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Monday, March 11, 2013

I come to bury Heritage, not to praise it

2013 Heritage came out last Wednesday or last Monday if there's a Wal-Mart near you. I'm not as active in the blogosphere as I once was but I'm pretty sure there's been a flurry of Heritage posts all over the place. A lot of people like it, a lot hate it. Some of the people who hate Heritage love it, some of the people who have master sets going back to 2001 loathe it. It's one of those sets.

I'd like to blame Heritage for getting me back into baseball cards but it's not really true. For one, I never really stopped collecting baseball cards, I just let my interests wander to football cards and Star Wars cards and Magic cards and comic books and actual books for a while in the late '90s. For another, 2001 Topps is what really got me back into baseball cards hard core or more specifically the 50 card reprint set that was inserted that year. Oh man, did I go crazy for those reprints. By the time Heritage showed up later in the year I already had a pile of green bordered cards big enough to choke a goat so I can't blame it on Heritage. I can blame it for the whole retro craze which sucked me (and a whole lot of other people) in back in the early aughts.

The first time I found 2001 Topps Heritage is a good analogy for my entire Heritage collecting experience. I was at a Target for some reason or another and checked the card aisle as I was wont to do. I found at least ten full boxes of 2001 Heritage sitting there. Just sitting there! I snagged maybe 15 packs or so in an attempt to not go completely broke figuring I could come back and get some later. I ripped 'em, loved 'em, came back the next day. There was not a single pack to be seen. Not even a box! Whoever cleaned out the store hoovered up the boxes even! I never again saw a single pack of 2001 Heritage in any retail establishment ever again. And in hobby shops? HAH! I could buy a real '52 high number card for what they wanted for unopened '01 wax. So that's my Heritage experience in a nutshell: I love it to death, but I will never ever be able to complete a set as long as I live.

Not to say I didn't try. I bought up every single pack of '02 Heritage I could find and came reasonably close to getting close to finishing it. I bought up a bunch of '01 and '03 commons at one point. I got a hobby box every year for a while I had most of the 2008 set too including black backs. Well, other than short prints. That's the thing about Heritage... bloody short prints. dozens and dozens of short prints all over the dang place. Also variations. Black backs, night cards, old logos, colored letters, different poses... and that's before they stopped being just plain 'ol short prints and became SSSSSSP mojo. At some point Heritage stopped being fun and started being a pain in the ass. Here's a timeline of disillusionment for me:

2001: Wow! This set is awesome! Aaaaaaaaaaand it's gone.
2002: A junkie's first hit of cardboard heroin. Nothing better than this.
2003: Don't like this design as much but the set is still a lot of fun.
2004: Bought a hobby box, loved the Double Header box toppers, not much else.
2005: Love this design as much as the '53 set, still bought a fraction of what I did in '02.
2006: This design sucked and it still sucks. Hey, what's that Ginter stuff...
2008: A new appreciation for the '59 design, go just as overboard as in '02. Complain bitterly about SSPs and then High Series but keep buying.

If you haven't figured it out yet the whole point of this post is a formal declaration that I am forsaking my quest to complete all the Heritage sets in favor of focusing on Vintage Topps, Ginter and  a few other sets. This is not a spur of the moment ragequit decision but has been snowballing for a while now. Competition from Ginter and the super short printing of variations were tough blows for my love of Heritage but the real beginning of the end was in 2009.

You see, I love the 1960 Topps design. It's just so colorful and weird and whacked out. I've always been fond of it ever since I got a small brick of about 30 old '60 Topps cards back in the '80s with all these obscure players with goofy portraits. Faye Throneberry, Bobby Malkmus, Gene Green, Ray Sadecki... I loved them all. Then the 2009 Heritage set finally came out with my beloved design. I had a Franklin stashed away to buy my Hobby box. I went into my card shop and... they were sold out. Actually there were four unopened boxes on the counter but those were being saved to sell as individual packs. The rest of the cases he had ordered had already been sold. Well crap. I bought 4 packs just to get a taste and resigned myself to come in the following week to pick up my box.

The following Monday I was laid off.

In March of 2009.

Remember that year?

You didn't want to get laid off that year. A lotta people did though.

