Friday, June 24, 2016
Topps Steals Seven Year Old Idea From Card Blogger
My name is Steve Gierman. I run this little card blog called White Sox Cards. I've been producing content for White Sox Cards since November 9, 2007. Since this blog's inception, I have made many friends and gained many readers. In fact, on days I don't post, I average about 200 unique readers. Not bad for someone writing typically about one team and their baseball cards.
I have seen my fellow card bloggers receive accolades for their work and have seen some go on to jobs in the card industry, putting their knowledge, love and connections to great use. I've seen the rise and fall and resurgence of popular blogs, all the while I have been posting content and sharing the love I have for card collecting, baseball and my Chicago White Sox.
I've had a lot of great ideas for card sets and I try to make something new each year. Most years I do, some I don't, but the one consistent ongoing set has been Birth Years. I published my first Birth Years card on March 9, 2009, one year and four months into this blog. I have updated the Birth Years set each year as new players play for the White Sox, using the card design that came out in the year that they were born. I just finished posting the last of the 2015 cards (card #194) on June 14, 2016, and I have been in the prepping stages of the 2016 cards.
These cards have been one of the most popular attractions for White Sox Cards. I take great care in the little details of each card. I even made bonus "In Action" cards for anyone born in 1982 or 1972. I made a decision back in 2009 to use the Topps designs. The main reason I chose Topps cards is that their designs span back to 1951 and they own card designs that go back even further. The second reason I chose Topps is because the designs for each year are usually memorable and I have fond memories of those cards from my youth. There are special memories associated with those designs for myself and every card collector out there. I use the designs as part of "fair use", because I seek no monetary gain from selling these cards. I have had plenty of offers to sell these cards, but I have turned every one down. All I have ever asked is to be given credit.
The first 100 cards have been on YouTube for three years.
It hasn't been a secret. There's even a Birth Years album on the White Sox Cards Facebook page. The Birth Year cards are probably the most unique thing I'm known for as a card blogger. Seven years later, Topps "borrows" the idea and the name. I let the birth year coin cards slide last year because they are a completely different animal. This year it feels like a sucker punch to the gut.
Imagine my surprise yesterday, when my phone starts blowing up. Several different people are telling me the exact same thing... Topps stole my idea. I shrugged it off thinking that everybody was exaggerating. On my lunch break, I checked it out and it's the same idea and same implement.
I'm a fairly easy person to contact. This blog, the Facebook page, the Twitter account all are ways I can be contacted. It's not hard to connect the dots. For a company that is so in tune with the hobby, it's collectors and social media, this seems a bit fishy. It seems to me that someone at Topps was reading my blog and thought that was a great idea.
I don't want a commission, as some people have suggested at the Topps Twitter feed. I would just like credit. A simple e-mail or message to me before this was done would have been the decent thing to do. Common courtesy. If I was asked, I would have given my blessing for the project. I would have been the first one out there promoting it spreading the word about how awesome it was to have an idea that was actually considered worthy of a release. I would have been ecstatic!
Instead, I am frustrated, confused and defiled. I feel like I just got hit with a Randy Johnson fastball. This does nothing to put my faith in the Topps Company. This has been nothing but bad press for Topps by having the card bloggers call the company out on this fact. This experience so far makes me want to lobby for Panini to get licensed. At this point, I'd rather see Upper Deck get their license back, than have Topps retain a license.
One day, soon, this incident will likely be forgotten by most casual card collectors. The long time collectors tend to remember things like this and they are Topps' most consistent customers. Why would any Topps employee think it was alright to steal from their most loyal customers? Even if they are just ideas.
***UPDATE - June 25, 2016***
I'm not the only one who had the thought back in 2009. Check out this post from gcrl. I think Jim and I should both get credit. Jim had the original thought in 2009's Blog Bat Around about what the card companies could do to improve their product. I had honestly forgotten about that inclusion, but that does not change the fact that bloggers had the idea and the inclination to start this project seven years ago. The fact remains that this idea and ongoing project has been highly visible for seven years.
This isn't even the first thing that Topps has "borrowed" from bloggers without giving proper credit. Johngy has had Celebrity Jersey cards since May 7, 2010. 278 different cards have been posted as of this update. Topps took the idea, narrowed it down, and turned it into "First Pitch" cards, which feature celebrities and special guests throwing out first pitches in jerseys. Johngy expands on this to show celebrities in jerseys doing a number of things, including throwing out first pitches, and it includes multiple sports. It just goes to show that the bloggers have the ideas first and end up doing it better.
I guess I'll be expecting to see Final Tribute cards someday from Topps too. All I'll have to do to figure out what's next from Topps is to peruse my blog roll.