I think I've finally figured out why I always seem to exceed my budget when I make a card run at Target.
When I'm going there for something completely unrelated (pretzels, chips, etc.) I always tell myself not to even look at the card aisle. I usually walk out with cards. And when I say Okay, Nick: don't spend more than like $10-15 on cards this time -- like I did when I heard 2019 Archives was out -- I go over. True to form, I bought four Archives rack packs (in my favor, it's fiscally a way better deal than the blaster I originally planned on getting), lighting up the self-checkout lane with a number a bit over what I'd told myself just a few minutes earlier.
I think the problem lies in the fact that I try to constrain myself, and in an odd way I'm starting to think I'd spend less if I didn't set any kind of budget -- but for now, I'm ready to talk about those four rack packs of Archives.
#39 Pee Wee Reese
Selfishly, one of the reasons I like 2019 Archives is because the pack wrappers themselves are so thin I could easily see the first card through the wax (or whatever wrappers are made of these days).
Thus, I knew all four of the packs I bought had a card I needed batting leadoff -- like this excellent Pee Wee Reese in Pack #1.
#44 Jackie Robinson
I couldn't, however, see the second card in there, so this Jackie Robinson (double Dodger legends!) was a joyous surprise.
#66 Rod Carew
#58 Ryan Borucki
#25 Yusei Kikuchi
#121 Tony Gwynn
I've long been a fan of mixing legends and current stars in a product, but this pack did make me wonder if a set like Archives would be best served as an all-legend set -- I'll take Gwynns like this over Ryan Boruckis any day of the week.
#109 Andy Pettitte
#172 Steven Duggar
#199 Jacob deGrom
#158 Richie Ashburn
The world needs more Richie Ashburn cards.
#TM-16 George Springer, Topps Magazine insert
Oh man do I like these -- part of the reason I went with the rack packs over the blaster was because you're guaranteed a Topps Magazine insert in every pack.
I always like periodical-themed insert sets, and this one passes with flying colors: the little replicated bar code in the bottom corner is especially cool (although good luck finding any magazine for $2.95 these days).
#94FS-17 Luis Urias, 1994 Future Stars insert
#230 JP Crawford
#232 Victor Robles
#242 Zack Cozart
#212 Robin Roberts
I was most looking forward to seeing what Topps would do with the '93s in this year's Archives -- while I was kinda disappointed on that front (more on that in a bit) this Robin Roberts is nothing short of magnificent.
#262 Honus Wagner
#206 Carl Yastrzemski
#62 Lefty Grove
Lefty aside, this pack was painfully dull, so I thought I'd use it to make some comparisons.
The '58s are probably the most true to the original design -- the only real flaw I can see is that the photos on the '58s are backgrounded behind the name, while the 2019s overlap it (I prefer the former).
#89 Whitey Ford
#96 Lucas Giolito
#46 Jose Berrios
#71 Harrison Bader
#13 Austin Riley
#139 Joey Rickard
Thinking back, '75 is a good example of a design I like that Topps hasn't yet reprinted to death (ahem, '87).
But for some reason Topps has never seemed to replicate it exactly right -- the team and player names here are noticeably smaller than the originals, and while I'm no expert on them the color combos seem off to me.
#163 Shane Greene
#138 Lewis Brinson
#112 Maikel Franco
#170 Edwin Encarnacion
#TM-19 Jose Altuve, Topps Magazine insert
Two packs, two Astros magazine inserts.
#I-10 Ichiro Suzuki, Ichiro Retrospective insert
You won't find a bigger Ichiro fan than me, but even I think these inserts -- a series of reprints featuring Ichiro's entire Topps catalog -- are just about pointless.
#282 Kyle Tucker
#249 Johnny Mize
#252 Carlos Santana
#223 Jesus Aguilar
I was most looking forward to the '93s, and on the one hand I'm happy for any rehashing of the design since it's one of the more ignored in the Topps canon -- and one of my favorites of the '90s.
On the other hand, this is an awful representation of the original. I usually have to do side-by-side comparison to tell whether something is off or not, but I knew right away that the names on the 2019s were way too skinny in comparison to the '93s -- so much so that it's really jarring. The team names and colors aren't quite right, either.
So in the end I don't know how to feel about these: part of me is glad to see Topps give '93 its due, but still I can't help thinking about what could have been.
#209 Manny Machado
Oddly the first and last cards of this pack were by far the most interesting.
#50 Mookie Betts
I knew this pack was coming home with me as soon as I saw the name "Mookie" through the wrapper.
#18 Freddie Freeman
#36 Justin Smoak
#65 Wil Myers
#32 Jose Urena
#149 Frank Thomas
#184 Danny Jansen
#200 Bryce Harper
#146 Kyle Hendricks
The only Cubs keeper of the lot.
#131 Adalberto Mondesi
#113 Max Kepler
#329 Kyle Wright SP
#TM-14 Derek Jeter, Topps Magazine insert
Yes, I'm gonna show all of these.
#288 Justin Upton
#298 Jose Ramirez
#201 Babe Ruth
#227 Rickey Henderson
Add Rickey Henderson to the list of dudes who always seem to get great cards.
#250 Roberto Clemente
One of the blog laws I adhere to is that any blogger who pulls a Roberto Clemente card needs to show said Roberto Clemente card.
#6 Rhys Hoskins
Rhys Hoskins is a recent add to my catalog of player collections, so seeing him through the wrapper supplied all the convincing I needed to buy this pack.
#81 Dylan Bundy
#49 Hunter Dozier
#1 Derek Jeter
#29 Vladimir Guerrero
This is pretty much the image that comes to mind whenever I picture the legend that is Vladimir Guerrero.
#189 Phil Rizzuto
I'm also still trying to decide if I like the way Topps collates these packs -- unlike last year, I didn't pull a gluttony of doubles (actually none!), but similar to 2018, every pack bunches the cards in order of design.
You get the '58s, then the '75s, then the inserts and such, and then the '93s. In each and every pack. Part of why I love opening packs so much is the randomness of them, not knowing who or what you'll see at any given time. Archives loses some points there. But it is kinda visually appealing to see all the same designs bunched in a row, akin to a visual tour of the set.
The jury's still out on my feelings there, but there's no indecision as to the greatness of this '75-style Scooter.
#118 Roger Maris
#125 Mariano Rivera
#117 Francisco Arcia
#141 Touki Toussaint
#114 Early Wynn
#TM-5 Ken Griffey Jr., Topps Magazine insert
By far the best of the four magazine inserts.
#25 Yusei Kikuchi, silver parallel /99
It wasn't long ago I was lamenting how I couldn't seem to pull a Yusei Kikuchi card to save my life -- now the dude seems to be stalking me.
#292 Griffin Canning
#247 Bobby Doerr
Quite possibly my favorite card of all four packs.
#243 Juan Marichal
I guess I'll close with this magnificent image of Juan Marichal at his sidewinding best.
#295 Robin Yount
#272 Mike Piazza
Archives was nearly my set of the year a few seasons ago (2016), but I don't think it's quite managed to match that greatness since. The concepts are there -- cool inserts, honoring sets I like (1975! 1993!), and just being a fun pack to open overall -- but I just feel like it could be so much more. More faith to the originals, more creativity in checklist selection (more cards of somewhat forgotten/ignored dudes like Lefty Grove would be ideal), more...effort.
I often wish Topps would run a sweepstakes and let the winner gain full control over a baseball card set of their choice -- and if I became that lucky soul, I'd probably choose Archives, just for all the potential it so obviously has.