Saturday, February 16, 2013

Design Rank: Topps designs of the 1980's

Here's a fun little blog series I might as well introduce. Unlike the other 5,000, I might actually decide to continue this one.

Many bloggers take some time out to choose a favorite Topps design, or a least favorite. Only a few have actually tried ranking designs from the decades of their youth, the idea I'm trying tonight. While the 80's are about 5 to 15 years before my youth, or my existence, these were some of the very Topps sets I ever saw.

Back in the mid-2000's, when I was 'young' and 'shorter', my dad brought home, from his folks' house, a bunch of boxes filled to the brim with his old baseball cards. This is way before we'd recieve the billions of boxes from the basement and attic that would serve as the basis for my collection.

No, these ones were from my dad's childhood. The oldest of which came from 1966 (which probably belonged to my grandfather), the most recent of which came from the late 80's and early 90's. And, as the aspergery kid I was, I decided to take the old cards out every once and a while, and sort them. Most of the time it was by team. Sometimes it was by year. One ill fated time it was by position. This ended with the pitcher pile toppling over.

Through my years of sorting my dad's baseball cards, I became acquainted with all the designs. I initially thought the year of the design was the last line of stats, until being directed to the copyright info. And slowly the designs began to stick in my mind. I'd think 'oh, that's the one with the hats, that's 1981', or 'oh, that's the one with the circles, that's 1983'. And I chose favorites, and chose least favorites. Now I think it's changed a little bit, but if I was gonna rank any decade's Topps designs, I might as well start with the 80's.

#10- 1985
I put this one last mainly because the others outweigh it, but mostly because it's not the most eye-pleasing design. There are just some little price-tags, and subdued colors. Not much is going on. It lacks the brightness and colorfulness of the years before. Not much is going on design-wise for 2/3rd of the card. Also, I didn't really have much of the 85 set as a kid, so the little I saw, I didn't love.

#9- 1989
I didn't know this set existed until around 2007, when we recieved the rest of my grandfather's collection. I enjoyed opening packs of it, but I had the same feeling I had with 1985. It was a bit bland, and the cursive was kinda uninspired. The little squiggle where the name went was clever, but it wasn't much. It was a definite late 80's design, with lot of shapes (though it lacks the dated-ness of the 1991 donruss design).

#8- 1980
Okay, I don't want any backlash. I know a lot of people love this set, but I always thought it was a bit uninspired. There are little flaps, and tags, but it's not very original. It's not as bland as 1985, but for a 10-year-old, it's not the kind of set you'd want to sort over and over. I get why people love it, but it never really got me.

#7- 1988
I remember having a box of this, which I opened. I'll admit that the design is creative, and the big team name is very creative, but I don't really like how they crop the heads and bats over the team name. As a customizer, I'm horrified of this, because I can't just replace what was there with something else without getting sloppy. And also, the little ribbon with the player's name is kinda bland.

#6- 1984
This one I always remember enjoying. The nice block-lettered name, the colorful headshot, the cool picture, the 80's-ness. I had a Dave Winfield one of those, and I always remember liking that one. It was a cool design, although I can kinda see why everyone doesn't like it. It may have been just a rehash of the 1983 design, but at least it looked cool. It's not like the 2005 design, which made no effort to hide its parody of the 2004 one. Still, I'll defend this set all I can.

#5- 1982
I really, really, really like this one, it just got outweighed by the top 4. The hockey-pucks was a nice, cool idea, and the design is still pretty creative, even today. It's a colorful set too, one that is remember well by a lot of bloggers. The only reason it's #5 is because it's not as good as 1-4.

#4- 1986
I didn't have too much of 1986 when I was young, but what I saw, I was blown away. It was so cool. The team name up top in block letters, the player name stretched out at the bottom. It was reminiscent of everything that was cool about the 80's, and it was kinda awesome. The reason it's #4 is because of its scarcity in the household, and because of the awkwardness when the design tried to stretch out 'A's' and 'Cubs'.

#3- 1983
Everyone says this one is their favorite of the 1980s, and I'll say that it was pretty cool. Having a headshot that was just as cool as the action shot was a nice innovation, one that would be copied in 2003, and also a year later, in 1984. Also, the colors on here were nice and vibrant, and it's just an iconic 80's design, that is one of my favorites.

#2- 1987
I know that this was the most overproduced Topps set of all time, and it shows, because I have a million different copies of Mark McGwire's rookie, and Tony Gwynn's card, but I still love this design. The wood panel design idea is creative, and is executed well. The colored nameplate is also a nice idea. I'll add that this was the first set I completed from scratch, and it was a nice achievement for me.

Nothing even comes close. My younger self always loved sorting this one, due to the sheer awesomeness of the little hats, and how they were similar to the actual ones. This was one of my favorites mostly because of those caps, but also because of the color of the borders, and the overall vibrance of everything. Even today I can't see a 1981 card without smiling, because it's probably my favorite Topps set to date.

Well that's the 80's ranked. I might do the 90's and 00's Topps designs sometime in the near future.

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