Archives Challenge Weekend: 1953 Topps And Another 86T

As I mentioned Saturday and yesterday, Topps Archives hits the shelves this coming week and I thought it would be fun to pick current players from the checklist (at least two for each design), make my own customs and hopefully when you’re opening packs of Archives you’ll pull certain cards and think “Shlabotnik did it better”.

Making customs of 1953 Topps is not something I’m tremendously confident about, in that I’m not as familiar with it as I am with sets from the 1960’s on, especially 1970’s and 1980’s.

To illustrate my point, I’m going to show you my entire collection of 1953 Topps cards:
1953 Topps Dom DiMaggio
Yep, that’s it. I actually have more 1953 Red Man cards than I have 1953 Topps and I’m not entirely sure how that came to be (other than I’ve always preferred the sets from the 1960’s forward… not completely shocking given that I grew up a Mets fan and my team didn’t exist in the 1950’s).

I’m a little afraid that I’ve missed some sort of detail running through the 1953 set, but I’ll lay my cards on the table (so to speak) and tell you what I do know about the “visual language” of 1953 Topps. I know that American League teams are represented by red boxes and National League by black. I know that, because of the way the cards were arranged on the printing sheet, you’ll have the colored boxes on the left and on the right (and I’m thinking as many of one as the other). Much (but not all) of the set is made up of close-up portraits, so that’s what I focused on for my customs.

Anyway, enough of my semi-educated nonsense. Let’s get on to the customs, after this short disclaimer for people who don’t read the first couple of paragraphs:



Manny Machado is card 53T-3 in my TSRchives set, and he’s #30 in 2016 Topps Archives
2016 TSRchives 53T-3 Manny Machado

Topps is clearly not going to use paintings instead of photos, and I don’t think anyone would fault them for that. Well, OK, some people might fault them for that, but I won’t. One thing about the paintings, though… The artist can select what kind of background the image has.

Well, I decided from the start that I would do something similar, so all of these customs have a background image that’s different from what the player was originally depicted in front of.

BTW, I think that if I were 100% true to the original set, Manny’s position should’ve been spelled out as “third base” rather than “3rd base”.

Josh Harrison is card 53T-4 in my TSRchives set, and he’s #91 in 2016 Topps Archives
2016 TSRchives 53T-4 Josh Harrison

Some ballparks just beg to be used as background in cards, and Pittsburgh’s PNC Park is one of them.  Actually, Baltimore’s Camden Yards is another one, but I’ve had that shot of the Orioles’ dugout that I’ve been dying to use, so no warehouse on Machado’s card.

Masahiro Tanaka is card 53T-5 in my TSRchives set, and he’s #99 in 2016 Topps Archives
2016 TSRchives 53T-5 Masahiro Tanaka

As much as I hate the Yankees, I love to see pictures of the original Yankee Stadium.  Failing that, I enjoy cards which feature the replicated frieze in Yankee Stadium Mark III.  There ought to be federal legislation introduced to force Topps to include the frieze in the background of a certain percentage of Yankees cards each year.

I went to the renovated Yankee Stadium several times in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, and after I got older and learned how much different the original one was, I feel a little cheated that I didn’t truly get to see “The House That Ruth Built”, but rather “The House That Was Renovated By People With Such 1970’s Style That They Probably Had Avocado-Colored Appliances At Home”.

David Wright is card 53T-6 in my TSRchives set, and he’s #43 in 2016 Topps Archives
2016 TSRchives 53T-6 David Wright
David Wright’s custom is the only one (so far) that didn’t use a “Photo Day” image for the portrait part. For some reason, many of the Mets’ Photo Day portraits were taken in front of this blue textured background that absolutely confounds all of my favorite Paint Shop Pro tools, so I instead used a nice shot of Wright from a recent day he spent sitting out a game.

I gave some thought to removing the Pepsi sign that dates the background image (Pepsi no longer sponsors the Mets), but I decided to leave it because it’s still a cool-looking sign.

Bonus custom #1:

Speaking of the Mets…

The Mets are celebrating a “1986 Weekend” to honor the 1986 World Champion Mets, and I thought it appropriate to add 1986 Topps customs to my weekend of Archives customs.

2016 TSRchives 86T-6 Bartolo Colon

Bartolo Colon pitched pretty well last night and made a nice catch of a come-backer, Clayton Kershaw pitched better, both got no-decisions.  Note to Terry Collins… I don’t get to see the Mets play every day, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but… it seems to me that Jeurys Familia doesn’t pitch well in non-save situations.



4 thoughts on “Archives Challenge Weekend: 1953 Topps And Another 86T

  1. You did a stellar job. The design even looks good with photographs. It’s bold yet simple. And no smoke. Still, how great would it be if the images were painted.

  2. Great work here. And you are right, the refurbished Yankee Stadium couldn’t hold a candle to the original.

  3. My problem with the ’53 tribute is they are more than likely to be photographs and ’53s were not photographs. Also, could they have picked two more boring designs from their past than the other two — 1979 and 1991?

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