For those of you who missed parts 1 and 2 of this series, I’m ranking all 15 Heritage sets from 2001 to 2015, rating them based on a number of factors, including the original design being “Heritaged”, how successful Topps was in replicating the design and feel of the set, and whether the Heritage cards changed my feelings towards the original cards.
For those who didn’t click the links, here’s a list of #15 through #10:
#15 – 2001 Heritage (1952 design)
#14 – 2011 Heritage (1962 design)
#13 – 2009 Heritage (1960 design)
#12 – 2010 Heritage (1961 design)
#11 – 2004 Heritage (1955 design)
#10 – 2006 Heritage (1957 design)
Once more, into the breach…
#9: 2003 Heritage (1954 Design)
It sounds kinda stupid on the surface, and almost a little heretical, but I prefer the blatant “homage” of 2000 Fleer Tradition…
…to the legitimacy of 2003 Heritage.
I suppose that part of that is because 2000 Tradition came first and I really enjoyed it, but when 2003 Heritage came out just a couple of years later, I ended up with sort of a “Meatloaf again?!?” attitude. Not Topps’ doing, but it still bit them in the butt.
It might also have something to do with the colors. It’s a little hard for me to say definitively, since I only own two cards from the 1954 set, but some of the Heritage colors seem a bit dull and muted compared to the original (and absolutely dull when compared to 2000 Tradition). What looks to be pea green in the original is more or less olive drab in Heritage; what’s a reddish orange in the original is cantaloupe in the Heritage set.
The backs are nicely done and colorful.
One thing I didn’t realize about 1954 Topps until 2003 Heritage came out was the fact that the color background goes off the top of the card, and the white border is only along the sides and bottom. It’s a little detail that I kinda like, even if I’m not 100% sure I understand it.
Like it’s two predecessors, 2003 Heritage has no subsets other than the checklist cards which aren’t really part of the set.
How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals: It wasn’t until a year ago that I said “Hey, I don’t own a single baseball card from 1954, what’s up with that?” Part of what’s up with that is that I don’t often spend much time hunting for cards from before my Mets existed, but the Heritage set gets a tiny bit of blame for not igniting a fire underneath my butt.
2003 Heritage cards in my collection: 56 cards out of 430 in the set (13%)
#8: 2015 Heritage (1966 Design)
I don’t think there’s any question that this year’s Heritage set suffers from following a set based on the classic 1965 design. It’s not like I don’t care for the 1966 design in use this year, but it still suffers by comparison.
Even so, the design is still one I appreciate in a “Less is more” sort of way.
…And I do think that Topps did a decent job of re-creating the original, with some notable exceptions like inexplicably changing the color of the lettering on Cubs cards. They did fine on most of the other teams, and the backs are pretty nicely done …even if the card numbers are a little hard to read, but that’s a mix of the pink being a shade too light and it not being a great idea to begin with.
I think one of the reasons why this year’s Heritage is a little more “meh” than it had to be is because of the photograph selection. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the photographs used are bad, they’re largely fine taken on a case-by-case basis. My problem is that, as a set there’s an awful lot of sameness to it. Candid shots of players, “Photo Day” poses, the occasional standard action shot. Someone in the MLBPA needs to train these guys on how to strike appealingly fake-y baseball poses like this:
Maybe they should buy a few pizzas and have a “lunch and learn” on the subject.
Team cards were a somewhat controversial subject with this set; The original team cards featued a photo of – imagine that! – the team. This year, they have subsituted generic crowd shots which remind me of the Fleer “NFL In Action” cards of the 1970’s.
This Cardinals team card has a halfway-decent photo, but several of the others have a shot which is basically just the backs of several players. If it were something they could get away with, it’d be kind of fun to feature the 5th place teams as dejectedly walking off the field after yet another loss… that’s probably just the downtrodden Mets fan in me doing the talking.
Anyway… If this is the future of Heritage team cards, I’d just as soon they be done away with. Some of you might be saying that they can’t axe the team cards because they were in the original set. I say that ship has already sailed… You don’t see any Heritage checklist cards, do you? Huh? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Before I wrap up, I’d like to call attention to this particular card (Wainwright/Kershaw).
It’s not a tremendously great photograph, but it is a notable 21st century combo card… Both players are more or less facing the camera, and both players were photographed in the same place at the same time. It’s not two different photos digitally combined into the same image, it’s not a photo of two players who were brought into proximity of one another during the course of a game, these guys are actually together… on purpose. It happens so infrequently anymore that I felt I had to bring some attention to it.
How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals: 2015 Heritage made me doubt my fondness for 1966 Topps, and that can’t be a good thing. I did go back and spend some quality time with my cards from ’66 and yeah, I still like them.
2015 Heritage cards in my collection: This is kind of pointless in that the numbers will change as soon as I buy another pack or blaster, but… 121 / 500 (24%)
#7: 2008 Heritage (1959 Design)
For the longest time, I’d never really thought of 1959 Topps as my kind of set… I prefer cards where the photo takes up a larger percentage of the real estate.
By the time 2008 rolled along, I’d gotten into something of a Heritage habit, plus there wasn’t much in terms of non-foil-y, non-glitzy 2008 sets to compete with Heritage. That turned out to be a good thing, because it gave the 2008 Heritage set time to grow on me. The more packs I bought, the more cards I thumbed through, the more I understood their appeal.
I grew to appreciate the colorful borders, the “friendly” lower case lettering at the top, and the fact that the “spotlight” design necessarily limits the type of photos that Topps could use… The border draws the attention to the player while only allowing space for a portrait, or maybe a fake swing of the bat.
I like the backs, but I wish I’d scanned a card which had a cartoon.
Too late, I’m not going back. You should’ve thought of that before we left the gas station.
The subsets in 2008 Heritage fall into the category of “A little busy for my tastes, but damned if it doesn’t work”.
It would’ve looked a little better if they came up with a fake name that’s longer than “Topps News”… it doesn’t fill up the card as nicely as “Sporting News” did… but that’s a minor quibble.
Take everything I just said about the Rookie Stars subset and apply it to the All-Stars subset.
I also very nearly forgot to include these, but I like the combo cards in this set, even if they do illustrate the very “Photoshopped together” combo card I was kvetching about above:
How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals: This is kind of a tricky situation. I really like the Heritage set quite a bit, but I never went back and bought large quanties of 1959 Topps as a result. I have just 6 cards from the original. As with all sets from before 1962, it suffers from not having any Mets to chase and no large wantlist that gets me diving into that section of my favorite “Bargain Bins”, but I also think that this is a case where I like the Heritage set better than the original. Maybe at my next show, I should go through the 1959’s from my favorite dealers and pick up some Orioles and “Guys who would eventually be Mets” and see if it even things up a bit.
2008 Heritage cards in my collection: 326 / 722 (45.2%)
We’re coming down the home stretch, next week will feature #’s 6, 5 and 4. I’d tease it a bit more than that, but that would require my being able to remember which sets those are. Don’t remember, I’ve got it written down… somewhere around here…