One of the most buzz-worthy product lines in the sports card universe over the last two years is on the verge of striking another solid blow when 2010 Topps UFC, the company’s fourth full-blown installment with the exclusive UFC license, releases to the masses next week.
Although some of this newest product’s pioneering elements — the UFC’s first book cards, fighter-worn hand tape cards and dual-signed cards featuring UFC president Dana White and his most popular athletes — will be tough to come by, that doesn’t stop 2010 Topps UFC from shining at the box level.
Topps unveiled the product in limited form at the UFC Fan Expo a few weeks back in Boston, but it will be available nationwide on Wednesday. Be sure to visit Beckett.com on Monday for a must-see episode of Box Busters. Until then, here’s hoping these first impressions and jaw-dropping images can tide you over . . .
* A fresh new base-card design with relatively subtle silver-foil highlights provides a dramatic shift from 2010 Topps UFC Main Event’s foilboard base.
* The highlight of the product for many diehards will be the design of the set’s primary autograph set, arguably the most attractive in Topps’ four-product history. The Ultimate Fighter signatures also arrive on a crisp new design that sings.
* Judging from the results of this particular box, it would appear that The Ultimate Fighter Autographs are once again on-card and will once-again be bonus inclusions. Each box promises two memorabilia cards and two autographs. Counting our Rich Attonito TUF auto, this one delivered three autographs.
* It’s safe to say at this point that the fight-used mat cards have run their course. Perhaps it’s time to make those exclusively jumbo-sized. Just an idea.
* Topps’ product development folks continue to make the most of the organization’s vast roster of potential checklist inclusions. There’s just something unique to the UFC experience about pulling cards of Octagon girls, announcers (Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg), Octagon girls, cut men (Jacob “Stitch” Duran), Octagon girls, show hosts (Kenda Perez), Octagon girls . . .
* Last time out, Topps unveiled the first cards devoted to UFC sister organization WEC; this time, the company introduces the first cards devoted to Pride, the venerable organization purchased by the UFC that included such legends as Mirko Cro Cop and Wanderlei Silva. The Pride and Glory insert is sure to be well-received.
* Much of the base-set imagery will instantly take loyal UFC viewers back to where they were the night they first saw it. For proof of this, look no further than the Anderson Silva/Forrest Griffin, Sam Stout and Jon “Bones” Jones images in the below gallery.
* Finally, this particular box seemed to suffer from a serious collation issue on the one-per-pack thick parallels. We pulled seven featuring Krzysztof Soszynski and four featuring Shane Carwin.
Tracy Hackler is the editorial director for Beckett Media. Have a comment or question? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.