A weird thing happened this past week, with 2014 Topps Archives baseball getting national news attention for their inclusion of a Charlie Sheen autographed card. The card, which commemorates his appearance in the movie Major League, was inserted into packs along side a slew of other actors from the film. Of course, Sheen’s controversial nature made him a news story, but the product brings about a very interesting question. How much is Nostalgia worth when bulding a new or existing product?
Check out some of the cards from the set:
The regular autos look cool too:
Let me put it to you this way. Many companies have shifted focus away from creating a new brand to re-launch other brands that were previously axed. Score, Fleer Retro, Topps Tek, Stadium Club and Archives all are built around elements of past brands. Countless numbers of inserts from every product are throwbacks to other cards that have been used in past sets from long ago.
Even recent history has a place in our Nostalgic existence, as its clear that many products are successful ONLY because of the brand they represent. Sets like Chrome, Contenders, and Limited have ridiculous followings from years where they were the best game in town. That brand history has gained them a longer leash when things go drastically wrong. Then, when the anniversaries come around, the sets are brought back to life in iconic fashion.
My answer is this.
Card collecting is so rooted in Nostalgia, that to build without the element in mind could mean a destruction of potential for a product. Its funny, because collectors become enthralled with nostalgic elements by association, as many were not around in the hobby when the first go around was popular. How many people bought a recent incarnation of a Fleer Precious Metal Gem, despite not knowing it was a big deal in the late 1990s? Im guessing they just saw other people’s reaction and constructed their own personal value around that sentiment.
I have always loved buyback cards and retro autograph cards for Nostalgia alone – if not only because I think history can showcase what things may have like had our technology been available back in the day. Sure, I have gravitated toward retro themed cards from my youth as well, only further exacerbated by my hunger to collect now that I have more than an allowance to spend.
As much as we have come to accept retro content in products, some of it has reached a point of over saturation, and that is a problem. Companies have started bringing back products that were unsuccessful now, which only hurts the calendar to not have new content brought into the fold. A lot of people say its a matter of laziness, which I am inclined to agree with in some ways.
That being said – they will keep producing these sets as long as we keep buying, and I am not ready to say we are past the point of no return. That’s not to say it isnt approaching quickly, however.