Monday, August 22, 2011

my take on his take

Chris over at Stale Gum made some excellent points on the hot topic of 2012 Topps. If you haven't read his latest post, click the link in the first sentence there to get right to it. I'll wait.

Back? Good article right? While I do agree with many of his points I do have to address some of them. I know he has a much bigger reader base than I and that it really doesn't matter what I think or say but I thought I would throw my 2 cents in.

He first mentions that the gloss and foil should go away. Topps will never do this and I'm not sure they should. Topps has had foil names on pretty much every issue of the flagship set since 1995 (1992 if you count Topps Gold parallels). Personally I don't mind it because I really don't want all my cards looking like Opening Day. Can they be hard to read at times? Yes, but as a company that makes things we look at, it is their responsibility to make cards easy to read. Some years are better than others. I really don't see foil or gloss going away.

He goes on to mention he would like to see a base set larger than 330 cards per series. I couldn't agree more with this. In fact, I have no idea why they cut the base set down to 660. 2004 was 733, an odd number sure but at least more players got cards than now. Almost mind boggling really because they are out to sell cards. If they make the base set bigger, wouldn't that make us buy more?

Next he addresses the wood-grain. I would love to see Topps go out on a limb and reproduce the 25 year gap with the wood style. 1962-1987-2012. Maybe it looks too much like Heritage this year and they think we're stupid and we'll get confused? Come on. Personally Topps hasn't made a bold statement with their base set since 1990. As ugly as it was, it sure sticks out in your memory, right?

Inserts, Oh the inserts. Yes, Topps has WAY too many inserts for a basic set. Most of them aren't even that great. I collected (or am collecting) two whole insert sets from 2011 (Diamond Stars and Kimballs). The rest were either just rehashes or just plain boring. 2012 seems no different. The walk-off subset is good but I could care less about the rest. Plus Chris makes another great point in that there are too many inserts AND they are too big. Yeah, they are. There shouldn't be more inserts than the base set, that is plain absurdity. I suppose you do have to sell packs and making huge insert sets seeded 1:8 packs does sell more packs. Pointless if you ask me (well, not if you think only of money), why not make 3 good insert sets and we will want to collect them all.

Gold huh? Well for some reason Topps has a huge thing for gold this year. Why? I suppose we'll never really know, except that they have to use themes and gimmicks now just to sell their base set. A sorry thought indeed, that they feel that just simply collecting the biggest set year in and year out just isn't enough. A shame, a damn shame that they feel that their flagship product can't carry it's own weight. Sure the hobby has changed but how many boxes of 1989 Topps did you tear through just trying to finish off that set? Did it have parallels? Or hits? Or even inserts? No. To all three. Did we care? Hell no, because it was Topps. It didn't matter what it looked like we all collected it every year. Some of us still do. Well, it is kind of our only choice now but whatever. Its TOPPS!!

His final point is about hits. Come on, no one buys Topps series 1 for the hits. Yes, they are nice to get but they don't need to be one per box. This is again, Topps' lack of faith in their product. By guaranteeing one hit per box, they know some would be more inclined to buy it due to the possibility of it being something big. A small possibility, yes but it is still there. Seems you can't buy ANY box without there being a guaranteed hit in it. Some sets it works. Allen & Ginter is good with the three but the mini relics and autos are part of what make that set fun.

Overall what Topps needs to do is get their head out of the clouds and get with the program. They will ruin this hobby with their overproduction and their overcalculation of they think we want. In reality, what ruined this hobby are the speculators. You know who I'm talking about. The guys that buy a case of what ever new set is out and doesn't care about the cards, just sells the case for (hopefully) a profit. They are the ones who are ruining the hobby, not Topps. Topps is just catering to them because they buy the most product. If it doesn't have the hits, it's not worth it. Sure, many of us bloggers here may not have the funds to buy cases or even boxes at times but we sure do love to collect and we cherish our cards. We go through them, read them, build sets and do the things you're supposed to do with baseball cards. You want proof? Just go onto the Blowoutcards forums. Supposed "collectors" who trash everything they can't make money on. Lineage? Topps' biggest bust in five years. Bowman Platinum? Pure trash. If they can't make bank on a case or a set, it is automatically the worst thing ever released on cardboard. Pure scumbags. As you've no doubt seen, I don't use profanity on this blog but I'm really having a hard time not using it when describing these people. Topps' only mistake is listening to these people and not us! They want the guaranteed hits and parallels and 1 of 1's, purely so they can profit from them.

