Last week, the fine people at Topps sent me a big ol’ box of their new set of cards, which were released earlier this month: the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and & Olympic Hopefuls set. I should note right off the bat that I’m not too big into the Olympics. Generally, it’s tough to follow so many events and so many athletes, especially when the whole world is involved.
That said, these cards are a great primer for anyone who’s looking to follow the action and support America’s team. The basic set offers 100 different athletes in events ranging from rowing, to BMX, to track and field, to soccer. Some are familiar, like soccer player Hope Solo and the famous Michael Phelps (the latter of whom was sadly absent from my pulls), to some who aren’t quite big names, like Henry Cejudo (wrestling) and gymnast Aly Raisman.
In addition to the basic cards, the set also offers bronze-, silver-, and gold-medal variants, each increasing in rarity and frequency. On top of THAT, there are autograph cards, event-worn relic cards, and event-pin and patch cards, which are definitely impressive looking. Moreover, there are cards depicting sites of Olympic events past and present, U.S. Champion cards featuring the likes of Carl Lewis, Kerri Strug, and Mark Spitz, and one-of-a-kind autograph cards, that feature the athlete’s signature and nothing else (I didn’t get any of those…alas).
The cards themselves present each athlete over a stylized American Flag background. The athletes, too, are presented through a kind of watercolor filter, adding a sense of nostalgia that, I’m sure, will be accompanied by the real thing many years down the line. For now, they certainly provide a regal, classic kind of look to the cards.
The backs, also, offer valuable information on each athlete, including their birth dates, birthplaces, and some biographical details, helping provide context for any viewer who wants to better know who they’re watching on TV when the games get under way. It’s cool to flip through each card and see who will be representing me and the rest of my country on the world stage in London this year.
At the same time, there are some aspects of the cards I’d like to see different. Many of the athletes are shown more or less just standing there. Couldn’t they all feature cool action shots of them doing what they do? I think when it comes to cards, especially considering the fact that all imagery is necessarily static by design, offering some dynamic, action-packed images would be the best way to make these cards come alive.
Above all, I’m glad I got the chance to give these cards a look. Reading about each athlete, and seeing where they’re from helps me feel more connected to them in ways that I probably wouldn’t have before. Now I’ll have the chance to look through them and see which events I want to check out, and see whether or not the athletes can bring home the gold for the U.S.
[Images via SportsCardRadio's Checklist]