Updated: Oct 30
The 1980’s were an important decade for the hobby. Not only did it start the junk wax era but it also saw the popularity of sports cards explode. Most important in this surge was Topps baseball cards! So I wanted to take a look at the Topps sets of the 80’s and rank them based on design.
This is just my opinion, if one of these sets is your favorite because it got you into the hobby, that’s great! I will start with my least favorite and move up to what I consider the best! Here we go!
1980s Topps Baseball Cards Ranked by Design
1988- The all white borders, the all yellow back, I just don’t care for this set at all. If I had to pick something, I’d say the banner is the best thing about it. Overall Grade: D-
1987- This one I feel like might be a little controversial. Some days I love this design, other days I do not l ike this design at all. It has the wood grain look to it on front, and the back is average. From the 80’s, Topps has reused this one the most of any set and I just can’t unsee this design ever. The one thing about it I do enjoy is the blue nameplate on the back of the cards. It gives a nice touch that’s very colorful. Grade: D+
1980 - 1980 Topps isn’t ugly at all to me, it’s just not too exciting, and there are some designs in the 80’s that are really exciting. I do like the banner on the bottom of the cards as they look very neat. Not a bad design, just a plain one. Grade: C
1981 Topps Baseball Cards
1989 - The white borders, black edges, red back, Topps has reused this design a lot and I’m just not the hugest fan of it. My favorite thing about it is the red back, which I dig. Grade: C+
1981- I love the colors on this set! I love the hat in the corner! It’s still pretty basic, that’s why I have it a little bit down on the list but there’s some heavy artillery in the 80’s so not a bad ranking at all for an early set that improved a lot from 1980. My favorite thing is definitely the hat in the corner, it just looks so cool. Grade: B
1986- The one oddball set of the 1980s it seems like, as it’s the only one with black on the front. It looks so good and would be a great heritage set in the future. I love the pictures in this set with the design, they utilized them very well. Only problem as a collector, is keeping those black edges in good shape. Grade: B+
Best 80s baseball card sets
1982- This is my underrated pick for the 80’s as I love the color scheme on this design. It makes the cards pop. The facsimile auto is a cool touch too as I think they did a better job with it then in 1980. My favorite part by far is the colored lines coming down the left side to the bottom. Grade: B+
1985- Big Hitters time as 1985 is a beautiful looking set. The imagery is great in the set and I love the backs of these cards. My favorite part is definitely the slanted team name. It just works great and is such a strong looking card design. Grade: A-
1984- Just missing the 1980’s trophy, this set is a great one for the ages. I love the look of the front with the box and the player headshot. The photography is great. The one negative for 1984 is I’m not a huge fan of this particular back, but I won’t take too much off The grade for it. My favorite thing is the vertical team name coming down on the side, an interesting idea that they tried and nailed. Grade: A-
1983- I feel like many of you probably expected this set to win because it’s just the iconic set when you think of the 80’s. The photography, the colors, the name layout, the profile shot in the little circle that is just picture perfect. The back is one of my favorites from the 80’s as well. Awesome job by Topps with this one! Grade: A+
This was a lot of fun to take a look at this iconic decade of Topps baseball cards. The popularity boom of the 1980’s cards led to the junk wax era and also had a direct impact on the next generation of collectors that have come around in the last ten years or so, like me! I hope you enjoyed my opinion and look back at the 80’s and I would love to hear back from all of you which designs were your favorites!
Peace out! BrodyTK