2016 Topps Now

Two Topps Now Examples

Two Topps Now Examples

Topps Now is the latest marketing strategy by the grandfather of baseball card producers and is something every collector needs to pay attention to. For those who do not know what Topps Now is here is the rundown taken from the Topps website:

Imagine your favorite player throwing a no-hitter, and then getting a card of that special moment the very next day! Starting April 4, baseball fans everywhere will get the opportunity to do so.

The Topps Company is proud to introduce TOPPS NOW, a Topps.com-exclusive product that will depict the greatest moments and milestones from the 2016 Major League Baseball season almost as soon as they happen. The physical cards will be available the very next day to purchase through Topps.com, but for just 24 hours, and will not be available for purchase again.

“TOPPS NOW was inspired by input from our passionate baseball fans,” said Clay Luraschi, Topps ’Vice President of Product Development. “Magical moments will be captured on baseball cards the very next day, giving fans everywhere a chance to own a piece of history almost immediately.”

The first two cards in the TOPPS NOW set include Francisco Liriano (card. No. 1) and the Kansas City Royals (card No. 2).

TOPPS NOW cards will depict great achievements and performances throughout the 2016 season. If a player hits four home runs in a game or has a walk-off home run, baseball fans can expect to see those cards in the TOPPS NOW set the next day. TOPPS NOW combines the magic of baseball cards with the timeliness of a special moment to get cards into the hands of baseball fans and collectors in a way that has never been done before.

TOPPS NOW adds to an already great portfolio of Topps’ Major League Baseball-exclusive cards with a new card design. In addition, at the end of each card’s selling window, Topps will announce the number of cards that will be printed for each card.

Fans can also let Topps know every night what they think should be on a TOPPS NOW card through Topps’ social media accounts utilizing the hashtag #TOPPSNOW.

Now that you have the basics, you might respond, Hey! that’s great I am going to join up for this new card distribution method.” Or, perhaps you are uninterested, “Ten bucks for one card, what the hell is Topps thinking?”

2016 Topps Now Francisco Liriano

2016 Topps Now Francisco Liriano

Either way, one thing you can’t do is ignore it. Why do I say that? For a few reasons. The first is that Topps considers all these cards to be eligible for rookie card status. For those who don’t much pay attention to RC’s anymore (like me) and much prefer the first card of a player, then this might not cause much of an effect. Most player’s first cards come much earlier than when the player first achieves an appearance in the major leagues. But some do slip through the cracks, not many, but some. And those players, along with all other players who gain a Topps Now card in their rookie debut season will be considered as an RC by the company with the RC logo printed on the card.

For hobbyists who collect RC’s, this could complicate matters substantially. If rookies playing in 2016 make an impact to an extent that Topps make a card for them in Topps Now, and if that rookie did not get treatment in the sets issued in 2016, meaning he will not be on a regular issue card until 2017 then those 2017 cards which would have become RC’s may not technically be RC’s anymore. Even if they still become RC’s they might not be desirable to RC collectors as the Topps Now RC card, issued the year previous, might become the desired RC card.

With the development mentioned above, it could lead to extreme scarcity for RC cards, especially for 2016 if Topps Now cards stay at the print runs now being shown (between 500 to 1400 of each card). With such small print runs, these RC’s could become the next chase collectable for RC seekers who haven’t joined the program. Already (as of Apr. 14th, 2016) there are RCs of the following players in Topps Now: Trevor Brown, Trevor Story, Tyler White, Kenta Maeda and Nomar Mazara. Of the fifteen cards printed so far, seven show RC cards. With print runs under 2000 you can see how these cards are going to become quite desirable if these rookies make more and more of an impact in the future.

2016 Topps Now KC Royals

2016 Topps Now KC Royals

A second reason to pay attention is for those hobbyists who are player collectors. If you are a player collector who desires one of every card of a favorite player, then Topps Now might be something you will need to join in on. Although presently the non RC cards that have hit eBay have been in the $9.99 price range (the original selling price through Topps) it might not stay that way as more and more collectors get wind of this new card distribution method. Player collectors of Chris Davis, Addison Russell, Albert Pujols, Brandon Crawford, David Ortiz, Francisco Liriano, and Bryce Harper have Topps Now cards they might want to collect. Even team collectors have a Kansas City team card in Topps Now that they might want to add to their collection.

Whether Topps Now will catch on to a large extent remains to be seen. It might be a interesting blip in 2016, or it might be continue on into the future becoming a desired area of collecting by baseball hobbyists. At $9.99 a card, I will pass on it myself. I’ll let you decide on what is best for your collecting needs.

