Monday, August 20, 2018

The Dog Days of the Topps Summer

Topps: The Archiviest! 

I'm not sure why card companies seem to compress their release schedules together so much during this time of year, but another week brings us another new release -- whether we're ready for it or not. This time, it's Topps Archives, which means we've officially reached the point in the summer where it's too hot every day and we're ready for a change (even though we secretly never want summer to end.) I managed to snag the last blaster on the shelf at the downtown Target last Friday, and I've scanned some cards just to prove it.

This year's set pays tribute to releases from 1959, 1977 and 1981. I was having a hard time explaining to someone the other day what this set was all about ("it's, uh, the other set that is just all old designs"). And yet, it's far more interesting than a lot of other stuff that Topps does. It's just, well, not that necessary.

I'm not sure if there's anything special about this Hank Aaron card or not, but it stood out because it uses the "Turn Back the Clock" design from 1977. It's not a reprint, though.

There were a lot of Cardinals in the box. Is now the time for me to rip into what they did to the 1959 design? No? I only just learned about the abominations that are the photo variations in this set where they actually capitalize the player's name (h/t: @nightowlcards and others), so my complaints about how badly centered all of the names look on this set don't seem like the worst problems to address right now. Seriously, though, the old reprints in early '90s Baseball Cards Magazine did a better job in some aspects.

Topps did the best job with the '81s, and that includes this insert concept that pays tribute to assorted team rookies. Flaherty and Bader have been key performers for the 2018 team, while Mejia has been in the minors.

Obligatory Unnecessary Parallel Alert!

Topps reprinted some of their famous rookie cards, and put a ton of gloss on them for some reason. Did they think we would miss the gloss on the more modern cards like Mike Trout? We would not. For some reason, I never really focused on how extremely weird this photo of high school Frank Thomas is, but it's... really... weird. It sort of looks like a fuzzy 3D model of what baseball might look like in the future, sponsored by absolutely no one.

I'm really trying not to look at how much space is between the J and the border, and compare it to how much space there is between the S and the border. But I can't. It's awful.

Not even Ohtani can save us.

The '77s don't bug me as much, but (again) Night Owl has a good write-up of what bugs him about these. A lot of people have written about this set already, but I just haven't had much time lately to catch up on my reading.

I've been pulling Pham cards like crazy, now that he's not with the team anymore.

Again, I'm not sure if there's anything special about this, but it's a take on the old familiar subset from the '59 set.

I'm a fan of this one, of course. It's probably a little weird for Sutter fans to see him in a Cardinals uniform on what was his rookie card year design, though.

I also pulled the requisite Sandlot insert, plus a Sandlot coin and a Kris Bryant coin. The Sandlot stuff has already been promised away at this point. I've never seen The Sandlot. I am also tremendously disappointed that, for the second straight year, there are no Cardinals coins. I blame The Sandlot.


  1. The Turn Back The Clock cards and the '59 combo cards are the short-printed cards that fill the back 20 cards of the set. You know, the stuff that used to be subsets but we can't have subsets anymore because that doesn't make Topps enough money.

  2. Wow - a reverse licensing issue with the Thomas tookie card and the fact that Panini owns the NCAA rights.

  3. I like the look of that Francisco Meija card. Can I ttade you for it?

  4. NO: Are they really short printed, though? It seems like pulling 2 cards from the last 6% of the set or so isn't so out of line. Maybe they are just slightly short printed, like Allen & Ginter's ones.

    Jeff: They should have just skipped the Frank Thomas card. They have plenty of quality rookie cards to reprint to choose from!

    TSHenson: I'll put the Mejia aside for you.

  5. I like this set. The Heritage cards are the ones I don't care for. I'm just not into a single old design with nothing but head or upper torso shots. Ugh. At least with Archives I get some variety if I don't like a particular design. I wish I had pulled one of the reprint rookied. I like that idea. Definitely like to see it with some different players though. Seems like we are getting a lot of Frank Thomas lately. Many of your complaints are valid and I wished you liked the set but I understand everyone has their preferences. Good post.

  6. From reading the grumbling about these year's cards, all I can think of are those the old retro style issues from Baseball Cards Magazine.

  7. I do want to say that as far as Topps releases go for this year (and most years), Archives is still probably the 3rd best thing they do as far as I'm concerned... possibly a close second. There are just a lot of things I wish they would do better in a set that's supposed to honor their past.

  8. You've never seen The Sandlot?!?!?!?!?!?! You're killin me Smalls!


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