Friday, September 16, 2022

A Year of Topps Designs: 1986

Perhaps sensing greater competition in the trading card market, Topps put a lot of work into their sports designs in 1986.

The baseball set uses a black top border, a design Topps rarely used in any sports sets. It's thought of as one of the very few black bordered baseball sets, along with 1971 and 2007. Funny thing is, about 3/4 of the border is white, but the top is where the eye goes.

Meanwhile, Topps put out maybe it's best ever football design in 1986, with the football field background. In 1986 I started collecting, buying packs of baseball stickers and football cards, so this was the first sports set I ever collected, and I am very fond of it to this day.

The hockey set has a rather intricate border, giving off a 3-D effect. It's a bit busy but it looks interesting.

On the non-sports side, Topps was mostly focused on churning out more series of the surprise 1985 hit Garbage Pail Kids. (I collected those too. Unfortunately my method of collecting was to peel off the stickers and stick them to my bedroom wall, so they're all long gone.) Topps decided to lean into the rudeness a little more with the Snotty Signs set. These were filled with nasty insults - three stickers to a card, including one personalized to a common boys or girls name of the era. Unlike Garbage Pail Kids there is no real attempt at humor, these are straight-up mean insults.

Speaking of harsh insults,  here's Howard the Duck!

Probably the only Topps set that had a cigar as a major design element. There were some years where Topps's non-sport sets were filled with blockbuster after blockbuster. This wasn't one of them. Their other offerings that year were sticker sets. One was Little Shop of Horrors. The backs of the stickers all featured cards of the characters singing.

Their other sticker set capitalized on the brief-but-intense Max Headroom fad. The stickers have card backs with several different designs. I liked this one.


  1. Max Headroom is making a comeback:

  2. "Teacher is a scab head"? Wow. I'm surprised that I don't recall there being any pushback about that.

    I've always thought that the 1986 baseball set design was basically a retread of 1975 but without the color.

    I don't collect hockey (or anything other than baseball, really), but always nice to see Beezer!

  3. I think Jack Nicholson was in the original LSoH, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

    Not sure I'd choose that guy to represent hockey.

  4. Love Howard the Duck. I wish I still had those 70's comic books.

  5. I didn't like the LSOH remake, and card set is one of my least favorite non-sport sets of all time.

  6. That Max Headroom sticker is really cool. Never seen it before. I don't remember seeing hockey packs in my area back in the mid 80's, so I never had the opportunity to open any packs of that product. But I did open up a fair share of Topps baseball and and a few packs of football that year.

  7. Can't say I like the '86 football design much at all. Along the lines of '86 Donruss, also not a favorite. ... Max Headroom always amused me.

  8. Those insult cards cannot be made today!