Topps is getting it right

Good idea, good execution. I believe I wrote some time ago that I liked the idea of having baseball cards of my son playing that authentically looked like the cards his heroes played were on.

Topps went to an outside vendor to print and distribute the custom cards. What I disliked about the cards was that the designs were the same, but the fonts didn’t match. The back of the cards could have stats. The stats, though, also didn’t have the correct fonts.


Basically, I wanted to be able to have an authentic card that matched the cards he could get from Topps. My frustration turned to one where I eventually decided to design my own cards and have them printed.

Topps got back into the custom card business and the fronts of the cards are wonderful. I ordered a handful of cards on the 2015 template and the print job is such that is superior to what Topps did in the past. Plus, you can use your logo or go with an MLB one.
While the fronts are as close to spot on as their normal base set cousins, the backs have a lot to be desired. They are basic blanks, with little design done. In fact, the older card backs met the same design standards. So the older ones were better.

The older cards had a higher gloss where the newer ones are on the exact same card stock as the regular Topps edition.

To me, the design with fonts is key. Not some Helvetica or whatever.

Design takes a step forward. What I have been impressed with out of Topps’ baseball product is that the company has advanced its core set with design that doesn’t have a solid base color to frame the action like black or white.

For background, I don’t collect all of Topps’ sets and I almost exclusively buy packs. I buy Topps’ main set, Gypsy Queen, Bowman and Topps Heritage.

First and foremost, the design has to be attractive to me. It is something my family and I discuss when we look at previews for the upcoming sets.

The Bowman sets tend to skew toward something futuristic, giving it a departure from basic Topps. That makes plenty of sense considering the bulk of rookies that debut in that set. I would rate Bowman as the No. 3 set I collect.

Gypsy Queen is my No. 2. Of the dual vintage-like sets that are modern homages to cards from the 1900s, Gypsy Queen is a baseball set. The other, Allen & Ginter has a more pop culture feel. I am definitely attracted to the vintage sets.

Topps Heritage rehashes older Topps designs with today’s players. Those designs typically are 50-60 years old though.

I do believe that Topps having the exclusive contract for MLB-related cards is bad overall. Competition is good. I like how Panini has carved out a niche with its Donruss brand. A 1980s kind of throwback, but not licensed by MLB.

Initially, the designs from Topps with its deal were not too inspiring. I think the last two years have been a good shift.

I had more to write, but I will leave it for another time.

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