Monday, January 22, 2018

Thoughts on 2018 Topps Before the Product Goes Live

So the 2018 Baseball Card Season begins at the end of this month with Series 1 of the eponymous product arriving some time on or around January 31. It's a great time to be a baseball fan because it only means that pitchers and catchers will be reporting to their spring training homes (at least those with teams anyway) not long afterwards.

This past month (in between learning what is involved in both a food brokerage and a pharmacy...yes, I work for the food AND drug industries), The Topps Company has been previewing what we are to expect in series 1:

  • checklists (the base set does not have numbers because they haven't announced the player who will grace Card #1 yet)
There has even been news about Series 2 and the 32 retail sets that will be coming soon to Hobby shops and big box stores near you.

But for the longest time, the only thing Topps never really showed during the hype build-up of their soon-to-be classic cards was the card backs. And for many years (or at least ever since I started blogging and sparingly being involved in the online Sports/Baseball Card Community) I've always asked to see what the card backs look like before the product goes live. Well last week, Sports Card News, who was able to attend Topps' big Transcendent part in Las Vegas, posted on Twitter (what the back of the 2018 Topps cards are going to look like.

2018 Topps Harrison Bader RC. Picture by @SportsCardNews
And, I was how much open space there was on the back of the cards.

Before the interwebs, baseball cards were THE resource when it came to learning about your favorite players. Not only were there (in most cases) complete stat lines, but a simple (or long...depending on how long a player's career was) biography on the back about the player on the front of the card. There might be some random factoids about other players, or a "this date in baseball history" segment. There might even be a cartoon on the back. Lots of information could be packed on the back of a baseball card (if you were a big-time stat junkie, later years of Score baseball were for you...)

Last year, Topps limited the number of stat lines to five plus career totals. So for the first time in a very long time, no complete player stats for those who had played for more than five seasons. In it's place, Topps added a player's social media accounts (Twitter and Instagram if a player had them), or Topps' accounts if he was not a presence on social media. I get it, we're in a new age, what better way to follow your favorite player than on the social sites. Leave it to Topps for being forward thinking.

But this year's card back has a lot of issues for me. Now, I know that the only image shown was of a player with the rookie card logo, meaning that we're only going to see that person's minor league totals. I get that. That's been the deal since 2006. But there was just so much space, especially on the right side of the card. There is just so much blank space there. I'm wondering why? Couldn't Topps find something to fill that space? Maybe extend the text box?

At my new job, one of the things I'm learning is how to create sell sheets using PowerPoint. Yes, I've been in the food business for 19 years, but this is my first time at making these. I'm learning really fast that blank space is okay, as long as there is less of it. Too much space means a missed opportunity for content. And that's what I'm seeing here.

Now, I'm hoping that this is just the exception, and not the norm. People on Twitter began to wax poetic about how times have changed, and that they wanted full career stats. Maybe put in a QR code where that blank space was to make the cards more interactive. (Speaking of, have you seen those wines that have labels that when you put your smartphone to it - and have an app - the graphics come live??? That would be cool if Topps could do that with baseball cards...not that they haven't tried before...)

Again, I'm just going what I'm seeing in front of a computer screen. I haven't seen any of these cards live (yet). So I'm going to wait until I see these cards in person before making any decisions as to whether I'm going to like the design, front and back, or not.

Something tells me that, as always, I'm going to like them.

Bring on 2018!!!


JayBee Anama


P-town Tom said...

I agree. They should have, at the minimum, extended the text box and upped the size of the font to fill the larger space if they couldn't come up with more personal info to put to text.
I like many of the pieces of the new design, but I'm still bothered by the wave on the front covering the part of the first letter of the player's first name. Why did they do that?
Was it someone, with a surfing background, trying to insert elements of their true passion? That's the best I can come up with.

Matt said...

I kind of like the "slip-n-slide" graphic on the front. It's better than the past two years, but I hope Topps goes back to borders soon.

Jeremya1um said...

Thank you for posting a picture of the backs. I was guessing they would be like the last 5 or so years with the same element on the back with the name that is on the front. I swear the last 5 years look the same with the name and stuff in the top left, the number on the top right with the series/brand beneath it, and then some stats and bio. It is a shame that the full career stats aren't there. The card designs that Topps is giving us in flagship in the last 7-8 years are sad. After around 2009, it seemed like the designs were just mailed in, and it really takes some thinking for me to distinguish say 2012 from 2013. I really hope they look better in-hand.

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

I'm liking the fronts for the most part, but not digging the backs.

Fuji said...

I'm old school. Give me full career stats instead of Twitter info.

Anonymous said...

The lack of full career stats is a downer for me and one reason I won't buy cards anymore. I always loved seeing how a player develops over his career and each year is always a snapshot in time of where they are.

Now I know Topps has been doing a set where they will use an old style card for a current player, and on those at least in 2016 had shown full career stats, but all those cards are missing the bolding or red printing of league leading stats so not sure if this just lack of attention to detail, but this has just made the cards a whole lot less appealing to me.