Friday, May 29, 2009

Is Nostalgia The Only Thing The Hobby Has Left?

After seeing a preview for Goodwin Champions baseball, as well as the success of Allen and Ginter, Heritage (Topps and Bowman), Goudey, Mayo football, and Philadelphia football, I am beginning to wonder if nostalgia is the only thing left in the minds of the manufactures looking to produce a successful set. With Baseball, its become all but super apparent, Football is getting there quick.

Listen, I know we all love to see the past successes of our favorite sets be repeated with updated players, but when is enough, well, enough? Right now, in the Baseball industry, its tough to produce a successful set if you are not producing Bowman Chrome or base Topps. Maybe that is why you wont have the popularity unless it is a retro product based on a popular vintage set - a la the future Upper Deck offering. Why have we allowed the Manufacturers to resort to laziness rather than coming up with new examples of wonderful products?

In football, the tide is starting to turn towards a retro dominated market, though the number of sets to choose from is greatly reduced. Philadelphia is coming out soon, and it looks great, only because it includes elements of two great looking sets, 1935 National Chicle and the Philadelphia set the product is based on. I credit Upper Deck football with their recent design work, as most of the time, the new products do show a lot of creativity. Although for the other companies, there is nothing but sheer boredom. I hope that things pick up, as there is no reason lately for me to go and spend more than 100 bucks on a box anymore. Its not because of content, its because every time I spend the 100 bucks, its on a product that looks exactly the same as last year's and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that.

As consumers, we would not buy any other form of a product if there were no improvements year to year - with Madden Football as the one exception. Look at every set and the components of what is offered each year. Gridiron Gear has not changed in 5 years, there are not any additions, just minor design changes. The only set that changes outside of the ones offered by UD are National Treasures and minor changes to Triple Turds, both of which cost over 150 dollars per box and one of which that sucks beyond belief.

I do not have a sky falling attitude about things that will kill the industry, however I am so fucking bored that I may not buy a single box this year. That's how bad it has gotten for me.


  1. I'm all for sets living in the past. I'm sick of seeing the futuristic sets. They seem dated and clunky. Until the companies hire a design team that has fresh and exciting ideas, we are doomed to repeat the past.

  2. Let's face it, a lot of collectors collect cards for the nostalgia rush, myself included.

    I do think companies go overboard with the retro sets. They should tone it down a bit. But I will never stop thinking retro sets are cool.

  3. Some of the retro sets have been good, others have been awful. It takes a special kind of set to be cool, and many of them are done just to be done.

  4. Gellman, I absolutely love this post. I have been thinking the exact same thing for months now. It is so incredibly obvious that the card designers who work for the card companies are bankrupt of any good ideas, so they keep falling back to past designs. Having a few retro sets per year is cool, but when the only decent designs that you have are based on old designs, that signals a serious problem. We're now at a point where not only are the non-retro product designs totally uncreative and boring, but now even the retro sets seem the same every year - look at Allen & Ginter baseball - basically the same design 4 years in a row. In the end, I figure that if the people making the cards don't care about putting out a quality product, then why should I bother collecting?

  5. Dave, you said it better than I could.

  6. Thanks for throwing this out there, it really needed to be said. I think the worst thing is that, if you really get into those vintage sets, there's really no comparison as to which is better. That's compounded by the fact that people are willing to pay, at times, as much or more for the retro cards as opposed to the real thing. It's a sad day when 2009 Topps Heritage Black Chrome cards outprice a 1960 Topps Hank Aaron, and yet that's routine at this point.

    I think if you asked most collectors which they'd rather have, the 1960 Aaron or an 09 Heritage Stan Musial Stadium relic, they'd pick the Aaron. However, their actual purchasing habits say otherwise.

    I think people want great cards with crisp designs and solid photography. Instead of giving them that (which would take effort) the companies use the retro sets to tie into a time when those things were routine. "It looks like '53 Topps, so it must be as good as '53 Topps." No, it ain't.

  7. Man, gotta jump through hoops to comment. I collect as an adult because of retro sets, but I agree 100% on the theme. I don't really buy anything original in baseball anymore and football I buy Donruss glory from 5 years ago, nothing is new. I firmly believe in mixed offerings but shouldn't there be something original that is good at least once a year? I no longer buy A&G and Goudey, since they are the same card every year. I disagree on Upper Deck, they all look the same now too. Even SP Authentic football, I only bought 1 box. That is a least 3 less than usual for me. (okay maybe 5-7 less) Exquisite is the only football product that got better to me, but I haven't liked those huge head photos on a more expensive SP Authentic design in a long time, unlike most who buy higher end. Even my beloved NT took a dive this year.