June 5, 2011

Sunday Question

While I am aware that this may be a very loaded and dangerous question, I think this would be a great chance to see what really bothers all of us or what we all like. With all the releases that have come out this year so far we have seen some great ideas implemented by Topps and some not so great ideas. We have seen poor quality control issues, lack of innovation but we have seen products that have also included some nice inserts (The Diamond Anniversary cards), and a nice year long promotion with the Diamond Giveaway Code cards.

If given the opportunity to voice your concerns, ask questions, or praise a particular aspect of a set what is it that you would let the Topps company know? Is there something you would like to see brought back? Anything along those lines. Please drop a comment.

Topps does read our blog and I do communicate with them when I read enough about something being wrong or strange so if I see a consistent theme throughout the comments I will make it a point to contact Topps and see what we can find out.

For me personally, one of the things that really bothered me was the missing autographs in the Gypsy Queen and how that was known about prior to release leaving all of us to spend money sending UPC's back. I think the lack of Quality Control in too many instances would be my biggest concern.


  1. I have to say, after busting a couple Bowman boxes recently (thanks again, btw!), I absolutely love the Bowman's Best design. It is kinda retro to the old Best sets, and yet still something cool and electric about them. Well done in my book!

  2. With Topps being essentially the only licensed game in town, for the time being, I would like to see an end of the year set that encompasses every single player that played in the majors for that season and a card for each team that a player played for in that season. If Ichiro gets traded to the Padres at the deadline (just as an example), he would have cards for the Mariners and the Padres in the set.

    If Topps would be able to produce a set like this, it would make the gimmicks of the other sets much more tolerable. I can collect all my cup of coffee players along with the stars and every player in between and have a master set for each team for the season. That would be pure nirvana.

    As for the current sets, I'm just tired of all the endless inserts and parallels. I don't mind these things, but this year wants to rival 2007 for most insert cards and it's annoying.

    Can Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects be a different color than the regular Bowman product, if it's going to use the same design? I spend way too much time trying to decipher which card goes where. It's frustrating and unnecessary.

    Kudos on Gypsy Queen. It's old and fresh at the same time.

  3. Great point on the lack of variety between the Bowman base set and the DPP. I had the same problem last year trying to sort my cards, it drove me freakin bananas. (B-A-N-A-N-A-S)

  4. Not having busted much outside of the base set this year I would have to suggest

    cut back on number of inserts in the flagship product...

    Bring back Topps Total....

    Better quality control.

    Not exactly new ideas, but simple fixes that I think would be most appeciated by collectors young and old.

  5. I love Opening Day. Hands down, my favorite set of the year so far. I love the lack of foil, I love the mascots and the "fun" feel of the inserts, I love the price. I would rather see this as the base set with a few more cards in the set than the foiled-up versions.

  6. Loved the Stadium Lights insert set in Opening Day. Maybe you could get Topps to say they designed it with me in mind ... you know, just to humor me.

  7. Of course, someone just needs to poke around the blogs for a while to see so much already said on this topic.

    I like throwbacks, but it seems that Topps relies too much on them. From one year to the next, I feel like I'm seeing more of the same. Bowman has looked the same for years, Topps inserts have followed the same formulas, and other releases are either throwbacks (Heritage, Allen and Ginter, Gypsy Queen) or high dollar products with more risk than reward (Tribute, Sterling). I like sets like GQ and A&G, and some of the throwback insert sets are worth collecting, but I'd like to see some more modern products in the low/mid price range.

    Make the flagship set larger. Go back to 792 cards or more, and include more players instead of two cards per team. There's no reason why Topps can't go the route of Topps Total in terms of set size. Change up the insert formula, too. Put team cards as inserts. You can bring back some of the previous inserts, but modernize them instead of recycling.

    Bring back Stadium Club. The 2008 formula didn't work. Make it 660 cards, like Topps was (or maybe a little smaller), and you can split it into two series. Don't do short prints here - a larger set doesn't need SPs. Focus on photography quality here, and inserts can be related to this (Master Photo box toppers again!).

    Bring back Topps Gallery. This was a beautiful painted set, and it had a nice modern design. You can put a bunch of painted inserts in here - a Dick Perez set, for instance, a National Chicle parallel, Turkey Red - get some of the heritage/throwback sets as inserts here.

    Fix Bowman. Make it all minor league/draft picks because nobody seems to care about the red and green cards, just the prospects. You have the minor league license, so use it properly. And stop copying your MLB releases for MiLB. Do something unique for MiLB (moving Bowman to MiLB would be a start). And while I'm on the subject of MiLB, Heritage does not belong in MiLB.

    I don't care for the high-end releases but I understand they have a place in our hobby. I don't care what you do with those, really, but I'm not necessarily going to call for their removal. It would be nice to see a retail version, though, much like Leaf did in 2004 with the Second Edition. Remove the serial numbering, etc, if you must and release it watered down in blisters or blasters. (Or leave the serial numbering on. Most people don't care for parallels so just spread them out or bump up the numbers a little.) Think of it like 2008 Stadium Club's retail release.

