30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Original and Obsolete

Although I'm not a huge fan, I completely understand collectors' interest in all of the Topps online exclusive trading cards.  Personally I'm more fascinated with their predecessor: eTopps.

eTopps was a line of cards produced by Topps from 2001 to 2011 that were sold exclusively online through their eTopps websiteCollectors could buy cards and put them in their online portfolio, while Topps stored the physical copies in a climate controlled warehouse until the owner was ready to have them shipped.

Unfortunately, I left the hobby back in 2001, so I never really experienced eTopps until later in the decade when I started collecting again.  By then I was too busy catching up with memorabilia cards, autographs, and rebuilding my player and team collections to focus on them.

By January 2012, Topps announced that they wouldn't be offering any new eTopps cards for collectors to purchase, but would maintain their eTopps website and allow collectors to request shipment of cards sitting in their portfolio.  It seems like high shipping costs have prevented some collectors from ever having their portfolios shipped to them.

I've only purchased eTopps on the secondary market.  My most recent purchase was this Albert Pujols rookie card:

2001 eTopps #143 (Print Run: 5,000)

This card is the most I've ever spent on a single eTopps card.  It set me back $27.80 (+ $3.50 shipping), but I figured it was worth it.  It's a great looking card that features a portrait and action shot on card stock that resembles Gold Label from the late 90's.

Topps didn't produce every eTopps card in equal amounts.  Honestly, I'm not 100% sure how they decided the quantity, but I'm guessing some cards were printed with a specific number in mind, while others were printed to the number of preorders received (similar to Topps Now).

Topps printed 5,000 these Pujols, which is significantly higher than the majority of eTopps trading cards out there.

However the Ichiro rookie card owns the title of having the highest eTopps print run:

2001 eTopps #100 (Print Run: 10,000)

Topps produced 10,000 of these, which explains why they're so affordable.  I purchased this copy off of COMC back in 2014 for $12.50Five years later, they still only sell in the $12 to $20 range.

So if you're in the market for an attractive and affordable Ichiro rookie card, I'd highly recommend going out and picking up one of the 9,999 other copies floating around out there.  And while you're at it, you might as well grab the other 2001 Rookie of the Year Award winner as well:

They look marvelous next to each other.

Next up is my Kurt Suzuki rookie card:

2007 eTopps #67 (Print Run: 749)

This card was an eBay purchase from a few years ago.  Outside of one of his autographs or printing plates... it represents one of the most expensive Kurt Suzuki cards I've ever purchased.  I spent $5.99 (free shipping) on this card.  As much as I enjoy the overall look of this card, I probably wouldn't dish out more than a buck or two these days.  Back then I was a little more aggressive in attempting to track down as many Kurt Suzuki's as I could find.

If Kurt is the worst eTopps bargain, I'll wrap this post up with my best eTopps bargain:

2005 eTopps #57 (Print Run: 1,200)

Based on my records, this might have been the first eTopps card I ever bought.  I picked it up off of eBay back in early 2010 for $17.50 (+ $2.99 shipping).  I wish I would have bought a few more, because these days they sell for upwards of $200.

There are a few more eTopps singles I'd eventually like to add to my collection, but the bargain hunter in me forces me to be patient.  But that's okay.  I pretty much waited until Topps stopped producing eTopps cards to start collecting them.

Who knows... maybe in ten or fifteen years I'll start chasing down a bunch of Topps Now cards.

What about you?

Did you ever buy into the whole eTopps thing?  Do you actively chase down Topps Now or Living Set singles?

Well that's it for today.  Happy Wednesday and sayonara!


  1. Yes I buy the ToppsNow and Topps Living. Although never directly through Topps. Honestly I don’t get the Etopps stuff.

  2. Like you, I wasn't around when eTopps was active, but I have picked up a few on the secondary market since. I think the 1985 Topps style refractors are my favorite. I got a Griffey and Ichiro.

    I very rarely mess with Topps Now cards.. I think I average picking up one per season.

    I'm not into the Topps Living Set at all (too expensive for what they are and most of the paintings creep me out), but maybe someday I'll be inspired to pick one up.

