Thursday, October 18, 2012

C.A.: 2012 Topps Heritage Veteran Masters

(Today is "No Beard Day." I'm not making this up. Holding "No Beard Day" during the baseball postseason is probably not the greatest timing. But it's a perfect time for Cardboard Appreciation! So this is the 162nd in a series. Hold on to your dome cozies):

You may have heard the news from Topps yesterday about a new Heritage High Numbers/Update/Traded set for 2012.

Sounds exciting, right? It's been awhile since Topps did this. Last time was 2008, I think. Maybe 2009. The years run together at my age.

But, silly me, I left out the good stuff. The Heritage High Numbers/Update/Traded set this time is an online exclusive thingy, through Topps' online exclusive vehicle, which shall go nameless. It is also just shy of $100. For 100 cards.

"But," Topps says. "It includes an autograph."

Well, that changes everything doesn't it?

Here was my official reaction to this news, after reading Topps' rationalizations and a bunch of long-ass tweeting about marketing and value and a whole lot of stuff that makes me wish I was in a self-induced coma.

I apologize for the cursing of late. But that was an immediate instant reaction to what I was feeling. And I'm not calming down any from that moment.

Normally, I let what Topps does pretty much disappear into the ether. I might not necessarily like its weird gimmicks, and Strasburgizations, and out-of-the-blue SP decisions, but I try not to froth at the mouth over them. I figure if you don't like it, then just collect the part of the set that you like and don't worry about the extra cards that Topps wants you to chase all over god's creation to try to find. It's your money, collect the set how you'd like to collect it.

But this made me change my view.

I had just completed the 1-425 set of 2012 Heritage. Sure, I've got almost all of the short-prints still to go, but I was feeling pretty good about finishing off a Heritage set, which is no easy task (full disclosure: I had a lot of help from ThoseBackPages).

It's those kind of achievements that make you feel good as a set-collector. So good, in fact, that when you hear news about an Update set, it makes you think, "hey, I might give that a crack, too. Complete the WHOLE damn thing."

And that's what I thought when I heard rumblings of a Heritage Update set. Not seriously, but I thought it.

But now I'm not thinking about it at all. I don't want to buy it. At all (but please send me your Dodgers!).

The thought of an online exclusive that costs a buck a card and assumes that you even want an autograph seems so cynical to me and such a genuine kick in the crotch to what remains of set collectors that it really set me off.

I started to think about the SPs in this year's Topps Update set. And then I thought about the random minis in next year's Heritage. And I thought about all the parallel SPs in previous recent Topps sets. And I thought about the exclusive glossy Allen & Ginter set from last year with new players in it. And I could go on and on and on and on, and I'd still only have gone back to 2006.

That's when it clicked.

Why am I doing this?

Why am I still trying to complete modern sets?

Sure, I like new cards. I like getting cards of current players. But do I like it that much?

Do I like it better than getting vintage cards?

The answer to that last question is a definite "no."

So why am I still doing it?

I'm 47 years old now. In many aspects of life I've given up on whatever is "currently going on today." It's what you're supposed to do at 47. Break with the latest fad that entrances the 20-year-olds and go with what you know.

And that's what I've done. With TV. With music. With technology. With the places I frequent. With my recreation choices. I've done all those things without a tinge of regret of what I've been leaving behind or what I was missing. I don't CARE about what the latest TV show is or the latest best place to hang out. I've got my favorites already. I don't need no more.

So why the HELL am I still caring with cards?

When I grew up with cards, Topps issued a 660-card set all in one shot. It was a challenge to finish that. But except for a few years when they double-printed some cards, everything was even across the board. No short-prints, no suddenly announced "here's an extra set to chase." Just 660 cards. Later it increased to 726 cards and then to 792. And then Fleer and Donruss came along. And then Traded sets and Score and Upper Deck and all that.

I adjusted to it all because I was young then and that's what you do when you're young. You eat up everything new and expand your mind and impress yourself with how diverse you are.

But at 47, I like how things WERE in a lot of different ways. And while I don't go around saying, "I wish things were still like THIS" to everyone, sometimes I think it. Because I'm 47 and that's what you do at that age.

So what's wrong with wishing things were the way they were in the hobby?

I don't have the notion that it's ever going to return to that, nor am I going to rail at Topps, or whatever company is issuing cards, to return to the days of 660 cards, team photos and record-breakers on cards 1 through 8. Because I don't think there's any chance that this is going to happen.

But I can COLLECT the way people used to collect in the hobby.

There is lots of vintage out there, and I sure am focused on a plenty of vintage sets.

So guess what I'm going to do?

Yup. I'm going to actually follow my own Twitter advice.

I'm going vintage.

I will not try to complete a modern set for the foreseeable future. No Heritage High Numbers for me. And no 2013 Topps. No 2013 Heritage. No 2013 Allen & Ginter. No matter how difficult it may be.

