Its always a great time for baseball when the first set of the new year is released. Topps Series one is scheduled to be released next week, and Topps has been blowing up their Twitter account previewing some of the new cards. As I commented when the design was previewed a few months ago, it looks much better than previous years. It has a 90s style feel to it, and it should adapt well as the year moves on.
They are going to be using a lot of previously iconic Topps sets as inspiration for some of the inserts, and after a preview yesterday that the 1972 design will be one of them, I am very excited to see how they turn out. The 72 Topps set is one of those retro looks that has come back around, similar to those ridiculous tequila sunrise Astros jerseys that everyone wants these days. They will be minis in the product, with on card autos, which has been INCREDIBLY cool in previous sets:
The theme this year is “the Chase,” which doesnt scream cool to me, but a lot of the inserts that were previewed, based on this concept, do look to be reasonably interesting. I feel as though it must be close to impossible to keep this set fresh every year, and I personally wish they would do more in offering some really unique content that isnt available in any other release. I dont want to say they are going through the motions at this point, but when the biggest set of the year for the company continually relies on the same style of content, its time to shake things up, much like the Golden and Million Card Giveaway did in the previous few years of Topps Baseball.
Topps has already shown that they are taking a page from ESPN in offering a “Beat the Streak” type of promotion this year, offering a million dollars for the collector who can win the contest. I dont think this is one of those things that will cause many ripples, as I dont think anyone has done it on MLB.com or ESPN.com during the time it has been offered there. Hopefully there will be some sort of giveaway of exclusive content available.
Lastly, I am wondering what is going to happen this year now that there isnt going to be a definitive hot player like Harper and Trout were last year, and Strasburg was before them. Trout’s cards continue to be the hottest commodity in the hobby, and without one of those guys to carry these types of years, Im really hoping that they have a plan for making these products worth a look. Because Bowman is the primary source of rookie cards in every year, it steals the thunder that Topps Flagship used to have. The rookies that are available in these sets have already had 2-3 cards and autographs in previous years, and its not as likely that their examples in non-prospect releases will carry as much value.
They have made an effort to extract value in this scenario by offering SSP variations, which I love, and maybe that is the answer that can help to assign value back to Topps RCs. The #661 Stephen Strasburg Insert and Bryce Harper SSP cards from 2010 and 2012 are still coveted cards, albeit controversial with set collectors, and I think that there needs to be more cards that use this formula.
Topps is not going to disappear, and I do give them a lot of credit for trying to adjust their ways to operate a set collector’s product in an industry where set collectors have become a super-minority against the high end chasers and rip/flip buyers. Hopefully something happens this year in the regular season that will showcase a player worthy of collecting again.