I've looked at quite a few breaks of the new 2016 Topps Archives set on blogs and forums, and there have been some pretty good pulls posted. Archives is traditionally one of my favorite products, although it has gone downhill quite a bit (in my opinion) since the 2012, 2013, and 2014 sets, with 2014 being the beginning of the slide.
I haven't been able to get a Hobby box yet this year, but I did order a Retail blaster box from an eBay seller. I had to wait over the weekend for it to arrive, but even with shipping I saved about 7% off of what it would have cost me at the local box store.
Yu Darvish was the first card out of the box, so he is my first Archives card of 2016. I like Darvish well enough, but not right now when there's an Astros-Rangers series going on. The Rangers took the first game of the series on a walk-off double by Roughned 'Facepunch' Odor.
The base cards done in the 1953 Topps design are probably my least favorite in this set. They're not horrible, but they're not great. Some of the headshots look pretty weird, and sometimes it looks like a low-resolution photo was blown up too big and forced into the design. Some of them look all right, though.
I like the 1991 Topps design. I guess it's my second-favorite design used in this set, although I'd really have to rank them card by card. I wish that Billy Butler could get himself back together, but it looks like maybe 2009-2013 was his peak and he might not have another good run in him. He still looks good on cardboard, though. That Hunter Pence card is pretty sharp. He's out for a couple of months with a hamstring injury.
I haven't gone back to look, so I have no idea how closely the card backs match the originals. I know there has been a lot of chatter about changes to the team name on the card fronts, specifically the inclusion of the city name. I am not really bothered either way, if I even end up noticing the differences.
The 1979 Topps design is my favorite one used in this set. Again, I don't know how accurately it mimics the originals, but it looks good to me. That Biggio might be my favorite base card in this blaster.
The card backs for the 1979 and 1991 designs carry full career stats, which is something that several people have brought up. I think in past products the stats for some players have been cut off.
As far as inserts go, I got exactly what the odds said I should expect. I was hoping for a parallel or an auto or something, but the insertion odds were against me on that. These 1969 Topps Super cards are inserted at a rate of 1:4 packs, and I got two in my eight packs. I'm not a huge fan of either player, but I do like this card design. Like others have said, for me it calls to mind the Mother's Cookies cards of the 1980's and 1990's more than a Topps issue from well before I was born.
I pulled one of these 1985 Topps Father-Son cards, which are seeded 1:8 packs. It's a cool idea. It is unfortunate that the autograph versions only feature one signature, as it would be cool to get the father and son autographs on one card. The text on the back seems wrong to me, as some information is included for the father, but the same information is not included for the son, and vice versa. It bugs me.
These Bull Durham inserts are the big tie-in for this year's Archives set. Like the Will Ferrell and Major League inserts of the last couple years, these are not my favorite thing in the world. They add expense to a product without offering something that is valuable to me. I haven't seen Bull Durham, so this set doesn't carry any nostalgic value for me. I'd rather see Topps revisit a couple more insert set designs from past products than tie-ins to movies I haven't seen. But these things are undeniably popular and maybe they push sales enough for Topps to justify continuing producing Archives. Is this a product that would succeed without the big pop culture tie-in? I don't know.
This last card is a 1985 Topps #1 Draft Pick insert of Alex Rodriguez. It's a decent card. It would be nice to see some more variety in the Archives product, like the Firebrands, Gallery of Heroes, Deckle Edges, Stickers, and other designs that were used in previous Archives products. Heck, even a return to the foilboard parallels from 2012-2014 would be welcome, at least for me. I had a lot of fun chasing the Gold parallel foil sets from 2013 and 2014. In 2015 Topps moved to a couple of bland bordered parallels, and this year the borders are more colorful but still don't have any shine to them. I have to wonder how much longer this product will survive, as Topps seems bound and determined to suck all the fun out of the baseball cards while relying on the media tie-ins to carry the sales. I'll probably still try to build the base set this year, but that's about it.