Yesterday there was a short conversation on Twitter that got me thinking about some ideas that would get me to start set building again. It seems like it is going to be ages until Topps Heritage baseball catches up to the era that I began collecting -- the 70s.
The talk came from the 1987 minis that are going to be included with Topps 2012 series 2 baseball. Now trust me, I have no love for 1987 Topps baseball. The cards looked good, but you could start a paper trail at your front door and loop the earth a few times over with those cards. There were tons printed.
Someone had mentioned revisiting the 87 set and used the term Remastered. It got me thinking about the classic card sets and why I don't build large sets anymore. I got to thinking about the music industry and how they'll look to build interest in an older act by remastering their previous releases. I love it when a record company remasters a bands catalog and improves the music quality, finds hidden gems, adds a couple of live songs, and includes a demo or interview. The remaster usually gets some sort of gold or platinum name added to the mix.
I thought about it for a minute and realized that formula would be perfect for trading cards. How cool would it be to get an updated 52 Topps set printed on the same stock that they print Topps Tribute on? They could redo the entire original set, have parallel versions with alternate photos and outtakes. There could be memorabilia and autographed parallels, and you could even add some players to the checklist that didn't make the original cut. To top it off, you could also include some of today's players within the same design.
I'm sure you and Topps could come up with a hundred reasons why this couldn't be done but I could come up with a hundred why it should be done.
Here are a couple...
Exposing a New Generation of Collectors
Today's collectors loved collecting as kids. Most, now have kids and they would be able to share their love of the hobby with their their children. This isn't going to be a low end product, so the kids would get exposed to the highest quality of trading cards made today.
Where are the icons?
The iconic players of the game graced those Topps sets. If you ask the average baseball fan who they collected, it was Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Schmidt, Rose, Brett, Seaver, Jackson, Ripken, Koufax, Ryan... the classics. The best in the game. In any classic Topps set there are 40 or 50 household names, 50-100 well-known and collected players, a large portion of rookie cards and a bunch of commons. Not any more. The formula is still relatively similar, but with the exception of Pujols, Ichiro and Jeter, there are really no players that can compare to those legends in today's sets. The rest of the bunch are mostly regarded as commons and discarded. Why do you think they keep adding legends to current products? Bringing back those sets would generate a whole new era of nostalgia for the hobby.
Set building with a twist
Value for base cards just isn't there anymore. Inserts are just one element that have destroyed the value of the base card. I've seen people just discard commons like they were trash. Putting together a 660-card set that is expensive could change all of the that. Sure it wouldn't be cheap, but the end result could bring some much needed prestige back to the base card. When the players on the cards are junk, the value goes in the toilet. But here, we're talking legends, and yeah there were lots of scrubs in those vintage sets, but just like when we were kids, you'll get to relive those moments of glory when you got that one guy in a pack that you ALWAYS got multiple times over. My guy was Jim Wohlford. I swear I got that guy in every pack I bought. Maybe this time around I would get Steve Ontiveros or Rusty Kuntz... who knows? Does it matter? Around him will be Steve Carlton, Carlton Fisk, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Thurman Munson, Jim Rice, Andre Dawson and 50 other superstars.
I've got more reasons running through my crazy head, but what I don't have is time to give away ideas for free.
The other thing is that I don't want rhyme or reason. That's my problem with Heritage. Each year you know what's coming. The process is too slow to get to all of those great collections and we're only in the 60s. With Remastered you can surprise collectors with a different set every year and not be pigeonholed into following the original schedule. Start with 52. Jump to 75. Head up to 82. Go back to 69. Mix it up, make it fun, not predictable. I know you can do it Topps,the question is do you want to?