What 2010 Bowman Says About Exclusive Licenses

I think we have finally found a way that an exclusive license can be good. 2010 Bowman is the most hyped set since 2009 Ultimate Collection Baseball, and prices have been above ridiculous – getting ridiculous(er). One of the main reasons is because 2010 Bowman will be one of the only baseball sets released between now and September, and because the set has always been so widely collected. Because of the exclusive license, secondary market card prices have been higher than expected, as there is no hype building around any other product release. There just arent any other products out there to look at, so people are buying into this one full steam.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a great prospect class, as well as great rookies to drive the product, but that is only a slice of the pie. Really, Topps has shown that the cards they put out on the low end of things are going to be as good as they have ever been, despite not having anyone to compete with. At the same time, we are still getting a pretty good idea of why the exclusive continues to suck absolute donkey balls, as Triple Threads looks as boring and uninspired as ever. However, with Topps Chrome and Bowman Chrome on the horizon, both looking to contain on card autographs from Stephen Strasburg and Jason Heyward, low end Topps may be the reason why collectors will forget that an exclusive even exists.

Personally, I hate exclusives all around, and I definitely believe that 2010 Bowman would have been as good as it is regardless of whether there were competing products. However, I feel a little better knowing that Topps did not take their foot off the gas for their staple sets. They easily could have avoided putting Strasburg in this set, or giving Heyward his third chrome card, but they still went after the jugular in trying to give fans what they want.

I also hope their gusto transfers into their football sets this year, as we are going to be getting a healthy dose of everything baseball. Topps Chrome, one of my favorite sets of the year, is back, and I hope that they give it as good of a treatment as they look to be giving everything else in their low end portfolio. Yet, I cant help but feel cheated, as they have done nothing but prove that they can only build on the existing rather than create new stuff. Last year’s calendar from Topps was filled with low end greatness and shitty attempts at producting higher end popularity. I sincerely hope that they take some notes from past successes and transfer them to a better idea for a new set. Hell, Platinum could be the equivalent of Topps Chrome and SPA’s love child if they did it right, and I am crossing my fingers that it turns out that way. Last year it wasnt. Mayo could be the football version of Allen and Ginter, like it was designed to be, but for some reason they just cant get the same sort of awesomeness packed into the product. Maybe this year will be different.

In all seriousness, I am extremely happy that 2010 Bowman did as well as it did despite a baseball exclusive. It shows that maybe there is still some hope for the industry side of a hobby that is focused on what is coming next.

Topps Now Owns The Exclusive to USA Baseball

Im not even sure why this is news worthy on a blog like this, but it does give me an avenue to spout a few nuggets of my beliefs on exclusives. Topps recently announced that they have aquired the exclusive to produce cards of the USA baseball team, something that Upper Deck has done well every year for as long as I can remember.

Is this a huge issue? No, not really as there is only a fraction of collectors who buy the sets/chase the cards out of these type of products. This is an extreme niche market that only applies to a few people, thus begging the question of why it is necessary in the first place.

I hate exclusives in general, player, league, card, whatever, they all suck sweaty donkey balls. It prevents competition and stymies collectors who prefer one brand over another. Although some exclusives are more widespread than others, I fail to see why they are allowed by any branch of any league. Its practically preventing the further spread of your marketable asset, mainly due to the fact that less of it will produced. Despite the fact that Eisner has stupidly touted that kids wont be as confused by a huge number of products, its absurd to think that kids are the reason things need to be done that way. It mostly has to do with greed, money, and damaging your competition, something not unique to cards, and most of the time, exclusives go unchallenged in this hobby. Personally, I hate that. There is no reason for any type of exclusive, regardless of the competition, as quality should be a manufacturer’s exclusive. If you produce nice cards, there is no need to worry what the other guy is doing. Bottom line.

When it comes to player exclusives like Jordan, LeBron, Kobe, Jeter, Griffey, and others, it enters an even more ridiculous territory. Players should have the ability to advertise for one specific company, but to limit the amount of cards for those people to one company, only hurts us rather than helps us. Variety is our friend and fewer products with our favorite players only complicates our desire to collect. For instance, if Peterson went as a Panini exclusive, I would be screwed, but I dont want Panini to be without a chance to impress me if they change their ways if the situation was reversed. Its that simple.

Yes, I know that the USA baseball exclusive is just the next in a long line of niche exclusives, but how much longer do we have before the exclusives get more confusing than the production itself? In the last few months, UD has gotten the NCAA exclusive, Press Pass has gotten a partial Tim Tebow exclusive, and Topps now owns USA baseball. I know that whenever a company has extra money, their first reaction will be what property can we steal from company X? That fact alone will make this INFINITELY more complicated and annoying. Poor us.

