Friday, October 23, 2015

1998 Topps Gold Label

The other day, 1998 Topps Gold Label defeated 1998 Pinnacle in my contest to determine the best set from the 1990s. This was despite the fact that I didn't own a single card from the set. Since I got a few good comments about the set I decided I better own some in case the set goes far in the contest. Single cards from the set are going on eBay for $1 and up. But I found one auction offering 89 cards from the 100-card set for $13.35 (including shipping). That works out to about 15 cents a card. I'm guessing that these cards cost more than a dollar apiece in packs in 1998.

The cards scan very nicely but are better looking in person. Each card has a chrome refractor look to them except that the finish is harder. The cards appear to have 3 plies. I think that the front and back are actually reverse printed acetate. This is a complicated set. This is the Class 1 variation and should be considered the base set. The pitcher cards feature 2 photos, the foreground shows the pitcher in his delivery while the background photo shows the pitcher in his windup.

The batter cards have the batter at bat in the foreground photo and the player on defense in the background. All the cards feature the player name in gold foil on the front. The abbreviated stats on the back are in a team-color coordinated box.

The Class 2 cards have sparkling silver foil with 2 photos, the same foreground photo as the Class 1. The hitters background shows the player on the base paths. The pitcher cards have the pitcher before his windup in the background.

The Class 3 cards have a sparkling gold foil and also two front photos. I haven't seen enough of them to tell what photo variations are used.

There is also a Red, a Black, and a one-of-one variation for each class.

Here are a few more.

By this selection of cards you can see that Topps varied the ratio of the foreground and background photo sizes. This leads to some unfortunate juxtapositions like the Finley card and especially the I-Rod card where it looks like Ivan is battling an 8-foot clone of himself. This is really my only complaint about the set which may impact a future head-to-head matchup.

Another issue, which could be considered a design flaw is that some of the cards (5 or 6) had a residue on the surface of the cards. This was easily removable with a soft cloth. I've seen similar, and worse, examples of this in Topps Chrome cards from the era. 

With only 100 cards, the set is mostly star players of the day. There are some, in retrospect, errors in some rookie cards, but all in all a solid player selection. Of the 11 cards I'm missing, the only two I would have wanted are Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken, which happen to be the first and last cards of the set.

There were 5 Astros cards in the set but only 2 Phillies cards.

1 comment:

Ryan G said...

There are a ton of one-off or short run sets by Topps (Laser, Gold Label) and other companies that I've always thought were done quite well, but just forgotten due to being "gimmicky" when there were lots of gimmicks out there. One of these days I'll put together at least one of the Gold Label sets!