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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Topps Time Out

Ok, I've been thinking about this for the past few days and I've decided Topps needs to go sit in the corner for a while and think about what they've done. I'm going to take a little break from Topps until I'm over this short print gimmick thing. I banned Upper Deck for a month over screwing up an insert set (which they recently fixed anyway) and here Topps goes and undermines the integrity of their entire flagship brand.

Now, the Fukudome and WBC friends cards didn't bug me all that much. I thought it was bloody stupid for them to yank the rookie cards from the set and let their competitor have a monopoly on those rookies for at least a month or so, but they're probably going to stick them in the Red Hot Rookie redemptions anyway. Dumb move, but it doesn't affect me none. The Schwarzenegger and Gore cards hit a little closer to home as I was trying to complete the candidate card set. Oh well, I got both the nominees at any rate and there's a new political set to drool over in series two anyway. The thing that set me off was that goddamn Santana card.

The idea of it is stupid to begin with. Making up a "highlight" card for an event that is supposed to happen four months in the future is goofy by any standards. There are plenty of All-Star and Hall of Fame caliber pitchers who haven't sniffed a no-hitter anyway, and to prognosticate that Santana would not only pitch one, but on the last day of the season yet on a licensed baseball card is a little groan worthy. That's not what bugs me though. Numbering it 661 is what bugs me. Make it a no numbered card and I'd ignore it. Make it the same number as the base Santana card and play it off as a "variation" and I'd be cool with it. Adding it to the base checklist and having a Topps official come out and state that it's "extremely short printed" is insanity. Seriously? Part of the base set is so freaking short printed that there's been exactly one of the damn cards to even show up on eBay? And the Topps base set, mind you, a brand that has been all about the base set since Sy Barger was an intern. And it's not a hoax either, it's been confirmed.

You know, I have eight monster boxes in my basement that are all full of Topps cards going back to 1952. There are a few sets, a few near sets, a lot of half finished sets that get less and less finished the farther back you go. But they're still full of Topps and all full of sets. And in one fell swoop, Topps has undermined that history with one gimmicky card that some suit is smirking over as he brags about extremely rare it is in a press release. Basically what Topps just told me, as a paying customer, is that our base cards aren't really worth a damn anymore and there's no real reason to build a set. If you want a set, get a factory set. Better yet, but one each of the 9 or 10 we'll release this year. But still buy plenty of wax to try to chase a cut auto or a patch card or a letterman card or one of our gimmicks. Um, Topps, sorry to break this to you, but I've been buying boxes all this time so I could build the base sets. The inserts were fun bonuses, and I collected some of those sets as well, but it was still at the heart of it all only about the cards. Now you just told me that I can't have a base set, because you thought it would be better for your bottom line to put in the set a card of an event that hasn't happened yet and probably will never happen and to make it so rare that exactly one has surfaced to far. Well, if you call flushing 57 years of collecting (you know, that thing you print on all your Gold Parallel cards) right down the drain profitable, then hey, knock yourself out.

I bought a box of Topps Series Two the first day. Not because I wanted to rip it and put the good stuff on eBay, not because I was afraid the price would go up, not because I wanted to find a rare card, but because I love collecting Topps sets. You've just taken that away from me with card #661. Now, I can't collect the 2008 Topps set simply because you chose to put that number on the back instead of no number or JS-NoNo or SP1 or the Prince symbol freaking anything but number 661. I have a box of Topps Series 2 sitting in front of me with half the cards still in the packs waiting for me to write about them on my blog (giving you free advertising, by the way) that I just flat out don't want to touch anymore. I have no interest in them right now. I have less interest promoting your product that you obviously don't believe in any more. Some will say "just get over it" or "collect the rest of the set and forget about that card" but the problem is deeper than that. There's a vocal group of people on the internet that gripe and complain about these gimmick cards. Part of the reason that we don't like them is because of what happened in 2006. The Alex Gordon card had to be pulled due to the new rules, not all of them were, and no replacement for that card was offered for the set. That means a whole lot of people are missing one lousy card from their 2006 Topps set because of the Alex Gordon mistake. The thing is, that was a mistake, this is on purpose. You made it so I and hundreds of collectors like me will always have a hole in my 2008 set on purpose.