    Finally, Opening Day. This year's Opening Day, though similar to the past releases, seemed a bit better. I liked the blue parallels. But the set size is too small. Instead of making the flagship larger, you could get rid of Opening Day and bring back Total in its place - a large set in a couple (maybe 3) series, with some fun inserts and maybe a small selection of autographs or relics.

    I would love to be a part of some set design discussions, because I have some ideas for sets that haven't been done (in a while, or ever) that would allow either topical base sets (much like Upper Deck did right) or insert sets, or both.

  8. The base set should go back to 792 cards or so. More common players. Less gimmicks. I got to know all of the players of an era thanks to the commons of the 70s and 80s!

  9. Topps Total was a terrible product if you ask me. The set was way too large, and honestly I see no need to make cards of guys that are going to spend one season, if that, with a team. Also, the quality of Topps Total was sub-par. Keep the team sets to the star players and long term contract type guys plus RC's. Do I care if they make an Andruw Jones Yankee card? Not at all. I don't even care if they don't make a Brett Gardner one for that matter.

    I would rather see a new Bazooka set before seeing them bring back Total. I don't remember Total being all that popular.

  10. You're right, the quality on Total wasn't that good. And I did like Bazooka. But I can't help feeling like some more players added to the fold would be better in a cheaper set (like Opening Day). And I feel like the flagship brand doesn't quite do it. I just think Opening Day has room for improvement without upping the price point (maybe turning it into Bazooka is a good idea). And whatever happened to putting 2, 3, or even 4 players on one card? There's a way to add more players to the set without adding a lot of cards. I would like to see every MLB player get at least one card per year, but one for every team may be a bit much. Putting multiple players on one card can do this without a ballooning card set.

  11. One thing I would like to see change would definitely be don't make high end too high end. Triple threads is one of my favorite products to bust every year. To me 150-175 price point for that is fair. With the added hit in each pack the price has jumped up to tribute cost. Maybe move tribute to the end of the season instead of beginning. Just some thoughts. Gypsy queen was great. Heritage eh.

  12. Everyone seems to have enjoyed the Gypsy Queen. Was it because it was a straightforward type set without a bazillion inserts? Or because the auto's were on card? Hits per box?

    I loved it because for the money you got 2 on card autos per box, plus the parallels were sweet looking.

  13. I think you hit it all with Gypsy Queen. There isn't a crazy number of parallels filling up the packs, and they look nice. Collectors want on-card autographs, and the design worked.

    If there's one thing I would change/improve, it would be the number of multiple relic/autograph cards. You can do that by expanding the number of players receiving these types of cards. I miss seeing nice hits, even if they are of David DeJesus - he signed enough regular cards anyway (why can't they be nice hits?).

  14. Gypsy queen was very uncomplicated. The inserts were simple. The bronze borders were my personal favorite. I love the on card autos. Also it seemed some nice hits came from retail. Besides the quality control, that was a winner.

  15. 1. Sets like Archives and Fan Favorites with original cards on old designs. (hate the reprint stuff they are putting out now though)

    2. Bowman without the crappy numbering system.

  16. For me, what I've liked and disliked this year has almost entirely come down to design. I love the clean, bright design of the base set, it makes the photography stand out and there aren't any weird filters on it to make the players look weird. I like that there are really only a few parallels, and only one that matters to me (the diamond anniversary ones). They actually look like different cards instead of having a different colored border (seriously, does anyone like a card more if it has a gold border?) That said, the photoshopped on "sparkle" variants that were super short-printed might be the dumbest thing about the base set.

    The biggest design issue this year has been the total lack of anything dynamic in heritage. I don't have any problems with heritage as a set, and I know it's just mimicking the set it's based on, but the static posed shots are just so boring. Gypsy Queen, on the other hand, while it still has an iffy photoshopped look, at least uses good photography and a card frame that lets it breathe.

    I know I come at the product from a different angle than a lot of people, since I don't really care about pulling "sick hits" or whatever. I love building base sets and sticking them all in a binder where I can flip through them when I get the urge. To that end, I hate hate hate short printed base cards. They just punish the set builder, who is like the lowest end on the collector scale. Let everyone chase their inserts and hits while the rest of us get the normal cards. The worst part about Gypsy Queen and Heritage for me was paying more for the few base cards I needed than I would for most game-used pieces and even some of the low-end autos.

    Minis are awesome, but I would like them to be special in some way. I enjoyed collecting the gypsy queen minis for my team set, but it would've been even cooler if they had a different picture or even just a different paragraph of text on the back.

  17. Bring back Topps Reserve with the autographed ball or mini helmet inside! It adds a whole new dimension to the box busting experience.

  18. I would have to say that in general, I agree with Matt that set builders are the lowest priority collectors when you look at how certain sets are constructed. It would be nice to see a set with either only a few short prints, or where the short prints aren't that short. When I reach a certain point of diminishing returns, I stop buying packs and boxes, period. Then I try and buy singles or trade for the rest. But if there are still 63 short prints left to get, I know they will be on my list forever.

