Where Do We Stand For 2009?

After this weekend, all I have heard is that this year, the card companies are going to be coming at us with all they have. On card autos, player inscriptions, new and wonderous patch ideas, everything. Since the rookies are always the focus of each card year, and secondary values holding at more than expectations on early products, are we seeing a bounce back that no one had predicted would come this early? I mean, Percy Harvin’s prestige auto sold for 62 dollars! 62! That is crazy talk for a late first round WR, even though he was touted as one of the most talented in the draft. Either way, some of the new trends seem to be helping us rather than hurting us, as maybe this will give the companies some steam to move through the year.

So far, all we have right now is Prestige, with UD Draft and Bowman DP nipping at its heels on the calendar. Donini’s offering was quite less than stellar in my opinion as the value for the collector just didn’t seem to have lasting power. Although it has its plusses, it was mostly a disappointing start to the 09 season. Bowman DP has a nice design, but in all honesty, I don’t see it ever being worth more than the Topps Draft Picks and Prospects sets of years past. UD draft looks ten times better than last year’s, but doesn’t have the bang I am looking for. However, with 5 autos per box, Im hoping it will be great, but as with all early products, I am not holding my breath. This begs the question in my mind of how they could just throw these products to the wolves and wait for the dog fight? In an economy that is depleating the necessary disposable income at record rates, why even waste your time with a sub par product? Prestige was definitely that, a throw away to cash in on early hype. It may have gotten some money in the door, but it did nothing but water down the strength of my desire to stick around for the blockbusters like SPA at the end of the year. At least, that’s the way I feel, maybe its different for others who are out there.

From the “coverage” of the premiere, it seems like player inscriptions are the new go to schtick for the companies to draw you in. Ill agree that cool extras like Sanchez writing “El Matador” on a card or “go Jets” has its appeal, but after awhile, that will go away. Im not going to argue and say its not worth it now, because it is. I love the idea of the casual inscription, but as with every good thing, it will become the standard rather than the exception that made it special. Eventually we will long for a regular auto because “See you next year Tebow!” will have been on every card. You know it will happen.

In my interview with two different shop owners that I will post later this week, both said that the market is spread too thin for anyone to have any semblance of a way to collect what they need, let alone what they want. I stand by the fact that I do not agree that there should be 4 products a year, but I will say that maybe its time to rethink the strategy for the year at a time. Both owners said that the kids have been lost and that there is no way to get them back, which makes me think that there could be a large, large problem coming down the road. Matt from the Beverly Hills Card Shop mentioned that in today’s hobby, most of the kids that come in only want the 20 dollar packs, or if they don’t, they are left with VERY few choices that still provide them a chance at the stuff they came for. Where does that leave us?

Elaborate patches and unique player signatures only go so far, but you also have to consider that there isnt much money in the industry to take things to a different level either. This is where the stale ideas come in, and I am one of the people they are losing, for sure. Im not saying that I am going to stop collecting right this second, but I am bored beyond belief, despite my enthusiasm in the last post. I am more excited now after hearing reports from the weekend, but I am far from my excitement in 06 and 07. I hope that the companies do not think of autos inscriptions as the out pitch, it needs to be the setup outside. We need something better, and I hope they can find a way to do it. I want them to find a way to do it. Its been 13 years since the hobby has been reinvented, I don’t think I want to go through the innovations that have hit other industries in that time.

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