So this post has taken a different form than I had imagined (I seem to be doing that a lot as of late) but just take a second to think about where your place in the hobby is. Then take a second to think about how it's not Topps ruining the hobby and that it is these people, nothing else. Yes, it is their right as citizens in a democratic society and Topps doesn't have to cater to them but they do. It was never about us, it was always about the money.


  1. You are right on so many points in this post Ted. One I'd like to point out is your last point with the Speculators ruining the hobby. While Lineage and Bowman Platinum have their flaws, they do have their merits. Lineage has a good mix of modern and past players and Platinum does look really nice in comparison to last years product. But the Speculators aren't making money because the average collector is passing over these sets because of the "bad hype" that is circulating around the forums. They are the ones slashing their own throats by bad mouthing these decidedly "average" products.

    Bottom line when the hobby becomes more of a business instead of being fun, that is when things start going downhill. I think that is where we are/have been headed with the Topps monopoly. While it is not only Topps' fault, MLBPA, MLB, and even collectors are also equal parts in the blame game.

  2. See, the thing is that it was always about money. They wouldn't have lasted to a 60th anniversary unless it was. The point being that now is the time when they CAN take chances. They have no competition! If a terrible set came out in say, 2005, you had 60 other sets on the shelf to choose from. So I understand Topps' mentality of staying behind a product model that works but its not like we have anywhere else to turn for card collecting if we want baseball. I just don't think they realize that they can take more chances and actually succeed with a set they wouldn't have 5 years ago.

  3. What bothers me most is not the quality of the inserts (ugh), essentially the same base set model for however many years (2 series, same basic subsets, etc), the number of inserts, or the hits. It's that everything *is* the same. They may rename the inserts, but how many years in a row now are their inserts combining two players on one card (like Legendary Duos), some random superstar set (Topps 60), a reprint set (60 YOT/1987 minis/CYMTO/etc), and relics/autos slapped on a few for the hits? I think Chris said it best when he asked why the inserts don't mean anything. What happened to the All-Stars insert? All-Rookies? League Leaders? Award Winners? Season Highlights? All the previous "subsets" from, say, the 1960s through the early '90s would be fantastic inserts now, even if they were done year after year after year. And then you could spend some time developing a couple true quality inserts.

    Heck, they could even reintroduce some of their previous sets from the past 20 years as one-series inserts. Topps Laser? D3? Gallery (I still say that should be its own set again)? Stadium Club (likewise)? Tek?

    I know what I'm about to say contradicts what I just said, but Topps needs to leave the heritage (throwbacks, reprints, etc) to the Heritage and Lineage lines, and let the flagship line have some true innovation. It's the best place for experimentation because *everybody* buys it, not just speculators/investors, not just collectors like us, but everybody. Kids see the packs at Target and Toys R Us for most of the year, and they're affordable.

  4. Well said Ryans, well said. You both bring up excellent points. It NEEDS to be about fun, otherwise why do we do it? It's a hobby and hobbies are meant to be fun, not agonizing. Chris is 100% correct on the inserts being meaningless. They're just there to be inserts, nothing else. Whereas if the all-stars, league leaders, etc., would make inserts worth collecting because you would WANT a set of the guys on the all-star team. Not some random pairing of two players 50 years apart or guys that are third on a list of weird stats. You're not being all that contradictory, you're making a lot of sense. It really is just a case of them giving us what they think we want and not what we really want.

  5. Thoughts:

    -I can't describe how disappointed I am in the fact that they didn't do the wood grain with a flipped corner this year. After the apparent success of Heritage - I'm surprised, too.

    -The inserts are a great point. There's too many IN EACH SET (and too many sets - but the former is the bigger issue), and many aren't any different than getting a base card. I think they'd get more people to collect by having fewer - and it'd be enough to offset the morons like me who still try to get it all.

    -I'm not against them making money - it's a business and that should be their primary focus. That was there primary focus in 1989, 1969 and 1952. But I think like MLB itself, Topps (and the other card companies before the monopoly was re-enacted) have done some things that make a little more doubh this year but hurt them long-term. They do things that make them a few more bucks next year, but turn off "set collectors" who stay with it - but long term start to buy less product or eventually stop collecting.