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.
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could change teams, but 1986 still felt current to me back then and it was just jarring to be reminded of of how out of date it could be by the time I was a full-fledged fan in 1987.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.