What Does A Long Time, Primarily Vintage Collector Think During A Topps Archive Hobby Box Break?
What happens when Topps releases a modern product that pays homage to a number of vintage Topps designs, with some interesting hits, at a reasonable price?
It tempts a dusty old vintage collector to break his first new box in a decade. Come along on the journey, and see what unfolds.
I have been collecting sports cards since 1987, when I cracked a pack of 1987 Topps and was quickly hooked on the hobby. Over the years, my collection has taken many forms, from singles to sets to autographs.
Most recently, you’re most likely to find me buying graded vintage cards, with a focus on Hall of Famers or future Hall of Famers. Or you may find me purchasing minor league complete sets to sub key cards for grading.
But what you wouldn’t find me doing was breaking modern packs or boxes. I still love opening packs, but focused on low-cost older wax with upside (or at least some fun). The last two wax boxes I opened were 1991 Conlon Collection and 1994 Score Series II.
An interesting fact about me: I have not bought a current (or even recent) year hobby box (or even a pack) of new cards since 2012, and even then it was vintage-themed products like Topps Heritage and Allen & Ginter.
Why not buy boxes? I felt that the reward wasn’t worth the price. Even then, the “gambler” mentality was creeping into the hobby. You bought boxes hoping for the big hit, and because of this, seldom make your money back on the purchase price.
In the decade since, especially since the start of the pandemic, this mentality has gone into overdrive. I love the hobby, but this was part of it that simply wasn’t for me.
But that is changing. I’m here to break a hobby box of 2022 Topps Archives.
I’ve had the great privilege to write many reviews of new baseball releases here at Cardlines. While I find all the products interesting in their own ways, I was never really tempted to jump in myself.
Until I wrote a review of Topps Archives. The celebration of a number of vintage Topps designs. The fun insert sets. Two on-card autographs per box. Rookie cards of today’s hottest young players on vintage feeling cards. A reasonable price point.
All of these made Topps Archives feel different to me. I found myself wanting to purchase and open a box. And to share it with all of you!
Purchasing the 2022 Topps Archives Hobby Box
I pre-ordered a box of 2022 Topps Archives from Blowout Cards. The box cost $120 plus $10 for shipping and handling for a total outlay of $130.
The box shipped promptly and arrived via UPS on October 12, 2022, the project release date.
A 2022 Topps Archives hobby box contains 24 packs of 8 cards each. My plan is to open them, and share the results in this article. We’ll talk about any hits, cool-looking cards, and really anything else that strikes me as worth sharing.
Once the box is open, what will I do with the cards?
PSA Submission – any of the better pulls that look to be in gradable condition will go into my “PSA Sub” pile and make their way into an upcoming submission.
eBay Store – I imagine a lot of the cards will be briefly enjoyed, but then posted on eBay to see if I can’t recoup some of the (modest) investment the box represented.
Raw keepers – There will probably be a few cards that I don’t want to grade, but don’t want to sell either. I reserve the right to hang onto these raw just to enjoy them. Most importantly, my goal is to enjoy the process and the classic designs…a nice hit will be a bonus!
Enough context…let’s get into it!
When I opened the box, I immediately loved that the pack design pays homage to the 1987 Topps wrapper design – that brings me back.
Also, beyond hits and the like, I was immediately struck by the fact that these cards are really gorgeous. The classic designs from the past, but with modern production techniques and qualities.
I know the non-rookie base cards here aren’t going to be super valuable. It immediately sprang to mind that a complete set of these in a binder that you can flip through would be just awesome. The former players sprinkled throughout are a real treat.
One thing that’s going to be a challenge is the Image, design, and background variations are going to be tricky for this inexperienced breaker to recognize.
The Postcard Box Topper
The one-per-hobby-box Postcard Box Topper I received was Jose Ramirez. This is interesting as I was just thinking that after having a 6 WAR season in his age 29 season is starting to creep into the “maybe” category for eventual Hall of Fame consideration. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s off to a good start.
