Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Breaking Down a List From A Magazine I Rarely Even Think About

Over on FCB, a user posted a top ten list of "worst sports card ideas" that was printed in Tuff Stuff. After looking at the list, I agree with some, but others are just absolutely horribly wrong. Since they are a magazine that doesn’t really have the ability to say as much as I would, Im going to break it down and add a few of my own.

10. 1/1 Cards Are No Longer Unique

I agree with this one, as companies often use 1/1 parallels to bolster excitement in a card that normally wouldn’t get much thought. Topps has singlehandedly destroyed the 1/1 with Topps Sterling, Triple Threads, and Moments and Milestones, so I believe that pulling a 1/1 is not like it used to be.

9. Horribly Done Cut Signature Cards

This is usually a pretty stupid thing, but Im not sure if it should stay on the list. I agree that if you cant cut the signature to look nice or fit on the card, you need to find a new one to use. It happens more than it should, but most of the time, the cards will sell regardless. An auto is an auto to most people.

8. High cost of packs and boxes

Im not even going to go into it, because this is a whole other argument. Basically, without the high cost of boxes and packs, the industry would have collapsed a long time ago. To say this is one of the worst ideas is complete fucking bullshit. High end cards have a huge following, and mid end products in just about all four sports are the best sellers. If you dropped content and price, you would lose more people than could sustain any of the big three companies. Don’t pee in my face and say its raining.

7. Parallels

Paralles are only a problem when they are done like Panini does. Twenty parallels for one card shouldn’t fly unless you have a set that is built around them like chrome. Other than that, I don’t have a problem.

6. Muliple Sports Being Included In One Product

I disagree completely with this. Its multiple GENRES that bug me. I don’t want actors and weird B list celebs in my packs, but a Jordan dual auto with Gretzky or something like that doesn’t bother me as long as it isnt a focus of a once normal set.

5. Manufactured patch cards

This is a pretty divisive topic in our hobby, and I am one that is for some manu-patches, but not others. When you put manu-patch cards in a product like National Treasures, that’s one thing. However, when they are used as an autograph device in other sets, I have no problem as long as they look good. If they go the direction of Topps Lettermen where the cards are stickers ON TOP OF the manu-patch, then we have a MAJOR problem.

4. Non sports items in sports packs

As said above, I agree with this one.

3. Overproduction of GU and autos

I will agree and disagree here. I don’t think anyone cares about more autos in a product, I think people want autos more than anything. Game used cards are overproduced, but like the original poster said on FCB, its what we demanded. GU cards may be over produced, but to take them away would lead to public outcry. If the public wants it, it cant be something that is "wrong."

2. Sticker autos

Again this relates to stickers in high end versus stickers in low end. I very much would buy a hard signed signature over a sticker any day, but I still love Chrome because it’s a low end product that provides awesome looking cards. Would I like Chrome to be on card? Of course. Would I stop buying chrome because of the stickers? No.

Of course, when you get into products like National Treasures, Sterling or Triple Threads, paying that much per box should get you on card sigs for the whole set. Stickers are for cheap products at a point in the year when the cards are tough to get signed. High end sets come later in the year, are planned almost a year in advance, its time to get your shit together and get the cards signed.

1. Unfulfilled redemptions

Really? This is at the TOP of the list? Cmon. Unfufilled redemptions are more a player issue than a company issue. Because sets are planned so far in advance, as said above, redemptions become necessary in most cases. If a player doesn’t sign, it’s the player's deal, not the company who had a contract with the player. People say that companies should not include redemptions if they don’t expect players to sign, but that’s like saying its okay to avoid booking Guns n Roses for an upcoming show because the organizers are not sure if Axel Rose is going to show up.

My Top Ten

1. Lack of good design, innovation and creativity

Companies have become lazy in the ways they design cards, bottom line. So many of the sets that come out every year are awful looking, and are completely lacking in creativity. There are more products this year that I didn’t buy because of the design than any other single year ever. Design has become an afterthought as long as people still have giant patches. That is bullshit.

2. Lack of scam prevention in swatches and autographs

For each set, scam prevention is minimal, and that fucking blows. To think this didn’t make it on to the list is fucking ridiculous. There are easy solutions for scam prevention, some as simple as taking a digital camera to the pack out. Encasing cards is another way to help out, but there is little done to help people avoid getting had. Panini offers technology to help, but you can only have security after the card is in your hand.

