The 2019 Topps Archives Post I Wasn’t Going To Write

Despite my tempered expectations of Archives, I was so so disappointed in the pack I bought that I tweeted out a three word review: “One And Done”.

That was going to be my final word on the subject as I would move on to greater things.

Then I read Night Owl’s post on it, saw some other positive reactions on blogs and Twitter, wondered if I just got a bad pack and decided to buy another hanger.

…Only I was just as disappointed with the second pack as with the first and I just said “Ah, the heck with this crap.”

Then I read Dime Boxes’ post on it, realized I had a number of things to say about the subject and… well, here we are.

Fair warning if you want to bug out now:  This post is about 20% review and 80% “Stuff that, as someone who makes custom cards, bugs me”.

My main complaint with Archives boils down to one word:  DARK!

1958 on the left, 2019 on the right.  The photos are DARK!  DARK!  DARK!!!

1975 on the left, 2019 on the right.  Not as bad as the previous two, but still DARK!

Interestingly enough, the photos which appear to be colorized black and white photos fare much better… but there are only a handful of retired players in this set who would interest me, so that doesn’t save this set from getting a big ol’ “meh” from me.  (And yet here I am writing about it…)

One of the big head-scratchers for me are the “Topps Magazine” cards.

I’m OK with the way these inserts turned out, but to me it doesn’t fit this set. I subscribed to Topps Magazine for a while, and each issue came with a sheet of cards.  If I were in charge of this set and some suggested “Topps Magazine Cards”, I would’ve used the design for the cards which came with Topps Magazine.

Yeah, it’s kinda ugly, but it’s SO VERY NINETIES and Archives is supposed to be about honoring past card designs, not turning magazine covers into cards.

Getting back to the 1975 design, this next thing is what really drives me up a wall… And it’s going to take some explanation.

I collected 1975 Topps as a kid, so I didn’t expect much from the Archives take on 1975.  I’m also familiar with some of the finer points in replicating the design, as I made a series of custom 2018 Olympic Curling cards using the 1975 design.  (Yes, I’m dipping from that well again.)  I knew I didn’t have the right font, but I spent a lot of time trying to get the size and spacing right, as well as getting the black “drop shadow” effect down.

The shadow is not always the same angle, and it extends further right for short names (CUBS) than for long names (CARDINALS).

The thing is, with 2019 Archives, the ‘wordmark’ for some teams looked better than other teams…. but I couldn’t figure out why at first until I started looking at it closely.

For starters here’s the 1975 Topps “ASTROS” compared to the 2019 Archives Astros.

Not an exact match, but the fonts are similar.  The original “O” is a little more squared-off than the Archives “O”, but it’s close enough for Archives.  I would say that the letters should probably be a point or two bigger, and there should be a little more space between each letter.

Before I move on to my main point, I’d like to point out that the graphic artists on this set… or at least whoever did the 1975 “ASTROS”…  didn’t really ‘get’ (or care about) the way drop shadows are handled in 1975 Topps.  I don’t know the proper graphics terms for what I’m trying to describe, so I’ll just share the same image with the lines behind the words marked up in green

Note how the lines from 1975 are more or less parallel while the lines from 2019 are all over the place.  Pretty damn lazy.


Compare these examples, all from 2019 Archives.

Look at the right ‘leg’ on the ‘R’ from ‘ASTROS’ and ‘ROCKIES’… Notice how it’s kind of curved and then goes straight down? Now look at the ‘R’ in ‘Dodgers’. It is a straight line that goes out at an angle. OK, now look at the ‘S’ in all three… ‘Astros’ and ‘Rockies’ have an ‘S’ which curls around more at the end, while ‘Dodgers’ has an ‘S’ that doesn’t curl at the end and is also more narrow at the end.

OK, now compare the ‘E’ in ‘ROCKIES’ to the ‘E’ in ‘DODGERS’. Notice how the Rockies ‘E’ has three equal-length horizontal lines, while the Dodgers ‘E’ has a shorter middle horizontal line?

So what’s the point of all this? My point is this:


I would ask “How does this happen?”, but I’m guessing that the corporate culture at Topps is like it is where I work:  Despite all of the “collaborative” buzzwords being thrown around, nobody communicates what they’re doing.  (Double whammy – I get to complain about Archives *and* my job!)

6 thoughts on “The 2019 Topps Archives Post I Wasn’t Going To Write

  1. This is why I leave most of the design-centric comments about new sets to more eagle-eyed people like yourself. There’s no way I would’ve ever noticed the difference between the drop shadows or the font of the Rs!

    • Again, had I not tried to replicate the set myself, I would just say “This one looks better than that one” and left it at that. My real disappointment in the set is the darkness. The font thing is just a SMH on top of it.

  2. Yeah the thing with the 75 design is that Topps used different fonts for different team names (I thought it was the same family but Astros and Dodgers are clearly different families) and while that kind of thing would get them killed now for WTF are you doing it’s clearly something Topps did to get the weight of the names all about the same. New designs are all using the same font scaled to fit Diamondbacks and it looks all so wrong.

  3. No real competition (exclusive licenses) makes for lack of effort. I like the IDEA of Archives (and all the rest of the throwback junk) but I won’t waste my time with them.

    Having said that…anything that gets you to post the Eunjung Kim card is aces in my book. Glasses Sister!!

  4. No plans on buying any packs of this stuff… but I did start picking up some of the Expos autographs for my collection.

    P.S. Don’t watch curling… but that custom and those glasses have made me become a fan of Kim.

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