Two years ago I did a post for my “set of the year” in response to a blog bat around by This Card is Cool.
First, I’ll note a couple of things. Like any collector of baseball cards, I have a limited budget. There are somewhere around 40 baseball products out this year if you count all the MLB-licensed things that Topps did, plus what Leaf, Panini and Upper Deck put out. Because Panini really started to fully utilize the license they got with the Players’ union in 2013, this number is actually higher than last year.
If you go by order of release date, here’s what came out in 2013. An asterisk means it’s a new set (I’m not counting Museum Collection or Archives as new because they replaced sets with similar themes).
Baseball “standard issue” sets (it’s a bit of a stretch for me to include Goodwin in here – but I did include it last year, and I collect it, so I’m going with it):
- Topps (Series 1) – January 28
- Topps Turkey Red – February 11*
- Topps Opening Day – March 18
- Topps Tribute – March 4
- Topps Heritage – March 6
- Panini Triple Play – April 1
- Topps Gypsy Queen – April 3
- Topps Museum Collection – April 15
- Bowman – May 8
- Topps Archives – May 31
- Topps (Series 2) – June 19
- Panini Golden Age – June 20
- Bowman Inception – July 3*
- Topps Tribute WBC – July 13*
- Bowman Platinum – July 25
- Upper Deck Goodwin Champions – July 30
- Topps Mini – July 31
- Topps Allen & Ginter – August 6
- Panini Pinnacle – August 15*
- Panini Cooperstown – August 25
- Topps Tier One – August 28
- Panini Prizm – September 18
- Topps Chrome – September 24
- Bowman Chrome – September 27
- Panini Hometown Heroes – October 2*
- Topps Finest – October 8
- Topps (Update) – October 15 (includes Chrome this year)
- Topps Triple Threads – October 25
- Topps Heritage (High Numbers) – November 20
- Topps Five Star – December 6
- Bowman Sterling – December 20
- Panini Select – December 23*
- Panini America’s Pastime – January 9, 2014*
Panini Limited and Panini Signature are the only two sets that went away in 2013.
Minor league / Draft card sets:
- Leaf Power Showcase – April
- Topps Pro Debut – June 26
- Topps Heritage Minor League – September 20
- Leaf Perfect Game Showcase – September
- Leaf Metal Draft – September
- Panini USA Baseball Champions – June 10
- Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks – November 8
- Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects – November 13
- Leaf Trinity – December
- Panini Elite Extra Edition – January 9, 2014
- Topps Stickers – March 13
- Topps Team Sets – April
- Leaf Ichiro – August
- Leaf Best of Baseball – September 10
- Leaf Memories – November 18
- Topps Supreme (Asian market exclusive) – December
If you count everything above, that’s an increase of 9 product releases from what I put on this post last year. If you only count the major league “standard issue” sets – it’s still an increase from 28 to 34, which is primarily driven by Panini more fully entering the fray, plus a few more sets from Topps, too. That’s quite a bit more options, and for me, a few of them are sets that I’d at least think about collecting (Turkey Red, Golden Age, even Hometown Heroes.
Out of those, this year I collected base Topps (both series and Update), Topps Heritage (including High Numbers), Gypsy Queen, Goodwin Champions, Archives and Panini Golden Age. I didn’t collect Mini or Allen Ginter this year, and the only things I added were Leaf Memories and Turkey Red – which are much easier (read: smaller) products to collect.
This is fine – I kind of want to focus on my Topps project. If you consider that I also am collecting a bunch of earlier Topps base sets – which is actually the “mission” of this blog – this is still a fairly large amount of new cards for me in 2013. I think next year I’ll scale it back even more, just because I don’t have the time I used to.
OK – so what was my favorite set of the year? In 2011, it was Topps Heritage. In 2012, it was – again – Topps Heritage. This year? Not Topps Heritage. 1962 and 1963 are classic designs in my mind – 1964 isn’t.
I won’t sugarcoat it – this wasn’t the best year of card products to me. Some of this is that I’m pretty busy right now and don’t have the time I had for cards 1 or 2 years ago. But that’s just a small portion of it – Heritage is not as good almost by definition because it had to follow 1964, and some sets I collect weren’t new – Gypsy Queen and Goodwin are both in their 3rd year, Archives in its 2nd year (3rd if you consider 2011 Lineage the same product, which I kind of do). I did enjoy each of those products this year, and I think Archives made some improvements from its 2012 release.
But this year’s flagship Topps set was pretty darn good in my mind, and in a year where I didn’t particularly like the retro products – that makes it an easy pick. Heritage would still probably come in second (with competition from Topps Archives) – which is a testament to that product. Even in a down design year it’s still a fun product.
But it’s not the best product or set. My set of the year isn’t Heritage – it’s the flagship Topps brand. In what was a down year as I mentioned, Topps had a cool design (though I wish they’d get some guts and move away from the white border). And the inserts were pretty cool, too. They had a theme of “the chase” which was kind of cheesy but better than some of the stuff they had the last few years (Diamond, Gold, etc.). And it produced some nice insert sets. The die-cut “Cut to the Chase” is definitely my favorite. “The Greats” and “The Elite” are super thick cards that are really nice. And I like the Making your Mark inserts, too. The 1972 minis aren’t bad, but I didn’t like the straight copy from last year’s 1987 minis.
The bottom line, though – I really like the base set. It had some great photos, and was fun to go through.
The design was the best of the last few years in my mind, though I’m hoping for 2015 to avoid the white borders!
The gimmicks (variations) and the parallels are a bit much – but it is kind of neat to put together a rainbow of cards like the Reddick one shown above. Overall, the flagship effort from Topps was my favorite of 2013!