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…

1957

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.

1962

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.

1973

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.

1983

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.

1991

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

2001

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.

2011

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?

 

Predicting The Designs Used For 2021 Topps Archives

Since 2017 I’ve been predicting what the following year’s Archives set might look like. At the beginning I had some ideas on the guidelines Topps was using to select a design and I did pretty well predicting what 2018 Topps Archives would look like. I did the same with predictions for 2019 Topps Archives, with far less impressive results and my predictions for 2020 Archives turned out to be so completely wrong that I didn’t even bother to do a follow-up post when the previews were released.

To be honest, most of my theories on which designs get used have gone out the window over the past two years, but I’ve got some new ideas so I’ll give it the ol’ college try.

First, let me run through the “rules” that I’ve used in the past and which got blown away with 2019 and 2020 Topps Archives.

Broken Rule #1:  A design has to be over 25 years old.
This rule held pretty well for a while, but then when Topps used an 18-year-old design this year (2002 Topps), that put a dent in this guideline.

Broken Rule #2:  There’s a “No-Fly Zone” surrounding each year’s Heritage set. 
For a while Topps was giving a lot of space around that year’s Heritage set… My thinking was that they wouldn’t want to do a set that had been done in Heritage over the prior 7 years, and they also wouldn’t want to do a design that will be used for Heritage in the next 7 years.  Last year this rule got broken by using the 1975 Topps design (five years before it would be used in Heritage) and this year they broke it even more by using the 1974 Topps design (which will be 2023 Heritage).

Broken Rule #3A & 3B:  No sets that weren’t on “real cardboard” (i.e. 1993 and later) and no sets with foil (1995 and later).
The first rule got shot down last year when they used the 1993 design and the second got shot down this year when they used the 2002 design.

Since I had this table from past years, here’s an overview of the different designs used in Archives since 2012, along with the “No Fly Zone” of +/- 7 years, which, as I’ve mentioned is already toast:

Year Heritage Archives 1 ArchiVes 2 Archives 3 Archives 4 “No-Fly zone”
2012 1963 1954 1971 1980 1984 1956-1970
2013 1964 1972 1982 1985 1990 1957-1971
2014 1965 1973 1980 1986 1989 1958-1972
2015 1966 1957 1976 1983 n/a 1959-1973
2016 1967 1953 1979 1991 n/a 1960-1974
2017 1968 1960 1982 1992 n/a 1961-1975
2018 1969 1959 1977 1981 n/a 1962-1976
2019 1970 1958 1975 1993 n/a 1963-1977
2020 1971 1955 1974 2002 n/a 1964-1978

So let’s run down the designs that I’ll be ruling out as candidates for 2021 Archives…

2021 Heritage will use the 1972 design and 2022 Heritage will use the 1973 design.  I’m going to rule those two out.

I’m going to stick with the “No-Fly Zone” on the back end (don’t use the prior 7 Heritage sets), so I’ll rule out any designs from 1965 to 1971.

Another rule I’m sticking with is that Topps wouldn’t reuse a design which had been used in the prior four Archives sets (2017 – 2020) or any “flagship” insert sets over the same period.  For the Archives part of it, that rules out 1955, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1992, 1993 and 2002.  The inserts used recently have been 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986.

One new rule I’m using specifically for 2021 is that Topps will not use any designs which feature two separate photos.  With a shorter 2020 season and with photographers “socially distanced” from the field, I’m thinking that the number of usable photos will be fewer than usual… So that rules out the two-photo designs from 1954, 1956, 1963 and 2003, plus a couple of other sets we’ve already eliminated.

With all of this factored in, let’s go through all of the designs which are eligible:

1952 Topps has never been used in Archives, but I think that that Topps regards this as too “sacred” for use in a second-tier product like Archives.

1953 Topps is technically eligible (it was last used in 2016 Archives), but while “Living Set” is an ongoing product and using this design, I don’t think they would use it for anything else.

1957 Topps was last used in 2015.

1961 Topps has never been used in Archives.  It doesn’t get much love, but it’s grown on me as I’ve gotten more exposure to it. If Topps wants to lean into the 70th Anniversary aspect of their 2021 products, then they might go with this design which will be celebrating its 60th Anniversary next year.

1962 Topps also has not been used in Archives.  It would also be very easy to produce, because the design is exactly the same for every card, no messing with colors or logos.

