Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Itch to Rip - Topps Super '70s Baseball!

Like many collectors, I have been almost completely shutout from buying any unopened product at retail locations in 2020.  Between the pandemic reducing my trips to these locations drastically, and the flipping vultures who purchase every bit of product the second it hits the shelves, it's been hopeless.  In order to satisfy my itch to rip, I've had to modify my tactics a bit.

It was for these reasons that I recently succumbed to an offer in my daily email digest from Topps.  Most of the time I scroll quickly through the available items, click Delete, and move on with my day.  A few weeks ago though I saw a product that looked intriguing, and that was the Super '70s box (read: pack) you see above.

Each box features a single pack of 20 cards, at a price point of $24.99.  Yes, you're paying $5 more than a retail blaster would set you back, but shipping is free, and as I said above good luck finding a retail blaster these days even if you wanted one.  

Though I was born in the early '80s, and thus missed the '70s entirely, I still have an admiration for the decade and its baseball cards.  I mean, just look at the awesome logo that Topps used on this box:

Sorta looks a little like Reggie Jackson meets Mr. Met to me.  Long hair, a great mustache, tequila sunrise jersey, some cool shades, and blowing a nice bubble too.  I'm no expert, but this is just about a perfect 1970s mascot if you ask me!  This is the first time in a long time that I was impressed enough with the packaging that I couldn't bring myself to toss the box away.  It's small enough anyway, and kind of a fun display piece in my home office/card room.

Opening up the box, you can see that there's an air-gap on the two sides, with the single "deck" of cards in the center.  The cards come in a clear acrylic holder, and there's some black Styrofoam padding there to keep things fitting snugly.

It would have been nice to see Topps design a wax wrapper for these as an excuse to use that fantastic logo once more, but instead it's just some tamper-proof tape around the clear holder.

As you could plainly see in the above photo, the first card out for me was the great speedster Rickey Henderson.  A satisfying first pull.  I really just picked this up for the pure enjoyment of opening something.  I don't plan to complete the set at this point, even though it is somewhat enticing at just 90 cards deep.  Mostly I'm just hoping to get a few favorite players, and Rickey certainly qualifies.  A cool opening card too, given that Henderson debuted in 1979 with Oakland.

It's obvious to me that Topps used the 1977 through 1979 flagship baseball sets as inspiration for the design here.  The little position flag in the lower left is lifted right from '77 Topps, the cursive team name from '78, and the banner with the player name from '79 (though the colored banner contained the team name in that set, rather than the player name).  As expected, this amalgamation results in a very '70s feel for these cards.

If a little over a dollar a card sounds pricey to you (and I agree that it is), I will at least say that Topps took it upon themselves to actually create card backs for these, which I have not always found to be the case with their online-only releases.  They're very well done too, including cartoons (a must-have for a set paying tribute to the '70s), and they managed to fit that awesome Super '70s icon on there too!  I have zero complaints about the design here, bravo Topps!

Second card in, and one of my top five favorite players from childhood.  This one's a keeper for me.  It does introduce one of my first gripes though about this release; I wish Topps would've stuck with subjects who appeared in at least one Major League game between 1970 and 1979.  I get that they have to keep modern fans of the game interested, and that they'd never dare to release a set without a Mike Trout in it these days.  Oh well, is what it is.

This Frank Thomas is just not an attractive card.  A little surprised, and a little disappointed, that more effort wasn't made to find a better photograph of Big Hurt than this one.

I'm sure a more seasoned Dodgers collector might look at this card and say otherwise, but this doesn't seem like an image of Sandy Koufax that I recall seeing used very often on modern cards.  Not bad, though I wish it was cropped out a bit wider so we could see more of that interesting ballpark backdrop.

Al Oliver has the distinction of being the first card on the checklist, and the one used in some of the promotional material for the set.  Something a little different at least, not to mention someone who played throughout the entire decade that is this set's inspiration.