3. Foilboard

Foilboard is for five year olds, and its pretty insulting to think that companies believe we will ignore the horrid looks of their cards as long as it solicits an "OOO SHINY!" response from us. Flat stock creates classy looking cards, not some mirrored abomination designed to draw your attention away from the crap on the front of the card. Its why Panini uses foil board for everything but National Treasures, and Upper Deck hasn’t put foilboard on a product costing more than 100 bucks ever.

4. Stickers in high end products

Basically, if you have to pay more than 100 bucks for a box, there should be on card sigs. I shouldn’t open a box of Topps Sterling and get a sticker auto. That is just Charles Barkley 'turr-able.' Its about planning, work and care for the final product that is put out. As we have found out, companies dont really care as long as they end up with money in their pocket.

5. Fold out cards

Besides the fact that they look awful, they are a gimmick that was designed to make Triple Threads fresh after four fucking years of being EXACTLY the same. Add this to the long list of shit done by manufacturers to get the immature collectors to say "OMG MOJOZ!!!!11!!" when they open a pack. Now that they are being put into Exquisite I think I may shoot myself.

6. Stupid autos of non-famous people

Rip girl autos? Bowman Scout autos? Nuff said.

7. Exclusive autograph deals

I hate that companies have the ability to prevent competition by signing a player to an exclusive. Im sure Topps could have produced some very nice Griffey autos if they had the chance. Same with Jordan, same with Hank Aaron. Competition is our friend as it breeds innovation, and without it, we end up with the same shit year after year.

8. Floating jersey swatches

Panini has made this their calling card over the last few years, and it’s the reason so many of their jersey cards look ridiculous. The swatch is placed in a position on the card that looks as if someone forgot to affix the sticker, and it creates a swatch that looks like it is "floating" in a place where it shouldn’t be. Other companies have had problems with this as well, and it can be solved by not creating the card backwards. If you start with the jersey auto and work towards the base card by removing stuff, you get floating swatches. If you build the card from the base up, you get better designs.

9. Non-unique 1/1s

See above

10. Event used all star cards

All star jerseys are rare, but they have been put into a bunch of products for a long time. Its because they are not worn at the actual game, but instead are worn and taken off at a company event. Panini championed this idea and put it into three different products this year, only to have people think they were real game used. Topps has used All Star warm ups in Triple Threads for the last few years without many people recognizing that the players never wore them in a game. Completely fucking stupid.

Thats about it. Im sure I missed some, but I feel pretty good about my list.


  1. Applause. Couldn't have said it better myself. In fact at some point in time I think I have.
    Dead on for all.

  2. Manufactured patch cards are my biggest pet peeve, especially when they're in high-end products like UD Black and UD Premier. If I'm dropping serious cash on a product give me a real "hit," not some piece of crap that I can make myself from some Starter jerseys and cardboard. This shit is a deal-breaker and I won't buy any product that contains this lazy crap.

  3. Excellent post. I agree on most, disagree on a few, but I think you've hit on the major problems with the industry today.

  4. My biggest agreement is with the mfgr'd patch cards. They're stupid, and deserve no more thought and/or explanation. Stupid.

    I like relics, always will, but they have GOT to be designed around, like you state. Can't just cut a whole out at random.

  5. Both lists have their good and bads, but I don't think you have more authority than Tuff Stuff like you think you do. Also your 1, 2 and 7 are not technically "sports card ideas."

  6. What's the difference between Event used all star relics and event worn rookie premier relics that are found in sets like SP Authentic and Exquisite, other than Upper Deck uses them?

    Given the late release of SP authentic and Exquisite surely they could wait and get their hands on an actual game worn rookie jerseys to use. Or it a case that these rookie, game worn jerseys are extremely rare and hard to get - just like pro bowl jerseys?

    Foil board, sticker autos etc are obviously personal choice - some people like them, some don't, some are neutral. Lack of scam prevention is the biggest problem (unless you are a scammer) hands down because it has the ability to totally destroy the hobby, whereas card design is a personal taste - one man's trash is another man's treasure.

  7. I agree with most of it, but not all. Lazy design gets me every time (Panini, I'm looking at yooooouuuuu). But, oddly, it doesn't bother me for things like A&G, Masterpieces, or Goudey...

    Guess I mean BAD design. Chicle-bad. R&S bad.

  8. Maybe the card companies like UD should nut up and not send out cheap replacements when they can't come through with a redemption request. How about they come through with some better than promised AND TRY to get it to me within 18 months, that would be even better. How in the hell can this company have a store full of auto's on their website and claim they do not have replacements to send me?

    It sounds to me like you are drinking the UD Koolaid.