by Rich Klein
I'm a big fan of innovation and creation of new products by any and all card manufacturers. While certain products need to remain relatively static (Topps' base brand comes to mind), there needs to be a continuous flow and attempt of new products both lower and higher end into the card market. The new Topps Marquee product is an example of Topps working on creating a new brand to adjust to the current marketplace.
Since Finest has so much success with the mini-box concept, Topps worked on upgrading the process and creating a product with more "mini-boxes" per "master box" and a higher price point for the master box. That is a great idea as that enables collectors who prefer a "hit" to continue to get those hits and at either a price point they are comfortable with or a price point that appeals to even a higher-end collector.
Released in mid-September, each "master box" of 2011 Topps Marquee contains four mini-boxes and each mini box contains four cards. Each mini-box is supposed to have either an autograph or a relic card in the box.
We provided the early checklist and sell sheet during our preview back in May.
My local card store (Triple Cards & Collectibles in Plano, TX) is currently at $50 per mini-box or $190 for a master box. Leading on-line retailers are currently at $150-170. Since that is an average of $7-10 per card let us see how we did from our box:
Base Cards: 12 out of a 100-card set
Blue Parallel (#d to 299): Carl Crawford and Ryan Zimmerman
Copper Parallel (#d to 199) Kevin Youkilis
Gold Parallel (#d to 99): Mickey Mantle
Titanic Threads (#d to 99): Nolan Ryan
Titanic Threads Autographs (#d to 10) Ryan Zimmrman
Looking at the checklist, this is amongst the worst possible autographs in this product. Most of the other players in this insert set are far better, but a collector who pays $200 for a master box and receives this autograph or Jeff Francis and/or Fausto Carmona will not be very happy. High end boxes are a gamble not for the faint of heart.
Some of the Marquee patch cards are selling for strong prices on eBay. The limited quantities on some of those--and the parallels--is always helpful from a value perspective.
However, as we discovered with Tyson Ross, not every "hit" is guaranteed to be a home run. In fact, some of the hits will end up being swinging bunt singles. With some tweaking of the player selection (similar to what has been done for the upcoming Tier One product), this product will end up being far better in the future and potential complaints of "value" will dissipate.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]