In most instances, I couldn’t care any less about base cards. I have always considered myself to be an autograph collector over a card collector, and it just so happens that cards present the best ways to get legit autographs without fear of fakes. However, there are non-autographed cards that I do care about, but rarity drives my needs more than quantity. That’s where the card companies have a unique opportunity, and it is also a place where Topps has excelled more than most with their low end offerings through creating extreme short print variations.
In many of their recent football sets, Topps has struggled to win over people like me due to poor design and concept work. However, in both flagship and Chrome, the SP Variations of every rookie at the 2010 premiere have been nothing but complete successes. Last year was the first time Topps offered SP variations, and I remember going out of my way for the first time in a long while to purchase non-autographed cards. Where many RCs and base cards from the 2009 sets have declined in value, the rarity of the SP variations has held the value steady, and in some cases increased it over the price at release. When you reel in someone with my collecting tendencies to want non-autographed cards in that fashion, I have to applaud the situation.
To me it is 100% quality over quantity, mainly because I don’t see the point of hoarding cards of players I don’t care about. If you do like to build sets, to each their own, but it just isnt for me. So, when card companies have the means to create interest in low end from people who don’t build sets, it needs to be offered in more occasions. On top of that, you don’t piss off the set builders for creating a more difficult set to build, but instead, just add value and content for ripping and buying.
Although this year’s variations didn’t include veteran players like last year’s did, they were still very cool, especially in the fact that a few of the rookies had TERRIBLE pictures on their base and chrome cards. If they had variation autograph cards, that would have been even more cool, as the base autographs don’t always satisfy the needs that people have in buying cases of low end product.
Please take note that I am not advocating the use of serially numbered parallels, but rather SP picture variations that Topps has done in the last few football sets. By adding serial numbers, instead of just adjusting the way the cards are inserted, it takes away from the allure of the cards. A set like Topps Finest should have had every reason to create rare variations and autographs outside of the colored refractors for their wonderfully put together set, as it would have added a lot more to a set that was already pretty successful. That is what I am talking about.
When you don’t chase the sets themselves, you have to have something to chase in a product, and that is why rare cards like the variations that I am referring to are so important. Content has become a major issue, especially in Panini sets, as many collectors expect more than just a few rainbow foil cards and a crap auto in their box. If they had something to chase similar to the variations in Prestige, it may create more interest in the product, something that Panini and some of the other manufacturers defintiely need.