Cards 1-10 Writers
The first ten cards in the set go to authors. The ones I've seen all have the black bar at the bottom and the same 'book and inkwell' logo. The author's name is in white, the type of writer (poet, nevelist, etc) in red where the position normally goes and instead of a team in yellow there is the author's most famous work.
The backs are more or less the same as the originals just without statistics. The Quiz cartoon is the same on all the cards but there are different questions. This is my favorite Topps design and it's kind of cool that writers are featured.
Cards 11-20 Explorers
Famous explorers get the next ten cards in the '55 Topps design. Generally, all cards in a subset have the exact same color scheme, so the explorers get a yellow background and a blue bar on the bottom. The explorer's name and the exploration they are best known for is at the bottom. There's a compass point in place of the logo at the upper left. Mariners fans who are also history buffs can probably sneak these cards into their team collection.
The backs are straightforward again with biographical info a paragraph about the explorer and a cartoon true/false quiz featuring a couple of surprised astronomers. Each card back with a cartoon has one that is used for all ten cards.
Cards 21-30 Military
War does not make one great. It might get you a trading card though. The Generals and Admirals get the 1956 design which is good for showing cool war scenes in the background. The name is in the red bar and the rank and war he was associated with is underneath in the yellow bar. Topps should have swapped this design with the explorers, the army and navy insignias would have made good logos.
Every single back has this goofy cartoon of a narcissistic general. While it's exactly like the original '56 design, unfortunately is squeezes the bio text a bit.
Cards 31-40 Revolutionary War
The '62 design works really well for Revolutionary war heroes!
Much of the pack is filled up with the odd gigantic George Washington meets '60s era frat boy, but there's still plenty of room for the text. The factoid under the toon is different for each card.
Cards 41-50 Inventors
Just like the wood worked with Revolutionary War heroes, the bright futuristic '63 design seems appropriate for the inventors. instead of a second photo of the inventor, the invention itself is shown in the circle at the bottom.
Plenty of room for text, but from now on the cartoon is the same for all the subset cards. For some reason the caption talks about Edison, while Einstein looks at a little test tube nuke.
Cards 51-60 Civil Rights
1968 Topps is a nice set and all, but it's an odd choice since that was the year Martin Luther King was assassinated. The close up burlap border design is from the first series of '68 Topps.
There's loads of room for the paragraph on the back of these cards. The cartoon and trivia question is the same on every card. That answer, 1957, would have been a good choice of design for this subset as well.
Cards 61-70 Artists
Odd that the artists get one of the more subdued designs of the '70s. Underneath the artists' name is one of their most famous works. The 'position' on the bottom right shows the type of art and has a representative logo much like the original set.
Big ol' Wall of Text plus the same cartoon on every card.
Cards 71-80 Statesmen
The '74 set is a neat choice for this subset as the banners in the corners display the home state and political party of the politician. For purposes of this set 'statesman' means important political figure who never got elected president.
I tried fice times to scan this card but it kept coming out crooked. Damn politicians. The back design is interesting as the person's signature can be seen in the top right and there are three factoids to go along with the bio paragraph. The cartoon featuring LBJ reciting the Gettysburg Address to rousing applause is odd, to say the least.
Cards 81-90 Entertainers
Of all the design choices, this was the worst. The appeal of the '75 set is the many different border colors used. In this set, they are all purple and pink.Each of the subjects plays for the team called "Entertainers" and their position is their chosen field. Athletes are considered entertainers, so here's where you'll find the Broadway Joe card.
See what I mean about this being a bad choice? This is probably the hardest to read back I've ever seen. There's a trivia question underneath the cartoon of a crooner, but with green text on red halftone dots it is utterly unreadable. Oh well. All the rest of the cards look good at least.
Cards 91-100 Industrialists
Of the four
Tons o' Text and a big flying eagle under the Topps logo. My only regret is that this card didn't have any place to put a Houston Colt .45s logo.
Cards 101-125 EventsAfter the individual subjects there are 25 cards featuring monumental events from American history. Some of the pictures like this one are very interesting, others are merely a map of Hawaii or a copy of the Constitution. The simple '61 design works well with these subjects and an enterprising troublemaker can easily MSPaint new event cards.
Only the smilin' pilgrim and bald patriot get a cartoon on these cards, but the extra quote/factoid above the paragraph is nice. This is the end of the base cards, the rest of the set are short prints.
Cards 126-150 2008 Election
I like that they made the short prints all election cards and here's why: You can build the short set of 1-125 and not worry about the short prints because they don't really fit in with the rest of the set anyway. If you want to collect the SPs (and at 1:4 packs, it won't be easy) you can do so, but if not it's no big deal. There's an entire set of Obama cards out there if you need a Barack fix. The cards look really good though.
The back has the same photo from the front and not a whole lot more. There are several insert sets (and some of them are just plain ugly) but I'll show off the two most common. Mainly because those are the only ones I have.
Cards AP1-AP44 Presidents
You knew they'd fit in '52 Topps in here somewhere, right? The cards look great, but honestly I'm pretty sick of both the '52 design and presidents right now. An Obama card would be sweet, but they're already pretty pricey on eBay.
Pretty straightforward back. Eh, it's '52 Topps. These cards are inserted in every sixth pack.
The chrome cards are only of the individual subjects and not the events or short prints. They look really good though and I'm tempted to find a big lot of 'em on eBay from a case breaker and build a set. They are found in every other hobby pack so they aren't that hard to get.
The backs are identical to the base cards, just with the serial number to 1776. Refractors are extremely tough and are only found 1:53 packs. They are numbered to 76 copies so if you want a set of those you'll be hunting for a while.
The rest of the inserts:
American Legends 1:119, numbered to 199
American Icons 1:487, numbered to 99
American Celebrities 1:12 (this set looks like bootleg Americana)
There's also various relics, autos and letter patch cards of each president. I might do a post on those later.
Well, that's the set. Looks pretty good! There are retail boxes out there so it's only amatter of time before you start seeing these in your local megamart. Hobby packs are $4+ a pack, I'm not sure if they will be $3 or $4 in retail. I wish this would have come out three weeks ago, it would have given me somethign to do while waiting for the '09 sets to come out.