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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New or Old - A Topps Retrospective

Maybe it has been too long since I have bought a pack of Topps base from a store, or any pack for that matter, but I was shocked to see that packs of 11 cards sell for damn near $3 at Walmart. Really? Perhaps the foil stamped glossy UV coated crap costs a lot? When I was a kid packs of cards sold for .25 to .50 and then rocketed to a cool one dollar when 89 Upper Deck came out. Anyway, what do you really get for that money?

This is not one of those candy bars used to cost a nickel 50 years ago so that's what they should cost now but this is an "are cards going in the right direction" post. It is also not a "too many releases" post either, although there are.

Consider that I started collecting cards and buying wax in 83 and did so until 92 seriously and then off and on until 2008 when I started buying wax again the following strikes me as odd. I can identify the year of every major release from 1933 to 92 but I would struggle with identifying most sets by year from 93 to present with few exceptions. There has been so much utter shit released since 92 that its impossible to keep up. Hopefully I will be able to illustrate the difference. Its my contention that quality suffers when you are pushing a product out the door every other week. Silly as it seems, that is precisely what Topps and UD have been doing for years and years.

Three quite nice sets. Simple, to the point, decent photos. Those are all from 1988. .45 a pack or so. Usually 2-3 boxes would make a set and a whole host of doubles to trade, sell or keep. Then what happened?

Is there anything that has been released since 1995 that compares? Mario is a fan of pinnacle, SPX and such and of course sets like that have their niche, but as sets and cards to collect it's my opinion that no single release comes close. 1988 isn't considered to be a strong year in design either. Some would argue that there are multiple insert sets that disprove my opinion, but that's not what I am getting at. As a set where would you rank the sets that have been released in the last 30 years?

Top of the list of sets in the last decade would be Heritage, Allen and Ginter, Goudey? Not so fast. The 1960 Topps set is still the 1960 Topps set. Allen and Ginter is still Allen and Ginter, Mayo, etc. Even if you wanted to put those on your list, a case doesn't always get you a set and costs you $700+

Don't get me wrong there are some decent sets out there. I like the 2009 Topps Football, 2008 Masterpieces, but the cards just don't hold up to scrutiny. Dinged corners make half the boxes a glossy mess. Also, have you ever tried to put together a set of Goudey. Good luck with that.

I'm not saying that 80's cards are the best. 50's, 60's and 70's have some awesome sets. Child please, anyone that argues that any set from the 90's or this decade that is better than any set from the 60's or 70's is embarrasing themselves and their family. So where did Topps get off track and why? Are/was Topps trying too hard. Chasing the all mighty dollar? Did they listen to too many bean counters?

Seems to me that Topps destroyed its tradition, and tradition is the basis for many people to collect. Year in and year out people collect the set. Now with so much crap out there, there is no reason to collect anything in particular. The same can be said about cars. Hey Buddy, nice post 92 Camary you got there. You never hear that. Neither cards nor cars have an identity or character anymore and haven't for years.

I guess the real question is: Would you rather open your choice of wax from 1970's or 80's or a box of anything made in the last 20 years? 2001 with a Pujols maybe?

What say you?


Carl Crawford Cards said...

I understand where you are at on this. I was a set collector when I was a kid, but simply can't afford to do sets now (pretty ironic, no?). So I do mostly Rays players I watched come through Durham (Crawford, Gomes, Niemann). MOST of the sets out there are garbage and not worth the time, much less the money, to pursue anyway, so I don't feel like I'm missing out. And again, between the SPs, etc., it's possible I could bust a case of product and not get what I want (players, set, etc.).

To answer your question: I bust something from the 70's or 80's, as much because I know I'd get a solid variety of cards as anything else.

night owl said...

The problem with the sets today is the ones that are worth completing are the ones with all the SPs.

The ones without SPs are things like Topps base, which is similar to the sets of the 60s, 70s, 80s. (I won't say Upper Deck, because a 1,000-card base set doesn't resemble anything I chased as a youngster).

But if you don't like foil, then even the Topps base set is out, and you're stuck chasing SPs.

stusigpi said...

I don't mind SP's as long as they are reasonable. Any more than 20-30 of them and/or if it takes more than 6-7 boxes, that's too many. i have heard horror stories of Goudey SP's although I have never purchased a box of them.

I think Topps should bring back the multi series. They already have it now to a degree, series 1, 2 and then Updates and Highlights, but there are so many players that are repeated from series to series that its a waste of cards i.e. too many cards in the set.

Captain Canuck said...

Gimme the old stuff. The sets where I knew by heart every bit of information on the back by heart. Where I knew what set it was just by looking at it, and who the key guys were.
Good times.

Besides, true to form, the Pujolies auto rc was a redemption.

paulsrandomstuff said...

I have more affection for the old stuff, but I don't have much desire to open any more 80s product. I was able to get my fill of most of it back in the 1980s. (Though 1984 Donruss or Fleer would still have some appeal.)

The 1980s designs probably looked better because the set designers didn't have to come up with a new one every month.

Play at the Plate said...

I would love to bust just about any box from the 70's. No brainer.

GCA said...

I'd love to break a box of 60's or early 70's, at least up to '73, since I already have all the sets after that thru '84.
The biggest problem now is that you can't easily complete sets from one year to the other. A big part of that is short prints, which you may chase forever. But even without them, it seems to me that if I don't trade heavily for the first three weeks that a product is out, everyone else is done and nobody responds any more. My want lists grow by another set or two every year (mostly flagship or Heritage), but it's rare that I finish anything bigger than a couple hundred cards. I don't like buying more boxes than will get me close to a set. If I can get within 100 cards or so of a 500+ set with three boxes, then I buy three. I won't buy five because then I'm saddled with all the bulk dupes that I'll almost never move in succeeding years. 2010 Topps looks good, but is it enough to keep people excited about the set in the off season and beyond?