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Night owl's all-time Topps set countdown all in one place ... finally

I've threatened repeatedly to put my all-time Topps set countdown all in one convenient post that would then be linked on the sidebar. Finally, after many fits and starts, I've created that post. And in another day or two, I will link it on the sidebar.

It was a pleasure putting the countdown together. No easy task, of course (not even this post was an easy task), but well worth it. And now, at your leisure, you can read through my babblings any time you want with one simple click.

Here it is. This time, from best to worst.

1. 1956 Topps

"Probably the most beautiful set that Topps -- or anybody -- has ever made."

2. 1975 Topps

"There's something about the vibrant colors in 1975 that makes the memories seem more alive than if it was a plain, white-bordered set from, say, 1991."

3. 1971 Topps

"The '71 set is bad-ass. The most bad-ass set that was ever made."

4. 1983 Topps

"The sets that I collected as a kid, and some of the ones that arrived before I was a kid, were all leading up to 1983 Topps."

5. 1967 Topps

"This set provides a window into 1960s baseball that is unmatched."

6. 1972 Topps

"Baseball cards should be bright. They should be colorful. They should be fun."

7. 1959 Topps

"It may do a better job of reflecting the period in which it was issued than any other Topps set."

8. 1953 Topps

"It's like shuffling through pictures on a wall."

9. 1976 Topps

"1976 Topps has some of the most spectacular looking All-Star cards, showing All-Stars like All-Stars should look like -- like damn All-Stars, dammit."

10. 1965 Topps

"It's a look that makes you wonder why it took Topps more than a dozen years to come up with it."

11. 1973 Topps

"Decades later we can look at it the way we look at the clothes people wore in the '70s -- isn't that awful? Isn't that great?"

12. 1962 Topps

"To me the sign of a great set is its lasting power, its ability to remain memorable years after it was made."

13. 1991 Topps

"It is a set unappreciated in its time."

14. 1988 Topps

"The '88 Topps set is an oasis of color in a junk wax desert."

15. 1957 Topps

"This was the Stadium Club set of the 1950s."

16. 1978 Topps

"This is one of the classiest-looking sets that Topps has ever made."

17. 1974 Topps

"I look at a card of Al Bumbry or Claude Osteen or Garry Maddox and I'm transported to the very first time I saw baseball cards up close, in my hands."

18. 1952 Topps

"Being first means a lot, but it doesn't mean you strong-arm your way to the top."

19. 1984 Topps

"To me this is a great pop culture set."

20. 1980 Topps

"The 1980 set is known for one of the best-looking rookie cards ever made, the Rickey Henderson rookie. And it's got one of the best-looking card backs as well."

21. 1977 Topps

"When you're talking about spreading your cards out on the floor, wrapping them in a stack with rubber bands, building card houses out of them, flicking them at the wall to see if they stand up so you can win more cards, that is 1977 Topps for me."

22. 2015 Topps

"One of the best designs that has come out in years."

23. 1986 Topps

"I have often called 1986 Topps the three-legged dog of card sets. It has a lot of things wrong with it, but in the end you can't help but love it."

24. 1992 Topps

"The white backs make it seem like the purest, brightest set ever made."

25. 2011 Topps

"There are so many great shots in 2011 Topps that I had a difficult time selecting just a few."

26. 1963 Topps

"I don't like color and black-and-white images mixing and it really affects me in 1963 Topps."

27. 2009 Topps

"This set shows a lot of thought and some originality. It's just too bad it had to show up on the internet."

28. 1979 Topps

"Staring at the photos in this set makes me feel as if I'm looking at the players through mosquito netting."

29. 1960 Topps

"This is 1955 Topps with a lot less square footage. It's tight quarters in 1960 Topps."

30. 2003 Topps

"2003 Topps seems like a one-trick pony, a set with blue borders and really not much else."

31. 1995 Topps

"You can tell that Topps was pulling out all the stops, anything they could think of, and trying to make it fun, too."

32. 1954 Topps

"That's 1954 Topps to me: weird-looking candy that your grandmother offers."

33. 1987 Topps

"The late '80s was really a creative low point for (Topps)."

34. 1955 Topps

"The 1955 set suffers from its surroundings."

35. 2013 Topps

"The design is sleek, almost futuristic and anything other than the briefest of essentials would ruin the intent."

36. 2005 Topps

"If you want whimsy, charisma, spiked with a little bit of "what the hell is this?" then 2005 Topps is for you."

37. 1982 Topps

"Photo quality is a drawback, which is interesting given the emphasis on "in-action."

38. 1994 Topps

"Unfortunately, all the orange and green and ... um, a players' strike ... cut my Topps card purchasing way down in 1994. BAD MEMORIES with this set."

39. 1985 Topps

"If it weren't for the rookies and the subsets, this would be a stagnant set."

