Retail blasters are slow in coming to Shlabotsylvania… if they come here at all. It took several weeks of looking in my local Targets before finding a blaster. Under normal circumstances it’s not a given that I would have bought Archives at all… It tends to just leave me disappointed and regretting my purchase. This year, though, I’ve wanted to rip some packs and haven’t had much luck finding anything in stores, so I jumped on the blaster I found. Beggars can’t be chosers, any old port in the storm and all that.
Thing is, this year’s Archives is… OK. It’s never going to be my ideal set and I don’t know that I would buy another blaster, BUT I also haven’t sworn off buying another blaster, so that’s something of an accomplishment by Topps.
The main part of the set is made up of tributes to 1963, 1978 and (siiiiigggggghhh) 1987. I’ll touch on each of these and then get into inserts, subsets and other interesting things I pulled from my blaster.
The 1963 design is one that is colorful, appealing and pretty easy to replicate. The best “1963” I pulled of a current player was this Rhys Hoskins.
I really like the different background, but later found out that this is more about the Phillies having used an alternate background on “photo day”.
Some of the better “legends” cards I pulled from my blaster were using the 1963 design. It says something about the state of photography – or probably the state of Getty Images – that the best-looking photos in this set are largely for the retired players.
Moving on to the 1978 design, which Topps has steadfastly refused to include in Archives until this year. It’s not like I don’t understand, there are challenges with using this design. The main challenge is that the team name is not a font, each one was a bit of work done manually by Topps’ artists.
It’s not super complex, but also it’s not something you can throw at an intern and say “Do something like this, only for the Marlins!”
Some teams can be faked up pretty easily – I know because I’ve tried – like the Rays, where you can take the “R” from “Royals” or “Rangers” and the “ays” from “Blue Jays” and boom, you’re done.
Guardians is a little more complicated, but you can use the “G” from Giants, the “dians” from “Indians” and then work from there.
Nationals is a little trickier, and I’ve got a very minor problem with how they did this…
When I faked up the Nationals for a custom a number of years ago I made an “N” by chopping off part of an “M” (because there weren’t any capital N’s in 1978 Topps) and then got the rest of the letters from other teams:
My very minor quibble with how they did “Nationals” is that the “o” is noticeably wider than the other letters, and it stands out to me. I would’ve (and did) squish it horizontally a little to make it flow better.
Getting back to the background on the Rhys Hoskins card, the same background can be seen on this Aaron Nola card. It’s interesting that (to me anyway) that background looks a lot better on a 1963 card than on a 1978 card.
And now on to the drudgery part of the post, at least from my standpoint. Topps has done the 1987 design so many times now that it’s just a tired exercise. But here it is…
I don’t even know what to say about it anymore.
Oh, wait, I do know one thing I can say… As many times as Topps has rehashed this design, you’d think that they’d learn that:
– In the originals the player names for the Pirates had black text against a yellow background
– White text against a yellow background is hard to read… Why don’t they ever learn this?
One of the problems I have with Archives, and its a personal issue, is that I’m not a huge fan of including “legends” in sets that also have current players. While it’s fun to pull retired players, many of them don’t fit into my collection and are sort of wasted on me.
It’s also not great when they use colorized photos… I know that there aren’t other options in many cases, but still. I mean, jeez, that Babe Ruth card isn’t so much colorized as it is half sepia, half not.
Something interesting I hadn’t noticed until I was writing this post: The Feller card says “Cleveland” even though they could’ve used “Indians” off of the original design. I looked on TCDB and there’s one other retired Cleveland player in this set, a 1987 design of Larry Doby. The 1987 design doesn’t use team names, it uses logos and that card (which I don’t have) doesn’t use the Chief Wahoo logo that appeared on several of Doby’s Topps cards in the 1950’s, it uses the Cleveland cap logo of the day, a wishbone C cap logo that’s similar enough to the Reds’ wishbone C that I’ll bet a fair number of people will regard this as a Reds card despite Doby’s uniform reading “CLEVELAND” across the front. At any rate, it appears that Topps is completely staying away from “Indians”.
OK, so let’s get on with some of the other cards…
This is from the Award Winners subset, based on the 1961 Topps MVP subset.
There’s also this take on the 1992 Topps Major League Debut set. For those who aren’t aware, Topps used to do a box set that featured every player who had made their Major League debut for a given season.
Finally there is the “Scoops” design based on 1954 Topps Scoops, which was largely a non-sports set which did include some baseball cards
I pulled 3 cards from the Big Foil insert set which are pretty nice but don’t appeal to me a lot and these will likely find their way to other people.
The last pack of the blaster came with a very pleasant surprise. I was thumbing through the pack and saw a card with the 2010 Topps design, and thought “I didn’t remember 2010 being a part of this”…
…and then I saw the on-card signature and I smiled. I don’t often pull autographs from a pack, and when I do it’s usually someone along the lines of a sticker autograph of a Reds pitching on an unlicensed Donruss card. Since I’m not an autograph collector, I often forget to look at the “Fan Favorites” checklist, but I find them almost as appealing because they feature players and designs that aren’t in the base set.
For those unfamiliar with Key, he was a 5-time All-Star who pitched for the Jays, Yankees and Orioles and who twice finished in 2nd place in AL Cy Young voting… So yeah, not a bad pull.