Predicting 2021 Archives: Well, I DID Get Two Right…

Over the past few years I have made predictions on which designs the following year’s Topps Archives set would use; you can see the posts here. I’ve had mixed results over the past year or two, but nothing would have prepared me for what Topps is doing with this year’s set.

Last August I predicted that Topps would use three designs which would be celebrating round-number anniversaries:  1961, 1991 and 2001 Topps.

As it turns out, I was right about 1991 and 2001… but wasn’t prepared for the idea that Topps would use seven designs for this year’s Archives set, one for each decade from the 1950s to the 2010s.  Maybe we should be happy that they didn’t decide to honor the current decade and include the 2020 Topps design.

So here are the designs they’re using with some notes and thoughts on each one…


This design was used in 2015 Archives and 2006 Heritage

I’m fine with this as the 1950s design.  1952 is an insert in this year’s flagship, 1953 is being used for Topps Living Set, and I don’t trust Topps to do justice to 1956, at least while putting in an Archives amount of effort.  I’m personally fine with any of the remaining designs.


Most of the designs of the 1960s have not been used in Archives to this point, so why go with 1962 rather than the 1961 design which is celebrating its 60th anniversary?  Beats the crap out of me.  For what it’s worth, the 1962 design was used in 2011 Heritage.

I’ll admit that I find 1962 to be a ‘blah’ design, and I’d much prefer 1961… which, as I mentioned, has it’s 60th anniversary this year.


Last used in 2014, this is a VERY INTERESTING choice for one reason:  One would think it’s also being used in 2022 Topps Heritage.  I’ll get into this more later in the post.

My own choice would be the design that Topps seems to be purposefully avoiding:  1978.


This design was used in 2015 Archives as well as being used as an insert in 2018 Topps flagship.

I love 1983 Topps, but it does seem like a case of “Meat Loaf again?”  (Kids, ask your parents about Midnight showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” )

Like with 1978, Topps seems to be avoiding 1988.  That would be my choice from the 1980s.


This design was used in 2016 Archives, was the one I predicted and is probably my favorite 1990s Topps design.


Never used in Topps Archives before, and I don’t get excited enough about 2000s designs to have a huge favorite from this decade… They’re all fine, few get me fired up in either direction.


Also never used in Topps Archives.  I like this design well enough and it’s 10 years old which seems like the minimum amount of time that should be used for an Archives design.

So… getting back to that choice of the 1973 design…

2021 Topps Archives currently has a release date of October 29, 2021.  If Topps continues the direction that they’ve been going with the Heritage brand, then the same 1973 design will be used in that Heritage set released about five months after.

I’d like to dismiss this as “Topps being Topps”, but it still falls into the category of Things That Make You Go ‘Hmmmmm’….  (Robi Rob, break it down!)

If it isn’t some form of corporate screw-up, could this signal a different direction for Heritage starting in 2022?  Maybe going back to 1952 and starting over with that design?  Jumping around from year to year like Archives does?  Maybe even – Gasp! – pulling the plug on Heritage?

If I were a betting man I’d put my money on “Topps F-ed up”, but I just wanted to throw some thoughts out there.

With Fuji taking a break from blogging, I’ll pick up the slack in the reader participation area…

What designs from each decade would you have liked to have seen in 2021 Archives?

Does Topps’ right hand not know what the left hand is doing, or does this signal a major change for 2022 Heritage?


13 thoughts on “Predicting 2021 Archives: Well, I DID Get Two Right…

  1. 1. Pretty sure the 1973 is a screwup.
    2. Total agreement on 1978 and 1988 here
    3. 2001 is used a ton in Archives for the fan favorite signatures.
    4. Regarding the one per decade thing, I have a few different answers depending on how I think things should go.
    Classic designs that I consider some of their best offerings ever: 56, 65, 76, 83, 91, 04, 15
    Dated designs that evoke the decade: 59, 63, 72, 86, 95, 07, 16
    Forgotten designs that don’t get as much love as they deserve: 57, 61, 78, 88, 97, 09, 13

    • Oooh, extra credit for answering the question in three interesting ways! I don’t disagree with any of your choices.

