Aug 11, 2011
1952 Topps and 2011 Topps Lineage: Why the Disconnect?
This is the only 1952 Topps card I own. I was a closet Cleveland supporter in the 1980s and 1990s (mostly because of the Major League movies) and so I was able to find a card of the 1953 AL MVP for $5.00 at a card show when I was 12. I think that was one of the first major goals I accomplished as a collector.
All collectors and aficionados have seen this design. It's a 1952 Topps design. This is the original, slightly bigger than 2.5"x3.5" card that defined what a modern trading card should have. It was the first modern (post-1947) trading card to have a team logo on the front of the card. It tied with 1952 Bowman for presenting the often-used facsimile autograph. It also was the most comprehensive set to date, being the first to surpass 400 cards in number. There was also one other first, showing a line of past year and lifetime stats on the rear of the card.
That's why the choices for 2011 Topps Lineage are curious. The tagline of the set is to celebrate (to paraphrase) 60 years of the Topps lineage of products. The base card of the set does not reflect that at all. It is curious that there are no stats on the back because that was what helped to up the ante in the mid-1950s trading card battles. The lineage should easily be reflected in design elements of the base card. Include the team logo, facsimile autograph, a pennant of some kind ( like 1965, 1974, 1977, 1980). Include subset cards that harken back to the ideas that made the Topps base sets of the past memorable. Instead of doing it Heritage-style with exact copies; use all-star designations, rookie cups (already used and appreciated), record breakers, past MVP cards, team cards, team USA cards, draft pick cards, and multi-player prospect cards in a "lineage type" manner.
For example, there have been a lot of changes in MLB since 1952 with team names and team locations. Cards highlighting the changes in an homage to past team set designs could be cool-looking. Imagine a Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland Athletics team card or a Browns/Orioles team card.
Another idea could have been a highlighting of the all-time lineups of teams during the Topps era, or better yet all-star team by decades of the Topps "star designation" cards (1 and divisible by 100) throughout the years.
Another idea could have been a repeat of the past #1 draft picks subset from 1985 Topps, except this time expand the concept beyond #1 picks to value picks or best picks or surprising picks.
The highlighting of past gimmicks is interesting, and seeing a 1975 Topps design never fails to illicit a positive response from me. Besides reprints (in 2011 Topps) and rehashes, insert sets could be of the subsets mentioned above or even of altogether new ideas that harken to the looking back theme. They've covered a lot of this material in 2010 and 2011 Topps sets; however, there is more to glean. Have a Stadium Club quality insert or 1993 Finest designed insert or Topps Gallery redeemable prints inserted one every couple cases. The autos' concept I wouldn't change; I just like it.
The possibilities are endless, and they do have to be limited to fit in a hobby box without an inundation of concepts. So why not just pick the ones that look the best and give homage to the Topps brand? For a set called Topps Lineage, it just would have been nice to have a facsimile autograph on the front and two lines of stats on the back.