Collectors still want old school

Although it is still very early in the collecting season, I would have to say that 2009 Upper Deck SPx has been the most disappointing product I have seen so far. It’s bland, uninspired, and so run of the mill it would not surprise me if the product is D.O.A. a week after its release.

Meanwhile, 1996 & 1997 SPx continues to live on in the Hobby thanks to the secondary market. If you recall, the first years of SPx featured holographic photographs, a small but well-done amount of parallels, and best of all, ultra-rare on-card autographs of the game’s all-time greats like Dan Marino, Ken Griffey Jr., and Michael Jordan.

Just recently, a 1996 SPx autograph of Michael Jordan sold on eBay for a whopping $1,025 dollars. See, collectors do care about the old school just as much as they do brands like Exquisite. At the end of the day, the truth is that design is what really matters. If you can fit an autograph, a memorabilia relic, and a serial number all on one card and still make it look great then you did your job.

Upper Deck, if you don’t lose your M.L.B. license in 2010, consider resurrecting holograms even if it’s just for an insert set like Topps did this year with Turkey Red. Really, at this point I don’t think there is much to lose and you just might be surprised with just how many current and former collectors you make very happy.

You can see what 2009 SPx will look like HERE.

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8 thoughts on “Collectors still want old school

  1. “Meanwhile, 1996 & 1997 SPx continues to live on in the Hobby thanks to the secondary market. If you recall, the first years of SPx featured holographic photographs, a small but well-done amount of parallels, and best of all, ultra-rare on-card autographs of the game’s all-time greats like Dan Marino, Ken Griffey Jr., and Michael Jordan.”

    Yet again Mario, selective memory on your part. in 1996, SPX were the exquisite of their day. One card per pack, and not very cheap. “Old school” collectors hated the cards, and people were complaining about what a rip-off they were – because they were so hit and miss and you got so little for what you paid for them. The “true” collectors (you know, the sort of people these days who whinge and whine about the focus on game used and auto cards in products) didn’t collect them because of the fact they used a gimmick (a moving holgram) and their focus on inserts, parallels, and even autographs! My, what had the hobyy come to!

    And yes, while the design was generally good (like the design of National Treasures and exquisite are generally good), the reason why the autographs still sell (for the most part, not all sell like the Jordan) for a high price is because they came from what was then an ultra-expensive product, and were extremelly tough to pull. As for the parallels, in 1996 especially they were horrible – the same as the base except a small part of the card was gold.

    Now in 1996 and 1997 SPX wasn’t horrible, in fact they were quite good. But when you use it to take a dig at brands like exquisite you show how myopic and narrow-minded you can be when it comes to high end due to your bias – because SPX back then was as high end as you could get, and as hit-and-miss as Exquisite or National Treasures ever has been.

    You don’t like exquisite, National Treasures and high end products based almost entirely on game used and autograph cards, that’s fine. Tell us you don’t like them and why, that’s fine. But when you take a dig at them by comparing them to a product that was essentially their equivalent back in the mid 90s (complete with the evil of evils, autograph hits) you just sound ridiculous. You can (and mostly do) do better.

    Not to put a too fine point on it, but I’m half waiting for the post from you when you tell us how rude young people are today, and how back in your day young people showed respect to their elders and had manners, and how you used to have to walk 500 miles to school each day in the snow without any shoes.

    Thankfully you didn’t write “old skool”!

  2. I was actually looking through many Exquisite basketball cards last night and they look great that is why I wrote:

    If you can fit an autograph, a memorabilia relic, and a serial number all on one card and still make it look great then you did your job.

    Also, despite the high-end nature of early SPx, you were not paying $600 a box for 5 cards. Not even close.

  3. ““Old school” collectors hated the cards, and people were complaining about what a rip-off they were – because they were so hit and miss and you got so little for what you paid for them. The “true” collectors … didn’t collect them because of the fact they used a gimmick (a moving holgram) and their focus on inserts, parallels, and even autographs!”

    True collectors in the ’90s may not have bought any packs (or bought one, pulled Marty Cordova and didn’t buy any more after that) but most of them liked the cards and picked up their favorite players when they could find them in a shop and maybe even a few commons cheap. The cards were good looking and very unique for the time.