So basically I finally got to a Heritage set with a design I really loved and surprise! I can't have it. Add to this the print run was drastically lower than previous years because everyone was scared to death about the economy so now I can't even get a hobby box for that Franklin I was going to use that day. It didn't help that by the time I had money again and Heritage packs were plentiful, the designs were ass.

2010: Terrible design and too many home run cards, The dice game was the only saving grace
2011: Dark and murky wood borders, now we have 14 different parallels/color variations
2012: The crash.

I was really looking forward to 2012 Heritage as 1963 Topps is my second favorite design from the '60s. It was the first really vintage set I actually tried to work on. In 1987 or so I scrounged through the '63 box of a local card shop snagging all the first series common cards because those were twenty five cents each. I really wanted to complete that set, but... I would start with the commons from Series 1. The problem was in fall of 2011 I got completely sick and goddamn tired of new baseball cards. you can check the archives if you want to see why but I was positively allergic to new cards. A really good Heritage set might have snapped me out of it though. It was released, I still snubbed new cards but I did get a look at some of the '12 Heritage cards and they were... ass. Complete ass. The photos were dark and had that ridiculous fuzz filter that worked for the '57 set but not here. The colors seemed off to me for some reason. The typical Heritage card stock didn't feel right. It was clunky and the gray stock clad with white backs looked awful. And the Variations. Those stupid Variations! Swapping the black and white inset photo with the color photo?? What were they thinking??? I hated it. I eventually bought one pack and it sucked. Complete total utter disappointment and that was the before the whole High Series Money Grab. I was pretty much done with the brand at this point. I had decided how I was going to move forward in my Heritage collection and went through with it.

Then 2013 Topps Heritage happened. What exactly happened? That's the story of tomorrow's post.


gcrl said...

i've told my 2001 topps heritage story before, but it sucks so bad i feel the need to repeat it. as soon as i found out that topps was printing a set of modern players on the 52 design, i pre-ordered a box from some online shop out east. like months before pre-ordered. so far in advance that buyer protection didn't apply. the card shop dude passed away and i was too small of a creditor to matter. never got my box. by the time i found out, boxes were crazy expensive and i was on the outside looking in. i did find some packs locally but my attempt at the set has fallen way short. i will go all in next year. then i'm done.

madding said...

I am still on the fence about 2013, but I am probably collecting it. What others were saying about the set, particularly about the card stock, sent red flags up all over the place. I found a blaster for cheap, though, and I realized today what the difference is.

They used the Allen & Ginter card stock. It's not the worst thing in the world, but it's just different now.

night owl said...

Just too much awesome in this post.

I basically gave up on Heritage after 2008. I didn't really stop buying it. I just stopped buying it to try to complete it (which means I bought a lot less of it).

I realized it's almost impossible to complete on my budget, so why let it drive me crazy. Topps isn't committed to me as a set-collector, so why should I be committed to them?


Oops, I think I have a post idea.

Ryan H said...

Great post. I remember buying some packs of '01 at 7-11 when I was in 11h grade. That was pretty much the end of the retro craze for me. I've bought a few packs of Heritage and Ginter over the years trying to acquire a taste for the stuff but I'd just rather buy the originals instead.

Captain Canuck said...

I want to hate Heritage... I really do. I..... just can't not buy packs of it. I'm weak.

Plus, I'm going to finish that 2003 set if it kills me. Soooooooo close now.

The Topps Baseball Fanatic said...

good story. i remember when 01 heritage came out when i was a sophomore in high school. i never had the chance to get any because i couldn't find it. i have every heritage set complete except for that one.

carlsonjok said...

I'm done with modern cards also. I made valiant attempts to finish both 2011 and 2012 Heritage, but the damn short prints caused me no end of grief. A couple months ago, I finally said "fudge it" and sold off all my Heritage sets. I still have an 800 count box of duplicates, but I will eventually get around to listing on EBay also.

Topps can KMA. Vintage is it for me.

Colbey Hopper said...

I've never been a big fan of Heritage. Wake me up when Heritage uses the 1990 design. That said I've already bought a few retail packs and I kinda like it. I hate myself.