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I need to stop doing this

How many years have I bought a blaster-or-whatever of Topps Archives and been annoyed an hour later that I bought it? Five? Seven? Ten?

Archives, in its current form, has existed for 11 years now and I established long ago that it doesn't make me happy. And in this year of not taking chances when it comes to card purchasing, I thought I was over this.

Two steps forward, one step back.

Like last year, I was doing a little Christmas shopping a few days ago -- just a little because who can stand more than 20 minutes in a big box at this time of year? -- and swung by the card aisle. Only this time it was Target, not Walmart. A couple weeks prior I had found the card shelves very healthy. This visit, they were less healthy -- the ransackers had been at work -- but I found a blaster of Archives. I had seen a little bit of it interesting on the blogs, I wanted to see what the 2003 design looked like, so I took the gamble.
Mostly what I found was cards that don't look like the old designs Archives is repeating, which is fine. If they want to do a "reimagining" just say so on the box. But, for me, Heritage is the go-to for old designs. Always will be.
But we're here, so let's take a look. I guess to focus on something positive, I actually pulled two of the cards pictured on the box. That never happens.  


4 - Chipper Jones, Braves (1956)
63 - Tony Gwynn, Padres (1956)
28 - DJ LeMahieu, Rockies (1956)
195 - Tyler Stephenson, Reds (1965)
197 - Justin Turner, Red Sox (1965)
BBDH21 - Bobby Witt/George Brett (1989 Doubleheaders test issue)
215 - Carlos Correa, Twins (2003)
284 - Manny Machado, Padres (2003)

This year's set features three main designs that I like quite a lot, 1956 (1st in my all-time Topps countdown), 1965 (10th) and 2003 (30th).

The '56s and '65s I could tell right away, from a couple of other bloggers' posts, that they weren't close to the originals. 1956 tributes will never look right because photographs can't mimic the original '56s painted masterpieces. The '65s are very weird, as Topps seems to be going with action on them, which we know never happened in '65.

The 2003 cards are closest to the original, although they're not glossy and the bottom justification of the player names is already bothering me. A comparison:

That's three 2003 originals and the Archives Correa card. Upon reviewing, I noticed that the last name of the 2003 originals did line up at the bottom of the box sometimes, such as the Prior card. But often it was centered more, like Lugo. But I think mostly why I notice a difference is the font for the 2023's is a little larger.

This is the front and back of the doubleheader card. The original 1989 Doubleheaders were mini size and contained a player's current card (1989) and rookie card on opposite sides. I've never seen one in person.

Oh, and I said in last year's Archives post that I would be happy if I never pulled another Machado card and the dude is in the first pack. No more blasters, N.O.


68 - Yandy Diaz, Rays (1956)
55 - Adley Rutschman, Orioles (1956)
80 - Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves (1956)
140 - Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles (1965)
199 - Garrett Mitchell, Brewers (1965)
170 - Brett Baty, Mets (1965)
69T-7 - Adley Rutschman, Orioles (1969 Single Player Foil)
239 - Roberto Clemente, Pirates (2003)
244 - Darryl Strawberry, Mets (2003)

Three Orioles. That's not all of them. ... Also the Strawberry name positioning is raising hackles.

The "Single Player Foil" cards are three to a blaster. I think they are a riff on the design of the 1969 posters, which were team-based, featuring like 10 mugs per poster.


43 - Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (1956)
83 - Christian Yelich, Brewers (1956)
178 - Mitch Haniger, Giants (1965)
168 - George Springer, Blue Jays (1965)
135 - Honus Wagner, Pirates (1965)
57HS12 - Freddie Freeman, Dodgers (1957 Hit Stars)
240 - Braden Shewmake, Braves (2003)
225 - Satchel Paige, Browns (2003)

The first Dodger is an insert! Other than that, the Wagner is the usual Archives oddness and Charlie Blackmon is in every blaster on earth.