1964 Topps has never been used in Archives, and I think it’s a pretty strong candidate.

(This is where we skip through the tattered remains of my “No-Fly Zone” and into the first 1970s set which is eligible…)

1976 Topps was last used for Archives in 2015, but if they’re going to continue with using 1970’s designs not long before it gets used for Heritage, this seems like a possibility.

1978 Topps has never been done in Archives. I’ve routinely dismissed it as a Archives candidate, but I’ve come around on this.  Here’s why…

That red script “White Sox” is not a font.  Each one was created by a Topps artist without the aid of a computer.  Because it’s not a font that can be downloaded and installed, it’s going to be challenging to create the script for the 7 current teams which hadn’t existed in 1978.

Topps recently used the 1974 and 1975 designs in Archives several years before it was slated for use in Heritage.  What if it was done intentionally so that they could make an attempt and have all of us do the “quality assurance” on it before Topps uses the same template and techniques and so forth on a higher-profile product like Heritage?

Maybe I’ve been reading too many conspiracy theories on Twitter.

1979 Topps was used in 2016 Archives, so it’s unlikely… But unlike 1978, 1979 is easy peasy to replicate.  Ask anyone who has made custom cards.

1980 Topps was used in 2012 and came back again in 2014. Enough time has passed since the last time, but I don’t see a need to use it a third time when there are designs which have never been used.

The 1988 Topps design has never been used in Archives, and that just doesn’t seem right to me.

1989 Topps was used in 2014 and was also done as die-cut minis in the same year’s flagship.  I’d like to think we’ve seen enough 1989 for a while (but I’m biased because I don’t like the 1989 design)

1990 Topps was used in 2013, but there aren’t a lot of people clamoring for its return.

1991 Topps was used in 2016 Archives, but like with 1961 Topps, it’s a set celebrating an anniversary (They’d have to change the logo to read “70 Years of Baseball”)

1994 Topps has never been used for Archives.  The script font used for the player’s name could be problematic… or not.  I don’t know.  I thought Topps would be going head-first into the 1990’s around now, but then they started into 2002.

1995 Topps Now that we know they’re willing to use foil on Archives sets, this one is a possibility

1996 Topps That weird photo thing in the nameplate seems like more work than Topps generally puts into Archives, so I’m not thinking this one is likely.

1997 Topps – I bet the Archives team would screw up the “Red borders for AL teams, green borders for NL teams” convention of the original.

1998 Topps I’ve got little to say about this set.  It’s nice.

1999 Topps – I wonder if there’s too little going on with this design to make it an appealing option for Archives.

2000 Topps is another nice looking set

2001 Topps – Next year will be the 20th anniversary of this set, so…

2004 Topps  Probably a little too recent, and I don’t think they’d want to duplicate that little player artwork in the lower left.

2005 Topps  – I’m going to set this as the most recent set to be a candidate, but I wouldn’t expect it to be a huge favorite to get the nod.


OK, prediction time!  I think that with Topps celebrating a 70th anniversary in 2021, they will lean into that with Archives and feature the three sets which will also be celebrating anniversaries… it’s not something they’ve done before, but they’re clearly pushing envelopes with Archives.

I predict that they’ll use the three ‘eligible’ sets which have anniversaries:  1961, 1991 and 2001

In the past I’ve picked the designs I’d like to see, but I feel like a broken record on that subject, so I’m going to say I’d like to see Topps do what some people on blogs and social media have suggested – use designs from vintage football, hockey and basketball Topps sets.  This might get elaborated on in a post to follow.  It also might not.

And now it’s reader feedback time, and I am truly interested in your input…

Which designs do you think Topps will use in 2021?

Which would you pick if you were the “product manager” for 2021 Topps Archives?

Predicting The Designs Used For 2020 Topps Archives

Back in 2017 I put some theories of mine to the test and made predictions about what 2018 Topps Archives would look like. When 2018 Archives came out I was surprised to find I got two out of three correct. I did the same predictions for 2019 Topps Archives, with far less impressive results.  Now that 2019 Topps Archives is on the shelves, I figure that it’s pretty much “tradition” at this point to keep going and see how I do in prediction 2020 Archives.

From analyzing Topps’ choices for Archives from 2012 to 2019, I have a few observations which I will use as guidelines to figuring out which designs they’ll use next year.

First off, a design has to be over 25 years old.  At one point I thought that they wouldn’t go past what I considered the end of “real cardboard” – which I recently came to understand is cardboard that’s coated on just the one side, leaving the other side raw cardboard – but that “real cardboard theory” got blown out of the water this year when Topps did the 1993 design (as with the originals, coated on both sides).

