I mentioned that I had run into Beckett's Chris Olds at a local card shop recently. During our conversation we agreed one of the trickiest issues for card companies is how to properly manage their releases in terms of cards produced. We all understand this is not the overproduction era anymore and those days of producing 15 card wax packs for 50 cents in such quantities that every man, woman and child could have a case are long gone.
To me, one of the first post baseball strike events was the 1996-97 Topps Chrome Basketball issue in which the dealer pre-sales were so weak that Topps ended up only producing this issue for their retail vendors and in shorter than usual quantities. Of course, helped by a really solid rookie class headlined by Kobe Bryant, Chrome became the hottest item on the market and dealers were clamoring for whatever they could find. Thus, the next year when Chrome was offered to dealers so many of them over-ordered that yes. you guessed it: 1997-98 Topps Chrome Basketball was dead on arrival at the stores.
The reason I mention this is for 2014, the company has done some similar experimentation with their Topps Archives 2014 release.
I always liked Archives the way it was, evoking memories of older sets. Those memories were frankly why it ranked only slightly below Heritage on my personal value scale. Everything was affordable and the player selection always had an intriguing mix of the better young players, today's stars and yesterday's heroes.
In addition, the short prints tended to be players who were not overexposed to today's collecting public. If I recall correctly, I had players such as Keith Miller, Howard Johnson and Kevin McReynolds as my short prints. Having lived in the New York Metropolitan area in the 1980's, there was something really cool about seeing cards of those guys again. Frankly, it is hard to explain just how popular the Mets were after their 1986 World Series victory.
This year, however. Topps raised the ante considerably by reducing the print run of Archives and also producing special insert cards to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the ultra-popular Major League movie. How many of us love to use the term: "just a bit outside" anyway? So with the production reduction and the innovative insert set, there was little doubt Archives was being set up to be a major hobby hit in 2014. And on that level, Archives has succeeded.
The 2014 release was a major hit and collectors were especially clamoring for the cards of ‘Rick Vaughn’, ‘Jake Taylor’ and ‘Roger Dorn’. My local card store (Triple Cards in Plano, TX) mentioned he thought the price explosion was too fast and although he is totally sold out, he did not want to re-order any more for his clientele. Meanwhile, major online hobby outlets are currently between $125-130 for the 24 ct wax box with eight cards per pack, much higher than the original release price.
This year Topps used its 1973, 1980, 1986 and 1989 designs and also brought back the All-Star glossy inserts (although this year’s cards aren’t glossy) and 1969 Deckle Edge design for another insert. Each hobby box does promise two autographs.
So how did we do from our box?
Base Cards: 163 of 200 or more than 80 percent of the set. I did not notice any duplicates
Short Prints: Dusty Baker, Nomar Garciaparra, Brandon Phillips, David Price, Mariano Rivera, Fernando Valenzuela
Gold Parallels (#d to 199): Dylan Bundy, Joe DiMaggio. Derek Jeter
Silver Parallels (#d to 99): Lou Boudreau, Tony Cingrani
1969 Deckle Edge Jose Canseco, Jose Fernandez, Wil Myers, Buster Posey, Hyun-Jin Ryu
1971-72 Hockey Design: Masahiro Tanaka
1987 All-Star Glossy: Wade Boggs
1988 All-Star Glossy: Gary Carter
2013 All-Star Glossy: Jose Bautista, ,Miguel Cabrera, Freddie Freeman,
Major League: Roger Dorn, Eddie Harris, Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn
Stadium Club Firebrand: Ron Gant
Autograph: Chris Sabo
Major League Autograph: Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton)
You know, it is hard to argue with the success when one pulls such a group of neat cards and I suspect most collectors who bought a box were fairly happy. Secondary market prices have been strong for those looking to flip while pure collectors will enjoy the mix of old and new. With the lesser press run, the odds for success were certainly better. It will be interesting to see what Topps plans for Archives will be in 2015 and going forward.
Click here to see 2014 Archives singles, sets, boxes and more on eBay now.