Thursday, May 5, 2016

Topps Now, But Never Again

Topps is now making cards that feature in season highlights the day after they happen.  Jake Arrieta throws a no-hitter, Topps Now card.  Melvin Upton has a walk off hit, Topps Now.  Supposedly Topps got the idea for the Topps Now cards from this scene from SpaceBalls.


Since its inception Topps Now has drawn a lot of talk around social media.  Some good, some not good.  Recently I took the Topps Now plunge.  At $9.99 a card I was expecting something really cool.  I received my envelope a week, or two, ago and all I can say is "sigh".  Let me review a few reasons for my sigh of disappointment.  



1. Shoddy Packaging - Seriously, a $10 card with no penny sleeve in the cheapest, flimsiest Ultra Pro that money can possibly buy.  If someone had sent a card like this off of Ebay the would at least get a stern message about their packaging.  Luckily in this case nothing happened to my card, but if you have not bought from Topps Now, just beware that this is how your card is shipped.



2. Remind Me What's So Special? - I took Bryce out of his flimsy Ultra Pro to scan him, he's felling better in a penny sleeve and a sturdier top loader.  I had to check out the front and back of the card, but outside of the date on the front of the card I cannot really find anything that sets the card apart to make it special.  Is there a serial number?  No.  Is there some sort of cool certification statement on the back?  No.  So, it's printed on some sort of cool card stock, something?  No.  Anything?  No.



3. So This Will Be Great For Team Collectors? - Some of this is a little bit tricky.  If you are going to make roughly two cards a day, there are going to be days where there are some really tough choices.  As a Cardinals fan, I was happy to see Jaime Garcia get a card for his near no-hitter, but I have also been disappointed that Topps has missed getting a card of Aledmys Diaz out.  You know, the rookie shortstop is has been hitting .400 during April and leading the world in OPS, OPS+, and WAR.  So, maybe I am biased.  I asked around.

I decided that I would check out a Cubs collector or two who had said something about Topps Now cards.  After all, nobody is having a better season than the Cubs....Both liked the Arrieta no-hit card that Topps put out the day after, but that was sort of a no-brainer.  Both mentioned a few different plays and games that could have been a Topps Now card, but both wondered why Dexter Fowler had gone unnoticed for the first month of the season?  Fowler has had a spectacular start to the season, several huge games, yet nothing.

Dropping down further in the standings, there are several other collectors who have teams that currently reside near the bottom of their divisions.  For example, as a Durham Bulls fan and collector, I have the chance to interact with a lot of Rays collectors.  Many have expressed doubts about the Rays getting a Topps Now card anytime soon short of a no-hitter.  After all, Drew Smyly accomplished almost the same thing that Jaime Garcia got a Topps Now card for, but where is his card?

I bought two Topps Now cards, but never again.

15 comments:

  1. Perhaps you saw my complaints to Topps over the weekend about the fact that Topps put a homer hit by David Ortiz in an 8-0 Red Sox win over the Yankees on one of these Topps Now cards over the TRIPLE PLAY that the Brewers turned. Yes, the Brewers lost that game, but I know Topps's tweeter was watching the game because it was the game in which the Marlins pitcher got pulled in the 8th with a no-hitter (which was lost in the 9th inning).

    I'm pretty much convinced that Topps will continue to use Now as another excuse to print more Yankees/Red Sox/Cubs/Bryce Harper/Mike Trout/hot rookie of the day getting headlines (like their boy Trevor Story with his 60% contact rate) as opposed to trying to capture the real highlights of the day. More power to them. I'm okay with that at this point because, well, I'm okay with never purchasing one of these flimsy, overpriced cards.

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    1. and this is what I do not get about the Topps Now cards. It's an obvious cash grab by Topps, but I feel like they are going to shut out certain fan bases who are going to respond, like you have, by never buying these cards. However, at $9.99 I am not sure that Cubs, Red Sox, and Yankees fans are going to buy one of these cards every week.

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  2. The very first Topps Now card was Francisco Liriano. I stared at that thing for a while, but ended up passing. I don't regret my decision.

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  3. I also really struggle with this one. I think the concept is great but for $10 the cards are not special enough to really be interested. So I will really stick to my player collections (Kershaw, Rizzo) for this one and loved the tip i got earlier on to buy them through eBay as several people buy these in bulk for lower prices and put them on eBay below the $10 price point (with free shipping).