The second rule is that there’s a “No-Fly Zone” surrounding each year’s Heritage set.  For two years I said it was a 15-year No-Fly Zone, but Topps screwed me up this year by including the 1975 design just a few years before it will be done in Heritage.  I still want to think that Topps doesn’t like Archives stepping on the toes of the much more valuable property that is Heritage, and I suspect that this is the exception,  not a new rule (but you can never be sure with Topps).

Here’s a updated table which shows that the “No-Fly Zone Theory” holds up;  In the table below, the “No Fly Zone” is plus or minus 7 years, despite this year’s set “violating the terms of the treaty”:

Year Heritage Archives 1 ArchiVes 2 Archives 3 Archives 4 “No-Fly zone”
2012 1963 1954 1971 1980 1984 1956-1970
2013 1964 1972 1982 1985 1990 1957-1971
2014 1965 1973 1980 1986 1989 1958-1972
2015 1966 1957 1976 1983 n/a 1959-1973
2016 1967 1953 1979 1991 n/a 1960-1974
2017 1968 1960 1982 1992 n/a 1961-1975
2018 1969 1959 1977 1981 n/a 1962-1976
2019 1970 1958 1975 1993 n/a 1963-1977

2020 Heritage will feature the design from 1971 Topps, so that means the “No-Fly Zone” should, at the very least, cover the years from 1967 (4 years before) to 1975 (4 years after);  I’m thinking it might go back to being more like the full 15 years, which would be from 1964 to 1978.

Another rule I’m sticking with is that Topps wouldn’t reuse a design which had been used in – at the very least – the prior four Archives sets (2016 – 2019) or any insert sets over the same period.

With all of this factored in, let’s go through all of the designs which are eligible (and I’m also going to list many of the ineligible designs just to help myself keep things straight.

1952 Topps has never been used in Archives, but I think that that Topps regards this as too “sacred” for use in a second-tier product like Archives.

1953 Topps is ineligible as it was used for 2016 Archives and is being used for the “Living Set”

1954 Topps has not been used since 2012, but it involves two photos which means that Topps would have to buy twice as many photos for this “subset”, so that makes it less likely to my thinking.  On the other hand, Topps surprised me in this year’s Archives by using a different photo on the back of the 1993 designs, so this is not as unlikely as I thought it was a year or two ago.

1955 Topps has never been used in Archives, but also has the “two photo” issue.

1956 Topps also has never been used in Archives, but as the background image needs plenty of… well… background, I expect that Topps will avoid using this design for Archives.

1957 Topps was last used in 2015… Maybe a little too recent, but a popular design which is always a threat to show up.

1958 through 1960 are ineligible because they were used recently for Archives (1958 used this year, 1959 used last year, 1960 used in 2017).

1961 Topps has never been used in Archives.  It doesn’t get much love, but I’ll admit it’s grown on me as I’ve gotten more exposure to it.

1962 Topps also has not been used in Archives.  It would also be very easy to produce, because the design is exactly the same for every card, no messing with colors or logos.  Because it was used for the “Sandlot” insert last year, I don’t see it being used in 2020 Archives but I think that we’ll see it somewhere in the next year or two.

1963 Topps has never been used in Archives and would been just emerging from the back end of a 15-year No-Fly Zone.

1964 Topps has never been used in Archives, would be ineligible under the 15-year No-Fly, but eligible under the 9-year No-Fly.

1965 Topps:  Copy what I just said about 1964.

1966 Topps became eligible under the revised “No-Fly Zone”, as it will be five years since this design was used for 2015 Heritage.

1967 to 1975 are covered under the revised No-Fly Zone.

1976 Topps was last used for Archives in 2015, but would not be eligible under the 15-year Zone, so I shy away from this.

1977 Topps was used in 2018 Archives.

1978 Topps has never been done in Archives. Because the script for each team is individual art and not a font, this isn’t easily replicated for the 7 current teams which hadn’t existed in 1978, plus (if they go crazy with the legends) the teams which stopped existing before 1978 (Browns, Senators, Pilots).  I frankly don’t think we’ll see this design used until 2027 Topps Heritage.

1979 Topps was used in 2016 Archives.

1980 Topps was used in 2012 and came back again in 2014. Enough time has passed since the last time, but I don’t see a need to use it a third time when there are designs which have never been used.

