Ahh…the monthly Blog Bat Around topic. This usually makes me take a more critical and objective look at the hobby that I tend to dump a bunch of my hard earned cash into, and that’s a good thing. I’ve been on record here a few times saying that in order to get the most out of this hobby you have to step back once in awhile and evaluate what you have, what you’re doing, and what you want. If you don’t, you’re pretty much a blind sheep or a lemming, and who wants that?
Dave’s topic this month is very broad. I could pretty much write on every single thing he brought up but that would turn this into a multi-page diatribe and do any of you really want to read that? So what I am going to talk about is something that I’m noticing far too often….product not delivering value.
We live in a world where the card companies have given us three levels of products to choose from. We have the low-end cards such as Topps Series I that is primarily designed for set builders. Then we have products that I would call mid-range like UD’s Spectrum, Sweet Spot, and Topps Co-Signers. And finally we have the products on the high-end. Those are your UD Premier and Topps Triple Threads and Sterling.
By looking at that, you would assume that the low-end products would have simple relic cards and sporadic autographs….and they do. You would also assume that your mid-range products would have maybe a few more autographs and the addition of patches…and they do. And you would assume that your high-end products would have autographs from upper tier players and have some very nice relics….
WRONG!!! And this is the biggest thing I think we need to see fixed in the collecting world.
I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to charge a premium price for a product (upwards of $175 per box), you better damn well put value into that box and the card companies simply aren’t doing that. Take a look at the card below. This card is from the 2008 edition of UD Premier.
Upper Deck should be embarassed to put the word “Premier” on this card. These are the same plain single color jersey swatches they are putting in their low-end products like First Edition. This is probably nothing more than a $15 card on the secondary market. While that is really nice to pull from a low-end product, it’s ridiculous to be pulling from a box that probably cost the buyer $175 or more. The card below is from the 2007 edition of Premier and is more like the type of card that should be pulled frequently from a high end product.
The first card (trio) is numbered to 33. The card above (Fielder/Morneau) is numbered to 50. So explain to me what a card that is supposed to be more rare and more sought after contains crappy relics and they managed to get very nice patch relics into a card that was produced more? This looks to me like a giant step backward.
Upper Deck isn’t alone in this folly. Topps is just as guilty. Take a look at this Morneau item from this year’s Triple Threads. This is their highly touted “XXIV Card” that they raved about prior to the products release. First I’ll show you an actual Morneau card and then I’ll show you how Topps hyped this particular card and you tell me what you see. First the REAL card…
And here is the image of these 24-relic cards that Topps advertised in their sell sheets…
Hmmm…..bait and switch?? I guess it’s just basic marketing…make your product look amazing and then deliver something underwhelming. The Wright card shown in the sell sheets contains nice patches and plenty of color. I haven’t seen such a card. All of these XXIV cards look like the Morneau card above.
So what needs to be done?
The answer is actually pretty simple. The card companies need to take a step back and look at what they are delivering and ask themselves “are we really giving the collectors the value for their money?” As of right now, they are not. Have you seen all the simple single color jersey swatches that are coming out of Topps Sterling? This is supposed to be THE high end product and they are certainly not delivering value. Imagine if you bought a $225 box and got nothing but a Robin Yount quad jersey relic with 4 simple single color swatches. Is that value?!? NO!
Honestly, if I’m Upper Deck or Topps, I’m scrambling to be the first company to fix this problem because you know the first one that does will reap the rewards. I would also be the first to go out and bring in a true collector as an advisor into product development. It’s very apparent from the crappy products we’re getting that the people in charge are far from being in touch with what the average collector wants.
Oh, and get rid of redemptions too. They suck!