When it was announced that Topps was back in the football arena for the foreseeable future, I started to think about a few things. First, how many boxes of Chrome I would buy, second, whether my personal vendetta against Sterling and Triple Threads would gain more steam, and third, how the hell they would put together a calendar so quickly.
Im not sure how many of you actually understand how much time goes into product development. Im not just talking about creating the design and having the players sign the cards, im talking about the actual amount of time it takes to get a product from stage A to stage Z. Because most of the manufacturers put together their calendars almost a year in advance, Topps may not be prepared to put out a good slate of products until 2011. At that point, the NFL could be in the midst of an epic lockout, and cards may not be the biggest problem on the menu.
Panini knew they were producing cards all through the winter, despite the fact that it has yet to show in their quality of design and content for the already previewed sets. Topps has not. Im sure they already have some of their plans in place from before the loss of the license, but I guarantee you that things are probably in “Holy shit we need this done YESTERDAY!” mode right now for some of their products. Also, because of massive sticker dumps in a few different sets last year, they are probably going to need to replentish their stores of autographs to put on the cards.
Although they have not commented on their understood and expected lack of preparation, im willing to bet that redemptions and fuck ups may abound this year. Who is to say they are even going to be at the rookie premiere, usually scheduled around May each year. With Panini having free reign over the event until a few weeks ago, it may not even happen in its usual form. Then, when you factor in that Upper Deck probably wants to be there to get their NCAA cards signed, things start looking pretty hairy.
Do I think that Topps is going to suck at EVERYTHING this year? No. Will certain aspects of their products lack the usual finishing touches? Probably. I think that Topps, Topps Chrome and Bowman Chrome will all be produced as usual with no drawbacks. The sets pretty much make themselves, especially because there is usually very few memorabilia cards in the set. Besides, if memorabilia is gone, I would actually cheer rather than jeer at its omission from one of my favorite sets of the year. Also, the Chromes have already been produced for baseball, so designs definitely have a better likelihood of being exactly the same.
Lastly, Topps is currently in the market for a new football guru, and I sincerely hope that they invest in some changes to the usual suspects. Instead of throwing us another disgusting helping of Topps Triple Threads with a side dish of Ugly Platinum, I am expecting the new management to take a different design approach to make the sets into viable competition against great looking sets of the past. At this point, I am still not wasting my money on new crap, when old stars still shine more brightly. Why spend 150 bucks on a box of 2010 Triple Threads when I can spend 80 bucks on 2009 Ultimate and get pretty much the same content with better looking cards and hard signed sigs? Why buy 2010 Platinum or whatever, and get stuck with stickers and terrible designs when I can spend less on 2009 SPA and get just about the same stuff? That’s why its important for the new guy to realize what Upper Deck left behind when leaving their NFL license in the forclosure section of the penny saver. Then again, with Upper Deck exclaiming that they will use their NCAA license to the best of their abilities, we may not need to settle anymore. I will say, I would be happy settling if the stickers and stuff from Topps actually looked okay. Hint hint.