30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Greatest Eight Debate

Now that 2018 Topps has been out for a month now and collectors have had time to soak it in, I figured I'd take the time to compare and rank it to all of the other Topps baseball card designs from years ending in eight.

Although I have a great appreciation for card backs and their designs, my rankings will be based purely on the front designs.

Obviously every collector has their own likes and dislikes, so I encourage you to share your rankings in the comment section below.

Okay... let's get it started.  I figured I go with worst to first...

#7:  1998 Topps

1988 Topps #1

This was kind of a surprise.  For years, I've always thought that 1988 Topps was my least favorite Topps design.  But after looking at all of these designs side by side, I've revised my opinion.

I have mentioned it on here before, but in case you missed it... I'm not a big fan of gold.  This card is filled with it.  Gold borders.  Gold foil.  Gold Topps logo.  It's boring.  It's drab.  It's my least favorite of the 8's.

With that being said, I've gotta admit that the backs are really nice.

#6:  1988 Topps

1988 Topps #361

I have never liked this design.  Simplicity is usually a positive trait for me when it comes to card designs, but on these it's their biggest flaw.  It's just so blah.  Plus this product haunts me everywhere I look.  It's one of the most overproduced card sets of all-time and I can't dig through a dime box or walk around a flea market without stumbling across at least one of these.

The other thing it has going against it is the fact that it was released the year after one of my favorite card designs of all-time: 1987 Topps.

#5:  1968 Topps

1968 Topps #20

We're now entering the zone of indifferent designs.  The 1968 Topps design is like chocolate ice cream.  I never crave it, but I don't think I've ever turned it down either.

The burlap sack borders are kind of boring, but they don't bother me as much as some collectors.  And I actually like the circle located in the lower right that houses the player's position and team.  Personally, it helps break up the border.

#4:  1978 Topps

1978 Topps #60

This design barely squeaked by the 1968 design, which means overall I consider it one of those middle of the pack designs in regards to these rankings.

The cursive team names add a little pizzazz to the design and the thin colored line complements the plain white borders.  And the little baseball containing the player's position is also a nice touch.

I just wish Topps had used the team colors for the lettering and the lines.

#3:  2018 Topps

2018 Topps #69
1992 Fleer Ultra #119

Despite the fact that I prefer my flagship Topps designs to have borders, I actually kind of like this design.  It definitely reminds of the 1992 Fleer Ultra baseball card design, but that's a good thing because I loved that product.  The water slide effect isn't really my style, but the giant team logo balances the design out.

I have no intention of going out and purchasing this product, but it mainly has to do with the lack of complete career statistics on the back and the fact that they've been replaced by Twitter and Instagram information.  That's cardfoolery!

#2:  1958 Topps

1958 Topps #240

I've got mixed emotions on 1958 Topps baseball.  It's definitely ranks higher than the 1968, 1978, 1988, 1998, and 2018 designs.  But I wouldn't call it one of my favorite designs either.  I feel like it's on the cusp of stardom... but it's not quite ready to hang with the big boys.

The thing that makes this card design stand out are the diecut players being superimposed on the brightly colored backgrounds, which seemed like a standard for the 50's.  I also really like the inclusion of the team logos, especially since most have evolved into something completely different over the past six decades.

#1:  2008 Topps

2008 Topps #320

When I returned to the hobby back in 2008, this was one of the first card designs I saw and it was love at first sight.  The way Topps spelled out the team names in the team colored balls is the identifying feature with this design and the reason I love it.  I'm not exactly sure why, but I feel like this set design belongs in a different era.  Maybe the late 60's or early 70's?

Although this doesn't impact my vote on The Greatest Eight Debate, this set is also memorable because Topps used it for their basketball and football products as well.  Plus it'll always be a reminder of when I started collecting again.

So that's how I'd rank the Topps flagship set designs for the years ending in eight.  What about you?

Based on the card fronts, how would you rank them?

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


  1. OK, this is pretty cool. 1968 is my #1, but as for the rest, I'll have to think about it.

    I'll write a post, maybe all the bloggers can rank them...that would be fun.

    1. This may help you out, although you'll have to do a little updating: http://nightowlcards.blogspot.com/2013/04/call-your-number.html

  2. The rankings are really solid and I agree with them all. I'm not at all familiar with 2008 (couldn't have picked it out of a lineup) but it's fun. Though while it was over produced, 1988 always holds a soft spot for me just because it was a fun time to collect. I really appreciate you doing this post. It's a great idea.

  3. It's funny, I see a lot of hate of 2008 around the web and I just don't get it. It's a distinct fun look (that Topps went with D-Backs instead of Diamondbacks avoided the only problem with the design) that I appreciate more and more amidst the increasing all-look-same card landscape.

    That said I think my favorite 8-designs are 1988 and 1978. Both are admittedly boring at first but they also have both grown on me tremendously. 1988 has a lot of wonderful stuff going on with the picture overlapping the team name (I was part of the twitter convo which inspired Night Owl's post). 1978 meanwhile has one of the last custom lettering jobs. Instead of having the team name written in a font each team name is custom lettered with real skill in taking up the same amount of space from A's to White Sox while keeping the letterforms looking like part of the same family.

