Thursday, June 11, 2015

This won't turn out well

This year's Topps' Archives set has started showing up on store shelves here and there (well, not here) and there have been a few posts about it.

Overall, those who have posted seem to have good feelings about the product, which is great for them. I'm glad someone is enjoying it. But I'm even more irritated over Archives than I usually am, which I'll get to in a moment.

As I've said numerous times (I think if I ever shut down this blog it will be because all I'm doing is repeating myself every post), Archives is a disappointment because of what it could have been. Archives is a descendent of the Archives sets from 2001-02 but more resemble the Fan Favorites sets from 2003-05.

The problem there is I can't help but compare present-day Archives and Fan Favorites from a decade ago.

Fan Favorites comes out on top every time. Fan Favorites featured multiple designs (not just three) appeared on sturdy cardboard stock (not the flimsy stuff Archives shows up on every year) and wasn't filled with inserts and shortprints (rant on the way).

Archives has selected three past designs for its base set this year, and I'll say that they did a lot better job with the design selection that they have from 2012-14.

These are the designs being used this time:



and 1983.

All three of those designs I have yet to cover in the Night Owl All-Time Topps Countdown, which says something about these Archives choices: Night Owl approves.

But that's as far as it goes.

I'm not going to go on a diatribe about how the Archives designs won't match exactly the designs to which they're paying tribute. I've covered all that, too, and obviously Topps has to make them different for whatever reason.

Fan Favorites ran into the same issues. I've written about that before, too.

Fan Favorites came pretty close with the '83 design.

And they matched the '57 design pretty well, too.

But it had a few hiccups with the 1976 design. Note that the original '76 set didn't use red-framed borders for the Reds cards.

Then they cleaned things up the following year for the 2004 Fan Favorites set.

No doubt there will be even greater differences between the original sets and the look of the 2015 Archives cards. Different fonts, wrong colors, etc.

But, again, it's annoying, but not what annoys me most about Archives anymore.

It's not even the flimsy card stock that annoys me most about Archives.

Here is what annoys me most:

Last year I was not happy about the amount of shortprints in Archives. There were 50 of them. A set that wasn't that good in the first place, shouldn't be that difficult to complete. But it took me nearly a year to track down all the Dodgers in this set, because at least four of them were SPs.

This year, Archives was figured to be a 300-card set, with -- get this -- no shortprints. I didn't buy that for a second. No shortprints? You have to go back to 2011 Lineage for a set like that.

Sure enough, when the card checklist was released, it became a 330-card set.

Archives is 330 cards with the last 30 cards being shortprinted. That's not 50 cards like last year, but I'm getting to the special part.

Here's the special part:

According to this and one of the most prominent box breakers around, those 30 cards appear at a rate of 1 in 70 packs.

1 in Seventy. 1 in 7-Oh.

Buy 70 packs, get 1 short-printed BASE card.

Here is the checklist of the SP base cards just so you can get yourself as worked up as I am:

301 - Nolan Ryan
302 - Rick Ferrell
303 - John Smoltz
304 - John Olerud
305 - Andre Dawson
306 - Ryne Sandberg
307 - Jorge Soler
308 - Gary Sheffield
309 - Rob Dibble
310 - Adam Jones
311 - Honus Wagner
312 - Rusny Castillo
313 - Devon White
314 - Kris Bryant
315 - Anthony Rizzo
316 -  Larry Doby
317 - Jose Cruz
318 - Vinny Castilla
319 - Sparky Lyle
320 - Satchel Paige
321 - Jose Vidro
322 - Monte Irvin
323 - Hal Newhouser
324 - Red Schoendienst
325 - Enos Slaughter
326 - George Kell
327 - Early Wynn
328 - Hoyt Wilhelm
329 - Bobby Doerr
330 - Jackie Robinson

Dammit, I almost made it through the list without a single Dodger.

