Friday, August 27, 2010

Special Comment: Transparency in The Hobby

And now a Special Comment...

We all know that the trading card business can be a competitive one. So when I read this morning on A Cardboard Problem that Leaf, the trading card company formerly known as Razor, was withholding the final checklist (so as not to tip-off their "competitors," i.e. Topps) on its debut mixed-martial arts trading card set.

Leaf/Razor, of course, is a non-entity in The Hobby; as if buying a dormant brand name somehow adds credibility. "Leaf" is not the same company that produced Frank Thomas's rookie card 20 years ago. It's still the same ol' Razor -- a marginal trading card company with no real licenses, relegated to pseudo-sports and repacking other company's cards.

But sadly, the secrecy they employ is commonplace amongst other, more respectable, trading card companies. Upper Deck lost their MLB license months ago. Yet attempts by your humble correspondent to get Upper Deck to reveal the complete list of 2010 "Double-Take" variation cards, have been for naught. Despite the fact that UD no longer has a baseball license, they still refuse to reveal what the variations are. To their (partial) credit, six months ago, just days after they settled their lawsuit with MLB Properties, they did issue a checklist of what 25-cards are in the set. They have still yet to visually identify what the variations are.

What reason is there for UD's secrecy? Why haven't they identified what the variations are like they said they would?

But Upper Deck no longer has a baseball license. Topps still does, and when it comes to "stealth" inserts and other chicanery, Topps is a serial offender.

Case in point: The "World's Biggest" inserts in year's Allen & Ginter. Are these on the checklist? Were these mentioned on the sell sheet? How about Topps' pathetic excuse of a website?

No. You will not find any mention of these cards. Anywhere. No thanks to Topps, it was us, the collectors, who had to discover for themselves that the first five cards in the set were exclusive to Blaster and retail boxes and the other 20 are only in gravity-feed loosey packs.

Sadly, this is only one example. Remember "Scoreboard Abe?" Topps didn't make any mention of that card until March -- almost two months after the release of Series One Topps.

Why do card companies do this? Why do they keep giving us, the collectors, the people who support them and pay their salaries, "The Mushroom Treatment?"Is it asking too much of Topps, UD, Leaf/Razor, et al, to actually tell us what is in their products, before we buy them? Why do they continue to disrespect collectors like this?

I'm Chris Harris on this, the 386th day since Upper Deck lost their MLB license. Good night and good luck.


Tom the Ripper said...

I think with Upper Deck, whoever was in charge of that is probably gone, and whoever is left doesn't give a shit. (There is a plentiful amount of "not giving a shit" in the industry btw)

With Topps its probably more a case of over compartmentalization where nobody knows what anybody else is doing unless you make a big stink about it. And nobody wants to "rock the boat". Add to that the people who could do something about it just don't give a shit or think its important, or if they do care then they don't have the means to do anything about it thanks to Topps corporate anti-synergy.

As far as Brian Gray goes, be careful what you post on these here interwebs because he will straight up SUE A BITCH!

James B. Anama said...

Quite frankly, the boys and girls at Topps did announce that there were extra special short print cards involving "a president's favorite baseball team." You remember, right around the time that the pie in the face cards came out, somebody admitted that they were legit and gave that weird clue.

If anything, this is a lesson to all of us collectors to actually "LOOK" at the cards we're buying/collecting from the packs that we're opening. And to me, that's part of the fun, and why I don't mind them at all. Granted, I've openly stated that I won't be actively searching for them, but if I come across one...


JayBee Anama

Joe S. said...

It's OK to have a little fun with the hobby sometimes.

The Baseball Card Snob said...

You could say that this nonsense has been going on since the beginning of collecting (see Nap Lajoie, sic).

So I don't see it changing any time soon. If any other industry did this to their customers, they would be out of business.

Salesman: Ok, Mr. Harris, your new car has a special feature that will keep you from having collisions, but we won't tell you what it is or how to access it. Enjoy.