  3. That's interesting! Having left collecting in North America in 1993, and only rejoined the hobby after moving to Japan, this is the first I've ever heard of eTopps.

    Its kind of funny to me that a print run of 10,000 cards like for that Ichiro is considered high, I remember back in the early 90s sets with production runs that must have been hundreds of thousands or even millions of each card being sold as "limited" print runs!

  4. I have never purchased an eTopps, Topps Now, or Living Set card. Number one, I don't have that kind of money to blow on cards, number two, it just seems like Topps doesn't care and just puts out mediocre products for high prices that they know upper class collectors will buy. Everyone can collect what they want, but I would probably never buy any, unless I had a bigger cardboard income and they were of a player I collect or a great moment (4 HR game, 20K game, someone's 3,000th hit or 500th HR).
    I have also not seen any in dime or dollar boxes at a show, but if I saw one that I could add to one of my player collections or highlight binders, I think I would get one, I just would probably never get one online right when it is released.

  5. I missed most of the eTopps time. I think I was back in the hobby just prior to them going away. I have two and frankly I can't remember where I got them but I'm fairly sure I never had a account. One is a mini-sized johnny Unitasa and the other is a Matt Weiters card which I purchased simply because it was the only card of him from Topps at the time.

    I've picked up a couple of the Topps Now cards, mostly because hey were the only/best option for my fantasy baseball collection. I also bought a couple for events I witnessed. Best example...I just happened to decide to watch Jake Arrieta pitch one night on TV and darned if he didn't throw that no-hitter! I bought them all from eBay sellers because they are so much cheaper. I did buy a couple of Astros WS sets from Topps to give as gifts to my sons.

  6. I never did the eTopps thing when it was around, and I think I only have about two or three in my collection at the moment that I bought secondhand. I don't have the budget for the Topps Now stuff -- I own maybe a half-dozen in all.

  7. Every eTopps card and Topps Living card in my collection was sent to me by other collectors. Most of the Topps Now cards in my collection also were (I bought a couple, but that's where that ends).

    The eTopps cards, however, are far more interesting-looking than the Now or Living cards.

  8. I have never purchased eTopps, but do know that shipping can be quite high. Interesting concept for sure!

  9. I've got a couple of eTopps Browns cards on the secondary market, and there are more I want to buy.

    I haven't bought any Panini Instant Browns cards directly but have picked up a few on the secondary market for cheaper prices.

  10. eTopps, Topps Now, Living Set...none of these are in my collection or even on my radar. Me, my budget and my time schedule are quite content with Topps flagship, Heritage and the occasional oddball sets.

  11. I've toyed around with the idea of maybe chasing Topps complete run of baseball eTopps but the price of a 2011 Trout is what's holding me back. There are a few more that I would like to purchase though. I'm wondering how long Topps will hold on to the inventory of those who have purchased cards but never had them shipped.

  12. I keep thinking about getting the eTopps World Baseball Classic cards from 2009 as they are the only WBC cards from that year that I don't have but I just can't convince myself it's worth the time and money. I was at the Phillies game last Saturday that Bryce Harper hit his first home run with his new team so I decided to buy the ToppsNow card for it directly from Topps just to see what the experience was like. Since I don't really collect MLB cards my only other experience with ToppsNow are the 2017 WBC cards which I almost have all of now.

    Now I'd be all over the Epoch One cards for NPB if they'd ship to the States...

  13. eTopps was a neat concept. I liked having a portfolio of cards. I used to bargain hunt on them for eBay to build a collection, but I don't think I ever got passed 20-25 cards.

    I always thought there was great opportunity in some sort of digital card portfolio...sort of a combination of eTopps and Diamond Giveaway website. That was the closest it ever got, I think. I loved pulling the cards and trading them, and choose to have them shipped if you wanted. I know there are lot of costs involved to store cards, but that was so much fun in 2011 pulling the giveaway codes, entering them on the website, and then trading.

  14. eTopps predates my return to the hobby. I've only bought one on-demand offering from Topps and that was the lenticular 3d/action cards they released last summer. I've also grabbed one of the black and white offerings from COMC. In other words, if I really like what the card is I'll get one but that's so-far been a very high bar.

