Friday, June 21, 2013

2013 Topps Archives: Wasted potential

At its base, the concept behind Topps Archives is a good one.

A great deal of collectors seem to enjoy seeing recent stars on old-time designs. Whether it's due to a love for vintage, nostalgia, or whatever else, it's certainly a popular concept in the world of cardboard. I know I've always been on board with it.

When it's executed correctly, that is.

Sadly, this year's Archives looks to be a prime example of a good idea gone wrong. From the looks of it, Topps just doesn't seem to want to put too much effort into many of their non-Flagship brands this year.

Save for perhaps Opening Day, Archives probably represents the pinnacle of wasted potential in today's hobby.

And, although I'd seen enough from other blogs to know it'd be a "meh" set for me, the familiar pack-busting urge got the better of me during a recent Target visit. As a result, I grabbed a rack pack off the shelves. Mr. Morneau was one of the first cards to greet me.

The oldest design Topps chose to feature in this year's Archives release is their iconic '72 "psychedelic tombstone" set. Personally, it's my third-favorite Topps design, right after 1965 and '75.

Still, Topps already quenched my '72 Topps thirst with their similarly-designed minis in 2013 Flagship. While I love the set, I really didn't need to see it repeated in Archives.

Topps is hovering quite close to killing one of my all-time favorite sets. So, please Topps, don't do it.

For all our sakes.

I was disappointed in the rest of Topps' set choices for this year's Archives release.

Next to 1989, '82 is most likely my least favorite Topps design of the 1980's. As I've mentioned before, the "hockey sticks" don't do it for me.

And, just like with the original '82s, the facsimile signature takes away from the look, rather than adding on to it. On top of that, there's another huge problem I have with this particular card, but we'll get to that later.

Nevertheless, I was quite happy to land a card of fellow February 19th "birthday boy" Josh Reddick in my rack pack. Thankfully, I've had pretty good luck at pulling his cards from packs thus far in 2013.

Let's hope that trend continues.

After '89 and '82, 1985 is probably my third-least favorite Topps set of the '80s.

Still, it's not an atrocious one by any means. And, yes, it had the misfortune of being sandwiched between a few stellar Topps designs in '83, '84, '86, and '87. 

Why Topps chose this design for Archives, I'll never know. It's not a particularly memorable one to many collectors, at least from what I've heard.

I'll give Topps some credit here, though. The red-blue White Sox color combo is a nice nod to their '70s and '80s uniforms.

Such a choice is fitting for a throwback set like Archives.

To me, the 1990 design just doesn't work in this year's Archives.

It's not one of my favorites, to say the least. It'd probably rank in the bottom five all-time Topps sets if I had to make a list.

I know other collectors have nostalgic childhood ties to it. That's great. I also have such feelings towards 2002 Topps, a set which most collectors seem to hate quite a bit.

Still, I wasn't even born yet when 1990 Topps hit the streets. And, despite their colorfulness, the design simply never struck a chord with me.

Action shots were few and far between in the original 1990 checklist. At least Topps chose to mix in a few nice action-filled photos this time around.

Design aside, this is a perfectly nice Wrigley Field shot of Mr. Castro.

Now, let's get on with the biggest gripe I have with 2013 Archives.

It's one you've probably already heard a million times before, so I'll try to keep it short.

During my fairly brief rack pack bust last week, I had quite a few feelings of deja vu. Over and over again, I kept asking myself...

"Haven't I seen this shot before?"

As it turns out, I pretty much had. McCann's Archives issue features a shot that's virtually identical to his 2013 Heritage issue. And that nice "throwback" shot of Arroyo is the exact same one that was featured on his Flagship card.

Oh, and that '82-themed Reddick I featured earlier? That again features the exact same shot that we saw on his '72 mini insert from Flagship.

This is where the whole "wasted potential" idea really starts to come into play.

There have to be hundreds (if not thousands) of different shots of today's players available to Topps. Yet they still feel the need to recycle photos across various 2013 products.

I just don't get it.

Still, let's not end things on a bad note here.

I did pull one jaw-dropping card from my rack pack with Mr. Bench here.

Last year, I raved about the insert selection that Archives offered. As it happens, I'm saying the same in 2013.

These '83 All-Star inserts are spectacular. As are the "Tall Boy" and "Gallery of Heroes" cards that I've seen on other blogs so far. (I wasn't lucky enough to pull either of those from my rack pack.)

In the end, I can't justify buying many more three-dollar loose packs of five-buck rack packs if I'm not crazy about the base designs.

Still, I'll be chasing down these inserts with all my might.

Plus, I'm sure the base cards I need for player collections and such will soon wind up in dime boxes anyways.

So, while Archives isn't a terrible set by any stretch of the imagination, it's not one that I can get too excited about. I certainly want to, though. There's no question about that.

There's definitely some potential in the Archives brand. I think the inserts are a good indication of that. If Topps can somehow tidy up the base designs (and not use recycled photos), then I think they'd really have something.

Until then, though, it's just another "meh" set to me.


Crackin Wax said...

Justin Morneau--speaking of wasted potential. lol

Mark said...

Topps is slowly killing my interest in modern cards. I think the awkwardly flimsy cardstock ruins the entire Archives set for me.

I wonder if the limited number of photos has anything to do with Topps using freelance photos, rather than using their own exclusive photographers. I notice a lot of recycled shots, even for retired players who they should have a whole photo library of.

hiflew said...

You hit the nail on the head. 1972 was already done this year, so that's strike one.

1982, 85, and 1990 were the weakest sets of the 80's, so that's strike two.

Strike three in my mind, you didn't mention and that is with a set like Archives why have three sets from the same decade, let alone the worst three possible from the 80s.

Coupled with the Heavy Metal autographs, this set shouldn't have been called Archives. It should have been called "Let's Pander to the 80's Children." As an 80's child, I am insulted by this "set."

Michael Chase said...

They look so plain and uninspired.

beefman said...

Can't help but agree with your sentiments here, Nick. After last years 'revival' of the Archives brand, I was seriously excited about this years set. While not terrible, Topps choices of sets to emulate is puzzling, indeed!

I was going to purchase a hobby box this year, but I think I'll grab one of last years boxes for a cheap price instead.

A great read, mate!

Nick J

Fuji said...

I know I'm in the minority... but I love this product and actually really like the 1982 and 1985 set designs. I'm hoping prices of this product fall due to the lack of interest... so I can build me a set.

petethan said...

I actually like that they used some of the less revered, and revisited, set designs. Better than rehashing the same handful of designs each year. The biggest problem, in my eyes, with this set is that they got 1990 all wrong. I've tried to hate that design, but I can't. The Archives border is way too thin, and it really suffers for it.