Last June I Tried To Predict The Designs Used For 2018 Archives… How’d I Do?

This past Friday Ryan Cracknell of Beckett tweeted the early details for 2018 Topps Archives and this got me excited.  Not only would the designs picked determine how much Archives I’m buying this year, but it also reminded me that I’d written a post last year theorizing about how Topps selects designs to use and then using those theories to try to determine which designs they would use the following year (i.e. 2018).

To recap for those who don’t want to click on the link, here are my two theories and some ground-rule assumptions I also used…

THEORY #1:  The “No-Fly Zone”

There is a 15 year exclusion window surrounding a given year’s Heritage design;  Topps will not use a design from up to 7 years before or 7 years after the design used for Heritage.  For 2018, that means 1962 to 1976 is out of bounds.

THEORY #2:  A design must be at least 25 years old.

This rule is not iron-clad given that 2013 Archives included the 1990 design, but 2016 Archives included the 1991 design and 2017 Archives included 1992.

Further assumptions made:

  • Topps would use three designs which hadn’t already been used in the Archives set.
  • One of the designs would be a set that’s already been “done” in Heritage (so for 2018 that would mean something from 1952 to 1961)

So, let’s see how Nostradamus-y I was…

1st design I predicted:  1959 Topps

What I said then:  “It’s a popular, easy-to-replicate design which wouldn’t necessarily require a posed photo.”

What Topps is doing:  1959 Topps!  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

…and from the sample it looks like they did a good job.

2nd design I predicted:  1981 Topps

What I said then:  “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 Topps is doing:  1981 Topps!  Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom!

Nit-picky time… Even if the Nats wear a navy cap with a white front panel (and I don’t think that they do, but I could be wrong), it’s not what people associate with the team.

3rd design I predicted:  1993 Topps

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

What Topps is doing:  1977 Topps  (Sad trombone)

Ah, well… Two out of three is still pretty good.  However, “pretty good” is not a phrase I’d use to describe this attempt at the 1977 design.  OK, I know it’s a sample and they’ve tweaked designs between sample and production before… but the colors are completely wrong for the Astros, and the font isn’t anywhere close enough for me to give them a pass.  Hint to Topps:  Italicized Arial Black is still not correct, but is much better than what you’ve got here.

Last June I also picked three designs I wished they would use.  Two were doubtful… Doing Archives versions of 1956 and 1978 would pose more challenges than Topps seems willing to take on for this set… But I thought the third wish wasn’t unreasonable:

1988 Topps has an anniversary this year and is an easy design to replicate, but there’s a bit more work involved when creating each card because the player’s head has to be “in front” of the team name.  Maybe that’s a little too labor-intensive for a relatively low-effort set like Archives.

But that’s all good from my standpoint… I’ve been thinking of doing some 1988-style customs, but was holding off until I was pretty sure that Topps wouldn’t be doing anything like that themselves.  I’m confident enough now that I’m releasing my own pre-production sample that I whipped up in an hour or so this past weekend:

I specifically went with a team which didn’t exist in 1988 to emphasize that this is “from scratch” and not just digital manipulation of an existing card.  There’s still some tweaking to be done, but I’m happy to revive one of my favorite 1980’s designs.

Given how fun this post was (and, I’ll admit, how *right* I had been about 2018), I’m very likely to do a post predicting 2019 Archives… but I’ll save that for another time.

The Most Awesome Soccer Cards In The History Of Forever!!! – Part Two

Just over two years ago I shared several Scottish Football cards (soccer to us uncultured Americans) that I’d picked up in 2009.  These cards were done using the same design as 1975 Topps Baseball…
1975-76 Topps Scottish Footballers Ian Sneddon

…And I’d declared them to be “The Most Awesome Soccer Cards In The History Of Forever!!!”  There may have been a touch of hyperbole involved… but only a touch.

And now, thanks to a recent delivery from Shoebox Legends, my collection of most awesome British footballer cards based on Topps designs has increased by 66%.

Here are the two cards, both from the 1960-61 A&BC Footballer set…  I’m not going to say much about the players depicted because you can read the card back just as easily as I can.

Ron Springett, Sheffield Wednesday.
1960 A&BC Ron Springett
1960 A&BC Ron Springett back
Ron Springett was a goalie who played for England in international competition, and playing for Sheffield Wednesday was his “day job”… hence the two listings on the front of the card.

Why is it that in North American we get teams that are nothing but “United this” and “FC that”, while England has Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur, Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and West Bromwich Albion?  This is all penance for referring to the sport as “soccer”, isn’t it?

Brian Clough, Middlesbrough

This next card was for a name I knew… but I didn’t know whose name it was until I got this card.  Puzzled?  Read on…
1960 A&BC Brian Clough
1960 A&BC Brian Clough back
You see, I’ve watched far too much Monty Python, Doctor Who and other British television over my nearly 50 years…  In the process I’ve picked up lots of names and cultural references that I don’t always understand until later.

