Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why Variety Is The Best Thing Around

A wise man once said that variety is the spice of life.

Obviously, that person had never met some of the people running around in the sports card hobby these days. Ask a sampling of people around, many of them would say that the one thing they would change in the hobby is that there is too many products to choose from. Yes, I said that correctly, people think that there are just too many products to get what they want out of. When I see this sentiment run rampant, all I can ask myself is why people want less to choose from, especially when so much crap makes it onto the market each year.

Maybe its the fact that as collectors, they need every last thing of what they collect. Back in the day, with 4 sets per year per sport, many collectors could put together every card that was produced each year. Good for them. But the question is, how many people actually get angry that they cannot collect every card of their favorite player, or that it is near impossible these days to be a super collector? Im guessing its a factor behind some of these feelings. I know there have been a few posts on a few blogs lately that state just that. Really? Is that the reason why we want less products? Because you cant be number one?

Personally, I think that is a ludicrious feeling to have. Really, it should more about rewarding the good products and avoiding the bad products. That can be an issue in itself, however, as what is bad news for me can actually be a treasure to someone else. Example? I think Triple Threads is one of the worst products ever to be released in the history of cards. Just the idea alone makes me want to spew my spaghetti from dinner. Yet, much to my chagrin, a lot of people love it. Ahh! There we have it, the reason why variety is so important.

Even though I want to run the other way whenever someone sends me an offer on some Triple Threads cards, thats all I really have to do to avoid it. If there were only three products per company per year, that would be a lot tougher, right? It wouldnt be as easy to run away and still have cards from other products waiting for me anymore. Not only that, but I would probably have to wait a few months for the next product to be released when I chose to follow through. Then what? Explain what I would do once the next product sucks as much as this other one? I tell you, I would be gone from collecting faster than Mike Tyson at a rape support group, and a lot of people would be right behind me.

The issue will continue to haunt people as long as this false sentiment continues. When you think about it there is really no basis that says the more products there are, the more people will leave. In fact, during the boom, as product numbers grew, so did collectors in the hobby. Now that Product numbers are limited, you see a stagnant sort of feeling around. The difference between then and now is the cost of creating a product, which may be the only reason to support a down shift in production. Yet, if we think that any money saved will be funneled back into the existing products, people are sadly mistaken. Its almost naive to think that a company would cut production to save money, and then spend all that money all over again on products that cant support a brand to begin with.

The solution is actually pretty simple, and feel free to follow along in your own mind. As products come out, if you dont like them, dont buy them. It is the easiest way to show disapproval, and it doesnt shut out the people who may like the product. Then, when your favorites come out, buy as much as you like. Your dollars can show more than a comment on a blog could ever do.

Thats pretty much it, especially with all this bullshit about how number of products is driving people away. Really, if every one of those products were absolutely the best fucking product ever released, it wouldnt be an issue, but due to laziness in design (something that cant be fixed with a smaller variety), people leave because they are overwhelmed with the crap that is out there. Instead of limiting the sets, how about improving what is released? Stop trying to cram a swatch into every card, stop trying to get every scrub to sign every card every year. Instead, focus on making each product look the best that it can, and I promise that no inflated number of sets will drive people away if the quality is there.


  1. I know I'm in the minority here as a team collector, but I just get a little tired of seeing the same players over and over and over in card sets. When I imagine the hobby cutting back on the number of sets, I picture larger sets with more players, a bonus for me.

    I think a few people commented in the high end post that maybe these high dollar cards could be inserted into lower end products. If the manufacturers had fewer products, then perhaps they would include these super rare, super cool cards, thus increasing the thrill of the hunt.

    Of course, I don't buy wax that often. I stick to hunting for singles, so what do I know? I just want to see more cool cards of more players, not just the "best" three from each team plus rookies.

