08 June 2014

Pack of the Day 71: My First Box of 2014 Topps Archives

I mentioned previously that I had purchased some 2014 Archives from the local card shop and pulled the Charlie Sheen Major League autograph, but I haven't yet shown off any of the other cards I got. Here is my breakdown of the first box I opened, starting with some of my favorite base cards from the box.

I have to admit that the 1973 Topps design is growing on me. I haven't dabbled too much in vintage cards and don't know much about the set, but I like that design. Eckersley has got some sweet mustache and wild hair action going on there. Fujikawa has had some pretty good cards over the last couple of years. I am usually happy whenever I see his cards come out of a pack.

The 1980 design isn't my favorite, but it's passable. I decided to highlight a couple of posed shots here, with a young Robin Yount sporting some big hair and Dylan Bundy with the sky as a backdrop. There were no duplicate base cards in the box, but you don't get quite enough cards in one box to fill out the non-SP (1-200) base set. You only get 6 out of the 50 SP cards per box, so it will take a lot of boxes (and/or some trading and buying) to get those cards. More on the SP cards later.

For the 1986 set design I chose some retired favorites in Goose Gossage and Tony Gwynn. I especially like the cameo of the jogging guy in the background of Gossage's card, and who can resist a card featuring a smiling Tony Gwynn? Not this guy. Next up is a decent bat barrel shot of local legend Harmon Killebrew. It's a shame they couldn't get the end of the bat in the frame, but it's still a nice shot. And again we've got a smiling baseball player in Bob Gibson. I like that jacket he's wearing. I bet it would fetch mad money from the hipster crowd these days. I don't have any complaints really about the use of these designs in the set, although 1989 has seen a lot of use in the Topps rotation lately.

And now we get to the real problem I have with the base set. These cards are from the short-printed section at the end of the set. In past years Topps has taken this part of the set and placed a bunch of semi-stars from the last few decades and put them on all manner of card designs from the Topps catalog, creating sort of a Frankenset of different players and card designs. This year Topps got lazy and used the same set designs as the rest of the base set, ruining one of the best parts of the SPs, which was the extreme variety in design. The other misstep was to place a bunch of stars and hot rookies in the SP section instead of favoring guys who don't get a lot of cardboard action these days. Sure, I guess Olerud and Van Slyke aren't the biggest names out there, but the rest of these guys are taking up slots that could be filled by players from the past who don't get 150 card per year. Anyway, I got six SPs from this box.

Here are the six 1987 Topps All-Star cards from this first box. I especially like the Fergie Jenkins, the Gary Carter, and the Goose Gossage. They've got to choose an All-Star design to reprint each year, and this one works as well as any other.

Five 1969 Deckle Edge Minis came out of this box. First up are Manny Machado and Yu Darvish with some nice posed shots.

After the modern-era guys are some action shots of earlier players. In this box I got Carlos Baerga, Howard Johnson, and Mark Lemke. I don't know how I feel about these inserts. Topps already did the Deckle Edge thing in 2012 Archives. There are so many designs and inserts in Topps' past that they shouldn't have to repeat something they've already done. Of course, they are also reusing designs in the base set when an awful lot of other designs remain to be re-imagined.

Previous iterations of Topps Archives had a Gold parallel and printing plates for the base set. The 2014 set adds a Silver parallel to that mix, with each card limited to 99 copies. I pulled Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Bench. I don't think I will be chasing the full Silver set, as I don't know that I want to put that much work into tracking it down. The Gold parallel set from 2013 was plenty hard to put together, and the print run for those was double what it is for these Silver cards.

The Bumgarner card is numbered # 54 / 99 and the Bench is # 25 / 99.

In addition to the Silver parallels, the Gold parallel set returns with the same print run of 199 copies per card. I got three in this box. This set is one that I hadn't planned on putting together, but there are a lot of big lots on eBay right now that fall in at about $1 a card. I couldn't help myself. I have been putting lots together and am already up to about 82% complete, including some of the big names like Bryce Harper and Derek Jeter. One thing that has helped this year with putting the Gold set together is the same thing I complained about earlier, that the SP cards at the end of the base set contain a lot of the hot rookies and big stars. The SPs don't get Gold parallels, so I am not stuck trying to track down a Gold parallel of Masahiro Tanaka or Jose Abreu.

One thing I liked about last year's Gold set was that the serial numbers were stamped on the front of the cards. I just liked that look. For 2014 Topps has put the serial numbers on the back of the cards. It's okay, but I prefer the 2013 look a little more. Tod Frazier is numbered # 151 / 199, Larry Doby is # 087 / 199, and Jose Altuve is # 189 / 199, which is the same as his card number in the set. I like serial numbers that match other things like the card number or the player's jersey number. I also like serial numbers that are the first or last in the set, numbers that feature repeating digits, and numbers that end in 9 or 0. Serial numbers are just a lot of fun.