      Not being much of an autograph guy, I only recently found out that the Fan Favorite Autograph cards features cards that are not in the base set, so I wasn’t aware of them using the 2001 design a lot. Good to know

  2. I think the use of 1973 is just a matter of Topps deciding that they’re going to be using every freaking design every which way, so why worry about duplication? Using 1978 would make a lot more sense to me. Then again, I’m not sure I see the need to use 7 different designs anyway.

    I worry about 2026, which will be their 75th anniversary. We’ll probably get inundated with an amazing number of retreads of designs.

    I don’t see them messing with Heritage, but I wouldn’t mind if they did something strange for one year, just so the 1975-style MVP cards can refer to 25 years of Topps Heritage cards, and be telling the truth!

  3. Yeah it’s way too early to pull the plug on Heritage, even though flagship is rehashing most past designs this year somehow or another. Ya gotta get thru the 70’s at least before Heritage is over.

    The obvious strategy would to quit doing nothing but reprints and new-guys-in-old-designs in flagship and let Heritage and Archives be legitimized again. Put some new people on flagship with some original and creative ideas.

  4. Well they blew it up.

    My Theories:

    1. Like I said last year – Topps reverts Heritage to the 1952 design probably next year now the 1973 design is being used now.

    2. Topps found out that YOU figured out their system and decided to blow it up and go wild or random. Thus it keeps us on are Toes. This theory may be more realistic than we would give it credit for.

    3. Topps is ending archives. This feels like a dump. Maybe they will used artist to recreate past designs and sell those cards individually on their website.

  5. I really don’t like the idea of SEVEN different designs in Archives. Even three gets confusing sometimes. I’m also puzzled by the decision to use ’73 – it’s already been in an Archives set, and it’ll be in next year’s Heritage (with any luck). Just seems like an oversight to me. I am pleased with the decision to use ’91 again, though – Topps did a great job with those in Archives the first time around a few years ago. If I had to choose, I’d probably pick:

    1959, 1965, 1978, 1989, 1991, 2005, 2011

  6. A. Archives has been my favorite product the past few years (mainly b/c I love the Fan Favorite autographs). But with Topps having Heritage and them coming out with at least one or two reprint and/or tribute sets each year… I’m would be okay with Topps shelving this product. They could just include the Fan Favorites autographs in their flagship packs.

    B. If I had to guess… I’d say this is a case of them not communicating.

  7. I don’t get why Topps is constantly promoting the 62 design, it’s by far the worst they ever done. I would like to see 60 & 61 designs done 1st before doing 62 or any other design from the 60s. The 73 design is by far the easiest to do. Would like to see 78 done in archives before it gets to heritage. Same should go for any future heritage designs, the problem with 78 is the font if Topps can find a way to standardize if for future use, that is if heritage last that long or Topps decides to either start over with 52 or just end either archives or heritage. The head & action card combos are fine, but don’t over do them. Other designs that don’t get love for archives is 60, 61, 66, 70, 77?, 81, 88 & 93. If Topps decides to add more than just 3 years, than they should expand there from 300 cards to at least 75 cards per design, which means that this years archives should be 525 cards.

  8. Topps also promised a futuristic design from 70 years from now? Does anyone think the multi-design plus futuristic promise is an April Fools Day joke?

      • Topps has announced that 2021 Archives, like 2021 Heritage, has experienced a production error with card #216 and it will not be produced. The card was to be a 2091 futuristic design retro rookie card of Joe Shlabotnik of the Waffletown Waffles. Topps will instead include this card as a special “making up our 140 years of errors insert” in 2091 Archives. The card will be a 1:2019 cases SSSSP. You will all have to wait until then to “complete” your 2021 Archives set.

  9. Edited to say that card 216 will have a base (1:2,091 cases) and three variations. The 216A base will say Waffletown Syrups. Variation 216B will be an in action shot of Joe Shlabotnik, eating a sunflower seed (1:2,091,000 cases). Variation 216C will be a photo variation of Charlie Brown (1:2,091,000,000 cases). Variation 216D will be a photo in action French variation of Charlie Brown about to eat a French fry for the very first time when Snoopy reaches into the photo to eat it out of his hand (1:2,091,000,000,000 cases).

    A master Archives set collector must wait until 2091 and obtain all four of these cards to complete their 2021 Archives master set.

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