After numerous recon missions came up empty, there was finally a sighting of 2016 Archives at a Target near my subterranean lair.
I know I’m fairly late to the Archives party, but I’m going to cover some ground I haven’t seen anyone else cover, and I’ll do my best to not to get bogged down in the stuff that’s been covered numerous times already.
I’m going to get pretty detailed on some of my comments, and before I come across as performing vivisection on Archives, I want to point out that I do like this set, I will go back and buy more. They’ve put forth more of an effort than they have before, and it definitely shows.
I’ll start with the wrapper and other packaging. Each year, I look at the Archives wrapper and play a game of “Where did that graphic come from?” From the promotional material, I thought the wrapper would be based on the 1979 Topps wrapper, but what we’ve got instead appears (to me, anyway) to be based on the packaging for the 1977 Cloth Stickers test set. Here’s a comparison, what do you think?
As for the cards… Pretty much the same thin stock as the past few years. The backs of the cards include full career stats for everybody this time around. I can appreciate this to some degree, but I really don’t look at the backs of these cards. Hoyt Wilhelm’s card could say he was born in Budapest and has 946 career wins and I wouldn’t notice.
I’ll attack the base cards in the chronological order of the originals, starting with…
The 1953 Design
This Eddie Murray was the first card I saw…
…but there was some cheating involved. I was going to buy just a blaster, but then I saw some of the hanging packs, noticed (as Night Owl pointed out) that you can see parts of the top card through the plastic… and right above the word “Archives” I could see an Oriole bird peeking through. So I bought that jumbo in addition to the blaster.
These cards obviously don’t use paintings, but the photos were run through some sort of digital painting-ish filter that has mixed results. Eddie looks fine, but Bret Boone (whose card I didn’t scan) looks like he’s about to be ill.
I am impressed that the photos are all tightly-cropped portraits similar to the original 1953 set… and that’s one thing I really like about this year’s Archives set, they did a good job matching photos and cropping with the design in use.
The Brewers’ Jorge Lopez doesn’t fair as well with the image filter, plus it looks like he leads the Major Leagues in neck length.
Reed Richards got nothing on Jorge Lopez!
What Might Have Seemed A Little “Off” About The 1953 Cards: The original cards had red boxes for American League teams, black for National League. As you can see from the two cards I scanned, that “rule” was broken. I can’t kick about that, I’ve only got one 1953 card myself and only stumbled across this information over the past year or so.
The 1979 Design
These came out the best of the three designs. Yes, it’s a simple design, but they did a nice job of replicating it. Again, they used photos that are not unlike what was in 1979… even using some appropriate pose-y photos.
This doesn’t have anything to do with the design or the implementation thereof, but I just really like this Mazeroski card, not least of which because it’s a guy who doesn’t get done to death in Topps retro sets.
…Plus I loved this uniform when I was a kid.
What Might Have Seemed A Little “Off” About The 1979 Cards: This one is very nit-picky… The team name is centered on the card, when it should be a little bit off to the right to make a little room for the Topps logo baseball on the left. In the image below, I’ve got two pair of cards; Archives on top, 1979 on the bottom.
The Archives team name looks off-center to my eyes, but that’s from 37 years of looking at team names that are slightly off to the right.
Far from a deal-killer, but something worth mentioning.
The 1991 Design
Like the others, the 1991 is well done, even going so far as to update the “40 YEARS OF BASEBALL” logo. Also like the other two subsets, they did a good job of selecting photos that are similar to what was in the originals.
A lot of people have taken issue with the team bannner like on this card, where it has “TORONTO BLUE JAYS” awkwardly placed over the banner, instead of just “BLUE JAYS” as in the original. I’ve got more on this in a bit, but first…
What Might Have Seemed A Little “Off” About The 1991 Cards: Although they did a nice job of photo selection, they didn’t do quite as good a job of photo cropping. On most of the 1991 cards some part of the player “overlaps” with the inner border (and sometimes the outer border). On this original 1991 card, Sid Fernandez’s cap is “in front of” the orange inner border.
