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 (Toll Free)

Your Turn (Beckett Baseball issue No. 66): Are Topps’ new Double Sparkle variations a bit too much?

By Chris Olds | Baseball Editor

You may have seen the Your Turn page in nearly every issue of Beckett Baseball where we showcase stuff that is all about you. You can see your comments on hobby topics and get chances to win cool stuff in contests all on one page.

The newly released 2011 Topps Series 2 baseball set apparently includes some rare “double sparkle” variations, which can be collected and are good for an autographed bat. Good idea on the bat front — and they certainly add value to the return for bulk breakers — but gimmick cards are something that absolutely drives some collectors crazy. And not in a good way. We want to know what you think.

Here are the Your Turn questions for issue No. 66:

1. Is this too much of a good thing?

2. Is there one thing — perhaps gimmicks? — you would eliminate from the hobby? (BASEBALL ONLY)

Please include your name and location with your comment below — we will only run items with that information. A selection of your answers will appear in the next issue along with our next batch of contests and giveaways found only in the magazine.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

23 Comments

The Topps Double Sparkle Gimmick Promotion proves two things…

1) What little confidence Topps has in their own product that they feel that it requires a contest.

2) Topps doesn’t exactly think much of card collectors.

Posted June 8, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink
danny

1. Is this too much of a good thing?

topps bussiness model is just add more color -see bowman and topps chrome – this whole sparkle thing is a joke , topps should make quality inserts (non game used or autos) – see the mid to late inserts like the jordan inserts that sell very well

2. Is there one thing you would eliminate from the hobby? (BASEBALL ONLY) TOPPS
TOOOOO MANY QA ISSUES

Posted June 8, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink
Nick Tegeler

Buy the time someone spends thousands of dollars buying cases/boxes chasing the cards you need to redeem the bat, you could have taken that amount of money and just bought one similar out right. And for probably less money. Gimmicks are good to get kids in the hobby, but how could a kid possibly afford to buy this much product chasing this bat? I think its silly.

Posted June 8, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink
Clayton

1. Where’s the good thing at?
2. Stop producing so many releases your over saturating the market with the same crap.

kthanksbye

Posted June 8, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink
Richard

What I expect to happen is that one of the guys that breaks cases down for team sets
and the like to quickly get the prize. This reminds me of what Pinnacle did for the press plates
when they came out. You sent in a matching set of 4 front or back plates and you won a cash
prize. Problem is, it never happened and it appears that since they released some of the plates via retail that it might have been damn near impossible to do, certainly before the dead line for the largest prize amounts.

So, why do I bring it up? Well, Pinnacle went out of business 1-2 years later.
No, I don’t think Topps will suffer quite that fate, but I do expect a lot of people to NOT buy
their product this year because there is no Harper RC in it, just the prospect.
Which brings us back to whole stupid “official” RC that came into existence because upper
deck was whining to MLB that Topps kept getting to put out all the RC’s since Upper Deck
did not have an individual license and so could not use images of players until they were
actually playing.

So, now we have the whole “prospect” thing which they could now get rid of since they are the exclusive MLB card maker. *sigh* Not holding my breathe for that to happen, too much more money to extract from prospectors who fail to realize that almost none of the draft cards seem to hold value unless they are autographed or #’d to 50 or less.

Posted June 8, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

In terms of getting people to actually LOOK at their cards instead of putting them aside looking for the rare insert, I think this is a good thing. As it is something that I’m not going after, unless I get one, I’m not going to lose sleep trying to get all of them.

I don’t think this is too much of a good thing. Topps is trying to get collectors interested in cards again, and I think this is a good way to do it. The only thing I would hope for is that if people are sending in the cards to get the bat that they at least get the cards back (without any cancellation marks).

However, if there is one thing I’d like to see eliminated from the Hobby (baseball only), it would be the idea or notion that the “hits” are more important than the cards themselves. Yes, it’s nice to get that relic or autograph card, but it’s time to get back to the basics and make the base cards the focus of the product, not the rare inserts. That’s probably why Topps is including these “gimmicks” in the first place. Now people are actually focusing their attention on the base cards of their eponymous product.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Posted June 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink
Caleb Wilson, Gilbert AZ

1. This is surely way too much of something that I wouldn’t necessarily call GOOD, because all of these “Gimmick” cards are only increasing the price of these products for no good reason. On the secondary market, prices are increasing because of all of Topps’s wrapper redemptions, these double sparkle cards, the original sparkle cards, and so on.

