Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Making sense of 2016 Topps
I'm writing this post here in August of 2015, and we collectors already know what 2016 Topps is going to look like.
Topps released this preview image of next year's Flagship on Twitter yesterday, and social media has been abuzz ever since. (Well, at least my social media, since 95 percent of the people I follow are fellow card collectors.)
Chances are you'll see 834 different opinions on the 2016 design, and, to be honest, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.
I always love seeing the following year's look in advance, but it usually elicits nothing more than a cool, eh, or awful and I move on. I don't like to get too worked up until I have the cards in hand. But 2016 is different, because, as you can see, this will be the closest Topps has ever come to a full-bleed set.
It has the potential to be a landmark set, though only the future will tell whether that's a good or bad thing.
A lot of the reaction I saw on Twitter was along the lines of Ooh, I like it...it looks just like Stadium Club now.
This is very true, and most of you know how much I love Stadium Club. But I don't want Flagship to become Stadium Club, and, with the largely sans-borders design, I feel like Topps is trying to mesh the two in 2016. Topps is better when it's not trying to impersonate other sets.
The diagonal bar in the bottom-right corner of next year's design immediately gave off a strong '88 Topps vibe. And, although I didn't realize it until today, the nameplates are almost an exact replica of the 2011 Topps Stickers design. It's like the two had a baby, and, boom, out came 2016 Topps.
I also don't like the cloud filter on next year's design. It looks like a high school Graphic Arts project. I don't know why Topps has had an obsession with running their images through filters recently, but they should stop before it gets out of hand. (Maybe it already has.)
Overall, I don't think 2016 Topps is necessarily bad. Like this year, it looks like Topps is once again scrapping the foil. And, for the most part, the design isn't intrusive. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of photos Topps selects for the occasion.
The biggest fear I have about 2016 Topps is the possibility that it won't be memorable. I fear it'll become something like, say, 1997 Topps, a set where I have to stop and think for a moment to put the image and year together in my head. The 2016 design just doesn't feel like Topps, and I think the lack of borders has a lot to do with that.
I saw a lot of people on Twitter rating 2016 Topps on a 1-10 scale yesterday, and, for me, I think it rates as somewhere around a 5. Topps has definitely done worse (ahem...2012), but I'm not thrilled with next year's look.
I'm still not quite sure how I feel about images for next year already being released here in August, but, either way, I'll definitely be ripping some packs of 2016 Topps when the time comes.
Only about, oh...six months to go.