Topps needs some direction, apparently

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September 29, 2011 by danolaurel

Let me start by saying that I wasn’t planning on writing a critique of Topps baseball cards.  I’ve been collecting since I was 8-years- old and have recently found solace in collecting again if i’m ever having a bad day.  I just go to the office and sort through my cards.

Because I also sell baseball cards I feel it is my best interest to keep my ears to the pavement and see what the public feels about different products released over the whole spectrum of sports cards.  That involves blogging, forums, twitter, etc. Different opportunities to delve into what works, what doesn’t and what people are looking for.

I never felt this was something I had a real say in until last night when someone from Topps cards (@toppscards) responded to a tweet that I sent them.  It went a little something like this:

Me: I hope @toppscards uses the information from the critics for future releases. Card price should equal quality. Marquee, trip threads ehh-

Topps: What do you suggest we do? We added hits to Triple Threads and held price, what you like to see us do?

Me: First I’m a fan. So i’m just echoing statements I’ve read. I know you can’t please everyone all of the time.

Topps: Look forward to your feedback and direction

Now as a someone who went to school for public relations, if I was the person in charge of monitoring my companies twitter account from my Android, I would not have responded to an inquiry in this way.  I may have been contacting them at the wrong time, or the person checking their phone was having a bad day.  Either way, you asked for it…

I’m gonna keep this short and talk specifically about baseball.  I don’t really collect anything else, so I’d be remiss if I talked about subjects for which I’m not qualified. I’m also speaking as a collector, so these ideas and opinions are mine, but may be shared by others.

The reason why I like ‘Lineage’ wasn’t because of the design of the card, but because of all of the fun inserts.  It made it fun to open a pack and see the different variations that came with mini-stack of cards.  You got a chance to pull a Lou Gehrig card, and see some of the inserts that were in previous years’ sets.  I understand that was the ‘point’ of lineage, but it was fun to collect.  They were also at a reasonable price point.

Their keystone product , Topps Baseball, is a go-to product every year.  A staple for collectors to start off the year and put together your sets. (What? people are still collecting for fun and not solely for profit?!) You can find most of your favorite players, plenty of inserts, and it’s a good price point.   Is it necessary to release two series and and update set?  Probably not, but I don’t work for Topps, so I’m not going to speculate its business practices.

As a quick aside, they state plainly on the back of their packs that they do not claim that any of the cards will have any value, but you don’t run a business without knowing how to make more of it.  That’s why you sign exclusive deals with Strasburg, Harper, serial-number cards, etc.  Of course they know there’s value in the cards, and a lot of people make a living off this fact, but i digress…

Redemptions.  I know in order to provide added ‘hits’ they must sign contracts with players that may or may not hold up their end of the bargain and can’t get product signed in time for release.  Redemptions are more than annoying, but understandably a part of the headache I’m sure Topps deals with.  You’re dealing with people that collect stuff.  We are an organized group of people and we’re obsessive.  It’s an addiction in a way, but you aren’t going to make all of them happy.  If you took out redemptions, some of the greatest looking cards wouldn’t happen.  Baseball players are real people with real lives and can’t sign 1000’s of items in one sitting.  Do we wan’t to see grumpy Willy May’s again?  Let him take his time next year, Topps. Do I feel this should affect release time?  No. If you’re planning on using redemptions for a lot of your items you set a release date, then it should be pretty close to what was stated.  We all knew ‘A new release every week’ wasn’t going to be exactly right.

What could be better with Topps?  Well I’m sure it’s different things for different people.  I only collect Houston Astros.  Everything else I sell.  I just don’t have enough room and it keeps me disciplined.  Marquee, Finest, and Triple threads are all high-dollar items, but look at the checklist of players.  How many Astros do you see in the set.  Again, I know they are a business, but a better assortment throughout the 30 teams would be nice among all of the products.

Collation/Quality Control- has been a problem with Topps recently, but hit a wall with the release of Gypsy Queen.  With GQ most of the boxes were missing a hit, so collectors had to pay to send in their UPC labels to receive what they were missing.  Some players ( Brett Wallace) haven’t even been completed.  2010 Topps Chrome product was filled with warped cards, chrome was scratched on most cards, but it seems that this year’s release has been fixed.  Finally, the issue with game-used product needs to be resolved.  Recently a Lou Gehrig card surfaced showing a piece of jersey that was obviously not something Gehrig would’ve worn in his time.  Could it have been replaced? Of course, but there are questions arising about the materials used in these cards.

Advertising- A quick note about advertising.  If you show a player’s card on a box and it’s not in the release, that’s not good.  If you release a checklist of players and they are not on the release, that not good either.

This is a quick recap and I hope readers will add things that they love, or wish would change.  I merely wanted to make a point that it’d be good for a company to listen to what its customer’s are saying.  Not everyone is correct, but if you want to reach out and interact with the masses then you must at least listen.

2012 Topps Baseball looks like it’s going to be the best yet, so they’re willing to continue evolving and be the Leaders of Sports Cards.



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