Tuesday, April 5, 2016

This is big

I've been fairly dismissive about Topps Big in the past. To me, it was a half-baked imitation of truly the greatest Topps set of all-time, the 1956 set.

But some of my disinterest in the Big sets comes from simply being unaware of those Big cards for years. I didn't notice them when they came out, and for years they weren't a thought. So, when I saw them for the first time, say 8 or 9 years ago, they seemed cheap, fitting in perfectly with the other junk wax of the time.

When creating my Dodger team want lists, the Topps Big lists were ragged and incomplete. And I didn't care. Because it was a weird tribute set that was too Big to fit into regular pages.

It took nearly 10 years for me to realize that I didn't even have the 1990 Topps Big set on my want list. And it also took me nearly 10 years (from first realizing what the heck this set was) to complete one of the team sets.

Thanks to Bryan of Golden Rainbow Cards, I've finally finished off the 1988 Tops Big Dodgers set with the arrival of the Kirk Gibson card.

The team set is only 11 cards large, which is hardly Big by my definition. But completing it? That's definitely Big.

Here they are:

And because Topps Big's true tribute to '56 Topps is on the back, here are the backs:

The backs come close to the spirit of the '56 Topps backs, although the comics aren't nearly as creative, both in terms of the drawings and the concepts. But as far as being enjoyable, it's a fun little set.

And I still like the name. "Topps Big." Gets right to the point.

You don't hear a lot about the 1988-90 Topps Big sets these days (although I think someone devoted a blog to them once). And when you do, it's weird, trying-to-be-funny things like blaming the cards for being racist. But I bet kids in the late '80s, who had no clue about sets from the mid-1950s, gobbled these up -- when they weren't on their Gameboys anyway.

I've since updated my Topps Big Dodgers team want lists so I now know exactly what I need. Bryan sent me one Big need for the 1989 set, too:

The '89 team set is 15 cards, probably capitalizing on the Dodgers' World Series title from the previous year. The 1990 set goes back down to 11 cards.

One other reason for my renewed interest in the set (P.S.: I'm just interested in the Dodgers, don't be sending me Big cards from any other team), is because I finally corralled enough 8-pocket pages to house the cards.

That doesn't mean the oversized cards can't still be a pain.

This is the toploader that protected both the Gibson and Marshall Big cards when they arrived:

It is super-tall (or super Big, if you like). A Topps Big card occupies only two-thirds of the toploader. It took me a few minutes of trying to dig out both cards with my stubby owl claws, and I did some damage to each card trying to extract them.

I got a little impatient with the Marshall card:

So, maybe Topps Big wasn't the most collectible  or convenient set. But it is a fun, little oddball that can be enjoyable if you take the time to appreciate the unusual.

And if I can say that after all these years of being dismissive, that's Big.


  1. You are absolutely correct. The 1988 Topps Big set was one of the hottest product of the year.

    Back then I was a high school entrepreneur/card dealer at local shows, and I distinctly remember these cards causing a craze. Kids and adults alike gobbled them up. Boxes and singles sold for a premium. Then, supply met demand and then far exceeded it. Such was life as a collector in the late-80's.

  2. I've always liked them (and Topps Kids) in that 'my weird uncle is my favorite' kind of way.

  3. Topps Big was okay. I didn't have the money back then to buy sheets for the bigger cards, so I hated them for that and treated them as such. But, of course, I didn't really get the reference back to 1956 then either.

    For what it's worth, you can get an unopened 3rd series box for $12 or 2 boxes from Series 2 from 1988 for $15 (including Shipping!), so they could be a fun, cheap break.

  4. Hey - look at Steve Sax up there, more than likely over throwing the ball to first.

  5. Like Tony above, I remember getting frustrated with the Big cards because they didn't fit in normal size pages. They were relegated to a shoe box.

  6. Love the Scioscia in action, waiting to block the plate like a rock, as he so often did.
    But really dislike giving Pedro Guerrero an awkward swing photo.
    Lol to JediJeff above, who called it correctly.

  7. I'm probably the only Topps Big super collector out there. I actually have the 1988 and 1989 sets displayed in binders on my book shelf.