1981 Topps was used in 2019 Archives.

1982 Topps was used in 2017 Archives.

1983 Topps was an insert in 2018 Topps flagship.

1984 Topps was an insert in 2019 Topps flagship.

1985 Topps will be an insert in 2020 Topps flagship.

1986 Topps was used in 2014 Archives.

1987 Topps was used as an insert in 2017 Topps flagship.

The 1988 Topps design has never been used, and that just doesn’t seem right to me.

1989 Topps was used in 2014 and was also done as die-cut minis in the same year’s flagship.

1990 Topps was used in 2013, but a lot of people would like to see it stay out of use… plus I expect that the other eligible 1990’s design is going to get used and I don’t see them using two 1990’s designs.

1991 Topps was used in 2016 Archives

1992 Topps was used in 2017 Archives

1993 Topps was used in 2018 Archives.

1994 Topps has never been used for Archives and is newly eligible under the “more than 25 years” rule.


OK, prediction time! As with the the prior posts in this series, I’m going to run down what I predict will be used, and what I would like to be used.

PREDICTIONS:
Of the 1950’s and 1960’s designs that I believe Topps is likely to use, I feel that 1963 is the most iconic design and has not yet been used for Archives, so I’m going with that.

I also think they’ll continue to go into the 1990’s and use 1994 Topps.  One strong advantage of 1994 Topps is that, unlike most of the other candidates, the design can be used for horizontal photos .

Because Topps seems to be targeting collectors who are younger than Baby Boomers, I think the third design will be something from the 1970’s or 1980’s.  I don’t think they’d use 1976 after using it in 2015, I don’t think they’ll ever use 1978 for Archives, 1980 has already been used twice, and with 1994 already in the set I don’t see them using 1988, 1989 or 1990… Which leaves us with 1986 Topps:

…and now…

WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE

If it were me in charge of deciding which designs to use, I’d go 1961, 1978 and 1988.

And now it’s reader feedback time, and I am truly interested in your input…

Which designs do you think Topps will use in 2020?

Which would you pick if you were the “product manager” for 2020 Topps Archives?

Last August I Tried To Predict The Designs Used In 2019 Topps Archives… How’d I Do?

The answer to how well I did on my predictions from last August is… ummmm… Not well.

Thanks for stopping by!  Remember that The Shlabotnik Report is also out on Twitter!

Nah, I’m not getting out of it that easily. I thought I had a decent handle on how Topps picks designs, and in 2017 I got two out of three right for the 2018 Archives.  This time around, I… uhhh… Well, let’s go through it one by one.

The first design (1950’s / early 1960’s)

What I predicted:  The 1961 design.  Back in August, I said “It’s never been used in Archives before, plus duplicating a design doesn’t get much easier than this.”  By the way, this custom is from August, which is why Sergio Romo is shown with the Rays instead of the Marlins.

What Topps is going with:  1958 Topps.  This is a design that’s never been used in Archives.  In August I had suspected that divorcing the player from the photo background was more effort than Topps would want to put into a set like Archives.

One thing that was noticed by a number of people before I caught on:  Jeets’ head is in front of the text, something that didn’t happen in 1958 Topps.

Moving on to the “middle” set…

I predicted the 1985 design.  I figured it was popular, simple to re-create and hadn’t been used in Archives since 2013.

What Topps is going with:  1975.  This choice made me raise my one eyebrow and say “Fascinating” in my best Mr. Spock voice.

Why is it fascinating?  Because I didn’t think that 1975 was even in play;  This same design will be used for 2024 Topps Heritage, a mere five years away.  This short of a timeframe between Archives and a similar Heritage set is unprecedented.  On the other hand, 1975 is a popular design and has not been replicated for Archives before.

Fun little touch with the Ohtani:  In 1975, there was only one Angel with the purple/magenta border and that was Nolan Ryan (although on the original the player’s name was in white, not black).

Just for funsies I made an image with the top of an original and an Archives Angels card (and cranked up the brightness/contrast on the Archives so we could see the drop shadow better).  The original is on top.

The font’s not quite the same, but I suppose it’s close enough for Archives.  It’s also somewhat satisfying that the Archives card isn’t really any better than what I did last year for my Olympic Curling customs (pauses to pat himself on the back).

OK, I don’t mean to distract from the fact that I’m Oh-for-Two at this stage.  Let’s get on to…

The Third, “later” design:

In August I did a ‘Hail Mary’ and predicted a set that had never been done for Archives before, the 1988 design.

