Topps has recalled its 2015 Tribute Baseball product. The company’s first high-end baseball issue of 2015, unveiled earlier this week, was plagued with smudged, smeared and streaky autographs.
Collectors and case breakers who ripped open the first boxes of 2015 Topps Tribute late Tuesday and Wednesday were dismayed to find many of the signed cards in the $250-300 per box product fraught with quality issues.
It appears as if a problem with the UV coating on the cards affected most of those that had been signed in blue ink.
On Friday, Topps issued this statement:
Topps has been investigating complaints regarding the quality of the autographed cards in the just-released 2015 Topps Tribute Baseball and has confirmed that many autographed cards are damaged due to a UV contamination on the card.
As a result of our investigation and to rectify the situation, Topps is initiating a complete recall of the product.
Those in possession of unopened boxes should return them no later than Friday, March 27, 2015 to the authorized distributor or store from which the box was purchased for a full refund.
In addition, between now and June 30, 2015, anyone in possession of a damaged autographed card (not in pack) can exchange the card by contacting Topps Customer Service. Exchanges will be made for another card of equal or greater value, plus a bonus autographed or relic card (valued at the company’s discretion).
Topps appreciates your understanding in this matter. We stand firmly behind all our products and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Topps took to social media Thursday to respond to complaints, first indicating it wasn’t sure what happened but later promising to release the results of its findings and what it plans to do.
@LiveCaseBreak We still have to do a proper investigation into how and where the issues occurred.
— Topps Company (@toppscards) March 19, 2015
The company may be planning to recall the product. Major online retailers stopped offering Tribute to customers on Thursday. Topps will also have to deal with the aftermath of cases and boxes that have already been opened. In such cases, it’s often wise to hang on to wrappers and proofs of purchase. It’s also likely Topps may offer some sort of exchange program for cards with poor quality signatures.
Each box of Tribute contains 18 cards with three autographs and three relics. Not every autograph has been affected by the issues but some have opened boxes in which all of the autographs had been affected.
When pre-sell information was released last fall, the company touted its plans to have all autographs signed on card rather than applying signed stickers.
In a YouTube video Topps produced to provide instructions for players on signing the cards that were sent to them, athletes are told to use the “blue Stabilo marker” Topps included.
Some shop owners, dealers and case breakers took to social media to express their frustration with the product, which had otherwise generated fairly favorable reviews in the first hours of release.
While quality control problems have cropped up with Topps, Panini and other card manufacturers over the years, the Tribute trouble may be the most widespread autograph issue that has occurred since they became staples of the modern card market.
Last year, Panini apologized after the wrong swatches of jersey material were included in some of its Flawless football cards, another high end release. In 2012, Topps had chipping issues with the edges of its pricey Five Star product.
You can see what’s coming out of Tribute and being listed on eBay here.