For card companies, one must always strike a balance between creating products so collectors build up brand loyalty. Back in the day, one of Fleer's biggest issues was they would switch the parent from Ultra to Flair or Fleer or vice versa. Although at the time we were always informed that would increase collector interest, I always argued changing those names prevented collectors from getting an appreciation of a long-term continuing brand. A good example of this change is Sensation which went from being Flair Sensations to Fleer Sensations. The company would have been better off just leaving the name as Flair Sensations.
So, Topps, as the sole MLB Licensed company, has that tightrope to dance. One is to create a series and sequence of releases which encourage continuity among collectors and dealers and the other is to make adjustments as needed to keep collectors interested. A good example is the recent discovery of 1 of 1 Allen and Ginter cards included as a hidden box-topper. We have also heard stories there are "Hot" Boxes in 2013 Allen and Ginter with a short print card in every pack and other goodies.
You may ask what this has to do with 2013 Topps Minis, which were released a couple of weeks ago. Well, nothing and everything at the same time. Topps retail division is always looking to expand their market and to bring cards to a wider market. The easiest way for Topps to do this is through direct marketing.
For each of the last two years at the National Sports Collectors Convention, Topps has debuted the Mini boxes which were available for $50 per at the booth and were sold out each year. In addition, a few days after the convention, boxes are made available through direct marketing via Topps’ online store. While we are big fans of shop owners receiving everything, there is nothing inherently wrong with some direct to the public sales. Since many of the hobby entry points no longer exist, the more options we can give to prospective collectors is a smart touch, Right now the only way to buy these boxes is to order directly from Topps. There’s still some profit to be made. Sold out at Topps, last year’s boxes are available from leading on-line dealers for $80-90 each.
Each box of 2013 Topps Minis contains 24 packs with 10 cards per pack. Just as in the regular Topps base set, each box says there is one "autograph or relic" per box. The parallels are inserts are kept to a smaller number here and the autograph checklist is also not as deep.
Here’s what came out of our box.
Gold Parallel: (#d to 62): Brandon Crawford, Bryce Harper, Adam Wainwright
Red Parallel (#d to 25) Josh Beckett, Ryan Doumit
Black Parallel (#d to 5) Brandon Moss
Printing Plate Cyan (1/1): Justin Ruggiano
Chasing History: Adam Dunn, Reggie Jackson, Willie Mays, Carlos Santana, Tom Seaver, Warren Spahn
Relic Card: Jayson Werth
In terms of insert values, I suspect our Harper Gold Parallel card will turn out to be the most valuable of the grouping (there's one on eBay now for $29.99). And as terms of satisfaction, the Minis are very similar to the basic Topps set in that if you can get a box at the original selling price, then the cost per card is very reasonable at approximately 20 cents per card. With the six or seven low number parallels in each box, then the extra bonuses really do help.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]