Wednesday, March 23, 2016

2016 Topps Heritage Review

Since this blog is about the classy appearance of a vintage Topps set, I thought I would spend a few words on Topps' latest Heritage set since it honors the appearance of the '67 set.

About 15 years ago, Topps saw the need to fill the collector's demand for vintage looking sets. Other manufacturers jumped in like Fleer Tradition and whatever Upper Deck was trying to do with their vintage looking designs. Since Topps was the only vintage card company to create more than a handful of sets, their series proved to be the most successful. In '01, they started with '52 and now that it's '16, we are up to 1967.

All I ever wanted from these Heritage sets were the right pictures of players being used for these cards. In the 50's and 60's, action shots from games came from newspaper photographers, hence they were either in black and white or they painted the black and white photos over like the World Series cards or the player highlight cards from '59 or '61 or '62. Topps had to make do with asking players to pose for their photographers either during training camps in the '60s or before games as they did regularly in the '50s. Topps Heritage dropped the ball in this regard for me early. I became deeply disappointed (well as deeply disappointed as one could be over baseball cards) to see the following below.

Instead of these from 1957 to the left,

 Topps made SOME cards like this on the left.

Granted the majority of the cards were close to what the originals represented (see right) but any action shot used ruined the authenticity of the original

Now, Topps has acknowledged this and here are three examples. 

 You can't go wrong with these cards if you are looking for accurate images to match the card design because it is impossible to capture the feel of those old cards without these types of images. Using action shots makes these vintage designs look like what they are with those photos, new cards trying to look old and not doing a good job of it.
Granted, not everyone is a purist and feels the same as I do so Topps decided to add cards with action shots as short print parallels to the types of cards above. 
 I don't hold these types of cards in high regard but they are not the common cards in the set. 

A pet peeve in these sets cards where players appear to be in candid shots.
The rookie dual player cards capture the look and feel as the originals as well. Since I am blowing this up with photos, I ask that anyone wanting to compare to please see the other cards featured on my blog. 
Other modernized variations can be found with the World Series highlight cards. The originals use black and white photos to highlight the games of the one sided '66 World Series (Baltimore swept LA) 
The common card captures the feel well with black and white images but there are rare variations with color photos as well. 
The color photo variant is definitely not the common version in this set. 
What I don't see are the checklist cards. The originals feature a prominent player in the top left corner, bright red letters denoting the type of card it is and the series and a yellow box listing the players and card numbers. 
Unfortunately, the great team cards are nothing like the originals in the Heritage set. The originals featured the team posing for a team photo and the card is filled out with a color. Some with blue, some with red, most seemed to be yellow, below is what they did. Candid shots of some players after a victory. Instead of the backs containing interesting head to head stats with other teams, you just get a checklist of the players from the team included in the base set. These types of team cards are more in keeping with team cards from the 80's. Either the checklist was on team cards or manager cards.

The combo cards feature candid shots of two players during games for the most part. That's not in keeping with the originals which were players posing together, usually at training camps.

As always with Heritage cards, there's tons of variants, either different images being used, either different cardboard stock, either multiple cards of single players, autographs, jersey or bat cards.Flashback cards featuring players from the '67 season and on and on. 

All and all, as a purist, the cards aren't as much a disappointment as older sets but there's still enough missing that makes me wish it could have been better.