So I guess it's time to decide what, exactly, it is that I'm doing with this blog thing. That is, what will be the specifics involved with ranking my favorite Topps base sets? The first thing to consider is that, although Topps has been putting out sets since 1951 or 1952 (depending upon whether you consider the 1951 Red Backs/Blue Backs a "base set" or not), I have only been collecting since 1980. The majority of my collection dates from that year. I have a fair number of cards from the 1970s, a smattering from the 1960s, and a handful from the 1950s. So, to the extent that I can be considered an "expert" at anything (and I can't... trust me), my expertise is confined, at best, to my lifetime (1970 to present), or to my lifetime as a collector (1980 to present). So, what am I to consider here? (And I really am asking myself this question as I type...)
How about this: I will begin with considering the sets that I know best, 1980 to present, and then decide whether anyone, including myself, is interested in going any further. That answers question number one.
The next question is how, exactly, shall I evaluate each set? Should I just start typing and see what comes out? Or should I have a game plan going in, with specific criteria? I'm thinking that for the sake of the sanity of all involved (which, again, may not be anyone but myself), I'd better have at least some guidelines going in. Let's see what comes to mind...
First of all, I'd say that there are two distinct aspects to look at in a given set: the set as a whole, and the typical individual card.
As for the set as a whole, we'll be talking about set composition. Naturally, it all begins with the standard player cards, about which we can discuss set size and player selection, including "key" cards in a given set. (Warning: Unlike 99% of collectors, I am not a rookie card fetishist.) But the more interesting aspect of this part of the discussion will be what types of subsets are included. And here I do not mean inserts, as I am only discussing base sets, but "special" cards such as team photos, team leaders, managers, season highlights, record breakers, league leaders, all-stars, post-season cards, etc. These go a long way toward determining the character of a set.
As for the individual cards, it's all about design. And that encompasses a large number of traits, including photography, use of color, design of the standard template, incorporation (or not) of the standard design elements on the special subsets, the layout of the back of the card, and the information and design elements used there. And probably more than a few things that aren't coming immediately to mind. Of course, it's not rocket science, and I will be about the sixteen millionth person to look at these things, so there's some precedence. And, at the end of the day, it all just boils down to "me likey" or "me no likey."
I guess all that's left to do is to dive in and get the ball rolling, to pointlessly mix swimming and ball-based sports metaphors (to which anyone reading must be saying, "it's about time"). So, without significantly more ado, tomorrow, we get started.