I don't trust you anymore Topps. Unless you do a major mea culpa and insert a Santana doesn't get a No-Hitter on September, 28th, 2008 card in Updates and Highlights and also number it 661, my set is always going to be incomplete. When you do that to a set collector, on purpose, they tend not to want to bother with your products anymore. I'm afraid to buy any Allen & Ginter now. I've been wanting to buy 2008 Allen & Ginter since before I bought my box of 2007 Allen & Ginter and now I'm afraid to buy it. What crap are you going to pull in that set? If I buy two or three boxes of it to try to complete the set like I did the 2007 set, are you going to add a card 351? Will it be a 1/1 card? What are you going to do next, Topps? And Allen & Ginter is not like base Topps. I could have waited a few months on this product on still found it at every hobby shop and retailer. Allen & Ginter I have to buy it the first day, and be standing outside the store before the UPS guy even gets there or I'm going to pay $125 a box instead of $85 and I can't and won't pay that much for a box of Allen & Ginter. So what do I do now, Topps, I'm asking you. After three years of goofy short print/error cards in your Topps products I'm gun shy now. This year also gimmicked up your Heritage product with super short print variations, indicating to me that ALL set building products are fair game.

I'm pushing the rest of my box break till later. Maybe next week, maybe next month, maybe never, but it's gonna be later. The only reason I'm not banning Topps from the blog altogether is that there's some vintage stuff I've like to post about soon and I'm not letting Topps' stupidity get in the way of that. I seriously have to rethink how I collect cards now though, and that's including deciding whether I want to continue collecting at all. Was it worth it Topps? Was the mention on a couple of hobby periodicals and a few blogs worth possibly losing a customer who has been buying your product almost non stop since 1981? I don't have a lot of time in my life for hobbies anymore. If you continue to make this hobby not fun for me I'll have no problem finding something else to do with my time and my money. In the meantime, don't expect any free advertising from me anytime soon.


shoeboxlegends said...

Absolutely brilliant. I agree with every single thing you've stated here. Someone should really round up all of these rants from the various card blogs and send them all off to Topps (not that it would accomplish anything).

Great post, even though the subject matter is depressing.

Kevin said...

THANK YOU, dayf. This is everything that I wanted to rant about but didn't quite have the focus to put in these words. The way I look at it, Topps did me a favor. My vintage-and-cheap-wax buying has been taking a back seat as I keep reaching deep to spend $60 or $80 on the new stuff that will end up being worthless anyway. If I'm going to spend that much money on cards, I'll feel better about myself if they're 30-40 years old. You know? I think the 1965 Topps Project is about to get some new blood.

Russ said...

Here here! Although Allen and Ginter will suck me back in.

sruchris said...

kevin, that's exactly what I'm thinking. With the recent decisions made by Topps, I'm now spending less effort building new sets and more effort on older ones.

Dave said...

Wouldn't it be funny if that Santana card was in one of those unopened packs that are still sitting in your box?

Or wouldn't it be funny if Santana really does throw a no-hitter on 9/28?

I agree with most of your post, but I would laugh very hard if either of these things came to pass :)

tastelikedirt said...

This crap makes it easier for me to focus on building my 2008 Upper Deck set. No Topps distractions.

Dinged Corners said...


Anonymous said...

I'm a person that pretty much likes all the other gimmick cards, but even I agree that the Santana 661 card is just about the stupidest thing that Topps has ever done with its base set. And yes my problem with it is giving it #661 and making it an extremely rare short print.

Just how rare is it?

There is exactly just one of these on sale at eBay right now. Think about all of those Topps boxes busted and there is only one of these cards on eBay now, but so many, many more Topps set collectors who just got so f**ked over with this trash.

dayf said...

The box is ripped, just not typed out, sorted and posted. That was half the fun in opening the box but like I said, I'm just not feeling it right now. No short prints but otherwise a satisfactory box at least for building a base set and the insert sets I was chasing.

Captain Canuck said...

give 'em hell my long distance friend...

I was all set to buy a box of series 2... then I saw the price at my local shop. Absurd. Was going to buy one on ebay, then all this came out into the light... spent my money on 100 different Braves cards, graded "ex" from 1955-1961, for $19 on ebay instead. I wonder which I'm gonna enjoy looking at more.
'nuff said

dayf said...

EXCELLENT purchase, Brian. That's a good start to those team sets. All great years for the Braves too, although I've never been fond of the '61 design. Nice pickup.

Unknown said...

While I can's say that I saw it coming, I am proud that I had the foresight to avoid buying any of the 2008 Topps flagship packs or boxes whatsoever. I hatched a plan back in November or December to purchase a factory set in late fall, scope out the insert sets that looked cool throughout the spring and summer and go after them later.

But now...I'm not sure if the factory set is even an option. Can it even be called a "set?" I have to say I love Brian's idea about going out and spending your money on something you really want, something that makes you feel happy about cards and baseball, rather than some crapshoot that will leave a pit of emptiness.

