2014 Topps Preview

It is hard to believe but it is once again that time of the year! It is time to start talking about the upcoming release of 2014 Topps Baseball. Topps has released pictures of what the product will look like. I really like the base design. It is clean, simple, and the logo is very prominent. I like the fact that the team name is listed vertically on the side. This will make sorting easier for those who like to build team sets or those who host group breaks. Here is a picture of what the base card will look like.

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Notice the inclusion of the “Future Stars” banner on this one? I really like what Topps is doing with these. Topps is bringing back an element that was only found in a few select base cards from 1987 through 1991. My favorite future star cards from this time period that I remember are Bo Jackson in 1987, Matt Nokes in 1988, Gregg Jeffries in 1989, Todd Zeile in 1990, and Jose Offerman in 1991.
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One subset that I would like Topps to bring back is called “Turn Back the Clock”. These cards feature cards that were made from a long time ago.
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I remember getting a few of these subset cards back in 1989 and they inspired me to want to collect more vintage.

According to Topps, the future is now so here is what to expect in 2014…

2014 Topps Sell Sheet 1 of 9…
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On the first page of the sell sheet, Topps promotes 2014 Topps with the same relic/auto ratio it has had for years -- one autograph or relic per hobby box and one autograph and two relics per hobby box. I think for next year it is time to make some changes. I'll discuss some of those changes that I would recommend later in this post.

2014 Topps Sell Sheet 2 of 9…
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330 base cards in series one. I have to say that I like the return of the Future Stars and would like to see a vintage subset of some kind highlighting the best vintage cards in the history of Topps.

2014 Topps Sell Sheet 3 of 9…
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A flood, an explosion, a huge mass of parallels. However you want to say it, they are everywhere. Do I think it is too much? Read on and I'll voice my opinion on this subject.

2014 Topps Sell Sheet 4 of 9…
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Here is another insert that collectors either really like or they really don't. Some say they look really cool while others say it's fake garbage. My opinion? Well, read on...

2014 Topps Sell Sheet 5 of 9…
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Inserts, inserts, inserts. They are everywhere once again. Most of these I'm not a big fan of. There are a couple I like: 1989 Topps Minis Die-Cut cards and Topps All Rookie Cup Team. Yes, I'm a fan of baseball card history.

2014 Topps Sell Sheet 6 of 9…
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Autographs can be found in one of fifteen different insert types. My preference would be to have a large selection of just one autograph insert type. Make it on-card of course.

2014 Topps Sell Sheet 7 of 9…
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Relics in 2014 Topps can be found in eight different formats. Although I would prefer to have just one type of relic insert, having multiple relic insert types doesn't bother me since I'm not a big collector of relics. When relics were first introduced, the card companies said that the relic was from the player pictured and was used by that player in a major league game. Nowadays, it is common to see...
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So now collectors, most of them unknowingly are collecting relics that they think are game used by that player in a MLB game when they are most likely not. Very deceptive if you ask me -- even with the disclaimer on the back of the card.

2014 Topps Sell Sheet 8 of 9…
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If you like autographed relic cards (and who doesn’t), then you will probably like the fact that there are six different types of them in 2014 Topps. The odds for finding one of these for someone who doesn’t open a ton of product are very remote. But if you are fortunate enough to find one of these, consider yourself lucky. Another insert featured on this sell sheet are Topps Strata Signature Relics and Topps Strata Cut Signatures. Don’t get me wrong, I really like these cards a lot, but I don’t believe they belong in 2014 Topps. Where do I think they belong? Ummm…how about 2014 Topps Strata? I am not a fan of cross-branding as it can become very confusing to collectors. It reminds me of back in 2008 when I opened a ton of Topps Heritage high number packs and received two Topps Update cards in every pack. Ugh!

2014 Topps Sell Sheet 9 of 9…
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The Framed Rookie Reprint cards will probably look really cool especially since they will look similar to Topps Museum (another cross-branding effort by Topps). I am always a fan of vintage designs and look forward to this set. Rookie Buyback Redemption Cards also intrigue me greatly. I would be very interested to know the answer to Two questions concerning this insert: 1) Will there only be one card of each of the 50 different subjects? If so, I will not be interested in these because they will be too scarce to go after. 2) Will they stamp the original card with a certified original stamp or something similar? Topps does this each year with their Topps Heritage Buybacks and I hate it. I would have loved the chance at getting a decent vintage card in its original condition without an ugly stamp embossed on the card like this:

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The promotional program The Pennant Chase sounds very promising. I contacted Topps in the past year and told them that there needs to be a promotion that connects card collectors more to baseball during the season. I recommended they do something like they did back in 1993 with Topps Stadium Club. Back then, there were Super Team insert cards found one per box on average. If the team pictured on your Super Team card won the division, you got a special team set of cards. If they won the World Series, you got a special complete set of cards with the World Series logo embossed on each card.