I was going to complain that this Brooks Robinson card looks a little grainy, but then I remembered that photography wasn't perfect in the '70s either.  Besides, we've got a Walt Disney advertisement on the fence back there.  Yep, I like this one after all.

A decent cartoon on this card too, referencing Brooks' great nickname.

Alan Trammell's card is nice enough, but the best part is actually the back...

...because it references the iconic Paul Molitor/Alan Trammell RC from 1978 Topps!

With Robin Yount's card, we've now settled into a nice little streak of players who actually played in Major League Baseball during the '70s.  As I said with the Koufax above, I don't feel like this image has been over-used by Topps or other card companies over the years.  Nice Yount card, for sure.

Very happy to land a Montreal Expos card in this first pack.  The Hawk's looking pretty mean and muscular here, ready to crush a ball outta the park.

I thought his cartoon was kinda cool as well, with Andre playing up his fans at Wrigley.  A little odd in that he's depicted with the Expos on the front, but I won't be too harsh on Topps for that I suppose.

I am always thrilled to pull a new Clemente card, one of my favorite players from before my birth for sure.  Easily one of my favorite cards in this pack.

Roberto got a pretty good cartoon, too!

Since I don't have much to say about Eric Davis, I'll just point out that these are on a very appropriate Topps Heritage-like card stock.

My least favorite card in the pack.  I'm not even an Astros hater or anything like that, have just never been a big Bregman guy.  It's somewhat jarring to see an active player on the design after all of those retired greats also.

One of the game's all-time great contact hitters, the late Tony Gwynn!  Love the stylin' wrist-bands and that Starter-branded zipper!

Yeah, the active players just don't do much for me.  Guerrero Jr. and Bregman will probably head out the door in trade packages at some future date.

As current players go though, I do like Nolan Arenado.  Don't know if others will agree with me, but I feel he has a shot at Cooperstown if he can patch together another few good years here.

Awesome!  Not only did I get a new Red Sox card for my collection out of the box, but it's also a very appropriate subject for the set.  Fisk had some great baseball cards in the '70s, and this one will certainly have a home in my collection.

Great shot on this card of The Kid, smiling as usual.  Not one, but two Expos cards in this pack!  

That does it for the 18 base cards I pulled, but there were also two inserts to be had...

First up, a Magnificent Mustaches Wade Boggs.  Great idea for an insert set for this release in concept, but a bit short of great in execution, I'd say.  There are only five cards in this insert set.  Think back to all the fantastic facial hair of the '70s, yet this fuzzed-out photograph of Wade Boggs with the Devil Rays (and with a pretty standard, boring mustache, to boot) made the cut?  You can do better than that, Topps!

In addition to the 1970s designs mentioned above, 1975 Topps inspiration comes into play with the inserts for this release, with different colored upper and lower borders on each card.

If I was a little bitter over my first insert, the second one made up for it.  Nolan Ryan was my absolute favorite player growing up, and I was happy to see this Ultimate Uniforms insert in my pack!  I believe this is the same photograph used on Nolan's 1981 Topps flagship card, but I could be mistaken.  Either way, a great end to the pack for me personally.

Topps really loved alliteration when it came to naming the inserts in this set, as aside from the Magnificent Mustaches and Ultimate Uniforms inserts that I pulled, there are also Happening Hairdos, Memorable Managers, and Spectacular Spectacles insert cards that you can pull from these packs.

All in all, that was a fun break for $25.  Are there things I'd change about the release?  Sure, it's not perfect, but it was an entertaining rip and made for a good blog post.  At just $25, it's a lot cheaper than many of the products that Topps is peddling online these days, and brought me more satisfaction than many blasters I've opened in my day.  I actually picked up a second pack of the stuff, but am keeping it unopened for now.  Maybe I'll tear into it on a rainy day in the future, or maybe I'll sell it if prices keep going up over time.  Not sure yet...

