Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Topps Traded Sets, The Colored Box Years

....continuing an occasional look at Topps Trades sets through the years....

Topps began issuing separate Traded Sets in 1981 and would be very consistent for eleven years. I call these years the "Colored Boxes" years because, well, look...

....For eleven straight years Topps used the exact same style of box for the traded set, just changing the color from year to year. During most of the same time, 1981-1990, Topps used a consistent design on their wax packs. They just rotated the colors on a three year cycle; blue, green, then red, and repeat. I find it interesting that they didn't match the color of the traded box with the wax packs. It only happened once, 1987, when both the wax and box were green. The box colors break down this way:

1981 - Red
1982 - Blue
1983 - Green
1984 - Brown
1985 - Purple! That was the one and only time for purple
1986 - Red This was the first year a color was re-used
1987 - Green
1988 - Blue
1989 - Red
1990 - Brown
1991 - Green

I keep my traded cards in their original boxes. Some day I may put them in binders, but for now, they're fine in the boxes. Since there are only 132 cards in the set, if I need to find a card it's fairly easy. I've also found that six traded boxes fit perfectly in a 800 count box...

...so storing them is pretty simple.

I even made labels for the boxes, borrowing Topps' design.

As far as value, these vary quite a bit. The most expensive is the 1982 set which can fetch over $100, and that is for one reason....

....the Cal Ripken rookie card. I got really lucky here. I bought my 1982 set back in 1982, so I didn't have to pay an inflated price for the Ripken. Then, in 2008, when I was putting my Topps base sets together, I bought one from a seller who threw in some bonus sets too. I didn't pay much attention to what the bonus was; I just needed the complete set. Turns out, one of the bonus sets was a 1982 traded set, with the Ripken! So I've got two of them!

The rest of these sets can be found for no more that $20, with many going for less than $10.

Two slight changes were made to the traded cards in 1982 and then Topps left things alone the rest of this run. First, the cards were numbered separately, with a T following the card number, from 1T - 132T (in the 1981 the the numbers were just a continuation of the base set).

The backs were also a different color from the base set. Some years the backs were just a different shade of the base color. But you could always tell the traded cards apart from the base and that change continued all the way through this era.

As far as Cubs go, there have been some years where they have had way too many players in the set. When you've got a lot of traded players, that usually means a lousy team trying to get better, instead of a good team that is just making a couple tweaks. Here is the year by year Cubs breakdown, plus one of the cards from that season

1981 - 10 Cubs...I picked Joe Strain because he was featured on another blog a couple weeks ago (forgive me, I don't remember which one)

1982 - 12 Cubs...The first Cubs card of our new radio color man

1983 - 6
Cubs...This one is for Night Owl, who I'm sure cringes at the sight of the Penguin in any uniform other than the Dodgers'.

1984 - 9
Cubs....Had to go with the 1984 Cy Young winner

1985 - 3
Cubs...not much to pick from this season

1986 - 4
Cubs...for all the Bosox fans

1987 - 5
Cubs...Two cards from this season, a HOFer and future HOFer

1988 - 9
Cubs...so young looking here

1989 - 7
Cubs...the 1989 NL Rookie of the Year

1990 - 3
Cubs...I loved how Harry would also massacre this guy's name

1991 - 6
Cubs...this guy was going to be the third baseman for years to come...but he and his .165 BA didn't stick around too long.

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