This year’s Topps’ Archives set has started showing up on store shelves here and there (well, not here) and there have been a few posts about it.
Overall, those who have posted seem to have good feelings about the product, which is great for them. I’m glad someone is enjoying it. But I’m even more irritated over Archives than I usually am, which I’ll get to in a moment.
As I’ve said numerous times (I think if I ever shut down this blog it will be because all I’m doing is repeating myself every post), Archives is a disappointment because of what it could have been. Archives is a descendent of the Archives sets from 2001-02 but more resemble the Fan Favorites sets from 2003-05.
The problem there is I can’t help but compare present-day Archives and Fan Favorites from a decade ago.
Fan Favorites comes out on top every time. Fan Favorites featured multiple designs (not just three) appeared on sturdy cardboard stock (not the flimsy stuff Archives shows up on every year) and wasn’t filled with inserts and shortprints (rant on the way).
Archives has selected three past designs for its base set this year, and I’ll say that they did a lot better job with the design selection that they have from 2012-14.
These are the designs being used this time:
All three of those designs I have yet to cover in the Night Owl All-Time Topps Countdown, which says something about these Archives choices: Night Owl approves.
But that’s as far as it goes.
I’m not going to go on a diatribe about how the Archives designs won’t match exactly the designs to which they’re paying tribute. I’ve covered all that, too, and obviously Topps has to make them different for whatever reason.
Fan Favorites ran into the same issues. I’ve written about that before, too.
Fan Favorites came pretty close with the ’83 design.
And they matched the ’57 design pretty well, too.
But it had a few hiccups with the 1976 design. Note that the original ’76 set didn’t use red frame borders for the Reds cards.
Then they cleaned things up the following year for the 2004 Fan Favorites set.
No doubt there will be even greater differences between the original sets and the look of the 2015 Archives cards. Different fonts, wrong colors, etc.
But, again, it’s annoying, but not what annoys me most about Archives anymore.
It’s not even the flimsy card stock that annoys me most about Archives.
Here is what annoys me most:
Last year I was not happy about the amount of shortprints in Archives. There were 50 of them. A set that wasn’t that good in the first place, shouldn’t be that difficult to complete. But it took me nearly a year to track down all the Dodgers in this set, because at least four of them were SPs.
This year, Archives was figured to be a 300-card set, with — get this — no shortprints. I didn’t buy that for a second. No shortprints? You have to go back to 2011 Lineage for a set like that.
Sure enough, when the card checklist was released, it became a 330-card set.
Archives is 330 cards with the last 30 cards being shortprinted. That’s not 50 cards like last year, but I’m getting to the special part.
Here’s the special part.
According to this and one of the most prominent box breakers around, those 30 cards appear at a rate of 1 in 70 packs.
1 in Seventy. 1 in 7-Oh.
Buy 70 packs, get 1 short-printed BASE card.
Here is the checklist of the SP base cards just so you can get yourself as worked up as I am:
301 – Nolan Ryan
302 – Rick Ferrell
303 – John Smoltz
304 – John Olerud
305 – Andre Dawson
306 – Ryne Sandberg
307 – Jorge Soler
308 – Gary Sheffield
309 – Rob Dibble
310 – Adam Jones
311 – Honus Wagner
312 – Rusny Castillo
313 – Devon White
314 – Kris Bryant
315 – Anthony Rizzo
316 – Larry Doby
317 – Jose Cruz
318 – Vinny Castilla
319 – Sparky Lyle
320 – Satchel Paige
321 – Jose Vidro
322 – Monte Irvin
323 – Hal Newhouser
324 – Red Schoendienst
325 – Enos Slaughter
326 – George Kell
327 – Early Wynn
328 – Hoyt Wilhelm
329 – Bobby Doerr
330 – Jackie Robinson
Dammit, I almost made it through the list without a single Dodger.
I don’t know about you, but as a team collector and a set collector, this pisses me off and it should any other team collector and set collector. How much am I going to have to pay for a 1:70 Jackie Robinson card — a BASE card (don’t give me that crap about how the base set is 1-300 cards, my brain sees 301-330 and everything I’ve learned up til now says “continuation of the base set.”)
It’s a good thing for me that this set has done enough goofy things that it doesn’t stir my collecting genes because if I liked it, I’d be a bitter old collector (yes, I know, I already am) by the time I hunted down the final Sparky Lyle card in 10 years, which, by the way, would then be taken out of my hand by a mild breeze and disappear forever because the card stock is so thin!
I hope they find that those odds aren’t accurate and it’s actually easier to find those cards, because this might kill the last modern day set collector. In 20 years, he’ll spot that 2015 Archives Bobby Doerr at a show and keel over from sheer surprise.
My view on Archives before the last couple of weeks has been that Topps makes this set because it’s hoping that people don’t remember the old Fan Favorites cards, or are hoping that collectors are terribly desperate to see modern players on old designs, or that they’re just buying the packs for the inserts.
But now, I don’t know what Topps is hoping. That we’re idiots who will chase 30 flimsy cards and spend whatever it takes to see a picture of Honus Wagner, which everyone has seen before, on a 1976 Topps design?
“Collect what you want,” yeah, I know.
And you can. If this kind of stuff doesn’t bother you.
But if you want to complete it?
Consider this a warning.