Today, I'm following their lead and venting some steam of my own in regards to my all-time favorite baseball card company: Topps.
2017 Topps Bunt #73
Last week I read over on Cards on Cards that Topps dropped Topps Bunt from their lineup. Part of me was a little bummed, because it was a cheap and simple product with a solid design in 2017. On the other hand, one less Topps baseball product is exactly what the hobby needs (in my humble opinion).
2017 Topps Bunt Blue #73
2017 Topps Independence Day #ID-5
The past few years, I've grown more and more annoyed with Topps flooding the hobby with their excessive number of parallels and cheesy inserts. It takes me back to the 90's when our hobby was oversaturated with stuff, supply exceeded demand, and card values plummeted.
If you're one of those collectors who could care less about card values, then this might seem like a good thing. Trust me. I'm not in this hobby to make money. But I'd like to know that I'm not throwing my money down the drain either.
And if we ever hope to get kids back into collecting, don't you think that they'd want to pull something of value too?
I honestly don't have the end all... be all answer to our hobby's problems. However, I have a few ideas that I feel would benefit our hobby in the long run.
#1: End the Topps monopoly.
2008 UD Masterpieces #81
Competition breeds innovation. Topps doesn't need to be creative, because they don't really have any serious competition (well at least when it comes to my wallet). Sure there are companies like Leaf and Panini, but there are a percentage of collectors out there that want to see team logos on their trading cards.
#2: Limit the number of products card companies can release each year.
Did you know that Topps released over forty baseball products last year? Don't believe me? Here's a list that I was able to produce:
Topps Series One
Topps Series Two
Topps Series Two
Topps Allen and Ginter
Topps Allen and Ginter X
Topps Archives Signature Series Postseason
Topps Archives Signature Series Player Edition
Topps Archives Snapshots
Topps Clearly Authentic
Topps Definitive Collection
Topps Diamond Icons
Topps Five Star
Topps Gold Label
Topps Gypsy Queen
Topps Heritage Minor League
Topps High Tek
Topps Opening Day
Topps Pro Debut
Topps Stadium Club
Topps Tier One
Topps Triple Threads
Bowman High Tek
Now I'm not 100% positive all of these products were actually released... but at the same time, I'm not 100% certain that this list is complete. There could have been a few products I missed.
Honestly... if that doesn't open our eyes to overproduction, then I'm not sure anything will. It also helps explain Topps and their lack of creativity. Simply put, they're spread too thin.
My solution? Major League Baseball should limit the number of baseball card products produced each year. Since Topps is currently the only company to hold an MLB license to make trading cards and I have the opportunity to play Cardboard God, I'd limit them to 10 to 12 products in 2019.
Here's a peek at my suggested product line for them:
Product #1: Low-end, kid friendly product (ex. Topps Kids, Topps Bunt, Topps Total, etc.)
Product #2: Flagship product: Series 1, Series 2, and Update would count as one product.
Product #3: Chrome flagship product: Series 1 and Update would count as one product.
Product #4: Mid-range product (Stadium Club, Archives, Topps Gallery, Topps Gold Label, etc.)
Product #5: High-end product (Museum Collection, Five Star, Triple Threads, etc.)
Product #6: Topps Now (for online exclusive fans)
Product #7: Heritage
Product #8: Retro themed product (Allen and Ginter, Gypsy Queen, T206, Murad, Turkey Red, etc.)
Product #9: Bowman Draft
Product #10: Another minor league/prospect product (Bowman Chrome, Topps Pro Debut, Heritage Minors, etc.)
Product #11: Collector's choice. Give collectors a list of options and allow them to vote on a product.
Product #12: Topps's choice.
Honestly... twelve products feels like a bit too much... especially when you consider that some of us collected back in an era when Topps only produced one set each year. However I realize that some collectors have gotten used to products like Chrome, Heritage, and Topps Now, so twelve seemed like a happy medium.
This number would drop for Topps if Major League Baseball would be willing to grant other companies licenses to produce cards. For example, if MLB were to give Upper Deck their license back, then Topps and Upper Deck would each be granted 5 to 6 products each year.
#3: Rotate certain popular products.
Obviously limiting the number of products that card companies can release would force the to put some of their popular products on the chopping block. To counter this problem, they could produce a product wheel releasing certain products every few years.
2014 Allen and Ginter #223
2005 Topps Turkey Red #310
2012 Gypsy Queen #252
For example, let's take a look at their retro themed products. If Topps put Allen and Ginter, Turkey Red, and Gypsy Queen on a wheel, we would only see each of these products once every three years.
The same theory could be applied to their low-end, mid-range, high-end, and minor league products as well and still give collectors what they desire without flooding the market.
#4: Limit the number of insert sets and parallels too.
Card companies would try to bend the rules by creating a bunch of different insert sets and parallels to counter their limited number of product lines.
If I were a Cardboard God, I'd limit them to four (maybe five) parallels or insert sets per product. However, I'd allow them to transfer their unused balance to another product within that same year.
2017 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection Relics #CCR-JAL
2016 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs #ROA-AK
In other words, if Topps decided that Heritage would only have two insert sets (Clubhouse Collection relics and Real One autographs) and no parallels, they could pass their two unused parallels/insert sets to Topps Chrome (or any other Topps baseball card product), which would now have the ability to create six parallel/insert sets.
2000 Topps Gallery Gallery of Heroes #GH10
2015 Topps Chrome Refractor #1
Setting this limit would force card companies to choose wisely about the inserts and parallels they create and design, which would hopefully result in interesting and beautiful inserts and parallels for us to collect.
#5: Certify all game-used memorabilia cards properly.
2015 Topps Strata Clearly Authentic Autographed Relics #CAAR-CKW
These holograms allowed collectors to look up and see exactly what game their swatch of jersey was used in. Topps should attached these holograms to the backs of every game-used memorabilia card and add a tamper proof seal to keep collectors from removing them and affixing them to other cards.
Card companies should be required to acquire all game-used memorabilia of current players from Major League Baseball and no longer use third party sources.
And there should be a well-written certificate of authenticity on the back of each card to give collectors a sense of security.
I'm not sure of what's the best way to acquire retired and deceased baseball player's jerseys. Any ideas?
#6: Make game-used memorabilia cards and autographs tougher to pull.
1997 Upper Deck Game Jersey #GJ2
The other reason game-used memorabilia cards have lost their luster is they're way too easy to pull and they literally litter our hobby. Autographs too. Card companies should make both of these items tougher to pull, so that collectors can remember how it feels to pull a "hit" from a pack.
#7: All autographed cards should be hard-signed and witnessed by a company representative.
I'm tired of hearing stories about mothers, brothers, and wives signing cards for players. It's simple. Send representatives to Spring Training and to games throughout the season and have them sit down with players to sign the cards. I realize that this would require some forethought on the company's part, but since they're no longer producing 40+ products each season, they'll have more time on their hands.
As an added bonus, this would also reduce the need for card companies to use redemption cards.
I'm sure that there are plenty of other ways to improve our hobby... but this post has already taken me over two hours to write and I'm exhausted.
So it's your turn. If you were a Cardboard God...
What would you do to improve our hobby?
As usual... I look forward to reading and responding to your comments. Who knows... maybe someone over at Topps will read this post and consider some of our ideas.
Happy Tuesday and sayonara!