Friday, June 9, 2017

I'm getting too old for this @*%&#


Danny Glover was right.

When you reach a certain age, there's no point in holding on to some of the things you enjoyed when you were younger.

I'm fortunate that I don't have to deal with drug cartels or psychotic partners named Mel Gibson. But I do deal with something much, much, much, much worse -- going to Walmart in search of new baseball card product.

Why do I put myself through that?

What, honestly, is the point?

I don't need to do it for blog posts. I think I'm creative enough that I could post almost every day for months even if no new cards showed up at the store. So what am I doing?

Do I like dodging old ladies hunched over their shopping carts who are trying to steer and cross something off their list at the same time? Is waiting in line behind people who must discuss every item that comes out of their shopping cart entertaining?

Is Topps Archives worth that? Is it?

No, it is not.

The latest Archives product has been posted on many different blogs over the last week-plus. But it's just showing up here now because, one, I don't really care about this product, and, two, there seem to be a lot of people who do.

I was in Walmart several days ago at that glorious time of 2 a.m. when there are no old ladies with shopping carts in the store. I hopped on over to the card aisle and right where the Archives fat packs and blasters were supposed to be were two empty spots. They had been cleared out. Both items. Gone.

When I came back to Walmart yesterday, the Archives blasters were fully stocked. But there was just one lonely fat pack. The rest had been snapped up.

So, obviously, it's a popular product. From my perspective that puzzles me. I always think Archives has a lot of potential but am often let down by it. But then I heard something the other day that made sense:

People wonder why both Archives and Heritage exist. Well, maybe Archives is for younger collectors and Heritage for older collectors. This is the theory: Heritage is very much a set-collector's set, a traditional set. And the brand stays very true to the set it is replicating, because they know that Heritage collectors know their sets. These collectors know tradition and some of them back in the day even bought the cards that Heritage is representing. Some people who are buying Heritage this year actually bought 1968 Topps in 1968.

But Archives, the theory goes, is for younger collectors. These are people who don't collect sets but collect players and still like the old designs. They know history but have no real allegiance to it because they weren't around when the designs first came out. So if Archives doesn't perfectly replicate a set, it doesn't matter to them. Because they didn't pull those cards in 1968 or 1976 or whenever.

They aren't attached to those old cards. While I am. I was there.

In other words: I'm too old for Archives. I'm too old for this shit.

That may explain why I get so bothered by Archives reusing the 1982 design four years after already using it, short-printing the hell out of some cards (fortunately it doesn't do that this year), and scrimping on the card stock. I'm older. I pulled cards in the '70s and '80s. I want it be right. I want my history acknowledged, dammit. I want it respected.

So that's the reason Archives irks me while others are going, "oh, wow, cool!"

Needless to say, I did not buy any of the Archives blasters, I nabbed the one fat pack and was on my way.

I fully expected to be underwhelmed and it may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I was.

Here is the pack:


The first five cards in the pack are the 1960 design.

Positive points: The design has not been used in Archives before. Also, as mentioned a number of other times, the card stock is thicker and more substantial. Finally!

Negative points: I'm already sick of seeing that Gossage card. I think it's been pulled from every pack I've seen opened on the internet.


The next five cards from the pack are the 1992 design.

Positive points: It's a faithful enough representation of 1992 Topps. I don't hold a particular allegiance to '92 Topps, but it's all right.

Negative points: I've already pulled three Giants out of this pack.



The next three cards are inserts, a Bazooka-style card, a 1960 rookies style card, and the Lindor is something I don't recognize. Some past basketball design perhaps?

Positive points: I like Lindor cards.

Negative points: The card stock for these and the 1992 cards is the usual thin stuff out of Archives. That's OK for the '92s because that was when Topps converted to the thinner white cardboard. But put your 1960-style card on regular cardboard please.


The last five cards are the 1982 design.

Positive points: Thicker cardboard.

