Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Vintage Cardboard of WWE Returns

 Before the month of August ends, we have to take a look at what has become an annual tradition in the past few years: the release of the new WWF Heritage trading cards from Topps. This has also become the only set that I actively purchase more than one or two packs of. I love the style, the time that they pay homage to, and the fact that these genuinely look like cards. They aren't overly-coated with gloss and feel thinner than a dime. These are CARDS.

This year Topps has chosen their 1989 baseball card design to transfer to WWE. I have fond memories of the former set, and I probably still have the entire run in storage. I actually even have the card of Pittsburgh Pirate Mike LaValliere autographed. It's a simple but classic and cool looking design. The packaging of both the box and the packs has changed little aside from color over the past four years or so. 

After a long tradition of every hobby box yielding a full base set, this sadly changed years back. I feel that you should always get the main 110 cards, but what do I know? Each hobby box does guarantee two "hits," including one autograph. Subsets include Big Legends, Rookies, Tag Teams & Stables, and Future Stars. There are also non-Heritage style inserts, depending on where you purchase your packs, dedicated to Ric Flair, Randy Savage, and Shawn Michaels. As usual, I don't cover these as I don't consider them part of the set though the Macho Man cards are vibrant.

As always, my mind goes to the legends. The "Big Legends" subset is based on the look of Topps 1989 "Big Baseball" design. Though the original cards were larger than the standard release baseball, these wrestling versions are not. There are two shots on each card, and I like that many showcase two different periods in the career of the legend. I enjoyed seeing Sid Vicious, Alundra Blayze, Larry Zbyszko, Brutus Beefcake, and others who aren't represented enough. Harley Race's card features both "King" and "before-the-crown" shots which is probably a card first. It's also nice to see our recently lost legends such as Bruno Sammartino, Nikolai Volkoff, and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart.

Between Raw, Smackdown, and NXT, the roster is bloated but it certainly makes for a variety of names to be included. I'm sure that some of these stars will see their only trading card released here. What better way than in a Heritage set? It's fun to see names like Eric Young, Kassius Ohno, Velveteen Dream, Sarah Logan, and Kairi Sane represented on classic cardboard. And, as long as they've been with the company at this point, it's still great to have WWE merchandise for men like Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, and Bobby Roode. It wasn't that many years ago that none of them were ever expected to show up in a WWE ring.

My pulls? An autographed Bobby Roode "Rookies" card and a Sasha Banks "Survivor Series" mat relic. For the autograph we have someone that I enjoy on a subset card with a silver colored border to boot. On the flip side we have one of my very least favorite current roster stars with a relic style that I am beyond tired of. I know that I can't be the only one. Even some of the "manufactured relics" like belt medallions are less stale than the mat pieces. At least it has a better design than those of a few years ago where the relics featured an oval-shaped photo surrounded by white.

It isn't my favorite Heritage set to date, but it isn't the worst. For me personally, any card in the retro style is going to trump the plastic-y feel of modern cards. One does wonder which style will be resurrected next. I wouldn't mind a trip back to the '60s and some of those designs. The 1990 Topps baseball style would be pretty cool, too. As long as they're classic, matte cardboard and retain the look and feel, I'm on board.

Trading cards are an often overlooked area of wrestling collecting, but they're a ton of fun. Speaking of fun, next week kicks off another "Mattel Month" here on the blog with four weeks of Mattel WWE figure reviews featuring 2018 releases. I "figure" it will be a blast...


Mike Parker said...

I've just gotten into the cards and have been enjoying this set. Also like that the blaster odds are better this year of pulling something other than a mat relic.

J\/\/ said...

And that's always a good thing!