What's your take on Topps' Super '70s release?  Interesting?  Over-priced?  Have you purchased any of these packs, or any other online products from Topps in recent months?  Do you think they're a viable solution at a time like this when it's fairly impossible to find packs in stores?  I actually found the price point and free delivery to my door in the COVID age pretty attractive, enough so that I purchased two packs of another online-only product that I'll be showing as soon as it arrives.  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments though.

In case I'm not back tomorrow with a post, I'd like to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone who stops by here, and to all collectors out there!  Enjoy the holiday, and be safe as well as merry!


night owl said...

As someone who grew up in the '70s, I found this tempting. But after seeing the checklist, I passed. Eric Davis and Alex Bregman don't belong in a set devoted to the '70s. I like the backs (sort of) and the colorful theme (even if the design is an uninspired mash-up of three '70s card elements), but it's obvious that Topps' heart isn't in it.

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

All but one of the players Al Oliver are PC guys of mine. This design would be well suited for Archives or even opening Day.

Nick said...

I can't bring myself to buy a whole box of these -- the current guys just don't fit with how this set should look and feel. I've picked up a couple of the singles I wanted on the secondary market though. Gonna have to get my hands on a copy of that Al Oliver too, because I can't even remember the last time Topps made a card of him.

Brett Alan said...

I agree that the Nolan Ryan is the same picture as his 1981 Topps.

How in the world do you do a "Magnificent Mustaches" subset in a 1970s-themed baseball set and not include Al Hrabosky? After Rollie Fingers, he probably had the finest of the decade. Keith Hernandez probably belongs there, too, although he grew it in 1979 and it's really more iconic of the 80s. Fits better than Boggs does, for sure.

SumoMenkoMan said...

Oh wow, totally missed this, but a really cool set. Love the Nolan. Thanks for sharing!

Fuji said...

It's an interesting set for sure. I love 70's cards... so it's right up my alley. My only issue is with the checklist. There are plenty of 70's hall of famers and fan favorites to choose from. Those guys would have been a better fit than guys like Gwynn and Arenado. That being said... I'll probably try and pick up that Gwynn and Rickey for my collection. As for the price... I'd say you got a killer bargain compared to the Topps box I recently purchased :D Merry Christmas!

Laurens said...

For a retro themed set from the 1970s, the cards almost look like they came from a 33 or 44 card boxed set from the mid 1980s, notably with all the seemingly boring images that doesn't scream 'Super 70s' to me.

At least Topps used the back of the cards for a little write-up / bio - rather than some promotional blurb.

Bulldog said...

The cards look solid. The Yount is by far my favorite. I wish with the the uniform insert we'd actually seen more of it. I didn't pull the trigger on this when I saw it advertised. There are some really solid autos to pull so it was tempting. I am glad Topps did this and hope we see more sets like this in the future. Good post.

Swing And A Pop-up said...

I wouldn't get it now that I've seen it. I agree having the newer players ruin it. The Fisk is obviously the best card.

While Christmas shopping Wednesday I actually found 3 boxes of Bowman Platinum on the shelf...I thought it was a mirage. I picked up 2, but didn't realize until I paid for them they were 45 bucks a pop. Ouch.

defgav said...

I also bought one of these, and put off reading this post until I got around to opening it (today) to avoid spoilers. We pulled many of the same cards, in fact! Like you, seemed like a decent ripping option in today's climate, and I didn't hate it, but feels a little phoned-in at times, such as the crappy Big Hurt photo.

The set was actually curated by the popular Twitter account Super 70s Sports, run by a guy named Ricky Cobb. Sounds like Topps didn't make that very clear in the marketing! But yeah, he's even got autos in the set (which are on-card, opposed to the baseball players who are stickers).

gregory said...

Pros: The mascot is pretty cool. Some nice-looking photos (Fisk, Gwynn, Carter, Dawson).
Cons: To me, these cards are just another example of Topps re-hasing the same ideas over and over. The fact that they mashed together design elements from a few different 1970s sets seems a bit lazy to me. The card backs are better than the fronts.

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