Global sports merchandise and memorabilia giant Fanatics purchasing The Topps Company, Inc. for a reported $500 million last week was a landscape-shifting move. As of August 2021, by all public accounts, after 70 years in the game, Topps was being unceremoniously shown the door with regard to their production of MLB products. Major League Baseball worked out an agreement with Fanatics (unbeknownst to the folks at Topps) for team and player licensing rights to be transferred by 2025 and that was that. Some collectors had an inkling at the time that this wouldn't be the end of the story, and those soothsayers weren't wrong.
So Topps lives. Awesome. Now, what's next? A lot, apparently. Per reports, the start of production under the Fanatics/Topps brand will begin with the upcoming season. What that means for the products themselves is yet to be determined. But judging by Fanatics' strong-arming of an entire industry over the last decade or so, one would assume that they have some very big plans for the future of our beloved flagship.
Just thinking logically, the multitude of, um, critical suggestions, that collectors have been heaving Topps' way over the last few years had to have been falling on someone's ears. If I'm Fanatics, I want to hear and read every one of them. Who knows what the market wants better than the market itself?
See, this whole thing depends on one thing and one thing only. And no, it's not who owns the card manufacturing company. The rabid hobbyists like you and I are what keep this industry afloat. In fact, over the last half-decade, we've attached twin 600 horsepower outboards to this thing and hit an unprecedented plane in the process. If Fanatics truly wants to realize Topps' potential in its current form -- cardboard, baby; that's the bread and butter and that won't change anytime soon, mark my words -- they'll listen to the masses and make their product great again.
The extra effort put into meeting demand and crushing deadlines and making straight $#%&@%$ cuts could really go a long way in eliminating the static associated with what feels like every single Topps release over the last year or so. The opportunity is undoubtedly there. Now, it's up to the suits to get it right. We think they can, but we shall see, won't we?
The Simple Things...
by Tim Ryder
January 5, 2022
Ah, the simple joys of pictures printed on pieces of cardboard. Whether you became enamored with sports cards as a child, an adult, in the early days of the hobby, its heyday, or during its modern-day renaissance, if you know, you know. For me, the feeling of nostalgic warmth upon seeing a mid-1990s Topps Finest refractor or an immaculate late-1980s Rated Rookie does the trick. Every dollar I earned as a kid – newspaper deliveries, shoveling snow, raking leaves – went to the fine folks at our local collectible shop. And not a penny was wasted.
Yes, the hobby crashed hard shortly thereafter, but the memories of the pulls and the trades and the laughs and the friends stuck around despite my collection’s new home through my formative years in boxes on a basement shelf. Then came Hurricane Sandy and she wiped it all away. We never imagined the high-water mark of Hurricane Irene the previous year would be surpassed, so everything was stored well above that line. That was a mistake. Everything, gone. I saved a handful of cards that were either slightly damaged or not with the bulk of my stuff. But that was it. Ever had the wind knocked out of you? It was like that, except once for every damaged card I recovered.
Naturally, as I hadn’t been collecting in a while and I just watched my entire childhood collection get a saltwater bath, I walked away from the table. It was fun while it lasted, but rebuilding your stack after a loss like that ain’t easy – monetarily or emotionally. As these things have a way of doing, a few years later, walking around Target with my wife and kids, I saw some Topps packs. Ah, what the heck? My youngest daughter, then six or seven, had the sparkle in her eye as we were tearing that foil open. Lo and behold, something shiny was contained therein and the love affair was rekindled. She never got the full itch, but Pop was back in the driver’s seat.
Since then, I’ve jumped back into the hobby with both feet. It’s funny. What I’ve learned in the process is that no matter your age or the product you’re ripping or the mood you’re in, everything is exactly the same as it was 20, 30, 40 years ago. It’s magical. Basically, if opening up packs of sports cards makes you happy, do it. And do it your way. Don’t let anyone else dictate your brand of enjoyment. This hobby is for us, by us, and will be carried to the next generation of collectors by us. Happy pulling, friends.