Thursday, May 17, 2012

A little bit off

Although the Fan Favorites sets are fantastic in a wide variety of ways, it's easy to spot the cards that are a little bit off.

Topps is basically a victim of its success here. It has created sets and designs that are so familiar that collectors notice immediately when something is not quite right.

One of the most significant issues is with the 2003 Fan Favorites Monte Irvin card. Irvin is on the 1952 design, but his signature is missing in the box. There is another version with the autograph. But I won't be pursuing the other version.

But there are other examples of some "not quite right" cards that weren't corrected. In many cases they are small things, but I notice this stuff, as I'm sure other collectors do, too.

The Fan Favorites cards with the 1985 design always looked a little off to me, but I thought it was only because the letters in the team box were too small.

I guess they are a little smaller than the letters on the actual 1985 cards, like this one here. But the more obvious size difference is the lettering for the player's name. The type is much too small in the Fan Favorites card. But at least in Fan Favorites the player position isn't jammed up against the name, which is a common complaint with the '85 cards.

Another picky issue with the team name. The "Reds" on this Fan Favorites card looks smaller than I remember on the 1980 Topps cards. Let's see if I'm right ...

I am ... sort of. I was thinking the letters were shorter, but it turns out the letters are not as wide in the Fan Favorites card as they are on the actual 1980 card. Subconsciously, I picked up on that. It's weird what's stored in your brain.

One more with the team lettering. I KNOW that the letters that spell out "White Sox" are much too small. In fact, the pennant flag seems too small, too.

Here is the actual 1965 Bill Skowron card. You can see that the flag and the letters are definitely larger on this card. This drove me nuts when I pulled the 2005 Fan Favorites Denny McLain card and the pennant flag seemed puny. I know I can't be the only one that notices stuff like this. Just don't know why Topps doesn't.

OK, moving away from team letters (I hear a massive sigh of relief). This card is probably my least favorite Fan Favorite card. It is some strange mutation of the 1991 Giants and Dodgers cards.

Brett Butler is featured as a Giant in the 1991 Topps set. He is then featured as a Dodger in the '91 Traded set after Butler signed as a free agent with L.A.

So I don't know if this was Topps' devious plan to show Butler with both teams, or a colossal screw-up.

Here is a 2005 Fan Favorites card of Tony Gwynn using the 2000 design. The gold/bronze border goes very well with a Padres card, except there's one problem ...

The border on 2000 Topps cards is silver!

Just a small detail there.

OK, tell me if you can spot the issue here:

This is the Don Larsen Fan Favorites card from 2003. Wow, that looks way off, doesn't it?

The problem is that the action photo is much larger than it is on the real 1956 Topps cards. And the head shot is positioned underneath the name and team line, which didn't happen in the '56 set.

There is the actual Larsen card. Now you can see why they did what they did. Looks a lot better.

Now, let's move onto the 1986 set.

One of the nice things about '86 Topps is that each team's name is in the color of that team. Red for the Phillies. Blue for the Dodgers. Green for the A's. It's as it should be.

We happen to have a Fan Favorites Mets card coming up in the style of '86 Topps.

Can't wait to see that nice, orange col ...

OK. That's not orange. Looks like someone forgot to throw some yellow in with the red.

I'm not sure why something like this wasn't caught. There's another '86 Mets card in 2003 Fan Favorites and that one is red, too. Fortunately, in following Fan Favorites sets, they got the colors right with the '86 Mets.

Here is the actual 1986 Mets Gary Carter card, in orange, just to restore order.

Finally, there is this card:

This one is more than a little bit off.

First, Oscar Gamble was not a Yankee in the 1976 Topps set. He was an Indian.

I'm assuming that Topps decided to make him a Yankee in '05 Fan Favorites because everyone is aware of the 1976 Traded set, in which Gamble is fantastically airbrushed into a Yankee uniform.

So, I'll let that fly.

But why did Fan Favorites go with a gold bar on top of a red bar in the design?

The Yankees featured green and blue in the '76 set.

Like so.

There is only one team that featured gold on top of red with all of its players in the 1976 Topps set.

Yup, the Red Sox.

So Gamble is featured as a Yankee with Red Sox design colors.

Sounds a lot like the Butler Giants-Dodgers card.

Maybe Topps was just messing with all of us.

But it can't spoil my fun. I still love Fan Favorites. Even if it was just a little bit off. Like me.


  1. Great post! I always knew something was a bit off, but just couldn't put my finger on it.

    And wow... that Nadia Bjorlin is smokin' hot. Makes me wonder if there are any beautiful A's or Padres fans.

  2. I noticed the smaller team/player names with my Fan Favorites cards, but I never caught the different team colors with the Gamble or the "photo switch" with the Larsen.

    If I have the regular issue and the Fan Favorites, I like to store them next to each other in my binders. They look great in nine-pocket pages.

    After this, it looks like I've got some binder browsing to do...

  3. Even though the purpose of this post was to point out errors, it's good to see a Giant on top of the blog. :)

  4. I'm bothered more by the use of photographs instead of artwork for the 1956 Larson.

    Not as bad as the 1953 archives set. Those are garbage. I'd toss the Ted Williams in the trash if I didn't need it for the set.

  5. You are the Joe Friday of card bloggers.

  6. I am almost convinced they do the faux-vintage cards with little differences on purpose, just in case, like how they make Army uniforms wrong in movies on purpose. Or maybe they do it to see if we are paying attention. Or maybe they just don't give a shit on getting things "right" and are content with "close" - when it comes to Topps, that seems the most likely.

  7. I've often wondered why there are inaccuracies in the designs like that. Coming from the same company that put out the originals, wouldn't you think they still have the templates or something to go by? Why do they seem to be starting from scratch reproducing their old designs?
    Heck, it's quite easy for me to copy elements from card scans and make custom cards with just the limited program I have. And mine are more accurate!

    Ditto on Nadia...whew

  8. I've often wondered the same. Like jacobmrley says, I wonder if they do it on purpose -- maybe someone tried to sue them once because they thought a reprinted design was the real thing? Seems silly, but possible.