Instead, Topps surprised me again by going with the 1993 design which – repeat after me – had never been used in Archives before.

1992 was the last year that Topps used “real” cardboard for their set, so I thought/guessed that it might be the upper limit of Archives.  It appears that I was wrong.  I’ll be interested to how the card stock for the 1993 design differs from the other two “subsets”.

I did another side-by-side comparison of the 1993 Topps design and the 2019 Archives replication.  The font for the player name is different, which looks like it might be less legible than the original (but which I’m less concerned about because I’m not a huge fan of 1993).

OK, so I got completely shut out on my predictions this time around.  As they say in the corporate world, “What are the Lessons Learned?”

  1. Topps is not averse to tightening up that “No-Fly zone” around their Heritage sets.  Before now, there had appeared to be a 15-year “No-Fly Zone” around the current Heritage set, but it looks like this gets changed to 9 years – the current year plus four years before and four years after. (1970 design for Heritage means a “No-Fly Zone” from 1966 to 1974).
  2. Topps is also not averse to a little heavy lifting for designs like 1958 (and, hopefully, for 1988 in the future).
  3. While the “Nothing from the past 25 years” rule holds fast, the “Nothing outside of the true cardboard era” rule is apparently shot to hell with the use of the 1993 design.

So that’s the rundown of my epic fail.  With that out of the way, what do you think of the designs chosen for 2019 Archives?  Are you more or less likely to collect the set?

I’m not sure myself…  1993 is OK but not a favorite, I like 1958 and I went nuts for 1975 as a kid.  I don’t think I’ll know how hard I’ll chase these until I get the cards in hand and see what kind of emotional triggers are… um… triggered.

Predicting The Designs Used For 2019 Topps Archives

Back in 2017 I put some theories of mine to the test and made predictions about what 2018 Archives would look like. When the set was announced earlier this year, I surprised many – myself included – by getting two out of three correct.

(I confess that there’s a small part of me which would like to think that someone at Topps had read my blog and said “He’s right, we should use the 1959 and 1981 designs in 2018 Archives!”)

Now that the dust has settled on 2018 Archives, I figure it’s time to make my predictions for next year’s Archives set.

From analyzing Topps’ choices for Archives from 2012 to 2018, I have a few observations which I will use as guidelines to figuring out which designs they’ll use next year.

Observation #1: Challenging designs are not welcome
Topps doesn’t seem to want to take on challenges when adapting Topps designs for Archives.  By “challenges”, I mean that in terms of 1) re-creating the design, with all the proper artwork, borders, fonts, etc., and 2) in terms of implmenting that design for 100 different base cards. Topps seems to lean towards designs where they can effectively slap a border down over a picture, change the player name, team name and colors, and be done. It’s a bit more work when there are card designs where the player’s image overlaps with the team name or other part of the design…

…or where the player is shown in front of a colored background (requiring that the original background be removed).

Observation #2: Topps stops where the “real cardboard” stopped.
Archives has yet to feature a design from any later than 1992, the last year Topps used “real cardboard” for the cardstock.

Observation #3: There’s a 15-year “No-Fly Zone” surrounding each year’s Heritage set
I’m confident about this one, and the data backs me up. Topps doesn’t want Archives to step on the toes of the much more valuable property that is Heritage, so they will not use designs which had been used for Heritage in the prior 7 years, nor ones which will be used for Heritage in the next 7 years.

Here’s a table (updated from last year) which shows that the “No-Fly Zone Theory” holds up:

Year Heritage Archives 1 ArchiVes 2 Archives 3 Archives 4 “No-Fly” (+/- 7)
2012 1963 1954 1971 1980 1984 1956-1970
2013 1964 1972 1982 1985 1990 1957-1971
2014 1965 1973 1980 1986 1989 1958-1972
2015 1966 1957 1976 1983 n/a 1959-1973
2016 1967 1953 1979 1991 n/a 1960-1974
2017 1968 1960 1982 1992 n/a 1961-1975
2018 1969 1959 1977 1981 n/a 1962-1976

2019 Heritage will feature the design from 1970 Topps, so that means the “No-Fly Zone” will cover the years from 1963 (7 years before) to 1977 (7 years after).

OK, with those ground rules in place, let’s place a few more restrictions in place…

I would hope that Topps wouldn’t reuse a design which had been used in – at the *very* least – the prior four Archives sets. That eliminates 1953, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1991 and 1992.

