Is There A “No-Fly Zone” For Designs Used In Topps Archives?

With 2017 Topps Archives hitting the shelves a couple of weeks ago, there’s been a lot of chatter along the lines of “Why did they use 1982 again when there are all kinds of designs which haven’t been used for Archives?” This got me thinking, because it’s the kind of thing I think about (partially to avoid thinking about the things I *should be* thinking about).

It makes sense that Topps doesn’t want to use designs it recently used for Heritage. It also makes sense to exclude designs in the other direction so that they don’t use a design in Archives shortly before it gets used in Heritage.  If they’re creating a sort of “No-Fly Zone” around each year’s Heritage set, how many years are we talking about?

Since this year’s Heritage uses the 1968 design and this year’s Archives uses the 1960 design, I started with the assumption that there’s a 7-year exclusion on the front end of Heritage. It seemed to make sense that there would be a similar exclusion after Heritage (1968 + 7 = 1975).

If you run prior Archives sets through this scenario, you’ll see that the “No-Fly Zone Theory” holds up:

Year Heritage Archives 1 ArchiVes 2 Archives 3 Archives 4 “No-Fly” (+/- 7)
2012 1963 1954 1971 1980 1984 1956-1970
2013 1964 1972 1982 1985 1990 1957-1971
2014 1965 1973 1980 1986 1989 1958-1972
2015 1966 1957 1976 1983 n/a 1959-1973
2016 1967 1953 1979 1991 n/a 1960-1974
2017 1968 1960 1982 1992 n/a 1961-1975

This theory is further supported by the fact that late 1950’s/early 1960’s sets are starting to creep back in to Archives.

This would certainly explain why a number of designs that people have been longing for (like 1975) did not appear in this year’s Archives set.  Sadly, this also would mean that we wouldn’t see the 1975 design used in Archives until at least 2031 (When Bryce Harper gets his number retired and Aaron Judge is named Yankees player/manager).

The past two years (1992 design this year, 1991 design in 2016) also seems to imply that a set has to be 25 years to be included as an Archives base card… Although using the 1990 design in 2013 goes against that a little bit, but for the rest of this post I’ll treat that as the exception instead of the rule.

I thought it would be fun to use my theories and an assumption that already-used designs won’t be repeated, and pick out three designs I’d consider most likely to get used next year, and three designs which would be an ideal (to me, anyway) 2018 Archives set.

With a No-Fly Zone of 1962 to 1976, no designs from the past 25 years and no repetition, that leaves the following designs:

With 1987 inserts in this year’s Topps, and 1987 minis used five years ago, I’m going to hope and pray that we don’t see 1987 again next year.

Similarly, while not a lot has been done with 1952 lately, it has been done to death over the years. One could also make the argument that it’s too significant of a design to waste on Archives. Either way, I’m knocking that design out of contention.

Topps generally doesn’t appear to like “challenges” for Archives, so I don’t expect to see the 1978 design in Archives, given that the design includes a script team name which would have to be replicated for the Nats, Marlins, Rays, D-Backs and Rockies (and if “legends” are included from teams such as the Senators, Browns and – dare I dream? – the Seattle Pilots).

Similarly, 1956 requires both a portrait and an action shot with a lot of background in it, so I think that logistically 1956 is more hassle than Topps would want to take on for Archives.

My Prediction:
For the ABH (Already Been Heritage) choice, I’ll go with 1959.

It’s a popular, easy-to-replicate design which wouldn’t necessarily require a posed photo.

1993 will be 25 years old next year, so I think they’ll continue the trend of using the upper limit of their “window”.

It would be cool if they could, somehow, pay tribute to the expansion teams from the 1993 set… Maybe get Rockies photographed in front of rock outcroppings.

For the third set… I’m going to go out on a small limb and say 1981.

This seems to me like an easy-enough design to replicate, and it’s one that a lot of people have asked “Why not?” and I can’t think of a good answer to that..

What I would want in 2018 Archives:

For the ABH design, I would say “Embrace the challenge!” and go with 1956

Although I’d also be fine with honoring the 60th anniversary of 1958.

I love 1978 Topps and I want to see it in Archives.

If I can make a reasonable-looking 1978-style Nationals card, those professional graphic artists can SURELY handle a hundred Archives cards… Right?  (“What’s the matter, McFly?  CHICKEN?!?”)

Finally, for the third design, I’ll just fall back on the “Anniversary” idea and use another design I’ve always loved, 1988:



So, whaddaya think? Do my theories hold water? If so, which of these 12 designs would you like to see in 2018 Archives?

Or, if you think I’m full of it, which of the other designs would you like to see in 2018?


Unintended side trip:  During the writing of this post I mistyped a word and realized that if you drop the “V” from “Archives” you get “Archies”!  Pour a little sugar on it, honey!

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12 thoughts on “Is There A “No-Fly Zone” For Designs Used In Topps Archives?

  1. Excellent article. Maybe it’s me, but I wouldn’t have both the ’78 and the ’88 design in the same set. They both seem very similar with their minimalist style design. I’m a big fan of the ’81 set and would love to see that show up soon.

  2. Good Theory. I didn’t think Topps even had a formula for Archies er Archives sets. I wish they wouldn’t use 3 sets a year at least it isn’t 4 a year like when they started them. When they duplicate years it makes too many years when they have used the same design (I’m looking at the 72s, 87s). It also makes it a little harder to identify which Archives set the cards came from.

    • I was recently going through a small stack of Archives from the past few years, and I had to look at the copyright year on many of them to figure out where they belong. I really wish they’d just put “2017 ARCHIVES” on the back of each card.

    • I just set up a reminder on my phone for June 2018, because I don’t think I’d remember otherwise.
      Just to manage expectations, a couple of friends jokingly call me “Nostradamus” in the same way that one might call a bald man “Curly”.

      • Your research tells me that it’s likely that you are dead on here. We know that in many ways, card companies won’t change until they feel that they must.

  3. I don’t know if the theory is correct, but if they can sucker people into buying the ’82 design twice in four years, they can sucker people into buying the same design 5 years after it appeared in Heritage … I want the ’75 design dammit!

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