Hiding Is Not Worth The Effort

Yesterday, Beckett posted the end to their highly publicized in depth three year long expose about the fake Topps Rookie Premiere autos. This move sparked quite a frenzy over why this approach was taken, a lot of those comments focusing on Beckett’s lack of professionalism. Rather than moving on or examining the impact of said news, Hackler instead decided it was better to take passive shots at the vast amounts of discussion over the merits of Topps move. After discussing with some of the other bloggers the reason for this idiotic display of douchebaggery, it became clear to us why this was all happening in such a weird fashion.

As most people said, including myself, the move by Topps was just a minor chink in the armor created by these people who sell hundreds of fake Rookie Premiere Autos. Beckett, as most of us expected, focused more on the inconsequential parts of the story, as not to disturb the plethora of people who come to them with news. I mean, because “player issue” cards are a HUGE part of the problem, right? Personally, I now see why Topps decided that Beckett would be a better outlet to break this story to. Rather than giving the story to a blog like this one, they chose a more familiar outlet. Clearly, its easier to go with a friend who wouldnt question the lack of action or call them out for focusing on the future rather than the present. Topps knew that going with Beckett would provide them with the opportunity to hide behind a solution that only covers upcoming cards instead of securing one that deals with the current problem.

Despite what people may say about my motives, many were left scratching their heads as to why Topps wasn’t going after the scammers more aggressively. If you think about it, it’s a good way to guard against future transgressions if the people responsible are punished for their crimes. Of course, there is a large discrepancy over the amount of time needed to execute this bust and the time available to execute it, which is a great reason why its important to have the discussion now. By throwing this solution at the problem, you still leave the collector base open to decade worth of fake cards, all being sold to unsuspecting people who pay hundreds to get them. How about protecting the customer rather than yourself? Hmm, becoming clearer now why Beckett got the resolution rather than the blogs?

Luckily here in the blog network we have established, its no longer an easy task to hide in plain sight, as many of the people who read Beckett’s blog also read Mario, Rob and I. That means the people who read the kid gloves version of the story, are also going to get a lot of the riff raff you create by handling it that way.

A Comment On The Topps Lawsuit

After reading the many posts about Topps and their failure to pay for the autos in their sets, I was more interested in the cost of their autographs than anything. For those of you who wonder why its so expensive to put together a set, this is the reason.

I have commented before on the cost of autographs for the sets, but this is more actual numbers to show you just how bad it can get. Even someone like DeAndre Jordan gets 3 bucks a sig, even though thats probably more than his cards are acually worth. Consider he probably had to sign more than he sued for, its a minimum of 3 grand just for him alone. Then you see that Tracy McGrady and Derrick Rose got 50 and 25 each, respectively, and the numbers really start to pile up, especially when you imagine just how many autographs they sign per whole calendar year.
The issue is that the players are just as much responsible for the cost of a product as the stuff the companies buy to put in it. Add in the enormous cost of licensing, and you can see why products cost as much as they do. Although I am one of the people who say that products NEED this type of stuff to be successful, its painfully obvious that these players are costing the companies a lot of money.
Obviously, Topps needs to pay these players, as shafting anyone out of a commitment like that is crazy – especially when they are the lifeblood of your company. In this case, however, Topps isnt really in that bad of situation when you see that they wont be dealing with the league anymore. If they had continued with the NBA license, you could imagine how bad this would have been for them. The problem is that it doesnt necessarily mean that the players from the other sports wont use this as a reason to sour the relationship with the card producing public, and that is what scares me as much as any other aspect of this story.
With this lawsuit, Topps has set a pretty bad example for the rest, even more so when the numbers they pay for the autos are publicized. I think this is definitely a black eye for a company that hasnt been sitting well with collectors already, and I hope this is the last instance like this. In an industry that has dropped in net revenue over the years, stuff like this cant happen.

Topps – You Have Destroyed My Faith In The Future

Dear Topps,

After seeing the previews for Topps Triple Threads baseball, Topps Triple Threads football, and now Topps Unique Baseball, I must say that my faith in your design team is completely gone. It saddens me to think that the priorties for the products focus more on filling the card fronts with needless numbers of swatches than getting the design to a point where it looks favorable. On top of all of this, not one of your products other than Bowman has hard signed signatures, including the ones that cost more than $150 a box.

I understand that you want the cards to look like they are worthy of the price tag you put on the box, but when each card has a large foil sticker with borders built into the design, I automatically wonder why you couldn’t just use a clear sticker on a white or clear background with no border. Why do you always have to remind us that you use stickers, especially considering that every other company has found out how to use the labels effectively without compromising the design. Also, I know that Topps is one of the two companies that has the means to obtain hard signed cards, but a lazy temperment has taken over where innovation used to reside.

