Friday, July 20, 2012

The Polls are Closed: Favorite Late-80s Topps Design


As in 23 votes.  That's, like, 22 more votes than I thought I would get on the little poll you see to your right.  So, firstly, I want to thank you folks for actually humoring me and voting.

Secondly, we have a winner!  According to The People, the 1987 Topps set has the most appealing design among it's late-80's cousins, eking out the second-place finisher -- 1986 -- by two votes.

1987 - The Winners!

I can't say I'm too surprised, since the '87 set is so unique in appearance.  Not just for it's time period, but for Topps sets in general.  Heck, even today, collectors and Topps enthusiasts alike are pleading for the folks in Duryea, PA to make another wood-bordered design for their flagship product.  [Ed. Note: Sorry, but 1/1 parallel inserts in the 2012 base set just isn't enough!]  At least we have the '87 Minis insert in this year's Topps set.

The '87 design is completely unlike any of the other sets during the span of the 1980s, all of which had white borders.  Even prior to the '80s, you can probably count on one hand the number of Topps sets that didn't have a white border.  The 1962 set was the first to have the wood-like border, and '87 was done as something of a 25th anniversary homage to it.  Oh, and strangely enough, the '87 set is the only one of the decade to feature a team logo.  [Ed. Note: Hopefully I haven't butchered history too badly.]  [Ed. Note, Pt. 2: I did butcher history, as the '85 set featured team logos.  Nod to Classon Ave. for the correction!]

As for '86, I love how the black frame on the upper portion of the card creates a contrast to the bold coloring of the block letters which spell out the team name.  I always thought this was a cool design.

1986 - Runner-up

Sadly, my favorite Topps design from the late-80's (the 1989 set), finished dead-last.  I'm constantly surprised that the majority of people favor the look of the drab '88 set over the colorful and exciting '89 design.

1988 - Third Place

Don't get me wrong, I love all four of these sets and their designs.  In a collecting sense, I cut my teeth in those years and on those sets, so I'll always have an unmatched fondness for them.  But, looking back, the '88 set seems so bland and kind of uninspired.  It's as if the design people at Topps were so exhausted from creating a masterpiece in '87, they kind of mailed it in for the '88 edition.

Meanwhile, the 1989 set was the first one that I collected in bulk, thus giving me my best memories.  Okay, well as "bulk" as can be expected from a husky nine-year-old boy who didn't make an allowance and  had to depend on the beneficence of his mom and dad -- and occasional whining and begging -- to score wax packs, rack packs and an occasional jumbo pack.

1989 - The Basement

And that was back when supermarkets and pharmacies sold packs of cards.  Not like today where you can only buy them from places that end in -Mart or have a bullseye in their logo.  So, trips with mom to Foodtown or Thrift Drug were exciting because there was always a chance you would come home with a pack or two.

You want me to be honest with you?  I think it's the colored ribbon that does it for me.  Yup, it definitely is.  The wavy ribbon at the bottom that has the player's name.  [Ed. Note: The 1997 Stadium Club set has the same effect on me, but more on that in a later post.]  That, plus the team name written in semi-script over top of the ribbon.  It just works for me, as does the vibrant coloring of the said elements.

I could go on, but the point of this blog entry was not to extol the brilliance of 1989 Topps.  I can do that some other time, I suppose.

Thanks again to everyone who voted.  I'll be posting another poll in the near future...or whenever inspiration strikes me.



  1. ('85 had team logos too)

    My 80's Topps Set Rankings
    1. 1983
    2. 1985
    3. 1987
    4. 1982
    5. 1988
    6. 1989
    7. 1984
    8. 1981
    9. 1986
    10. 1980

  2. Just re-read your criteria, "late 80's," my bad.

    As for '88, while I wouldn't argue that the '89 base card is better looking, It's the All-Star cards, record breakers, and team cards that give it an edge in my mind. (Though '89 All-Star cards are great looking too)

    Also, I don't really like the pink and black color scheme on the backs of the '89 set.

    1. Nope, you were right the first time -- 1985 did have the logo. And my original comment said "of the decade". So, fair is fair -- ya caught me! Thanks for the correction.

      I will grant you the All-Star cards were much cooler in '88, but we will agree to disagree about the pink/black card backs in '89. Those rock!