2001 Topps Archives is my favorite set of the last decade, and I'm glad to hear Topps finally got one right by cleaning the dust off of it and putting it out next year. Topps Archives was also released in '02, but it doesn't even sniff the '01 issue's originality.
A small part of the 2001 Archives set includes a player's highlights or All-Star cards. It looks like Brooks Robinson is stranded in a desert in his '71 highlights card, but it's a neat photo! I'm glad Topps produced a decent chunk of Stan Musial cards in 2011. He had next to none from 2006 to 2010. It's "Stan the Man" for goodness sake!
One of the main focuses of the 2001 Topps Archives base set was producing reprints of a player's first Topps issue. You probably already know this about me by now if you've read other posts here, but I really want to see more cards of older "semi-stars", guys like Hoyt Wilhelm (especially!) and Wilbur Wood pictured above. Hopefully Topps sticks to the '01 formula and includes guys like Jimmy Piersall and Vida Blue in their 2012 offering.
Here's another thing I really liked about the '01 Archives set. Most rookie cards from the '60s, '70s, and '80s featured a couple or a trio of players on one card. What Archives did was isolate a single player and make it into its own card. The original 1971 Topps George Foster has one other player on it, and the Fisk has two others. Another plus to reprinting these is that you get to see a player in an unfamiliar uniform on some of them. Who knew George Foster was a Giant? He doesn't look to happy about it on that card.
The other main portion of 2001 Archives was reprinting a player's final Topps issue. Again, you get to see some players in less-than-familiar uniforms. You also get a glimpse into some of the worst years of a lot of these guys' careers, when they were hanging on by a thread. Because the backs of the Archives cards are all-original as well, you get their full stats up to that point. And some of the stats on these are just awful. Roger Maris's '67 season wasn't too bad (.261 AVG-9 HR's-55 RBI's; OBP and slugging aren't on these so I'll just go off of what they give me), but he just looks so worn down in that picture.
Steve Carlton played about three or four years longer than he should've. There's a good chance that he's asking for a new ball after serving up a homer in that '87 Topps picture. He played for three teams in 1986. He'd finish up in 1988 with a 16.76 ERA for the Twins.
Carlton and Maris had cards issued by Topps in 2011. Hank Bauer and Boog Powell, on the other hand, did not. Let's hope for more cards of guys like Bauer and Powell in 2012 Archives!
But wait, there's more! Topps will also be inserting autographs designed like the 2003-2005 Topps Fan Favorites sets in Archives packs. I'm not huge on autographs anymore, but I may have to go after some of those. Fan Favorites is probably #2 on my favorite sets of the last decade list after Archives. The J.R. Richard autograph you see above is the only auto I have from the set. I wish I had more. On-card, vintage designs...what more do you need?
Thank you, Topps, for finally getting one right. Now don't ruin it!