Negative points: I am so disgusted by the repeated '82 design that it clouds everything else I see. Topps hasn't exactly ignored the designs that I grew up with as a kid, but we're five years into this version of Archives and I'm still waiting to see 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978 and 1981.

The reason I was thrilled with Archives last year -- the only time I have been thrilled with them as a set -- is because it featured the 1979 design and did such a good job representing that 1979 set.

It's possible Archives does the same thing with 1982 but I don't care because I've already seen it.

Also, the fact that this '82 Archives design is on thicker cardboard and the previous one is not diminishes the previous one in my eyes.

And before I forget: that pack sucked. Two Yankees, two Cubs, three Giants? That freaking Jon Gray who I pull in every single pack? Curt Schilling?

Every year I buy a pack or two of Archives and then the cards get lost in the shoebox of time. They may be the current cards I ignore the most when I'm going through them a year or two or three later. They seem almost disposable.

But I'm looking at it from an older collector's eyes. Someone who collected back then. Archives is probably something I shouldn't be buying, because:

15 comments:

  1. I've said elsewhere that if I were to collect this year's, I'd go for the 82s and 92s.

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  2. I grabbed 3 blasters at Walmart (there weren't any packs at all). I'll have a comparison of the 3 later this month, but HUGE difference in the boxes. I do like the thicker stock. But I believe this is the last year of building archives unless I score a bunch from the nickel boxes or find a cheap base set.

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  3. Interesting take on Archives vs. Heritage. Never thought about it that way, but it makes sense. I don't collect either, to many sp's in Heritage and just not into Archives. What can I send you for the Lou Gehrig? I don't know why, but I've started a PC of him. I must be nuts.

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    1. If I still have your correct address I'll send it right out to you.

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  4. We have dubbed those phantom Topps Archive design as "the pizza" cards!!

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  5. Curious what you think of the Ron Cey auto from this set? It looks like the picture is from the 1981 NLCS.

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    1. It's a card I'd like to have, but if I don't get it, it's no biggie, I have plenty of Cey autograph cards.

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  6. But you have to love that Little League card of Trea Turner. Seriously, how skinny is he?

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  7. Yeah, I'm not really buying the older collector/younger collector theory. I think it's more about your "serious" collector and your "fun" collector. Your "serious" collector wants a set that's true to the original. These are all modern players on the old design (the same old design, it should be added). You've got SPs, lots of rookies, and plenty of guys for whom these are the first cards in their new uniforms (even if they have to be digitally altered to be in them). In recent years, case breakers (even box breakers) are making good money on the "rare" hits while your set collector has a set that is challenging, yet possible to complete. Archives is more of a lark. They've got the old designs, but its only been in the last year or two they've really tried to match the photo selection to what you might have found back then. The thickness of the older design card stock this year is a big plus. It's a mix of current players and retired players. Everybody gets a chance to pull a Babe Ruth, Ted Williams or Sandy Koufax out of a pack. Sure, that's wearing a little thin, after all these years and all these products. But is there any card collector out there who opens a pack and says, "Crap, its a stinkin' Babe Ruth card."? I don't think so. Not an older collector anyway. Doesn't matter that they aren't worth anything, it's still a tickle to pull a Babe Ruth card out of a pack of baseball cards. But the real reason I can't see Archives as the card of the younger collector is because the real draw of Archives to anyone I've ever spoken to who digs it is the two autographs per box...especially BECAUSE they are mostly minor stars. You don't buy Archives looking for an auto of Aaron Judge or Johnny Bench (even if some of those are in there). You buy Archives to get an autographed card of Cleon Jones, Turk Wendell, or Bill "Spaceman" Lee (or, for the Dodger fan, Manny Mota, Ron Cey and Wally Moon). Those are not cards you are going to make money on and a younger collector has no connection to those players. But an older collector who wants to really be transported back in time--whose in it just for the fun--well, that Cleon Jones is going to mean the world to a guy like me in a way that a Tom Seaver really wouldn't. Why? Because other products--the "serious" products--will have Seaver. But only Archives would have a Cleon Jones. You get some of the minor stars in Heritage, too. But with autographs falling like one in every 5 or 6 boxes in Heritage, you kinda want an auto that you can bank on, if you're lucky enough to pull one at all. At 2 a box, it's a hoot to pull an autographed Lenny Randle or Kevin Maas.

