Friday, August 19, 2011

Well ... it's different

I don't like it when everyone uses the same image when news breaks in the hobby. I know it's Topps' fault for not releasing more than one image of its 2012 base product. But I'm a tick or two away from slipping into convulsions if I have to view that Ryan Braun image again.

So I filched the Jay Bruce silver parallel thingy instead. You get the idea, anyway. It's 2012 Topps and there's this bullet/flying saucer/frisbee in the bottom left corner.

That's really all the design element there is. Not a lot to discuss.

My first impression when I saw the design was, "wow, Topps really has confidence in its photography this coming year." If it is going to devote 80 percent of its card space toward the photo, then it can't throw blurry images at the collector like it did in 2010. Anything that's not sharp will stick out like Adam Dunn's batting average.

To me, that's the biggest thing about the base set. As far as what they're doing with the inserts and all the gold garbage, I really don't care. It's all about the base, and I already know I'm not going to try to complete the set next year. Unless the photography is '93 Upper Deck watershed territory,  it doesn't seem worth it.

What interests me right now is whether the 2012 design mimics any past set. My first thought when I saw it was that it was unique. There was nothing else like it. As proof, I'll cite the first set I thought of:

Yeah, Topps Lineage. That's really not a good comparison at all. They do both have the white border and the name and team logo at the bottom, but so do hundreds of other past sets. From 1960 Topps to '81 Fleer to '09 Upper Deck, card companies have placed a geometric design in the bottom left corner (or bottom right) and stripped the name and team across the bottom of the card.

What's different about the 2012 design is it crams all of the information about the card into the bottom left corner. I didn't think I'd ever seen that before. But, of course, I had to look.

I focused on the shape of the 2012 design. It's got that oval shape, and the wavy lines give the impression of movement, which is why I thought of a flying saucer or frisbee. I prefer the flying saucer concept. If I stay with the Jetsons theme, I like the design better.

Here was my next thought after Lineage:

There's your bullet design. Can you imagine a base design that looked like '97 SPx? That would sell some cards.

But the more I looked through my cards, the more I became convinced that I wouldn't find anything that precedes the 2012 design. What I did find was the oval shape on other card sets.

A lot of card brand names use oval shapes. Think early Stadium Club or Leaf Certified or:

Topps Total! I guess that's as close as we're going to get to Topps Total in 2012.

Bowman's Best used an oval design in its logo, too. Here, with 2003 Best, they've got ovals all over the card.

But none of the above places all of the informational elements in a single shape, like 2012 Topps.

There have been a couple of card sets that have done that:

1996 Upper Deck threw everything inside one floating disc and placed it at the center bottom of the card.

1998 Fleer Tradition did the same thing, although the player's first name kind of leaked outside of the oval.

In fact, Fleer has used that kind of design more than once, utilizing the all-encompassing oval shape (or whatever you would call that -- oblong, ellipse?) in the 1982 set, with lots and lots of out-of-focus photos.

But none of these really come close to the 2012 design. First, the shape on the 2012 design isn't really oval. It's flat on the left and the bottom. Also, it utilizes the team logo instead of the team name.

The only other set that I could find that came close to that was another Fleer set:

There's an oblong-type shape that is flat on the bottom with the team logo. Otherwise known as the thrilling 1986 Fleer set.

I realize that the player name and logo covers much more space than the 2012 design and that there is a blue border instead of white. But really this is the kind of design we're dealing with for 2012. It's just not very exciting.

I was interested in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 designs. I thought they added a lot to the card. But this design has me looking elsewhere, toward the photo and what IT can do.

Maybe that's the intent. But I've seen plenty of good photography on cards over the years. It's really going to have to be different to hold my attention.


  1. Maybe because of the ripples around the oval, I think 2012 Topps should be called the surfboard set.

  2. Looks to me like the nose of a sub or perhaps a whale breaking the water's surface. Hence the Submariner set or perhaps Beluga Baseball

  3. whatever you would call that -- oblong, ellipse?


    I have been considering limiting my modern set collecting to Heritage next year. After having seen this card, I am thinking that is the right choice. The base cards are boring and there are way too many inserts and parallels. Some of the inserts look interesting, but I already have a strong aversion to lots of inserts, parallels and short prints.

  4. Looks like an old-style travel trailer to me.

  5. I guess I'm in the minority (as usual), but I like the 2012 base design. The "gold" gimmick I'm already sick of, and I don't like parallels, but the base is nice and clean and simple.

    The first thing I thought of when I saw that Bruce card was, "Hey, I used that picture for one of my cards!" It's from the Reds' 30th game of the season:

    In any case, I like the design, and will definitely pick up the Reds.

  6. It's different, and it's not terrible... but it doesn't inspire me to collect the whole set, either.

  7. I really like it. Not that I have room to collect a flagship set, but that is one I'd seriously consider.

  8. It should be mandatory for sets to have a guy's position on the front.

    The Mighty Oz has spoken.

  9. I came back to collecting this year almost purely because of how appealing I found the Topps flagship product, both in terms of high-quality photography and card design (which reminded me of 1993 Topps, the last year I collected the full base set). The 2012 design is disappointing in that regard. And yes, position goes on the front.