I'm not sure how many images of Joe Adell on the 2021 Topps design you have seen already. At the moment of this writing (3:42 p.m.), I've seen it several times, as well as a couple of blog posts about it. I'm sure there are more on the way.
These are what people are saying about it ...
Wait, I suppose I need to show you the image one more time:
There you are.
OK, now, the first reference I saw to it when I woke up out of my nest late this morning is that the design has a border. This was met with applause and I'm right there with them. It's the first Topps bordered flagship set since 2015, although you could make a case for 2019.
There is a lot of tinkering with the border but that just continues the theme of the entire design, which is: IT'S AWFULLY BUSY, AIN'T IT?????
How many design elements are on that card? Ten? Twelve? Fifteen? (Also, purple? There is no purple in the Angels color scheme. Are we going back to the random Topps colors of the '60s, '70s and '80s?)
The second thing that I saw people talking about is how this card looks like a marriage between Panini Donruss and Bowman.
Bluuuh! That's one ugly card kid!
If I were Topps I would never want to use Panini Donruss or Bowman as inspiration. But just based on the 2020 and now 2021 Topps flagship designs, that's clearly where they're going.
This is what Bowman is doing these days, and if you don't see 2021 Topps in that, you're freakin' blind.
And this is what Panini Donruss is doing these days. Wow, that really looks like notebook fodder for 2021 Topps.
And what about this? Come on, man, this 2019 Donruss design is 2021 Topps without the logos!
Wow. (At least you can read the player name on the Donruss card).
As usual whenever Topps releases its flagship design for the following year, people try to compare it to a past design. I do that, too. But people were comparing the 2021 design to 1987 Donruss, which I don't see at all. Sure there's a honeycomb design on 2021 in the top half of the border, which is where the parallels will go, but you're really forcing your childhood on that design if you think it looks anything like the baseballs in the '87 Donruss design.
There is an old Donruss design that does have something in common with the 2021 Topps design. I bet you know what one I'm talking about, too.
There are similarities between 1991 Donruss and 2021 Topps.
The chief similarity are the slashes on both designs and I was surprised that the slash aspect of the 2021 design wasn't brought up immediately.
Let's see it again:
Shall we count?
There are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen ... ah, heck, I'm not counting them all ... slash elements on this card.
We are still in the Slash Era. Deep, deep into the Slash Era.
What's the Slash Era?
I addressed this at this time last year. Today's baseball card designs are all about slash elements and have been for a few years. (This is all in my newsletter, guys, have you subscribed to my newsletter? 😀).
But let's go through it again.
The first part of the 2010s was about the swoosh and it was a primary element in the Topps flagship sets in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Somewhere around the inserts of 2012 and 2013 and definitely with the Bowman sets of 2013 and the Topps flagship set in 2014, angular elements took over the designs and then slashiness really came out around 2015.
Not much in 2019 unless you want to describe that long, curved border edge as one, big, extended slash.
But 2019 inserts? Tell me that you see the slashes.
2020. Slashy McSlashface.
And now 2021.
Welcome To The Jungle.
The sheer number of slashes in this design feels like pop music in 1979, the end of the disco era, in which disco infiltrated everything so completely that a backlash grew. I'm not saying people will be blowing up their slash-designed baseball cards on a baseball field, but the 2021 design does have a "jumped the shark" element to it, and I hope this will be the end of the slashes.
For me, the worst aspect of this design, is that it mimics Bowman so thoroughly with the crazy number of design elements.
For years, I could call up a Topps design by memory simply by thinking of its one defining element -- the hats on 1981 Topps, the picture-in-picture on 1983 Topps, the position guy on 1976 Topps, etc., etc., etc.
But I couldn't even begin to tell you the one defining element of a Bowman set from the last 10 years and because of that, all the years blend together and it's difficult to remember one Bowman set from the next.
I'd hate for that to happen to Topps (some people have said it already has, although I'm not quite to that point yet). But one more design like this and it will.