I posted before that it will most likely be down to two manufacturers in football come 2010, and today the NFL Players inc issued a statement that Topps is out of the NFL for the foreseeable future. I think I am glad because sets like Triple Threads, Sterling and Lettermen are gone, but very fucking sad that this will be Chrome’s last year.

Topps has assaulted my senses quite a bit over the last few years, but Topps Chrome and Bowman Chrome deserve a place around the campfire. On top of all of that, anytime variety is TAKEN AWAY from collectors, we are the ones that lose, as well as the companies that lose out. Exclusivity sucks no matter which way you slice it, and now that we wont have a flagship Topps set for the first time in decades, its kind of sad to imagine what is going to be happening.
This is really a huge victory for Upper Deck and Panini, as their market share will increase exponetially, but there will also be MANY angry Topps collectors who will scoff at the idea of a football industry without their favorites. There will probably still be unlicensed Topps products, though not as many, as the company prepares to do battle with the biggest license of them all under its belt. When you think about it, having only baseball is not a bad thing for a company that was built on America’s past time, but the nostalgia still brings forth angry feelings of loss.
Lastly, it looks as if we will no longer have resolution on lingering Topps problems, and those redemptions we all have are now in Jeopardy. Lets hope they finish strong, unlike what has happened with Basketball, as Topps Signature Edition football is surely on the way. Either way, with all the different Chicken Little and “OMG THINK OF THE CHILDREN” posts that are surely coming, we will definitely get a clear picture of how the hobby is reacting to the news.
Popcorn anyone?

Do Yourself a Favor and Read This

For those of you who have been following the recent media blasts about the decline of the sports card industry, I would read this article to get the other side of the story. Some of you will probably shrug it off as a post designed to give false hope, but after recent conversations with Chris Carlin, I doubt that was the point in any way. Chris is a straight shooter, and although he is responsible for the marketability of his brands, he also knows his shit.

Last month, many mainstream outlets incorrectly reported that card shops had declined from 15,000 stores to under 500 over the last few years. The reports were based on arbitrary faulty numbers perpetrated by hobby blog villain TS O’connell of SCD, despite the fact that he had not done any actual research on the matter. Contrary to O’Connell’s ideas of what was going on, Carlin did a great job of setting the record straight, as well as showing that the sky is not even close to falling (UD works directly with 1500 shops in the US and Canada alone).

Sadly, these scary “figures” have led to a lot of paranoia on blogs and message boards, most of which was focused on the supposed dying of the hobby. People had started crying about how the inflated number of sets and lack of kids had contributed to a decline in the collecting populace as well as the industry. Although things have changed from the days of the investment crazed 90s, both the hobby and the industry are in little jeopardy of going under. If card shops only lost 5% of their volume (per Carlin’s research), during a crippling recession, I would say that is amazing, to say the least. Its actually even more impressive if the original prognosis was a loss of 30-40% total. Add in the thousands of online retailers and ebay stores, and the number is going to be a lot more than any research done by media that is disconnected or unrelated to the hobby. The fact is, regardless of any paranoid chicken little coverage, people still love collecting, writing about, and buying cards.
I think its safe to say that this hobby is never going to die. Collecting based things usually don’t, even when there is no one to produce new stuff. The industry itself may go, eventually, but the actual people who drive it will always create a market for trading, buying and selling. The problem has never been kids or a pollution of products, in fact, the problem has probably been the value that the cards carry. As the reality of the overproduced cards of the nineties were actualized as less valuable than fire kindling, the collectors who staked their involvement in collecting on the amount they were going to make, left quickly. What was left behind were people who loved cards, as always, as well as a few people who realized that investing was bad, but collecting was fun. This is what led from having 15,000 shops to a few thousand.

As with any collectible, there will always be people in it for the money, however, as we have seen, a lot of people are in it for the love of the game too. The proof is in the blogs and boards, as membership and production has skyrocketed lately. When people realize that they can cater their experience to themselves rather than relying on a money driven, conflict of interest laden magazine, good things happen. Also, with a worldwide marketplace like eBay, there is now a way to get whatever you want, whenever you want it.

Bottom line, as far as I am concerned, there has never been a better time to collect.