Which was the best (and worst) 1980s Topps design?

Well! The first four cards that no one needs were such a ROUSING SUCCESS that we are looking forward to posting the remaining six, mm hm yeah mama! Dinged Corners may need to retire because it is no longer firing on all cylinders, but that's quite another matter, and in the meantime, we pause to ask: which is the most wonderful 1980s Topps card design, and which is the least wonderful?




1984: 1985:


Inquiring minds really and truly want to know your take. After looking at the full '80s array of Topps, we may have to change our vote for the least wonderful set from '86 to '89.


night owl said...

OK, I'll try not to make this a book:

I have mentioned before that 1986 Topps has ISSUES. However, I love it the way I love a three-legged dog. You have to love a three-legged dog, and you have to love an entire set of blurry, dark photos and a bizarrely large and colorful font for the team name that overwhelms the photo.

The best of the decade: 1983, by far. It brought Topps card designs out of its five-year-long malaise.

Worst of the decade: Either 1982 or 1989. Probably 1982. The hockey stick is just weird. Also, I know a lot of bloggers cherish 1987 -- it's the first set they ever collected, yada, yada. But I never knew what the big deal was. I really don't like it much.

Not a book. Kind of a novelette.

Dean Family said...

I'm partial to 1980.

shanediaz82 said...

1983 might be the best, and I think 1988 is the worst. 1989 isn't as bad as everyone says it is!

dayf said...

That Ripken is the last one I need for my '83 set! I think I'm going to print it out and move on.

1983 Topps is the best of the decade. Color coded border that doesn't overwhelm the card, two photos, generally decent photos, bright and happy, three hall of fame rookies, memorializes the Braves' division winning team... awesome set.

I've never been overly fond of 1989 Topps. The design looks generic and cheap to me. Of course '81 Topps is the king of generic designs, but it has a certain charm to it. That kind of thing was OK in '81. Heck, look at Fleer and Donruss. In 1989 Topps should have known better. The card stock is cheap and curvy too. Blech.

And please don't retire over '86 Topps. that is a set that takes some getting used to.

Jim said...

Here goes, from best to worst: 1981 (easy), 1985, 1982, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1986, 1989.

I love the 1981 design solely because of the little hat idetifying each team. The 1982 design has really grown on me, and it's probably jumped a few spots in my rankings in recent years.

steveisjewish said...

85, 87, 86, 89 in that order - all pretty sweet

Billy Suter said...

Aww, man... I was gonna do something like this in my next video. Oh well. I'll point people over to this post if they want to see '80s Topps cards. I've already got a Plan B for my next video before I go on to the 90s.

MattR said...

Best: 1983

Worst: 1989

Fuji said...

Here's my rankings based on design from worst to first:

worst: 1988
9th: 1989
7th: 1981
6th: 1987
5th: 1980
4th: 1985
3rd: 1982
2nd: 1984
best: 1983

Outside of #1, it was a tough call between 2nd and 4th... because they're all awesome. It was also tough to choose between 5th and 8th, because they're all really good too.

The only 2 that I think are below average are the 1988 and 1989 sets. In my opinion... they're just too plain.

stusigpi said...

I'll take any of them compared to today's glossy overpriced mess. I actually like them all.

White Sox Cards said...

1983 gets my vote for best. It was my very first pack and the design is top notch.

1989 is my vote for the worst. I cringe every time I run across them in repack boxes, or lots or just about any time. They breed like roaches.

madding said...

Since 1986 was my first set of anything ever (35 cents a pop when I was 9 years old) I can't vote for it or against it. It's immune. My first real actual baseball card was a Robin Yount 1981 card that came out of a cereal box, but I didn't really understand what it was for a long time. 1983 probably has the best looking card design plus photo combination, so it would seem like the frontrunner. And 1989 is just sad, but still hopeful with the abundance of Rookies and Draft Picks (a new thing.)

I think I'll have to go for 1981 for best design (we're talking design here - some of the photos were pretty awful, but they have nothing to do with the design itself) and 1988 for the worst. I can't really say anything positive about 1988 Topps. Sorry, Kevin Seitzer.

jackplumstead said...

The best for me is 1980 or 1981 (yes for the little hats). The worst I have to agree is 1989.

