Friday, March 4, 2016

Nope, nope, nope

For years now, I have stayed away from trying to complete the Heritage set. Although I still love the concept of the brand and enjoy the cards most years, the short-printing of the final 75 cards turns me off. I can't afford to throw that kind of money at what it takes to complete Heritage, therefore it's not up for discussion. And it's like that every year. I don't even consider completing the set a possibility. (And if I do, I look at the want list for my 2008 Heritage set, which is still something like 20 cards).

But since I still like Heritage and because the set pays tribute to past sets that are among my favorite of all-time, there are still temptations. I wouldn't say I have weak moments where I actually consider trying to complete it. But I've known for a long time there would be certain years where Heritage's pull would be harder to resist.

2024 Heritage, for example, is the big one. I don't know if I can stay away from that. Also, 2020 and 2021 Heritage look very exciting to me -- although Topps' recent overkill of the '71 and '72 designs on those mini inserts have dampened my enthusiasm.

Another set that I knew would be tempting all along is 2016 Heritage.

I love the 1967 Topps design. It finished fifth all-time in last year's ranking of Topps sets. And I am pretty sure if I was born earlier than I was, the '67 design would easily finish in the top 3.

So you can see why I was a little skittish when walking into the card aisle this afternoon at Target. I scanned the selections while facing sideways, away from the shelves, as if I was in a hurry to get out. I glanced at all of the 2016 flagship (which can sit there for years before I buy any more), and the Stadium Club, and last year's flagship.

But I didn't see any Heritage. And I was about to walk myself out when I spotted up on one of the gravity feeders, balanced on top, a stack of about 15-20 Heritage loose packs. It's a good thing I saw that red wrapper on the blogs the other day, because the front of the wrapper wasn't showing.

I reluctantly reached up and grabbed three packs. And said to myself, "oh, this is going to be trouble."

And now, here for you, is my first look at what I'm not going to try to complete. I said I'm NOT going to try to complete it. Nope. Not me. No completing.


#206 - Kevin Pillar, Blue Jays

That's what a Blue Jay card would look like if the Blue Jays existed in 1967. Please note that the trademark on the team name is super tiny on these cards, which is much appreciated and long overdue.

#418 - Sean Doolittle, Athletics

The first of three -- that's right, three -- A's in this pack. It's always the A's. Always.

#46 - Marcus Semien, Athletics

I'm not going to get into an obsessive comparison with the actual 1967 Topps set. I don't have the time today and with all of the variations, etc., with '67, I'm just not up on that. I'll just say that the font for the team name doesn't look quite right. It's not Archives-off, but it looks just a tad.

#134 - Bartolo Colon, Mets

Now that Bartolo Colon is the last remaining Expos player, he needs to pitch forever. Do what you gotta do. Turn him into a robot, whatever. I want him out there in 2040 to keep the Expos alive.

#443 - Yu Darvish, Rangers

The only shortprint that I pulled, and the Rangers fan/Target girl's favorite player. Still haven't seen her again because I'm almost certain now she was just a mirage. Or maybe she actually planted this card in my packs .... hmmmmmm.

#66 - Eddie Rosario, Twins

Here is your '67 back, which is so '60s that I can't stand it. I love these backs. I also love the briefest of stats. There is no slugging or walks and definitely no WAR on these. Collectors had to get by with 7 statistical categories in 1967. How did they manage?

#49 - Yonder Alonso, Athletics

Third A. And one of several photoshopped cards that I pulled. Alonso was dealt to Oakland in December, a trade that I somehow missed. Or, more likely, knew about then, but subsequently forgot. Old age is the best.

#249 - Lucas Duda, Mets

Lots of hatless dudes in this set, just like '67 Topps. Not nearly as many crew cuts though.

#298 - Yohan Flande, Rockies

No idea who he is.

Moving on to pack 2. Still not going to complete it.


#239 - AL Batting Leaders

The '67 league leaders cards are one of the better-looking ones of the '60s. But I'm not going to get excited about a Heritage league leaders card until 2025 when they do the '76 Topps podium style leader cards.

#20 - Matt Adams, Cardinals

Backgrounds. Isn't it nice?

#235 - AL Pitching Leaders

You will see the McHugh photo again.

 Also, here's a 1967 pitching leaders card for comparison, without commentary.

#260 - Justin Turner, Dodgers

Yay! My only Dodger in the three packs. I just saw this image yesterday and wanted the card instantly.

#NF-RM - RMS Queen Mary, News Flashbacks insert

Denotes the retirement of the Queen Mary.

#370 - Giants card

Like last year, Topps went with celebration photos instead of what appeared on team cards in '67, which was a posed team photo. Fortunately, '67 Topps did not post the team's previous season record on the front, as it did in 1966, which made for some really awkward 2015 Heritage team cards.

