Thursday, October 26, 2023

The Hidden Parallels of 1987 Topps

Back in the summer of 2022, I made a bunch of 1991 Fleer "white border" mods. This past summer I was back at harnessing UV rays on cardboard, but this time I turned my attention to the big dawg of the hobby that is 1987 Topps.

While '87 Topps was a bit trickier to work with than '91 Fleer, gotta say I saw some neat results. The tan woodgrain burns down to a mellower gray, with hues of red and blue often coming out. Variances in the design, original ink levels, and bleaching duration can all contribute to how a card ends up looking, resulting in many subtle differences, or revealing several "hidden parallels" (if you wanna get whimsical about it).

This photo gives you an idea of the range we're talking about, with a regular Bo for scale. The Nolan is about as blue as I've gotten any '87, while the Joyner is probably the most red. Drawing on junk is something I've been doing a lot lately as part of my 2023 cardart exploits, so you might assume I manually colored in the borders somehow with ink or paint or something, but nope-- it's a case of solar-powered addition by subtraction.

I had an extra McGriff "Topps rookie" from the Traded set to work with, and eventually ended up with a cool unofficial variation for my PC-- pairing "gold" (unaltered on the left) & "silver".. sort of. Turns out the regular flagship cards on dark stock are easier to work with than white paper stock versions-- I'm talking about Traded, OPC, and tiffany-- which seem to hold onto their color more.

I thought about coming up with cute parallel names... "Birchwood Edition", "Mahogany", "Smoked Wood", "Rosewood", etc... but think I'm ultimately just sticking with bleached border mods.

It's hard to keep the photo unaffected, as the right side of this pink Will Clark shows.

I had been on the fence on whether or not I should put my "cardartist stamp/signature" thing on the backs or leave them untouched. I'm now leaning towards stamping them going forward (as well as the 1991 Fleer mods, which up to now I haven't stamped), if for no other reason than to prevent confusion down the road, as another cardart guy was recently talking to me about. You guys know I'm just here for finding fun in the hobby, not trying to trick or confuse anyone!

Anyways, here are a few more...

I've started adding a few of these to my eBay store, still working on getting a cardart side hustle off the ground by the end of the year. Always happy to talk trades, too.

But one card I've been hoarding for myself so far...

I've ended up with a nice rainbow of the classic Bo Jackson Future Stars card. I usually stick to cheaper cards to deface-- I like to think of them as "quarterbox canvases"-- but am willing to pony up a bit more for this one. Here we have the base, tiffany, (he wasn't in OPC that year), and then some mods of varying hue. 

Not a dupe among them! LOL. The plan was to make some extras to sell/trade, but dang it, I just love 'em and so far they've been different enough that I've been compelled to hang onto them all. I'm tempted to eventually make one more to "complete a page."

In addition to 1987 Topps, I messed around with '86 over the summer a little as well...

Just playing with the big yellow PADRES up top on these. Might be hard to tell on the Flannery, but it's kinda speckled.

1988 Topps gets into the bleach-away-yellow action with this "white stripe" Don Mattingly. A simple yet satisfying (unofficial) variation of a classic baseball card.

Of course I'm still doing some border art here and there, too.

Always loved Ron Gant's '88 Topps Traded card so it's a fun one to work on.

And I've got more new ideas brewing. Stay tuned.


  1. Im interested in any Flannery cards you do. I have some cards for you.

  2. Love the 87s. Something about the variance makes the wood seem more real. And the lighter look is very nice as well. Agreed that the stamp on the back is a wise touch, especially since selling these means you can't trust the buyers the same way that you can when sending them to trusted fellow bloggers.

  3. I like how those '87s came out!

  4. Those '87s do look great. I'm biased of course but I think the colors work best on the Mattingly card.

    Personally I am not a fan of the alternating color look in card design, like in 1960 Topps. I find it harder to read the name ,maybe that's just me. The all-white name on the 86's is cool though. Only the Yankees and White Sox had white names in the original set. (I imagine you could color in some of those for more parallels.)

    If you need any more "raw material" for these projects, I have tons of these cards that could use a new home!

  5. Great stuff. I am in favor of the stamps on the back!

  6. Those 87's are really fun. I never would've thought that those borders would lend themselves to that kind of variety. Not surprisingly, the Bo rainbow is my favorite. And you definitely need to make one more for a full pages worth.

  7. You and the Sun have some real skill!