    I like inserts, but Topps tends to repeat the same thing too much, especially in Heritage. Mamas were good, but should have waited and become 60YOTs. Lay off the reprints for a while, please. And the sparkles were neat, but turned out to be just another super scarce pull that I knew I'd never see.
    The league leader and awards cards in the base set are boring. I'd like to see them either go back to the 70's/80's layouts or be nicer inserts themselves. I've often thought a seperate set of all the leaders (but not the obscure team leaders like in the Topps 60s), gold gloves, silver sluggers, and milestones would be something a little different. (I'm ignoring Moments and Milestones)

    On parallels, I'm still not over the bait and switch marketing of the black parallels. Put 'em in full blasters and I might consider buying them. I would be buying GQ racks if I could FIND them....
    And chrome Heritage doesn't make any sense to me at all. How is "high tech shiny" not completely contradictory to "old vintage"?

    Lastly, I know that the MLBPA dictates this to some point and there is demand, but does EVERY set have to be chock full of rookies? I second the notion about Bowman - I don't even look at them because 1) I can't decipher them without full numbers and names, and 2) I really don't care about prospects at all. I would like to see bench players on cards, but not no-name prospects who aren't with the team. That goes against 80% of marketing hype, I'm sure....

  19. Lots of people are wanting more cards per set, more bench players, etc. And I agree...

    BUT if that's going to happen, the cards per pack has to go back up to the 15-20 card range. Do you really want to buy a pack of 8 cards and get 8 guys who only pinch hit?

    I'd love to see guys like Logan Ondrusek (relief pitcher) and Miguel Cairo (bench player) get cards, but I gotta get at least one Brandon Phillips-level player in the pack too. Those chances go down when you have all the "common" players.

    So more cards in pack, but keep Opening Day-type pricing. Maybe even go back to cardboard so the cards don't brick together after a week.

  20. It has already been said, but a little serial redundancy doesn't hurt. Topps basically sticks it to the set collectors.

    As a set collector, I think there are too many inserts in the base Topps product. I basically decided to build the main base set and forget the inserts. A few inserts is fine, but as many as there are it seems more a stunt to keep people buying than to offer any interesting value.

    Similar reasoning on the short prints in Heritage. I am not opposed to short prints, but 75 cards out of a 500 card set is way too many. Once I start getting 90% duplicates, I stop buying new product off the shelf. At this point, I only need 4 more regular print Heritage, but close to 40 short prints. I am not going to keep filling a duplicate box to chase after them and they are going for $3-$6 dollars on the aftermarket. Which means I am going to need to wait a year or two to finish the set.

  21. When Heritage was first released many moons ago, I considered adding it to my collection. As soon as I saw the word "shortprints", it was game over.
    Enough with the shortprints, especially in the base set (I see a pattern here, Marie). I also agree with expanding the set to include more "regular guys". It doesn't have to include everyone on the 40 man roster, but let's include everyone on the 25 man roster. Let's also try to avoid all the "filler" cards in the update set. Granted, most of the all-stars are included (60+ cards). Let's avoid some of the other nonsense (see any of the last few years sets for examples, they are easy to find).

    I also have concerns with starting any new sets from Topps. How long will they last? We had Bazooka in 1995 and 96, then it disappeared until 2003, running to 2006, and it's gone again. What will be the next "fad"? Could be GQ, but it was so well received, we will probably see it again next year. But will it be as interesting in its Sophomore year? How long did the original run?

    If the MLBPA and or MLB properties is reading this. Grant more licenses. I am spending less and less on cards because there are fewer and fewer choices.

  22. I really liked the Gridiron/Million dollar giveaway programs. I just wish they weren't so short lived and maybe provided more interaction between the traders. I'm not so sure about the Diamond giveaway, the cards are fine, not sure about these virtual rings.

  23. I'll go w/ the redemption issues. How can you redeem a 2010 card in 2010 and Topps be out of your card? I don't want a substitution card, I want the card listed on the front!

  24. Ah, yes, the concerns I/we have about the cards themselves pale in comparison to Topps' web presence. Now, I don't do Twitter or Facebook, so I can't speak to those newer aspects. But Topps really needs to upgrade their websites.

    I see the main site has changed some since I was there the last time, but now I don't even see a link for set checklists. There were checklists on there before, but they weren't broken down at all, so you had to page through 1432235 pages one by one. Now all that is there is info from the sell sheets that you can find anywhere.

    The Diamond Giveaway is cool, but the execution is not. The site takes way too long to load a simple list of either collection, and you can't see more than a couple items on the screen at once. Users should be able to set the display mode between single item or full collection layout.

    Also, I'm surprised the ring trading hasn't crashed the whole thing. It should have been set up where users can designate the rings they'd like to trade and then only those go into the available listings. Instead, every ring you have gets put in the pool and you have an unmanageable amount of trade proposals pending every day.