Taking a second look at the sell sheet of Series Two Topps, a couple of items I never noticed before quickly piqued my interest.
ITEM #1) FIRST TIME! Every 36-pack HOBBY box contains 1 Autograph or Relic Card! ENHANCED CONTENT! Every 10-pack HTA box contains 1 Autograph and NOW 2 Relic Cards!
Topps announced this about a month ago, and I've been sitting on this for a while. So allow me to vent.
I don't mind pulling gamers. But is the lack of a gamer in each 2008 Topps Series One Hobby box (as Topps has claimed) the real reason why sales of Hobby boxes weren't as brisk as HTA boxes? HTA's have always sold well; long before Topps began stuffing them with autogamers. It's not all that hard to figure out why if you think about it.
A Hobby box has 360 cards which (you would think) should be enough for a full 330-card base set. But over 50 of those 360 cards are not base cards, (i.e. inserts, parallels, fake Japanese pitching "prospects," and the like) leaving Hobby boxes about 30 cards short of a full base set. On the other hand, a 500-card HTA box all but guarantees a full base set (not to mention a healthy stack of doubles, and a lot more inserts). When given the choice between one box type that delivers a full set and another that leaves you short, some collectors are willing to pay the extra $35-$40 for HTA.
The second (and probably most important) culprit are Blasters. More and more Topps collectors -- even those who would never be caught dead buying their cards retail -- are finding Blasters to be a viable option. Collectors who aren't able to invest either $100 for an HTA box, or even $60 for a Hobby box, find $20 Blasters more affordable. (The availability of Blasters, and Blaster-exclusive inserts doesn't hurt either.)
Topps' flagship product has always been a collector's set; a product where the main draw is, has been, and always will be, the base set. Yes, pulling an autograph or a gamer is nice; but base Topps has never about pulling autogamers. Topps has made HTA boxes and Blasters more attractive to the collector, at the expense of Hobby wax. The addition of a hit in each Hobby box will have little, if any, impact on series two Hobby box sales.
Item #2) NEW! Red Hot Rookie Program! Rookie redemption cards numbered 1-20 will be randomly inserted and guaranteed in every Topps Series 2 Hobby and HTA box.
Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Gimmicked "Rookies"? In FUCKING BASE LEVEL TOPPS? SURELY THEY CAN'T BE SERIOUS?
Sadly, they are serious. (And don't call me Shirley. Ba-Dump-Bump.) Whether you like it or not, gimmicked "Rookies" are coming to base Topps. (Whether you want them or not, is immaterial.)
The scheme is similar to what Topps already has in Finest. Each randomly inserted redemption card will have a number, and Topps will announce over the remainder of the year -- stretching it out to maximize the effect -- what player each redemption card will be good for.
On the original sell-sheets for '08 Topps series two, there are no mentions of these gimmicked rookies so I'm guessing that they are a late addition. Hopefully this gimmick will be a one year aberration.