  15. I never did ETopps and its lifespan was during my go around of collecting but I did briefly get into Topps Now big time in 2017. With Judgemania and also the Astros World Series run i bought a ton of cards off there. In hindsight it would've probably been better to wait it out and pick up things off Ebay but at the time I was really into it and just wanted to ensure I'd get the cards I wanted. I backed off though after that making only 1 one topps now purchase last year and pretty much lost interest altogether

  16. Thanks for this post and I am not sure I ever heard of eTopps before; it was active when I wasn't, and since the players I collect were out of baseball by the time this started up...I guess it's easy to see how I could have missed it. I've done a couple ToppsNOW cards. Topps Living is toilet paper.

  17. I wasn't around for most of the eTopps run either. I don't own any, but I do like them. The Topps Living and the ToppsNOW however, are of absolute no interest to me.

  18. mark hoyle - i think etopps is similar to topps now in the sense that it was an online issue and i'm pretty sure some of them were printed to the number of preorders. the big difference is that topps stored them until the owner was ready to have them shipped.

    defgav - yeah the 85 topps refractors are nice with those black borders. as for topps now, if i found them super cheap, i'd grab them for my pc's. outside of that, i only really want them if i was there in attendance.

    sean - i know. the original donruss elite inserts #'d to 10k still command good money.

    jeremya1um - if i ever saw any etopps, topps now, or living set singles sitting in a dime box, i'd grab them all and try to flip them on ebay. i'm with you, i won't buy it direct. however if something big happens at a game i attend, then i'd buy a topps now card on ebay to commemorate the event

    commishbob - the wieters card sounds pretty cool. wasn't there something between him and topps that prevented topps from producing cards for years?

    nick - how many of those topps now cards did you find in a dime box? ;)

    night owl - the etopps cards i own are all pretty nice cards. very shiny and printed on thick card stock. i think they're much more attractive than the topps now sets

    sumomenkoman - i'd love to know how much they're charging to have portfolios shipped. the plastic holders can make packages pretty heavy

    angus - good to know that panini jumped on the topps now bandwagon. i wonder if upper deck does it for hockey

    bbcardz - i respect that. i don't even target flagship or heritage. most of my money goes towards autographs, rookie cards, and the occasional 90's insert

    reds card collector - best of luck if you decide to chase down the entire run. would you crack them out of their holders and put them into binders? i could imagine it would take up a ton of space. and i was wondering the same thing about topps and how long their willing to store these cards for. can't imagine they want to store them forever

    npb card guy - wow. even japan has their own version of topps now? that's cool. i'd love to won the 2009 etopps wbc japan team set one day, but like you, i don't want to spend the money people are looking to get.

    the lost collector - oh man... totally forgot about the diamond giveaway cards. i never actually got into it, but i do remember many other collectors did.

    nick vossbrink - i'd love to pick up a few of those lenticular cards, but much like the topps now and living set, i refuse to pay top dollar. if i ever find them sitting in a dollar bin, i'd consider it though

    chris p - i'm curious. has all of those 2017 topps now cards held their value? i remember hearing about certain low print run cards going for crazy money.

    peter k steinberg - topps living is toilet paper. i love the comparison.

    jon - refresh my memory. what teams do you collect? i might have an etopps card or two to send your way.

    1. Well..i only went after the relics and autos so unforunately i doubt any of my stuff is worth the prices i paid for. Not familiar really with the regular base cards but some do carry high prices due to low print run

    2. The on-demand 3D pack was $20 for 8 cards. I figured $2.50/card wasn't awful considering how much of a lenticular junkie I am.

      But yes MOST of the on-demand sets cost way too much because they're still relying on hits and parallels as a way of getting people to buy. Like this year's Black and White set was something stupid like $50/pack because of autograph chances and other things. I would've totally paid $20 for a base-only pack of those (instead I just bought a Posey of ebay for a couple bucks)

  19. I have a few eTopps cards but I would never have paid the price that Topps wanted for them. Ant that I have were either sent to me from other people or I snagged out of a bargain bin at a card show.

    I have never got into the Topps Now cards. It always just seemed like a money grab to me.

