Some fun facts about the 1970 Topps set: The price of packs doubled from a nickel to 10 cents. For the first time in a Topps set, the player’s nameplate was in script, rather than the block letters that had been part of the annual run since 1952.
Also, for the first time, card No. 1 in the set was a team photograph of the previous season’s World Series champions. In the case of the 1970 set, the photograph was of the 1969 Mets, who stunned the Baltimore Orioles by winning the Series in five games. The card was adorned with “World Champions” at the top of the card.
Topps had experimented with the champions format before. Card No. 1 of the 1967 set was called “The Champs” and featured Baltimore Orioles manager Hank Bauer flanked by Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson.
As I’ve done in the past, I buy a blaster box for $19.99 and describe the contents. A blaster box contains eight packs, with nine cards to a pack.
The base set has 500 cards, with the final 100 cards designated as short prints. Within the first 400 cards there are several subsets that mirror the 1970 version: league leaders (Nos. 61-72), NLCS (Nos. 195-198), ALCS (No. 199-202), World Series (Nos. 305-310) and All-Stars (Nos. 351-369).
The card backs are dominated by blue and yellow backgrounds. The blue square contains a biographical summary of the player, printed in white ink. The player’s name is in white block letters at the top of this box, with vital statistics beneath it. A yellow rectangle contains year-by-statistics, and the top right of the card features a cartoon against a white background.
The inserts I pulled from the blaster will be familiar to collectors. In my box, I pulled a News Flashback card of Janis Joplin. That card is part of a 15-card subset. Baseball Flashbacks, another staple of Heritage sets, also contains 15 cards. The insert I pulled was of Rod Carew.
Some blaster boxes contain relics, and I pulled a Clubhouse Collection card of Edwin Encarnacion.
While I did not find them in the blaster box I opened, some collectors may find Story Booklets and Scratch-Off cards. The booklets can only be found in retail stores. The scratch-offs originally appeared as inserts in 1970 and 1971 packs.
For those who buy hobby boxes, top loaders mirror the thick Topps Super cards of 1970. Other top loaders include 1970-like posters, numbered to 70.
Topps opened the 1970s cautiously with its first flagship product of the decade. The wrapper design for packs used for the 1970 set are also used for the 2019 Heritage set, although the price is much higher than 10 cents now. The original set contained 720 cards, which was a record for Topps. Topps was still producing high series cards, so the 100 short prints for the Heritage set reflects the difficulty of completing the set.
While the 1970 Topps set may seem solemn and non-descript, it comes to life in the Heritage series. The card stock is nicer and the photography is much sharper. Collectors can now look ahead to the 2020 Heritage set, which will pay tribute to the black bordered cards of the 1971 Topps set. Condition was a challenge back then, but it will be much easier in 2020.