Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Facebook Conversation on Trading Cards, Design, and the Future of the Hobby

Here is a recap of a interesting thread on Facebook today.

Doug Cataldo- Random thought for the day and a topic for this week's show...

Is it time for a new hobby entity to enter the fray? One that can have the impact of Upper Deck's entry in 1989? One that will focus on the collectors? One that will take all things into consideration from design, to content, to cost, to secondary market, to... the future? Because from all I am seeing, a lot of those things are being sacrificed at the expense of the collectors who are sick of the same old same old. I think that creativity is truly the key to the future of this hobby & it's time for a reboot. Just because someone can do a job well doesn't mean they are the right person for the it, if they just deliver the norm day in and day out. It's time to shake things up & get new blood at some of the trading card companies. Stop consulting with dinosaurs & fossils and look towards the future or their will be no future.

Jon Waldman- Doug, I agree with you. The problem that exists though is finding that new blood. The traditional path was finding people in hobby media, like Jeff Morris, Fabio and Baron -- guys who learned all the ins and outs about the hobby or as much they could while on the media side. Could a couple of the elite bloggers be recruited (ie those that don't just use their space to piss and moan)? Sure; but a lot of these writers are still relatively fresh (for comparison sake, I was working in hobby media for 5 years or so). Two years down the road, if a blogger is still committed, then I expect them to start getting headhunted.

Jon Waldman- As for other creativity, there are some great home-made designers out there who could be recruited, similar to the guys who customize McFarlanes.

Doug Cataldo- Yeah but it's a pretty secluded club. The media part of it gets you ready for some of the work load, but you have to know and love the hobby and the subject be it sports or non-sports to do a product development job. Having a team that's open to both suggestions and criticism and also bosses that will let you break the mold sometimes. Because from what I see, product development all falls on simple formulas and no one is adding any new elements to the mix...

Jon Waldman- Depends how you define development Doug. There have been some great concepts that have come out, such as the 1972 series that ITG did last year. Some, however, would say it was similar to Franchises or Original Six. I agree though that it has to be guys and gals around the table that will listen, but that is the same as any business and comes down to a CEO or director that will have his or her ears open. Sometimes it's personality, sometimes it's training.


Anonymous said...

There will be no new entity entering the hobby. The cost of entry is steep and the ROI is dismal. Licensing/Royalties, photography, and manufacturing costs have increased greatly over the past 10 years. Just think of what the freight cost are for a rollout of Topps Baseball. It is tens of thousands of dollars. Yes, card companies do make money but todays model is by no means lucrative.

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