By comparison, check out this Matt Harvey card:
If I were making this as a custom, I would’ve cropped it just a bit tighter so that the top of his cap and the tip of his toe crossed in front of the orange inner border.
I’ll be honest about this, though… When I was making 1991 customs, my first batch looked like these Archives cards and then I remembered about the overlapping, so I went back and redid the first batch.
Topps also went a little crazy with the darker colors… The Mariners had a yellow border in the original, but that’s been scrapped for dark blue (which I can kind of understand, as the Mariners have different colors than they had in 1991). The Blue Jays had a light blue outer border in 1991, but a dark blue outer border in Archives. Yes, the Blue Jays changed their colors since 1991, but then they changed them back so there’s no real reason to have darker colors here, other than someone felt that the darker colors worked better.
Before I go away from the base set, I want to address the complaint on nearly everybody’s lips…
A theory about the awkward use of city and team names on the 1991 banners:
My theory, which belongs to me, which I possess ownership of, is as follows…
Sports leagues have become very protective of their branding, and there is an MLB Style Guide which (so I’m told, I’ve never seen more than glimpses) specifies the official team colors and logos and how the logos are to be presented (i.e. “when the logo is presented against a colored background, it must have a white outline of the specified width…”).
I don’t have access to the MLB Style Guide, but I would expect that the official wordmarks for teams like the Yankees, Cubs and Rangers include the full team name… New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, etc.
So when the Yankees wordmark is used on the 1991 design, I’d wager that they are now required by the Style Guide to include the full wordmark, even when it’s different from what had been used in 1991.
…So if I’m right about this, then Topps is off the hook because they’d have no control over which wordmark gets used, and they can only make the best of the situation.
That’s my theory, it is mine and it belongs to me, and I own it and what it is too.
I enjoy the “#1 Draft Pick” and “Father And Son” inserts, but I don’t have anything new to add to the conversation, so I’ll just give Topps a thumbs-up on them.
I very much like the “Super” inserts, they have a nice look to them. Like many, I wasn’t sure about the idea of making a standard-sized insert out of an oversized one…
…But as Mark Hoyle reminded me in a comment over at Baseball Card Breakdown, the “1969 Super” inserts are not based on the oversized “Super” sets from 1970 and 1971, but rather from a slightly-smaller-than-standard glossy test issue that’s quite rare. The only thing that would make these inserts nicer is if they were… well…. glossy. Instead, they’re on the same card stock as the rest of the set. Can’t have everything, I guess.
I also got a Bull Durham insert, to which I respond with a hearty yawn.
Don’t get me wrong, they did a nice job, and who doesn’t love “Tony”? But Bull Durham isn’t one of my favorite movies. A number of other bloggers have made comments about whether Bull Durham falls within their top five baseball movies and that got me thinking… What *are* my top five? Bull Durham was OK, but I didn’t love it. Seemingly unlike any other baseball fan, I did not like Major League. I loved The Natural visually, it had a great look, but I didn’t love it as a movie. I remember very little of For Love Of The Game, so that’s not a good sign. I enjoyed movies like A League Of Their Own, Field Of Dreams and Eight Men Out, but are they “top five” material?
After pondering this for a while, I came to the conclusion that I generally don’t like baseball movies. I guess I’d rather just go watch baseball.
There are two movies which have baseball scenes that I greatly appreciate, but that’s not enough to get them into an Archives insert set. The first is the Angels/Mariners game towards the end of The Naked Gun, but once you get past Reggie Jackson and Frank Drebin,the rest are mainly extras (with the possible exception of Jay Johnstone playing “Seattle First Up”).
The other baseball scene I love is from the Buster Keaton’s 1928 movie The Cameraman. Even if you don’t love Buster Keaton like I do, it’s worth it just to see images of Yankee Stadium when it was just a few years old. Since embedded video seems to screw up how my blog appears in blogrolls, I encourage you to go to your preferred streaming video website and check it out.
I seem to have strayed from my original topic, but in conclusion a) it’s not always Topps’ fault, b) I like 2016 Archives much more than I like 2016 Flagship, c) …but nowhere near as much as I like Buster Keaton. Thank you.