eTopps Program at Standstill

The eTopps platform turned 10 years old last year.  Collectors are wondering if it will live to see 11.

The program that allowed collectors to buy in to a limited quantity of cards that could be left in an online ‘portfolio”, shipped in physical form or sold online by collector who bought them is in limbo.  Prices were generally around $5 per card.

eTopps StrasburgAfter issuing just 37 cards during the current football season and causing unrest among collectors through increased shipping rates and other changes to its rewards program, the company announced that no more cards would be forthcoming.

On Monday, Topps posted a message on its eTopps website, indicating the regular weekly releases of new cards (IPOs as they were referred to) was coming to an end:

Dear eTopps Community,

Thank you for participating in this year’s NFL football release as well as your continued enthusiasm for eTopps card offerings over the past ten years. Moving forward, we no longer plan to offer new cards each week. For now, we will continue to offer weekly catalogs and a baseball fantasy game, and we will maintain trading, selling and shipping services for eTopps cards.

The shipping and handling rate increases announced on December 20, 2011 are now in effect. Additionally, at this time, eTopps rewards points will no longer be redeemable for shipping and handling charges.

We look forward to sharing new digital developments with you in the future, and thank you for your support of eTopps.

The Topps Company

eTopps began in 2001 and the program saw the bulk of its weekly offerings issued from 2002-2006 when over 100 new baseball cards were issued each yeeTopps Aaron Rodgersar.  However, that number dipped to barely over one-third of that total during the past two seasons.  Its football offerings played out in roughly the same fashion.

In all, Topps produced more than 1,000 baseball eTopps cards during the program, with slightly fewer numbers in football, 500 basketball and only about 145 hockey cards.  The huge profit margins some collectors may have envisioned as players performed rarely materialized, except when tiny quantities were produced.  The 2006 A.J. Hawk eTopps rookie card was limited to just 183 copies and carries a value of around $250.

Often times, however, a player’s performance did send prices upward.  A 1,200-card Aaron Rodgers issue has been selling for $65-70 per card. eTopps produced a special Rodgers Super Bowl card after the Packers defeated the Steelers last February.

Albert Pujols eTopps rookie cardThe most popular baseball cards were the 2001 Albert Pujols rookie card, listed at $68.45 and the Derek Jeter card from the same inaugural issue, limited to 1,041 copies and currently valued at $57.23.  A 349-card Vernon Wells offering has paid off for those lucky enough to buy them.  It has a listed value of over $54.

However, there are many cards purchased for $5 upon release that bring less than $2, when buyers can be found.   Hundreds have become a losing proposition for collectors, especially those who opt for delivery and must pay shipping costs that are currently three to seven times as much as the value of the card.  However, in some cases, Topps lists cards purchased more than a year ago as “unavailable” for shipment.

Some collectors began selling off their eTopps portfolios in recent weeks.  Others have opted to hang on and see what happens with the electronic element of Topps’ sports.  In July of last year, Topps hired Michael Bramlage as Vice President, Digital. Bramlage was to be responsible for overseeing and developing the company’s future digital strategy.