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Friday, February 10, 2012

Gotta get this off my chest

I have a routine I follow each morning I manage to wake up early enough. First: go back to sleep. Assuming I don't repeat step one too many times, I then do the whole bathroom ritual, get dressed, grab some breakfast and check out my morning comics. If there's time left I'll check the ever-increasingly FUBARed blogroll and maybe even sneak in a quick post to the blog. This morning I had enough time to check out a couple blog posts. Chris over at Stale Gum had a new one up and his stuff is always Must Read Blogging.

So I read this post from Chris. That led me over here, to a blog I've never heard of before. Why don't you people tell me these things? Chris gets his motion that "2012 Topps Sucks" seconded in that post. I have purposely avoided 2012 products in the blog so far this year by choice. I have challenged myself not to rip a bunch of new wax this year just to see if I can do it, and blogging about the stuff 24-7 will not help me meet that goal. It's not you Topps, it's me. We just can't be together right now until I work out some issues. For the record, I think 2012 Topps isn't too bad a set. The design is a little boring but distinctive and acceptable. The backs are well done. The photos are neither as amazing nor as crappy as some people say they are. Not crazy about the inserts. They remind me of a rehash of the 2001 Topps insert lines designed by Panini. They're not terrible, and the '87 minis look fun, overall I just don't care for them all that much. Maybe that will change once I get one or two in hand as I've been informed that there are some singles heading my way. Some bloggers I trust like it, so I'm ok with the set. While I don't think the set is the Worst. Possible. Thing! for my own sanity and personal financial health, I am still abstaining from Topps this year. Again, Topps, It's not you, it's me.

Up until today I was not even going to post an image of a Topps card. Well not an actual card, at least. I gave myself a loophole that I could draw a facsimile of a 2012 card in case of emergency, such as my depiction of Nutzy the SuperShortPrinted Squirrel. Actually a link in Cee's post referencing the squirrel led to this gigantic mess you're about to read. A link to Keith Olbermann's MLB blog detailing Topps' first Box opening party. It's a pretty good read and you get to see Keith showing off his T206 Wagner. It's when he showed a sneak preview of Topps Heritage that things went south. I've been dreading the Heritage release ever since I vowed not to buy wax this year. I've bought Heritage obsessively ever since 2001, and this year's design is based on one of my favorite sets, 1963 Topps. This stuff will hit right when Spring training gets into full swing and it was gonna be damn hard not to break down and start ripping wax. Not anymore. I saw something that killed my interest. I saw this uncut sheet of 2012 Heritage:




Just seeing that sell sheet threw me into a pit of despair. Seriously, I'm depressed now. To get a idea of how I was feeling watch this video:



Just replace each instance of 'Capitalist' with 'Collector' and 'Broadcast/Show' with 'Blog' and that was my reaction almost verbatim.

Ok, so what the hell. Dayf's blown a gasket again. Gone completely unglued. His increasingly pony-addled brain is now randomly raging at Topps for no good reason. Why on earth would looking at a rather attractive uncut sheet of cards make me flip? 1963 Topps is one of my favorite designs ever too, why would it trigger another episode that will surely be mocked by all reasonable souls? This is why:



That's an original uncut 1963 Topps sheet from a Robert Edwards auction. Note the alignment of the cards. Each alternate row is flipped so the colored bottom border touches. Topps didn't do that for the 2012 sheet. All the cards are aligned to be facing up. Not only that, they have multiple colors in each row instead of doing all red, blue, green or yellow in the same row. Yes, that is why I am frustrated.

Yes, it sounds ridiculous. To get angry over the alignment of an uncut sheet? That's kinda... stupid, no? I mean, there's authentic and then there's just being nitpicky, right? No one's ever going to see an uncut sheet. No one would have seen this one if Olbermann hadn't been at that first box opening shindig. So why get upset? The cards actually look pretty decent. Lots of bright colors and lord knows I like bright colors. The pictures are kind of similar to the original '63s. I prefer the extreme close up shots of the vintage, but the 21st century version has far more hats, which balances things out. It's a good looking set, and Heritage is usually done very well, so why am I irked by the alignment of cards on the sell sheet? This is why:



