From 1998-2000, Topps Tek had a brief but spectacular history. It was the first release to take the concept of the super collector to a higher level. With 90 players in the set and 90 varieties in terms of patterns and designed of each player that brought up a total of 8,100 total card needed to complete the full set. As a collector, I was perfectly happy with just one version of each card but there were some who actually completed the 8,100 card set. To a person, they never wanted any publicity for completing the herculean process.
The only idea which I think could be similar was when Upper Deck a decade later created a contest for collectors to attempt to complete the Yankees Highlights set of several thousand cards which had been inserted into packs. Perhaps if Topps had created a contest to see if anyone could complete the original Tek prodcut then they deserved a prize. This was before eBay was really beginning to take hold and most sports card buying and selling took place either in person or by mail so you can appreciate what a real project completing those sets truly was. In my opinion it’s really too bad that Topps in those days did not create a contest around Tek.
The 2014 product is called Topps High Tek and there are still 12 variations of patterns being issued but that’s not nearly as many as those earlier sets. And just as in Stadium Club, while the idea of bringing back a hobby name was a good idea, the execution could have been improved.
The 2014 Topps High Tek pack/box contains eight cards with one on-card autograph and one parallel for a retail price point of around $75. The major on-line retailers are currently selling Tek boxes for $60-70, which considering the small number of cards really makes it more of a high-end product now.
One of my local card shop owners said his sales were slow at this price point. He also said the sales would have been much stronger if the release had been 18 packs of four cards each with a couple of extra parallels inserted along with the on-card autograph in each box, rather than so many of what have become standard parallels in hobby products.
From a design standpoint, Tek is definitely different and one of those where the autograph isn’t necessarily the only thing collectors are focused on. It is a little puzzling why they keep mixing retired greats with current players in so many different sets.
Here’s what came out of our 2014 Topps High Tek box break:
Base Cards (I’m not going to worry about designs): We received six different players of the 53 in the set.
Autographs: Edgar Martinez
Frankly not a bad grouping of players as the smaller set size basically guarantees a good mix but perhaps a few more players would have helped to get this set into the packing process the Triple Cards owner would have preferred. It was still nice to see the return of Tek but perhaps a 90 x 90 set with a completion contest would have brought even more collectors into the collecting fray. Hopefully with a few adjustments, High Tek will return for an even better 2015 set.
If you’re curious to see more, click here to see what’s been posted on eBay.