Hurray for Helmets: Four Reasons why Helmets Power the Most Iconic F1 Cards.

When a new set comes out everyone is excited. We are as well. We review it as thoroughly as we can and quickly form an opinion on which cards we think are cool. Great fun. We base our preferences purely on gut feel and emotion. At least that is what we thought... When we looked through our personal collection, we realized a common theme: helmets! So, let's try to rationalize our crush ....

Our love for the Verstappen helmet pose card of the 2022 Lights Out collection sparked this little piece of soul-searching. The first Lights Out series featured only one helmet pose: Lewis Hamilton as world champion. The second series had only Max Verstappen in this pose. As world champion:      

Max Verstappen 2022 Lights Out Helmet Pose Rainbow 

The overall quality of the 2022 Lights Out cards is up for debate but this image is epic. Verstappen's first true helmet card! An iconic image worthy of a first-time world champion. The 2022 Topps Chrome and Sapphire sets feature Pierre Gasly in this pose (card #44). So if it is not limited to world champions, does Topps plan one of these iconic poses per set?

Here are four reasons that we could think of to justify our gut-feel decision-making:   

Authenticity and Connection. Helmets are integral to a racing driver's identity and safety gear. Including a piece of a driver's helmet in a trading card establishes a direct link between the card and the driver's persona, enhancing its authenticity and overall appeal.

Topps 2023 Eccellenza Supremo Gold Set

The 2023 Eccellenza Supremo cards, exclusive to world champion drivers, illustrate how distinguishing the helmet design is. The suits are a team design. The helmet design is a personal choice and does not follow team orders. 

Historical Significance. Racing helmets often bear logos, designs, or signatures that represent significant moments or milestones in a driver's career. Including a piece of a helmet on a trading card preserves these historical elements, adding depth and meaning to the card's value for collectors interested in the sport's history.

Topps Now Max Verstappen Record 10 Consecutive Wins

Would this image have been so powerful without the helmet? We do not think so. The helmet design pins the image to a season and connects it with the life story of the driver. In the case of Max, main parts of the design are copied from his father Jos Verstappen when he raced at Benetton and became personal friends with Michael Schumacher, with whom Max spent many vacations as a kid.

Rare and Limited Availability. Collectible sports trading cards featuring helmet poses are often produced in limited quantities. Certain poses, such as a driver holding the helmet in front of him while standing, only appear once in several years for a single driver. The scarcity of these cards contributes to their higher value and desirability.

Verstappen Topps Chrome SSP 2020

The first Topps Chrome set in 2020 was very well thought through. The image variations of the driver profiles all featured this pose: seated driver with helmet. This has made these variations one of the most sought after and collectible F1 cards. Is it the helmet that does it? It definitely ties it all together. 

Visual Impact.The addition of a fragment of a racing helmet to a trading card adds visual interest and uniqueness. The distinctive design and colors of the helmet can make the card stand out among other collectibles, making it more visually appealing to fans and collectors.

Lewis Hamilton Lights Out 2021 Gold Prototype

Arguably one of the best looking cards that Topps has ever produced within F1. It has a royal flair to it. It shows the 7-time world champion as king of its sport, elevated way above any other driver. The unique purple helmet is synonymous for the unforgettable Hamilton era. This is the original Topps prototype (with COA). Strangely enough, the actual 1/1 never surfaced nor did any other Hamilton gold plate of that series.... It only adds to the mystery and magic of "the helmet card". 

Hamilton Rainbow Lights Out 2021

The splendid and clear color variation of 2021 Lights Out has only been matched by certain Chrome Sapphire series but never in a clean design as this series.   

A selection of other cards where the helmet adds to the visual spectacle and story:

Topps Now Verstappen Helmet Shots

Topps Now cards capture moments. Although undervalued by card investors, these represent what it is all about: reliving moments that are engraved in our memory. 

Verstappen Eccellenza Trionfo Gold

This image is all about the helmet. It  makes Max look even more invincible. The true look of triump. Or trionfo as they say in Italy... 

Enjoy! We will continue on our quest to build amazing "helmet" collections. Hurray for helmets!

Relevant links:
Over 20 Lights Out Max Verstappen Helmet Cards in our shop
Our personal collection featuring many helmet cards
Over 130 Topps Now cards in our shop


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