Now, I am an unabashed fanboy of pretty much any vintage ripoff product out there. Topps Archives, Fleer Goudey, Topps Heritage, UD Vintage, T206, T205, Cracker Jack, UD Playball, Topps Fan Favorites, Turkey Red, Bowman Heritage, Allen & Ginter, I love it all. The only vintagy type set I have not liked is Upper Deck Origins, and the best way I can explain my reaction to that set is to compare it to Tim Burton's Mars Attacks. I was so looking foward to it that when it came out and it wasn't good I was crushed by disappointment. Horrible shiny green borders, all the good cards short printed, eighty dollar pack prices... Ug. Just painful. That was the set that officially turned me sour on Upper Deck.
I loved last years Bowman Heritage, and even I have to admit that set was a bit of a trainwreck. They tried way too hard to make the set look low-tech to match the original '49 set (I really need to scan my Kenny Rogers mini card with the big green booger hanging out his nose), The skip numbered short prints smacked of an intern sending the wrong order to the printers, and the complete fiasco with the 'white' parallels is inexplicable. To my dying day I will never understand why they just didn't go with the Name on Front variation for their parallel set. Even so, I liked the set overall. The mini cards are awesome, and unlike many, I like the little forced printer errors and blotches that try to mimic printing presses from long ago. Besides, Bowman Heritage has been an excellent value product for the past few years for collectors. A (usually) nice design, a completable set, tons of rookies, three hits a box and it's dirt cheap because everyone else hates it.
Even though I liked it, I'm weird and I am pretty sure no one else liked it that much. I was convinced the awfulness of the set killed the brand and there would be no 2007 Bowman Heritage. I was wrong! (warning - pdf file) '07 Bowman Heritage returns with the 1952 design and is set up much the same as last year's set. 300 card base set with 50 short prints, 5 of which are Mickey Mantle in various Bowman designs. Sadly the mini cards are gone, but they kept the anti-pack-searching 'rainbow' parallel. The prospects insert set is back, this time using the '54 Red Heart design. A good choice, it's a clean, classic look that was previously appropriated for an Upper Deck Vintage set if I'm not mistaken. The usual relics, autos and printing plates are there and you get two box toppers this time - a two card pack of ARod Home Run continuity cards (bleargh) and an oversized card copying the 50's Red Man Chewing Tobacco design (w00t!). The sheet gives a release date of October 2007, so we can expect it to hit shelves just before Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately the sell sheet concludes with this ominous statement:
Bowman Heritage baseball retires in style by honoring the popular 1952 Bowman design and promising 1 autograph and 2 relics per box!
Retires in style? I guess that's it then, the cutback to 17 sets for 2008 means BH gets the chop. That is assuming Topps isn't taking it for granted that they will be part of UpperFleerDeckCo by this time next year. Of course this begs the question: How in the name of Cthulhu can you have a Bowman Heritage tribute series and never get around to doing a 1953 set?? Seriously, isn't that supposed to be the most beautiful set of all time or something? They greenlit the '48 design which is painfully boring, the '49 design which is quaint yet fugly, the '54 design which is kind of meh (pastels just ain't my thing), and the '56 'what coulda been' design where the rookies looked nice and the vets were just OK. Topps chose these 4 designs over 1953 Bowman. Ouch. Maybe Topps has that design stashed in their back pocket for some reason. Maybe they figured the 1989 Bowman regular set copied it already so what's the point. Maybe, just maybe, Topps decided they are sick of the Bowman 'Black borders with Red/Green/Blue accents' motif and are going to have all future Bowman sets using the '53 design. Maybe I'll assume the latter and just enjoy the final edition of Bowman Heritage.