In a calculated move, Topps, in the micro-economy that is Thorzul, will come out a loser in 2008.

Fleerfan said...

I gave up buying new stuff a number of years ago (with similar thoughts to those you have expressed) and have focused all of my attention on vintage items as I got sick of all the gimmicks & inserts which made completing full master sets next to impossible. I also got tired of spending a lot of money on items that shortly after their release dropped in value.

The reason I was upset was not that my cards had lost value, it was that I felt stupid for having paid a lot initially for something I thought was rare only to find a few months later that regardless of whether it was rare or not, there wasn't much demand for it once the next set came out and I could have saved a lot of money waiting a while.

Your comments echo my sentiments on how the card companies could care less about anyone trying to actually put together a set since the only thing that seems to be driving the hobby is a lottery mentality.

New card collecting is basically a pyramid scheme for many people. Get in early, get the "hot" cards, and then flip/dump them before the price drops a short time later (when the limited demand dries up).

This plays havoc with collectors who actually enjoy the cards (what a strange concept) and actually are interesting in building a set.

I'm glad to see some people buying vintage cards instead of '08 Topps. Send Topps the message that card collecting shouldn't be about trying to track down gimmick cards that highlight something that hasn't even happened!

Anonymous said...

Great post Dayf! In the past I have always picked up Topps wax all year long because it was the brand I grew up on. This year has been a different story for me. I love the All Rookie Team inserts but instead of experiencing the fun of busting packs to get them I will just end up buying the singles online. Between design, accidents, sqirrels and April Fools it just isn't as satisfying anymore.

Maybe I will buy 2008 Topps wax in a few years from the junk wax section.

The Santana 661 gets my vote for worst card of the year, worst idea and whoever came up with this idea should be toasted.

GCA said...

Amen, brother.
A long time ago I remember marvelling at the latest Topps designs and insert cards. But the last few years, I see Topps as the company that is still relying on their history for customer loyalty. Upper Deck designs are far superior in graphic quality and depth. Does Topps think they're winning new collector's with all the super-rarities and gimmicks? It's like the movie studios that take a hit idea and take it over the top, thinking it'll be a bigger hit, but it ends up being ridiculous and an epic failure.
My collector friends and I thought cards in the late 80's were getting too commercial and were produced more for the corporate dollar than the collector's enjoyment. Nowadays, that has gone to the extreme. The mere presence of politicians and entertainment personalities within baseball sets proves to me that these ideas are coming from hobby outsiders in suits sitting in a high-rise conference room, not experienced collectors.

--David said...

AMEN, brother! My main "goal" for collecting was to get one 'set-type' card of every Indians card ever made. With Topps' stupid gimmickry (or w/e), even that simple goal has become insanely difficult in some sets/subsets. And forget about collecting actual complete TEAM sets anymore! How can you when there are a billion "1/1" cards (moments and milestones anyone?) out there?

Maybe this is why the whole UD/Topps thing fell through in the first place....

What would happen if a group of collectors got together to start a new card-making company, and made the cards the way WE want, with base sets, inserts and such that people actually WANTED and were attainable?

ernest of canada said...

word up, --david! that's what i was thinking. it wouldn't even have to mean a formal company. with the current state of affairs, i'd be most interested in quality, anonymous, even unlicensed/bootleg set(s) produced on a small and or regional scale by us collectors for collectors. it would be nice to see the hobby taken back from the "industry".

Anonymous said...

Topps doesn't get to determine whether this card is in the 'base' set or not. They've fraked up so many times in the past 60 years, that only their customers get to do it.

VBut let's have some fun, and assume for a brief moment that Topps gets to decide. If it's part of the base set then of course it would be included in their 2008 Factory Box out later this year. Of course it won't be, therefore, it can't be included as part of the 'base' set, regardless of the number on the back.

Call it what it is, a fraked up piece of trash released by a bunch of jerks who don't know how to run a card company anyway. Base set my left nut.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I hit enter before I was done. Two more points:

1. Go to http://www.toppsonlinestore.com, look for 2008 Series 2. It says right there that there are 330 cards in the base set, not 331. So that is their official position.

2. Go to http://www.toppsonlinestore.com, there is a link "Create your own official Topps sports cards". You can create your own fraked up official 661, maybe with Santana getting shellacked in the third inning and leaving for an early shower on the last day of the season. Big deal. It puts you in the same league with the company idiots though! It'll be rare though, one-of-a-kind, yet it'll fetch exactly $0 on eBay.