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I am not sure if I had anything to do with Topps deciding to do a promotion such as this but I like to think so. I am thankful that Topps has brought that element back with 2014 Topps and would like to see something similar to this in years to come.

What do you think of this year’s design? Are you looking forward to the release? A lot of people are and I am of those people, however, I really wish Topps would change up their formula. I know it is too late for this year but here is what I would like to propose for 2015:

1) ENOUGH WITH THE PARALLELS!! Ok, when Topps introduced gold cards in 2001, I was a fan of this. The set was pretty challenging to complete but not impossible. I would have been perfectly happy to have a gold set every year since 2001 and be done with it. However, over the years since, Topps has created more and more parallels for collectors to chase. For 2014, here is a list of the different base parallels: gold, camo, black, pink, platinum, red hot foil, clear, blue (Wal-mart), red (Target), purple (Toys R Us), printing plates, and silk collection. One can see how collectors could be confused by so many different colors of the rainbow and then some. Do we really need all of these? Player collectors tend to like them. Master set collectors do not because with so many different kinds of parallels, people have different opinions of what defines a master set. Parallels are relatively cheap to produce (no autographs to pay for) and Topps thinks collectors need all of these. I for one disagree entirely. Too many parallels water down the product. Pretty soon, the base cards will be the ones to collect because they will be the ones that are harder to find. OK, let’s hope they don’t go that far. Having just gold parallels would make parallels more prestigious, collectible, and valuable since there wouldn’t be a flood of other parallels in the set. This leads to my next recommendation for next year.

2) TOO MANY INSERTS!! If you are a lifelong collector such as myself, there was probably a time that when you opened a pack and experienced the thrill of getting an insert. Inserts years ago were harder to come by and were usually seeded one per box. It actually meant something and was worth something when you get one out of a pack. Now, for 2014, see how many inserts you get when you open up one jumbo pack. It will be at least 10! In one pack! It is ridiculous to have this many in one product. Watering down a product with numerous insert sets that no one really wants (except for master set zombies that will collect them no matter what) is not my idea of a great product. I would like for Topps to stick to four insert sets a year for their flagship brand. This is what I would recommend:

  • a basic insert set of 100 cards found one per box on average

  • a gold parallel set #ed to the current year

  • a game used insert set of 100 cards found one per three boxes on average

  • an on-card autograph set of 100 cards found one per six boxes on average

  • Most people would probably not go for this but I would see it as a welcome change to the current flood of mainly worthless inserts. I would like to see more quality in my product and less quantity. People like to collect base sets and hard to find inserts. Most simply do not care about common inserts that can be found 3-5 per box.

    3) ONE AUTOGRAPH SET PLEASE!! Lately there have been so many parallels that I cannot see straight. First you have an insert, then the same insert with a game used relic on it, then the same insert with an autograph on it. Repeat this formula over several different types of inserts and you have given me a huge headache. Back in 2001, Topps created an autograph set called Golden Anniversary autographs.
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    This is how autographs should be done! First you start with a great player selection, then you boast a huge autograph lineup, and then you make sure every card is signed on-card. Stickers are horrendous. If you can’t get a player to sign a card and you want to hoard their signatures for future products, why not have that player sign a stack of 3X5 index cards and then use those for cut signatures? If I cannot get an on-card autograph, I would much rather have a nice looking cut autographed card than a card with a cheap looking sticker on it. To further enhance the collectability of the autographs, I would make sure that each card was numbered on the back so set collectors would want to try to complete the set. Another thing I would suggest is to serially number each card so collectors will know exactly how many autographs exist. I would recommend that superstars have a print run of no less than 50 while more common players have a print run of no more than 1,000.

