Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blog Bat Around: Fixing Topps Baseball

Stale Gum has just posted the latest Blog Bat Around!

Michael Eisner has just fired the entire Topps Product Development staff and chose to hire you to take their place. Mr. Eisner has given you carte blanche to do whatever you want with Topps Baseball -- as long as you keep it under $2/pack.

I will limit myself with fixing the series one base set. I could go on for hours about a full 2011 plan for the company.

Every year, Topps loads its base set with inserts and gimmicks. Now that they are the only licensed baseball card company out there, Topps doesn’t need to rush to beat the competition. The focus should be on quality over quantity.

Let’s hit the rewind button on Topps’ 2011 line. As much as it pains me to say, the parallels have been around for awhile and collectors expect them now. I would keep the gold, black and platinum parallels.

The retail parallel sets for Wal-Mart and Target, I would still keep. Instead of making them two packs to a blaster, I would have them sold in parallel only blasters and mark them as such. This way, the collectors who don’t care for this parallel won’t feel gypped out of two packs and the rest have a better shot at completing the set. These retail only parallel blasters would only have the inserts specific to each store(red diamond and blue diamond inserts). There will be more bang for your buck for set builders.

The sixtieth anniversary is a special time in any company’s life. I would keep the Platinum Diamond parallel set, as a way of commemorating this event. I would skip the Diamond Canary parallel set.

The Diamond Sparkle (or twinks, if you prefer) would have never been approved. This sort of gimmick will be a thing of the past. It is pointless and irritating. The Red Sox uniform variations would go as well.

The Diamond Anniversary code cards would remain. This is how you engage a community of card collectors. It is fun. It gives away older cards. There are opportunities to unlock special cards. This is a winner.

The Legends Variations are something that I would keep. It serves a purpose, isn’t distracting and is challenging enough to complete, while still being realistically obtainable.

Pointless inserts like, Diamond Duos and 60 Years of Topps would be whisked away. Topps 60 would remain. The 60 Years of Topps: Lost Cards would be developed into a full separate set, along the lines of my own Cards That Never Were series.

The Kimball Champions insert set would remain. This is something slightly different and seems like a good buffer in the middle of packs. The Ticket To Toppstown would remain. Why punish those who actually use the codes?

The rest would remain, but I would spread out the remainder over both hobby and retail, with hobby packs having better odds. Again, why punish those who can only get to a Wal-Mart or Target? There are just some places where a card shop isn’t a viable enough business to sustain.

The most important thing I would do with the company is put a ten year moratorium on Mickey Mantle and 1952 Topps. There will be no cards made using Mickey Mantle or the 1952 Topps design. Enough is enough. The break will be well deserved and create more consumer demand for each when the moratorium is up. This business design has worked well with Disney products in creating consumer demand. This is the perfect venture to try this line of marketing. Mickey Mantle and 1952 Topps will be put back into the “vault” for ten years.

If the person responsible for putting Cy Young on a 1987 Topps design hasn’t already been fired, they will be immediately fired.

No airbrushing of uniforms allowed. Let’s wait until someone is actually in uniform until presenting them on that team. This is why there are three series of cards for the base set. Again, with Topps being the only licensed game in town, there’s not an immediate need to rush these things out.

My last bit of business would be to spread it around. What I mean by that is that the focus will be shifted off of the “go to” teams, like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and such and will be evened out. Each team will be as equally represented as can possibly be. Not many people need five cards of Ichiro in a set. There are twenty-four other players on the Mariners at any given time. It’s OK to choose some other player to represent the Mariners. Unless you are a Yankees fan, most collectors don’t have much use for a ton of Yankees cards.

Tying in with the spreading around initiative would be a return to every player being represented with a card. I would sacrifice a few cards of Alex Rodriguez for a few cards of relievers. There’s room for everybody.


Johngy said...

I like your ideas all around.

Jim from Downingtown said...

Wait, Michael Eisner is in charge of Topps? No wonder it's such a mess!

Kevin said...

I like your ideas...I would expand on it a little further....put out a 264 card set at the beginning of the season, that would cover most of the opening day starters. Then release a 132 card set every month, capturing everyone who makes an appearance in a game. In the August release of the set, put out your all-star cards to have an opportunity to put in the stars for a second series.

I haven't seriously worked out the logistics, but I think this could be a cool idea. I am a set builder, so this would appeal to me.

Anonymous said...

After buying my first cards of 2011 yesterday I now see what you are saying. I had mini tobacco cards falling out from the pack, whole packs of black border cards, and all kinds of parallels. If I was building a set I would be very upset with all the extra cards that would not count towards my set.

GCA said...

Very well done.

I especially agree with the whole-blaster parallel idea. I refuse to buy the Tar-Mart blasters that only have a couple packs of parallels in them. I may never complete 2009 series 2 Blackmarts, but the bait & switch was too insidious.

I also like the idea to give Mantle, the Yankees, and Red Sox a break. We know they are the most lucrative market, but to us it's about the sport, not the capitalism.

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