Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Heritage Of Topps WWE Heritage

 There are a few things that I frequently ask for here on the blog. I'm sick of asking, you're sick of reading the pleas, something has to give. It has. This Summer, Topps announced the return of their WWE Heritage trading cards after a three-year absence. Coming this November, the 110-card base set will be accompanied by various subsets, relic cards, and on-card autographs. A few weeks ago, Alundra "Madusa" Blayze released a picture via social media of her signing the cards, so there is one confirmed signer.

The Heritage releases are the only modern wrestling trading cards that truly excite me. I anticipate their infrequent releases and as much as I wish they were released once a year, maybe it's better that they aren't. I usually purchase several hobby boxes and individual retail packs. Only with the Heritage cards do I try to assemble several base sets, and of course set aside many for autographs. The Heritage sets take me back to the trading cards of my youth, right before everything in the card world, sadly, went glossy. This 2015 set is based upon the 1985 Topps baseball design, a series that I'm very familiar with. They're cardboard, the way that trading cards should be, and the matte finish makes them very easy to obtain autographs on.

Beginning in 2005, Topps rolled out their first four WWE Heritage sets. The best of these sets was Heritage II which had a design based on the 1963 Topps baseball cards. Among my friends this is known as the "Wonder Bread" set. This nickname came from none other than Rob Van Dam. The extreme icon was signing his card in the set for me and proclaimed that "this is the set that looks like they came from a package of Wonder Bread." The cards do have a colorful design and great studio shots. What also makes the set fun is that while the 1963 baseball design is limited to the base, there are exclusive cards released in other avenues that utilize the same style. WWE Magazine and Jakks action figures included cards of Roddy Piper, Sgt. Slaughter, and Lita among others. Even more names such as Jeff Hardy and Linda McMahon were further added in the Topps Chrome release of the series.

Following those first four sets, WWE Heritage became a subset. The Topps WWE 2011 set featured a 50-card Heritage subset in the style of the 1962 Topps baseball cards. Just as with Heritage II, I have a personal wrestler-given nickname for this set. While signing his card, Kevin Nash called it a "Bowman." Bowman Gum was another trading card producer until Topps bought out the rival company. While we have yet to see any WWE Heritage produced after the Bowman style, the nickname will stick with me for this set.

Finally, in the last glimpse of Heritage until this year, Topps released the 2012 set. Based on the 1985 Topps WWF set, these are my favorite of the Heritage sets to date. Even the hobby boxes themselves were a nod to the past, being based on the Canadian 1986 WWF set from O-Pee-Chee. I think that the biggest appeal for me is that these are wrestling cards based on wrestling cards, rather than based on other sports designs. Admittedly, there aren't too many old wrestling card designs to pay tribute to, but I would still like to see a Heritage set based on the 1987 Topps WWF design.

After that quick refresher course in Topps WWE Heritage, it's time for the 2015 edition. With plenty of chase cards planned and the all-important autographs, it should be an extremely fun set to collect. There is also another product, WWE Undisputed, coming from Topps a month earlier. These are being aimed at a "high-end" collecting market and are basically a set of just autographs, relics, and parallels. Thanks, but no thanks. Give me the basic, vintage-styled, cardboard goodness of Heritage!

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