    The reason us old fogeys don’t like the $500 high end boxes and like to speak out against them is because we’ve seen the card market over the past few decades and we know that this crap is going to be worthless in a decade. But, since people apparently want to buy it and the card companies can make a quick buck on it so it’s what’s driving the industry right now. I don’t have any problem with Topps or UD or Donruss making money, I have a problem with them half assing everything else and putting out crap products that are overpriced that they expect to sell because of the chase cards. SPX looks like UDX part 2 and many people hated UDX last year. Put out crap and people won’t buy it. Keep putting out crap over and over and people will stop collecting altogether.

    There’s a reason why the card industry has contracted to about a tenth of what it was in the heyday about 15 years ago and that’s because the ‘old skool’ collectors get fed up and leave the hobby. The same year that SPX came out a longtime collector I knew whose life goal was to collect a million card sold his shop and his entire inventory and left for good. This has been happening pretty steadily over the past decade, and what’s worse is MLB and the manufacturers have been doing very little to get new collectors into the hobby. Sure, they will throw out a Heads Up or an Attax or a dollar pack here and there but the ‘kid friendly’ packs always look cheap and thrown together and are often overpriced anyway. MLB and their expensive licenses doesn’t help. How many goofy oddball sticker and tattoo and gumball dispensers and all manner of cheap toys had MLB players or team logos on them in the ’80s? Now there’s virtually nothing. Hey, that’s not where the money is! Let’s put out another $250 pack and shrink the customer base some more. Have you wondered why we are seriously talking about Upper Deck going belly up right now? That’s why.

    I don’t want to abolish high end and force everyone to collect base Topps at gunpoint. People like the expensive stuff, good for them. All I want is for the manufacturers to put out better designs on their base stuff so they can keep the customers they have, and to put out some cheap low end stuff that kids can play with without having to worry about book value or grade so there might still be baseball card collectors 20 years from now. Because the way things are trending right now, there might not be.

  4. I would have to agree with dayf.

    I am 39 and didn’t buy a single pack of cards from 1994-2007, although I was working on various older sets during that time.

    It was only when I discovered the existence of Topps Heritage that I started buying packs and boxes again, but note that I was so far out of the hobby that I didn’t even discover the existence of Heritage until six years after Topps started releasing it!

    Plain and simple, even today I am tired of paying exorbitant sums of money for cards I do not want. Although I’m now pretty close to caught up with the older Heritage sets, the pack/box prices were so exorbitant that for several I started by buying complete base sets on Ebay for $20-30 instead of opening boxes.

    What people within the hobby need to ask themselves is why Heritage and the other retro sets are so popular. The answer….design. Modern card designs are so crappy that even last year’s Heritage, featuring the not very popular 1959 Topps design, was a huge hit. People are dying for well-designed cards without foil & chrome.

    The problem with Heritage now is that Topps is starting to loading it down with stuff nobody wants. You’ve now got three types of Chromes, News Flashbacks that have nothing to do with baseball, signature and relic cards of inconsequential players, and a bloated and unncessary update set which serves no real purpose except to try and squeeze more $$$ out of collectors. I’m guess that I am not alone in saying that I’d rather get another SP instead of a stupid insert I don’t want, and be able to buy insert/relic free boxes for $30-40 instead of boxes with cards I don’t want at $60-70.

  5. “Also, despite the high-end nature of early SPx, you were not paying $600 a box for 5 cards. Not even close.”

    Very true, but the principle was the same. Risk and reward. People bought a more expensive product like SPX back in 1996 because the potential reward was greater. The same with Exquiste. The risk is high, but so is the potential reward. Besides, with exquisite you do get guaranteed hits. Do most of these equal the amount you paid for the pack? No, but neither did the hit you got with SPX back in 1996. The fact is that you have a much better chance of hitting it big with exquisite, which is why you pay so much for the pack, and even the dud packs have some value, limited though it may be. With SPX your chances of hitting it big were one in every couple of hundred packs, and if you got a common nobody they were worth almost nothing, so of course they were cheaper.

    “The reason us old fogeys don’t like the $500 high end boxes and like to speak out against them is because we’ve seen the card market over the past few decades and we know that this crap is going to be worthless in a decade.”

    Really? I doubt that, because you are comparing apples and oranges. The reason why Junk wax from the 80s and 90s is so worthless is because it was so overproduced. The thing about Exquisite, National treasures etc is that it is limited (not as limited as some may think though), and as such good cards of good players will hold value. The SPX autographs illustrate this. The reason these still hold value is because of how limited they are, just like the Exquisite autos and some of the game used are.

    “There’s a reason why the card industry has contracted to about a tenth of what it was in the heyday about 15 years ago and that’s because the ‘old skool’ collectors get fed up and leave the hobby.”

    That is your opinion. However I know that many people who have left the hobby (at least according to the blogosphere) have done so because with the rise of ebay they have realised how worthless the cards they bought in the 80s and 90s are, the same cards that “old school” (or “old skool” for the illiterate gangsters) collectors so reminisce about. They get annoyed, realise how all that money they spent back then on cards they were told were worth something was wasted and want nothing to do with the hobby. It is these 80s and 90s sets that the so called “true” collectors love, along with Beckett, that has done a lot to destroy the hobby.

    “How many goofy oddball sticker and tattoo and gumball dispensers and all manner of cheap toys had MLB players or team logos on them in the ’80s? Now there’s virtually nothing. Hey, that’s not where the money is! Let’s put out another $250 pack and shrink the customer base some more.”

    What, like Upper Deck loony tunes? Yes, geat set. You know why they don’t produce these sets anymore? Because there isn’t a big enough customer base for them. If there was, they could make money off them and as such they would produce them. The reason they produce high end cards out there is because they can make money off them. And why can they make money off them? Because there is a market for them. It’s simple market forces. It’s why they keep producing exquisite (because it has a customer base) and ditch sets like SP Chirpgraphy (which didn’t have a customer base).

    “Have you wondered why we are seriously talking about Upper Deck going belly up right now? That’s why. ”

    Yep, primarily because there is a global financial crisis going on, which has meant that consumers are spending less on non-essential items. And yes, some questionable product releases have contributed to this. But prior to this financial crisis companies put out questionable releases and survived.

    “All I want is for the manufacturers to put out better designs on their base stuff so they can keep the customers they have and to put out some cheap low end stuff that kids can play with without having to worry about book value or grade so there might still be baseball card collectors 20 years from now. ”

    I don’t disagree that there is the need for better designs on many cards, but where the market is at for the most part and thus where they make their money is on high end. Whether you like it ot not, that is the reality and that is why their focus is on these products.

    As for the need to put out more children friendly products, the fact is that children’s tastes have changed. Cards are now competing against the internet, playstation, etc for children’s time, and as much as I hate to say it, to a child (and to many adults) these are all much more exciting and interactive things that cards can’t realistically compete against. The reality is that cheap, well made cards just can’t compete with these things to children.

    “Plain and simple, even today I am tired of paying exorbitant sums of money for cards I do not want. Although I’m now pretty close to caught up with the older Heritage sets, the pack/box prices were so exorbitant that for several I started by buying complete base sets on Ebay for $20-30 instead of opening boxes.”

    I agree about not paying exorbitant amounts for cards you don’t want. I don’t buy boxes, because I don’t want a lot of crappy base cards. I want the jersey and autograpgh cards. So instead of buying a box for $150 in the hope of getting those cards I want, I just buy the singles I want. In fact, the thing about exquisite and national treasures is that they cater to people who don’t want to pay exorbitant amounts for cards they don’t want – because the people buying these want hits and not loads of base cards.

    “What people within the hobby need to ask themselves is why Heritage and the other retro sets are so popular. The answer….design. Modern card designs are so crappy that even last year’s Heritage, featuring the not very popular 1959 Topps design, was a huge hit. People are dying for well-designed cards without foil & chrome.”

    That may be true for a large segement of the baseball market (though not all of it), but it isn’t the case with football, Ice Hockey or basketball. As I have said before, there is almost this sense of chauvinism, that the “real” hobby is the baseball card market and nothing else. Retro sets like heritage don’t do that well in football, hockey or basketball, so you shouldn’t generalise. However, I don’t begrudge you wanting to collect those cards – that is your choice. The same can’t be said for those people who dislike high end and who feel the need to have a go at it constantly and belittle the people that do collect it. You want to collect Heritage? That’s fine, I have no problem with that. I want to collect high end, that should be no problem also. Unfortunately it is because the self proclaimed hobby “purists” don’t feel it is appropriate, feeling the need to say how it is rip-off constantly and how much better they are as collectors because they focus on “cheaper” base brands.

    “I’m guess that I am not alone in saying that I’d rather get another SP instead of a stupid insert I don’t want, and be able to buy insert/relic free boxes for $30-40 instead of boxes with cards I don’t want at $60-70.”

    Yes, but if most collectors felt that way, they would do their talking with their wallet and would stop buying boxes. The fact people pay the $60 to $70 and the product is so successful indicates that there is the market for it. Just because you don’t like them, it doesn’t mean others don’t.

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