While at Target this afternoon, I decided to check the card isle (what else?) and noticed they did in fact have some 2011 Bowman for sale. Only a gravity feed though. No racks, no blasters, no anything else, so I grabbed some packs (seven packs to be exact, about a blaster minus the free one). While I don't buy heavy into Bowman, there isn't a Topps baseball product that I don't buy zero of. With the exception Triple Threads last year, I bought at least a few packs of each set released last year. That includes Tribute and that second Bowman set, Draft Picks and Prospects and even Pro Debut (just for ha-has). This year is no different, I even picked up an Attax rack pack but stayed away from Tribute this year. So Bowman. What's the deal? Lets take a look:
The base cards:
The base cards have a fairly simple design this year. I really like the bottom foil team logo, player name and position. I think it works very well. The red portions under the picture are a little weird but I guess they couldn't surround the picture with a red border again like last year. The gold parallels look decent too, with the gold foil in place of the silver. Overall I'd have to place this design right after 2010 as my second favorite Bowman base design from the past five years. (my order of favorites goes: 2010, 2011, 2008, 2009, 2007)
The prospect set:
This design seems a little more cluttered than the past few years offerings. The picture seems a bit small with the huge autograph area and large borders surrounding the picture itself. I like the team logo being on the fronts though, that is a big plus. The chrome versions look exactly the same but shiny. I kinda prefer it as I really like shiny. As for where I would place this within the past five years, it wouldn't rank as high as the base cards do. My favorites in order for the prospect cards are: 2010, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2007. It seems like I'm not really a fan of 2007 Bowman eh?
The insert sets:
Bowman having inserts seems a little weird. It started last year (I think) and continued this season. I don't seem to remember getting inserts in Bowman in any of the years except last year. The Bowman's Best look cool and just like the original 1994 design. Damn, It's really weird to think that 1994 is considered retro now. The only insert I didn't get one card of was the Bowman's Brightest. The Topps 100 looks better this year over last years with a smaller emphasis on the number '100' on the front. I like the Finest Futures design and the Topps of the Class design is ok but nothing special.
All in all, this years Bowman is a solid set design-wise, through and through. While I may not prefer this year over last year, it is certainly close to the top. Hopefully the rookie crop this year proves to be as good as last years. Bryce Harper, Brandon Belt and Michael Pineda lead the way as the hot prospects (well, based on what I've read) of this year so far. I'm sure many more will prove themselves as great first year players like last years Buster Posey, Starlin Castro, Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton, Carlos Santana, Brennan Boesch and the list goes on. I would have counted Strasburg but he didn't finish the season out. We'll see who gets the call-ups later on this season.