Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Hobby at a Crossroads: The Telltale Signs

I took this picture the other day. This is the box where I store cards I'm keeping, but which aren't part of any set I'm actively building. These are generally cards I buy a small number of packs of, or those which I have accumulated as random lots of from trades. Take a good look.

Let's investigate each of these four years. For each year I will disclose full sets I've completed or am actively building, but which are housed elsewhere.

2007 - 2 full rows
*Topps Flagship + Update
*Topps Heritage
*Topps Opening Day
*Topps Allen & Ginter
*Topps '52 Rookies
*Upper Deck Masterpieces

2008 - One full row and one-third
*Topps Flagship + Update
*Topps Heritage
*Topps Chrome
*Topps Allen & Ginter
*Upper Deck Masterpieces
*Upper Deck X

2009 -One full row plus a few inches
*Topps Flagship + Update
*Topps Unique
*Upper Deck A Piece of History
*Upper Deck X

2010 - One-third of a row
*Topps Flagship + Update
*Topps Allen & Ginter

Notice a trend?
Let's get a few contributing factors before I lower the hammer. First, I was just returning to the hobby in 2007, which could account for some overzealousness that year. However, I kept that pace up, more or less, in 2008. In 2009, I cut a couple of Topps sets from the agenda. And in 2010 I collected a Topps set without buying a single pack, while I collected Allen & Ginter hard. (Speaking of collecting hard, have you ever seen this guy? I believe he did the same thing in '08. It's almost enough to make a man cry.)

Another factor we cannot ignore is that of time. A few of the sets mentioned above were actually started a year or so after their release, when box prices became vastly lower. Despite this, I do recognize that I have obviously had more time to accumulate cards from 2007 than from 2010.

The Hammer:
Contributing factor numero uno to the plummeting numbers over time has to be the reduction of sanctioned MLB card licenses to one. Numbers don't lie. The number of Upper Deck products I've actively pursued has fallen to zero, to be sure, but at the same time I am not buying Topps products as fervently as I had been previously. Yes, the trend began in 2009, the year before Upper Deck's license was revoked. Think, however, of all I have been passing on: National Chicle, Chrome, Topps 206, anything starting with the letter "B."

As an aside, have you check out the Topps website recently? It's as if they were the ones who went into Operation Shutdown early in 2010, not Upper Deck. Their product information stops with 2010 Series 1.

The evidence may not be overwhelming, but it seems as if the lack of competition has led to the death of creativity. Topps can count on me to purchase a few products out of tradition, but they can no longer count on me to invest larger sums of money in more tangential brands. I'm the type of consumer who may take a little longer to really start to enjoy a particular card set. It may start as a small stack in one of the rows of my 5,000-count box, and from there it might grow. Look at that 2010 row again. Do you see the potential for me to spend much more money on Topps products in the near future? I wonder how many more stories like this are out there?


Spankee said...

I have noticed a similar trend with my boxes. I have Topps and Upper Deck products in separate boxes, so needless to say the transition from 2009 Upper Deck to 2010 Upper Deck is just sad. We're talkin 1.5 rows of 2009 and at most, one inch of 2010.

the sewingmachineguy said...

Topps's website is horrid! 'Operation Shut-down' makes me smile.
I miss UD severely.

ShaneK said...

The Topps sight is horrendous. If they truly want to get more kids to buy their product, they need a better online presence.

cynicalbuddha said...

Man, I've been bitching about the
Topps website for years. They've still got "breaking news" from two years ago on there banners for christ's sake.

Did qualtiy control play any part in your buying habits? I only bought a few packs of Chrome and that was enough. And WTF is up with all the dinged and damaged cards making it into products. I can see a pack getting dings but having one damaged card in the middle of a pack of cards seems stupid.

And what pissed me off the most with Topps this year was there planned scarcity of Heritage. There is no reason for that product to cost to much. The hits are shit and its printed on the crappiest card stock to mimic old school topps. Very unimpressed.

White Sox Cards said...

The Topps site was in shambles well before Upper Deck's baseball demise, including wrong information that was never corrected.

Upper Deck had a fantastic website for baseball and they listened to customers when info needed correcting.

My collection is showing the same trends as yours. Mine is also due to lack of steady employment, but the biggest reasons are the ones that you have stated.

It is a sad state.