I don't know about you, but as a team collector and a set collector, this pisses me off and it should any other team collector and set collector. How much am I going to have to pay for a 1:70 Jackie Robinson card -- a BASE card (don't give me that crap about how the base set is 1-300 cards, my brain sees 301-330 and everything I've learned up til now says "continuation of the base set.")

It's a good thing for me that this set has done enough goofy things that it doesn't stir my collecting genes because if I liked it, I'd be a bitter old collector (yes, I know, I already am) by the time I hunted down the final Sparky Lyle card 10 years from now, which, by the way, would then be taken out of my hand by a mild breeze and disappear forever because the card stock is so thin!

I hope they find that those odds aren't accurate and it's actually easier to find those cards, because this might kill the last modern day set collector. In 20 years, he'll spot that 2015 Archives Bobby Doerr at a show and keel over from sheer surprise.

My view on Archives before the last couple of weeks has been that Topps makes this set because it's hoping that people don't remember the old Fan Favorites cards, or are hoping that collectors are terribly desperate to see modern players on old designs, or that they're just buying the packs for the inserts.

But now, I don't know what Topps is hoping. That we're idiots who will chase 30 flimsy cards and spend whatever it takes to see a picture of Honus Wagner -- which everyone has seen before -- on a 1976 Topps design?

"Collect what you want," yeah, I know.

And you can. If this kind of stuff doesn't bother you.

But if you want to complete it?

Consider this a warning.


  1. That's crazy, guess I'll be waiting a while til I find that Smoltz and yes the cards are flimsy AND more expensive than Heritage 18> 20 cards for the same priced rack pack.

  2. Not a single White Sox in the SP section. Warms my heart....

    1. Meanwhile the Cubs have FIVE short prints and there's a Kris Bryant on eBay already over $100 . . . with 2 days and 17 hours worth of bidding left. I think the 1 in 70 packs in accurate.

    2. Saw one over 200 already.. for a base card, INSANE!

  3. I can't stand Archives due to that thin card stock, I'm grateful for that now.

  4. Archives was one of the sets that I fell in love with when I first started back in collecting last year because of the nostalgia factor -- the designs I remember as a kid. Of course, last year's set ruined it for me. First, too many short prints. Second, I think the Brewers had four players in the set and the Yankees had like 20 including their damn backup catcher.

    It makes a man pine for that "Swell Baseball Greats" set from 1990 or those SSPC '60s sets from the late 1970s/early 1980s. Give me a fully licensed set of ONLY retired players -- and an equal number for each team...say, 1 starting lineup of position players along with three starters and two relievers. That would make me a happy man.

  5. At least it makes it a lot easier decision to only build the base set for this.

  6. Dang, every Cub worth caring about right now is shortprinted... ;_; BRB, throwing out everything else and going full non-sport sketch card collector.

    1. Well, not every... There are actually quite a few Cubbies worth caring about in 2015. But basically all the younglings except Addison Russell. I guess dropping a giant turd like this had to happen sooner or later though, with Topps reeling off several pretty nice efforts since the back half of 2014. :(

  7. Aw, man. They short printed Doby? Sad panda.

  8. I thought it was just me. Bought a box, got one short print. Thanks for letting me know that I actually beat the odds.

    But its a shame because the designs (not three of my personal favorites, mind you) look pretty much spot on and the photography is some of the best Topps has had in decades (IMHO). The 83's are action shots, but the 76's and 57's are all posed, posed well, clear as a bell and beautiful to look at. Really, to my tired 60 year old eyes, these are better done cards overall than was last year's Heritage. They're so good that I don't even mind the flimsy card stock. At all.

    But one SP per box (or per three boxes, if those odds are correct) is unforgivable. Keep the Will Ferrell crap and give me a better shot at the SPs. My guess is the bean counters hope people will chase the SPs, knowing the price they'll bring on the secondary market. But they screwed up. The people who buy Archives aren't SP chasers and, with these odds, my guess is they'll sell less product, not more. There's no point in trying to put a full set together if its impossible to do so. I saw these cards and was anxious to go for the set. In any given year, I'd buy between 4 and 6 boxes of Archives. As it is, I'm probably done at one.

