Fixing 2011 Topps – Blog Bat Around

10 02 2011

I’m going to throw my hat into the ring on Stale Gum’s Blog Bat Around. Here’s the topic:

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.

If you were in charge of Topps, and based upon what you’ve seen of 2011 Topps Baseball Series One, what (if anything) would you have done differently?

First – a couple of caveats. I just got back into collecting less than 2 years ago, and was only collecting upper deck until about 7 months ago. So that’s my perspective – certain things that may have been repeated ad nauseam prior to 2010 Topps aren’t going to influence me quite as much as others. Most notably, I like retro sets. That said, I did collect last year, and I think one thing that isn’t part of this topic is changing previous years. Because one thing I wish is they hadn’t done the Yo Momma cards last year – it makes some of the reprints seem duplicated this year.

I thought I’d try to do a little more of building MY OWN 2011 Topps from scratch, as opposed to modifying what Topps did, but to their credit – I do think they did quite a few good things with this year, so it was easier to take their ideas and modify or scrap them.

Website promotion:

1) Topps 300 / Topps 60 – Naming the top 60 cards of Topps last 60 years just makes sense. If I understand it right I really like bdj610’s Topps 300 website. It’s a great concept – whittle this down to 60 in a couple of steps. First, back in Spring of 2010, I would get a panel together of various collectors/dealers/magazine editors/bloggers and even some Topps employees to pick 5 from each year to post on the “Topps Top 60” website. Around the All-Star game, I’d create the this top 300 website and allow the public to vote on the best 60 cards of all-time (I’d include 2010 – everything but Update would have been released). This voting would go up until the end of the World Series.

At this point, I’d start counting down on the website for the Top 60 cards. Building up to the release date at 1 per day makes sense. That’s what Topps said they’d do. I’d be different from them in one way – I’d update the site each day like I said I would do. It’s completely ridiculous that this hasn’t happened. This isn’t the same as putting out too many inserts or insert sets that not every collecting demographic likes – those are things that aren’t always clear-cut. Something that us bloggers don’t like may actually grab the retail shopper or a kid or some other potential collector. I can still disagree with it, but not updating a website you were going to update is just plain disorganized. So the person who isn’t updating the website:

2) Diamond Give-Away – I’d keep this just as they are doing it, I think the give-away idea is great, it attract a lot of attention. The diamonds in the card thing sounds like a good idea. I have no problem with them beating the “diamond” part of 60th anniversary into our heads, as long as it’s for this year only.

Base Set

1) I’d do 2 series of 313 cards. 726 cards is a throwback, and what better year to go back to his than the diamond anniversary. I want more than 660 cards with a bunch of subsets. The flagship set should have a good percentage of the MLB players from the year before, more than they currently do. The argument against that is that you create less value per card (I think). But this isn’t a super-premium set, this is a $1.99 or less pack of cards.

2) Subsets would include:

  • Record Breakers / Highlights (10 cards)
  • League Leaders (top 2 in each league – BA/HR/RBI/R/SB for hitting, W/L/ERA/SHO/SV for pitching) I would do this in throwback homage to the 1981 set from 30 years ago – not the exact same design as these, but something similar with the cap (and maybe even the word LDRS!):

  • Award Winners (6 cards)
  • Managers (30 cards)
  • All-Stars (18 cards)
  • Team Cards (30 cards)
  • Checklist (6 cards – old-school style, not with a player on front)

I’d also do the ASR trophy on the players’ base cards – not as another subset. And maybe 10 or so future star cards, Bo Jackson 1987 style writing on the bottom of the card, also on their base card. All in all, that is 120 subset cards, leaving 606 actual player cards, or around 20 per team. Perfect if you ask me. Players would be shown with teams from last year in series 1. 2011 Topps (particularly S1) is supposed to be pictures of the 2010 season. Cliff Lee played for the Rangers in the World Series last year. He shouldn’t be photo-shopped to be pitching for the Phillies in the World Series last year. The Phillies did not make the World Series, and Cliff Lee did not pitch for the Phillies. The Update Series is for that. See at the end for the Update set.


