Let's face it, Topps has come up with some interesting card ideas in the past year.
The revival of oddball issues, the daily reveal of ToppsNow cards, and now some sort of rip card that doubles as a prize-winning game, have been well-received, in general.
New ideas are never perfect and there are some aspects of this latest newness that don't appeal to me. I will never grasp digital-only cards, for example, and the chances of me pulling some contest rip card are nil because I don't like flagship this year. But Topps needs to do stuff like this, if only to quiet the endless drumbeat demands of "INNOVATION!" that you hear from '90s kids all the time.
Personally, I'd be happy with a thorough, well-crafted, 726-card base set on sturdy cardboard. Period. But the hobby, like the world, is all about "gotta do MORE NOW" these days, so I know that objective left the radar a long time ago.
Still, even with Topps and other card companies attempting to be new and different, while still staying true to their roots, they will always have their critics. You've heard the complaints. The oddball cards come with crap pizza. The ToppsNow cards are too expensive and feature too many of the same teams. And then there's this one Twitter guy (you know the one): soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer, random critical tweet of latest Topps product, soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer.
But I'm here to tell you that things could be worse. Much worse.
Here are 10 innovative card ideas that I came up with on my walk today. None of them are as desirable as purchasing a card with your breadsticks. In fact, all of them are downright awful.
Let's take a look at some terrible innovations:
1. A reprint insert set that is nothing but cards from 1991 Donruss. In fact, they are the actual 1991 Donruss cards, but with the word "reprint" scrawled on the back by some high school student.
2. A card set scented with the smells of the ballpark. Featuring 20 different smells. Sounds great, right? Well, no card company has been able to execute a new idea perfectly, so amid the "hot dog" and "green grass" smells would be cards that smell like "locker room" and "Don Zimmer."
3. Paint swatch cards featuring the chosen colors and patterns of the kitchens in players' homes.
4. Variation photos of every single card in a 700-card set. We're headed in this direction now if we haven't already done it.
5. An insert set featuring players digitally painted so they look like mimes.
6. Billboard cards. Each card is as large as a billboard and you can put it in your yard or on the back of your home. You have to figure out how to transport it first though.
7. Aerodynamic cards -- cards that can actually fly 300 feet in the air. Unfortunately, you have to fold the card for it to fly. It also doubles as the world's flimsiest drone. So each pack comes with legal issues.
8. Oddball cards issued with children's medicine. Collectors are required to be accompanied by a sick child in order to buy the medicine. The child must supply a mucus sample for the store clerk.
9. This is for the future. Cities, realizing they can get in on the licensing money previously reserved for clubs, also demand licensing agreements. Card companies without a license must issue sets without team names or city names. The cards are simply players in generic laundry with no words on the front. The only way you can find out what team or city they play for is by using the code implanted on your forehead when you bought the pack so you can enter it in an underground online forum site.
10. For the prospectors: a pack of cash. Most packs contain 10 $1 bills. But there are 5s, 10s, 20s and 50s inserted randomly. Each pack is $30, because collectors are used to paying more than cards are worth. Big box stores are forced to hire security guards for the card aisles.
See? Terrible. Things could be a lot worse.
Card companies are trying. They really are. Maybe not at the rate that we want them to, but at least there's an idea from 2016 where I can say "I like that."
Meanwhile, someone somewhere is going to like one of the terrible ideas I just floated.
So just remember where you read it first.
And save me a pack.