In the case of Brian Clough, “later” came with this card.  There was a quiz show parody on Monty Python’s Flying Circus (also performed on the “Live At Drury Lane” album) which briefly references Brian Clough.  Let’s put it this way… if someone asks you what is the main food that penguins eat, the answer is not “Brian Clough”.

Here’s the Drury Lane version;  If you don’t care for Python and just want to hear the actual reference, it’s at roughtly 2:10.

ANYWAY… Enough about Python and Anglophilia… Let’s get back to the cards…

1960-61 A&BC Footballers was issued in two series of 42 cards each.  Both of my new acquisitions are from series 1.  A&BC was a British company which had licensed the designs from Topps and repurposed the designs for Association Football.

As a result of the licensing agreement, the 1960 A&BC Footballer design is based on two different Topps designs from the year prior. The fronts are based on 1959 Topps Baseball…
1959 Topps Gail Harris
The font is slightly different; look at the “g” in “Gail”, “Springett” and “Clough”.

The backs are based on 1959 Topps Football, complete with “Magic Answer”.
1959 Topps Gern Nagler back

For more information on the A&BC set, you can read about it at Nigel’s Webspace, Diamond Cuts And Wax Stains, and, of course, Shoebox Legends.

Thanks again, Shane!

Beautifully Poor – 1959 Topps “Danny’s All-Stars”

I was going through a dealer’s bargain bin at a show not too long ago, when I ran across this card from 1959 Topps:
1959 Topps Danny's All Stars

This card seemed to be in pretty nice condition for a bargain bin, not to mention that it featured Ted Kluszewski as well as original Met Frank Thomas. I turned it over to see what might’ve been wrong with the back… and that’s when I discovered the result of some child’s boredom:
1959 Topps Danny's All-Stars back
As someone who “double-bags” in 9-pocket sheets, I like vintage cards that have writing on the back, because it brings the price down in a way that I don’t mind… but I have to admit, I kinda liked this piece of original “colored pencil on cardboard” artwork. At least they stayed within the lines.

These two guys weren’t Danny’s All-Stars for very long. Frank Thomas was traded to the Reds before the 1959 season, and Big Klu was traded to the White Sox that August.

Yeah, They Were All Yellow…

I was just looking at a folder of scans from the last show I went to, and while looking at the cards laid out in front of me, I realized – Hey, I bought a lot of yellow cards.

…and then I said “What the heck, I’ve had worse ideas for a post”.

So here they are, the recently-acquired, very yellow, new additions to my collection.

I grew up a Mets fan and through Mrs. Shlabotnik I also became an Orioles fan.  Since I didn’t grow up following the O’s, I had a lot of catching up to do on team history.  In reading about the Orioles from the 1950’s, I was struck by a pair of players I’ve come to think of as “The Two Bobs”.  Bob Boyd and Bob Nieman were often among the team batting leaders in the late 1950’s, but I had never heard of either of them.  Boyd, who’s hitting got him the nickname of “Rope”, hit over .300 in 4 of his 5 seasons with the Orioles.
1959 Topps Bob Boyd

I’ve always been fascinated by cards of players who I knew better as managers, coaches or announcers.  I’m old enough to remember the last few years of Tim McCarver’s career, but I still find it a bit odd to see cards of this young Cardinals catcher.
1966 Topps Tim McCarver

Sometime earlier this year I came to the realization that in all my years of collecting, I’d never managed to acquire a card from 1954 Topps.  Just one of those things, I guess .  This is one of two cards I recently bought to remedy that situation.
1954 Topps Wes Westrum
Wes Westrum was the Mets’ second manager, which explains why I bought this particular card.

I don’t think I need to explain buying a Don Mossi card.
1955 Topps Don Mossi
…I’ll admit, I do sometimes feel guilty for singling out Don Mossi for his distinctive features.

Joe Pignatano was the Mets bullpen coach from 1968 to 1981, and what I always remember about him are the tomato plants he maintained in the Shea Stadium bullpen.
1958 Topps Joe Pignatano

I always have trouble bringing posts to a satisfying conclusion – maybe it comes from growing up watching Monty Python sketches which often ended abruptly and without a punchline – so I’m going to close this post by listing a few favorite songs with “yellow” in the title… and true confessions time, I don’t actually care for the Coldplay song I quoted in the subject line.

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, Elton John
“Yellow Submarine”, The Beatles
“Mellow Yellow”, Donovan
“Don’t Eat That Yellow Snow”, Frank Zappa
“Yellow Flower”, The Good Rats

What are your favorite yellow cards, songs, foods or other random yellow objects?