The backs for these cards also differ from the '67 team cards.

Here is a '67 team card back:

And here is the back for the 2016 Heritage team card:

It's a set checklist. And not even the checklist for the team, but just a continuation of the checklist for the entire set. I would have preferred to see every pitcher on the staff's won-loss record against opponents, but perhaps with interleague play, that's too difficult to replicate on a 2 1/2-by-3 1/2 piece of cardboard. Stupid interleague.

#321 - Garrett Richards, Angels

#4 - Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies

Wondering if that #58 is a proper representation of the Phillies uniform. I'm guessing it is not.

#291 - John Lackey, Cubs

Lackey's goal is to pitch for every polarizing team in the majors. He will be with the Yankees in two years.

Ready for pack 3. Still feeling pretty good about not trying to complete the set.


#417 - Julio Teheran, Braves

Love the tiny scoreboard in the corner.

#145 - Collin McHugh, Astros

Same photo that was on his league leaders card.

#388 - Jordan Zimmermann, Tigers

Fine-looking photoshopped card.

#100 - Adam Jones, Orioles

#10 - Jake Arrieta, Topps Test Stand-Ups insert

I love these. This is an insert set that can only be found in Target. It is a tribute to the 1967 Topps Stand-Ups, which was a test issue by Topps that year and never released to the general public. Here is a picture of some of the actual '67 cards, which I showed on my blog several years ago:

Aren't those wonderful?

Love the look, love everything about them. But actually owning one is next to impossible since they were uncirculated (and are heavily sought-after). That's what makes the Heritage insert so great -- you can now own some of these suckers!

This Heritage set, I am very tempted to complete.

Unfortunately, the one drawback is the Heritage cards don't actually punch-out and stand up. Sad face.

#72 - Mark Trumbo, Orioles

#402 - Joe Kelly, Red Sox

#219 - Carson Smith, Red Sox

#338 - Jay Bruce, Reds

And that's the end of the three packs. Still not going for the set. Nope.

I do like these cards, but after getting them in my hands, they're just not worth the trouble of all the SPs (and I refuse to collect a 1-425 set when 426-500 are also in the set).

What will probably happen is since I like these enough, and flagship is definitely out of the picture, that I'll randomly accumulate a bunch of them just so they take up space -- kind of like 2011 and 2014 Heritage. But that's OK. I'll still have fun opening them, and I won't go into a rage when I pull the same SP card three times while still needing 47 other SPs.

It would be nice to see how many people would buy Heritage if the SPs didn't exist, if the set completion task wasn't so difficult. Maybe that's not viable enough for Topps anymore, but all I know is Heritage lost an opportunity for a fan of the 1967 set to try for set completion.

I just hope I have enough money saved up from year after year of not completing all those Heritage sets for when 2024 comes.


  1. Those standups. One reason my Ron Santo collection will never be complete. Also those plastic test thingies from 68. I love the originals, my favorite set. Super glad to see they shrunk the trademarks. The team colors are burned in my mind. I always did like the Dodgers red.

  2. Wow! Every card pictured has a poor quality photo - like a TV with washed out colors and a mild case of "snow" static.

    Just confirms my decision last year to forego the 2016 Heritage set (something I was previously looking forward to for several years, being a big fan of the 1967 set).

    Also, blue lettering for the Rangers cards? They should be lavender, since that was the color for the 1967 Senators cards.


    1. I started collecting in '64. To me, that was such an amazing string of great designs that screamed "baseball cards". '64, '65. '66 (I love the '66. And that corner team name people hate? Think about how you fanned through your stack of cards as a kid; you could tell instantly what the team was without having to look at the full card), and '67 was the greatest. I wouldn't want to have grown up at any other time, cards wise. '68 was a complete disaster, of course.

      Anyway, opening my first pack, I noted the same thing--and it's generally the same thing every year (though they did better with the '65s and '66s). Why are the pictures so [expletive] grainy? I don't get it. There's no reason for it. None. Topps cards had very sharp pictures going back years before that. I suppose they're trying to give the brand a distinctive look. But its so wrong headed. It's darn near blasphemy. Why, Topps, why? When you opened a pack of '67s in '67, they were so sharp and shiny, you could smell the grass (also the gum). It's always my big disappointment, but the designs are so much better than anything they've made in decades that I'd rather give up flagship (and the rest of their crappy cards) and collect only Heritage. And, yes, I plan to collect the entire set this year (as I did with the '65s; still short a few SPs on the '66s).

    2. In addition to the names and positions being in too small of a font and no "dot" separating the two (I know not all had this but most did), I really hate the intentional degradation of the photos. It looks fake not retro. As the heritage product moves on, the need to "age" the photos becomes nonsense.

