Getting On The Waterslide: 2018 Topps Is Better Than I’d Expected

…I know!!!!

I mean, I was hopeful that the cards would look better in hand than they did on Twitter… But I have to say that after buying a blaster at Target and opening 4 packs plus the “Commemoriative MLB Players Weekend Patch Card”, I am pleasantly surprised.

Keep your expectations reigned in.  It’s not the set of the year.  The photography isn’t award-winning.  There are things about it which annoy me a bit.

But as a flagship Topps set… Hey, this doesn’t suck.  Easily better than 2016 and 2017.

Flagship Topps:  It’s Not Just For Repacks Anymore!

OK, enough of that, let’s dive into my 4 packs.

First card I saw:

It’s kind of hard to describe, but these cards seem… darker than the last couple of years… but not excessively dark.  Just a little darker.  As with the recent past, the Topps logo is the only foil on the base cards.  Neither the “waterslide” graphics or the pixilization are as distracting in person as they are in the images.

Also from the first pack… First Oriole:

The faux-shiny effect on the team logo is particularly distracting on the Oriole Bird.

First Met… An Oriole and a Met in the first pack is a good sign for me.

Here’s the back. I’ll admit, as time goes on I care less and less about the backs. If they bring back cartoons… new cartoons, not “borrowed” ones from the past… then I’ll look at the back for more than the card number. Oh, and good news: The card number is pretty easy to read.

Minor kvetch: White numbers on orange (Orioles) or light grey (White Sox) still provides some eye strain, but it’s still better than a lot of recent sets. I sometimes wonder if graphic designers work on these humongoid screens and don’t fully realize how tiny certain type will be on the finished product.

Here’s a horizontal base card…

First major surprise of the pack busting… Hey… This team card… it’s kind of… interesting.

Sure, it’s the usual “Guys high-fiving each other”, but it’s at least from a different angle.

I have one comment about the design… I don’t care for the waterslide partially obscuring the first letter of the player’s name.  I understand the effect they’re going for, but I noticed that it doesn’t work all the time… witness “IREA” Turner.

And one last thing about the base cards…  ANOTHER not-uninteresting team card!

What is up with that?

OK, moving on to some inserts…  First the patch card.  I’m not big into patch cards, so I was hoping that I’d pull something that someone I know would be interested in it, or that I could sell it on COMC, but then tragedy struck:

Amed Rosario?  It’s a Mets patch card, and it’s pretty nice (as patch cards go), so as it turns out I’m gonna keep it… probably on my desk with the Cal Ripken Medallion card from a year or two ago which has been sitting there because I don’t know what to do with such a thick card.


To counteract my good fortune, I pulled two cards from this insert set.

To quote Eleanor (Kristen Bell) from The Good Place:  “Holy mother forking shirt balls!”

To paraphrase Indiana Jones:  “Jeets.  Why did it have to be Jeets?”

I mean, it’s a nice-enough card… but it’s not like I need MORE Jeter.  Hope all you Yankees fans out there go broke collecting this stuff.

Speaking of “It’s not like I need more…”

Nope, didn’t miss pulling Jose Canseco from packs.

Before I get too negative, here’s an insert I like:  1983 tribute!

The emblem in the top right is silver foil, it just scans black.  These seem relatively well done, and they’re not minis!  Yay!  They’re also on the same cardstock as the regular cards, which gets a small deduction from the judges.  Otherwise, it seems like a decent version of 1983.  Put ’em in a 9-pocket sheet and it won’t bother you.

The back is faithful to the original, but kinda weird:

It’s meant to look like 1983 cardboard, but it looks sorta orangey in person.

“Award Winner” insert.  Meh.  Not great, and the design overwhelms the text.  OK, for team/player collectors.

“Opening Day” insert… they couldn’t find a less confusing name?  I haven’t decided how I feel about this.

So, to wrap up… from what I’ve seen, this is the second-best Topps flagship design of the past five years.  Nowhere near classic and I don’t think I’ll be trying to complete the set… but it’ll be nice to buy packs of a flagship set for reasons other than “Well, there aren’t any other packs in the card aisle…”

14 thoughts on “Getting On The Waterslide: 2018 Topps Is Better Than I’d Expected

  1. I noticed about the first letter overlap too. Thanks for saying it. I thought it sounded too picky but then again, it’s what we do. In reference to the inserts, maybe Topps is falling too much in love with the “special effects”. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to. Simplicity can be an aesthetic virtue too. Overall I think the base cards are attractive. If by darker you also mean more staurated I’m all for that. I do think the cards from the last two years were a little on the weak side, color-wise.

  2. I didn’t know how to put it into words, but the waterslide obscuring the first letter drives me CRAZY. I don’t have any cards in-hand yet, but I just don’t think I like them. I’ve been more and more disappointed with Topps the past three years. I really wish MLB would give a license to another company or two for competition’s sake. :(

  3. Gotta say, I hate this year’s design. Nothing about it says Topps. Looks like a generic food issue from the late 90s. Now, sure, I like food issues well enough…because they’re food issues; they get their kitsch from that. But for the flagship product of the only company with a MLB license? I’ll be overly kind and say I am underwhelmed. Possibly the WORST flagship design in my lifetime (been collecting since ’64). Maybe it’s just the cards I got in my blaster, but these were so generic, they could have been Any Company (and not a very good one) USA. Pass. Just my opinion, of course.

  4. Glad to know I’m not the only person being followed by Jose Canseco cards. If there’s a set with retired guys in it, chances are I’ll pull a Canseco at some point, it seems.

    • Yeah I agree . leave the tribute stuff for Archives and if they really want to do the 83 as inserts then do like they did with 71 72 and 89 ( that I can remember off top of my head without pulling out box upon box to look for different years) and have them as minis

  5. I posted my thoughts yesterday on the design too. (Tried to comment here, but my computer was acting weird and it wouldn’t take.) My 2 biggest beefs are no border and the name overlap. I just cant’ get into this set at all. I tried. I really did.

  6. As to the “Orangey” look of the 1983 tribute card backs I’m pretty sure that’s because they’re printed on White stock as opposed to the Grey stock they used for their main sets until 1991 IIRC

    • I’m not sure I explained that well… The parts of the white stock that was printed on to look like grey stock ends up looking more like “orange stock”. That still doesn’t quite convey what I’m getting at, but it’s better.

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