 

2016 Topps Buybacks: An Exercise in Stupidity

2016 Topps Buyback cards

2016 Topps Buyback cards

With 2016 in full swing, and much of this year’s product already on the shelves of dealers and department store chains, including Topps flagship product, you probably have come across some of this year’s Topps Buyback cards.

This is Topps 65th Anniversary and it is reflected on all of the Buyback cards in various lines of Topps product.

Topps, after realizing that just inserting random cards from years past, was an asinine gimmick, decided to stamp the cards with an insignia. Which to most collectors, including myself, is even worse.

If Topps ever wanted Buyback cards to make any sense they would purchase only those cards that are popular with collectors. Forget the 1987 Topps commons and insert a 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle, Forget an ’86 common and put in a 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson. Most of all, and I can’t emphasize this enough, don’t stamp the card!

When Topps stamps a card it doesn’t create a new card, it degrades a vintage card. Just as if you accidentally spilled some ink on the card, a Topps 65th Anniversary stamp on a vintage card makes it less desirable and drops it in grade. If you had a 1983 Topps Tony Gwynn rookie card in its original form, and a second one with the stamp which would you want? The answer is a no-brainer, why would I want a damaged Gwynn card?

To further the stupidity, this year Topps has decided to not only stamp the buyback cards but make them tiered with the stamps changing color. Although no specific numbers were given Topps did explain the color scheme itself. It is the following:

  • Black – Standard
  • Red – Limited
  • Blue – Rare
  • Silver – Scarce
  • Gold – one of ones (1/1)

Topps also included signature cards in the mix. The signature cards would be the exception to this whole 65th Anniversary debacle as they become similar to cards signed by players at the ballpark with proof of authenticity.

Returning to the tiered color scheme, WTF is Topps thinking this will accomplish? There are only so many times that Topps can think their customers are idiots before it will affect their sales. If most collectors think that stamped buybacks are just damaged cards, what will changing the color of the object of the damage do? Absolutely nothing.

Perhaps Topps needs someone to give them a much-needed piece of advice. I can be that someone…

Dear Topps,

I would like to inform you, as a representative of your concerned customer base, that your 2016 Topps Buyback promotion for your 65th Anniversary is embarrassing. You should rethink your priorities, fire or at least reprimand the people in your marketing department who thought up this scheme, and return to promotions that actually make sense.

If you do decide to continue with buyback promotions then do it correctly. There are only two kinds of buybacks that your customers are interested in. The first are cards that have significance in the hobby. Get us excited with RC’s of Hall of Famers or at least star players. Who of your loyal patrons would be upset pulling a RC of Roberto Clemente or even more recent and less expensive inductees like Paul Molitor or Wade Boggs. Thurman Munson or Alan Trammell would be a couple of non-Hall players that RC’s would be fun to pull from Topps packs of 2016. But don’t stamp them. Keep them in their original form. Every one you stamp creates one less collectible card.

The second kind of buybacks that are acceptable are the signature cards. You did it last year with the Topps Heritage Signature cards, you can keep up the good work. Perhaps put a slabbed signature in random boxes, or even just a redemption card in random packs so that cheaters don’t go looking for those boxes that seem a bit heavier that the others. Just don’t put signatures on the important rookie cards. Leave the important cards alone.

Thank you,

Your ever loyal customer,

The Ignorant Itellectual

 

 

$70.00 for Bryce Harper?

2012 Topps Update Hobby Box

2012 Topps Update Hobby Box

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper - Shirt and Jacket

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper – Shirt and Jacket

It was a fun idea. Usually, I am more apt to buy sets and/or cards from pre 90s days but I decided to try something more recent this time. Buying boxes over the internet is not usually a smart thing. eBay and other sites really nail you on the shipping costs (and usually a small mark up on the product as well). Blow Out Cards occasionally has some good deals, but it is usually on boxes of product that has failed to sell when it first came out, or was over-printed. The best way to get exactly what you want and to save money is to buy locally.

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper

In my city, there is one shop that beats out all others in pricing for all sports cards and sports cards supplies. I won’t plug it but suffice it to say they are usually about 20% cheaper than their competition. When I decide to collect something, I want to collect all of the year’s base cards. The main series and the update/rookie series as well. With Topps that usually means collecting three series of cards (Series I, Series II, and the Update). I looked over the stock of my local dealer and found that 2012 was the more recent of his product that he had boxes for all three series of cards. Other years he would have one, or sometimes two, of the series but not three.