46 Paul Molitor (’63), 59 Adrian Beltre (’63), 20 Ryan Vilade RC (’63), 128 Bryan Reynolds (’78), 152 Corbin Burnes (’78), 303 Javy Baez (Scoops), 217 Whitey Ford (’87), 241 Nolan Arenado (’87)
Our first pack had an insert! The Scoops aren’t tough pulls at 1:6, but it’s something!
I notice the 1963s are going to be tough from a condition standpoint. Colored borders can be killer.
Love seeing retired Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Whitey Ford here, and future HOFer Adrian Beltre.
57 Andrew Vaughn (’63), 82 Roansy Contreras RC (’63), 66 Jose Siri RC (’63), 110 Hyun-Jin Ryu (’78), 147 Robbie Ray (’78), 330 Nelson Cruz (MVP), 252 Bryce Harper (’87), 278 Don Drysdale (’87)
The 1961 MVP insert is kind of a neat throwback look. These aren’t rare at 1:6 packs, but they’re fun.
The Don Drysdale 1987 Topps is just cool looking.
70 Corey Seager (’63), 40 Austin Riley (’63), 159 Luis Frias (’78), 180 Tim Anderson (’78), 132 Josiah Gray (’78), PC-6 Nolan Arenado (Postcard Mini), 255 Matt Chapman (’87), 229 Alec Bohm (’87)
I’m not entirely sure 2022 Topps Archives insert seeded 1:8 packs is worth grading, but I like these mini postcards (and Arenado) so it’s a strong “maybe”.
77 Austin Meadows (’63), 73 Nolan Ryan (’63), 104 Ralph Kiner (’78), 190 Lucius Fox (’78), 184 Jake Meyers (’78), 310 Card 17-Game Win Streak (Scoops), 276 Larry Doby (’87), 245 Thurman Munson (’87)
Hard to pick a card of the pack here. The Ryan is really cool. If not for a tiny corner imperfection, it’d be in the grading pile. The Cardinals insert is cool, and Kiner is an underrated Hall of Famer. If you don’t know who Larry Doby is, please go read up. We’ll wait.
Doby dealt with much of the same vitriol that Jackie Robinson did, but gets far less recognition. Munson is of course a tragic story of an amazing career cut short.
42 Jackie Robinson (’63), 75 Andre Dawson (’63), 31 Nick Allen (’63), 112 Mike Yastrzemski (’78), 139 J.T. Realmunto, 308 Miguel Cabrera (Scoops), 272 Warren Spahn (’87), 248 Ron Santo (’87)
Speaking of Jackie Robinson, here he is. The Cabrera Scoops card celebrates his 500th home run.
Hall of Famers Dawson, Spahn, and Santo give this pack a cool retro vibe.
29 Manny Machado (’63), 14 Mike Schmidt (’63), 54 Heliot Ramos (’63), 143 Sean Murphy (’78), 199 Adalberto Mondesi (’78), 329 Vlad Guerrero Jr. (MVP), 218 Catfish Hunter (’87), 280 Jeremy Pena (’87)
The Vlad Guerrero Jr. 1961 Topps MVP is a nice-looking card. It’ll go into my potential PSA sub pile.
Nice to see a couple of Hall of Famers in this pack in Mike Schmidt and Catfish Hunter. I think Manny Machado is on the Hall of Fame path himself.
Witt gives us our first high-profile rookie card. It’d be a grading candidate but for a slight imperfection on one corner. Still a very cool card.
Ernie Banks and Rickey Henderson give us two Hall of Famers in the pack.
5 Tyler Gilbert (’63), 1 Shohei Ohtani (’63), 191 Emmanual Clase (’78), 195 Jonathan India (’78), 124 Luis Gil (’78), 315 Soler WS Home Run (Scoops), 251 Evan Longoria (’87), 299 Anthony Rizzo (’87)
Ohtani is just a base card, but it’s Ohtani and it looks to be in nice shape, so it’ll go in my potential sub pile. The Soler gives us another Scoops insert card.