  3. And another thing for the "That's just Topps being Topps" file:

    If these are reprints of the 1967 issue (which your link to another site confirms), why is Topps using a photo of Catfish Hunter with the "KC" airbrushed off his cap, and a team name of "Oakland A's"? The Athletics didn't move to Oakland until 1968.

    1. It's not a reprint; the '67 Hunter is an original. As to why Topps bothered to do an airbrush job for a test product when his team hadn't moved yet, I don't know. Obviously the move was already announced, and I guess they prepared the cards expecting to market them in '68.

  4. Re: the 1967 Dodgers card:

    Wow, Tommy Davis led the team in batting in 1966, and gets traded to the Mets in the off-season for 2b Ron Hunt (even while the Dodgers already had a good 2nd baseman in Jim Lefebvre).

  5. Interleague play is a blight on the record of Bud Selig.

  6. I'm sure I must have heard about the original Stand Ups test issue before, but that information probably got mentally filed away under "cards I will never be able to afford". I appreciate the inserts a whole lot more now that I know the story behind them, and I think it's great that Topps did a new version... But they just don't do much for me. Less competition to get in the way of you completing the insert set, I guess.

  7. Excuse my French, but screw SPs! Especially the past few years of Heritage, in which every seemingly premier player has been shoved into the latter 75 cards of the set. A pretty snotty job by Topps.

    1. To be fair, Topps is in the business of making money. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm quite certain they have bean counters on staff who have determined that having short prints in Heritage maximizes their sales (because people like me who hate the flagship designs and photos WILL buy more of the product in an attempt to complete). So, really, it's MY fault (and the fault of "player collectors" who chase Bryce Harper and other stars). For my part in this, I apologize. But if Topps would stop putting out a crappy flagship with their crappy foil stamping and crappy "high tech" designs and crappy "all action and candids and no posed shots" cards, I might feel more compelled to buy that crappy product. Even last year's--while better than usual--was crappy. I'm old school and I want my designs, my cards, and my poses to be old school. Not crappy crap crap. Until Topps at leasts attempts a new old school set with old school photos and design (and, no, Gypsy Queen and A&G, or Turkey Red for that matter, do not qualify), I'll continue to chase Heritage short prints rather than wasting my money on their other crappy cards. Now if you really want to fix the problem, give Panini a license. Competition is good for everyone, makes everyone step up their game and, with something like Hometown Heroes, Panini proved they could make a fun old school card set. Its time to end these exclusive deals which reinforce the standard Topps mentality that the collectors are just "lint in their pocket". Me, I think I'd use the SPs for managers and team cards (you know, ones that actually have the team photo). Maybe even number them like they are inserts and not part of the set. That way, no one who doesn't want to will have to chase them but people who like the whole old school trip can. But I'm equally sure the bean counters would spit on that idea.

    2. You don't like flagship foil and other stuff but you want panini to have a license? Have you ever seen panini stuff. Even if they had a license they are not going to push topps to create better cards because they are not even in the same stratosphere design wise. Upper Deck they used to push Topps. Pinnacle invented the serial number card. Panini just makes boringly designed cards. Set after set of them. Football basketball baseball all the same junk. Even though it totally sucked this year Topps at least tried something different.

    3. We'll have to agree to disagree. In the old days, nobody pushed Topps more than Pacific. Upper Deck and Score were basically one year wonders without an encore. Pacific were the first with foil, with acetate, with wood, with die-cuts, with just about anything you see Topps rolling out as "new" now--20 years after Pacific did it. And Pacific did it while including the players Topps will never give cardboard the backup catcher or the long relief guy or, in football, the unsung offensive lineman. How many years was Anthony Recker on the Mets? Never got a Mets card from Topps. (Btw, Pacific, not Pinnacle, "invented" the serial number card) Panini's Hometown Heroes was a fabulous and fun product. So was Golden Age, which put both Topps A&G and Upper Deck's Goodwins to shame. I've seen Panini's products. Some I like, some I don't. Some are old school--those I like. Some are crappy crap "modern" cards--those I don't. We've seen what Upper Deck did with a license. It was a complete waste. If Panini got a baseball license, it would raise everybody's game. I'll tell you this. Where I am in N.C., Panini baseball products routinely outsell Topps baseball products. By a lot. My local LCS can't give Topps flagship away, but they can't keep Panini products in stock, they sell so fast. Some, like Elite, I look at and say, "I don't get it." But my LCS will sell 12 cases of it in a matter of weeks. They won't sell more than a case or two of flagship through the whole year. Bowman Draft does well, here, and that's about it. Hometown Heroes...I'd buy that product every year, if they still made it. It was fun, and that's what cards are supposed to be. Outside of Heritage, Topps hasn't made anything that good in ages. Topps wasn't trying anything new this year, either; that's an old Score design...reworked for maximum yawn.

  8. Nothing wrong with pulling three Athletics in one pack. Even better is that nice piece of Expos trivia you threw in this post.