2012 Topps Update #US183

2012 Topps Update #US183

Over the next few weeks I went in and purchases three boxes from Series One, then again three boxes from Series Two, when I returned for the Update boxes, I was in for quite a surprise. Series One sold for $34.99, Series Two for $39.99. Because I bought multiple boxes the dealer gave me a discount of 5% which further reduce my costs. But with the Update boxes he wouldn’t budge. Plus he was charging 105.00 per box. Being less knowledgeable about more recent players and cards I asked why the sharp price increase? The dealer, a man who knows much more about hockey than baseball couldn’t really tell me. He reacts to the marketplace was all he could say. I did some research and it seems that the Update set includes the rookie card and parallels etc. of Bryce Harper.

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper - Horizontal

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper – Horizontal

Now, tell me if I’m wrong but are there not many more cards that have been produced of Bryce Harper before 2012. Bowman and Topps have Harper cards in there sets in 2011. Upper Deck produced a Harper card way back in 2008. Not technically rookie cards, they nevertheless dilute the water of Bryce Harper cards. You would think demand would be much less for Harper’s actual rookie cards because of it. So why would a $70.00 price increase for the 2012 Topps Update boxes be warranted? I can’t figure it out. I passed on purchasing any of these boxes and decided to buy the base set online for $50.00.

2006 and Jeff Francoeur

2002 Bowman Chrome #23 PSA 10

2002 Bowman Chrome #23 PSA 10

After leaving the hobby in 1994, because of stupid investors and speculators and greedy sellers, I moved on to book collecting as my main hobby. I wanted a nice library of all the books I read over the years. But for a period of 2 years (2006-2007), I happened to become better acquainted with my nephew who was 13 at the time and we decided it would be a fun hobby we could do together (that is collect baseball cards). He fell out of it after about a year and I continued on for awhile but then returned back to the continuation of my book library.

But during that time you might remember a player who was a shoe-in for greatness. His cards were crazy hot. He came up with Atlanta and promptly hit .300 and popped 14 HRs in 250 AB. The man was a press and hobby darling. His next two years re-enforced the idea that he was going to be a superstar, (.260 29 103 and .293 19 103). Only Felix Hernandez was giving Jeff Francoeur any run for a monopoly of hobby love during this period of time. But then the excrement hit the electric wind maker and Jeff’s production tanked. He didn’t reach 20 HRs again until 2011 while with Kansas City and he never drove in 100 runs again. Seven teams and 10 years later the man is still around (playing in Philadelphia) and he is only 31 years of age.

2009 Topps Heritage #37

2009 Topps Heritage #37

Francoeur is the perfect example of how sometimes when a player is brought up to the majors at a very young age (19-21) they slump, become prone to injuries and generally suffer over the length of their career. Some young players rise to the challenge stay mostly injury-free and play long enough to enter the Hall, but many like Francoeur, have negative effects after a few years.

Avoid the hype of young players and be patient before you start dishing out 20 dollar bills for rookie and limited insert cards. Let those young phenoms prove their worth and your wallet will thank you later on.

Beckett Magazine, Once Great Now Irrelevant

Beckett Magazine Covers

Beckett Magazine Covers

Being an avid Beckett magazine collector, I thought it was depressing when Beckett was sold off in 2005 and it seemed to change. Presently, there is a large contingent of sports card collectors who find Beckett tarnished and bad for the hobby. Suing everyone from COMC to Zistle seems to be what’s fueling this antagonism, but that may just be the latest gripe in a long list of gripes that hobbyists have had for Beckett. Another guess may be that Beckett charges too much for their online website features.

Personally, I really enjoyed Beckett once the print magazine became a glossy, beautifully photographed, and article-driven publication. I had little interest in the ups and downs of the price guide as I always decided myself what to pay for a card or cards not relying on the magazine to dictate what a card was worth. The price guide which although always tried to be accurate, never really was. What I do love about price guides was their checklists as this information helped you find missing cards and inserts that you may not have known about.

I could never quite decide on whether Beckett monthly was good or bad for the hobby. There were price guides before Beckett, that were put out on a yearly basis, which was fine, as they were mostly used as intended, a guide, not a bible on prices. If you wanted to buy a certain card for 150.00 and a dealer was selling it for 250.00, rarely did the dealer or the buyer pull out the yearly guide to show the other the price. When Beckett came out with a monthly price guide, it stopped being a guide really, everyone used it to buy and sell cards. If a card was over Beckett price, the dealer was accused of gouging his customers, if it was below Beckett the dealer was thought of as ignorant or dumb. The guide became somewhat a straight jacket on the flexibility of dealers to price their own merchandise. Which is ironic because it’s the dealers which would send in pricing to Beckett through their magazine survey.