21 Robin Yount (’63), 68 Jesus Aguilar (’63), 166 Mookie Betts (’78), 172 Alex Verdugo (’78), 102 Daulton Varsho (’78), 365 Spencer Torkelson (MLB Debut), 293 Steven Kwan (’87), 286 Yu Darvish (’87)
Very pleased to pull a 1992 Topps Major League Debut insert of Spencer Torkelson. It looks to be in great shape and will go into the sub-pile.
It hurts this Red Sox fans soul to get Mookie Betts and Alex Verdugo back-to-back. Verdugo has been decent, but as the only return of note for Betts in the Red Sox/Dodgers trade, ugh. That one still stings.
62 Clayton Kershaw (’63), 8 Franmil Reyes (’63), 140 Gerrit Cole (’78), 162 Nelson Cruz (’78), TPC-RD Rafael Devers (Mini Postcard Auto), 297 MJ Melendez (’87), 242 Zack Short (’87), 239 Greg Deichmann (’87)
Here’s one of the autos, and it’s a good one. The Mini Postcard Autograph of Rafael Devers is a really great pull for this Red Sox fan. I’ve enjoyed watching Devers since his days in the minor leagues, and hope he stays a Red Sox for a long time.
The card has the slightest corner abnormality, but I plan to grade it even though it’s likely an “8”.
74 Willson Contreras (’63), 43 David Peralta (’63), 138 Yogi Berra (’78), 135 Bob Feller (’78), 186 Eddie Murray (’78), 287 Akil Baddoo (’87), 225 Pete Alonso (’87), 258 Randy Arozarena (’87)
While the card of current slugger Pete Alonso is cool, I really like the Hall of Fame trio of Yogi Berra, Bob Feller, and Eddie Murray in this pack.
38 Andrew McCutchen (’63), 97 George Springer (’63), 105 Trevor Rogers, 114 Chris Bassitt (’78), 327 Buster Posey (’61 Topps MVP), 256 Joe Ryan (’87), 285 Ryan Mountcastle (’87), 246 Patrick Wilson (’87)
The Buster Posey is the headliner here. While I don’t expect these inserts to be big money cards as they’re not particularly difficult pulls, Posey is another sure thing Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible.
69 Cal Ripken Jr. (’63), 50 Rafael Devers (’63), 198 Tyler O’Niell (’78), 126 Derek Jeter (’78), 130 Roger Maris (’78), 360 Royce Lewis (’92 Topps MLB Debut), 227 Cody Bellinger (’87), 250 Aaron Judge (’87)
That’s a pretty darn good pack. Any Yankee fan would be delighted to get Maris, Jeter, and Judge in a single pack. Throw in Ripken, Devers, an insert, and more and it’s good stuff. I could see potentially subbing the Jeter and/or Judge.
17 Alex Bregman (’63), 85 Joey Votto (’63), 122 Otto Lopez (’78), 151 Jacob deGrom (’78), 320 Randy Arozarena (’61 MVP), 274 Ke’Bryan Hayes (’87), 257 Luis Garcia (’87), 292 Darby Swanson (’87)
87 Ryan McMahon (’63), 16 Josh Hader (’63), 138 Bryan De La Cruz (’78), 117 Marcus Semien (’78), 260 Romy Gonzalez (’87 Green Parallel 060/125), 298 Yordan Alvarez (’87), 232 Shane Bieber (’87), 294 Lucas Giolito (’87)
The Green Parallels are numbered out of 125. Gonzalez is far from a household name, so this one isn’t likely a huge hit. It’ll find its way to eBay where some Gonzalez or White Sox fan hopefully decides they need it for their collection.
While there are some very solid players here, this pack doesn’t contain much else of interest from a value perspective.
52 Miguel Cabrera (’63), 4 Josh Donaldson (’63), 65 Trent Grisham (’63), 157 Monte Irvin (’78), 137 MacKenzie Gore (’78), 347 Joe Ryan (2005 Topps Draft Picks Black Parallel), 214 Dylan Carlson (’87), 282 Willie Mays (’87)
The 2005 Topps Draft Picks Black Parallel of Joe Ryan is serial numbered 03/99. Ryan is an up-and-coming young starter with the Twins. I’m interested to see what this fetches.
With Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Monte Ivan in the pack – those cards both look very cool – and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera, this pack doesn’t hurt for star power.
86 Greg Maddux (’63), 95 Yadier Molina (’63), 192 Roberto Clemente (’78), 103 Duke Snider (’78), 374 Jackie Robinson (’92 Topps MLB Debut), 300 Wander Franco (’87), 228 Edward Cabrera (’87), 236 Lou Gehrig (’87)
This was one heck of a pack! Maddux, Clemente, Snider, Robinson, and Gehrig give us five Hall of Famers out of the eight cards. The Robinson is a cool 1992 Topps Major League Debut insert. Interestingly, it has a different picture than the sample image we saw from Topps.
The Wander Franco rookie card is a great base rookie card. He’s one of the most exciting young players in the game. Yadier Molina will be a Hall of Famer eventually, as well.
The Franco, Robinson, and Gehrig cards are all in my PSA sub pile. If not for a slight imperfection on one corner, the Clemente might have joined them.
18 Mark McGwire (’63), 51 Craig Biggio (’63), 187 Richie Ashburn (’78), 131 Spencer Torkelson (’78), 116 Royce Lewis (’78), PC-1 Mike Trout (Mini Postcard), 213 Chipper Jones (’87), 254 Willie McCovey (’87),
The Spencer Torkelson is the big pull here, another nice base rookie card. This one isn’t quite gradable, but it’s a nice card regardless. The Trout Mini Postcard is going into the grading pile. Is it worth grading a mid-career low-level insert of Trout? Maybe, maybe not…but it’s a nice looking card so I will likely give it a go.
The McGwire card reminded me of the 1998 home run chase. I know that year and era is now tainted by steroids, but that year really did bring baseball back. ‘
If you were making a list of underrated Hall of Famers, Biggio, Ashburn, McCovey, and even Jones would likely make the list.
28 Mitch Haniger (’63), 94 Jed Lowrie (’63), 44 Giancarlo Stanton (’63), 179 Wade Boggs (’78), 127 Alex Krilloff (’78), 165 Jose Altuve (’78), 201 Nick Lodolo (’87), 265 Bryce Elder (’87)
Wade Boggs was a favorite of mine, growing up a Red Sox fan in the 1980’s. This one I’ll keep raw and just enjoy. These really are cool cards, even if they’re not super valuable.
Stanton and Altuve are a couple more stars here.
61 Hoy Park (’63), 47 Matt Manning (’63), 123 Paul Goldschmidt (’78), 177 John Smoltz (’78), PC-11 Jose Ramirez (Mini Postcard), 203 Jake McCarthy (’87), 202 Jackson Kowar (’87), 275 Max Kepler (’87)
The Ramirez is the mini version of the box topper postcard. Goldschmidt might be the NL MVP this year. Smoltz, one of the Braves big three starters, is a Hall of Famer and now a broadcaster.
19 Matt Olson (’63), 45 Rollie Fingers (’63), 196 Ken Griffey Jr. (’78), 121 Ozzie Smith (’78), 197 Jeff Bagwell (’78), 72FF-EB Eddie Bressoud (’72 Topps Fan Favorites Autograph), 233 Adam Frazier (’87), 277 Bill Mazeroski (’87)
The good news: the second autograph hit was also a Red Sox! The less great news: despite considering myself a student of the game, I can’t say I’m familiar with Bressoud*. Still, the 1972 Fan Favorites Autograph is an interesting pull. Kind of a “deep cut” from the checklist.
With Fingers, Griffey Jr., Smith, Bagwell, and Mazeroski we have a nice representation of Hall of Famers here.
The Bressoud will go in the grading pile. The Griffey might have, except for the imperfections that seem to plague this release.
* – Bressoud played 12 years in the majors and was an All-Star in 1964.
