by Chris Harris
With a base set utilizing classic Topps designs, collectible inserts, and two on-card autographs per box, 2012 Topps Archives Baseball should have been the product of the year. Heck, it could have been the “Set of the Decade.”
Then they screwed it all up with Bryce Harper.
It wasn’t the fact that Topps added Harper as a late addition that ruined Archives. After all, Topps had only a month between his late-April call-up and Archives’ street date and they had to work quickly. It’s how Topps included Harper.
Yes, the Harper was short-printed, as were the 40 cards in the “All-Time Fan Favorites” subset. But it was short-printed to such an extreme degree, that it made actually trying to collect the full 241-card set an exercise in futility. It’s not often that a single card can ruin an entire product, but Topps’ incredibly short-sighted decision to make Bryce Harper’s first MLB-licensed “true” rookie card a super short-printed “gimmick” card, ruined 2012 Topps Archives.
But given how well-received the rest of the product was, the 2013 edition of Archives doesn’t stray too far from the 2012 formula that worked. The 2013 Topps Archives base set will consist of 250 cards, broken-up into five 50-card subsets. 50 cards each will based on the design of the ’72, ’82, ’85, and ’90 Topps sets with the final 50 cards (barring another bone-headed Harper-esque addition) making up the short-printed All-Time Fan Favorites. Each card will also be available in a Gold edition (serial-numbered to 199 copies) and in a set of four Printing Plate parallels.
The inserts will once again be based on recycled Topps designs, but with a twist; a twist that hasn’t been seen in a Topps Baseball product before. An insert done in the style of the ‘83 Topps All-Star subset will be available, as will ones based on the rare 1969 Four-In-One Sticker and 1973 Action Emblems sets. But the curious additions to the insert program are cards done in the style of the 1972-73 basketball and 1965 football sets. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time Topps is utilizing non-baseball “throwback” designs in a “throwback” baseball product. Whether or not baseball collectors will be responsive to these additions remains to be seen.
The main draw of 2013 Topps Archives Baseball will be, of course, the two on-card autographed cards per box which will serve as a pseudo-parallel of the “All-Time Fan Favorites” subset. A veritable who’s who of 1970s, 80s, and 90s semi-stars – the kind of players who don’t normally sign for trading card companies – will sign for Topps. Among the signees include Otis Nixon, Dave Parker, Kent Hrbek, Charlie Hough, and Darren Daulton.
In addition to the All-Time Fan Favorites autographs, collectors can also expect to find autographed parallels of the ’83 All-Stars and ’65 football inserts, framed autographs signed on mini-sized cards that look like the 1973 Topps set, “Relics” done in the style of 1960 Topps, and autographed buy-backs.
2013 Topps Archives Baseball is scheduled for release the week of May 29, 2013. Hobby packs will contain eight cards and sell for around $5, with 24 packs in each Hobby box. See preview images below.
Chris Harris writes the popular hobby blog Stale Gum.