Saturday, August 20, 2011

Masturbation and Baseball Cards

Sometimes you just can't make this stuff up.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Takeaways From the National

Scott Prusha of Panini America

The 32nd National Sports Collectors Convention closed today after a fun, productive and successful week. Cardboard Connection Radio broadcast a total of 9 shows LIVE from the event floor and between shows I spent my time shooting pictures, handing out free cards with flyers and networking with industry professionals. Much like any trade show, its a lot of work but because I love what I do and do what I love, its well worth the time, energy and expense. 

The crowning achievement for our crew was the Santa Claus autograph signing. Making his first EVER appearance at a National and his only appearance until the holiday season, over 250 people had the chance to meet Santa, have their picture taken and receive a 5x7 autographed picture all for FREE. The looks on some of the kids faces when they saw Santa was absolutely priceless. The event coincided with Free Kids Day and it was great to see so many young children at the show. 

While I purchased almost everything on my want list the highlight of the show for me was getting to meet so many of the collectors I interact with online everyday. The National is also a great time to see old friends and the Freedom Cardboard Meet-and-Greet event proved to be a great venue to hang out with friends old and new. Here is the list of people I met for the first time.

David @LongFlyBall
John @Waxtopia
Chris @Project1962
Chris @sruchris
Sal @PuckJunk
Eric @ThosBackPages
Joe @HobbyKings
Wes @WesYee 
Adam @SCUncensored
Andrew @tolentinotweets

Other people I saw from meeting them last year:

Chris @Stalegum
Marie @baseballzoch
Sooz @yanxchick
Chris @FCBsportscards

My overall impressions and random thoughts of the show:

Traffic was significantly higher than the last National in Chicago. 

There were a lot of kids. Not just on today (FREE Day) but throughout the show. If this is a result of aggressive marketing to young collectors is anyone's guess but it was good to see regardless.

Dealers need to be incentivized to not pack up at 3:30. I understand why they do but it sends a bad message to show attendees many of who get there after 12pm because of church.

I applaud Panini for being the only manufacturer to not start packing early and to continue with their wrapper redemption program right to the very end of the show.

The TNA Signature Impact Championship Package, was the greatest value of the whole show. If purchased through Blow Out Cards, only cost $75. With that you received a box of the new TNA Signature Impact product, which will yield 3 autos, 1 memorabilia card, and 1 parallel, as well as tickets for a photo op and autograph from; Kurt Angle, Mr Anderson, Tara, and Ric Flair. In addition you received a bonus autographed card. However, they need to do a much better job of organizing the event. It was confusing and frustrating.

Single color jersey swatches have "officially" become just another insert. The number of dealers that I saw selling those types of cards for $1 and $2 proves that point. As a result, manufacturers need to rethink the "value" equation of their products and realize that collectors simply don't want them in anything other than low-end, entry level products.

Collectors of sports cards regularly use deodorant in greater numbers than those that collect comic books. Not to paint with a broad brush but having attended both the National and Comic-Con within a few short months of each other provides irrefutable fact.

There is still a TON of bogus autograph material on the market.

Onyx Authenticated is a newer company to pay attention to as they have a great product and solid authentication.

Leaf Trading Cards' Shoeless Joe Jackson Cut Signature promotion was one of the greatest start to finish marketing efforts I have seen put behind a singular trading card product.

Blow Out Cards is the best dealer on the planet. Dave and Adams runs second but Blow Out's massive raffle on Saturday had HUNDREDS of people gathered around their space and they gave a boatload of free product away.

If you want to "invest" in sports cards, buy vintage in the highest grade you can. The prices realized for some cards from the 50's and 60's never ceases to amaze me.
Topps Lineage is awful. What should have been something between Fan Favorites and Archives with the added bonus of every technology used to date in their storied history included as inserts was instead a bastardized version of base Topps at a much higher price point.

USA Olympian Mark Wells from the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, is a gracious and humble man, proud to have represented his country.

Grading costs a ridiculous amount of money.

Sports Collectors Digest is a shell of its former self who will not survive for much longer.
The Topps Vault Auction during the VIP Kick-Off was crazy. The color transparency used for Nolan Ryan's 1968 rookie card sold for $3,500 and the uncut sheet of 1977 Topps housing the Reggie Jackson card in his Baltimore uniform went for a whopping $10K.

The addition of the Olympic Pavilion to the National brought in a decent number of people who might not have been there otherwise.

Collectors from all over the country really do come to THE NATIONAL. I met people from Texas, Oklahoma, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Tennessee, New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado and Arizona to name a few.

People still like commons, base cards and parallels. In addition to the hundreds of game used and memorabilia cards we gave away at the booth we went through THOUSANDS of base card set out on a table allowing people to help themselves. Despite this, I was still a little dumb-founded by the number of people who refused a free stack of cards.

It doesn't matter how old you are, people still love Santa Claus

The guys at the Illinois Center for Broadcasting who were also broadcasting but with a straight sports-talk show, learned a few things from us on how to successfully market a LIVE, on location broadcast.

There are distinct generational divides amongst trading card collectors and it is difficult to connect with each one of them. I think it can be broken down by collecting type, ie vintage collectors tend to be middle age to older and don't care a hoot about anything the companies manufacture today.

It takes all kinds. The owner of Vintage Authentics was arrested, escorted out of the convention center in cuffs and charged with Mail and Wire Fraud for selling bogus game used jerseys.

Most of all, I was reminded of what great friends I have in Doug Cataldo and Russ Cohen, my longtime partners at the former

You can see a complete gallery of photos here and listen to all of the radio shows (scroll down to the On-Demand section) here and watch videos (many still to upload and edit) here.