It is my informed opinion that you can fault or congratulate Beckett for doing one thing. Inadvertently increasing the cost of purchasing sports cards and other memorabilia. How so you may ask? Well with a readily available monthly price guide, people were more confident in buying cards. There was less guess work for investors and collectors as the prices were right there in the magazine. This increased sales of cards. Not only for new product, but also for older cards. The movement of cards from one person to another increased and at each stop, the card usually went up in price. This pricing info was sent to Beckett and Beckett reflected it in their guide.

Before, if you bought a card you needed experience and knowledge to pay a good price. So many were wary to buy a card at a price above their comfort zone (whatever that happened to be at the time). Many collectors were scared of being ripped off so they would pass at high priced cards or barter for a lower price. It’s why before Beckett Monthly became popular, you could have rookie cards of HOF players in the tens or low hundreds of dollars, with the few elite players card in the thousands. After Beckett popularity these cards dramatically increased in price. One person would buy a card for 50.00 and resell it 2 months later for 100.00. Then the card would be again resold for 200.00 in another few months. Why did this happen? Because Beckett’s guide made everyone able to understand what cards were out there, which were the most desired ones, and how best to find them. Beckett magazine was one of a few factors that made baseball cards more expensive to collect. It made everything more efficient and turnover of cards was quicker. Upper Deck’s entry in 1989 and the Gretzky/McNall T206 Wagner card purchase for $450k in 1991 were two other factors. All these factors led to 1000s of new collectors coming into the hobby which was the catalyst for the increase across the board for the prices of cards. If you ever want to promote a hobby, standardize it with a catalog and especially a price guide and prices for these collectibles will most likely rise.

Beckett didn’t fix prices but they helped popularize the hobby and made it easier for sellers each month to push the boundary of Beckett’s High price a little each month. Bartering was a common occurrence before Beckett Monthly, but after it decreased as buyers and especially sellers would not negotiate as much. Sellers would often say to me, “Why are you trying to barter with me? it’s already priced reasonably, just check the guide.”

By 1993 I mostly gave up on collecting cads. But I continued to read the magazine, reading the front then flipping quickly over the price guide in the middle to find the articles at the back. but slowly over time the magazine got thicker, and thicker, and the articles got fewer and fewer. as they were cannibalized by the price guide. Then the print got smaller and smaller until you needed a magnifying glass to read the price guide when you were trying to organize your base set, inserts, parallels etc. and see what rare cards were available in the different sets.

Now the magazine is mostly irrelevant. The price guide is pointless. Monthly pricing is passe as daily pricing can be had by looking at online auction sales. When the time came to choose between a monthly print magazine full of articles on the hobby, or pricing on the thousands upon thousand of new cards issued each year, Beckett chose the latter and lost a majority of its subscribers. Even moving the pricing online didn’t clue them in that a printed monthly guide is irrelevant and what they should do is make a magazine with stories rather than prices.

Beckett did get a clue when they published a couple of magazines called Beckett Vintage Collector Magazine last year, It contains articles without a price guide, let’s hope they continue to do this.

Beckett Vintage Collector Magazine

Beckett Vintage Collector Magazine

2001 Topps – Through the Years Reprints

2001 Topps - Through the Years Reprints

2001 Topps – Through the Years Reprints

This 50 card insert set is a fun set to collect. The cards have that vintage feel to them without the vintage price. Personally I wouldn’t collect a reprint set as a set itself but somehow it being an insert in this situation makes all the difference. It’s because it’s only a small part of a regular issue that gives the incentive to collect it. If Topps came out with a reprint set as the set itself I wouldn’t understand the point of spending the money on it. Once you collect all the cards all you have is a reprint set, you may as well collect the original set instead, or collect a newer non-reprint set.

Anyone else collect or have collected these inserts?

Topps, What Were You Thinking?

Perhaps some of you are fans of the parallel set that have come out through the years, The Golds, Platinums, Silvers, Reds, Greens, etc. Although a rare few try to complete these sets, numerous collectors do try to complete, of their favourite player, what is known in the hobby as a rainbow set. That is, for the uninitiated, one each of the base card and all the parallels of their favourite player. This might be a fun pursuit, even if some of those parallel’s are 1/1 5/5 or 25/25s. But it could also be quite frustrating if the cards can not be found. But if the deed is accomplished you could have the only rainbow set of that player from that set in all the world.