  20. I loved em'!Waiting for the new crop of cards to drop so you can hopefully be one of the first few to score your favorite players before they sold out was fun as heck!You could also bid on other members cards and place your own cards In an auction.I can't remember If trading was allowed.I thought It was great while It lasted. I've got about 10 In my collection.

  21. i have a couple after-markt eTopps - a Campy and a Cobb. I picked up the first Living Set with Castellanos for a friend. (She has a nice card!) I have purchased NOW Altuves also after-market for around $5 each, free s/h. I just don't buy into the hype. Topps will rush to print these and invariably many cards have errors or perhaps, poor photo selections - or even crappy table cloth relics.

  22. I wasn't collecting when eTopps was a thing. I have a full run of the Living Set and a relatively large number of Topps Now cards from baseball, wrestling, and UFC. For baseball I mostly stick with cards featuring Astros or fun/funny moments, like the Rally Mantis, Bartolo Colon's antics, Bryce Harper's recent bat flip, and the Manny Machado tablecloth relic.

  23. Seems I was one of the few (of this group) that actively bought (and traded) eTopps! From my memory of the program, Topps would have IPOs each week (Initial Player Offerings) and would open up pre-orders essentially for a set amount of time. Later they started doing cards for milestone achievers (ala Topps Now), but I see to remember a lot of the focus of eTopps was on rookies. I bought in on a lot of cards, Jeff Francoeur, Freddie Freeman, Cam Newton...and yes, even Sean May (UNC Tarheel NBA bust). It was fun speculating, checking you’re “stock” to see if the player was trending and if the value was up, down or neutral. I loved how easy it was to trade via their site and how you could buy an eBay auction and have them transferred from the seller’s portfolio to yours. Yes, the high shipping costs sucked and it took me forever to eventually have my entire portfolio shipped to me, however the cards were/are simply beautiful in hand. I really miss the program and kept thinking it would be back in some form. They could run it side by side with Topps Now since ultimately they focus on different things. Oh well, one can wish.

  24. I have a few hanging around, that Pujols is one of them. I actually recently bought one, have not posted it yet, but they made a Durham Bulls card. I was really surprised.

  25. These were nice cards and I remember the eTopps hype at the beginning, but I only browsed the site once or twice. I didnt see anything worth purchasing, and I still dont have any encased eTopps cards (only one or two free-range singles) but after reading this post I kind of wish I'd bought some. Congrats on scooping up those great RCs - especially the Rodgers!

  26. chris p - that's not surprising. i'm sure there are a few collectors out there trying to build a master set of these and those short printed cards might pose a problem... especially if some are sitting in people's portfolios

    nick vossbrink - i liked the look of the lenticular cards. one of these days i'll build the a's team set... assuming i can find singles in dollar bins

    adame - you bring up an interesting point... i wonder what the original price of these cards were from topps.

    bit tone - glad to hear at least one collector out there view it from a positive perspective. by the way you described it, i could see how some collectors would be interested in them

    acrackedbat - i totally want one of those stupid table cloth relics and it wouldn't be for my padres pc... it'd just be a nice conversation piece

    raz - full run of the living set? wow. that's pretty cool... and quite the investment.

    flywheels - my father is really big into the stock market and i was comparing card collecting to that. i wish i had read this comment earlier... i would have used etopps as an example. ps. i just mentally added the freeman etopps rookie to my wantlist

    the snorting bull - that's really cool i wonder if they made any sj giants cards.

    chris - i'm tempted to pop these out of their cases b/c they take up space, but i know if i ever decide to sell them it'll probably hurt their value

  27. I was part of the eTopps beta test. We had to purchase and request shipment on at least one card. At the end of the test program we were to submit our feedback and in return Topps sent us 5 eTopps rookie cards. I don’t know where mine are any more. I can’t remember all 5 of the rookies except Josh Hamilton and Sean Burroughs. The card I purchased was a 2000 eTopps Emmitt Smith card that I ended up selling right before he broke the all-time rushing record.

    1. corky - wow... that's pretty cool that you were part of the beta test. and it sounds like you got top dollar for that emmitt smith.