1988 Topps BIG: a master set challenge!

11 Dec

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.


4 Responses to “1988 Topps BIG: a master set challenge!”

  1. mike January 8, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    Just a note ragarding #381 California Angels Team Leaders with red stripe.

    I recently listed it on ebay with a $15 BIN and had no bites although a while back I got less than $10 on another via bidding.

    • junkwaxgems January 8, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

      Hi Mike,

      This is a perfect example of how not being listed/cataloged in the major guides negatively affects a variation. Many collectors of Topps master sets, error cards and oddities will pursue only those items that are listed in the SCD and Beckett guides or are well-known throughout the error and variation ‘circuit’.

      Hopefully this blog (and other sites like it) will bring a lot of exposure to these undocumented varieties, enough, at least, to warrant their inclusion in future editions of the major catalogs.

  2. Tina May 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    I just went through my husbands boxes and boxes of baseball stuff. I came across a 1988 topps box with 4 players on the bottom and inside is suppose to have there stats. I know this from his numerous other boxes he has. But, this one particular box has not stats just the 4 players. Would there be any value on that? Thank you, Tina

  3. Patrick August 3, 2016 at 9:11 am #

    Hello I’m Patrick. .I’m new to this but recently regained my interest in card collecting (more like studying cards errors and variations ) half my batch of big cards look like someone used too much ink and others look like they can be tiffanys (though i havent gotten any answers on whether or not big cards even have tiffany’s) also all the tops of the cards seem to be either cut off short and some cuts make the picture of the player look really crooked. Have u experienced any of this?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: