Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Forget "Game Changing" It's Time for a Complete Overhaul

All Topps apologists should probably just skip to their next item in Google Reader as you won't like want I have to say. On second thought, maybe you should stay and hear it anyway. 

The fact of the matter is that I am no longer and never was  the Voice of the Collector. Reason being is that I am apparently in the minority on a number of issues and always have been. That's OK, I still believe that certain issues need to be addressed and this is one of them.

Topps flagship baseball is good for one thing and one thing only. Lining the pockets of their corporate executives and board of directors with cold hard cash. YOUR hard earned cash. 

When was the last time that a hot prospect or star RC card from any series of that product was worth more than the cost of the ink and card stock used to print it? 12 Years is the answer. With the insane phenomenon that was Pujols and Ichiro and they weren't even in the base product if I remember but actually Chrome so that doesn't even count. Next. The real answer is probably some 30 years ago when dealers sold rookie cards by the brick. Seriously though,  the Mike Trouts, Stephen Strasburgs, and Bryce Harpers, etc. of recent years, a few bucks at their peak, at the most, if that. You might argue that it has more to do with collectors wanting a more premium or autographed rookie card and thus kicking in supply and demand principles of Econ 101. I don't think so.

It has been several weeks since Upper Deck Series One Hockey released and last night I sold a base rookie card, of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for $91. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? $91!!!! No serial numbering, no memorabilia, no autograph, just a short-printed rookie card (inserted 1:4 packs).

This is not an anomaly based on the player, this year's particular release or any other flash-in-the-pan, one and done criteria, this is simply a winning formula that puts the best interests of the collector first.

Game changing?!? Really Topps, NOTHING, I have seen released about the 2012 product can remotely be described as "game-changing". But you know what would be? That's right, a complete and total remake of the flagship product from the ground up. I know set-builders will deride the notion of short-printing rookie cards and I have a solution for them that would come at the end of the year allowing the rest of us to actually earn some sort of return for the money spent on the base series attempting to complete it throughout the year.

I am thinking a combination of O-Pee-Chee meets Upper Deck Hockey. Go back to claystock, include gum for the kids, increase the actual size of the base set to 810 cards. 25 players from the 30 clubs plus 2 rookies per team. Short print the rookies. Forget the parallels. Limit the non-auto inserts to 90 cards total. A 900-card product that would fit into a 100-page, 9-up sheet binder. Instead of memorabilia cards, randomly insert a redemption card for a collector binder similar to the ones you charge for now. You save the cost of the memorabilia cards which no one cares about anyway and you encourage and throw a bone to your long shunned set collectors so just do it.

An Update set should still be produced. Limited to expaneded 40-man roster players, traded players, post-season highlights, award winners, and a rookie variation of all 60 previously released RC's. This product should release on Black Friday. This will allow plenty of time to turn around September call-ups and post season highlight and award winners. 

To add further importance to this set, get rid of regular Bowman, and Topps Chrome. Ahhhhhh!!! He's insane! Kill him!! What did he just say? You heard me. It's redundant. They both are. Prospectors and rookie collectors value Bowman Chrome over the regular version and set collectors value the regular over the Chrome version. Problem solved. Mission accomplished.

Seeing that simple, plain, no frills hockey card go for top dollar, thrilled me and then started my blood boiling at the thought of what Topps baseball could be and what it has sadly become. As the sole licensee of the league they have disappointed. Their releases have rested on their past laurels, have delivered little creativity or imagination and come off as simply a money grab.* 

"Buy it you stupid collecting suckers."  . . . and we do, with no expectation of anything better. 

I'm done. 

Fix it. 


(With the exception of Marquee, I was pretty happy with that product overall)


Chris Harris said...




The Topps Flagship isn't broke -- even though it should be larger. The rest of the product is what needs to be fixed.

Gimmicked up rookies in the Topps Flagship would be the death of The Hobby.

sruchris said...

The reason why Topps flagship rookies aren't usually worth much is because by the time most rookies get called up to the bigs, their "rookie" cards were in Bowman products a few years ago.

Short-printing Topps flagship rookies won't really increase the value as the Bowman cards will always be the most desirable.

The changes you described, minus the rookie short-prints, are essentially Topps Total. Rookies in Total, interestingly enough, are usually worth more than their Topps flagship counterpart, not because they were short-printed, but because they were already a tough pull.

Rob- AKA "VOTC" said...

Wow. Twitter conversation blew up about this. If you aren't on, I think you can still see the conversation by going to http://twitter.com/votc and clicking in reply too below each of my tweets to see the dialogue.

dayf said...

When I read "short print the rookies" I has a Harrison Bergeron brain zap moment and I completely lost everything else out of the entire post. Lemme say this:

Baseball cards are NOT Hockey cards. they are two entirely different products for entirely different collectors. You try to copy UD Hockey flagship in Topps Baseball flagship and it will be a disaster of BIBLICAL proportions. As In Panini ending up with the next exclusive license disaster.

That being said, I went back after my head had cleared and re-read the post and pretty much everything else you said is spot on. It won't happen, but it would be a good start to fixing the problems with the hobby at the moment. Like with Santo's Hall induction, it might be too little too late though.

Rob- AKA "VOTC" said...

OK, I am willing to concede that the short-printed idea was short sighted. Al flagship product across sports are not the same.

I stand by other changes.

Thanks for weighing in dayf

GCA said...

I know I'M in the minority on this but here's my point: "NOT EVERY PRODUCT HAS TO BE OVERSATURATED AND TOTALLY BASED ON ROOKIES"

Thank you.

Lonestarr said...

I like this idea. Tradition can bite me. So can Bowman for that matter. It should be the minor league set or not exist at all. Topps Chrome can stay, but should use different pictures for all cards.

I'm fine with parallels if they are more blinged out Diamond Anniversary style than the lame muted gold borders though. I'm also very down with shortprinted rookies. 1:4 or 1:6 is still an easy enough pull and decreases the need for all the pointles insert sets clogging up the works. I mean, it's at least worth trying for a year, to see how it turns out.

Last note, the rookie debut cards in U&H this year kind of fit your U&H rookie variation idea, and the back blurb talks about their performance in said debut. An all-too-rare time where the both the idea and the execution are aces. So I guess you've got that going for you, which is nice.

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