Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Buybacks from the dumpster

To the best of my knowledge, the buybacks that Topps is inserting into packs this year, and has been for the last couple of years, are only available in hobby boxes.

This seems like an odd "exclusive" to award someone who frequents a hobby store or website and spends that much money on a box.

But a disclaimer: I don't buy hobby boxes regularly, I don't think I'm that kind of collector. So I'm not clear on the mindset of the regular hobby box buyer. Do they hope to get a lot of cards from the set all at once? Do they want hits or variations that are only available in hobby packs? Do they save more buying boxes rather than packs and blasters at the big-box store?

My guess is all of the above apply.

So with that in mind, how do they feel about this?:

It's a buyback, and you know my feelings on those. They're odd and strange and wonderful. But is someone who is buying boxes, who is looking for fancy hits, going to want a miscut card like this? I can practically see the next card of a Reds player on Ed Sprague's card! (There are five Reds in the '75 set with red top borders).

Here is the back:

My goodness, Topps didn't buy this back (unless it was from Oscar the Grouch), it went dumpster diving!

That's in the top five of largest wax stains I've ever seen.

I received this card from Adam of ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession. It's for my insane '75 buyback quest. This card is perfectly adequate for my mission. Upgrading isn't a thought in my head. Condition isn't a priority in this game.

But I'm trying to get into the mind of box buyers here. First of all, is this inserted as a hit in the box, such as three relics/autographs per box, except it's a moldy old 1975 Topps card? Because that would/should raise a stink.

Second of all, what is their opinion of seeing a card like this out of a pack:

This one came to me from Tom of Waiting 'Til Next Year, who bought it from a dealer from a card show, who probably pulled it out of a box of something from Topps, who apparently time-traveled back to 1976 and stole a card out of my collection.

This card looks exactly like the cards that I have saved from my first year of collecting in '75. I have a whole bunch of 'em.  And if Topps is looking for cards in this condition to stamp little gold foil logos on, please contact me and we'll settle on a price. They may have sentimental value, but I'm not above selling my card soul for buyback payola.

The other buyback cards that Tom and Adam sent are in much better shape:

This brings me to 35 total cards in the '75 Topps buyback set. That's pretty awesome to get there so quickly.

In fact, I got my first buyback double with the Steve Hargan card up at the top. I don't need any buyback dupes (unless they're Dodgers, I guess). So let's place the buyback want list right here:

I might throw it on the sidebar soon. It's also on my Twitter page for those of you who wander over there.

I have to admit this particular quest is sustaining me through the lean weeks here. I haven't bought cards in almost a month and packages are being sent out like every three or four weeks. Who knew buybacks could be so useful?

I'll get back to regular trading and buying soon, and I hope when that happens I won't ignore these strange cards.

And if I think they're strange, there's no telling what box buyers think of them.


  1. While searching for Vision buybacks I have happened across football card buybacks. The difference there (besides the obvious) is the foil stamp comes in multiple colors.

  2. I am a buyer of boxes (disposable income permitting). When I got back into the hobby in 1987, the first thing I did is something I always wanted to do as a kid--buy and open an entire box. In '87, they were, what, $14 or something? It is certainly the case that buying boxes, rather than random packs and blasters, is an easier and cheaper way to build a set, if that's your goal. If its more about fun? I can't think of too many things more fun than sitting down and opening 24 or 36 packs in one sitting. If "hits" are your goal, buy hobby cases.

    If you sit and do a lot of long-form math, you'll probably discover that the price per card for retail and hobby aren't that different (just a guess on my part). That does depend on the pricing policies of your local LCS, of course. Even if the price per card were shown to be higher on the hobby side, you still get more for your money buying hobby. Whether its specific inserts or players, the quality of the card itself, or even just the assurance that the packs haven't been searched, hobby is always the better buy.

    As to the "hits"... I'm not really "hit" focused. However, it can get a little depressing, when buying many loose packs, when the odds just don't catch up to you. You're listening to or reading about all these great hits people pull, and you've got none. A box has a certain number of "guaranteed" hits and then another number of likely lesser "hits", based upon pack odds. And any given box could be the one with the super-rare one-to-a-case rainbow foil, laser cut, atomic refractor on-card autographed rookie card that's selling for hundreds on eBay but will be worth about 3 bucks six months from now. I'm not a "hits" guy, but I just want to guarantee a few so I can say, yeah, I got one of those. Box buying does that for me.

    The buybacks are not considered a "hit" in the sense of a relic or autograph. I seem to recall they ran about 3 to a box of the flagship. In Heritage, they only show up as box-toppers and not very often at that (mostly, its those damn "advertising panels" that nobody likes or wants). Yeah, you get a little bit of a rush when you get a buyback--because its vintage--and condition is not a major issue. But the rush subsides quickly when you look at the foil stamp and think about how much more exciting it would be to pull a vintage card that hadn't been defaced. Pulling a buyback is cooler than a base card and cooler than most of the other inserts Topps saturates products in, but well short of the coolness of an auto or even the minor coolness of a carpet swatch. I don't think pulling a card like the Sprague and Thornton above would bother me. There are a lot of memories in that Thornton card. Most of the buybacks I've gotten have been in pretty good shape, though, and, honestly, the older the buyback, the better the condition (my experience only, I'm sure). I pulled a 1960 with corners so sharp they could carve a turkey.

  3. All of the buybacks should be lesser-condition or miscut cards, because Topps is damaging them with their foil stamp. From where I stand, it's the same as some kid having written his name on every card in his collection... just in a nicer way.

  4. Them's some weird spambots hitting this post.

  5. If they were smart, Topps'd limit buybacks to retail Opening Day.. a cheap set with a better chance of kids buying it. I can imagine a little kid being wowed by a vintage buyback common. But yeah, otherwise the appeal with collectors is very limited.