Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Base of Operations

I want to ask a question that has been on my mind for a while, and I think it may be a source of some controversy for some old timey collectors. Over the last year or so, companies have been moving more and more towards the "tin-style" box rather than the actual size box with 18-24 packs. Usually in these tins, you get the box hits and one or two base cards to satisfy your hunger. If you are opening a box of UD Black, you get 2 cards for 250 bucks. This begs the question of whether or not base cards are becoming obsolete in the industry, due to the overjersification and overautofication of sets in the market (I know those words are made up, but they are AWESOME). For most of you, the basic concept of this makes the kid in you die a little, but let me go over some pros and cons.

First off, this obviously wouldn’t be for EVERY SINGLE set. It would only be the ones that are based on the auto/jersey subsets and not the base set. I mean, what would Topps be without a base set? Nothing, that’s what. This would be for products like SP Authentic, CoSigners, Triple Threads, Gridiron Gear, Leaf Certified Materials, Threads, etc. Instead of having to rip through pack after pack of base for SPA, all you would have to do is pop open the collectible tin. Products like Bowman Chrome and Topps Chrome would still be base ridden products, but sets like Triple Threads would no longer be two packs of base with 2 hits. Instead, it would just be the two hits, or at the most, one base card with the box hits. I support this concept because I think it will force companies to live up to the price point a little bit more efficiently. Look at UD Black Basketball, which is the product of the year for Basketball collectors. They can get away with two cards per box because they make the boxes/cases worth buying.

Secondly, when it comes to Natty Treasures and Exquisite, no more base. Forget that shit, they would either have to shrink the box size or add another card that isnt a base card. No one buys those sets for the base, so im not thinking there will be a mutiny over this. In fact, this brings up a general microcosm of the hobby, mainly that the sheep don’t care about base cards in their mid-end products because you cant make any money off base. Making money aint my thang, but personally, I couldn’t care less about the base. I just throw them in a box in the closet, yes, literally throw. Hell, if I could get SPA in tin form with my three hits, I would be happy as a fucking pig in shit.

On the other hand, I didn’t get into the hobby as a kid to get Jersey and Auto cards. In fact, they werent even around much other than a few scarce cards. I loved ripping through packs and pulling out my favorite guys for the albums I had. I would trade with my friends and we were pleased with nothing but base. Our guilty pleasure was the insert cards and we loved those bastards like they were our children. You couldn’t even touch my Shawn Kemp Jam City card without my permission, if not only because I had pulled that sucker myself. Now, if the base cards are gone, collectors like this probably would dwindle to the point of extinction with lack of product. Actually, I think this is already the case, mainly because companies know where their bread and butter is coming from already. Set collectors are dying off as high end products become more attractive and low end sets continue to get the short end of the stick. I think Topps has finally realized that its pointless to spend much time putting together a good set, so they try to include "error" cards like the Jeter to make it more buy-worthy for the big whales.

Another disturbing trend that I could see happening is a complete base set with Jersey pieces in every card. No card is not a relic, and people would fucking flip a shit over it. Once this happens, its over for the normal sets. Because there isnt a set today without autos or jerseys, it says that the direction of the industry is heading for more cards like this rather than less. For people like me, I don’t really care. For people like some of the bloggers out there who thrive on busting cheap packs and writing good articles on them, it could be pretty bad. Awesomely Bad Wax, A Pack a Day, and all the others out there are great blogs from collectors that still get joy out of base. It kind of makes me sad that the kid in me has died that loved that era of card collecting.


  1. I don't mind if the companies stopped making base cards for their high end sets since I don't buy that crap anyway.

    Plus it'll keep these dumbasses from crying about it on youtube and the messageboards.

    "I got a base card. This set sucks." Kiss my ass.

  2. Topps already did a couple of basketball sets in '03 and '04 where every card had a jersey swatch. They were 20 bucks a pack for two cards. I thought they did a baseball version too but I can't remember.