The Topps formula for flagship has been the same since I returned to collecting current cards in 2006. There is a Series 1, a Series 2 and then your update set.
This format must work for Topps as it's been going on for at least 10 years. But I often wonder who is buying Series 2.
There is natural fanfare and a natural desire for Series 1 and Update. When Series 1 comes out, it's practically a card holiday. Collectors have waited through a long hard winter (although not as long and hard as I remember since you couldn't buy a damn baseball card between October and March when I was a kid). It is a thrill to see collectors open packs of Series 1 on the blogs, or wherever, every year.
The same goes with Update. Fans have experienced the full season, they are eager for an update to reflect what they have just seen: players with their new teams, new players who emerged on the scene.
But Series 2? What's in it for the collector? For the most part, it's just more of Series 1. There is hardly an updating of players in the set, and everyone has seen the design of the cards and is familiar with the various inserts and other gadgets. If you enjoyed the set in Series 1 and are collecting it, then you dutifully acquire the Series 2 cards. If you didn't enjoy the Series 1 set (looking directly at you, 2016), then why on earth would you buy more than a couple packs of Series 2?
This is where we're at this year.
I've bought precious little Series 2 -- hell, I've bought precious little Series 1. I simply don't like it. No need to waste my money on it. But I also get the feeling that other collectors are of the same mind, not only in what I read, but in what my collection looks like.
As I've said a few times already, I've yet to finish the Dodgers team set from Series 2. I am two cards away. The card at the top of this post and the Kenta Maeda card are sitting in my COMC cart right now rotting away while I work up the desire to purchase them.
There have been years previously when I've completed the Series 2 team set in July.
Here is another example of how desirous Series 2 of flagship has been this year.
I received this 2016 Heritage High Numbers card from madding of Cards On Cards the other day. With this card, I have now completed the Dodgers base set from Heritage High Numbers.
There they all are. A tidy nine cards.
Of course, there are still some inserts to pick up (and parallels and variations if I want to be extra goofy), but included in the above nine are two short-prints (Maeda and Stripling).
This is a set that was released about 4 or 5 months after Series 2. And it's done. Short-prints included. That's because I bought a heck of a lot more Heritage, including the Heritage High Numbers, than I did flagship. And, since I owe a great debt to many collectors for my Dodger collection, so, apparently, did everyone else.
My guess is that Series 2 cards are much less plentiful than Series 1 cards in collections since Topps went to this format. I know that's the case in my collection. What happens to all those unsold Series 2 cards when the flagship set isn't that popular? I doubt Topps is allowed to dump cards in the ocean like in the old days. Perhaps cases of future Topps products are made from recycled Series 2 cards from previous years.
Anyway, just some thoughts while I'm still two Series 2 Dodgers away from the set.
I promise I'll pull the trigger some day. There's just a whole lot more interesting out there right now.