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Hobby Chatz 8: It’s finally here, everyone

After months of waiting, Topps has released its 2023 Major League Soccer checklist and, as

expected, there are Lionel Messi cards in the set. Three Messi cards, to be exact and none of

them are autographs.


A Messi-hopeful collector is looking out for the Argentinian’s base card (#201), Big City Strikers

insert (BCS-7) and base card GOAT variation (#201). There’s also no sign of Messi’s baggage

handler duo of Sergio Busquets or Jordi Alba in the set, so the endless delays on this product

were clearly related to the GOAT’s arrival in Fort Lauderdale.


Having a Messi card in this product makes it endlessly more popular on a global scale and after

having some duds with their MLS properties in the last few years, Topps needed to take a big

swing on their flagship MLS cards.


Messi’s audience will help grow the collecting base for any product but the best part of this

Topps 2023 MLS is its autograph subject list.


The rookies included leave a little to be desired but there are great options if you’re looking to

invest in a young player that is bound for Europe in a few years, Inter Miami’s Benja Cremaschi,

the New England Revolution’s Noel Buck, FC Cincinnati’s Roman Celentano, Real Salt Lake’s

Diego Luna, NYCFC’s Gabriel Pereira and Seattle Sounders’ Obed Vargas should provide

temptation. Cremaschi, Buck, Pereira and Vargas are also Pitch Prodigies autograph subjects,

so there’s even more options for a few of these youngsters.


The veteran autograph subjects in Topps 2023 MLS is the best value in the entire product. The

options include Italian legends Giorgio Chiellini and Lorenzo Insigne, United States Men’s

National Team forward Jesús Ferreira, goalscoring phenom Cucho Hernández and, most

importantly, Atlanta United superstar Thiago Almada.


The relics autograph subjects (all 13 of them) are mediocre and the best buys from that end of

the product are former FC Cincinnati striker Brenner, who is now with Udinese in Italy’s Serie A,

and, especially if you’re a fan of mullets, San Jose Earthquakes winger Cade Cowell.


Overall, Topps’ 2023 flagship MLS product is solid but they failed in not having an autograph

subject from each team (cough, Chicago, cough).


Anyways, into the rest of Hobby Chatz 8:


Bowman U x Topps Now


The best use of Topps Now is the product’s ability to capture a specific sporting moment

alongside the featured subject, serving as a memento of an evening that was in the sporting

calendar. That skill set matches up perfectly with the pageantry and the cult-like fanaticism that

surrounds college sports in the United States.


In an ideal world, the Topps Now x Bowman U products should give these young athletes a way

to make money using their name, image and likeness while providing the consumer with

another way to be a collector.


This collaboration should also allow a team or player to get an immediate return on an exciting

event before that hype dies down (hello University of Colorado!).


Musings on 2023-24 Panini NBA Hoops


Everyone wants a crack at getting the ultimate Victor Wembanyama rookie card from this NBA

product that Panini releases first each season and I don’t think this is the set worth investing in.

NBA Hoops always offers a quick relief to those who “need” the newest crop of NBA rookies in

their professional jerseys but I think the product consistently looks cheap.


Maybe it’s just me but I see no real appeal to this product unless you’re searching for Wemby

parallels.


Random Memorabilia of the Month: 2023 San Diego Loyal away jersey


The San Diego Loyal are no more after the 2023 USL Championship season concluded

following a plethora of issues and this soccer historian couldn’t pass up the opportunity to

secure one of these kits on Black Friday. The circumstances surrounding the Loyal going away

after 2023 are terrible but the club’s impact in San Diego was a delight to see and it’s important

to not forget the club when MLS rolls out their SD-based squad in 2025.

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