The challenge for Topps, as well as for any other card company, when it comes to higher price point products is to produce a good value for the consumer’s dollar. This is so far different from a base set such as Topps Series 1 or Topps Opening Day in which the collector’s expectation is to receive a large amount of cards and if something is really good in the box, then that is a bonus. Shoot, even the recent box we opened of Topps Football had enough cards to make that a fun open although the hit was fairly minor.
Tier One is a product for those who love the ‘high risk/high reward’ products. Not every box can have a huge Hall of Fame hit, but the pressure is on the card companies to ensure that collectors don’t feel completely cheated when the rip is done.
There’s nothing that puts a sour taste in a hobbyist’s mouth faster than plunking down a day’s pay and getting a lunch hour’s worth of value. In the late 1990s, when I worked at Beckett, I received a call direct to my desk from an MLBPA representative in which the woman was flabbergasted that I was not saying how great all the products were in the midst of our call. I pointed out our review box of SP Signature had two autographs: Shea Hillebrand and John Olerud, neither of which I would consider a major star then or now. The rep tried to convince me that I was wrong but I never did totally agree with her, By the way, the current Beckett book value of the two autographs is $15 each or $30 total. I pointed out, and I believe with some justification then, and still today, that when a collector spends $100 for a box they deserve to feel they received something of value.
In 2013 Topps Tier One, there are no base cards, only hits, and the current on-line pricing is between $80-90 per box. Each box promises two autograph cards and one relic card and every fourth box does contain a second relic card.
If you have the cash to break a case, you’ll be guaranteed something good as each case contains a past or present superstar autograph. Among the signers were Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken Jr., and Rickey Henderson.
If you’re not a case breaker, you’re rolling the dice.
Without a base set, it’s hard to review the product since you’re essentially buying patches and autographs. So how did we do from our box?
Relics (#d to 399): John Smoltz, Adam Wainwright
On the Rise Autographs (#d to 399): Salvador Perez. My good friend Jeff Johnson of Player Direct handles Salvador Perez and I get constant updates about Salvador from Jeff. The Royals have high hopes for the 23-year-old Venezuelan catcher.
I did get the ‘bonus relic’ but at an approximate cost of $20 per card, it’s iffy if the value of the cards we pulled will ever match the box price. We’ll pin our hopes on Perez, although even his # to 399 autos are only bringing a few bucks right now.
At their current online price, Topps 2013 Tier One cards don’t price a lot of collectors out of the market but the jury is still out on how good this product will be long term. You can check out box prices and singles for sale on eBay here.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]