I don't think I've seen a more two-faced set than Topps Archives.
While I wasn't that huge on the brand last year, I was eager to see its return in 2013. Now that the second Archives release has come and gone, I'm not so sure I want to see it back for 2014.
As I've said before, it has more potential than almost any other brand out there. I firmly believe that the idea for Archives is a good one. The execution, on the other hand, has been absolutely dreadful.
If Topps doesn't want to put any effort into it, though, they might as well just scrap the set altogether.
Because of its hair-ripping shortcomings, I haven't bought much Archives this year, despite the fact that I need a bunch for my various player collections.
Luckily, I have the great people of the blogosphere to help me out in that regard. Reader Doug, who I don't believe has a blog yet, recently sent me a nice stack of Archives, whittling my want list down to a mere few.
I must admit, I rather like this Cespedes. For whatever reason, the thumbs-up dugout shot is very reminiscent of '72 Topps to me.
Forgive me if you've heard this before, but there's one major problem with Archives that Topps really needs to address.
While nice, that very same shot appeared on last year's A&G issue of Mr. Cespedes. There's more than enough photos of him to go around, Topps.
All nine of these shots fell victim to the Archives recycling treatment as well. All are welcome additions to my player collections, of course, but I can't help but notice the reused photos. They stick out like a sore thumb in binders.
Plus, recycling a photoshopped photo (with the Morales) is about ten times as bad.
And can we please find a new Jackie Robinson shot to use?
As aggravating as the brand can be, though, there's a delightful aspect of Archives as well.
I can't say I've ever seen this particular shot of "Mr. October" before. And while I love cards of him as an Oakland A or New York Yankee, it's nice to see Jackson as an Angel every once in a while.
This is the upside of Archives.
As are these.
Again, both of these photos are new to me. Plus, it's not often you see an Expo pop up in a 2013 set, now, is it?
While I've tried to like it, the 1990 Topps release is probably in my bottom five all-time Topps sets. Nothing about the design works for me. I found it curious that Topps chose to feature it in 2013 Archives.
That said, something about the Palmer works well with the 1990 design. I can't quite put my finger on what it is.
If everything from '90 Topps looked as good as that, well...
I'd sure like it a whole lot more.
More original photos!
This is the first I'm seeing of either of these shots. The Hamilton is most likely a photoshop job, but it's a darn good one.
Topps should keep whoever retouched that one on their payroll.
"Pops" proved to be my favorite piece from Doug's assortment of Archives.
In fact, it's one of my "Cards of the Year" for 2013 as of this writing.
I absolutely love those late '70s/early '80s pinstriped Pirates jerseys. Topps did an excellent job with the black-and-gold color combo as well.
Its most redeeming quality, however, is the very old-school cap-under-batting helmet look that Stargell is sporting there. Very few, if any, of today's big leaguers utilize that style.
I think it's a look that's more than deserving of a comeback.
If every card in Archives were as good as Mr. Stargell here, then Topps would have a surefire winner.
Even just stopping with the recycled photos would make Archives one of the better releases of the year. Like I said, the potential is certainly there.
I just want to see Topps put a little more effort into the Archives brand.
Is that too much to ask?
I sure don't think so.