Some 2013 New Year’s Resolutions for the Card Companies

Its now 2013, happy new year everyone! With every new year, comes new year’s resolutions, and I think it is time to discuss some that I wish the card industry would take into consideration. We have had some amazing looking cards this past year, but also a shift in the way most products are constructed and produced. Here is my list.

Focus on Players Not Relics

Too often, companies fall into the trap that they believe collectors want. Bigger relics, more ridiculous patches, and of course less focus on the players the relics are actually connected to. I have said on more occasions I can count that the players are the focus and the relics are secondary. The more this is focused on, the more aesthetically pleasing the card will be. Cards that look cool on a more general level will carry more value, and there are a lot of examples where you can get the big swatch while still having focus on the player.

Dont do anything like this:

2012 Topps Museum Collection MLB Logo Patch

2012 Panini Threads Basketball Die Cut Jersey Auto – No Player Picture

2012 SP Signature Auto – WTF?

Make Products Special For At Least One Reason

Both Topps and Panini are guilty of churning out products to meet quotas, but Topps has also offered sets that are completely special and unique to make up for it. For every Bowman Sterling there is a Strata, while Panini has put out 12 products in a row that are relatively interchangeable. Even though I understand how difficult it must be to build a checklist, there has to be a focus on creating SOMETHING redeeming for each product outside of just another rookie autograph to chase. Its pretty obvious that both companies were riding the Luck and Griffin wave in Football, and Topps was riding Harper and Trout in Baseball, but lost in that shuffle was unique content in a lot of cases.

My Favorites of 2012:

2012 Topps Strata Shadow Box Style Auto

2012 Topps Tier One Clear Cut Rookie Reprint Auto

2012 Topps Triple Threads Hand Stamp Auto

2012 Upper Deck Exquisite Dimensions Auto

No More Vertical Jumbo Relic Auto Cards

This seems oddly specific, but it is one of my biggest pet peeves in the entire industry. So often, in a way to differentiate the way autos and relics are presented, the companies try to make these types of cards. They dont work. There isnt enough room on a card to vertically present a jumbo relic, a player photo and an autograph. If it doesnt turn out like an ill fated game of card design tetris, it will turn out with everything squished together. Not a good situation, stop.

Bad examples:

2012 Absolute Football Jumbo Patch Auto

2012 Panini Prime Cuts Jumbo Jersey Auto

No more Studio Shots – AT ALL

Sports photography, in general, is dynamic. Movement is everywhere, and these titans of our world are always available to be captured in a way that modern printing can highlight in a way that has never been available before. Even with this situation, we still have companies pulling in athletes for a modeling session at the rookie premiere in football, or in a studio for baseball. It takes all the fun out of the photography, especially when EVERY SINGLE FREAKING PLAYER is not photogenic in the slightest. It leads to terrible looking cards.

2012 Topps Museum Collection Auto

2012 Panini Momentum Auto – Dont Even Know What to Say

No More White Boxes

If a company creates a card, they should consider the means in which they need to produce it. Black or dark dominated designs WILL NOT WORK for stickers signed in dark pen. Panini thinks its okay to slap a big freaking box behind the stickers to make the autographs visible, when they should have designed the card differently. Topps does it too, but there are no defined edges in most of the cases. This year, its time to commit to designing differently so this doesnt have to happen. White looks good for a reason – right SP Authentic rookie patch autos?

No More Autos on Swatches

Bleeding signatures everywhere, fading before being opened, just awful looking autographs that have no reason to be done. I would much rather acetate be placed over the swatch, and then the player sign the acetate.

2012 Topps Jumbo Patch Auto

Continue to Engage Collectors

Both Topps and Panini have done some amazing things to branch out and really roll up their sleeves to talk to their consumers. I have to believe that the more the merrier in this case. Topps needs to move outside of Twitter, and Panini needs to move outside of pimping their blog. Although there are opportunities for both companies, there really have been some great stuff this year. Build on the Golden Giveaway and the Game Time giveaway for Topps. Build on the Father’s day and Black Friday packs for Panini. Im not saying have round table discussions or anything (I have generally negative things to say about dumb questions people ask in this forum), but find new ways to keep people engaged.


2013 has the potential to be a huge year all around. Even though the draft class in football is not slated to be a strong showing, there are a lot of reasons to believe the companies will step it up like never before. In Baseball, the surge of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, combined with some incredible prospects entering the fray, should prove to be a shot in the arm. As long as the companies continue to build on their best without regressing, everyone will benefit.

4 thoughts on “Some 2013 New Year’s Resolutions for the Card Companies

  1. I agree, for the most part.the studio shots are not that important to me. The swatch autos,I’ve seen a few that turned out nice, but more that didn’t. Also, the TTT handprints and the Shadowboxes are definitely some of the best products ever.

  2. I could not agree more with everything you have outlined here. It’s disturbing that the designs of cards have been becoming worse and worse (and there are exceptions but the majority of designs…boo), especially with Panini. It’s like they don’t care about the consumer; they just want to push out product after product and it makes me sick. I say focus on less products if you can only design 1 out of 4 sets on a sub-par level…make ten products throughout they year, enhance the checklists, have more time to setup on-card autograph sessions with athletes, and design every single set to a tee!

  3. I’d really like to hear your take on box value. It seems to be on a downhill slide. I completely understand that not every box will have a Luck or Griffin, but when print runs are eclipsing a thousand for individual sets and there are 16+ sets a year it cripples value for the consumer.

    The greed of the card companies crippled the industry in the 90s and I fear the same cycle is going to repeat itself again. I wish they’d learn how to balance the need to sell product with the need to give the collector long term value. Once overproduction deflates values, collectors stop buying more product as they realize the collections they’ve built have essentially no value.

  4. Good article, I will say one example you brought up I actually like is the Threads jerseys. Maybe I’m a sucker for die cut cards, but it’s a different way to associate the player to the auto.

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