wrong back error seems to always have a Brandon Lowe back and vice versa Tatis error back on Brandon Lowe front. Your take?

  7. Brandon B Melnick 9 April, 2021 at 13:51

    Also just noticed the incorrect back (error?) Cards that I’ve pulled all have upside down orientation to the non error cards. They easily stand out when you have all the cards in one orientation on the front the errors all have an opposite or reverse orientation than the non error cards. Interesting…..

    • Ryan Cracknell 9 April, 2021 at 14:02

      @Brandon – Answered a couple of comments above. Looks like they’re printing mistakes.

  8. Nolan Bracken 9 April, 2021 at 18:20

    I just pulled a Liam Hendriks name error card – printed as Liam “Hendricks”. Appears to be just his base card with no variation listed in the fine print.

  9. Richard Crow 19 April, 2021 at 20:25

    I have an Anthony Rizzo (Cubs) error card #175. The “error” designation is listed on the back of the card and pertains to the date under the cartoon on the right side of the card being listed on 2 lines instead of 1 line. This card also has the zoomed out player image instead of the zoomed in image – which version is the normal image? Lastly, the team color swap variation is normally the dominant color of green instead of yellow – but this card has the letters C and S in green and the letters U and B in yellow. Is this a 3 error card? Thank you!

  10. Justin 20 April, 2021 at 19:41

    I have a 2021 topps homerun challenge nolan arenado (front) with a Christian yelich back, including the number (hrc-16), unscratched of course. I can’t find any other cards from the set like this anywhere. Nothing on ebay and nothing comes up when I use a search engine. Anyone come across any other HRC cards like this?

  11. Mark 19 May, 2021 at 00:15

    Hello I have a 25 /72 all black glossy Matt champman was wondering what exactly or what vartion this card is I cannot find it anywhere

  12. @barry 24 May, 2021 at 22:09

    So is the Mike Trout #169 no name “error” card valuable?
    What about the Mike Trout front with Paul Goldschmidt name/stays on back and the Paul Goldschmidt front with Mike Trout name/stats on back?

    • Ryan Cracknell 24 May, 2021 at 22:38

      @barry – The wrong backs appear to be printing mistakes. They’re explained in multiple comments above.

    • Ryan Cracknell 25 May, 2021 at 11:18

      It’s one of the deliberate Error Variations. It’s in the gallery on this post.

  13. Mike 29 June, 2021 at 11:42

    Why does the angels players have their team name missing on back of the card on bottom right where all other teams have it italicized??? I found some with the team name but most are missing? Anyone notice this??? TIA

    • Ryan Cracknell 29 June, 2021 at 20:32

      @Mike – It’s in the language of Topps’ deal with MLB. They’re only allowed to use the team name for the Angels and not the full Los Angeles Angels. Might have something to do with that.

  14. Joe 28 July, 2021 at 03:42

    I know you voiced the “wrong back” issue already, but I also see correct back versions as well. I have the Alec Bohm/Spencer Howard #11 front with the Sandy Alcantara #273 back and the Sandy Alcantara front #273 with the Alec Bohm/Spencer Howard #11 back, as well. But Ebay has corrected versions of both with the right backs being sold. So Topps either did this on purpose or found the error and corrected and redistributed them. If it’s the latter, it might be interesting to see which one becomes the short printed version.

    • Ryan Cracknell 28 July, 2021 at 09:15

      They are printing mistakes. It happens during printing. Sheets can get messed up, out of order or any number of things. This has been happening for decades in a number of products. It does not appear to be intentional although it appears to be more widespread this year. It also looks like those who pull them might end up with several, which also suggests a production mistake as the cards would be coming from similar sheets.

  15. Travis 28 July, 2021 at 17:29

    Why does the mike trout not have a team name on the back of card bottom right side?

  16. Pooperstown 19 August, 2021 at 02:59

    I found a #38 Clayton Kershaw card where the back is backwards. Unlike the ones listed in your article, it appears to be a genuine mistake. It’s the only one out of the 1,000+ cards I have for 2021 Topps Heritage. I checked, and it’s the correct back for the card, it’s just reversed. It’s one of the cards that says “SO YOU’RE A BASEBALL EXPERT.” Except when you’re looking at the card upright, and flip it over…the card number is bottom left, when it should be top right. Just a weird error I can’t find much else on. I doubt any change in value, but it’s still odd which makes it…pretty fargin’ cool.

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