Complete! Take 2.

While I have a previous post on here celebrating the completion of my 1986 Topps set, it turns out that one of the trades fell apart* and left me needing still seven cards to complete the set. Twitter however did its thing last week and a bunch of guys sent me envelopes with cards inside to finish my set.

*It happens. Life, emergencies, moves, etc mean a pile of cards can totally be misplaced. Better a pile of 1986 Topps than somehting valuable or important.

So big thanks goes out to WalkerHOF!! (@Focustheframe), Kurt Humbertson (@FlyinWV79), and 20th Century Baseball Man (@20thBaseball) for finishing off my set. For real this time.

It’s been a fun build. As I stated in my previous post, while 1987 is my first year of collecting, 1986 represents the cards that just were around when I entered the hobby. I didn’t try and get them, they just sort of accumulated as I got cards. As a result, 1986 often represented the oldest card I had of a player and, as the decade went on, depicted a lot of players and managers with different teams than I would get to know them with.

Seeing Tony LaRussa with the White Sox or Dave Stewart on the Phillies was weird. Same as Rick Reuschel on the Pirates or Candy Maldonado on the Dodgers.* Yes I knew players could change teams, but 1986 still felt current to me back then and it was just jarring to be reminded of of how out of date it could be by the time I was a full-fledged fan in 1987.

*Or, heck Harry Spilman on the Astros.

1986 Topps was the tip of the iceberg in introducing me to the fact that collecting cards was a way to time travel into the past and see what the game used to look like. It’s one thing as a kid to fall in love with accumulating the new and shiny,* it’s quite another to be suckered into the world of discovering where the players I was getting to know used to play and seeing what they looked like in older, different uniforms.

*As shiny as wood-panelling can get.

As I’ve come back to the hobby with a more discerning eye to print, design, and photography, I’ve also come to appreciate 1986’s distinctness. Big bright colorful team names in the team colors don’t come around very often. The boldness of the font allows the design to work as a team-color design even though it’s technically just colored text on a black background.

There’s no extra design going on either. The font has enough character to make everything else distinct and Topps wisely steers clear of adding any other design elements aside from the black background that makes the colors pop.

The photography too is somewhat distinct compared to other years of cards. Lots of over-the shoulder candid images and a bunch of great action shots at home plate. A decent amount of in-game candids too such as can be seen on the Evans, Lopes, and Oester cards here. Where modern cards tend to be all action all the time, the in-game candids portray the way baseball is a game of ma(間) where much of the time is spent actionless.

I’ve come to love the 1986 photography and the way that the cards allows the photos to just be in a rectangle with nothing weird going on. It’s become a set I particularly like getting signed as well.

What am I building next? I’m not actually sure. I’m intending to start 1989 Donruss at some point. I should get cracking on 1994 Topps so I can complete the run of Topps sets that cover my complete youth fan years. Watch my set needlist for updates.

I can say that I’m tempted to try building 1985 Topps. Not in the sense that I want a complete set of it but the more I learn about it the more I’m thinking that it’s one of the most interesting sets that Topps has ever released. 1985 appears to mark the true boundary of the junk era, not in terms of production runs but in its design and conception. It neither fits in with the sets that precede it nor those that follow it yet it has a foot in both worlds.

And another set gone, and another set gone…

I’m kind of liking this whole New Years Resolution thing which is resulting in sets getting finished. A couple more maildays last week resulted in me finishing yet another set.

First off, Focustheframe sent me another 1990 Upper Deck card which I needed. Not much to say about this card but every little bit helps.

Then I got a package from another new trader.  Adam (@amhlaw63) has a bunch of junk wax and is doing the dad thing of looking for cards that his son wants. I was able to find a bunch that worked and apparently made his son pretty happy with some shiny Cubs inserts. In return Adam killed my 1991 Donruss set build.

This is a random selection of last cards and I don’t have anything good to say about any of them aside from noting that Quinones is a former Giant who confused me when I first started collecting by having Giants cards in 1987 despite not being on the team.

Adam also included almost two-dozen Upper Deck cards. I needed thirty at the beginning of the year, this takes me down to needing only eight.* Very very cool to be this close to finishing.

*72 Juan Gonzalez, 75 Bo Jackson, 105 Bo Jackson, 146 Brian Downing, 201 Terry Puhl, 254 Paul Molitor, 325 Benito Santiago, 499 Dale Sveum

I really like this set too. Photos are a lot brighter than in 1989 and the design is the kind of photo-centric design I prefer. The Grissom is a nice portrait. Whitaker shows some good action. Boggs action card isn’t as cool as a lot of the other once but it’s never a bad thing to cross another Hall of Famer off the list. And it’s nice to finally get one of the three Bo Jacksons in the set.*

*I ripped a box and couldn’t even turn up one of them.

Nothing daunting in the remaining eight cards. The Juan Gonzalez rookie is likely the biggest one left. But now it looks like there’s a real chance for me to finish this this year.

Thanks guys!

Another set bites the dust

Oh look a new trading partner! Every new year seems to spawn some “so what sets are you working on” threads. The result is always a couple new trading partners who are also working on junk wax sets. In this case @Focustheframe reached out to me and a couple days later we each made significant progress on some set builds.

Yeah I only got three cards but that Gary Wayne represents 25% of my 1991 Donruss searchlist and the Nolan Ryan completes my 1991 Studio build. Yup. It’s always nice to slide that last card in and finish the set. Especially one as nice as Studio 91.

I’ve mentioned it on here before but this set is one of my favorites from when I was a kid. The photography in this set completely transformed my understanding of what a baseball card could be and they still look unlike any other cards.

That they’re printed with three spot colors plus black instead of process inks is also pretty distinct. Things were going off the rails in the 1990s as brands tried anything and everything to out-fancy each other. Three spot colors would count as that except that I think it’s too subtle for most people to notice. It works really well for this design though, especially the warm metallic grey duotone that gives the black and white photos a lot of tonality.

That my last card is Nolan Ryan is fully appropriate for a 1991 set. He was at the top of the hobby that year and is a much more memorable last card than any of the guys who will finish my 1991 Donruss set.* I’m not close enough on 1990 Upper Deck, 1994 Topps, or 2014 Topps to know who will be last but the other builds have been somewhat memorable. My last 1990 Fleer card is Carlton Fisk. My last 1986 Topps card was Eddie Murray. And my last 1978 Topps card will be either Murray or the Trammel/Molitor rookie card.

*Hal Morris, Scott Aldred, and Luis Quinones.

Super cool to finish a set! Thanks for the help.