Saturday, April 6, 2019

Define the design: 19T

Trying to come up with a name that sums up a set is easier some years than others.

Sometimes you get lucky and Topps puts a waterslide on every card and a Define the Design name is born within a day of seeing the cards. That's what happened last year. And the year before that, it didn't take me too long to realize that Topps dropped a bunch of steel girders at the bottom of every 2017 card.

But other years it's more difficult, like this year.

I like this year's design, although my appreciation for it is starting to fade, probably because of some of those very same design elements. But there's also a lot going on with it and it's difficult to lock on one particular element and come up with a name. This is the same issue with a lot of Bowman sets and now that just made me scared that Topps flagship is starting to look like Bowman.

So, I stared at the 2019 design for a little bit and tried to separate the elements and see if anything stood out.

1. The two-sided border that swoops along the right corner
2. The team logo in the corner
3. The faded mosaic pattern that runs outside the border and also along the left side of the photo
4. The large last name over the smaller first name
5. The teeny, tiny team name and position name
6. The white background behind the last name and the logo that fades into the photo (and kind of irks me)

Those are the elements I found.

Now, the mosaic pattern might make a cool name as it reminds me of those '70s computers with the repetitive colored dots and corresponding '70s computer sounds, but I'm blanking on anything that looked like that. And if I can't come up with an example, I can't come up with a name.

I could call this "the last name first" set, but I think that would appeal only to collectors who are bothered by this set-up. I barely notice it and I don't think it's very original either so that doesn't speak to me.

The white background bothers me because there doesn't appear to be a clear-cut line between the photo and the background. The image sort of bleeds into the background as seen by Chance Adams' left leg. That looks sloppy to me, design element or not.

Also, I've discovered that the mosaic background may be contributing to my perception that the photos in this set aren't as sharp as they were last year -- I'm actually starting to like the 2018 set more becaues of that. The 2018 photos look clearer, or at least less like Topps is fiddling with the image.

But where I prefer to place my Define the Design focus is on the two-sided border.

This is the first significant border in flagship since the 2015 set. Many, many collectors say this harks back to the 1982 Topps set -- the hockey stick set -- which featured a two-colored swoosh along the left side that stopped short after rounding the left corner.

Your visual.

So is this the Define the Design theme? "The 1982 Topps rip-off design"? "The 1982 Topps sequel design"? "The 1982 Topps update set"? (Oh, wait, there was one of those already).

Could be.

I'd like to look at the rounded corner element of the design though.

If you didn't know, rounded corners have been an on-going theme in design the last couple of years (some say the theme never left). If you're on Twitter, you probably noticed a year or two ago when all of a sudden it erased the sharp edges from avatars and Twitter boxes and other things. Everything became round and "friendly".

That's the theory behind rounded corners. The brain takes longer to process sharp corners. Rounded corners are friendlier and more pleasing to view. They're safer. Nobody wants to play with sharp corners.

Rounded corners have been the go-to element for many websites in recent years and it's obvious that's what Topps is doing with the 2019 design.

For lack of anything else, I'd like to call this "the rounded corner design." I think, though, that it is too generic.

I may just end up going with "the last name first design" because it may be the most obvious part of the design. I also might go with "1982 Topps sequel design."

As usual, any recommendations are welcome.


  1. Replies
    1. Maybe I should've written that as Nineteen Eighty Too

    2. I like this. It's like when Skid Row recorded a punkier version of "I Remember You" and called it "I Remember You Too."

      JT, The Writer's Journey

  2. "The Skinnier Hockey Stick Set"

  3. Were you thinking of dot matrix for that 70s pattern? I'm not sure if it's the same thing but that's what came to my mind. I didn't know just how much that pattern pops out of the background of the photo until you mentioned it. The '82-style racing stripes and last name first elements are what I notice most about '19; that and the mosaic pattern brought Tron to mind, but it's not 3-D/neon enough (Panini basketball inserts, on the other hand..)

    I'm no good at this. Hopefully one of your other readers can Define the Design.

  4. At first I was thinking road maps with the lines of varying thickness, but then it looked more like a thermometer up the side, especially with the red ones or the ones with red accent stripes.

    Then I thought it looks like one of those strength test machines at the carnivals where you hit the pad (the team logo) with a sledge hammer and send the weight up the wire to ring the bell. Apparently those are called "High Strikers". The Hammer Logo Pa-Ting set. :)

  5. That Adams card, with his left foot amputated, is terrible. Thank you for showing it. How about "The 37th Anniversary of 1982" set? Very little focus on celebrating such a milestone.

  6. The Incomplete Set. The design just does not feel like it is finished. It is missing something. Maybe the other 2 borders. Maybe filling in the photo where the white faded parts on the card. The design feels incomplete. Maybe call it the 82% complete design set.

  7. I call it "pixels" because the mosaic pattern reminds me of pixel squares.

  8. This is probably too cutesy, but I want to call it the 82-19 set because it's sort of like the 1982 set but backwards, and then it also alludes to the backwards names.

  9. It looks like an iPhone placed on a piece of cheesecloth to me.

  10. The mosaic thing reminds me of bathroom tiles or a kitchen backsplash, so I might go with "The Backsplash Design". Another last-name-first idea might be to call it something like "The Baseball Card Topps Design".

  11. Being from upstate NY, we can appreciate how most of these guys are ankle-deep or waist-deep in some snow (except Grichuk who may have snowshoes on). I don't have many 2019s but it looks like there are many amputated feet.

  12. To me, the design looks like a rounded off plastic employee badge (you know, with the magnetic strip and bar code on the back), glued on top of the mosiac fade pattern. The last name first kind of plays into that for me...

    I'm going with the "Employee Badge" set.

    And as far as 2018 Topps, I fell in love with that last year, just for the photography. The action shots do get redundant, but the photos are great throughout. I bought a 4" binder for the full 3 series set and all the inserts I have. Looks fantastic!

  13. I call it “The White Pages” set but haven’t been home to scan some more of the cards lately. But not as many people can now remember what that would refer to.

  14. First thing that popped into my head when I saw this design was the 82T set. Then again... that might be why I enjoy this set design more than the 16T, 17T, and 18T designs.

  15. I'm at a total loss on a name but that is a great breakdown .I enjoyed. Thanks.

  16. How about "The damn position and team name are too small!" set?

  17. To me the most disturbing part of the set is the fading pixel stuff on the left. To me it is even worse than the smoke on 2016. So I am calling this the "Pixelated Smoke" set.