1950’s nostalgia was running rampant in the 1980’s and Topps, the trading card company we all know and love, was not unaffected by this epidemic of nostalgia. In 1988, Topps launched Topps BIG, based in design off their 1956 issue including the slightly larger-than-standard size. Not only is this set an underappreciated ‘gem’ for it’s design, they look almost designed for TTM or in person autographs.
This set, in all it’s beauty and bountiful selection of players (330 in all), is full of variations, albeit minor ones, but for the obsessive-compulsive master set builder or variation collector, true variations they remain, nonetheless. Each of the 330 subjects can be found in at least 2 different printer’s designation variations: for the new readers, that is the little letter code before Topps copyrights (A*, B*, C*…for example). Some players, a lot in fact, have as many as 4 different at last count.
Check out the bottom-right of Fernando’s cards:
One shows: A* .
Another shows: A* *.
And the last shows: B*.
This suggests that an A*B* version may be out there. Why Topps decided to mess around with which players appear on what sheets is beyond me, but I find it worth repeating: every player in the set has at least 2 different of these variations! Making the minimum total for a master set 660 cards!
Check out the even murkier “airbrushed” print designation variations. Topps decided to take what appears to be whiteout to the plates and (poorly) attempted to remove specific letters from the sheet codes:
A few of the more interesting variations that can also be found in this enigmatic set:
#39 Terry Steinbach.
Can be found with a white or black Topps logo on front.
#14 Dale Murphy.
Missing the black ink at top of number/Topps logo and corrected. The missing top version is much tougher to find and I’ve yet to find one with a B* sheet code on back.
#104 Steve Buechele. Double copyright line and airbrushed versions. One version has the copyright line printed in both the bottom left corner and the bottom right corner. Another has the bottom right copyright line poorly airbrushed away. The final version just has the bottom left line with no trace of the bottom right’s existence.
So yeah, not exactly thrilling, probably not extremely rare, but for a player-collector such as myself, I find this set to be intriguing at the very least. Considering the the wide spectrum of players who appear in this set, from youngsters like Will Clark and Mark McGwire to beloved 1970’s stars like Ron Guidry appearing late in their careers, this set is full of many of our favorite players and is definitely worth a second look through your doubles to see what strange varieties you may find.