Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What's In A Name and Other Musings

Donruss Hockey
Today, details were released regarding 2010-11 Donruss Hockey. Ahh Donruss, a brand name synonymous with quality, affordable base sets. But not this time. With an advertised SRP of $4 per pack they have essentially created a mid-range product labeled with the low-end brand name. With only 5 cards per pack and 2 hits per box that equates to $0.80 a card and/or $40 a hit. There doesn't seem to be any possible way of getting the paid dollar value out of a box with those numbers.

Head of hockey brand management, Al Muir, might have misfired on this one because now Panini doesn't seem to have a brand to compete head to head with Upper Deck's flagship Series 1 and 2. Score was seemingly designed to compete with Victory but as a hockey collector, why would I choose the Donruss base brand over Upper Deck? While some might argue that the Ice Kings and Les Gardien inserts will provide enough incentive for collectors to crossover, I believe UD has too much brand loyalty built to its annual release for collectors to take that gamble.

Gridiron Giveaway
Topps' Gridiron Giveaway is in full swing and seems to be a quality follow-up up to the MCG campaign started earlier in the year. I really like the fact that they have included (albeit extremely rare), chances to redeem codes for full sized memorabilia in the formed of signed helmets etc. That is a tremendous value add and I think making the odds of winning more realistic might be a tremendous opportunity to drive sales of a future product.

I've mentioned before how I would like to see a product brand contain redemption cards for larger ticket items like signed jerseys, bats, balls etc, and this seems to be a potential first step in that direction.

Bill Mastro Cashing In
Former head of now defunct Mastro Auctions is liquidating his collection in an auction (of course) through Legendary Auctions run by his former colleagues. Some rare and unique items are included and Sports Collector's Daily has full report. Mastro Auctions was dissolved under mysterious circumstances after an ongoing and continuing investigation of the auction house by the FBI. Regardless, a detailed look at the pending catalogue shows many drool worthy pieces and it will be interesting to see how the market reacts to this rare offering.

I finished the base set this week and am working on the SP's. Despite not loving the design I have been amused by the whimsical nature of the color schemes, the variations, and the history on the card backs. I have 3 more SP's coming this week including one of my all-time favorite White Sox players, Buck Weaver. More on this later.

The Cup
Upper Deck's high end premium and hockey equivalent of Exquisite is late this year. REALLY, REALLY, REALLY late. I don't know how this bodes for the brand as a whole as I can never remember a product being released AFTER the current year's product's have started to make their way to market. However, hockey collectors are pretty fanatical and people who collect The Cup annually will surely buy it regardless. However, for the sometimes buyer, on a more limited budget, will they have already moved on and be more geared towards the chase for this year's crop of rookies? time will tell but I suspect we see a price drop of this product shortly after initial release.

One can only speculate as to why. An Upper Deck spokesperson on Twitter this week when asked the the reasoning for the delay, responded by saying they were having a hard time getting autos back because of the off season travel schedule of the players. Huh?! I suspect that some key players were holding out waiting to get paid, but that is purely conjecture on my part.


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