The National Card Show: New Directions?

Comic Con in San Diego is covered world wide as one of the biggest events of the year, not only for comics, but for entertainment. Its become a spectacle because every TV show, Movie and Book that has the littlest connection with Science Fiction sends its entire cast for a panel. Because Comic Con has the ability to launch a new item more than any other outlet, everyone has embraced it as the way to go. The National will never be what Comic Con is, but it can easily be a similar outlet for the card manufacturers.

Right now, the National is little more than a place to meet other collectors, get some cool autographs and giveaways, and attend a humongous card show. All of those things are nice, but in reality, they don’t present anything more than concentration. By concentration I mean that the amount of each one of those things present at the national is higher than anywhere else. However, if Comic Con relied on all of those things like the national does every year, it would never have reached the heights it has.

What I would think should be the focus of a new area of the National, is going in the direction that many studios and writers are doing with Comic Con. Have panels set up for all the card companies, some of the message boards, and maybe even a blogger panel if they want. Get people involved with the upcoming releases much ahead of where they are being notified right now. I know for a fact that new sets are developed months, sometimes years in advance, and this gives the casual collector the opportunity to view said annoucements in a different way. We all know that Green Lantern is coming out soon, but when you have Ryan Reynolds showing footage at Comic Con, things are taken to another level. As an example, despite how bad I feel it looks, Topps Unrivaled Football would have been something great to showcase at the National show. Have the mock ups ready, bring in Clay Luraschi, and field questions on the new product and the brand direction in general. It would be great.

In fact, a company like Upper Deck could greatly benefit from something like this. Because so few people understand the upcoming focus of the company, they would have had a tremendous opportunity to showcase what they are going to bring to the table. I have no idea how they are going to keep the prestige associated with SP Authentic in college form, but I would no doubt love to have the opportunity to see a few previews when that panel takes the stage.

It was interesting to see Topps try to organize a meet and greet night, but im not sure if that was the best way to start this sort of thing. It seemed to be formatted similarly to a Comic Con panel, but it was only open to a small amount of people, most of whom already were established as news dissemination points. Plus, with the amount of disconnection that Topps has had, up until recently, with the collector base, there werent high hopes. That is where the opportunity to change the format comes into play. Make it a spectacle. Get people excited. Bring Stras-mas to the people in a way like Comic Con does for Spider-man and Superman.

Although the National provides a unique gathering place for everyone in the industry, it rarely provides a reason to go for people outside the industry. A card show and autograph show may bring some, but a spectacle has a much wider appeal. Maybe the National doesn’t want to head in that direction, but with the income starting to dwindle on some of the manufacturers, I think they would jump at the opportunity.

The National Card Show: Strasburg Heritage Hitting Ebay

If there is one thing that I expected to be extremely popular at this show, it was the Strasburg Heritage giveaway numbered to 999. Because it comes from a popular set and it is numbered, I expected it to be MORE than well worth the time of the collectors who waited up to a few hours in line to get it. Color me surprised that they are selling this low.

Other than the Strasburgs, the national card show redemption cards have been selling very close to what they were last year, with a few NOTABLE exceptions, so I guess this year is more the rule than the exception to the rule.

More tomorrow.

The National Card Show: Things Are Coming Together Nicely

With the National Card Show right around the corner, things are starting to take shape, and in some cases, are already being set up. Blowout cards posted pictures on their forums of the set up of the massive booth at the show, and from the looks of it, things should be as great as they were last year over in Blowout Land. I have said before that going to shows these days is pretty much worthless (unless you are a VERY certain type of collector), due to the prices, but I assume that Blowout’s normal low prices will follow them to the show. That’s a great reason to avoid other booths that have similar prices, but not the same reputation.

Also, Topps is promoting a meet and greet with their execs at the show, an event that I think has good interests at heart, but wont give people the results they are looking for. I would definitely encourage people to go and check it out if they are there, but I think its too little to late from a company that has everything to prove when it comes to their non-standard products.

If I were attending, my focus would be explaining how Topps low end products are amazing, but their higher end stuff is fucking terrible. I want to see why they can hit it out of the park with boxes that cost 50 bucks, but when you get up into the products that cost in the hundreds of dollars, I would rather feed my money to a hungry Elephant. I mean, the end result of my money would be much more entertaining and worthwhile if you catch my drift.