When I first saw the new product, weirdly named “Unique,” the first thought that popped into my head was how un-unique the preview cards looked. It was almost as if someone had taken a stock powerpoint slide background, spliced in some tiny player pictures and called it a day. Yes, the swatches were cut from the most sought after parts of the jersey, but it wont make a difference when the cards look the way they do. One shining beacon of the boredom contained in this product is the Chipper Jones. True, the preview mockup shows a nice patch, but who could even care when you fall asleep mid gaze? Were you trying to avoid all essence of a well planned card? Are you even trying any more?

Triple Threads is not that much of an improvement over Unique’s shortfalls, as the product still focuses more on the amount of included swatches than the design. As long as the list of priorities promotes spelled out words over content and design, I will continue to duck this and future products whenever I can. The fact of the matter is that just because you can stuff all those windows onto a card, doesn’t mean you actually need to try. The “less is more” concept has been abandoned with all of your High End products, as it has become more about showcasing the excess rather than working wonders with simplicity. Then, when you also factor that the Triple Threads brand has not changed in over four years, the stale stench coming from the design begins to stink even more.

Topps, the competition you will face in coming years will be even greater now that Major League Baseball has devoted its logos solely to your products. To continue to produce cards that do not look as if they were actually cared about will damage any rapport you have with the people who drive your business. The sooner you adapt to work on better design rather than how many panels you can attach to a card, things will improve. Until then, I feel as though your lack of planning has ripped any confidence I have in your products’ prospects of being worthwhile to any collector. Thank you for destroying any hope I have for the future of the baseball card industry.

Disgustfully Yours,

(Thanks To Mario For The Exclusive Image)

One Final Comment On My Disgust Over The Topps Exclusive

Michael Eisner says its time to bring kids back to the hobby. Fine. I agree that’s a good secondary goal, but when you think about who actually composes the makeup of the collecting populace, we have to question what is going to happen to the people who have grown to love the way it is now.

Eisner says that the biggest problem with the industry today is the confusion over products, kids going into Wal-Mart and Target, giving up because of not knowing which product to buy. Personally, that is total crap. Its pandering to a public that has a closed minded view of what the prime demographic SHOULD be, while not addressing what it has become. The reason kids don’t like cards as much anymore is because the interests of the general kid has switched from following sports to playing video games and japanese animated shows. The demographics have changed, and it has nothing to do with how many products are stocked at shop n’ save.

The fact of this industry since 1996 is that adults make up the market, not kids. Therefore to say that you are going to pull the train off the tracks and put it on a different track, screws over all the passengers on the train already. By refocusing the point of baseball card market to kids, it only makes things worse than it already is. Not only because kids shouldn’t be the focus, but also because most kids like the hobby the way it fucking is!

People, giving Topps the exclusive is not going to harken things back to 35 years ago. The hobby’s face has changed, and it is never going back. Its time to stop trying to recapture that nostalgia, because that shit don’t fly ’round here no more. The day of the kid going into the shop and buying cards is gone, mainly because kids don’t follow sports like they used to. The hobby has changed, made the thousands of people like me into collectors, and it needs to stay that way. I know that Baseball is a different animal than football, but the ideals hold true. People want to be closer to the game, and Topps Opening Day is not the way to accomplish that. Plus, when Triple Threads and Sterling are the worst products on the market, how long before the lack of competition makes everything that bad? Not long, especially when Topps has to scale back their product line to accommodate the new cost of the license.

Topps Exclusive Is Bad For Business

Topps may have gotten the exclusive and put themselves in a great position, but its the collector that once again gets the shaft. Regardless of what Topps will do in the coming years, it will be without “true” competition, thus leading to more stale crap like Triple Threads and Sterling. Without having to put up with logo bearing products from UD or Panini, Topps is free to release anything they want without fear of losing customers to the competition.

Exclusives are never good, regardless of how they are sliced, as competition has always been the way better products are made. Considering that some Topps products are already the worst on the calendar, this is bad news all around. Im sincerely hoping I am wrong, trust me.
This is not to say that UD or Panini will not release unlicensed products, but they shouldnt have to do it that way. Granted, as UD has said, its more about the players than the logos on the jerseys, which I agree with 100%, but others arent smart enough to actually see past this original article. I say that UD takes a dive in baseball like nothing we have ever seen, unfortunately, therefore putting more strain on the already overburdened football brands to carry the company. Lucky for UD, the other two in that area are like one legged men in an asskicking contest.
Here’s to my now even more greatly reduced baseball collecting habits.