2. In the growing hobby of baseball cards I would definitely eliminate the fact that hobby is better than retail, in my opinion this is stealing the “Good” cards from all of the kids who can only afford retail. Sure there are some good cards in retail, but the odds are impossible. I think all products should be the same price retail or hobby.

Posted June 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
Brian

Is there no expiry date?

A manufacturer is free to do what they wish. It’s up to the hobby to say enough is enough. If anything should be eliminated, it’s having an exclusive supplier. Kind of handcuffs the casual collector, eh?

Cheers,

B

Posted June 8, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

1. Promotions are good if they’re not one-winner-take-all contests like this one. I prefer the kind of promotion where hundreds or thousands of people get to win. An autographed bat? Probably not. But I’m sure they can spread the love a bit. I guess the Diamond Giveaway does a bit of that.
2. Baseball cards were best when there was competition. Eliminate the exclusivity Topps has. They certainly haven’t done anything truly amazing for the hobby. It is true that Topps products are flying off the shelves, but that’s because there isn’t anything else to collect. Do we need 80 major releases a year like in 2005? No, but competition drives innovation.

Posted June 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
Jon Chuckery...Atlanta

I guess after 60 years you start running out of ideas so gimmicks are all you have…put me in the not in favor of category. The bat contest itself is fine but what’s wrong with a simple drawing where people register online a code from opened packs? Yeah its been done, but amazingly it still works…
The one thing I’d eliminate…PROSPECT CARDS! Without a doubt this ruined collecting not only rookie cards but getting that 2nd year card. The 2nd year card used to be a great way to get a higher dollar card of your favorite player but without the cost of a true rookie…see 83 Ripken, 79 Molitor, 80 Smith, etc. Now a 2nd year card is worthless. Also prospect cards have way over inflated market pricing driving up box prices, etc

Posted June 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

I don’t know. I like any gimmick that is also a card – a real card that I can include in my master set. The sparkle cards were actually nice – these double sparkle bounty cards? Not so much… but will my master set be complete without them? Depends on how rare they really are.

Houdini, Florida

Posted June 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink
Josh Sheriff

1. Topps is the only company licensed for baseball, so I’ll just refer to them. This “sparkle bounty” thing isn’t necessarily too much of a good thing, but it only appeals to the people who buy multiple cases and bust ‘em open. Casual collector’s really have no chance of getting this type of reward. If Topps is going to put an awesome reward out there, all types of collectors should have a chance at it, not just the super-bulk collectors.

2. I know you said one thing, but i quickly have three things I would eliminate. I would eliminate any “bulk purchase required” incentives like the “sparkle bounty.” But I would also like to see fewer simple variations such as color changes and more original, interesting variations. Right now, Topps pretty much just changes the card from white border to blue border and calls it a variation. It should at least employ different player pictures, unique picture effects (eg. sepia, kaleidoscope, etc.), unique card designs, etc.

One more thing – the industry needs to get rid of cards with sticker autographs. All autographed cards should have autographs directly on the card.

Posted June 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

Okay now, this is getting harder to collect and complete a master set. I’m still working on my 2010 set with SP, RC Cup and “Pie in the face” cards.

Posted June 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

These are ultra rare cards. 1 winner takes all is a bad idea. Gimmicks will not make people buy the product, collectors will buy Topps 2 regardless as they collect the cards and others will not buy it at all for any reason. So, is there a middle market they are trying to get?? Not likely, just a bad promotion. The cards themselves are ok, I always like parallel sets like Ultra Platinum, but the prize gimmick is overdone.
Great ?? above…expiration date?? Pull an Upper Deck redemption from 2007 and see what happens…
Price of product increase? Maybe a first, but will drop like a stone when the product sits on shelves, especially if the bat is won in the 1st 2 months..

Posted June 9, 2011 at 5:15 am | Permalink
Don Sherman

1. Is this too much of a good thing? Yes, Topps has been driving collectors crazy for the past few years with manufactured short prints, super short prints, unannounced variations, etc. The parallel set craze, which began in 1992, was fine for a while, has been taken to new extremes since 2009 with a separate set in Target and Wal Mart blasters to go along with the gold bordered set. That is to much in my opinion. Blasters are a good value, but when you have two packs of a parallel set replacing normal packs it makes it very hard to complete a set the old fashioned way. I think the main reason that sales are good for retail/hobby is that some people are only buying for the “hit” or the “contest” and then they are turning around and selling the cards on the secondary market for a quick buck.

2. The endless gimmicks and inserts have driven me away from buying packs. The main Topps set used to be an affordable set to collect and have a good checklist. With only 660 cards in a set you are only going to get the “star” players off of each team. Also, the endless number of inserts in the base set make it seem like there are more inserts than base cards.

