As I mentioned in my Black Friday post I purchased a box of 2012 Topps Archive Baseball as part of my post-Thanksgiving haul. The box recently arrived and, much like my Panini Threads box, it was a winner.
A full review of Archives is probably not necessary, or timely, but since this is one of my favorite products of the year I think it’s worth a write up. For the record, this is my second hobby box of Archive (not to mention a few blasters) and was a bigger score than my first. I love retro products, so I need to establish that bias and I love, LOVE, retro reprint autographs (especially when they are on-card, like they are here). Besides the annual Bowman release, Topps throwback products are the releases I most look forward to.
The 2012 Archive base set brings back four classic Topps designs, 1954, 1971, 1980, and 1984. Out of these four, I prefer the ’71s and the ’84s. Both sets are iconic designs that feature excellent action photography and design flourishes that make them instantly recognizable. The 71s feature a black border and team coordinated text. The 84s feature an inset portrait and fun block lettering on the front. All of the designs are solid in their own way and it is always fun to see modern players on the better, classic base designs.
The set also features SP remakes of some fan favorite cards. The SPs range from all-time greats like Ken Griffey Jr. to lesser heralded stars of their day like Dave Righetti and John Olerud. The SPs make collecting a whole set a challenge, but that is welcome in a product where the base set is only 241 cards. They also provide added value to those collectors who want to recoup some money on the secondary market, as you get six per box and they sell pretty quickly at $1-$2 per card.
There are numerous inserts in the Archives set, based on past cards. They include the 1976 Cloth cards, 1967 Stickers, 1969 Deckle Edge, 1968 3d cards, and reprints of iconic rookie cards. The inserts are not the draw by any means but they are fun throwbacks to inventive (if not gimmicky ideas of the past). The only real seller on the secondary market are the reprints, which command a few dollars based on the player.
It wouldn’t be Archives without Fan Favorites autographs. A box of Archives yields two Fan Favorite autogrpahs and at the current price, these two auto boxes are a bargain. The checklist is a solid list of former stars and fan favorites including Cecil Fielder, Don Mattingly, Hank Aaron, Jim Abbott, Jay Buhner, John Kruk, Sandy Koufax, Will Clark, Willie Mays, not to mention the obligatory Bryce Harper autograph and the first Topps autograph of Ken Griffey, Jr. in a long time (if ever). The autographs don’t stop with the Fan Favorites autographs, Topps also included buyback autographs of guys like Griffey, Aaron, Mays, and others like Albert Belle. There are also framed 1983 mini autographs and box topper autographs of 80’s celebs like Vanna White and Billy Zabka of Karate Kid fame. (Sweep the leg!!!!!). See full checklist here. As a final note: ON CARD AUTOS!!!! That’s what I’m talking about. I pulled two Fan Favorites out of my box: Oscar Gamble and Jim Wynn. Gamble is a Yankee so his auto is a keeper to supplement my Yankee auto collection. Wynn is a $3 sale on eBay.
I also pulled an additional auto. YU DARVISH!!!! (sorry for all the yelling).
This is a special SP auto, and if I pulled it five months ago would have netted me three big ones. As it is, I got a cool hundred for it on ebay. The card is very nice, while it is retro it is glossy and the photo is sure to be a classic. I’m not a Rangers fan, so I was happy to trade it to someone who would appreciate more for a few dollars. This card paid for the box, plus some. My last two boxes have each produced $100 autographs, so I’m guessing my run of luck is probably up for now.
Topps also include a 1956 style relic set. Relics are not a box guarantee which makes them more exciting than normal because rather than wishing that your relic hit was an auto, you are happy to see this additional hit in your box. Fortunately for me I pulled one in this box (making it a four hit box) and it was Frank Thomas, who was one of my favorite players as a kid before I cemented my allegiances as a Yankee fan. The card is nicely designed and it is a bat relic, which is preferable to a single color jersey swatch but less preferable than a multi-color jersey swatch (this is based on a continuum I worked out some years ago, ordered from least prefered to most: single color jersey, single colored pants, bat, multi-colored jersey, multi-colord pants, jersey patch, hat patch, jersey logo, hat logo, piece of a base or ball (only if used in a specific game and touched by the player)).
Archives was one of my favorite products of the year, it has solid and varied base set, along with some fun SPs and a worthwhile autograph checklist. For my tastes I can’t find anything wrong with the product, though for someone who is not a fan of the retro products or wants a more prospect heavy product this may not be for them. The box, at $60 – $75, provides some good value with two autogrpahs but don’t expect to build a set on one box (or two, you’ll probably need three), so set set collectors beware. Overall, 4.5/5