For years, whenever what began as the Kit Young Hawaii Trade Show (which has now gone full circle and returned to Hawaii for the 2016 calendar year), there would always been certain themes which permeated the meetings. One of the favorites was “Adapt and Thrive” which some people also called “Adapt or Die”. And with very few exceptions, anyone who has survived in the sports memorabilia business for a number of years has learned to adapt to changes.
That truism also goes for card companies as for the past few years the Topps Archive issue has had a 200-card base set with six short prints in each box. Usually the short prints featured players who had signed for the set. Archives began to evolve in 2014 as the short prints included more than just those popular but not superstar players from the previous generation into a mix of those players along with some stars and superstars.
Topps continued the evolution with 2015 Archives Baseball as the base set is now 300 cards and I only counted one SP in my first run through the box we received from Topps. When I talked with one of my local shops, Triple Cards in Plano TX, the people who really liked this product were collectors who like to build sets.
Archives hobby boxes contain 24 packs with 8 cards per pack. Each box promises two on-card autographs. Triple Cards in Plano said their sales were pretty strong at $96.95 per box. Online you can usually find boxes at between $90-95 before shipping.
This year Archives uses designs of 1957, 1976 and 1983. In addition, in a nod to a 25th anniversary of the 1990 set, there are insert sets which honor the draft pick and rookie trophy designs of the 1990 Topps set.
The primary insert set pays homage to the 1968 Topps Game set, which is a lot of fun. And, continuing the success of the 2014 issue which feted the 25th anniversary of the movie Major League, this year’s product includes cards of Will Ferrell, who suited up for ten different teams during one spring training day. While we did not pull any Ferrell autographs, the mix of his unsigned cards is a charm to attract newer collectors as well by widening the field. It is, in part, a marketing move to keep Topps in the media and if it attracts new or reborn collectors, it’s a great move. It also keeps us guessing for next year.
So how did we do from our box?
Base Set: (One note here: The bright yellow ink on the 1983 design made several of the cards unreadable on the front. Please ease off the yellow going forward). We got 175 of 300 or nearly 60 percent of the set. Not bad.
Silver Parallel: (# to 199): Ralph Kiner
1968 Game Design: Robinson Cano, Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, David Ortiz
1990 Draft Pick Design: Ryan Braun, Jose Fernandez, Mike Trout
1990 Rookie Trophy Design: Brandon Finnegan, Maikel Franco
Will Ferrell: Card #9
Presidential Chronicles: John F.Kennedy, Richard Nixon
Autographs: Bucky Dent, Jose Vidro
To me, the best part was getting the Bucky “Bleeping” Dent autograph card. They’re only selling for $5-10 but as a life-long Yankee fan I can (and I would wager just about Yankee fan of a certain age can do the same) say exactly where they were when Bill White intoned “Deep to Left… Yastrzemski will not get this one… it’s a home run!” Then we see Bucky circling the bases.
And with that pull, Topps again shows the power of nostalgia in opening these packs. Are the two autographs worth the box price? No, but I think Archives is marketed toward a slightly different audience who loves baseball history and the culture around it.
Some of the Ferrell signed cards, by the way, have sold for around $2,000 with buyback autos of Ken Griffey Jr., Nolan Ryan, Chipper Jones and Ozzie Smith also bringing several hundred dollars each and, of course, the Kris Bryant auto redemptions have been strong sellers. Bryant’s regular card is an SP, and those too, have been hot. If you can deal with SPs, putting a base set together might be the best way to enjoy 2015 Topps Archives.
Click here to see all 2015 Topps Archives on eBay.