Thursday, February 19, 2015

What's old is new again, relatively speaking.

My collecting pursuits boil down to two things: A prewar player collection and Toronto Blue Jays cards. Depending on my mood and how much loose change I can dig up in the couch, I will add cards that fit into one of these two groups in waves. The nice thing about collecting Toronto Blue Jays cards is that they are readily available and quite a bit cheaper than prewar stuff. The cool thing about prewar stuff though is, well, much if it is 100-years-old.

2006 Allen & Ginter
Though I do have original T205s and T206s in my collection, and have, at times, owned original Cracker Jacks, Turkey Reds and Old Judges, my bankroll couldn't support my habit if I was buying those cards every time I needed to scratch the collecting itch. Thankfully, Topps has been looking out for me. Bringing back these issues in an updated Topps-ified format featuring present-day Blue Jays is exactly the solution to the problem. Now, admittedly, they aren't all great, and in some cases, they've reused a brand to the point where the novelty has been lost, but honestly, some of these sets are absolutely awesome. The 2006 Allen & Ginter issue shown to the right, for example, awesome. I've never owned any original Allen & Ginter cards, but I do think the art on them is great. And I think Topps captured it quite well with this white background, and borderless image. I still need Bengie Molina from the '06 set to complete my team; I look forward to bindering that once it's 'in the books', so to speak.

2004 Cracker Jack
Another issue that was extremely well executed, in my opinion, is the 2004 Cracker Jack issue. It's one of my favourites. If you're not a fan of red, you probably won't appreciate these cards (or the originals), but to me, they just pop. That red hits you instantly, and yet, as you try to look at the photo on the card, it drops to the background nicely providing contrast to the text across the top and the player shown in the foreground. Topps did their homework on this set. If you have some time and are not familiar with 1914 and 1915 Cracker Jacks, you really should check them out. The images are great, the player selection is awesome and they will make short work of your bank account if that appeals to you ;) I've already started to binder this team set (despite still needing three), and they look great all side-by-side.

2005 Turkey Red
While this Topps lovefest continues, I may as well mention the 2005 Turkey Reds, too. If you've never seen/held an original Turkey Red, listen to me when I say these things are HUGE. They are on an incredibly thick cardboard stock (especially when compared to the paper-thin Cracker Jacks) and measure to almost 6" x 8". But the art on them is incredible. The Topps versions aren't as massive, but they nailed the artwork. The sunset and shadows in the Hinske example to the right are accurate. Many collectors believe the art in T3s are among the best ever committed to cardboard.

If memory serves, all this vintage stuff started with a Topps T206 issue in 2002. I have but a couple of these in my collection, but am very familiar with the original issue. Actually, in a perfect cross-section of my collecting habits, my prewar PC contains a "T206 buyback" issued in 2002. What I will say here, is that of all of the sets I've mentioned, I think 2002 T206 has the best Jays player representation for me. That's not to say the other sets are lacking, but 8 of the 10 Jays in the set are names most Jays fans will instantly recognize (some will also recognize Felipe Lopez). Of course, of this set I have two. The 2 (of 10) that most people won't recognize, but hey, nothing against Rich Thompson ;)

As I start to shrink my 1977-1994 Blue Jays want list, I am starting to look a little more closely at some of these Topps novelties. I realize that as some of these series experience success, Topps issues them in subsequent years, but I'm generally drawn to the earlier year versions. In time, I'll probably collect some of the later versions, but I prefer the older newer stuff more.

If anyone knows of any good vintage/heritage re-issues that Topps (or others have done), let me know. I am a big fan of these kinds of issues, and would love to dedicate a binder to these kind of Jays Team sets.

Thanks for reading,



  1. That '04 Cracker Jack is one of those sets I wish I could find a hobby box or two at a decent price. I have a few, and always thought they did a really nice job rendering the cards.

    1. I am trying *not* to be a set collector, but this set may eventually break me down. So far I haven't found a hobby box of this stuff for cheap either -- and that's probably a good thing ;)