Yeah, I'll still buy a few packs just to check it out. I like the 2013 Topps base design and I'll always try something just a little (gotta keep this blog current!). But I'm not worried that a few packs will suck me back in.

Not this time.

This is going to be a slow burn that lasts a long time.

People are really pissed about this. Really, really pissed.

And so am I.

Topps may think they're "Veteran Masters," squeezing every collector out of as many dollars as possible. Masters at pulling the rope and watching collectors jump. Masters of measuring the market. A tradition in the hobby for 60 years. The sole licensee and the king of current cards.

But the "Veteran Master" really has stepped in it this time.

It stinks.

(And you wondered what this had to do with the card up there).


  1. What? I still haven't finished building 2011 or 2012 Heritage. Or 2011 Heritage Minor Leagues, for that matter. Heck, I haven't even *started* on 2012 Heritage Minor League. Now this?

    This may be the thing to get me to go all vintage also.

  2. I'm a Topps zombie, especially for Heritage. I pre-ordered my High Number set this morning. When it arrives, I'll just hand it over to the wife and she can wrap it up and save it for under the Christmas tree. (That's my rationalization for blowing a Benjamin, in case you were wondering.)

  3. I was going to take a shot with the High Numbers set, assuming the price was reasonable. Perhaps $20, maybe $30, and I would've bought one.

    I guess I should've known better...but $100?!

    Vintage does seem pretty good right now.

  4. Screw that. I don't see many recent cards worth a buck each. I'll save that money and spend it on REAL 1963 cards.

  5. I miss the days when there was a base set. period. I don't need parallels, relics, autographs, short prints. More gimmics to make money.

  6. Topps can go pound sand. I'd nearly stopped buying their new product altogether (no more than a half-dozen packs of 2012 stuff), and this is the final nail in the coffin. I'm having a blast with vintage set building. Don't need you, corporate monolith.

  7. An autograph? For $100 the guy better come to my house and at catch with my kid.

  8. Well put! I wasn't even aware of this new '12 Heritage Update thingy.....what a weird idea for them to roll with?

    I hope it doesn't do well or we will see more and more of this. Which is unfortunate.

    Just think - for $100 (and this is NOT advocating for graded cards), you could have this instead of a weird update heritage set:

    Uh.....yes, please. So sorry, "Roy Oswalt in Rangers Jersey" card.

  9. This is exactly why my next set to build will be 1987 Topps. No bullshit, just cards.

  10. I thought I'd be more pissed off about this, especially after being warned by you and another blogger. I'm not, though. This is just a high end update set to me, one that I don't feel like I need to purchase. Sure, I wouldn't kick it out of my home if I owned it and I'd like to get the Cardinals from it someday. Maybe some blogger will do a group break for us team collectors. Who knows? For some reason, though, it just doesn't bother me.

    I guess what I'm saying is, if they released these in pack form, I'd be more upset. I guess I put boxed set-only releases on a different level altogether. They belong in the oddball boxes or something.

  11. I'll add it to my Red Sox want list like all the others but I'm not going to chase it. So far in 2012 I have bought 1 pack of cards. Doesn't look like I will buy many 2013 either.

  12. Night Owl,

    Welcome to the dark side! Except for some base Phillies' team sets since 2008 (and a brief Topps 1st-series 2010 weakness), I haven't bought current cards since 1993.

    Jeff (w/Dallas star),

    I feel the same way about all those extra BS cards (as I ranted on my Zistle profile).

  13. A few months ago, I bought a bunch of actual 1963 cards from a guy in Victoria, Australia. He sold me nearly 200 of them for $40. The lot included numerous HOF'ers, too. That's the way to collect them these days!

    Nick J

  14. There was a commercial on TV a few years ago (good grief, it was probably 20) that my wife and I still quote. A woman is taking the cameraman on a tour of her house showing off all the gaudy junk she has (I think the intent was "some people have money but no taste"). At one point she shows off a particularly ugly thingy and she says so proudly "this is a copy, but it costs MORE than the original."

    What a moron. We all laugh. "Some people are really stupid" we say smugly.

    But that's what Topps thinks WE are. They think we'll sink excessive amounts of money into a product that's essentially a copy of something real.

    I mean, seriously. The first "remake" type card we all saw was probably the most awesome thing ever. (So THAT'S what Shawn Green's card would have looked like if he played in 1952. Cool.) But 17 trillion remakes later it doesn't seem as cutting edge.

    I'm on board with vintage-only collecting.

  15. Like any other company, they push the envelope to see how far they can go. I'm personally not spending close to $100 for a 2012 100 card update set. I'm sure we'll find it much cheaper later on anyways. Besides, my "autograph" will be a nobody. It always is. (Or worse, a Yankee.) You can already find 2012 Heritage Blasters for $11.99 at Target.