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    1. I missed out on the Melvin Upton card, former Durham Bull, that sold less than $9.99. Seems like a good strategy for collecting these cards.

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  4. I think the early level of purchases are a fad. I see this is a one year deal, as the same teams will get printed for barely any good reason and people will get tired of the obvious money grab.

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    1. Let's hope, or they find away to change this into something better

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  5. i think this is a cool idea, and i'm happy that they are actual cards and not just digital releases. like you, i don't necessarily agree with topps' inconsistent criteria for choosing their subject matter, but they are the ones making the cards, not me. i don't think you are biased for wanting a card of diaz, and i don't understand why at least one of the twins' walk-off wins hasn't been commemorated. i've bought three of these cards directly from topps and one from ebay, and may continue to purchase some if the mood strikes. i don't have an issue with how the card is shipped, although i do wish they used better card stock and at least put the print run on the cards.

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  6. If money were no object, I'd try to get one of each. As it stands, I'll probably pick up one or two this year if a favorite player is featured.

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  7. Love the concept for Topps Now, but the execution has been lacking, for the reasons you've stated above. I certainly don't see myself paying full price for these, but the second hand market has already netted me one at a much more comfortable price. I hope they can work out the kinks with this product because this truly does have some potential.

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    1. I wonder if you won't be helped out through the summer if the Cubs stay as hot as they are at the moment. They could end up with a large number of cards in the set, high print runs, etc. Might make for some good deals when they hit Ebay.

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  8. So you're a glass half-empty kind of guy, then? I like them. I like the concept, I like the execution, I even like their packaging (the first time I saw it, I though "Ruh Roh", but I've come to understand that it's highly unlikely anything could happen to the card given the exact nature of the packaging--from padded envelope inside to sturdy cardboard outside--and nothing ever has happened to any of mine, in spite of my POs best efforts); sure as hell beats a PWE. I do wish a better card stock was used, one that would justify the higher price (shipping is included, though), and the tiered pricing does seem designed to favor eBay flippers (but nothing says you can't do the same). OTOH, when Stadium Club came back, the first year featured flimsy stock and they fixed that in the second year...might be the same will happen here. The earlier online excursion--eTopps--was a complete disaster for all concerned, even though the cards themselves were really really cool, in hand, and did have stamped serial numbers (and some had smaller print runs than these but still aren't worth anything). Topps has got a warehouse full of other peoples cards now--universally worth squat--and lots of people own lots of cards they'll likely never see. Some of those cards were, I dunno, $3, $4, $5...but the shipping costs were insane. I'll take the $10 card with free shipping. What makes the card special is that the picture is from the actual game and you have it in hand within days of the "event". Remember that colossal Upper Deck failure with cards for every team for every game? Except all those cards would feature the same 5 players over and over and over and the pictures used, in many cases, weren't even from the same year, let alone the same game. As a team collector, I'd actually prefer to see my team appear less rather than more. As a Mets fan, that might not happen this year. But Topps NOW is an indulgence, like a really expensive dessert. You don't want that every day and, frankly, a scoop of ice cream at home is generally more satisfying....but every once in a while, its nice to treat yourself. And should the Mets get to the World Series and actually win it this year? It is going to be super cool to have cards commemorating all the little highlights along the way. Sure, you could do custom cards for those moments or you could wait to see what next year's sets include or to pick off some of the cards cheaper on eBay. That's a personal choice. But I like Topps NOW. I think its a step forward from previous such attempts and it does learn from those failures. With a bit more tweaking, I think these could be tremendous. It certainly deserves a better reception than these new "virtual" cards like Bunt. What the hell is up with that? I don't get that at all. And people are raving about those Marketside Pizza cards, in spite of the fact that the pizzas are like $13 or $15 or whatever and taste worse than cardboard and the boxes are not securely sealed, so you could buy the lousy pizza and not even get the cards. And that card stock is no thicker. To each his own, I suppose. But my glass is half full.

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  9. I'm tracking down an affordable Maeda card for my Japanese PC... but other than that I'm not really interested in these.

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  10. If eTopps is a leading indicator, I would not touch these things.

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