35 - Oneil Cruz, Pirates (1956)
22 - Ty Cobb, Tigers (1956)
167 - Tom Glavine, Braves (1965)
142 - Edouard Julien, Twins (1965)
260 - Taylor Ward, Angels (2003 - red, #2/50)
250 - Sandy Alcantara, Marlins (2003)
254 - Javier Baez, Tigers (2003)
252 - Eloy Jimenez, White Sox (2003)

The Taylor Ward parallel arrives as good karma for The Angels In Order who is sending me a RAK TCDB "trade."

56 - Ryne Sandberg, Cubs (1956)
38 - Miguel Amaya, Cubs (1956)
77 - Tris Speaker, Red Sox (1956)
134 - Mike Mussina, Orioles (1965)
196 - Brandon Lowe, Rays (1965)
69T-41 - Shea Langeliers, Athletics (1969 Single Player Foil)
201 - Oswaldo Cabrera, Yankees (2003)
219 - Logan O'Hoppe, Angels (2003)
208 - Paul Blackburn, Athletics (2003)


60 - Max Muncy, Dodgers (1956)
57 - Casey Mize, Tigers (1956)
190 - Alex Bregman, Astros (1965)
186 - Andrew Benintendi, White Sox (1965)
103 - Jorge Mateo, Orioles (1965)
98BB-16 - Anthony Volpe, Yankees (1998 Baby Boomers)
218 - Brooks Robinson, Orioles (2003)
233 - Eddie Murray, Orioles (2003)
There's the second, and last, Dodger. Meanwhile we are now up to 7 Orioles.
The lettering for the White Sox team name in 1965 was white, so that black name is weirding me out. ... The Baby Boomers card is from a 1998 insert but it also looks very much like a Panini insert.

49 - Tim Anderson, White Sox (1956)
92 - Matthew Liberatore, Cardinals (1956)
58 - Triston Casas, Red Sox (1956)
150 - Joey Meneses, Nationals (1965)
113 - Riley Greene, Tigers (1965)
108 - Cal Raleigh, Mariners (1965)
69T-55 - Wade Boggs, Rays (1969 Single Player Foil)
222 - Alex Call, Nationals (2003)
246 - Randy Arozarena, Rays (2003)
I think you can sense by the crooked picture how disinterested I was by this point.
Archives has improved in some ways over the years, going with sturdier card stock, etc. But at 56 cards for $24.98 it's not for me. Almost nothing in modern cards is. I think maybe this year's Heritage has made me feel a little too confident in current cards and then I get disappointed again.
But I think next Christmas season when I'm out and spot the new Archives again, I'll ignore it. I've got to stop doing this. Not even a blog post is worth this. 


But your "This was disappointing" blog posts are so good. Even if it is a waste of money! Is there some way I can buy that Strawberry off you if you, by chance, don't want it??? Tweet/DM me if so. Thank you for considering.
Old Cards said…
You made an interesting post out of uninteresting cards! Thanks
Michael Gray said…
I’ve been doing the same thing as you with Archives the last few years. Not sure if I will buy any this year or not. 2013 Archives was the set that got me back into collecting, then I went back and completed 2012 as well. Maybe it was just the excitement of collecting again, but I really enjoyed those sets. Unfortunately, Archives hasn’t been as good or interesting since.
Nachos Grande said…
I love those Doubleheader inserts this year, even if I'm not going to try and collect anything from this year's Archives. I've also had great luck with the Archives boxes that I've ripped for group breaks (case in point, see Sunday's post on my blog). For me, my biggest issue is what purpose does Archives hold when we also have Heritage? Archives is like Heritage-lite (but with much better inserts). Maybe we could take the Heritage base set, cut out all the short prints, and use Archives inserts. That'd be something I'd collect.
Ryan H said…
If each of us quit buying blasters, how will we do prisoner exchanges in the future? I always seem to pull tons o' Dodgers and you snag all of the O's...
Nick said…
This year's Archives has shown me how far I've come from the days when I'd scour Target shelves every chance I got. I haven't checked a card aisle for Archives once yet - I care so little that I haven't even bought any singles off Sportlots yet. It's just not an exciting set.

