Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Complete Set Chronicles: 2011 Topps Lineage

In many ways, Topps Lineage is a microcosm of why Topps is still around while the other major card manufacturers have all fallen by the wayside.  Topps has history on their side.  The Lineage set from 2011 focuses the attention away from the base set and onto the plethora of inserts and parallels.  However, while Lineage isn't a set that most people will buy strictly for the base cards, it is still a base set worth taking a look at.

Alpha:

The first card of any set ought to be a signal as to what to expect for the rest of the set.  Obviously, that isn't always true (plenty of Topps base sets have started with record breaker subsets, Upper Deck liked to start with prospect cards sometimes, etc.).  However, in the case of Lineage at least, the first card does give you a hint as to what to expect:  retired stars in a new design!

Omega:

Unlike the Topps base sets of the 80s and early 90s, the only subset in the Lineage base set occurs at the end of the set.  Card numbers 190 - 200 are all part of a Rookie Cup subset, with the final player featured bring Tom Seaver (as a Met).  All the featured players are shown with the original all-star rookie logo, despite there being modern players mixed in with retired stars like Seaver.

Card design:

The front of the card looks like a cross between a base Topps design and Topps Total.  It's uncluttered and easy to read, while simultaneously being a bit boring.  In a set that is really about the inserts, the base card design clearly takes a back seat.

Other:

While the front of the base cards seems to be passable, many people have decried the backs as an abyssmal failure of card design.  To be honest, it's not hard to see why many people hate the backs.  They are all different colors (based on the team) so they look kind of sloppy in a binder.  There are no stastitics, nor pictures on the back.  In fact, all there is is a block of text in white font...and each and every card looks the same (minus the back color)...  It's easy to be bored. 

However, while most people hate the backs of the cards, I actually don't mind them.  For the most part, the descriptions are interesting enough to merit reading.  Furthermore, by not showing statistics, Topps differentiated the Lineage base set from it's regular flagship set...I think people under estimate the importance of that, otherwise this set would be called Topps 2011 1/2.

Overall:

While there is no doubt that the real draw of the set is the inserts (and hits), the base card design is nice enough for me to collect the entire set.  Furthermore, despite the dull design, I anticipate the design will age much better than a lot of previous sets have (1995 Fleer, I'm looking at you).  I give the set a 7.5 / 10.

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