There is a reason the cards are aligned that way on the '63 sheet. If the cards are cut just slightly off, the border color stays consistent. There's no tiny strip of color on top or small swatch of white on the bottom if the card is slightly miscut. If the card is off slightly side to side, you don't have a two-tone bottom border. Using the examples above, Chuck Cottier may have a tiny sliver of his neighbor's photo on the side of his card, but the bottom border is all yellow. Don Landrum's top border is grazing the edge of the card but the bottom edge doesn't reference a band headed by Jack White. This is the same way they printed 1953 and 1954 Topps to prevent funky border issues and it worked pretty well. Randomly aligning different colors and not taking advantage of the full bleed on the bottom border is just asking for trouble with miscut cards.

But printing technology has advanced so much in 50 years! They don't have to worry about miscutting cards in this day and age! All I can say to that is they BETTER not have any issues with miscut cards in 2012 Heritage, because if they do it's going to stick out like a sore thumb. They sure did have some problems with miscut cards in Topps206. I hope it doesn't happen again, because they left themselves no wiggle room. Yeah, the printing and cutting technology is better, but a simple realignment of the cards gives them that little bit of insurance in case in case everything goes a little wacky in the cutting department.

I know this entire post makes me look like the baseball card version of Jack Nicholson washing his hands 47 times an hour in As Good As It Gets, but it's just bad process. Aligning the page in the '63 style would have cost absolutely nothing extra and could have saved a whole lot of potential quality issues with the product. And it didn't even take a genius to figure it out, it would just take someone who was actually familiar with the history of the original set to copy the idea. If the new photo is actually how the uncut sheets are aligned, then I'll be very interested to see some of the inevitable Heritage ripping posts upcoming in the card blogging community for any weirdly cut cards with little slivers of color where they shouldn't be.

Yes. This complaint is excessive and probably needless and makes me look like a snotty baseball card hipster who hates everything new because it's too mainstream. Fine, I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam. I just think that in a Heritage product celebrating the days of yore, it might be helpful to actually understand how it was done in the olden days when designing the product. They might be cutting these suckers precisely with GPS-guided lasers mounted on the moon to a tolerance of 1 nanometer and each and every card produced could end up absolutely perfect thus making me, once again, look like an idiot. That's fine, I've been wrong so often I take it as a point of pride now. Remember the Great Chipper Ruth Cockup of Aught-Nine? Yeah. I did that. Then again, just because your ship is unsinkable, it doesn't mean that it's a good idea to not bring enough lifeboats on your maiden journey. If you're gonna create a retro-styled set celebrating your Heritage, at least have one freaking person on the design staff, paid or unpaid who actually knows the history of the product and can use that knowledge to improve the new release. Good luck with the cutting, Topps, I'll be watching with popcorn in hand once the packs start-a-ripping.

8 comments:

Jim from Downingtown said...

Well said, Popeye!

Slangon said...

I'm with you on the fact that it's ridiculous that they wouldn't set up the sheet like the original. I work as a graphic designer and although what I do doesn't involve a whole bunch of professional printing like that, it doesn't make sense to me. As you point out, printing technology has come a long way from 1963, but why not cover your ass a little.

Just playing devils advocate, but I wouldn't put it past Topps to have printed a special full sheet with all the cards facing the right way just for promotional purposes. Either that or Keith Olbermann is a dirty liar.

dayf said...

Honestly I'm surprised they aren't selling special uncut sheets through the Topps Vault or eBay or something. someone out there would buy them.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed reading this well written post. In anticipation of the 2012 Topps Heritage issue, I recently reviewed the 1963 Topps set on my blog, Grubby Glove. Here is the link.

http://grubbyglove.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/baseball-card-sets-1963-topps/

I'm anxious to see these cards and hope they come out ok. Your insight was very helpful and I will keep these comments in mind when I open my packs next month. Regards from San Francisco.

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Hackenbush said...

Since you chose the Don Landrum (Ron Santo) card, I was wondering if Topps will have an error card like that in the new set.

deal said...

nice observation. which gets me to thinking. I get obsessive about the backs running the opposite direction they ran originally.


since print technology has gotten so better, lets see A 2013 topps design that has the full color borders - similar to 1963 or 1975.

Lonestarr said...

That. Was. Epic.