1971 marked a bit of a turning point for baseball cards; most any one interested enough in baseball cards to be reading an obscure baseball card blog already knows all that. The Munson card, etc., etc.
This then begged a certain question - where would Topps put the 'historically correct' cards in the Heritage version of the set? Clearly there would be a take on the Munson card; the Lowell Palmer / Pat Neshek card in 1970 / 2019 Heritage made that plain enough.
But for some time now, Topps has been adding the "value" that the Lottery Ticket Scratchers, err, "collectors" demand in their boxes of baseball cards by including a certain totally a-historical card in Heritage sets: the super short printed / photo variation "Action" cards.
Would the historical styled cards just be issued as deliberately super short printed cards? Or might they be just issued as part of the 100 card "short print" portion of the checklist, which no longer has any correlation to the issue sequence &/or basic quantity made of the historical sets, only some of which had exceptionally scarce cards usually referred to as "high numbers."
So....let's rip the pack.
First card, best card? Well, this was the first bit of baseball card I could see as I opened the pack. Given the current news in MLB, I thought it was pretty cool to see this particular card, first, sorta. And this was quite surprising to me, because although I own very few 1971 Topps Baseball cards, the relatively sparse info backs weren't ones that particularly made me think - yeah, I'm gonna buy some 2020 Heritage and read all those dark card backs.
And what's that I see down in the left corner? A fleck of white? My uber-valuable baseball card is already ruint, before I even get to take it to the bank. Thanks, Topps.
This particular card back is a bit of a classic effort by Topps - talk up something that can be seen in a picture of a baseball player, and then no way, no how, use such a picture on a baseball picture card that might match the text. Oh, well.
But let's move on to the card that was on the 'top' of the stack of baseball cards, i.e. the one facing right-side up:
This card creates an instant baseball question: how good will the White Sox be this year? This is what I want from a pack of baseball cards. I particularly like the back of this card:
I have pretty much already pulled this card in a previous pack of Topps Baseball cards, and that made me mad.
On the Cron card I don't quite understand the off-set placement of the facsimile signature; one of the historical-set-mimic-deliberate-errors this year features a poorly placed sig like this one, on the Yordan Alvarez Rookie Cup card. But there is no magic word 'error' in the official spot just above the player picture on the back of the card, so this card is worth essentially 0¢. But, this is the kind of card I was hoping to pull from this pack, and indeed, will be keeping in a binder page prison for all eternity, just to look at some contemporary players on a vintage design.
I will update the score methodology in the pack now - Pose 4, Action 2 (recall Fiers card).
That particular image of the card amuses me a little; mine is far more well centered but I could not get it to scan straight without the instant cupping of brand new Topps Baseball cards making for crooked scans. Finally I gave up and borrowed someone else's scan from eBay. But that particular copy certainly has more authentic vintage appearance than mine does, though none of my vintage cards have ever curled up and refused to lay flat on a scanner bed the way so many of my brand new baseball cards do lately.
I don't know much about Josh VanMeter, but the Reds are expected to possibly 'make some noise,' as they say, in the NL Central this year, so seeing their new baseball players is why I buy baseball cards. One intriguing little factoid about VanMeter I did just learn is this: he has exactly zero Bowman baseball cards already created. Must be a walk-on. Perhaps, future baseball cards will enlighten me. Pose 8, Action 5.
I am guessing Topps is having one of their mis-adventures with filters here, trying to give a vintage feel for how early 1970s Topps was able to handle cards photographed at night, or something. So perhaps a newer, better, stronger 'Mad Max' card will some day displace this one. I pulled one other NLCS card in this pack and it looks just like this one; I think on balance I would rather just have an un-processed image, whether that matches up to the vintage set or not. Because the image processing is rather obvious, and deliberate here.
But what I really like about this card is once again on the back:
No score update for that card; I pulled 5 cards of the 20 that were either Leaders, multi-Rookies, or PostSeason cards which aren't relative to the pose/action mix. The actual final was Pose 10, Action 5, Tattoos 6 — a bit of a Tattoo hot pack, this one.
And I did not pull any Inserts or Short Prints or Super Short Print "Action" cards - just 20 base cards - when was the last time you purchased a Topps package of some sort and found Zero inserts?
So that basic mix of cards is some pretty good news for me, and I will kind of collect some 2020 Topps Heritage. The basic news on the product remains the same: 400 base cards, 100 short prints. Which is something created by Topps changing to 100 card sheets in about 2015; having 100 short prints probably makes production quite a bit easier than 425 base + 75 sp.
But that makes for one heckuva expensive set of baseball cards, for this decidedly non-professional collector. So I already know I just don't have an option to attempt to collect this entire set, really, given how much it would cost to track down 100 short prints. I would say Heritage is perhaps a "mid-end" baseball card product, rather than a "low end" product which I normally collect due to cost. Though I have always liked 1971 Topps Baseball cards, the actual result of the creation of the 2020 Topps Heritage set finds me just, kind of complacent, I guess.
Ultimately, the repetitive nature of a large portion of the cards kind of helps me out - I don't really need page after page of the same card, over and over again, so I am not particularly disappointed that I can't actually collect this set. But at the same time, the amount of action cards sprinkled through the checklist - (the Munson card is indeed recreated, though I have yet to see who has the Topps Rookie Cup for a Catcher this year) - well, I will have something to look forward to when I casually add a pack of this to my grocery cart over the next year or so. And perhaps as I look to collect a little more carefully in my future, prioritizing cards based on how many binders of baseball cards I really want to own, the crazy nature of 'added value' and manufactured scarcity and the way so many of my fellow hobbyists really collect $$ signs, not baseball cards, well perhaps in Heritage now that works to my advantage. I can take what I need from a few nice memory making cards, and leave the rest. Which should probably work fine for the Psychedelic Tombstones next year, too, particularly as all the live baseball action will be corralled in a subset.
But I only have four years to save up for the Heritage set I really, really want...