Best Base Sets of the Year
This is one of my surprising picks of the year and really required a little bit of time and reflection. My early favorite for the award was Gypsy Queen. I loved the product and had a really good time with that product that this year. It was also probably my best box break of the year. A button card, some printing plates, a few autographs, and one of those flag cards and I was in love with that product. Eight months later I have had a chance to take a step back and really think about all the different sets I have had a chance to work on this year. So, you can sort of see where this is going....It's not Gypsy Queen.
I actually almost always get an email from Jimmy at Big D's Cards, my favorite local card shop, before a product hits the shelves asking if I want him to set aside a box of whatever is coming into the store. I did a bunch of different products this year, but also skipped a few. We can't do them all. One of the products I skipped was Topps Finest. I am not sure why I thought the product looked meh, but I just did not get a good vibe from some of the different website reviews and product write ups I read.
About three months ago I made a trade for a few cards and was really happy to see that the other collector threw in a base set (1-100) of the Topps Finest set. It was a really generous move. There was a sticky note inside the box that read "Thought you might love this...give it time" So, I did just that. The Topps Finest set sat in it's box on the edge of my desk. The first week or two I basically did not open the box. Then slowly I started opening the box and taking a look at the cards. Every day I would pick out a few cards, check out the pictures, read the card backs, and slowly fell in love with the cards.
I almost fell like I am giving out an award right now and at the same time also giving myself an award for big collecting regret of the year. Yes, yes if I could do it again I would have opened a box of Topps Finest and enjoyed every moment of the process. So, here's a look at the cards and what I love about them......
The best thing about the Topps Finest cards is clearly the design of the cards. Topps spends a lot of time trying to be nostalgic and half the time they cannot get out of their own way in trying to do it. Last year Topps celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Topps Finest product by releasing a product that full of cards using the 1993 product designs. This year's Finest product had a throwback insert for the 1994 Finest set, but the base set design went out on it's own and was unique to this set. I am not sure who at Topps came up with this product design, but as a fan of all things 1990s baseball cards, this set was awesome. The design, the feel of the cards, the texture, the backs, everything 90s.
The colors on these cards are really the best part of the design though. The silver lettering on the top of the cards is the same on all of the cards, but the similarities on the rest of the cards ends there. The shadowing of the Finest title at the top of the card is shadowed in all sorts of different colors, the geometric shapes on the bottom right hand side of the card are different colors and shading on all of the cards. Add in some really cool photography and the cards are really cool looking from a design and color standpoint. This David Wright card is one of my favorite. I love the white uniform on the darker background with the bright oranges and reds towards the bottom of the card on the shading and on the picture. Great look and great looking set. Definitely worthy of some kudos and deserving of one half of my Base Set of the Year Award.
Sticking with the whole 90s card rehash theme I am actually going to pick a second set that I thought was deserving of this award. Again, Topps did a really good job this year getting some of the 1990s rehash sets down well. I loved the Finest set, I have just started to get into the Topps Tek set, and also really loved the Stadium Club set. Someone at Topps is doing a really good job of connecting with the 30 somethings/40 somethings how collected baseball cards in the 1990s. So, my second Best Base Set of the Year is obviously the Stadium Club release.
When Stadium Club first released the product was based on cool photography and was the Topps answer to the early Upper Deck sets. The designs were always really simple and were just dominated by a really good photograph. Over the years Topps changed Stadium Club, let Stadium Club go, and tried to bring the product back a few times along the way too. This year's relaunch was awesome.....
Topps did a really good job of recreating the original product concept of Stadium Club which was great photography with a simple design. I have still not quite finished this set, but it is about the first thing on my list of hobby goals for my up coming winter break from school. Despite the lack of closure on my Stadium Club set, this is one of those sets I find myself flipping through every couple of days. I love the pictures and the feel of the cards. Like with the Finest set, Topps did a great job of making this set....