Monday, September 22, 2014

Compare the Design, 80's edition

In my recent post about a football card repack I noted how Topps used the same design for their baseball and football sets in 2011.  That got me to thinking about a time before they used that practice.

A cursory look seems to show they only started that in 2010.  Maybe they did it at some point in the 90's, I don't know.

But I wanted to go back to when I started collecting cards.  So let's compare the designs that Topps used for their baseball and football sets back in the 1980's, shall we?


Not really a whole lot of design elements going on here eh?  This was actually just before I did any kind of card collecting, so I have no particular sentimental attachment to either set.

Both sets have a particular color scheme for each team, but those colors don't necessarily have anything to do with the team's colors.  Topps still had no NFL team license, hence the airbrushed helmets (except the Rams which I could never figure out). The baseball set was at 726 cards, while the football was at 528.  I like the football All-Pro banner better than the baseball All-Star banner.

I think I'll have to pick the football design here.


This was the first football card set I collected.  I would get my allowance from my dad, and promptly walk over to the Long's and buy a pack.  I bought some Fleer baseball in 1981, but didn't see much Topps.

I remember really liking the hat on the baseball design though.  Maybe it would have been better if there was a logo instead of writing, but I like it.  The football All Pro banner in black seemed to be jarring to me at the time, but it stood out.  I didn't happen to choose any football cards with helmets, but Topps was still air-brushing out the logos in 1981 (still except the Rams).  Notice the use of different logos.  Set sizes stayed the same.

Despite the sentimental aspect, I pick the baseball design here.


In 1982 I collected these football the same way as 1981, maybe even more so.  But I collected my beloved Fleer baseball, not Topps.

This is probably one of my least favorite Topps baseball designs.  Drab.  Washed out.  Ugh.  On the other hand, this is maybe my favorite Topps football design.  The got the NFL license, and the put the logos right out there front and center.  The baseball design got rid of the All-Star banners in favor of a subset.  Note the logos are the same.  So Topps changed their logo sometime in summer of 1981?  The baseball set enlarged to its familiar 792 cards.  Football stayed at 528.  The football set also started grouping the cards by team.  AFC in the first half, NFC in the second half.

In a landslide decision, I pick the football design.


I didn't really collect as much in 1983.  I got a pack or two of Topps baseball, but mostly Donruss.  I only got a handful of football packs.

Topps really stepped it up in baseball after the boring design of last year.  1983 is a classic (to me at least) baseball card design.  The football design is a step back though.  Very basic.  Very basic.  And yet I really liked it at the time.  Sentimental I guess, "absence makes the heart grow fonder" type thing?  Baseball held at 792 cards, while football dropped to 396 cards.  The All Pro banner was replaced by a Pro Bowl banner.  No banner for baseball.

I have to pick baseball here.


I got a handful of baseball packs in 1984, but it was a lower volume year overall than in 1983.  But Topps was my major brand for the first time.  The football cards I was buying with my lunch money at the local university over the summer.

Another classic design on the baseball card.  I've said it before, but I think I'm one of the few who actually like 1984 more than 1983.  Topps was continuing its use of a random color scheme for each team on both baseball and football.  The offset angle of the football card cuts down on the usable area for a picture, but its a decent enough design. Sets sizes held steady at 792 and 396, which they would for the rest of the decade.

I gotta pick baseball here.


I got some 1985 baseball, but somehow ended up with a box of Fleer that year.  I only got a couple of packs of football.

The baseball design seemed like a letdown after the previous year.  I don't think I was really aware of 1971 Topps baseball, so the football design seemed really exotic to me.  Borders that aren't white?  And it was all horizontal.  The Pro Bowl banner was replaced by a tiny yellow All Pro designation at the top left.  Both sets were better color-coordinated to the team.  Although the Angels seemed to end up with yellow alot.

Neither one is a favorite for me.  Neither one is particularly bad either though.  Push.


I collected boxes and boxes of 1986 Topps baseball.  I might have eventually had two complete sets at one point.  I also had more football than I had since 1982.  I never really collected Topps football after 1986 either.

This might be blasphemous to some, but I don't really like the baseball design.  The football design has some good and some bad.  The green border was new to me, but the white lines are odd.  I later learned that if you put them all together in a grid in the right order, the lines would all match up.  The weird color coding is back on the football design.  Purple for the Dolphins?  Topps started ordering the players within each team differently.  From 1982-1985 they were alphabetical.  In 1986 the team was grouped by position, QB first, then RBs, Receivers, OL, DL, LBs, and DBs.  The teams were also ordered by record, further Fleerifying the set.

I pick football by default.


I also bought boxes of 1987 baseball.  I also bought a fair number of Donruss.  I bought maybe 2 or 3 packs of football.

The baseball set has a classic design.  I was only vaguely aware of 1962, so I didn't put the connection together at the time.  The football design seems last minute.  "Hey throw a couple of banners up top"  The All Pro designation is tiny, probably an afterthought.  But at least its still there.

Baseball is the choice here.


I bought a bunch of 1988 baseball, but I never did complete the set.  If I own any of the football cards, they came in repacks.

That banner on the baseball design looks familiar.  Topps tested it out on 1986 football.  Another last minute looking design on the football card.  "angle the bottom off the photo, and drop a helmet on it".  And yet, both designs are just so-so.  There's potential for both, but they just miss.

I'll pick football for the helmet in the design.  That always gets me.


I bought a bunch of 1989 baseball, and ended up with way more somehow later on.  I may have gotten a pack or two of football.

The baseball design is really good actually, but I've been inundated with it and need to get rid of thousands of them.  I think Topps is mailing it in with the football designs.  They had no competition yet, much like baseball a decade earlier.  So the 1987-1989 football designs are really analogous to the 1978-1980 baseball designs.

I gotta choose baseball, since there really isn't a design on the football cards.

So baseball wins 5-4, with one tie.

1 comment:

  1. I like the '83 football design. A lot. It's my favorite of the '80s football cards.