Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Putting New Blood In The Waters

After some ruminating on the current plight of the industry and the eventual boredom it will perpetuate, I started to think while tweeting earlier today. What are some ideas that I could think of that could add the razzle dazzle back into autograph or memorabilia cards? What are some ideas for products or inserts that could possibly be very cool to find if you opened a pack? Here are some brainstorms I had.

A New "Personal Touch" On Autos

What if there was a possibility of packing out redemptions for a personalized card? You redeem the card of a certain player, and for the next signing, they will personally inscribe it to you. They either go by the first name on the person's account, or some other way will be figured out. Make these pretty rare, and you have a way to really get people's attention. I know I would much rather see my name on a card than a player's favorite food.

Adding More To The Auto Itself

I think it would be awesome to get a list of achievements on a card for a player with the auto. It would be cool to have a card of a certain star or HOFer that listed their career highlights or something to that effect. Stat inscriptions are immensely popular among autograph collectors, and maybe this is a way to get some of the collectors excited as well as some casual fans.

In addition, maybe see if there is a way to get the previous year's award winners into a set. ROY, Offensive MVP, Defensive POY, Comeback player, etc all have their own subset with inscriptions of what they won. That would be AWESOME.

Awards Are Fodder For Cool

Building on the previous, it would be really cool to get as many MVPs (super bowl, season, and pro-bowl) into one set as possible. Just have them design the card as part of a product that has a lot of signatures. Get duals, quads, whatever, just build on the fact that all of them were MVPs of something.

It would be ridiculous to be able to pull a card where the Offensive MVP, the Defensive POY and the ROY all sign the same card. Without exclusives in football, that should be possible.

To make it even more interesting, have the ROYs do it as well. Have every ROY that is alive sign on to one set of cards designated for their award. You have a good number of players because it is Offensive and Defensive as well.

Sound bytes in Cards

I was shopping over the holidays with one of my good friends and his young kid, and we went into build-a-bear to look around. If you dont know what build-a-bear is, the name is self explanatory. Either way, in the store, they had these little things that you could record your own message and put it into the bear. These things were tiny enough that they could easily be modified to be put into a card. I think it would be cool to get a signed card and hear the player talk about the picture on it, or the game it is commemorating. Dont really know if that is possible, but whatever.

Player Progression

I know in one of the Panini sets, there is a player timeline set, but that is only two pictures and they never really get the effect I want to see. It would be great if we could use photoshop to get a college pic, a rookie pic, and another pic, then superimpose them all on a field background. Make it look like there is almost a age progression posted on the card. Dont separate the pics with lines, get them all on one card with seamless transition. It would be even cooler to get a player that had a black and white college pic and moved into color later in the career. To take it to another level, it would be awesome if there could be pics of the player in multiple team jerseys.

Same Team Same Card

It would be really cool to have a picture done in a set that has two players in it, and rather than having two autographs in two separated spaces, they could both sign the card with one picture. Then, if you have a card like some of the ones from Masterpieces, where a WR is being covered by a CB, you could have two players from different teams sign the card. Make it as seamless as possible, almost like having a multi-signed 8x10, because autograph collectors love this. Im kind of confused why the pics always have to be separated, especially when you could have Favre handing off to AD, and have them both sign it. What about Ed Reed and Hines Ward signing the same card with one pic?

This is all just brainstorming, and I know that putting it into practice will be a million times harder than just writing about it. I just hope that card companies are really putting more thought into revitalization rather than just churning out poop year after year. I love the shadow boxes, and I really like the film strips in Black, but those are only 2 new ideas to function on. I think we need new blood, and hopefully stuff like this is possible.


  1. You're hired. Al great, great ideas. While it is true that it is easier to write about than execute I think that is also a misnomer. I think the companies themselves have gotten lazy becuase we know we are going to buy whatever they put out to some extent. They know it's an addictive hobby and regularly have chosen to take the easy way out.

    Some of the things you suggest aren't hard. They simply aren't cookie cutter which is what the companies seem to prefer. The view trading cards as a production requiring an assembly line mentality rather than creating art which is allowed to have it's own unique characteristics and nuances.

  2. Seriously, it took me five minutes to put this together, I would be shocked if companies werent exploring these already.

  3. Exactly- see my elaborated response at

  4. It'd shock me if they aren't writing most of this off as 'Too hard', 'too expensive to implement' and 'what we have now works just fine'.

  5. Doc Ellis LSD song byte card PLEASE. lolol

  6. "Player Progression"

    That would be cool. Upper Deck did something like this in an early Jaromir Jagr card (92-93 I think). It was him with the wind up, point of contact, and follow through for a slap shot. I don't think it would be hard to implement the same poses with him, or any other player, playing on a minor league/junior team, first pro team, and current team.

  7. I love these ideas, and as a Graphic Designer these really aren't difficult to acomplish in the design phase. The time consumer would be getting the players to cooperate and that is where the companies would probably claim it was to "difficult".

    With the Player Progression, Upper Deck did that in the '91 baseball set too, The Griffey card #424 shows him swinging through a pitch. It isn't exactly as Gelman described but shows that UD can do it.:

  8. great ideas - The card companies must have zero creativity to not look into a couple of these ideas. the progression and sound byte are particularly good.

  9. The sound chip has been done before- I have one - I think it was stadium club- Its of Cal Ripken and his 3000 hit- ( I think) I would have to dig it out

  10. Some nice ideas. I'm not sure how it would affect production costs to implement them, but I'm sure at least a few would be workable.

  11. Great ideas and I would love to pull some cards that were designed like the ones you describe. A close play at the plate with dual sigs would be awesome.

  12. Talking cards?

    Can you ignore them like your wife?

  13. I feel that most of the athletes would be too stubborn to do all that extra work for auto cards, which is a pity.

  14. been reading for about 2 1/2 post ever. I hate to say it, but you are a genius. (I used a "bad to the bone"-playing greeting to torture my gf last year to great effect)

  15. i think they should start listing the date and game on the cards that have pieces of memorabilia. ive always wanted to know when the stuff was used

  16. I'd like to see the personalized inscription redemption for cards. Good idea.