Behind the Design: 2023 Topps Series 2

Series 2 Gets a Close-Up

Date: Jun 8, 2023
Topics: Baseball, Behind the Design, Series 2
Length: 723 Words
Reading Time: ~4 Minutes

2023 Topps Series 2 is not just another release in the lineup; it’s a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the flagship Topps series. As collectors immerse themselves in the captivating world of trading cards, they’ll discover a rich tapestry of design elements that pay homage to the past while embracing the present innovations.

One of the key inspirations behind the design of Series 2 was the exploration of a two-photo base card design. Although this concept had been considered in previous years, logistical challenges and production constraints had steered Topps in different directions. However, this year, the team made a concerted effort to bring this vision to life, and the results speak for themselves. While the concept of a two-photo base card is not entirely new to Topps, the scale and complexity of today’s production process presented new challenges compared to earlier iterations in the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s, and 2003.

“I feel it was very successful,” said Topps Art Director John Doldan. “In the more recent past, the second photo was mostly cropped into a circle, rectangle, or field shape. I wanted to make the headshot larger and break those constraints while balancing the primary action photo.


As collectors explore the series, they’ll encounter new designs that breathe fresh life into the set. The “All Aces” design, which debuted in Series 1 and carries over to Series 2, resembles playing cards. This design truly sets itself apart with diamonds, clubs, spades, and hearts adorning the player silhouette against a clean white card background. Another noteworthy addition is the “All Topps Team” design, featuring a large headshot complemented by a full-body action shot and vibrant league-oriented graphics, adding a dynamic flair to the cards.

Among the various inserts, one that stands out is the “Favorite Sons” collection, where players are paired with graphics representing their home state’s flag.

“I enjoy working on theme cards like this, and I feel it adds some variety to the set,” quipped Doldan. “Developing a plan for all the flags and making the background colorful but team-oriented was fun.”

Exclusive to the Value Box, the Father’s Day Commemorative Team Patches are an extraordinary addition. These patches feature blue Father’s Day versions of team logo cap patches, adding a touch of sentimentality and celebration to the release. Topps ensured an authentic and meaningful design through collaboration with the company responsible for producing the official MLB patches.

Throwing it Back

The significance of the 1988 Topps Baseball set in the design of Series 2 cannot be overstated. For those who grew up in the ’80s, this design evokes nostalgia, summoning memories of collecting cards and the iconic players who graced them. The simplicity of the design, with its full-length action photo and strategically placed team names behind the player silhouette, offers a timeless charm. As a tribute to this influential set, Series 2 includes the 1988 Topps All-Star design, showcasing headshot photography of active and retired legends within a distinctive diamond-shaped layout.

“There is so much research that goes on whenever we try to recreate a previous year of our history,” added Doldan. “In terms of design, fonts, colors, paper stocks, and sometimes even errors of the original set get re-created as closely as possible. The hobby has changed so much over the years. We understand the value of having cards graded, so we have established certain tolerances for artwork that we adhere to to ensure a higher quality product than what existed in the original cards decades ago. This is a balance between re-creating a design and maintaining quality.”

The Heavy Lumber cards, another remarkable addition to the series, deserve special mention. Printed on cherry veneer wood, these cards stand out with their burnished appearance, capturing the essence of a baseball bat. Designed by Robert Grabe, these cards exemplify the creativity and innovation that Topps continually brings to the table.

As collectors embark on their journey through the 2023 Topps Series 2 release, they are greeted with a breathtaking fusion of nostalgia, craftsmanship, and contemporary design. Each card represents a piece of history, a connection to the past, and a celebration of the enduring legacy of the flagship Topps series. So, whether you’re a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the world of trading cards, embrace the joy, excitement, and memories that await within the 2023 Topps Series 2.

Check out more of our Series 2 coverage here.


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