Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another look at 1988 Topps

1988 Topps Traded Tiffany (#40T Kirk Gibson)
I haven't bought many new cards recently. I am interested in a few of the current sets available right now, mostly Allen and Ginter and I do have a small curiosity in Topps Lineage, but I have been focusing on older cards and completing some of my sets on my want list, starting with the easiest ones from the junk wax era. The late 1980's is when I got started collecting as a kid. The 1987, 1988 and 1989 sets were the first cards I bought a lot of wax and rack packs, you know the ones with the glossy Allstar card. I was always partial to Topps cards and had more of these cards in my burgeoning collection than Fleer or Donruss. I have always liked the history and nostalgia of Topps cards and this is a big reason that now as an adult, I am trying to build these sets.

While organizing my want lists and sorting through boxes of these cards I was reminded again of how much I like the 1988 Topps set. The 1987 Topps issue is far and away my favorite Topps design of the eighties and currently I am four cards away from completing this set. But 1988 Topps is a close second. The main reason I gravitate to this set is simply, 1988 Topps features a clean, minimalist design, that places the focus on the photography. This minimalist design is even more striking when compared to the previous 1986 and 1987 designs. Topps would continue a simple design in 1989, reworking the 1974 and 1980 pennant design for this issue, before a giant and misguided design departure was green lighted for the 1990 issue. But if you like photography, this is where the 1988 set excels.

My favorite design element on the front of the cards is the team name written in bold letters at the top of the card, reminiscent of the classic1967 Topps issue, which in also very popular among collectors for its photography. This gave the already uncluttered design a classy look. The subsets were also just as good as the regular cards. The "Record Breakers" really stood out on a red background and helped to set the tone at the beginning of the set and the "Allstars" featured head shots, centered by a diamond on a yellow background. All the subsets had a clean white border which helped to weave these cards into the main set. "Turn back the clock, '' one of my all time favorite Topps subsets, began in the 1985 issue and is featured again in 1988, along with future stars and draft picks. "Future Stars" and "Draft Picks" cards were creme de la creme in the 1980s, as this decade saw a focus on rookie cards. I can still remember my excitement pulling a future star card from a pack. the 1987 Topps Bo Jackson "Future Star'' rookie card was the star of my collection for many years. Today, even though it now has a large crease horizontally through the center, it is still a card I hold in high regard in my collection.

Yes, these sets were overproduced, but this fact alone does not describe what these sets really are. Overproduction might have killed any value today, but 1988 Topps is a well executed set, both in design and checklist. And the emphasis Topps put on the photography is evident throughout the set as there are many great action and posed shots. It would take Topps another three years to match the 1988 issue in terms of great photography as Topps responded to more competition for their 1991 and 1992 issues.

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