The License Dilemma Gives Birth To Another Big Signing

UD recently announced their deal with Pete Rose to have his autographs and memorabilia included in 2010 Upper Deck products. This was expected as not having the license has already led to the acquisition of Joe Jackson and other players who may not have been ready to sign. I think this poses an interesting conundrum facing many of the companies out there, however. Is it better to work outside of the licensing if it means giving collectors what they desire? I will say this, Pete Rose has always been a widely collected guy, and giving the people what they want is never bad.

I would say that the biggest issue facing a company without a license is the logos. In baseball and basketball, its much easier because the players are more the commodity than the players jersey and logo. In football, it’s a different story because of the way players equiment obscures their likeness. In theory, a football player’s likeness is the jersey he wears.

Because of this situation in football, there really isnt much of a choice in terms of operating with or without a license. A company could produce college cards to appeal to the niche of college collectors, but that is impossible now with UD in control of that license too. I believe that is why the NFL has such tight restrictions over what goes into each product. There has to be a certain percentage of rookies versus veterans, team logos have to be displayed this way, you can do this, you cant do that. It happens because it can.

For Baseball its completely different, because you can slap a player on a card with a city name, and everything becomes clear. Also, those players that were once a no-no are now fair game. Since the black balled list of players contains two or three players that people love, or love to hate, it becomes very problematic to a company that has to act within the ropes.

Basketball is very similar, though it becomes more about exclusives than anything at that point. If you have the top guys, you can be successful with or without a license. UD has been holding onto LBJ and Jordan for years, with Kobe only leaving recently. Even without Kobe, UD has maintained the ability to drive a product without having logos on their jerseys. LeBron is just as much a marketable presence with his name and number, as he was with it.

Personally, I probably would stick with licensed cards for as long as possible, only because I like having the logos as a part of it. However, if I had the choice between buying products that were able to go outside the boudaries and those forced inside them, I would definitely not give up on my favorites even without the license.


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?

Its Possible That The NFL May Be Down To 2 Next Year

Earlier on Twitter today, Steven Judd, of former Sports Card File fame, commented that he had heard the NFL was cutting a license from one of its three manufacturers for 2010. Considering that all three licenses are up for renewal next year, that isnt a stretch. Now, none of this is confirmed, and it could just be rabble-rousing, but after reviewing the situation, its definitely plausible.

Im sure a lot of you would expect me to say that getting rid of Panini would be a great idea for the NFL, but actually I would hate it if they left. Cutting the choices of collectors in any way is a completely ass backwards fucking idea, even if that means that my hatred for Panini football would no longer be required. See, thats the beauty of it all, as more choices equals more hobby variety, so that if someone like me hates Panini, I still have more to fall back on.
Everyone knows that Upper Deck football is my favorite, because in my opinion, their quality of products (design, content, hard signed cards) is absolutely and utterly unmatched by either of the other two brands. There just is no substitute for me. However, other collectors disagree completely, and they have just as much at stake in this. The actual reality of this type of situation is that no-one wins, and every collector loses. I may despise Prestige, Absolute, and others, but I do like some of Panini’s stuff. If Panini is forced out, for example, I would lose out on those products, as well as the notion that my hatred could change with the design evolution that each brand goes through.
Then again, if Upper Deck is forced out, I will be too. At that point, there is no reason for me to continue collecting new stuff, as I buy 90% UD with the exception of the Topps Chrome and Bowman Chrome stuff. Theunfortunate part remains that I wont be the only one in this situation. The Gellman haters out there would love to see me squirm at a future without licensed UD football, but its not just me. There thousands out there just like me, if not more hardcore for Exquisite, SPA, and the rest of the UD slate.
I commented before that there NEVER should have been an exclusive license in Basketball, and there NEVER should have been an exclusive license in Baseball. To think that the one place where exclusivity is NON-EXISTANT, they are cutting back on stuff, is a completely fucking asinine notion. All politics aside, limiting exposure of any commodity is a horrible idea, which leads me to believe that there is another agenda at work.
Guys, this is bad if its true, very fucking bad, no matter which brand gets the axe. The industry part of this hobby will be in worse shape than it already is with this crap, and its sad to see it come to this point. Personally, I see one of two outcomes: 1) UD is forced out of yet another sport, and resorts to unlicensed and college branded football products. 2) Panini realizes that they cant support an NBA and NFL brand, so they focus everything on Basketball and drop the license without being forced out. Either way, I see Topps as safe, as for some reason they are thought of as never expendable, despite producing abominations like Sterling, Triple Threads, and Lettermen.
Hopefully, none of this comes to fruition and we are back at square one come 2010.