25 Legends variations, that works for me. Red Sox variants, and sparkle variants, no thanks. The Silk set covers the same bases as the sparkle variants.

Parallel Sets

Diamond platinum – 1:4 unnumbered – exactly how they have it, these cards are great.

Gold – #/2011

Canary platinum – #/1 – having one #1/1 parallel set is fine.

(No Black, no printing plates, no platinum #/1, no Target or Wal-Mart variations)

Silk cards – just 50 from each series, but I’m going to up the numbering on these to #/500. I’d like to see these get into more collectors’ hands.

Insert Sets

Overall, I like the insert sets this year, I just think there should be fewer. I will accomplish this by not having each set continue across the series.

“Gypsy Queen Previews” – 10 cards, series 1 only – previewing their upcoming product; I’d want to differentiate this from the actual release in some fashion (maybe just work the word preview in as script below the Gypsy Queen logo). I think this would be a good way to get folks excited about the new release, but by only being 10 cards, 6 months from now collectors won’t feel like these preview cards give them too much confusion.

“History of Topps” – 10 cards, series 2 only – I’m so-so on this set, but it’s appropriate for this year. And it doesn’t need to be in the first series.

“Before There was Topps” – 30 cards, series 1 only

“Topps Lost Cards” – 30 cards, series 2 only – they can do more than just 10 cards. The Fred Lynn 1975 that was in one of those boxed sets from the 80’s? The Maury Wills 62 Topps that they made up to put that on the 87 TBC? Reggie Orioles card? Put those in there. Some A-Rods from when he hadn’t signed with them? They could also do some team prospect cards of guys where they didn’t have a card when they could have. What about some Team USA pictures of guys who were on the team before Topps could put them in the set – like Barry Larkin and Will Clark in the 1985 set?

“Topps Top 60” – 60 cards, series 1 only, this would be the 60 cards voted on from above. They would be clearly differentiated from the actual card they reprint. I would consider doing the diamond-ness they do for the parallel set, or maybe just bordering them all in silver, very similar to what Upper Deck did for their 10th anniversary

“The Topps You Didn’t Know” – 60 cards, 1 from each year. The basis for this set is to discuss the story behind the card. This generally wouldn’t be the best cards from the set – it would be a more interesting, not-so-famous card from the set. Again, I’d want to differentiate with a silver or black border, or maybe with the diamond effect, just like the Topps Top 60 above. The back would have a description of what the specialty was with the card. So the 1952 Topps Gus Zernial card would make sense here.

Or, the 1969 Topps Aurelio Rodriguez – where the picture was actually of the Angels batboy.

“Kimball Champions” – 100 cards, 50 each series, this is the only set that will be in both series

“Target / Wal-Mart exclusives” – I’m sure Topps has a contract requiring that there be an exclusive to each store, so I’m ok with the Diamond cards here. I’d think about doing something a little bit more with the them, though. Like maybe 10 historic triple crown winners for Wal-Mart, and 10 current triple-crown threats in the Target ones. Or maybe a “Team Topps Diamond” where the Target set has 10 players (8 position, starter and a reliever) from before 1951, and the Wal-Mart set has 10 players since 1951.

That’s still a lot of inserts, but would end up much less than we actually have now because we don’t put them across both series.

Autos and Relics

Someone else can figure this out (I’m getting sleepy).

Update set

220 cards, with trades, call-ups, and no stupid subsets. The same parallels can apply, and I’d put in a few of the sets above, but themed toward the Traded set. No continuation of the Kimball set, though. If we’re not going to continue the numbering on the actual base set, it doesn’t make sense to do this with the inserts! One set I would want to do:

“Before there was Traded” – 40 cards of “Traded” from years there was Traded. This would kind of be like lost cards. So you could do a Traded Card of Pete Rose to the Phillies in the late 70’s, or Joe Morgan to the Reds from  the early 70’s, or Frank Robinson to the Orioles in 1966. This would be a fun way to re-cap some of the bigger free agent signings and/or trades from back in the day.




One response

12 02 2011
2008 Topps Baseball Series One Hobby Box Break | Biggest Hobbies collections in the world

[…] Fixing 2011 Topps – Blog Bat Around « Lifetime Topps project […]

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