I’m also going to assume that Topps will avoid designs recently used as inserts in Topps Series 1 & 2.  The 2017 set had a 1987 insert, this year we have a 1983 insert, and next year we’ll have a 1984 insert.

With all of this factored in, that leaves us 14 candidates for 3 Archives designs.  I’m going to touch on these in chronological order.

1952 Topps has never been used in Archives, but it seems like Topps regards this as almost too “sacred” for use in Archives.

The next three designs would, to my thinking, require slightly more effort and cost than Topps might want to take on.  In all three they’d have to use two images per card (so 200 images rather than 100), and also remove the background from those 200 different photos.

…And honestly, every year we complain about how Topps didn’t center this text right or didn’t correctly sweat some detail.  Do you think they want to sweat more details than they have to?

1954 Topps has not been used since 2012.

1955 Topps has never been used in Archives.

1956 Topps also has never been used in Archives, but it’s even more challenging than the others because the background photo needs enough extra real estate for the player portrait to sit in front of.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Topps just dances around this design and never quite gets around to doing it for Archives.

1958 Topps has never been used in Archives and is a classic design.  Yes, it also has the issue of requiring more time to remove the background from the player photo, but sooner or later Topps is going to have to get back to these.

1961 Topps also has never been used in Archives.

1962 Topps also has not been used in Archives and also has the upside of just having emerged from the bottom end of the “No Fly Zone”.  Ignore the solid background on this Casey Stengel card, that’s the exception rather than the rule.

It would also be very easy to produce, because the design is exactly the same for every card, no messing with colors or logos. The downside is that it is being used in this year’s Archive “Sandlot” insert, so I think that’s going to “ding” it just enough to remove it from this year’s consideration. I see this is as a strong possibility for 2020 Archives.

We jump ahead 16 years, across the No-Fly Zone, to 1978 Topps.

This has never been done in Archives and will enter the No-Fly Zone after 2019.  Because the team name is not a font and isn’t easily replicated for the 7 current teams which hadn’t existed in 1978, I think the next time we’ll see this design used is for 2027 Topps Heritage.

1980 Topps was used in 2012 and came back again in 2014.  The reaction to using two designs so close together was bad enough that I have to think they’d be hesitant to use this design a third time in the near (or not-so-near) future.

1985 Topps was used in 2013 Archives.

1986 Topps was used in 2014 Archives.

The 1988 Topps design has never been used, and I don’t know why… other than having the player’s head/bat/arm overlap with the team name might make this somewhat unpopular design more trouble than it’s worth.

Me, I love this design. On the other hand, they did make a Major League Soccer insert based on this set, so maybe the “heavy lifting” is already done.

1989 Topps was used in 2014 and was also done as die-cut minis in the same year’s flagship.

1990 Topps was used in 2013

One last observation…

Archives generally favors designs which fall after the No-Fly Zone, but that’s getting more difficult each year that the Zone moves forward. In 2019 there’ll be 7 candidates from before and 8 after, but that number will flip in 2020. I expect that we’ll continue to have one design from before the Zone and two designs after the Zone, but that could change before too long.


OK, prediction time!  As with the last time, I’m going to run down what I predict will be used, and what I would like to be used (if they did it well, of course).

PREDICTIONS:
For a 1950’s/early 1960’s design, I’m going to go with 1961.

It’s never been used in Archives before, plus duplicating a design doesn’t get much easier than this… to prove my point, I whipped up the above custom completely from scratch in about 20 minutes.

1970’s/1980’s Design #1: I’ll go with 1985.

It’s pretty popular, easy to re-create (I think this one took about a half hour from the ground up) and hasn’t been used in number of years.

1970’s/1980’s Design #2: No matter what I do with this, I feel like I’m going out on a limb to some degree. 1986 might be a candidate except I wouldn’t think that they’d use consecutive years. Last year I felt that 1988 was more work than Topps wanted to expend, but with that MLS insert using this design I’m going to assume that they’ve got everything they need in their magic bag of tricks.

I’m going with 1988 as the third design.

…and now…

WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE

If it were me in charge of deciding which designs to use, I’d go with 8’s across the board: 1958, 1978, 1988.

And now it’s reader feedback time, and I am truly interested in your input…

Which designs do you think Topps will use in 2019?

Which would you pick if you were the “product manager” for 2019 Topps Archives?

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.