Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stale Gum's Blog Bat Around Fixing Topps

I'm sure you've already seen a few of these posts.  Chris over at Stale Gum posted this Blog Bat Around:

"In the interest of full disclosure, I was going to post my annual rant about Topps Baseball. But, you've heard it all before and the last think you want to read is another anti-gimmick diatribe. So instead, I'm opening up the floor and want to hear from you. Here's the Blog Bat Around question:

Michael Eisner has just fired the entire Topps Product Development staff and chose to hire you to take their place. Mr. Eisner has given you carte blanche to do whatever you want with Topps Baseball -- as long as you keep it under $2/pack.

If you were in charge of Topps, and based upon what you've seen of 2011 Topps Baseball Series One, what (if anything) would you have done differently?"

I figure I'd throw my two cents in the ring since I can.

First lets be clear I love the ecclectia in trading cards, the weird stuff, oddballs, minis, die-cuts, ect.  I miss the food issues from the 70's, 80's and 90's and I hate the exclusivity deals in the the sports card world, all sports included. 

So what would I do?   Let start off with this year.  All the pointless crappy inserts gone.  That means, The History of Topps, Diamond Duos, 60 Years of Topps reprints, Topps Town and the Topps 60th inserts, all gone.  I like the idea of the Lost Cards.  But why make these look like the 60 YOT reprints?  Even the backs look the same.  I think it's a great concept and interesting, at least I find it interesting. 

OK lets rebuild.  First the abortion that is the Topps web presence has to go.  New website and blog.  I hire at least one full time person to run it, add content and keep it up to date.  I add current, easy to use and complete checklists for all products released and if possible upcoming.  I make the redemption center easy to use and up to date with current status of redemptions.  The Topps Giveaway sites I make easier to use and trade with fellow collectors, I put out a sane shipping policy and pricing.

Next I fire the guy they hired to handle complaints and customer service and I hire two guys (or girls) to over see quality control.  That means all cards going into packs, all hits, the quality of the hits and autographs, and customer service.  That means I don't have to provide 20 wrappers, a upc, receipt, and my social security number to get a card replaced. 

Next I start an forum where collectors can voice their opinions on what they like and dislike about the product.  A place to get feedback on what collector's would like to see and what they don't want to see. 

No more claiming that a manufactured product is a relic.  Truth on the box.  Jumbo's contain, 1 auto, 1 relic and 1 other collectible.  As stated above I like the oddballs and weird stuff.  That's why I liked the Hat Patch and Bat Barrel cards.  And why I like the idea of the glove name plates, just not the execution of the idea.

Get rid of pointless sets like Opening Day and Chrome that use the same picture's, layout, and design as the base flagship set.  I like the look of Chrome, not the with the current warping issues, but shiny is never bad.  If we are going to put out a chrome product it'll be different.  If nothing else the Opening Day and Chrome cards can be parallel inserts.  Hell lets make them numbered parallel inserts like Gold and Black cards.  And we are going back to foil number stamping.  No more of this black printed numbering.  It looks like shit and cheapens the cards.

Let's reduce the number of retro sets.  We'll keep A and G and Heritage, but no more National Chicle or Gypsy Queen and lets bring Prime over to baseball or at least the concept or maybe revamp Stadium Club. We'll make the retro card inserts instead. 

Here's a radical idea.  No more sticker autos!  As a matter of fact, to bring value back to the autos in the set, no more guaranteed "hits"  All relics and autos are numbered and limited and all autos are on card.  Now wait your saying wha? no way I won't buy it unless I know I'm getting an auto or jersey card.  Really, so the only reason you would buy that box is if you know that you'll get a sticker auto of a crappy pitcher or a white swatch relic from some unrated rookie?  What if I told you there might be a Albert Pujols auto in that box numbered to 25?  Or Alex Rodriguez, or a Hank Aaron Relic auto numbered to 5?  Still no value in the box?  Let's bring back inserts like Rookie Stars and Turn back the clock.  How about tiered inserts, oddballs, and buybacks.

Here was an idea I had for a great insert and buyback idea.  Topps has had a lot of interesting experiments over the years none so pointless as Topps Coins.  Now I don't really want Topps to put out a set of coins again but how about as an insert.  You could embedded the coin in a card, you could have a new inserts set with new coins and a buyback set with coins from the 60's and 70's and maybe stars from the 80's and 90's sets.  Comic cards, lenticular cards, holograms, stand ups, tattoos, posters, minis, triple cards that are perforated like 1980-81 basketball.  Variety.  No more half-ass rehashing a insert from last year to make it "new" for this year.

I'm torn on set size.  I'm tempted to say screw it lets go back to the early days and having 4 or 5 series'.  200 cards in each series and Series 5 will be the traded and rookie call ups series.  A 1000 card set all together.  This will let us get photos of players that have changed teams in the off season and any other things that might need to be done.  For those that say there are too many inserts this next statement won't make you happy. But reducing the series size would allow for more inserts and oddballs to be put into rotation.  Mix it up.  A reduced series size means I don't need to buy as many packs to complete the base set but if there are cool inserts and a change as a kick as low numbered auto or something else I  might be compelled to buy more packs.  Who knows.

Did I just fuck up Topps?  Maybe I don't care.  Give me quality, good customer service, access, and variety.  And for god's sake give me something new.  2011 has some new.  Kimball's and diamond parallels, but a lot of rehashed redo's, 60 YOT, Diamond Duos, and the Diamond Giveaway(opinion still pending till it gets going).

Just my opinion though and pretty spur of the moment but this is what I came up with off the top of my head.

cb out


  1. I am not writing my own cause I am a lazy blogger. But when it comes to the series part you mention, do away with U&H and just make it series 3 like it is supposed to be.

  2. And make Bowman, Bowman Prospects, and all the Bowman Chrome/Gold stuff less confusing. I can never tell if a Bowman card is from the regular set or Prospects or Draft or whatever they call all those sets. (I know he said base topps set but it needed said)

  3. Great points Adam. I agree totally.