In the last few days I have been talking a lot about what the card companies need to do. Today I am going to talk about getting rid of the autograph and memorabilia cards in the low end and mid level products.  There really is no need for these products anymore.  If the companies, set aside the “hits” for the high end products, then they could lower the cost of the low end products.

Think about this scenario, a card company decides to resurrect an old brand that had been laid to rest a long time ago.  Collectors get word about this product and the blogosphere starts buzzing about this rejuvenated product.  The sell sheet drops and collectors are drooling at the possibilities of getting their hands on these cards.  Then what happens? Slowly the price point is leaked and the product is going to cost over $200 a box.  Collectors get pissed and let their opinions be know.  The product goes down as one of the biggest flops in the company’s history.  The company was Topps and the product was Stadium Club.

Topps could have had a monster product on their hands and they screwed it up by making what should have been a medium range product selling for $70 – $80 a hobby box and turned it into a $200 a box product thus killing any mass desire for the product.  The product was loaded with all the goodies. They averaged 12 autographed cards per box, including 6 rookie autographs, 1 Yankees Memorabilia card, 12 numbered rookie cards, and 12 numbered parallel cards.

The problem was that the average collector who wanted to collect Stadium Club couldn’t lay out $200 per box.  Then why not the high end collectors?  They simply didn’t care.  To them Stadium Club was an inferior product that they just didn’t care or want to collect.  So what happened?  Hobby dealers who originally thought this product would jump off the shelves picked up a few cases.  Then the reality hit them, Topps grossly miscalculated their demographics.  The product can now for less than $140 on eBay.  The dealers just want to unload it and take the hit so that they don’t lose to much.

The way this blogger sees it, the card companies have to start realizing that the masses don’t care about autographs of middle relievers or guys that are never going to make it.  They are sick and tired of gray and white swatches of jerseys.  What the masses want are value for their purchase, a nicely designed card, an expansive set and some chrome inserts.  Most of all the masses don’t want to pay more than $40 for a box (hobby or otherwise).  Forget the blasters and instead, sell the cereal box packs of cards and hobby boxes in the box box stores.  I can’t tell you how worthless the blasters are.

If Topps did their homework, they would have realized that if they price pointed Stadium Club at $70 a box, they would have had a hit.  Collectors are getting more finicky and kids don’t even care about cards.  Topps tried to bring in the kids by creating Attax, like Magic for baseball.  The truth is that kids are more savvy than we were in the past, you can no longer put crap in a blaster and cross your fingers that they buy it.  It’s not working, and truth be told, I don’t know what would work, but then again I am not a media marketer.

I guess all this babbling is leading me down one path and that is get rid of the memorabilia and autographs.  There is no thrill to it anymore.  No one gets giddy about an autograph of Michael Bourne or Dioner Navarro.  I also think people are sick of the jersey swatches and manufactured patches as well.  Just look up manufactured, no autographed patches on eBay, they are running between $1 – $5, just worthless.  Someday the card companies might figure this out, the first one that does will dominate the industry, the ones that won’t veer away from the norm is destined to fail or get swallowed up by the successful companies.

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7 responses »

  1. jswaykos says:

    I don’t know… I kinda like the relics still. Autos, no, I’m over those. I just don’t care about sigs of no-name commons as the ‘hit’ in a box, but at least jerseys are still a little interesting.

    I do agree that the frequency with which they’re inserted across all price-levels of products have ruined the industry (or at least contributed to it).

  2. ig4mer says:

    I still get very excited about getting relic cards even plain ones of players I collect especially Ichiro. But I still think that plain swatches should be only in low level products and patches should be premium products. So I think there is a place for it. Autos in low level products I’m still debating. I understand the autos can’t all be superstars and I like to collect and hold on to promising prospects. The problems is there are autos of people with no potential. Without autos and jersey, products can get bland.

    Also, I think that Topps, UD etc segments the market already with retail and hobby version of the products. Maybe the the solution is to limit the amount of hobby boxes while making retail version more readily available (could be difficult). This way there is less retail/ low level autos in the market.

  3. Corky says:

    I agree with you whole heartedly there should be low end products that are just plain jane, base cards and a couple basic inserts highlighting records/players/etc. Under $75 per box.

    There is nothing wrong with selling mid to high range product but it would be nice to offer something that is cheaper for set builders and collectors on a budget.

  4. lfjoseph says:

    when the jerseys first hit the market place 97-2002 it was exciting. but really look at that tiny piece of jersey and ask yourself is it really worth spending any real money on. Everyone says it is interesting and still a thrill really. A tiny square is worth getting excited over. Take a real full jersey one you can wear enjoy on sunday, or during the playoffs. It will cost you between 150.00 to 300.00 but it is full and can be worn, that is excitment. The jersey relics, auto’s are dying quickly, when you over saturate the market, it’s only a matter a time before the bricks start to crumble.

  5. will says:

    The thrill of getting a swatch is knowing that the athlete wore the jersey and touched it….for me anyway, i guess if you’re a high end collector or a jaded collector, than u could get bored… but really i just started collecting again a couple years ago honestly…

  6. Larry says:

    One thing I though was a big hit…..the wrapper redemption for autographed cards. I think it was UpperDeck in the mid 90’s. You send in 40 wrappers and you received a Roger Clemens signed oversized card. And with all the jersey and bat cards, the only ones I find truly exciting are the ones from back in the day. For example how many people would love to get a piece of Bat used by Babe Ruth or Mantle. I collect cards and autographs to some day pass on to my son who currently has no interest at all in cards.

  7. mtcards says:

    The problem with this logic is the fact that if you have a low dollar box that doesn’t have “hits”, people wont buy it either. It goes down as a flop as well.

    The problem with the hobby is that half the people in it think its an easy way to make money and are disappointed, NOT when they dont get a hit, but when their “Hit” sell for a hell of a lot less than what their box cost.

    As soon as the whiny, money speculators, get out of the hobby, you wont have this issue. Until then, the card companies have no choice but to have hits in the cheaper boxes because if they dont, they will be putting out products at all price levels that no one will buy

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