One trend I like in Archives is that of taking a vintage design from another sport and reworking it as a baseball set. In 2013 the emulated set was the 1972-73 Topps Basketball set, while this year we get the 1971-72 Topps Hockey design. These are pretty good-looking cards. I pulled the Masahiro Tanaka card, which I am pretty happy about. These fall just one per box and the checklist is 20 cards deep, so it might take some work to complete. 

A lot of the buzz surrounding this product came from the Major League movie cards and autographs inserted into the product. In this box I got Jake Taylor and Eddie Harris. I've actually pulled a couple of each of these guys so far, and none of the rest of the 4-card set. I'll be honest, I've never seen the movie so I have no real idea what all the love is about.

These Firebrand cards are made of wood and die-cut, so the 90's is in full force here. I got Rondell White, which may not be the biggest pull in the world. The checklist is a little odd to me, but I didn't follow baseball for a long time and there are a lot of players I don't recognize among this insert's roster. It's a cool concept, though, but I think I liked last year's insert lineup better. Those acetate Gallery of Heroes cards were beauties. This 2014 insert lineup is pretty good, but I don't think it quite lives up to 2013, and even 2012 might hold a bit of a lead over 2014 in terms of fun factor. 

I had to laugh a little when I got this card out of the pack. It's not often anymore that a new pack of cards is responsible for the Bipping of a blogger, but this box of Archives managed to get me.

This is a card that I already talked about a couple of days ago. I pulled it out of the third pack in the box and ran back into the card shop to show it off. I have no emotional investment in Charlie Sheen or the Major League movie, so I tossed the card up on eBay. The bidding on my auction was pretty furious and ended at a rather high amount, but the winner is a person who just opened an eBay account a few days ago and has zero feedback so far. I am a little nervous about whether they just got so excited to own this card that they created an account or are some kind of sham bidder determined to waste my time for some nefarious purpose. I really hope the transaction can just go through without a hitch, as I don't want to have to list the card (again), wait for the auction to close (again), and deal with a new winning bidder (again).

With the Charlie Sheen autograph coming out of this box, I can't call it anything but a win. Whenever it sells it should pay for the Archives I've bought so far and also maybe a bill or two. I never thought I'd be giving thanks for anything Charlie Sheen ever did, but I am glad he signed this piece of cardboard. As for the rest of the set, I think I like it a fair bit less than 2013 Archives and just a hair more than 2012 Archives.

They're all some of my favorite sets from their respective years, but I think 2013 had the strongest offering of inserts ('72-'73 Basketball, Mini Tallboys, Gallery of Heroes, Triumvirate), a better presentation on the Gold parallels, and I like the way the SP portion of the set was handled. The Heavy Metal gimmick didn't go so well, especially as I don't believe the headliner for that promotion, Axl Rose, ever signed the cards for the redemptions to be filled. I am still waiting for a Real Heavy Metal autograph redemption I pulled for Winger/Whitesnake guitarist Reb Beach. But the rest of the checklist was solid.

I think 2012 had some decent inserts, I wish the Gold parallels in that set had been serially-numbered, and the SP portion of the set was better than the 2014 SPs. I liked the reprint insert set that covered a lot of famous cards and players from throughout the years. I don't recall 2012 having any sort of gimmick like the Heavy Metal theme of 2013 or the Major League theme of 2014. 

I am having a hard time deciding whether I like 2014 more or less than 2012. I think 2012 had the better base set mostly due to the SP portion of the set. 2014 probably has better inserts, as I felt like there were too many stickers in the 2012 set, and the Firebrand and '71-'72 Hockey cards tip the scales in 2014's favor. It's a toss-up, I guess, but 2013 is my hands-down favorite.


  1. Nice box. I didn't really realize just how much of a dud my box was till reading other bloggers pulling tons of awesome cards. grrr. why, God, why?

  2. Yeah, I really liked that the gold cards from last year had the serial # on the front. I LOVE the '73 design, but the photography in the set was really unique, which made it stand out. Wasn't all close-ups like it is for todays sets. Contemplated just putting that little mini set together, but then decided against it, will probably just grab the few players/cards that strike my fancy, including the Bip auto, which I was able to pick up on eBay for $4. LOVE the Gwynn, the Goose, and of course, the Killebrew cards.

  3. Great box. I think the Sheen auto is probably the biggest chase card in the set. I especially like the Gwynn and Yount for the photos.

    Wanna trade that Doby?