Friday, August 20, 2021

Topps Flagship Binder revue

Have you heard the big news about how Topps is on their way out as the official baseball card manufacturer? Memorabilia giant Fanatics made a fat offer that MLB and MLBPA couldn't refuse, and so they'll be trying their hand at making trading cards with Topps benched. Crazy! I had prepared myself for the possibility of Panini winning the license away from Topps one of these years, but I didn't see this coming. Us collectors look to be in for a bumpy few years in the hobby. While the current state of Topps and their products is easy to crap on, it's hard to imagine this mysterious new card company starting from the ground up will fare any better. But I guess we'll all just have to hope for the best.

Me, I've already attempted rebranding myself as a "pre-covid collector", rarely messing with cards from the current decade, so this shake-up won't affect me as much as those of you who still look forward to putting together Topps sets and/or team sets every year. I'll keep on mostly collecting vintage and other stuff that connects me to my younger days. Other than a few active players I collect, my wantlist isn't too concerned with today's cards. But it'll still be weird to watch the hobby go through such a shift. (Or hey, maybe by then Fanatics will just buy Topps and everything will continue without much change.. we'll see.)

Anyways, here's a big post I've had sitting in my drafts for a while, and getting nostalgic over Topps makes it good enough timing as any to post it now.

Checking out the "Flagship Binder" label on my blog, looks like I've been neglecting this "1 page per set" project since 2018. But I've recently revived it, and thanks to some Sportlots orders earlier this year, I've gotten to the cusp of completion. (Well, I had planned the binder to trail off sometime in the "junk" era, but now with a pending finite cut-off for Topps flagship, I might go ahead and eventually stretch it to the end.)

I can't take credit for the concept, as collectors were doing it long before me (I think it was specifically Daniel that planted the idea in my head), but simply put, it involves putting together a page for each flagship Topps baseball set.

Let's crack open the binder!

1951 Topps doesn't really count. This page is like the prologue. I'm confident I'll go to the grave before filling a 12-pocket page with these game cards, but hey, I have a sheet that fits them so it's here. The Monte Irvin was purchased for $20 a few years back (still the going rate). Cliff Chambers is a recent pickup.. it was the cheapest '51 Topps on Sportlots so I snagged it knowing it'd be rough. If any more 51s fall into my lap, they'll be added to the page, but again, I don't expect to complete the page. (I do have a 3rd '51, but it's in my Jerry Coleman PC.)

I'm just 2 cards away from completing a page of 1952 Topps. A solid selection of cards, though lacking much starpower. If anyone has any to trade, I'm not picky about condition here.

1953 page is complete, though all 8 cards are comfortably down in the "fair" condition category and only Joe Nuxhall is a familiar name for me.

Vic Power and Bobby Shantz flank HOFer Hoyt Wilhelm (a top PC guy of mine; a dupe for me) in this sampling of 1954 Topps. 

1955 goes horizontal. Al Rosen is the biggest name here.

1956 Topps might be beloved by collectors, but never accumulated in my collection much. But hey, I've at least completed a page.

1957 Topps is still an active setbuild of mine, meaning these are all doubles for me (plus a triple). The iconic Elmer Valo bat-rack shot is an easy pick for center square from this bunch.

Frank Thomas Sr. anchors the 1958 Topps page.

I don't have a page for 1959 Topps right now. I pulled out all my '59s for a setbuild attempt a couple years ago, which I'm now on the verge of scrapping because I don't have any of the big cards in the set and unless the hobby sees a significant bubble burst soon, the high cost of the Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Gibson, etc makes this a tough one to even think about completing now.

Now that we're into the 60s, the HOFers are a little easier to come by. Not crazy about the 1960 Topps design, but this is a strong page.

My 1961 page suffers a bit of a dip after the big names of the 1960 page, but still solid.

I've got wood thanks to this page of 1962 Topps.

1963 has been the toughest of the 60s Topps sets for me to track down, but I've managed to round up 9 of them. The bottom row could be improved, but otherwise some decent starpower here.

1964 Topps is another long-running setbuild of mine, meaning these are dupes for me. Dan Pfister is here for the uniform, but the other cards feature good players.

Oh hey, I completed 1965 Topps a few years back-- my oldest completed set-- so these are highlights plucked out of my few duplicates. No HOFers, but still plenty of known names.

I'm not looking forward to getting anymore 1966 cards, because I'd have a tough time bumping out any of these 9 cards.

1967 is another strong showing of HOFers and near-HOFers.

Check out these burlap beauties. 1968 looking good.

A nice page of '69s. Curt Flood makes his 3rd page in a row.

I'm going after a run of all 70s Topps sets, so every page from this decade are made up of dupes. 1970 is right there with 1959 for me as a set I know I shouldn't chase (Nolan, Bench, Munson... oof), but I haven't called it quits yet.

I completed 1971 Topps (low-grade, for the most part), but after trading away most of my dupes, not a lot left for this page, but still not a bad sampling.

I'll have to get aggressive going after high-numbers if I'm ever to complete 1972 Topps, but maybe someday. I've got a decent amount of dupes (most thanks to a big card show pickup a couple years back), with a few highlights appearing here.

1973! My favorite set. Another one I've completed a few years back. This page might be a little repetitive (dudes in a batting stance pose, tight shots of Red Sox looking off to their right), but not bad.

1974's page is looking good. I'm close to finishing this set.. another year or two.

1975 Topps is a great set, another one I'm trying to finish off one of these days. Not much star power here among my dupes, but still glad to have a finished page for this project.

1976 is kind of a neglected set, but deserves respect. All solid names here.

My birth year set, gotta tip my cap to 1977 Topps.

1978 is another strong page. It'd be tough to bump out any of these.

1979 rocks it.

Another completed set for me. Good selection of 1980 Topps.

We're out of the "vintage" realm here in 1981. Probably gonna work on this set someday.

I've completed '82 Topps, and these are dupes for me. Not sure whom I'd bump out from these big names.

1983 Topps is another completed set for me, but not a lot of star-power in my dupes here. Still a good sampling. Great set.

1984 looking good. A couple Topps Traded cards snuck in here, though I should probably swap them out.

The Flagship Binder taps out for now at 1985 Topps. Not sure who I'd bump out from these big names.

So yeah, as I say, I'll most likely expand the binder.. finishing out pages for the 80s one of these days, and probably thru the mid 90s, eventually through current day Topps. Maybe I'll branch out for non-Topps sets, too. But for now, just need a couple more '52s and perhaps a few upgrades elsewhere, and I'm good.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, everybody.


  1. Looks good! I've contemplated doing something similar, at least with the sets older than I am. Good to know how it'd look if I ever did.

  2. It was fun to go through these. The '73's look really good together. Just a great looking set. I never cared for '60 but I'm starting to warm up to it - in the (rare) instances Topps got an interesting photo, the widescreen effect works well. I should go through some of those older sets and see where I might be able to help you out.

  3. I read about it this morning. Crazy! Topps not making sports cards is like....Huffy not making bikes anymore. I know, horrible comparison but, yeah. Looking forward to seeing what this new company has in store.

  4. '79 has the best looking page here.

  5. This is cool. Napkin Doon has a sampler album as well that I always admired. Hope you finish the run from 1986 onward!

  6. This is such a cool project. I'm sure I've commented before about how I might borrow this idea.

  7. What a fantastic idea, and well-executed!

  8. Great post, looking forward to the rest of the pages! I too am stunned that Topps may not be in the game anymore in a few years.