Topps Kids!

In every Twitter community I’m a part of I seem to invariably get known as “other Nick.” In Baseball Card Twitter, this is because “Nick” is typically @dimeboxman, a prolific blogger who’s one of the guys everyone else is jealous of because he seems to have access to all kinds of wonderful dime boxes for budget card hunting and he frequently finds really good cards in those boxes. Also his dad makes periodic appearances with some amazing card purchases.

A couple weeks ago Nick busted a box of 1992 Topps Kids which left him overflowing with duplicates. Since this is a set which I’ve only encountered in Card Blogs over the past year despite buying packs of everything and anything I could find in 1992, I piped up and said I’d be more than happy to accept any Giants. A week or so later, a plain white envelope showed up in my mailbox.

Seriously. I never saw these as a kid teenager. I’m not sure whether or not I would’ve liked them at the time. I mean, I bought everything including packs of Triple Play and other kid-focused sets so I know I’d’ve bought at least one pack of these too. But as cards? I don’t know if this is something I would’ve liked.

I do however like them now. Not just because they’re fun but because they’re so different. Even when Topps tries to make for-the-kids sets now it feels like they’re worried about being too uncool and that kids like “cool” things. While to a certain extent this is true—both my sons are drawn to the shiny stuff—they also loved these and got super excited about them.* I probably should’ve asked for some extras so they wouldn’t fight over things.

*Note, they also love Sportflics and the multiple-exposure action cards.

The Matt Williams is especially fun in that it suggests a way of riffing on the 1956 Topps design without trying to remake it. I also appreciate how diverse the dugout and stands are. Topps’s cartoons in this product are much less uncomfortable than their unfortunate all-pink-skin cartoons in Topps Big a few years earlier.


The rest of the Giants cards are similarly fun. The Will Clark is a great update to the Goudey Heads-Up school of card design and the photo Topps selected couldn’t be better. The Righetti and McGee cards don’t work as well. Righetti looks a bit too similar to how a lot of companies want to represent the late 1960s and McGee is just an awkward photo. I do like however how the way the cartoon fielders in the McGee card are arrayed like my Little League teams line up with a defender literally standing on each base.

The Kevin Mitchell though is another gem. The explosions of color. The action lines on his bat and helmet. The “Now With the Mariners” action bubble  is the icing on the cake. Usually this text is hidden and treated as an afterthought. In this case it makes the card.

I also got a Scott Erickson card since he’s the closest thing I have to being a Player Collector. That this card shares the same background as Matt Williams points out a big flaw in this set—namely there are only a half dozen or so distinct designs. Swapping colors and moving backgrounds around can only hide so much. That some of the designs, such as this dugout cartoon, can’t be altered at all makes things even harder.

When paging these cards in completely different binders though the design repetition isn’t as big a deal. I’m happy to add this to my Scott Erickson collection and it certainly adds a bit of variety to the pages.


True to trading package traditions, there’s always more than just the cards that were promised. Nick included nine other random Giants in the envelope. Two of them were from the 1970s. The Ron Bryant is from 1973 and is a fun reminder of the early days of action photography when lenses weren’t that long and cropping the negative revealed too many technical flaws. As a result we have lots of butts making cameos on cards.

The Tito Fuentes mini on the other hand is wonderful. This is the mini version of my childhood 1975 Topps and features a player who I really like. Not sure why actually. Tito’s just cool like that. The 1975 Minis are one of those oddball sets that I really love. And this particular card is a lot of fun with its unadulterated process inks all over the design.

The rest of the cards were from 2018. First off, a Joe Panik Salute insert in those awful Memorial Day uniforms. All the special uniforms for various holidays bug me enough as it is with their blatant cash grab motivation in trying to sell yet another variation of the uniform to the fans. That they so often mess with the team colors makes things worse.

That the Memorial Day ones treat the day as an opportunity to glorify the military and conflate dressing up as a soldier with patriotism is particularly bad. Memorial Day is a day to remember the dead and reflect on the consequences of waging war and the cost of defending the country and all of us who live in it.


Two Big League Gold Parallels. I really like Big League. It reminds me of cards when I was a kid and I like the simpler design. Do I have some nitpicks? Absolutely. I’d dump the textured borders and drop shadow effects (especially around the player silhouette) and beef up the team name and position font so it’s not microscopic thin reversed italic san serif. But in general? Lots of fun. I even enjoy the parallels. They’re not super rare or hard to notice. They’re not distracting colors. There aren’t even that many of them.


Two cards from Allen & Ginter. I’m gradually coming around to this set. I don’t think I’ll ever buy it—too expensive and still too many things that bother me—but I’m not recoiling anymore. I actually like the McCovey card a lot. But then I don’t think McCovey has ever been on a bad card.

The Posey though demonstrates a lot of the things that bother me. The black uniform just feels wrong for the style of card with its obviously synthetic fabric. Plus it shows off the weird fading effects and pseudo lithographic texture that Topps has applied to everything.

Also, yes, I absolutely louped these and found that where last year Topps printed Ginter with a stochastic FM screen, this year Topps used a traditional line screen instead. With all that fine line detailing in the design, I think this was the correct choice although it’s no surprise to me that the Ginter designs I like best* have the Ginter text and decorations printed as a solid spot color rather than being screened in process inks.

*2014 please stand up.


And finally two cards from Heritage High Numbers. Heritage still bugs me, but High Numbers has a wonderful checklist full of Giants who turned out to be the most important players for the season. Tony Watson and Dereck Rodriguez were both extremely valuable for the Giants this year and both of these cards show how greta Heritage can be when it sticks to the basics of putting nice photos in an old design and doesn’t fart around with trying to make things look vintage.

Thanks Nick! This was fantastic.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at, and the web at

2 thoughts on “Topps Kids!”

  1. The “other Nick”. That’s awesome. Glad there aren’t any other Fuji’s out there in our blogosphere. Or maybe there is and I don’t know about it. Maybe I’m the “other Fuji”.

    P.S. Topps Kids rules!

  2. Glad you enjoyed everything! Opening that Topps Kids box was a whole lot of fun (even if I was pulling quadruples and qunituples by the end) and I’m happy a few of the extras found a good home.

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