I've already expressed my thoughts on Topps' new online Super 70s set here, here, here and here, so it's about time I spit it out on my own site.
The 2020 Topps X Super 70s set (no, I don't know what the 'X' means) is another Topps online-only collaboration, much like other, so-called "curated" sets. This time, Topps has combined with Ricky Cobb, who runs one of the most popular Twitter sites, Super 70s Sports.
If you aren't on Twitter, the Super 70s site is an often amusing tribute to everything 1970s. It's not for everyone, the takes are frequently off-color and some would say antiquated, but for someone who grew up in the '70s, as I did, a lot of the nostalgia that comes from the site makes sense to me. It's one of the few consistently amusing places on Twitter.
The set is 90 cards and you might think that something focused on the 1970s would be all about the 1970s, from design to feel to content.
Two out of three ain't bad, as someone once sang in the '70s.
The content is best described as "inspired" by the '70s. Out of the 90 players featured in the base set, just 42 of them actually played in the 1970s. And that's being a little lenient as Rickey Henderson's MLB time in the '70s consisted of 89 games in 1979.
The rest of the set consists of either players who were long retired or even dead by the time the 1970s arrived -- folks like Sandy Koufax, Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth -- or, more notably, players whose careers began after the 1970s and players who weren't even born in the 1970s.
The whole back section of the set, cards 68-90, is current players from Ronald Acuña at No. 68 to Justin Turner at No. 90.
As someone who grew up in the '70s and is still a fan of those 10 years, this is annoying. It doesn't make any sense to me to put someone like Shohei Ohtani in a '70s-themed set.
I believe, as gcrl mentioned in his post, that Topps is required to include current players in all of its products, according to the license agreement with MLB. I tried to confirm that with Twitter sources yesterday but got no answer (Twitter was somewhat occupied with other events).
You can tell by the front and the back of the Dusty Baker card that the design is devoted to the 1970s. The front, as many have mentioned, is a mish-mash of Topps '70s design elements from 1977-79. The flag is from 1977, the team script from 1978 (Hey! They aren't afraid to produce it!) and the banner from 1979. The inserts add the two-tone colors of the 1975 set.
The backs continue the '70s theme with the dark background colors, the cartoon and the card number housed inside a baseball. I don't think they had to make the script quite that unreadable.
The actual texture of the cards is decent, much like a current Archives card with semi-glossy front and a thick-enough back that replicates, sort of, the feel of those '70s cards.
But the subject matter just doesn't do it for me. I have no use for a '70s set that produces cards of Frank Thomas, Matt Olson and Bryce Harper. They didn't play in the '70s. They never put an 8-track tape in their car (neither did I, but at least I saw one in the '70s).
So I didn't bother buying a box of this when Topps advertised it online. And I will only pick off the singles that seem appropriate. The Dusty Baker is in hand. It is wonderful, from Baker's smile to those awesome wrist bands to the mention on the back that his best days were with the Dodgers. This is the set at its best.
The Steve Garvey has been ordered. After that, we'll see. Some of the better ones are Al Oliver, Andre Dawson, J.R. Richard, Hank Aaron and Nolan Ryan.
Then there is Joe Morgan, who is wearing Astros uniform, which is not only not a Reds uniform but looks like it's from his return to the Astros in the '80s, not his early '70s Astros days. Reggie Jackson's photo does not show his shades and mustache, going with an early '70s shot instead. But most of the '70s guys are time appropriate.
I know I would get called out on the Super '70s Twitter site for being picky like this. Quite often, the site addresses the '80s or even the '90s, like in this tweet.
Someone invariably will comment "that's not the '70s," which leads to a public putdown of that person by the Super '70s site. Oh, the Twitter shame.
I have no problem with the Super '70s site mentioning the '80s or '90s, it's all good to me. But for some reason, it doesn't work with a card set. If Topps is required to include current stars with every product, it really waters down some of their sets and is another case of legal deals trampling all over the hobby as it's been doing the last couple of decades. Not to mention how boring sets gets when Juan Soto is wedged into every one.
I actually looked through the MLB license agreement with Topps in an effort to find the bit about current players, but then my eyes started bleeding (if I ever wondered why cards do what they do when it comes to uniform colors and umpires, I don't anymore. Lordy).
And that's why I go on and on about missing the '70s and '80s.
What can I say? I likes what I likes. And for me, the Super '70s set is only super on a card-by-card basis.