Don said...

Best 1983, because it is so similar to the 1963 design. Both of those are simple, yet effective.

Worst: 1989. It just looks like Topps mailed it in that year. But if you look at all of the other sets that year it was a bad year for designs.

Collective Troll said...

My favorite is the '83 hands down for best design and best set of the 80's. That said, the '81, and '89 aren't too bad either. My least fav is the '86, followed by the '88 and '87.

Bo said...

1987 is my favorite - first I ever collected and all that. I have to admit I like 1986 too. All of these designs are pretty good, much better than the monstrosity that kicked off the 1990s.

gcrl said...

1988 is the worst, in my opinion. i like 1980, 1981 and 1983. the others are somewhere in between.

AdamE said...

From best to worst:


Jeremy Roe said...

For me, 1983 is the clear cut winner (that set also features three of my favorite rookie cards in Sandberg, Boggs, and Gwynn). I am partial to the 1986-87 sets because that is when I started collecting, but the 1986 design does take some getting used to.

I do not hate the 1989 set as much as some other commenters...at least the colors match the team unlike some other years. My least favorite is probably 1988 (despite that set featuring my favorite Andre Dawson card). Finally, why did Topps decide to take the player's position off of the front of the card in the last three years of the 80s? Weird.

RoofGod said...

I agree with Matt R 83 is the best (even though I own like next to none of the set) and 89 is the worst (even though I own like 2000 + of them and still dont have a full set!)

GOGOSOX60 said...

Love the 83's, and feel the 1985 set was a nice retro version of the 1965 set. And yes when I saw the new design for 1987 set in late 1986, I said this set has the look of classic Topps set. And as much as people hate the 1988 set, there are some great photos that would beat what's out there today.

I'd have a tough time picking a '90s set. I can't even remember the designs anymore.
I'd say this decade has had much nicer designed sets....

ouch...I still have 5 unopened 1986 Topps was boxes....why couldn't they be 1983???

OK, I did put a unopened 1980 wax box away!!!!

Amy said...

Special place in my heart for '87 -- first cards I remember. I like the '81 set because of the little hats. Not a fan of '82, '84, '88, '89. The rest I'm kind of indifferent to.

GCA said...

Another vote for 1983 as the best. 1989 isn't the worst design, it's just that everyone has pounds of them. I stopped collecting after the '84s but got two boxes of '89s just to get a taste again.
1987 is a 1962 wannabe to me. (Same could be said for 1986s as 1971s) The most generic is 1985.
1980's are special since that's where I came in.

David said...

I agree with stusigpi, any of the 80's designs would be a welcomed site compared to the present. Last year was a joke. (well in my opinion that is).

I think the best looking was 1980.
The worst either being 1981 or 82

Todd Uncommon said...

I actually tried to force myself to say why 1983 isn't the best of the lot, but it is. Among reasons others have already stated, here's a couple more reasons why:

- A card becomes that much more handsome with both a good main/action photo, and an entirely different inset / portrait / closeup photo. So many cards today lamely repeat the same photo on front and back, and even year-over-year in different sets. Topps really reacted to competition in 1983.

- The Topps logo is even cleverly integrated into the border design. It's not just hanging out there like the stamped it with a branding iron.

Honorable Mention:
1981 - Although much disliked, I have a soft spot for the colored hat silhouettes. Bonus points for the Pirates cards having a pill-box hat silhouette to match those of the era. That is an attention to detail that would be completely lost on today's cut-paste-repeat cookie cutter designs.

1980 also is a clean design.


1987 - It's the beginning of retro. Iconic to some, I remember at the time thinking that Topps was lazy for recycling 1962.

1982 - The card design looks like the cover to a Commodore 64 computer manual. Or maybe a six-grade math book.

1984 - Just as great as 1983! But this time, with squares!

1988 and 1989 - If competition is so great for inspiring card designs, how do you account for these total phone-it-in losers?

Anonymous said...

The 1980 design is the best. I have always liked that set. I suppose because it is the first year i began collecting as a 7 year old. As for the worst, I like them all. As someone posted I will take the worst set of the 80's over any of the crap they are putting out today.

Neil said...