    As for that Lindor insert, people like me have been after Topps to do a new design that is old school and less ESPN/computer graphics-y. So that is Topps' "be careful what you wish for" design. I think they call it "Modern Retro". I could design a better card in my sleep (and have).

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  8. "Is waiting in line behind people who must discuss every item that comes out of their shopping cart entertaining?"

    YES! One of the more annoying things I've noticed since I started working retail is the odd, compulsive need of some shoppers to openly announce every item they see or every store they pass. I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed it.

    As a young(ish) collector, I guess I enjoy Archives (and Heritage, for that matter) because it grants be the simple reason that it allows access to older sets I never got to experience in the first place. I get the idea that, to collectors a generation older than myself, certain sets and designs have a special place in one's heart, but collectors my age didn't grow up in an era where one could easily declare allegiance (because ain't no one declaring allegiance to 1999 Topps). I'm also partial to the '92 design because that's the year I was born.

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  9. I'm an older collector now, but I'm not that old yet and I probably fall under the category of not being a traditionalist where I tried to put together sets, but do like the novelty of the old designs used for a retro themed, current year product.

    While I don't feel particularly nostalgic about 1992 Topps cards, I guess I do remember how Topps switched over to the cleaner, white card stock, a friend being able to buy at least a case of that stuff and trying to cheat with the Topps Gold contest cards and looking for a Ryan Klesko four-player prospect card and also the Brien Taylor draft pick card.

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  10. Some Wal Marts have the drug cartel thing going on, so that base is covered. The Lindor is not an NBA design, it's totally new.
    My take from an outsider's perspective: I like the concept of Archives but the execution could be improved. The first Archives set I believe was actually an NBA release in 1992, which gave a card to people who entered the league when Topps did not have the license, using baseball designs for the front that corresponded with the year they entered the league. All​ well and good, but disappointing. What they should have done was issue a set for each year they did not have the license, a set that would have been issued had they been producing cards during that time. I know their history with baseball is better than the NBA, but could you imagine if every year Archives was a set based on a year Topps did not produce a set of cards? Considering professional baseball has been around as long as it has been there are lots of years from before Topps started that could use a set dedicated to it in the Topps style. The problem I can envision though is that of photographs. Might not be easily available for early players.

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  11. That's one impressive (and funny) rant. I found myself nodding in affirmation a few times. How was the collation? I got two of the Goose cards..in fact I think I got that same grouping of five faux '60s twice.

    The Schilling would have gone straight into my trash can.

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  12. S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night! maybe it's time to take my Roller posters off the wall. at my age, its becoming more difficult to explain. on another note, i haven't purchased nor will I, 2017 Topps Archives. I'll keep every card sent to me but not forking over the dollars. The 1960 design is one of my favorites but I won't be sucked in by it.

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  13. The negative on the 1982 cards is ..... no "In Action" subset, which I have a always really liked. But I think they did use that as a tough-to-pull insert in some other product, I forget.

    The positive of these cards - after two years of full bleed in the S1/S2/Update set, it is nice to get some 'regular' baseball cards of the current players.

    You made the right choice with the hanger pack, the cards are cheaper that way by a smidgen. And I bet you have a bunch of loose Topps Coins kicking around in a box somewhere that you can't throw out, and can't display, and just can't figure out what to do with, like me. The last thing I want is to add to that little pile by buying a blaster of '17 Archives and acquiring more of them to go with the Topps Chipz and the Qubi widgets, toooooooo

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