EDICOLA NEWS: THE REVIEWS nr. 275
album: Champions League 2022/23 (Topps)
stickers: 765 (1-661, L1-L104)
starter pack: album + 2 packets 4,99€
box: 50 packets (10 sticker per packet) 1,00€ each
booster pack: 6 packets 5,99€
parallel pack: 8 packets + 5 stickers parallel 9,99€
Topps wins? Yes and no, surely this new Champions League album is very rich and varied, but there are positive aspects as well as other negative ones, we will try to make the analysis as complete as possible. Going through the details of the collection and, you can’t do otherwise, comparing it with the football collections on sale at the moment, one above all, of course: the Panini World Cup album. Important analysis also considering that Topps will publish Euro 2024.
In a difficult phase from an economic point of view like this, undoubtedly Topps beats the competition by still offering a 1 euro packet with 10 stickers while Panini at the same price offers exactly half of the stickers inside. The quality seems quite similar to us but the cost difference is so huge that the American house wins hands down: Topps 1 Panini 0.
For a long time, we have been pointing out the gaps in the quality of several sticker albums with peeling center pages, folds and rather low-grade paper. The Champions album, on the other hand, confirms last year’s prowess, it should be checked completed but it looks absolutely good, you can also see it from its weight. Complimentary albums are welcome for those who just want to attach some stickers, but for others, if the mediation is to pay for the album (this actually costs 3 euros), it is welcome if this is the result. Without ifs and buts. Topps 2 Panini 0.
Game over? No, the Milan fans still have nightmares of a famous Champions League final that seemed to have already been won. Here too, as we have noted the merits, some defects must be pointed out, even quite evident.
The album is certainly the richest in the history of the Champions League, both in terms of the total number of stickers, both in terms of setting and in terms of columns. But can an album be defined as rich without all the leading clubs? Especially considering that one of these is Italian and at the moment he is showing great football in Europe: Napoli is not present in the collection. And he is not the only one, there are 7 teams that do not find space in the initial part of the album: Benfica, Dinamo Zagreb, Rangers Glasgow, Copenhagen, Viktoria Plzen, Maccabi Haifa and precisely Napoli.
We had already seen something similar in recent years, the substantial final part of the album with the updates affects these teams, to these 96 stickers are added 20 dedicated to players who have changed shirts. This choice and the general one to put the clubs in alphabetical order (and not only .. if you are looking for Milan do not go to M ..) does not convince us. So, Topps 2 Panini 1.
Last year, with great difficulty, someone managed to complete the album with the “live” L stickers, the “championship film” version of the Champions League was released on unannounced dates, immediately sold out and many find themselves with the album incomplete. Topps’ solution? Make a separate album, so those interested can (try to) order all the stickers, others can settle for the basic set.
It does not drive us crazy as a solution, especially considering that the updated stickers, mentioned above, can also be ordered only on the internet and the Topps website, based in England, manages to be indigestible even to the most patient people. Above all, either for their limits, or for any (all to be demonstrated) looting by collectors, the L stickers last year were practically unavailable immediately.
Not allowing newsstands to have at least the stickers updated (even by reservation only and aimed only at a small number of newsstands) will be a form of savings for Topps but it kills the local and basic market, which, although opposed by many publishers, still manages to have a good share of the market compared to the much loved (by others, not by us) market of the web.
So although with all the flaws of the Panini site, there is an air of balance, Topps 2 Panini 2.
We liked the idea of the shield format of the players’ stickers last year and it is welcome that it has been repeated. Of course, it minimizes the information on the player but for that there is the part already printed in the album. The lightning and thunder effect as a background is tired in the long run, but it is still an alternative solution to the single-color of other collections.
Each club has 18 stickers, perhaps for the first time we do not find those of jerseys, stadiums and above all badges, all printed in the album, as well as the photos of the coaches, however a nice novelty to find them on the album too. 16 players plus two extras, the great promise and a double with the great champions of the club, for PSG we find Neymar and Messi, for example.
From sticker 477 begins the second part of the album, quite interesting because it not only offers the current top players but in some pages we have the opportunity to find great champions of the past. For the Italians, the Milan players Baresi, Inzaghi and Maldini, as well as Del Piero. Mentioned but not present in the Francesco Totti album, too bad. Collectors of Messi’s stickers will be happy, there are several in the album, next year if it goes on like this it could be the same for Haaland. It is still a rich and rather valid part, although linked to recent years, perhaps due to rights of some kind. Finding samples from the 1960s to the 1980s would have been a significant added value.
“The global game”, “Best of the Best”, “All time records”, “UCL Legends”, a part of the album that will please especially the lovers of great champions despite the pleasure of finding the stickers of many supporting actors. “Dream Team” is the page to be completed with your doubles according to your tastes, “Top Superstars” with the best of women’s UCL, just 6 stickers but it is already something more substantial than in the past.
Challenging but competitive album in terms of economic proposal, not considering the extra album with Live stickers. Euro 2024 is still a long way off, but we believe Topps is also doing some market tests, that will be a unique opportunity not to be missed. The fact remains that after the fears of seeing the classic adhesive stickers reduced in a mini album regarding F1, with the Champions League we return to hope that the American house still believes in this classic product and does not work only to reset it in favor of modern ones card.
We have already said about the stickers, the format is not a novelty, the second part is interesting with the stickers that refer to the heading to which they are connected. The most avid collectors have launched on parallel packs where to find the variant stickers (in color), a new fashion that is catching on, partly thanks to the publishers, a little so much for the buyers who follow this formula and us, honestly, it continues to convince little.