Yes, that post title will get some hits.
And if you're here for, you know, the "biggest bust," then let me take this opportunity to say ...
You lonely, lonely people.
The post title was actually inspired by all the electronic crabbing I've read about 2010 card product. You know: This is the worst year ever. Topps needs to get its head out of its ass. I want to kill myself when I reach the card aisle, blah, blah, blah.
Sure, it might not have been the best year for cards. But I found stuff I liked this year. I found stuff to get excited over. I did get a little sick of 2010 Topps and I wasn't as thrilled with it as I was at the start of the year, but overall it was OK. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed some of the other stuff, too. Really. I'm not preparing the "Dear, Topps, you suck" letter. It's just NOT. THAT. BAD. Not for me anyway.
However, all the drama got me thinking about card history again. I looked at this year's Topps set, and I looked at last year's Topps set. Without a doubt, the 2009 set is better. Better photography. Better design. Better.
So, I wondered was this the biggest disappointment for Topps from year to year? Was 2010 Topps the biggest drop-off when you compared each year that Topps issued cards to the year before it? And on the positive side of things, what was the biggest improvement for Topps from year to year? I'd have to say 2009 was a vast improvement over 2008. But was it the biggest?
So I went through all of Topps' base sets and figured out which sets were the biggest busts compared with the year before it, and which were the biggest improvements from the previous year.
This is entirely subjective, I realize. But this is what I came up with:
1. 2009 from 2008: I give '08 credit for brightening up the hobby after the epic darkness of 2007 Topps. But the photos were atrocious in the 2008 set, and the design forced Topps to shrink the images. The 2009 set brought the focus back to the photo again. And what great photos they were.
2. 1991 from 1990: Another instance where photography won out over bizarre design. The 1990 set was thoroughly wack, as the kids would say back then. The 1991 set was tremendous, even if many thought it drab when it first came out.
3. 1959 from 1958: To me, the 1958 set looks like a child's scrapbook. Cut out a head and paste it on colored cardboard. It's very amateurish. The 1959 set, meanwhile, is a classic of its era.
4. 1967 from 1966: I find the '66 set boring and annoying at the same time. That diagonal bar for the team name is very distracting. Meanwhile, I think the '67 set is another understated classic -- every element where it should be. It looks great.
5. 1983 from 1982: The 1982 set isn't awful, but anything that came immediately before the '83 set would pale in comparison.
Honorable mention: 2003 from 2002, 1962 from 1961, 1995 from 1994, 1971 from 1970.
1. 1966 from 1965: My favorite set of the '60s is 1965 Topps. I have come across a number of people who are collecting it. I have come across no one who is collecting the '66 set (I know that will prompt a comment from someone who is collecting the '66 set. Good for you, sir. Wish I had some of those cards so you could take them off my hands).
2. 1961 from 1960: An all-horizontal set rules. A set with two square boxes on the bottom for a design does not.
3. 1968 from 1967: See my love for the '67 set above. Meanwhile my feelings for the '68 set border on hate -- as much as anyone can hate cardboard.
4. 1957 from 1956: The 1957 set brought us the card dimension that we know and love today. But compare it with the '56 set and it fails miserably. The '56 set is pure art.
5. 1990 from 1989: The '89 set is nothing great. That's how big a disaster the 1990 set is.
Honorable mention: 1996 from 1995, 1958 from 1957, 2007 from 2006, 2010 from 2009.
Having said all that, I'm sure you disagree.
So I've come prepared.
Here is a sampling of each year of Topps' cards:
What do YOU think were the biggest improvements from year to year for Topps? And what were the biggest busts?
I'd do a poll for this, but it would be the biggest poll in history. So just leave your reviews in the comments. I hope to put together a review post based on people's comments.
Also, I plan to do this for Fleer, Donruss, Upper Deck, etc. Hell, I might even examine the eight or so years Pinnacle was around.
By the way, Topps, I'm looking forward to you landing on the "biggest improvement" list in 2011. How's your photography this year?