Behind the Design: 2024 Topps Heritage Baseball

Behind the Design of 2024 Topps Heritage Baseball

Date: Apr 15, 2024
Author: Jason Strykowski
Topics: 2024 Topps Heritage Baseball, Behind the Design, How To Collect
Length: 620 Words
Reading Time: ~4 Minutes

Roots of 2024 Topps Heritage Baseball

This year, Topps Heritage Baseball takes collectors back to 1975 when Betamax tapes were all the rage and the Vietnam War ended. On the diamond, players like Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Joe Morgan, and Rod Carew blazed their way into the record books. Heritage seamlessly combines these giants of the past with today’s stars and tomorrow’s standouts in a design package that pays homage to 1975.

“For Topps Heritage, we create a set from a particular year, and we’ve been going in order since we started from 1952 until now,” says senior art director John Doldan, who first envisioned the revival project. “We’ve been doing this product for a long time, and it’s been well-received, and it’s one of my favorites because I like the old sets.” Bringing the past to life, though, is a precise project for Topps designers.

The Design Process Behind 2024 Topps Heritage Baseball

“It starts with research. Both with the Topps cards of the era and with the design elements,” said graphic designer Austin Natowitz, who worked on the cards alongside Doldan and senior graphic designer Robert Grabe.

Their research takes them to specific elements of the historical cards’ makeup. “We look back at the original set. We look at the colors that were used. We look at the stock it was printed on,” says Doldan. “From the ’50s to the early ’80s, we printed on recycled cardboard. It was a clay-coated news back. Cardboard stock was probably less expensive than printing on something very fancy at the time. They weren’t thinking about the cards being super-valuable; it was more about kids enjoying the product and having something to take to the game.”

Those cardboard backs, carefully re-created in Heritage Baseball, are not as simple as they appear. The original Topps team creatively optimized these seemingly simple products. “They took time to make the design with the paper stock in mind. If it was a dark brown paper stock on the back, they made an effort to figure out what it was going to look like with red and black printed on it,” explains Doldan. Today’s cards accurately feature similar backs.

Getting 2024 Topps Heritage Baseball Right

These historical cards, though, weren’t all perfect. The designers looked into classic mistakes in the original set and used them as inspiration to create this year’s Error variations, some of which are only easy to spot for the practiced viewer. “It becomes more valuable to the discerning collector, says Natowitz of those who can find the intentional mistakes. If not, don’t worry – the error variations are labeled on the card back.

The designers also updated the classic set with modern additions like Then and Now. “It’s supposed to be a new design as if created in 1975. It has to feel as if it belongs in the set; at the same time, we can do something a little more out there,” says Doldan of the cards that bridge 1975 and today by showing featured players’ achievements side-by-side.

The end result is a product that Doldan had been looking forward to since he created Heritage Baseball. “I was hoping we would get to 1975. I really liked this design,” he says. “The ’75 set was unique to me because I remember it. I remember seeing the prior year’s Topps designs and then looking at ’75 and thinking, ‘Oh my god, what is this?’ It just looked crazy with these colors.” The cards made an impression on him, and now, they’ll make an impression on eager collectors who can look for designs from the past and modern inserts like Error cards and Real One Autographs.

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