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For someone who grew up in the '70s, this set isn't that super


I've already expressed my thoughts on Topps' new online Super 70s set here, here, here and here, so it's about time I spit it out on my own site.
The 2020 Topps X Super 70s set (no, I don't know what the 'X' means) is another Topps online-only collaboration, much like other, so-called "curated" sets. This time, Topps has combined with Ricky Cobb, who runs one of the most popular Twitter sites, Super 70s Sports.

If you aren't on Twitter, the Super 70s site is an often amusing tribute to everything 1970s. It's not for everyone, the takes are frequently off-color and some would say antiquated, but for someone who grew up in the '70s, as I did, a lot of the nostalgia that comes from the site makes sense to me. It's one of the few consistently amusing places on Twitter.

The set is 90 cards and you might think that something focused on the 1970s would be all about the 1970s, from design to feel to content.

Two out of three ain't bad, as someone once sang in the '70s.

The content is best described as "inspired" by the '70s. Out of the 90 players featured in the base set, just 42 of them actually played in the 1970s. And that's being a little lenient as Rickey Henderson's MLB time in the '70s consisted of 89 games in 1979.

The rest of the set consists of either players who were long retired or even dead by the time the 1970s arrived -- folks like Sandy Koufax, Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth -- or, more notably, players whose careers began after the 1970s and players who weren't even born in the 1970s.

The whole back section of the set, cards 68-90, is current players from Ronald Acuña at No. 68 to Justin Turner at No. 90.

As someone who grew up in the '70s and is still a fan of those 10 years, this is annoying. It doesn't make any sense to me to put someone like Shohei Ohtani in a '70s-themed set.
I believe, as gcrl mentioned in his post, that Topps is required to include current players in all of its products, according to the license agreement with MLB. I tried to confirm that with Twitter sources yesterday but got no answer (Twitter was somewhat occupied with other events).

You can tell by the front and the back of the Dusty Baker card that the design is devoted to the 1970s. The front, as many have mentioned, is a mish-mash of Topps '70s design elements from 1977-79. The flag is from 1977, the team script from 1978 (Hey! They aren't afraid to produce it!) and the banner from 1979. The inserts add the two-tone colors of the 1975 set.

The backs continue the '70s theme with the dark background colors, the cartoon and the card number housed inside a baseball. I don't think they had to make the script quite that unreadable.

The actual texture of the cards is decent, much like a current Archives card with semi-glossy front and a thick-enough back that replicates, sort of, the feel of those '70s cards.

But the subject matter just doesn't do it for me. I have no use for a '70s set that produces cards of Frank Thomas, Matt Olson and Bryce Harper. They didn't play in the '70s. They never put an 8-track tape in their car (neither did I, but at least I saw one in the '70s).

So I didn't bother buying a box of this when Topps advertised it online. And I will only pick off the singles that seem appropriate. The Dusty Baker is in hand. It is wonderful, from Baker's smile to those awesome wrist bands to the mention on the back that his best days were with the Dodgers. This is the set at its best.
The Steve Garvey has been ordered. After that, we'll see. Some of the better ones are Al Oliver, Andre Dawson, J.R. Richard, Hank Aaron and Nolan Ryan.

Then there is Joe Morgan, who is wearing Astros uniform, which is not only not a Reds uniform but looks like it's from his return to the Astros in the '80s, not his early '70s Astros days. Reggie Jackson's photo does not show his shades and mustache, going with an early '70s shot instead. But most of the '70s guys are time appropriate.

I know I would get called out on the Super '70s Twitter site for being picky like this. Quite often, the site addresses the '80s or even the '90s, like in this tweet.

Someone invariably will comment "that's not the '70s," which leads to a public putdown of that person by the Super '70s site. Oh, the Twitter shame.

I have no problem with the Super '70s site mentioning the '80s or '90s, it's all good to me. But for some reason, it doesn't work with a card set. If Topps is required to include current stars with every product, it really waters down some of their sets and is another case of legal deals trampling all over the hobby as it's been doing the last couple of decades. Not to mention how boring sets gets when Juan Soto is wedged into every one.
I actually looked through the MLB license agreement with Topps in an effort to find the bit about current players, but then my eyes started bleeding (if I ever wondered why cards do what they do when it comes to uniform colors and umpires, I don't anymore. Lordy).
And that's why I go on and on about missing the '70s and '80s.

What can I say? I likes what I likes. And for me, the Super '70s set is only super on a card-by-card basis.


Right on, my thoughts too. I had looked into the MLB license thing too, but I am not a lawyer. I think someone had mentioned to me that they had to put current players in the products.
Nick said…
I'd probably be a lot more excited about these if they were issued in stores. Having it be an online-only set at about a buck per card makes it seem more distant, and less interesting. Modern guys are cool, but they just seem out of place here. I've picked up a couple of the singles, and may try for a few more once they get cheap enough (the Hank Aaron card is excellent if you haven't seen it yet).
Adam said…
I heard about this but after reading your comments and notes from others, this is one thing I’m gonna skip, especially at the price they want for it.
Brett Alan said…
Am I right that the baseball on the back has stitches which are NOT POINTING IN EITHER DIRECTION? Obviously this set was designed and printed before your great post on stitching on baseballs on cards, but it feels as though they were trolling you.
gcrl said…
That baker card really is a great example of the set done right.
Fuji said…
I've said the same thing on all of those posts you linked... so I'll just say that you and I are on the same page with this product.
Nick Vossbrink said…
I'd argue that the thick border around the photo is 1976ish. And I do kind of like the mashup design even if it's a bit too close to that "I fed 1970s designs into an AI and this is what it did" meme.

CL wise though. Immediate snore as soon as I saw it. Partly because of the current players but most of the rest of the CL weren't players who captured the super 70s vibe. Too many stars. Not enough weirdos. The inserts came a lot closer to what I was hoping for with the glasses and the hair focus. The Dusty is a great example too.

I am glad however that Topps did proper backs for these. I was totally expecting them to have the usual useless backs that most of their online cards have now.
NO and Nick Vossbrink, I agree with both of you about the set missing the point about the 1970s.

Any set that doesn't include Oscar Gamble, Bill Lee or Jay Johnstone doesn't deserve to call itself super '70s. How about Ron Blomberg? Mark Fidrych? A White Sox player wearing shorts? I know some of these guys have appeared on Panini cards, so maybe it's a licensing issue, but (once again) Topps isn't really trying.
gogosox60 said…
There are two Reggie Jackson cards. I picked up the one of base Reggie's that is a picture of him taken in 1967. Why couldn't they find an early 70's Reggie with the bad ass beards???
Why call it the Super 70's set when a good portion of the checklist wasn't even alive in the 70's? I'll pass.
Bo said…
I hadn't been that impressed with the cards I saw on the blogs. Didn't realize they were a dollar a card - yikes.
Not the least bit impressed with anything Topps has done outside of Stadium Club and I'm sure even that set would piss me off a bit too. Certainly not any "collaboration" projects like this and the woeful, lamentable, terrifically terrible in all aspects of it Project 2020.
GCA said…
Don't ya love how the corporate stiffs have absolutely no clue about this hobby. Restricting Topps to putting current players in every single product is ridiculous. You just limited their products to a much narrower audience.
I'd like a Baker, Palmer, J.R. Richard, Kingman, Foster, and Fisk, but I doubt I'll get any of them.

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