by Mike Fruitman
After last week’s onslaught of mega popular releases like Topps Chrome MLB, Exquisite, Rookies & Stars NFL and more, it was hard for the last week of August to crush like the previous week did. While most stores probably sold through with their one direct case of Exquisite, the other releases are rocking harder than Motley Crue did in the late eighties.
With the next licensed MLB offering not hitting until mid-September with Topps Triple Threads, it is a good thing that some other baseball products are up the pike. This week, Historic Autographs gave us their Why The Hall Not cut signature product. Leaf is releasing their History of Baseball Cut Signature Edition and according to the current calendar Panini is releasing both their Cooperstown and Signature Series baseball on the same Wednesday in September.
I bring this up because ever since Upper Deck got dumped like John Cusack in Say Anything (I hope at least some of you don't have to Google that), partially licensed releases have picked up much of the slack from the 50 MLB products a year days. It wasn’t all smooth sailing with these draft pick offerings. I remember when 2007 Elite Extra Edition first arrived and making sure that shoppers knew what they were getting into before they bought boxes.
For years, the hobby has seen intriguing draft pick releases such as Donruss Elite Extra Edition, Tristar Obak and the more recent Razor/Leaf offerings. While many in the hobby initially met them with skepticism, a few years’ worth of fermentation has shown collectors that not everything has to be made by Topps in order to successfully deliver the boys of summer.
Looking through the years, the grandfather of mainstream prospect sets: 2007 Elite Extra Edition has delivered cards of Will Middlebrooks (This one sold for $799) and Jason Heyward, 2008 brought us singles of Mike Stanton, 2009 included that Mike Trout guy and 2010 allowed us a chance of early cards of Matt Moore and Manny Machado.
With each progressive prospect turning into a hobby darling, it served to legitimize future releases and challenge draft devotees to snagging “the next big thing” well before they blew up. As more of these releases became legitimized, collectors dropped their guard and began to look at them differently.
If you have any doubt about their ability to deliver now, perhaps this 2011 In the Game Mike Trout signed card might suggest otherwise.
Last year Panini took things to the next level with the return of previously popular products like Contenders, Limited, Limited Cuts and Prime Cuts. Unlike what we had gotten used to with Elite Extra Edition, Panini was now able to include both current and retired players, offering collectors releases that were incredibly close to the licensed products being made by Topps.
Something tells me I could have made room in my collection for this gem of Cal Ripken Jr from 2011 Panini Prime Cuts.
Looking ahead to September and the playoff races heating up, the idea of one MLB product from Topps seemed a bit disappointing. Fortunately baseball fans will have multiple new options at their local card shops when it comes to shredding late season releases. Now to just keep things going as strong as Vince Neil, Tommy Lee and the boys can still do when Bowman Chrome, Topps Updates, Bowman Draft and Bowman Sterling eventually arrive.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike's Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo. You can read his column here every week, focusing on what products are selling best in hobby shops. Enjoy new arrivals and big hits from Mike’s on Twitter. Mike’s is always looking for more friends on Facebook and you can email him at [email protected]