Topps Archives has been one of my favorite baseball sets for the last few years. I am prepared to take the bashing from the diehards that don’t like it. I know I’m probably in the minority on that but I like the mixture of vintage and junk wax designs. I also enjoy the opportunity to pull the Fan Favorite autographs. Sure, some of them are weak but some of them are pretty solid 80’s-90’s players that I wouldn’t otherwise have the chance for auto’s from. They have also been placing cool inserts in the set like Bull Durham and Major League. I know the set is quirky and I know it isn’t for everyone but I am very excited when it comes out every year. It’s one box that I will buy on release date. I enjoy cheap cards from 1989 so why wouldn’t I like Topps Archives.As usual, I jumped on a box on release day this year and have worked my way through it, studying each design and player. Archives always includes a few players that you won’t find in any other set during the year. This year was much of the same and I was pleased with some of the surprises and I think some of my readers will be too. This year’s “Special Insert” card is a Derek Jeter Retrospective Card, which features a reprint of Jeter from an earlier edition of Topps. These are found in 1:12 packs or an average of 2 per box.Back for 2017 is the Archives staple, “Fan Favorites Autographs”, which is an autograph of a well known but not quite superstar from baseball history. I have pulled Gant, Rollie Fingers, Darren Daulton and Oscar Gamble over the years, just to name a few. Are they big money hits? No, but they are very fun to pull if you are a collector my age. This box is truly about fun and nostalgia for me and is never about big “monster” hits. That may be what turns some people off about the set but it’s what keeps me coming back for more every year.
The other allure for me is the way Archives breaks up the set of 300 into 3 retro sets from their history. This year is 1960, 1982 (one of my favorites) and 1992, which was right in the middle of my teen collecting days! This year, Topps brought variations and parallels to Archives which may intrigue some collectors that love that sort of thing. But Archives has always been a clean, straightforward set for the most part, making the base set easy to build. This year, I am already diving into Ryan Cracknell’s (@tradercracks) variation articles on Beckett. I even pulled a couple with one not even on the master list yet! Let’s take a look at what else was pulled from this first box of 2017 Archives.
1960 – Cards 1-100Card stock has always been the #1 drawback for me with Topps Archives. The cards have historically been thin, flimsy and so glossy, they’re hard to sort. I noticed a much thicker card stock with the 1960 cards this year. 1960 was a classic horizontal design with an inset posed photo and an action shot in a color box to the left. The cards are very colorful and VERY airbrushed in the first block of the set. Pictured are some of the highlights which include Aaron Judge and Jake Lamb as current hot stars. One subject you don’t see very often in current sets is Earl Weaver. I think Cliff (@oriolesrise) might like that one.
1982 – Cards 101-200Card stock for the 1982 block was also a little thicker than normal if memory serves. I am a fan of the 1982 design with several of the cards using alternate color borders for teams that we aren’t used to seeing. The Dansby for instance showcases a neon green and blue which not mean anything to most but it is a nice throwback and is also what the Hawks are using as alternates right now. Killebrew is the one Twins player (besides Kirby) that I can actually collect. I included Pedro here for my faithful Boston readers and Shane Salmonson (@ShaneSalmonson), who PC’s him. Finally, the Ozzie Smith was a special inclusion for Scott Berger (@SBergerBOSTON). I thought of him immediately!
1992 – Cards 201-300Most collectors will immediately recognize the ’92 design. It was a good one for Topps and holds up today in my opinion. Unfortunately, we go back to paper thin card stock for the final 100 cards. Pictured in this group of cards is a color Babe Ruth, which is always fun to pull no matter what set. Then we have a great Reggie Jackson Orioles photo and nice Mark McGwire with his jersey name and number fully visible on the card. The last card included was Yoan Moncada, the hot young rookie for the Chicago White Sox. I was looking hard but missed out on the Gold Variations for this design.
1959 BazookaThis insert is a smaller card that is designed in tribute to the 1959 Bazooka cards. I pulled four of these in the box and they were pretty good players. I pulled Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Pudge Rodriguez along with young stars Francisco Lindor and another Yoan Moncada.
Derek Jeter Retrospective Cards
Overall, I can’t say that this year was any better or worse than years before but I still look forward to opening a box or two to see who’s included. I will probably buy another box and try to put together the base set like I have in the past. I don’t get tired of retro designs and I don’t get tired of old star ball player autographs. I’ll have to give 2017 Topps Archives a score of 4 on the Dub-O-Meter. Again, I accept that it isn’t for everyone and there are a lot of people who really don’t like the set. But I do and I’m buying for me and no one else so I can live with it. I have zero chance besides Archives of pulling a Manny Mota autograph from a card pack and there is something to be said for that. Even though ’82 is a favorite of mine, it has been used a bit much in the Archives series but I am happy to see ’92 get some run. I just wish the card stock for that group had been better. Do away with the paper thin and give ’92 some decent stock and you have yourself a great retro card. What say you about this loved and hated set?
1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards. Just read the post and thank me later.
2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.
3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.
4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did! It has some downside but worth the ride.
5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking! What are you waiting on?