  2. My guess is that people who feel this way fall in to one of two categories: supercollector types and people returning to the hobby. Although I don't really understand supercollecting, I can see where all these products make it difficult to obtain your ultimate collecting goal. As far people returning to the hobby, the abundance of choice can be entirely overwhelming at first. I know I felt this way when I came back, but it didn't take long for me to realize that I couldn't have it all and I just had to pick what I liked best. In a hobby with such variety in preferences and goals, I don't see how "too many choices" can be a bad thing.

  3. I'm a player collector. And I love the number of sets. Specifically, I'm talking about basketball. I supercollect (whatever that really means) a player who was left out of at least two products completely, and at least two others mostly (except some autos). I had mixed emotions on this. Sure, I got to save money because there was no reason for me to bust any of that product. But, that means fewer cards, parallels, autos, jersey cards, etc. to collect. Supercollecting a player is a goal. It shouldn't be an easy one. With all the 1/1s out there, it already isn't. But what's the fun in trying to get the full run of a guy in three or four sets? Part of the fun is the chase, part is the end result.

  4. Gellman, you bring up an interesting point and I really can't argue it either way. If companies cut back production, you'd assume that the current design staff would have more time to refine card design. You'd assume that since there were more people working, we'd get more shots of players in their uniforms from current photos.

    Unfortunately, I'm sure card companies would just lay-off a good chunk of staff if they could produce 30% less product, with 30% less man-hours.

    Shitty cards are here to stay.

  5. Each persons view of what draws them in or pushes them away is specific to that person. As this post was, at least somewhat, in response to mine, I'll be more specific as to what I dislike about what you call variety and I call an avalanche of crap

    Too many products dilutes the value of any given card. Twelve versions of the same player, whether it be heritage, ginter, or any crap UD baseball product makes the basecards valueless to me and to, I suspect others. Same with jersey and autos. Prior to 92, or there about I did not notice this issue in the hobby. Too many products also means less effort, or so it seems is put into the design. For example, upper decks fascination with x's.

    The ultimate point here is that each person has something that draws them to collecting or away from collecting even if one or the other isn't enough to cause them to collect or not to collect, but you screaming till you are blue in the face about how you like the variety doesn't make you right. Nor is my opinion correct for others.

    Your goal here is akin to you liking coke and me liking pepsi and then you telling me that I am obviously wrong because coke tastes better. You and I collect for different reasons we have likes and dislikes that are different.

  6. stsigpi, it's actually more akin to you saying "I like Pepsi, and by stopping all production of Coke the price and availability of Pepsi will improve, so we cola consumers need only Pepsi, regardless of others preferences because in the end we are all better off"

  7. I don't disagree with your points. What I wonder is your opinion concerning the large number of collectors who left the hobby around 1993, 1994. They often cite the reason for leaving/or for collecting all vintage is because the growing number of brands and sets and parallels, etc., just got to be too much, too overwhelming, too difficult to collect, or too unappealing.

    I think that was likely the reason that I stopped then (although it wasn't a conscious effort. I just kinda lost interest).

    But do you think those people had a valid reason for saying that or was it just a reaction to the new and different and they hadn't figured out how to handle it?

  8. I'm all for variety, but there hasn't been much in the hobby lately. 10 sets where the hits are white swatches and autographs of bench guys isn't variety at all. I'd like to see fewer low end sets since those are the ones that tend to have the same types of cards over and over again. I don't know if I'll ever bust a lot of high end stuff, but that seems to be where most of the innovation is these days. Then again, you do tend to see the same cards with autographs and patches numbered to the player's jersey and laundry tags over and over again.

  9. Jeff

    No sorry your analogy is wrong. Nice try though.

  10. stusigpi, while your blog post is very interesting and smart, whether you intend to or not, the analogy fits the implications. There will be collectors who lose what they like without variety, and that is a damn shame. From the point about affording the 'cool cards' , that is far-fetched. You had what you wanted, but back then, the real cool cards were vintage and they were not that affordable. Hell, I didn't have the money for a Griffey rookie then, and for damn sure didn't have a Jordan, Gretzky or even Yzerman. None of my friends did either, but we all collected.