If you remember back a few months ago when Topps first solicited this new product, I had a pretty negative reaction to the look and theme. I was likely not the only one that felt that way, as Topps immediately launched a campaign to drum up pre-orders for Fire at hobby shops around the country. It was clear that no one really had much confidence in the viability of this new concept, and it was actually pretty sad that the campaign was launched the way it was.
Here are some of the hits up so far:
Fire is another set in the vein of Valor, with a hint of Inception mixed in, and one would expect that would actually result in a pretty nice looking product. However, because of the performance of recent duds in Bowman Chrome and Topps Chrome, collector confidence has dropped significantly. Another point worth mentioning is that previous concept set Valor also had major issues upon trlrsdr in 2012, with a strong rookie class to back it. Fire doesnt have the on card autos, and it doesnt have as nice a design, but it does have a cheap box price. That is really the only good part of this whole thing. You wont lose your ass if you come up short. Valor had a resurgence with a reduction in price and more focused content, and Fire is just a re-imagining of that with a lesser concept and a far poorer design.
Where Valor focused on battle and armory, Fire focuses on space and combustion. You can see where one motif may fit with football and the other does not. Similarly, releasing a sticker autograph product this late in the year is only going to appeal to a limited number of collectors, especially when more robust concepts in Museum Collection, Supreme and Five Star are still on the way.
Topps has already cancelled another dog set in 2014 Rookie Premiere Football, which would have performed even lower than Fire. Im beginning to get to the point where Im ready to say less is more – especially with Panini churning out as many terrible products as they have recently. Conservation may not be as much of an option as we think, especially with the cost of hitting minimum licensing guarantees along the way. Topps and Panini almost have to do what they do, or they will have the league to answer to.
The problem is that sets like Fire are just too much of a risk at this point. Topps obviously has less to lose now that 2015 will be their last year, but they still have to make SOME money. Fire was a bold concept that just wasnt executed in a way that is attractive to most people who comprise the target market. I know I am not going to buy singles or boxes.
Im going to go out on a limb here and say that a sticker dump product like Topps Magic may have been a better choice to release in this spot, even if it hasnt performed to standards in the past. Magic at least has a following, and Topps has rarely used its retro chops at all this year, minus a few inserts.
Curious to see what happens coming up, as the meat of Topps’ late calendar has been a favorite of mine for the last 4 years. I am praying that things can turn around, and I am confident that they will find a way to get out of this funk.