As usual with Archives, the inserts seem to be the most entertaining. I really like the '57 "Hit Stars" design making a comeback.
Anonymous said…
I think the main difference between Archives and Heritage is that the former has retired players. That would be the only potential draw for me (I've never bought any). Though the '65 design almost makes current guys interesting.
Chris said…
You're more of a purist than I am so I'm not surprised you were disappointed in the recreations. The backs of the '56 cards are very reminiscent of On Demand laziness but we can't expect Topps to increase the price *and* the quality of their cards.

And it's not like they can't do comic strips anymore. There's a comics insert set in this very product!

The double-headers are nice. I'm disappointed they paired David Ortiz with hated rival Derek Jeter and not Manny Ramirez or Ted Williams. I still have my Mark McGwire mini from my childhood collection(unearthed it from my mom's crawl space a couple years ago)

Glad you got a couple Dodgers out of this break, and that sweet color matching Taylor Ward parallel!

Nick Vossbrink said…
Archives is one of those products which should be much cheaper since it's one my kids actually really enjoy ripping. Is a fun way to introduce them to old designs even if the new versions aren't done particularly well.

Unfortunately, Archives is also frequently an uncanny valley where things feel off *just* enough to be weird instead of being either intentionally different or a faithful remake. The 1956s are a perfect example of this. Moving from paintings to photos is fine by me. The photo croppings though feel lazy and totally misunderstand what makes 1956 work as well as it does. The portraits need to be cropped tighter (at the neck vs mid chest) and the action needs to be cropped looser (so we can see players' feet and the ground they're standing on) since right now the two photos are too similar in scale. I'd also like to see more fielding and baserunning action photos (Oneil Cruz could be amazing of the photos were cropped better) since Topps has also managed to make their 1956 template mostly boring (probably the biggest sin of this product)

The 1965s don't bug me as much though it looks like they had some problems generating new text (Astros and Blue Jays in particular look odd) and you're 100% correct in wanting a few posed photos mixed in. I don't mind the action images though since they're cropped to what feels appropriate for the design
When I read the heading of this post, my immediate reaction was "You and me both, Night Owl... You and me both". I told myself I would pass by Archives this time around, but when I found a blaster in my local Target it had been a long time since I'd opened anything and this fell into the "Any old port in a storm" category. Mine at least got redeemed by a Devon White autograph.

Three Orioles in one pack is hilarious when you consider how few Orioles would be found in entire sets a couple of years ago.
Grant said…
I may be alone here, but I like your blaster. So many great cards whereas I generally am bored with these offerings.
BaseSetCalling said…
Hey thanks for posting all the packs. Gave me a glimmer of hope in my thought to pick up a few binder pages worth of these. I saw some different pack configurations in yours.

I completely dropped the ball on reporting a key experience with my 2nd blaster: 4 of the 7 packs were card for card repeats of packs in the first blaster, though the inserts were different.
Fuji said…
First time seeing that Gwynn Archives card. Photograph or not... I do like the look of my favorite player on the 1956 Topps design. In fact... that might just be a candidate for future wallet card. Great job analyzing the cards. I never would have noticed the difference with the players names.
Derek said…
I bought a fat pack of 2023 Topps Series 2 this weekend. First pack of anything I've bought for myself in three decades. I was so disappointed. I might as well have been ripping a pack of 1991 Score
Michael D said…
So far, I have managed to stay away from Topps Archives. It's been tempting when I'm out looking for something to open and that's all there is, but I've controlled the impulse and passed.
Jafronius said…
Yep, the price increase is deterring me from buying a blaster, so I thank you for caving in and buying one for us to see.