Featured cards: 1967 Topps #560, Jim Bunning; 2010 Topps Cards Your Mother Threw Out #CMT74, Jim Bunning & 2003 Topps All-Time Favorites #143, Jim Bunning
I didn’t intend to take over a week to get to the second half of this post, but I succumbed to my own little bout of laziness while on vacation this week. The difference between me and Topps, however, is that I’m not charging anyone for the privilege of watching my laziness in action.
It’s been 10 years since Topps’s lackluster efforts when reprinting cards for its 2001 Archives set. In the interim, the technology and software for the scanning and digital restoration of pictures has improved greatly and become much cheaper. You’d think that would mean better results from Topps when reprinting older issues. Sadly, not as much as you would expect.
The card on the left is the original 1967 Jim Bunning card and the one on the right is the version that Topps recreated for its 2010 Cards Your Mother Threw Out insert set. Amazingly, despite the advances in scanning and digital restoration technology in the nine years since the 2001 Archives release, Topps is still recreating the card from scratch rather than attempting a proper restoration job after scanning the original. The fonts are much closer, but still not right; the bottom legs of the “L”s are too long and the spacing on the horizontal lines in the “E” isn’t quite right. Furthermore, Topps is still recropping the photo — look at how the jersey off of Bunning’s left arm is now touching the border in the reprint. But the fonts aren’t the biggest sin in the reprint: that easily has to be the lack of a framing black line on the border itself. Wasn’t anybody in quality control comparing the final version alongside the original? Maybe they were too busy making sure that the modern Topps logo (which didn’t debut until 1982 and looks completely out of place on this card) was placed on the reprint, even though no one else was legally making Major League cards last year.
To be fair, maintaining continuity has never been a major concern for Topps, and their 2010 reprint of Bunning’s original 1967 card wasn’t the first time they screwed up a 1967-style Bunning card. Here we see his 2003 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites card. Unlike the Archives series, which was reprints of older cards, Topps created new cards using previously unused photos from the Topps archives placed inside card designs used over the past 50 years. Given that these cards were being created from scratch, I’ll forgive the inconsistency in the fonts. Unfortunately, this particular card contains a glaring error in the marriage of card design and picture. It’s a great shot of Bunning — one Topps had never used before. However, Topps made the decision to use the photo in its 1967 design — which predated Bunning’s uniform by three years. The overall effect is just wrong. Realistically, Topps should have used its 1971 design for this particular photo, although the 1970 design would have been (borderline) acceptable given the Phillies starting using that uniform during that season.
It makes one wonder whether anyone at Topps actually gives any thought to any of these issues when they start mining their past. Since I only catch the errors on Phillies issues, I’m left to assume that they are repeated with the same (in)consistency across the issues of all the other teams.