88 Jarren Duran (’63), 6 Whit Merrifield (’63), 36 Jon Gray (’63), 158 Brandon Lowe (’78), 120 Fernando Tatis Jr. (’78), 380 Hank Aaron (’92 MLB Debut), 279 Mariano Rivera (’87), 266 Billy Williams (’87)
Mariano Rivera is the best closer in history. Billy Williams is an underrated Hall of Famer. And oh man, Jarren Duran. He’s the current Red Sox prospect who’s breaking my heart by not finding his way in the majors.
25 Alan Trammell (’63), 100 Juan Soto (’63), 53 Mike Zunino (’630, 153 Hunter Greene (’78), 148 LaMonte Wade Jr. (’78), 338 Josh Lowe (2005 Topps Draft Picks), 204 Lou Brock (’87), 223 Jack Morris (’87)
The Lowe insert is a minor hit, although I’m sure not super valuable. It’ll probably head to eBay. Greene has an electric arm. Soto is one of the most exciting young players in the game and has gone from the basement in Washington to the playoffs in San Diego.
Alan Trammell and Jack Morris are two Detroit Tigers Hall of Famers. Brock is a Cardinals great and Hall of Famer.
78 David Ortiz (’63), 76 Keith Hernandez (’63), 34 Reggie Jackson (’63), 141 Kyle Schwarber (’78), 164 Nick Madrigal (’78), 268 Julio Urias (’87), 244 Luis Robert (’87), 221 TJ Friedl (’87)
Urias went 17-7 in 2022 with a 2.16 ERA. That’s a heck of a season for a 25 year old. David Ortiz was a 2022 Hall of Fame inductee, so it’s great to see him included. Mr. October gives us another Hall of Famer.
This Red Sox fan REALLY wishes the Red Sox had hung onto Schwarber after he helped lead them deep into the playoffs in 2021.
The in-pack collation of these is very consistent. First the 1963 design, then the 1978, then the 1987. That is true in every pack. There’s 2-3 of each, with any hit in the pack mixed in as well. I assume this is since all the designs were printed separately and then combined into packs.
Anyone who tells you all cards come out of packs as PSA 10s or even PSA 9s hasn’t opened a pack of these. They are generally in good shape, but a lot of the cards have just the tiniest hint of a corner “thing” that I think would keep them from grading out a 9 or 10.
It’s probably a good thing, or else I’d end up grading far too many base cards just because they look cool.
Final count of 2022 Topps Archive hits
- Mini Postcard Autograph Rafael Devers
- 1972 Topps Fan Favorites Autograph Eddie Bressoud
- 1955 Topps Scoops: 4
- 1961 Topps MVP: 4
- 1992 Topps Major League Debut: 4
- Mini Postcard: 3
- 2005 Topps Draft Picks: 1
- Green Parallel /125: 1
- 2005 Topps Draft Picks Black Parallel /99: 1
- Postcard Box Topper: 1
I didn’t pull any variations, at least none I can identify. Hopefully I didn’t miss any while I was going through the cards.
What I will do with the cards?
A dozen of these cards (including both autographs) found their way to my PSA submission pile.
8 Atlanta Braves were mailed to a Braves fan friend.
2 cards given to my son (Alex Verdugo, Jackie Robinson base).
I’ll hang onto a few singles just because I like the look of them, such as the Wade Boggs.
Most of the rest…stars, rookies, and inserts that aren’t quite PSA sub quality (and some team lots) will go to eBay. If and when they sell, I’ll post an update to talk about how much I recouped.
Final thoughts on breaking a 2022 Topps Archives Hobby Box
So, after over a decade not cracking a current-year box, how did this one go? Overall, the experience was good. The Devers auto is a cool pull, and the design on these are downright beautiful.
Did the box provide good value? That’s a bit more questionable. I have listed some of the cards on eBay, which will provide a small payback on the investment, but in pure dollars and sense I doubt this box was a break even.
That being said, thanks to the really beautiful cards, the cool retro designs, the mix of modern and retired players, and the hits that were included, I had a blast opening the box, enjoying the cards, and sharing them with you. I hope you enjoyed coming along for the journey.