I feel like I'm in the minority of collectors that actually enjoy Topps Archives. It kind of helps that I've been making customs for the past six years that are, essentially, the same idea, only with slightly less effort put in. Meanwhile, the blogosphere generally despises Topps Archives, referring to all three modern incarnations of the set as failures.
And I do see their point, too- Archives is a set that doesn't require too much effort, so Topps isn't putting too much effort in. The last few sets have reused photos from other Topps products, and bastardized vintage designs for the sake of including expansion teams. But in terms of a retro set, Archives, to me, succeeds in recreating the nostalgia factor.
So a few days ago, the press release for the 2015 Archives set came out. And I was checking for this every couple of days for the last few months. So when it actually came out, I was pleased that Archives seemed like it was trying to improve itself.
The number one sign of this is the fact that Archives has gone from a 200 card set to a 300 card set. This means there is more room for older players, rookies, fringe players, and star cards, without having to resort to short printing (hopefully). Plus, one of the sample cards that the press release teased was one of Vinny Castilla, which means the checklist will likely go all over the place in terms of subjects, which is a nice risk for a set that has to include mostly current players.
More impressive is the fact that they're only paying tribute to three sets, rather than four, which makes sense given the expanded checklist, and the fact that 300 isn't really divisible by four.
The three sets they chose are indeed pretty impressive. 1976 was one we'd all been clamoring for since the inception of the product. I'm a little skeptical given the preview image we were given, but I imagine Topps will keep it as close to the original version as possible. 1983 is a brilliant choice, as it's one of the greatest Topps designs of all time, and it was really only a matter of time since they did that one, as they already did 1984. 1957 is the one that I'm debating, since I was never the hugest fan of that set, but it's minimalistic and could lead to a lot of photo-centric cards.
So, already we have some proof that Topps wants this set to be big. It's larger, it has more classic sets, and it just seems like there's more effort put into it. Then I remembered that Topps just put out Stadium Club, which had more effort than any set they've put out in a while, and it occurred to me- is this what Topps is doing on every set now?
Maybe 2014 was the turning point. Maybe now, all of their sets will have more effort put in, and therefore be a little more inspired and original. Because 2014 had two fantastic, odd, risky sets in Tek and Stadium Club, and now it looks like Archives is being extended and re-branded in a way because Topps wants it to be seen like those last two sets.
I'm not going to make any real judgments until the set comes out, but this is a good sign, especially for people who thought Topps was basically just in rehash mode since 2010. This could be a progressive year for them, and Archives could be the main catalyst.