Topps Chase Cards

Topps Chase Cards

But what happens when the parallel has 500-800 different cards? Would you try to collect all of them? How about if the border doesn’t change but instead they place a number on the front of the card to indicate a certain amount of a certain statistical digit the player has accomplished? Well that’s what Topps did with some of their sets back in 2006-2008. And the statistic was career home runs. Not satisfied with duplicating a card several hundreds of times for just one great player (Mickey Mantle) they decided to continue the nonsense with Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Josh Gibson. If that wasn’t enough, they expanded beyond the career home runs to include DiMaggio’s two hitting streaks. the more famous 56 game hitting streak he accomplished in the majors, and the less famous 61 game hit streak he accomplished while in the minors.

Topps Joe DiMaggio Hitting Streak Cards

Topps Joe DiMaggio Hitting Streak Cards

In order to get every one of these insert cards, which for all intents and purposes are exactly alike, you would need to find over 2000 cards. Imagine filling a binder with Mantle’s Home Run History cards, it would look something like this:

Topps Mickey Mantle Home Run History Insert Cards

Topps Mickey Mantle Home Run History Insert Cards

So the question remains: What was Topps thinking?

My only guess is that they were lazy people and thought us chimp-brains might not notice the stupidity of it all and run around pursuing these cards ad nauseam. Use your talents to better improve the cards, not repeat and repeat card after card so that opening packs becomes routine and boring. You should know better than that Topps, shame shame.

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Baseball

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Box Top

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Box Top

I’m not much for recent cards. In my searches locally I have purchased cards from the early 2000s and I personally bought boxes of 2006 and 2007 Topps and Fleer products when I returned to the hobby at that time from a 15 year absence. But my concentration has been from 81-93 for set collecting and then good cards of HOF players during that era and earlier.

But when Topps came out with their first Signature Series boxes last year I was intrigued. I’m not much into collecting auto cards either, if I happen to pull one that’s cool, but I don’t chase after them. This product was Topps first buy back issue that was not used as inserts. It meant that you were guaranteed a signature card. Which for me, made a signature card more attractive.

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Rollie Fingers

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Rollie Fingers

For those of you not knowing much about this product here is a short description. Topps went out and bought back a bunch of their cards in the secondary market. Then they got a bunch of players (retired) to sign these cards. They sent the cards to the printer to stamp on a gold foil “Topps Archives 2015” logo and a serial number ranging from 1/1 to around 99/99. The players who signed these cards range from HOF players like Sandy Koufax (the main attraction for collectors), Ken Griffey Jr., John Smoltz, Rollie Fingers, and other non-HOF stars like Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green and Andres Galarraga. They then took the cards and sealed them in a plastic container (slabbed as it were) and attached a Topps Archives gold colored sticker wrapped front to back at the top right of the container.

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Fred McGriff

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Fred McGriff

Once Topps got the card together (signature, foil stamping, plastic encasement) they then put one of these cards in each box of the product. You buy a box, you get just one card. You buy a case, you get 20 boxes, or 20 signature cards. You will see a range of Topps and Bowman cards in the product ranging mostly from the 80s, 90s, 00s. Pulls I have seen have come from 1987 Topps, 1992 Topps, 1991 Stadium Club, 1994 Bowman. All these cards are actually worth pennies until Topps stamps and players sign them. You will not get any rookie card signatures here, not that you would actually want them as many would say the rookie cards are defaced with a signature on them.

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Sandy Koufax

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Sandy Koufax

When this product was released it was understood to be quite limited. When you pulled cards that were 1/1s at a rate of 2-4 per case you could see why. The SRP, to my understanding was 40.00, but many dealers held back the product from its initial release in order to raise the price later (I see greed still pervades the hobby). But I’m not sure why. Because in the end, I decided not to purchase a case or even a box of this product.

I waited and watched some case breaks on you tube and the pulls were nothing spectacular. I would have difficulty paying 40.00 or 50.00 on a 1992 Topps card of Andres Galarraga. In fact all the cards I saw pulled from cases, whether from HOF players or not are cards I already have sans-signature. For me it’s hard to get excited for a 1987 Topps star card even if it now has a signature and gold foil stamping on it. I have seen the card already for over 15 years already. It’s like dressing up a rat in a tuxedo. In the end it’s still a rat.

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Nolan Ryan

2015 Topps Archives Signature Series Nolan Ryan

Probably the people who eventually pulled or will pull a Sandy Koufax or Nolan Ryan Signature might think the purchase was worth it, but my guess is everyone else will be yawn-struck.