  4. 2008 Topps is a great design - It was the beginning of a great run until 2015. I THINK 08 is the best design in the last 25 years

  5. Hmmm. I gotta go 58, 88, 78, 08, 18, 68.

    Just never been a fan of 68.

  6. Know do one based on card backs Fuji!

    In all seriousness nice idea. I really like '58 the most (because duh lol), but '88 has a special place in my collecting heart. Not because it's great or anything, but because I've picked up a bunch of HoFers from the '88 set for literal pennies/nickels/dimes on the dollar lol.

    Sidenote, if you do this next year with the 9's, 79 is at the very top for me.

  7. I gotta go with 78,08,18,88,58,68.

  8. I am not understanding the collector's love for the 1987 set-I guess for me it is the faux wood frame-I just can't take it. your list is pretty solid and the 1988 set is a pretty good one and classic.

  9. Mostly my takeaway from this is that years which end in 8 lead are not great for Topps designs. Mostly pretty bland stuff.

    I never don't crave chocolate ice cream.

  10. 2008 No. 1? Good lord. I think it might be the most butchered Topps flagship design ever. It could have been so good, but the weird placing of the Topps logo ruins the photos and kills the look of the card.

    Also 1988 beats 1987 -- which has now surpassed 1952 Topps as the most overrated Topps set ever -- every damn time. I realize I'm in the minority, but I could go the next 100 years without seeing another '87 tribute or card.

    My order (or consult the all-time Topps list I did a couple years ago and just plug in 2018): 1988, 1978, 2018, 1958, 1968, 2008, 1998.

    The eights really aren't great.

    1. This point about the placement of the Topps logo is legit. I still like the design but that little logo tab is atrocious.

  11. Crazy 8's!!!
    2008 Topps Opening Day is one of my all time favorite Topps' sets.

  12. I cant quite explain why I love the '68 set so much - it could be the nostalgia factor more than the design itself - but I'd have to say that's my favorite '8' set, with '58 a close second. '18 is nice, once I get a little more exposure to it I might rank it ahead of '08. I was as sick of seeing '88s around as you are - but I haven't looked at many in a while. I''d say '78 and '08 are in the middle, followed by '88. Totally agree with you about '98. Yuck!

  13. Aw, not the circus balloons....

    '58 edges out '78 - it's the most elegant design.
    '78 is still next cuz vintage still rules.
    Then I'm going 88 because it has the depth and layers that '58 has. Totally beats '87 because the letters in '87 are such a cartoonish font. Fun is fine, but '87 crosses the line into childish.
    Put '18 in next. Nice and colorful. Fancy digital disintegration notwithstanding.
    The rest are '68 (if all the burlap was the light fine texture, it would be better), 08, and then still '98. If you can't read the team, then it's no good.

    We could have the next Bat Around as ranking the decades as a whole (and then each one internally?)

  14. John - Added you to my blogroll. Looking forward to reading future posts.

    Night Owl - That post of yours is a great resource for comparing designs. You made an excellent point on the Topps logo, but I still put 2008 on top.

    Peter K. Steinberg - Thanks. 2008 means a lot to me, because it marked the return to collecting for me.

    Nick Vossbrink - Starting to realize 1988 receives a lot more love than I could ever imagine.

    ketchuman36 - Great minds think alike.

    John Bateman - I give the 2004 design a slight edge over the 2008 design, but other than that I agree that 2008 is one of the best Topps designs over the past 25 years.

    The Lost Collector - Nice to see '58 receive some love.

    Zippy Zappy - The 9's are gonna be tough. None of them really stand out for me... unless 2019 Topps turns out to be amazing. I'll think about doing a "back" design post. No promises though.

    sg488 - thanks for sharing your rankings

    B Man - I loved the faux wood frame, but this post proves that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

    Brett Alan - Wait until the 9's arrive next year. I think they're even more bland.

    xavier higgins - Good call. Those red borders were awesome on the Opening Day issue that year.

    Chris - Lots of variety in everyone's responses, but 1998 has yet to bet #1 on anyone's list.

    GCA - The circus balloon set? Lol. I like it. At least we agree on the '98 design. Love the idea of that blog bat around. Heck... I love the idea of any blog bat around.

  15. Here are the unofficial results of the Great 8 Debate:

    1st Place: 1958 - 40 points
    2nd Place (tie): 1978 - 39 points
    2nd Place (tie): 1988 - 39 points
    4th Place: 2008 - 38 points
    5th Place: 1968 - 28 points
    6th Place: 2018 - 27 points
    7th Place: 1998 - 6 points

    I gave every 1st place vote 7 points, 2nd place vote 6 points, etc and included my own rankings. It was a close race with 58 coming out on top. I was shock to see the 1988 design receive so much love. The 2008 design was hit or miss. Some people like it. Others can't stand it. But one thing we all agreed on was 1998 was the worst of the bunch. Thanks for all of the great responses guys!