The particulars for the 2016 set: a hobby box contains 24 packs, with eight cards to a pack. The price for a hobby box should be in the $90 to $105 range, depending on the retailer. Topps is promising two on-card autographs per hobby box. There are 300 base cards in the set, with 10 additional short prints.
There are three different retro Topps designs employed in this set. Cards 1 to 100 have the look of the 1953 set, while cards 101-200 adopt the 1979 motif. The final 100 cards are designed to mirror the 1991 set. Predictably, being a retro Topps lover (retro sounds so much better than old, you know …), I really liked the cards that looked like the 1953 set. The pictures are real, and not the artist drawings like the original set, but this isn’t a Heritage set so taking a little bit of license is just fine. Satchel Paige is included among the 1953 designs; it would have been cool if his name had been misspelled as “Satchell” like it was in the original card that depicted him with the St. Louis Browns. That didn’t happen, and Paige is actually shown from his days with the Cleveland Indians. In the hobby box that Topps provided me, I pulled 58 of these cards.
A hobby box will typically have parallels, and this one was no exception. There were two blue bordered parallels numbered to 199 — one from the 1953 design (Jason Kipnis) and one from 1979 (Curtis Granderson). There also was a red bordered card of Raul Mondesi, numbered to 50.
The nicest looking inserts in Archives play off the 1969 Supers. These are regular size, though, and there are 30 cards to the subset. On average, a collector can expect to find four of these cards. The four I found featured Chris Sale, Cole Hamels, Alex Gordon and Andrew Miller; interestingly, they were in the first four packs that I opened.
The final insert is a collection of seven cards featuring cast members of the 1988 movie Bull Durham. The design mirrors the 1988 Topps cards and also features a nine-card autograph set. I pulled two “regular” inserts of characters — Jimmy, played by William O’Leary; and Tony, played by Tom Silardi.
The other signature card was from the Archives Fan Favorites set and featured former Atlanta Braves catcher Javy Lopez. The card sports a 1991 design; Lopez, by the way, made his debut with the Braves in 1992.
Topps Archives is a pleasant set to collect, and invariably, the autographs are of players whose names you will recognize. There are lots of Hall of Famers included in the set, too, which is a bonus. I am not always enamored with the years Topps chooses to feature this set in, but at least one of the designs turns out to be a winner.