My feelings on some of Topps’ products are very well known, and I have a feeling that there is a growing contingent of collectors that feel the exact same way. I would say this is especially true after the epic fail that was Topps Tribute baseball. I would be interested to see what, if any, results come out of this discussion, even though most of the people who will be there would probably squeal with delight at the opportunity to buy more Triple Threads and Sterling. So, due to that fact, if one of the readers out there, who shares my disdain for those types of Topps products, goes to this discussion, let me know what happens.

Also, Upper Deck, Panini and Topps have announced their wrapper redemptions, and so far they look very similar to what was given away last year. Upper Deck is doing something unusual by giving out different packs on each day of the show, a tactic that seems to be very well conceived at a show like the national is. Topps’ booth will most likely be mobbed with people wanting to get the numbered Strasburg heritage SP, and I would advise those of you going to get there as quickly as possible to get one. Panini has a bunch of different cards to hand out, and most likely will have the most autographs as well. They will be bringing back the wheel of fortune, as well as the signed 8x10s, so do not pass them by if you are there. We also got a preview of what 2010 Certified will be as a result of them displaying their giveaways, and I must say, it looks absolutely horrid. Hopefully this is just a national exclusive thing, but from the looks of it, Certified is going to be one UGLY set this year.

Ill keep you updated as things progress, be sure to check back throughout the week.

The National Card Show: Its That Time Of Year Again, Be Sure To Have Fun

Each year around this time, the National rolls around and the industry gears up for its biggest weekend on the calendar. Manufacturers break out the big guns to be there, wanting to show off new products and new innovations, and collectors turn out in droves to see what is coming down the pipeline. There is also the biggest card show in the nation, with thousands of dealers setting up to sell everything from action figures to rare vintage cards. The national is the San Diego Comic-con of Sports Cards, and even the national media starts to pay attention when it goes down.

Last year at this time, my life was still normal. I was at work, watching the National unfold from my computer, wishing I could ditch my conference to be in attendence with the rest of the collecting world. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to be there the next time it came around, at least if everything continued as it had been with SCU. Well, SCU has definitely continued, but my life was turned absolutely on its ear in the matter of a few short months. We found out my wife was pregnant about a month after last year’s show ended, I had surgery, and we moved to San Antonio in one of the craziest periods of my life I have ever experienced. Now, with my priorities changed, I will again be watching the events from behind my computer screen.

This time, its different, as the money needed to go would take away from other essential things that I need to do for my family. First, Noah is still not sleeping through the night, and to leave him for a weekend with my wife would be torturous for her already sleep deprived existence. He requires constant attention (as most babies his age do), and that is not fair to my wife to shoulder that kind of burden for me to attend a card show. Secondly, the money I would need to attend would prevent us from taking Noah home to Minnesota to see his grandparents, aunts and uncles for Thanksgiving, and that is never something I would give up, even for the biggest card show in the history of the planet. Family comes first to me, and although I personally regret not being able to be there, its something that needs to be done. Next year, who knows.

As for the show itself, there is going to be loads of hobby wide participation from the usual suspects and some new attendees. Rob from VOTC will be there again, with or without his infamous shirt, the gals from A Cardboard Problem will also be in attendence, Chris from Stale Gum has already started his prep, and Freedom Card Board will be having live video so that everybody, everywhere can see everything going on. There will also be a number of other bloggers from the area making the trip, and I am confident that they will do a wonderful job providing the coverage that I am unable to provide. Be sure to check them out.

The main thing is that Im not sure if the National Card Show is even a place for me at this point. The last time I went to a card show, I spent most of the time arguing with clueless dealers about the obvious fake autos and patches they were selling. Due to my crusader personality, its hard for me to let them take advantage of people, even if its just for a few bucks. With thousands of dealers there, including the king of the asshats, Kevin Burge, Im sure there would be problems with me walking the floor. Because I am a complete and utter wuss when it comes to physical confrontation, I don’t think that would be a very good situation to throw myself into a situation like that.

Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to be a part of the conversation there, especially getting to meet all the bloggers and readers that I converse with every day. This site has become such a huge part of my life, that I would jump at the opportunity to put faces to the names. That type of experience is the reason that collectors need to go to this show, if not only for the community aspect of the whole thing. Its definitely not the best place to buy cards and boxes that they could easily find on eBay for lower prices, unless you collect cards that eBay doesn’t lend itself very well to, but there will be more collectors in one place than during any other time this year. It’s a crazy time at the national, and the experience of going is always more about the people you meet rather than the cards that you buy in most cases.

