We are about to enter the part of the year where high end cards are the norm. This section of the calendar is reserved for the best of the best, and some of my favorite releases are about to start coming together. Topps has been starting to leak some pictures of my favorite of these high end sets, Five Star, and I wanted to go over a few things I feel are undervalued about previous years. Hopefully many of them are going to be tweaked for this year, but I dont know how much it can mean for people that dont think the way I do.
The Value of On Card Autographs
For some god forsaken reason, the autograph sticker situation hasnt affected a lot of value that is present in many releases. Much to my chagrin, sets with sticker autos are just as valuable as sets with on card autos. For the most part, relic content and contrived rarity drives value above the player signing the cards, which baffles me. Ill get to that in a second. Topps Five Star, since its inception has been a set aimed at pleasing people who love autographs above anything else. Its like a cornucopia of awesome autographed content, with every signature signed on card. Not just that, but many of the players who have on card autographs in Five Star havent had other recent examples. Yet, because of the circumstances put forth by the collector base, the perceived value of this is minimal. I go nuts for these cards and can pick them up at at cheaper prices than expected, if not only because collectors care more about other things. THEY SHOULD CARE ABOUT SIGNATURES. They dont.
The Value of Great Design Work
One of the biggest redeeming parts of Five Star is that the cards look high end. In a lot of products, including National Treasures and the like, the cards dont look like they came out of a 500 dollar box of cards. In many cases, the cards from these other products could be put in a 100 dollar run of the mill product and no one would say boo. They arent THAT special in any way. In Five Star, the simplicity reigns supreme, with each card being expertly constructed to highlight the most important elements of the design. Player photos are crisp, borders are ornate, and autographs are BIG and bold. SP Authentic and Exquisite were the quintessential examples of high end work, but Five Star builds on that each time it is released.
The Drop in Value for Poor Relic Quality
Collectors love crazy patches, and that is why National Treasures has built such a loyal following. In all reality, every card outside the rookie patch autos is an afterthought, even though the design for these major hits hasnt been all that stellar in the first place. What many collectors dont understand is that these jerseys used in the construction of these cards havent been worn in games, or barely worn at all. Since 2001, these jerseys have been worn for a few seconds (literally) at the rookie premiere. There are so many of them used, with so many logo patches, that the cards arent even that special any more. That’s how common they have become. In a lot of cases, they add to the aesthetics, and I support the use of these relics because there is no other option, but I fail to derive value from a patch of this type. Its a cherry on top of the sundae, not the sundae itself. Topps has already confirmed that patch size will be bigger this year than previously, and thankfully they didnt compromise visual appeal to make it happen. Not like Panini did last year, where patch size was more important than space to sign. Topps has also made a huge mistake by not playing to this lopsided collector identity in 2011, leaving out patches in the book cards, and as a result, the whole product suffered in value. This year, I would expect they learned their lesson.
The Value in Unique Autographs
If you dont have one of the inscription cards from Five Star yet, you are missing out. They are my favorite cards of the year, because they offer something outside of what is usually produced ad nauseum. The players write out relevant inscriptions (not favorite movies or foods), and it adds to the appeal of the autograph. They sell for crazy money because collectors care about having something no one else has – that is the vanity apparent in every aspect of the collecting world. They have already been confirmed to be back again. Outside of that, there SHOULD be more value in the unique content besides these cards as well. Last year, full sized jerseys were available via redemption, but they didnt sell well. I dont get that. Collectors have become unable to think outside the walls of the card border, and that should not be the case. I cant wait to see what is offered this time around.
Five Star will ALWAYS have a special place in my personal collection because of what it represents – care and consideration for making great cards. Even though people have shown more confidence in National Treasures and similar products, this is far superior. Its not even a contest. Beauty and value is in the eye of the beholder, but I hope my Five Star evangelism can make an impact on some of you.