Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why don't I like 1973 Topps?

I was thinking about this when everyone was ranking the Topps sets of the 1980s. While I enjoy 1980s cards as much as the next collector, it's not where my heart lies. I'm totally in love with cards from the '70s.

If you're asking me to rank sets that I love, then you've got to go directly to the '70s. Ya dig? Each and every set (and there really was only ONE set each year) holds special meaning for me. Each and every set I have collected or intend to collect. Well, that is, every set except for 1973 Topps.

And I'm not sure why that is. So I thought I'd go through all the sets of the '70s, figure out what I like about them, and then try to come to a conclusion about my indifference for the '73 set.

1975 Topps: The best set ever created in the history of time. You will never be able to convince me otherwise, no matter what tactic you use. Well-thought-out arguments. Bribery. Dancing girls. Sorry. I'm immovable. This set has everything you need, historical stars, quirky design, bright colors. I have threatened to start another blog all about '75 Topps, and one day I may just lose enough brain cells to do so. Oh, and there's that other thing -- it's the first set I ever collected.

1974 Topps: Like '75 Topps, I have the whole set. And, like '75 Topps, it's a set of my childhood. It's the first set I ever saw and the first cards I ever threw away (stupid me). I like the design quite a bit, one of my favorites of the decade. Plus, the Steve Garvey card is killer.

1976 Topps: A set I am trying to complete right now. I am not that far away from doing so -- I give it another card show or two. The 1976 Topps set reminds me of one thing: collecting and trading cards with my friend Mario in grade school. The '76 set has that awesome Johnny Bench card, and the fantastic stars that they used for the All-Star players (something they should return to cards immediately). I loved pulling a card with one of those yellow stars.

1971 Topps: As a fan of "night cards" and night time in general, there is no card that gives off the feel of a neon light shining in the dark quite like 1971 Topps. It is what drew my attention instantly when I was a kid. The set came out before I started collecting, but it is one I always loved. Now I am collecting the set and making decent progress on it (until I hit the Mays-Aaron-Munson-Clemente wall). Plus I love all the distant action shots.

1972 Topps: The second-most colorful set of the decade. Super psychedelic. That alone makes it a winner. Add the crazy 787 cards in the set, the difficult high numbers, the huge selection of subsets and it is one wildly entertaining set to collect. I am trying to complete the whole thing, but unlike other sets I am trying to complete, I have no idea whether I will ever finish it off. In fact, I doubt I will. This set plays with your confidence. And I like that.

1977 Topps: After I am finished completing the '76 set, I will go for this set. It was a big one in my young collecting life. I have a story that revolves around this set that is a future blog post. All I'll say about it now is that the 1977 set was about 30 years ahead of its time.
1978 Topps: I admire this set mostly because it's the first set in which I saw all of the cards in one place. What an amazing day that was. Years later, I saw the cards all in one place again when I completed the entire set. But there is one checklist card that I really need to upgrade.

1979 Topps: I have to admit, I don't like this set that much. But again, it's one from my childhood, so that automatically makes it collectible. One day I may try to get the whole thing.

1970 Topps: OK, I don't like this set much either. But as kids, we thought this set was so OLD. I mean look at the borders, they've turned gray! Any set that seems ancient is worth collecting.

So that leaves me with 1973 Topps. And despite all of the goofy photos in '73 Topps, like this one, it still doesn't appeal to me.

After going through all the other sets, I think it's because I can't draw a childhood connection to the set, since it came out before I started collecting. But unlike 1971 and '72 Topps, which also came out before I discovered cards, its design isn't attractive enough to get my attention. And unlike 1970 Topps, it doesn't have that prehistoric vibe.

Does that mean I think it's the worst design of the '70s? Nah, I'd pick 1979 or 1970. But if you're picking the set I find the most appealing, 1973 Topps is right at the bottom.

Sorry, 1973. It's not you, it's me. But think of it this way: I'd still pick you over every set in the 1980s. Except 1983. She's hot.


  1. 1971 and 1972 topps - if I can do it, you can do it! I built 1971 topps because it's my birth year set and then I advanced to 1972 and 1973 and 1974 to build those sets because I set a goal of having every topps base set from when I was born to present. The highs in 1972 were tough, but do-able (same with 1971 high number). It took me probably 2 years for 1971-1973 to build starting from lots on the auction site to giving some of the vintage dealers some business on some of the harder to find high number cards.

    I'm not going to do 1970 and earlier because I'd rather have sets from when I was alive.

    Do you think the gimmick card in 1969T high series would be a Apollo 11 card of Neil, Buzz and Michael? ;)

  2. Pretty similar to what I'd say, but with a few changes.

    1. 1975 - My birth year and first set to be hand collated. Plus it's just plain awesome.

    2. 1974 - Beautiful set I never appreciated until I collated it in 2002.

    3. 1976 - Almost as awesome as 75.

    4. 1972 - My dad helped me build this set back in the late 80s. Still missing several high cards, though.

    5. 1971 - Work in progress.

    6. 1977 - Mariners and Blue Jays. 'Nuff said.

    7. 1979 - My first pack of wax.

    8. 1970 - One day...

    9. 1978 - I like the starkness. It's mostly picture.

    10. 1973 - I like the action figure that denotes position.

  3. Not that you were asking, but here goes anyway: 1975, 1976, 1972, 1974, 1977, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1978, 1979.

    I'm with you on the '75 set. I've debated collecting the mini set for years, just because I had so much fun collecting the regular set the first time around.

  4. I am very partial to 70s sets as well. I started collecting when I was seven years old in 1974. I need to fill some holes in a few sets (a total of about 20 1975, 1976, and 1978). After that I plan to finish my 1973 set (about 70 cards but I still need the Schmidt). Then I'll do '71, '72, and '70. My ultimate colletcing goal is to collect every Topps main set from 1966 (my birth year) to the present.

    My rankings:

    1975 - first set I tried to complete
    1976 - I like it enough to do a blog about it
    1978 - Just a nice-looking set
    1974 - my first pack had a Hank Aaron special. I was hooked. :)
    1971 - Great action pics
    1977 - the first set I ever completed as a kid
    1972 - the design really grows on me.
    1973 - Kind of boring. Some bad action shots. But it's still in the 70s and has those great players.
    1970 - Just kind of blah
    1979 - Grainy photos. This is the first set that I bought instead of collecting by the pack.

    I'd put all of these sets above just about anything from 1984 to the present.

  5. My favorite would have to be the '76 set. It's a great looking set, and I love those little yellow stars, too.

    I have not attempted to build any sets from this decade by hand, other than the '70 set (but that's only because that was the year I was born). However, I really don't think that set looks that bad. I like those gray borders for some reason.

  6. LOL, you are so right about '70 Topps... I thought those were so old when I first started collecting as a kid. In fact, the second card I ever bought was a 1970 Alvin Dark, and I thought I had some serious collector's item these...

  7. No love for the '73s?!? Man, tough crowd.

    Some of the action cards are rough and hokey, but man are they cool.

    I hadn't seen that '70 Rudi before, that's a nice card.

    And is that the infamous Bump Wills error?

  8. Funny, '73 is my favorite set of the decade :)

  9. So much of this comes from memories. 73 was the first year I collected and it is my favorite of the seventies. I am 14 cards away from completing. And, I'll take the '73 Bench over the '76 any day. In order:
    73, 71, 76, 70, 77, 72, 75, 79, 78, 74