Friday, February 11, 2011
My quick fix for Topps 2011
I wasn't going to do this. But I've been reading through all the Stale Gum Blog Bat-Arounds so far, and I still haven't seen it.
Oh, there are plenty of excellent suggestions for improving Topps' latest product. I agree with just about all of them: Cut back on pointless inserts, scrap lame manu-hits, put the Mantle cards out of their misery. All laudable goals.
But, actually I like Topps' product this year. I don't have problems with what Topps produces. I have a problem with how Topps produces.
See the card at the top of the post? It's one of the Target Throwback cards.
What are those cards made from?
What are the cards that you pull from a regular pack of Topps cards made from?
I have no idea.
I have a feeling that a lot of other people have no idea either, because every time I wonder what goes into the manufacturing of today's everyday, common-variety base card, no one gives me an answer.
All I know is they're wafer thin, slick, and have been that way for 20 years. I don't know how we got to this point. I don't know if it was an attempt to save trees or keep up with Upper Deck. I just know I don't like them as much as the cardboard cards that were produced from the early 20th century through 1991.
In countless ways, trading cards have improved. The photography is better. A lot of the designs are better. You get more for your card in terms of relics or autographs. The information on the back comes in a wide variety of forms and styles. Visually, cards have improved immensely in a lot of ways.
But in terms of the sense of touch -- an experience overlooked by many collectors -- Topps has gone backward. There is no thrill leafing through slippery, barely there index cards. They don't feel like cards -- unless you're talking about kings and jacks and the ace of spades.
I miss the familiar shuffle of cardboard on cardboard. The weight of a cardboard card. The feeling that what you held in your hand was something sturdy, not something that might melt away. Cards -- at least cards as I know them -- need to be made from quality stock. It shouldn't be reserved for Heritage, high-end sets, and parallels inserted in blasters no one will buy. It should be included in every loosey in every Wal-Mart in the country. It should be the standard.
But instead, we have collectors who consider Heritage the only set to collect each year because the base set is of inferior quality. Did you here that, Topps? You have made your flagship set inferior. You have devalued your base set, and a lot of people think that way simply because of card stock.
So, that's what I would do if I was in charge of Topps 2011. Maybe this is too unreasonable. Maybe this is too expensive. Maybe they'd fire me on the first day. But if they kept me, never again would someone open a pack of cards and puzzle over whether the cards were made out of space-age polymers.
They would know.
It's cardboard, dammit.
(Thanks, Matt, for the cardboard card!)