    4) NO MORE MANUFACTURED JUNK!! These cards have the looks of something that is game used but to me, it is just worthless junk. Why people collect these manufactured patch cards is beyond me. When I open packs of cards and receive one of these, I instantly either trade or sell it. Wow! I got a Mickey Mantle fake ring card! Seriously people?
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    5) A BETTER ONLINE PROMOTION!! Back in 2010, Topps came out with an online promotion that was highly successful – Million Card Giveaway.
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    Collectors could find cards randomly inserted into packs that had a code on the back. Then, collectors could enter this code onto a Topps website and that code would reveal a vintage card on the screen. Collectors could then request the vintage card to be mailed to them or they could keep it in their online portfolio and trade with other people that had cards in their online portfolio. I ended up opening several cases of cards that year mainly because of this promotion. In 2011, Topps went with a new online promotion called Diamond Card Giveaway. 20131010-101122.jpg
    It was a nice promotion but not on the same level and excitement as the 2010 promotion. You could find die cut insert cards and a rare few that even included a piece of a diamond. In 2012, Topps did something very similar to the Diamond Card Giveaway by giving us a Golden Giveaway. 20131010-101129.jpg
    You could get a piece of gold embedded onto a card. I actually got one of these and they looked pretty cool. Mine was of Craig Kimbrel. For 2013, Topps was giving collectors a chance to win at $1,000,000 by allowing collectors to select players who they thought would get a hit for a designated day. If they could build a streak of 57 hits in a row (as if anyone could beat Joe DiMaggio) then they would win a million dollars.
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    There were other giveaways for hitting certain hit streak benchmarks but I never had a streak more than three with the 10 code cards I had. It seems to me that the online promotion started out with a big bang in 2010 and has gone downhill ever since. I have the solution for another online promotion that in my opinion would be better than 2010 which would do the following:

  • Increase interest in baseball cards throughout the season

  • Further connect baseball cards to collectors young and old

  • Ensure that Topps cards would sell out everywhere due to the huge popularity of this kind of promotion

  • Want to know what it is? Well, Topps, if you are reading this post, you need to contact me for the details. I really think you will be on board with my recommendations.

    These are simply my opinions and I am sure that my opinions differ from most. If more people agreed with me, we would see a different product. However, Topps produces what they think people want. Manufactured patch cards, sticker autos, and a glutton of parallels. Would someone please turn the faucet off? There is a huge flood in here!

    I would like to hear what you think of my ideas. I am sure to be criticized as I know my opinions are not in the majority but I would like to get a discussion going on this topic. You can respond here or you can catch me on Twitter @parker94ttu.

    Thanks!

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    6 Responses to 2014 Topps Preview

    1. Dan says:

      That was a really good opinion piece about the state of the Topps set. I’m not as much as a traditionalist as you are with the structure, but this is what I’m envisioning.

      1) Larger or less diluted base set, do we need two cards for top rookies in the same series?
      2) Five insert sets: tiered 4 per (hobby) box, 2 per box, 1 per box, 1 every 3 boxes, 1 per case
      3) Three parallel sets: gold (# to the year), one rare (pick one: black or camo), one super rare (platinum)
      4) Two autograph designs and two relic designs that overlap somehow.

      And most importantly, number inserts with numbers, not letters!! This is my least favorite trend of the last couple years.

    2. Craig Parker says:

      Thank you Dan! I do like your suggestions very much. I forgot about how much I hate the insert numbering system. It is my opinion that Topps does this because the checklist changes throughout the production. By “numbering” them with letters, it allows cards to be easily replaced if needed with others or added without messing up the numbering of a checklist.

      Craig from Texas

    3. I think its definitely a good point you have made that “parallels” are out of control. Not only do they devalue the base set through self cannibalization they make it nearly impossible for a collector to assemble a genuinely complete set.

      I think the baseball card companies have to be careful not to return to the mindset that destroyed the value of 1980s baseball cards and with it many many collectors. No one wants base cards anymore to begin with keep flooding too many variants and you run the risk of overproduction like consequences.

    4. lee says:

      Hey, I like base cards! Wasn’t easy getting your favorite player back in the day.

    5. RickNY says:

      As a Master set collector I think Topps is not listening to the Hobby with these amount of parallels, color coded cards inserts etc… I like to see Topps to go back to 1950 when finding that one baseball card you could never find in your childhood to only fine one when you reached 30 years old. The days when you found and autograph in a wax pack after spending your whole allowance for the week on that one pack of cards.

      However, we all know this will never happen Topps needs to make money like any company but what makes up a Master set it would be every card Topps makes for that set like 2014 Topps Baseball there should be about 5,000 cards to collect to make up that Master set at least this is how I go by looking at it. I have 20 + Master sets I’m working on today. the problem I have is with all these card belonging to each years new series puts me a step back because the hunt takes so long to complete from my neighborhood card shop to online trading site to Cooperstown Oh yes, there are many card shops in Cooperstown and many will have those real hard to find cards you often can’t find. I collect for the history of it all and not so much about the money on resale I have my rookie cards for that. Anyway, a good read, well developed and thanks for the info.

      • cparker94 says:

        Thanks for sharing! I have to agree about the confusing number of parallels. I sure wish I could be part of a Topps’ focus group and be able to suggest changes to them that I feel would make the product better and more collectible.

        Craig from Texas

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