Posted June 9, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink
JustMyOpinion

I think paying $16 for shipping 25 cards on their diamond giveaway promotion is a bit too much.

Giveaway? Does that mean my money to you?

Posted June 9, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink
steve

!) there the only game in town….so, we are prisoners to baseball card producers & this proves the point-that competition is a good thing !! (put the math to their 2010 product-from the released odds on series one ‘manufactured bat barrels’ and you will be amazed & pissed off; all in the same thought !!)

2) *see #1*

steve (in Medford, OR)

Posted June 9, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink
Jeff Fiedler

1. The whole irony in all of this is that the hobby’s been so reliant now on short-print variations for so long that a GENUINE gimmick these days would be to issue a set with no gimmicks at all. If Topps is looking for a way to market a new product, THERE’S your marketing campaign strategy right there – it writes itself: “Back to Basics in ’11.”
I don’t terribly mind short-print variations in a base set – some sets have pulled it off really well (i.e. Leaf’s 2002 Rookies & Stars set) – but the thing is: you can’t make them TOO short-print, or else you just risk turning everybody – especially younger collectors – off. I was disappointed in the regular 2010 Topps set ’cause the variations were actually fairly creative and cool to hunt for (hey, it had people avidly looking at their base cards again, if nothing else), but they were just WAY too hard to pull, and the pie cards in particular are just far too out of the price range of kid collectors to be enjoyable by the very collectors who would have got the biggest kick out of those pie cards. Why that never occurred to Topps is beyond me. Do they just not particularly care whether kids ever come back to the hobby???? [And kudos to the posters above who commented on the intentional chasm between hobby and retail issues of the same product. It's a real slight to younger collectors, I think, and a serious blight on the hobby if you ask me. Can you imagine if the card companies had done that back in the '80s or '90s, making the best cards in their product far easier to pull - or worse yet, available exclusively - via hobby packs? Don't you think that'd have rapidly stunted the growth of the hobby? Can we get back to where a pack was a pack, irregardless where you bought it?]

2. I think Topps really started getting away from what it did best when it started doing multiple parallel sets for the same product. The original Topps Gold was perfectly fine, guys. They were easy to chase and, best of all, you actually knew what the heck you were looking at. These days, it’s hard to pull a parallel card in a product and not have to spend the next ten minutes looking in your copy of Beckett trying to identify just what the heck you have. Doing away with the overabundance of parallel sets in each product would be a wonderful start towards getting the hobby back on track.
Beyond that, though, I’d really love to see Topps just dispose of inserts entirely – if just for one year, as a one-off experiment with the public – and simply put out a base set and nothing else. If just to show us all that they still can, and that they still have enough confidence in the appeal and strength of their base sets to let them stand by themselves. The more gimmicks like the Sparkle cards that they do, the less likely it seems like this hobby is ever going to get fully back on track. It won’t bring in a heck of a lot of younger collectors and it won’t bring back the old ones lost along the way. The Sparkle cards just yell out, “Hey, this ain’t the simple hobby you remember!”

Posted June 9, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink
Jeremy Brannon

1. Who in the world is dumb enough to buy enough cases to get these three specific cards and think it’s feasible?
Its going to be the first to pick up these cards on eBay. Contests add a little press to a base set product that sells better than most every year. Better to have a contest than to have the same boring releases year in year out.
Contests are just an added incentive for those already buying the product.
2. Get rid of single color relics and stickers. Would rather have a redemption over an auto that runs off a sticker. Make inserts that are a challenge to pull. Make retail odds better than the crap they are now. How many towns have walmart and target and no hobby shop, not very fair IMO?

Posted June 9, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Permalink
Lou

Seems a little like the Willy Wonka method but you don’t get the tour of the chocolate factory, you get a bat you could actually purchase for far less without busting insane amounts of packs. You would honestly have to be a nitwit to go after that bat through busting packs IMO

Posted June 10, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink
Randall

1) This has become too much. I decided not collect this set because of stuff like this. Putting a set together has become too difficult. Just Bowman for me now.

2) There is nothing to eliminate. Now is the time for the addition of another licensed MLB baseball card product from someone other than Topps.

Posted June 10, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink

Anybody else notice that the actual cards look NOTHING like what Topps shows in the image above? They actually just have 2 sparkles on them.

Why be so misleading?

Posted June 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink
VintageHeros

I pulled one, a Heyward…I didn’t even know what I had until I went to scan it to trade it for one of the guys I collect…now it’s on Ebay…

Posted July 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

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