40. 1993 Topps

"The photos could never match what was on '93 Upper Deck, the design wasn't nearly as classy and direct. I was now viewing Topps as second-best for the first time in my life."

41. 1981 Topps

"I view 1981 Topps as the end of the Olin Mills era. It's very much a dated set."

42. 2004 Topps

"Taken as a whole, it borrows from a lot of sets and doesn't do much innovative on its own."

43. 1964 Topps

"It's a fact that I don't understand '60s sets as well as collectors who are older than me."

44. 1970 Topps

"The set is like a boring movie with just a few moments that connect and leave you wondering why the directors couldn't have spread that awesomeness through the whole movie."

45. 1969 Topps

"Good effort against all odds, Topps. That's about all I've got."

46. 1958 Topps

"I don't like many sets that lack backgrounds. I need grass and dirt in my cardboard diet."

47. 1966 Topps

"I can't help but look at it and think, 'try harder.'"

48. 2010 Topps

"If the MLB Network -- the part where ex-jocks yuck it up on the set, shouting without any regard for anyone attempting to learn anything about the game, bellowing like they're back in the locker room -- could be a set, it would be 2010 Topps."

49. 1989 Topps

"I've seen these cards so many times that I am numb to them."

50. 1961 Topps

"1961 Topps might put me to sleep quicker than any other set."

51. 2006 Topps

"It might be the most foil-centric Topps base set ever."

52. 1990 Topps

"The design was a big gamble and God bless them for trying, but I think 1990 Topps baffled its audience."

53. 1968 Topps

"It looks like something I'd be forced to make with yarn in art class."

54. 2007 Topps

"There are so many head-scratching elements, from the design to the decisions made in the set, to an obvious corporate decision to start gimmicking-up flagship."

55. 1997 Topps

"For a late 1990s set, it's as good as it gets."

56. 2002 Topps

"In the end, large set or not, colorful set or not, the border choice solidified 2002 Topps' ranking near the bottom."

57. 2012 Topps

"This set looks unfinished to me. It looks like a prototype -- this is a start and we'll get back to you with more."

58. 2001 Topps

"Now the bad news: All 790 cards are this ugly greenish color."

59. 1999 Topps

"Combine some dark pix with the type on the card and opticians must have set a record for appointments this year." 

60. 2008 Topps

"This is a card set with a world of potential, rendered utterly useless, by a single decision to give the design on 2008 Topps a uvula."

61. 1998 Topps

"I wish I could pinpoint what was so universally disliked about (Topps sets from the late '90s), but all I can do is give my opinion and that is: 'they were depressingly ugly.'"

62. 2000 Topps

"The one thing you should know is how impressed I am that I was able to compose so many words for this when really the only thing that needs to be said is: 'yaaaaawwwwwwwwwnnnnnnn.'"

63. 2014 Topps

"2014 Topps is a mess. It's as if 2013 Topps was a snowman and melted in the sun and someone reassembled the design based on what was left over to form 2014 Topps."

64. 1996 Topps

"The 1996 Topps set took the worst aspect of the '94 Upper Deck set, copied the '94 Fleer set while ignoring all of its best points, and made the set its smallest in 46 years. It's as if Topps knew that nobody was going to like it."


Adam said…
I always get 2013 and 2014 confused because they are so similar. I really like the 2012 design as that's some of the first packs I bought when I got back into collecting.
John Batrman said…
We are about the same age (I am about a year or two older than you), and are favorite sets are very similar. Our top 7 are the same but in a different order. I would go 1972, 1971, 1975 1959, 1983, 1967, 1956. 1972 was the first packs I bought and I think I got some 1971s a short time later. I think that my be why they are my favorites because they were my first. I would knock down 1973 and 1974 a little bit. It was good to see you appreciate 1988 and 1991 as junk wax could be good too. The biggest disagreement I have is the 2008 Topps set I would move it close to the top ten. It is the one design that sticks out the most between 1992-2015. I think you called it the Circus balloons set? I think the letter coloring was just perfect, I know, I wish the photo's were cropped a little tighter. Maybe in some ways the cards remind me of the 1972 set. Otherwise it is great to know someone see cards the way I do.
Unknown said…
Finally a complete list I can look at over again and again. I don't think I have ever seen the 2004 Topps release.
Billy Kingsley said…
This was a fun read the first time around and it remains so. 1990 is my favorite...seriously. I may be the only person in the world who thinks that way.
BobWalkthePlank said…
Nice to have it all in one place. I kind of chuckle each time I see 96 Topps. I knew it sucked, but I still bought it out of habit.
Mark Hoyle said…
I echo Matts sentiments. Nice to see it all in one post. Job well done.
For some reason I too like the 1990 set. It's not my favorite, but I would buy more boxes of this product at the right price ($5 a box is right). There is something ugly about the set that has kept me interested in it since it hit the market.

Go figure.
Ana Lu said…
Damn! I loved this! Nice to remember some of them.