This is the next major news headline I want to read coming from The Hobby. Unfortunately, it isn't reality . . . yet. With strict guidelines provided by the various licensing leagues on the number of trading card products that can be produced, long gone are the days of having an over-abundance of products to choose from. While a necessary evil for the long term and overall health of The Hobby, the short term consequences for collectors is a serious lack of product variety. I actually miss the years from 2000-2005 when I could choose from products like Greats of the Game, Fan Favorites, Archives, Heritage, Hall of Fame, Elite, Classic, Legends, etc.
In addition to the number of brands that can be produced, there are stringent guidelines on what players can or cannot be included in a product and to what degree regarding quantity of specific players. No longer can a company produce a retired only player product. For myself this is a major downfall of the new licensing rules as these were the products I was most attracted to.
In addition, as a collector of specific teams, and players, I tire of opening product just to dump most of it for pennies on the dollar and spend more time and money looking for individual items on the secondary market. As a manufacturer, why not eliminate the middle man and create an additional revenue stream that competes against the secondary market? What is prohibiting the companies from providing a way to purchase directly from them?
These are some of the things I think many collectors would covet and buy enmasse;
Relic team sets. Not just a plain base card team set but a team set of the entire 25 man roster with each card having an embedded jersey swatch or bat piece.
Autograph team sets. Same idea as above.
Player specific prime cards. Customized trading cards allowing the collector to choose from various templates. For example- 2-color swatch, 3-color patch, 3-color patch auto, quad piece with patch, home/away, bat, etc.
On-demand. Sky's the limit. Customized trading card with attributes specified by the buyer. Fielding pose, glove leather-black, autographed on card.
I would be more than willing to take the money I would spend on a random crap shoot and put it towards or spend its equivalent on a card, or cards, of my favorite players and teams. I understand the potential costs involved in such a project and would understand the need to charge a realistic premium and in the case of a 100% customized card having to wait awhile for its production. However, with the case of the templated cards, the manufacturers could produce 100 of each design, serial numbered and produced at the same time as the corresponding product and when they are sold out, they are gone.
I know it's probably a pipe dream but the idea has been successfully done to a similar degree by In The Game. The logistics, capacity and technology are there to make it happen. By capturing money a collector would normally spend on eBay, the trading card company taps into additional revenue and provides a service to collectors that would keep them coming back for more with each product release regardless of the product being produced.