    And, just for that, I'm boycotting Will Ferrell movies. Take that, big guy. This is all YOUR fault.

  9. I wanted to hear your opinion on the photo Topps used for the short-printed Jackie Robinson in the set. It's high up on your list of retreads.

    1. I haven't seen it. But I'm relieved to hear it's a much-used photo, because I was fearing it was some wonderful, never-before-seen picture and I'd wind up throwing $100 at it.

  10. Archives has been my favorite baseball product for the last three years in spite of some flaws and hiccoughs here and there. 2015 Archives is crap and I hate it. The odds on the SPs are stupid, the flimsy cardstock is even flimsier this year, the few inserts that remain are boring and un-fun, and the parallels are printed with crap-colored borders instead of shiny metallic foilboard. I usually open a few boxes of Archives each year and try to put together most of the set and the inserts. This year I am not even going to buy one box, because the blaster I bought at Target pissed me off so much.

  11. Not a fan of Archives. Think I'll just stick to Heritage. At least Topps uses card stock for the Heritage product that somewhat feels like a baseball card should.

  12. I would always open a box of Archives as the price would always come down a couple months after release. Now with the super sp's and Will Ferrell autos the price will stay crazy high. I'm passing this year. I'll just cherry pick the Pirate autos. I'm sure I could get all three cheaper than the Honus Wagner sp's.

  13. I'm glad to see there are no cards of any players I collect in this set. I get more excited with each release I DON'T have to chase than I do about seeing new cards of my players turn up in new sets.

  14. Dangit, with those three design choices (down from four in 2012? - are they trying to pace themselves so they don't run out?) I might have considered trying Archives again. But SPs like that - not a chance. Heritage short prints take several years to find. Odds like the Archives make it ridiculous. And darn if I don't need the Sparky Lyle too - for a player collection. Plus Bo, Fisk, Sutter, Palmer, from the main set. *sigh*

  15. In my opinion Archives has so much potential, but there is always something that makes me not want to collect it. That something is that I want to compare it to the Fan Favorites sets. Those sets worked so well because the card design used for the players was of a year they would have appeared in. Paul Molitor on an 83 card, yes. Paul Molitor on a 55 card, no. That just does not look right. My 46 year old brain does not work like that.

    One last thing. I think the retail odds on SP are 1:24, so they are a little better. That is like saying you were caught speeding 25 miles over and not 60 miles over.

    1. Similarly, I get twitchy when a player is featured on a team he didn't play for that season -- A couple years ago it was Ozzie Smith as a Cardinal on a 1980 Topps Archives design- he should be a Padre on that card!
      I think it works ok for an active player to be on a retro design, but a retired guy to be on the "wrong" design is no bueno, I agree.

  16. 1:70? Well instead of buying three or four blasters in an attempt to finish the set, I'll buy a hanger pack or two just for the novelty of it.

    Nice business model you have their Topps. Turn away 1,000's of potential set collector's for every one case breaker you pull in.

  17. Update: According to pack information, the SP base cards are 1:47 for retail, 1:70 for hobby.

  18. This sucks. Well, at least that Jackie Robinson is a new photo right?

    Oh, wait...


    Ok, at least there aren't 75 style minis in there.
    Haven't bought or seen any or should that be seen or bought any? I don't know, but I'm not sweating it. I just want the Rangers. For once I am glad to see Nolan NOT in a Rangers uni since the SP is for the Angels.

  20. Archives seems too similar to Heritage to me. I never cards about SPs and never really tried to get every card from my favorite team, so the 1 in 70 pack SPs don't really affect me, but I'm disappointed for the majority of collectors who DO try to complete the set and team sets. Why can't Topps make Archives like the '03-'05 Fan Favorites sets? I think the 'rookie and final season' and 'best season' concept from '01-'02 can't be done over again, but Topps could really nail Archives of they make it a 'Cards that should've Been' type of set. Leave the SPs in Heritage or high end stuff.