The first four years of this blog, you could find me in the card aisle at a Target or Walmart at least once a week, possibly twice a week, even three times a week a few times.
The name of the game back then was the very latest. Get it, show it, maybe even before anyone else did. Since I don't live in a large metropolitan area, I would often lament the amount of time it took for the most recent product to arrive on store shelves here.
Fast forward eight years to the very weird year of 2020. You can find me in a Target maybe once every two months. You can't find me in a Walmart at all. I probably haven't shown the latest cards first on my blog in at least two years.
The game has changed, because I have changed, the blogs and social media has changed, and the world has changed.
There's really no point to venturing out to card aisles anymore. Why? There's nothing there and even when there was, there was nothing there. Ya dig? The law of diminishing returns is in full effect. Lack of appeal or plain lack of anything at all leads to a new way of collecting.
So, for the third time this year I have purchased a 2020 team set online. This time it was Archives.
It's really better this way. Not only do I avoid being disappointed by the Bros clearing out the card stock, but I avoid getting cards of Marlins or Padres, stuff that just sits and rots in a box. I miss opening packs -- a lot -- but under the circumstances, this is for the best.
That's especially the case with Archives, because that set and I, we don't see eye-to-eye (unless it used the '75 design like last year). This set has great appeal to the collectors who hunt for autographs but that means zero to me. I collect sets. I collect card designs and how a team is constructed and stuff like that.
So when Archives arrives each year, I get scrunchy. It pays tribute to past sets, but it doesn't look a whole lot like past sets, at least not the way Heritage does.
As a couple of people have said, if Archives were to place a spin on past sets, which didn't seem as random as screwing up the player name font, and make the designs their own, I'd respect that a bit more.
But weird stuff like this ...
... red team letters when the Pirates team letters in the '74 set were gold ...
... white team letters when the Orioles team letters in '74 were orange ...
... black team letters when the Mets team letters in '74 were white ...
... and one, just one Giants card on the '74 design in which Oakland A's colors are used (no, this is not a variation) ... it's just so random.
No other team using the '74 design varies that differently from the original '74 design. So when you get random stuff like this that only looks like Topps goofed, what else can I assume? And Archives is always full of this stuff.
So it's probably better if I stay away from traditional blaster reviews of this set -- if I could find them anyway.
Let's move on to team set instead.
As you know, Archives is using the 1955, 1974 and 2002 Topps designs this year.
The '55 design has never excited me, but I'm surprised by how enjoyable they are this year. First, the Dodgers are shown on a variety of colored backdrops. In '55, it was all yellow all the time. Second, the cards are obviously smaller than the original '55 set and they seem so handy (which is why the mini parallels in the '55 design in this set are redundant).
The '55 design shows off two of the Dodgers rookies that Topps is forcing into every set this year -- Lux and Graterol. If I was Chris Taylor or Kiké Hernandez, I'd be pretty annoyed by being booted out of so many sets this year for guys with a lot less service time.
Like the '55 portion of Archives, the Dodgers have seven players on the '74 design.
This is the design that I could nerd out over for days. You just saw an example earlier in the post, so I'll try to rein it in a little. But you can't blame me.
THIS is the first card I ever pulled out of a baseball card pack, you guys. Of course I'm going to be devoted to it. And I'll tell you, the Archives name font is way off, the team font is a little off, but otherwise, those Archives '74s are giving me a good case of the nostalgies and that's a good thing.
My favorites of the Dodgers in this portion are the Koufax and Justin Turner cards. They represent the action in the '74 set fairly well. I wish Archives tipped one of the Dodgers '74s on its side as a horizontal tribute to the Garvey card, but maybe in 2023 Heritage.
I was also waiting for one of those "distant action" shots prevalent in the '74 set (and the early '70s), something like the Claude Osteen or Ron Cey. But no deal there.
I am pleased to see this card because I can add the '74 design to my Through the Years run of Topps designs for Kershaw. Any one of this year's Archives designs would have worked for Kershaw because I still haven't seen him on the '55 or '02 design either.
OK, let's turn over the '74s and lash Topps with a wet noodle.
People have already noticed the generic script for the player's name where a facsimile signature appeared in the original '74 set. Since Topps surely has access to players' signatures, this looks lazy and it's pretty pointless to repeat the players' name on the same line like this.
I will point out two other issues:
A) Topps could have added a third factoid about Buehler in that gaping space between the other two factoids.
B) Not only does Topps repeat the same cartoon image (something that has been habit in other Archives and Heritage sets), but not one of the Dodgers' '74 cartoons makes reference to anything other than on-field exploits. If you know the '74 set, you know that the cartoons ESPECIALLY avoided on-field performances. Instead it gave collectors a personal look into players' hobbies, interests, backgrounds and families.
See why you don't want me buying blasters of this stuff? Imagine me getting goofy over all this stuff while also crabbing about all the Mariners cards in my box.
Oddly, there are just two Dodgers in the 2002 portion of the set. This makes me want to check out the design distribution for the Dodgers in previous Archives sets.
I like both images. Jansen seems to get robbed with the image selection on his cards, so this is nice.
The card stock for Archives has improved in recent years and this year, not even the 2002 set is super glossy. It'd be nice if Topps kept doing this each year.
This looks like an insert but is actually part of the base set. There are poster versions of all of these nickname cards, too. I agree with most collectors in that I like these a lot and in most cases they're executed well.
My purchase knocked off all of the team set needs for Archives, but there are still a bunch of inserts to get. I'm not very interested in those inserts but I suppose I'll seek them out at some point.
The dealer I purchased from did sneak in one of the inserts as a surprise. This is modeled after the 1960 Topps cards. It doesn't do much for me. Very random, which is Archives' trademark.
I guess I went into nerd overdrive there anyway, on just a simple team set.
But at least I have exactly what I need and nothing that will be banished to a box for years because I can't get rid of it.
It's better this way.
At least in this very strange year.