Listen, I get it. Maybe this post is more about me providing a cathartic experience to calm my remorse of not being able to go, and Im sure there will be lots of hate stalkers out there who will try to let me know how glad they are about it, but right now, all the normal people will definitely identify with what is going on in my life. I hope everyone has a blast, and I know I will have some scouts in the crowd looking for a few things I need to pick up.

Because of the obvious lack of coverage that will be eminating from this site, if you are a reader, and would like to contribute a detailed post of your experiences at the national, I am offering this space as your canvas. Email me at the contact link above with your proposal, and if it fits the content of this site, I will be happy to post it for the readers here to see. Hopefully the experiences of like minded collectors will be informative for those planning a trip to the show next year.

Good luck to those who are going, ill be watching with a bittersweet smile on my face. In the future, I hope there will be an opportunity for all of us to get together, hopefully at a National show in the coming years. Stay tuned to SCU for all the second hand news you can stomach from the floor, as I will not hesitate to report on it from here in San Antonio.

Oh, I almost forgot. If someone happens to come across one of the giveaways that feature any of the Minnesota Vikings, im all ears as expected.

My Take On The National

There have been a ton of posts on all the blogs already about what happened at the national, lack of foot traffic, dealers not giving two shits about it, etc. And though Beckett seems to think this National was “teh best natty con EVAR,” its become undeniable that something just wasnt the same. It could have been the city, it could have been the economy, it could have been all of that or none of it. One thing remains, however, the national card show has a few problems and they arent going away.

The main thing that I believe is the reason the national attendance has been going downhill is because its a card show. That is one reason that no one seems to get. Who wants to pay $250 for plane fare, 100 bucks for hotel, 8 bucks for parking, 20 bucks for admission, and all sorts of money for food, just for a card show? Yes, there are a lot of people there, but in all reality, there is now a free card show that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in ebay. In any economy where people arent scrounging for money, it wouldnt be too much of a factor. However, when disposable income is at a complete minimum, why even make an effort?

Add in the fact that you have mediocre autograph guests charging hundreds, and there is an even bigger problem than before. When you have someone at the show like Barry Sanders, thats all great and everything, but when he charges as much as he does, it loses appeal for collectors who normally would pay under 100 bucks for a great photo and or football on eBay. The same prices were true for last year, but the economy was different.

Then, when you have hundreds of dealers all competing for the dollars of the few consumers who live in the area or made the trek, you would expect that it would be a buyer’s market. From the many reports I got through email and on the boards, however, the dealers were not able to make it a buyer’s market due to the fact that they were having trouble making rent for the show. Also, they had such poor service that people were turned off by their actions and went elsewhere. Its been quoted on a few places that the dealers’ biggest customers were other dealers, im guessing because so many people needed stuff to sell to the dwindling customer base.

My thought is that even though the economy will rebound, events like this will not. People are starting to wise up on the best places to get deals, and will go to these events more to be around other collectors and to see their favorite card company’s booth. They will not go to buy cards from a dirty old man who charges high book. Beckett wants you to think that the national is the best thing since sliced bread, because they know its the one place where they can do more than average bloggers, and because book value is everywhere there. It makes them seem relevant in the hobby more than they really are. The fact is, many bloggers dont need to go to the event because of the lack of interest to most readers, and because there is already enough communication with the manufacturers outside of the show. Bloggers WANT to go to the show to meet people in person, but I guarantee you that none of them spent more than a hundred bucks or so, give or take.

Under that assumption, I would encourage the bloggers to make a trip next year to Baltimore, but not with the idea of providing the “OMG, we are everywherez!” coverage that Beckett did. I think it should be more about educating the public, showcasing our talents as hobby media personnel, and getting to know the reader base. If you want to do interviews, why wait for a once a year event? Its your responsibility to seek them out for your readers the whole year long. Use the national the way it should be used, as a gathering of the populace, not as a place to show readers that you can get interviews with Scotty Prusha and Tracy Hackler. These are people who would normally scoff at your attempt at providing news as a “cesspool of misinformation,” and shouldnt be the people that get the stage at any time, let alone at a card show.

Bloggers and message boards are the new number one source for hobby commentary and news. Everything else is stale and outdated. Its time to show what we got 24/7/365 instead of just for one weekend.