Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Notes and Observations from the 2012 NSCC

The National Sports Collectors Convention was this past weekend in Baltimore and I attended the show this past Saturday. Since the last Baltimore NSCC two years ago, much has changed both in The Hobby and in my personal life – not the least of which is my current economic situation. I had no plans on attending this year’s show mainly due to the fact that I lacked the funds to go.

I wasn’t going to go until Chris Thomas (whom you probably know as my Baseball Card Pedia collaborator) essentially ordered me to go and subsidized most of my trip. He pretty much paid for everything the entire weekend, and for that I’m forever grateful.

I’m also forever grateful to that anonymous dumb schmuck who dropped $60 in cash on the floor of the Baltimore Convention Center. I had exactly zero dollars to spend on cards going in. With that $60 ground score, I was able to do something I haven’t done in months: spend money on baseball cards. I had no intention on buying anything, but with a little walking-around money in my pocket I was able to walk away with about $40 worth of 90s and early-2000s inserts.

When my found money was spent, I was able to do some observing. Here’s what I found.

1. The Hobby ain’t dead.

No, the crowds were as large as the Saturday of the 2010 National, but the econoomy being what it is, it was still a pretty decent sized crowd. Steady business and not a whole lot of downtime at the tables. Too bad Armen Keteyian and Dave Jamison weren’t around to see this side of The Hobby.

2. You really, really, don’t need a ticket to ride the Baltimore Light Rail.

Technically, you do have to purchase a ticket. But they don’t bother checking it. If they don’t bother, why should you?

3. I am the most hated person at Topps.

I don’t want to get into too much detail, but … there was an incident between myself and a certain Topps employee at a water fountain. He/she knows who he/she is and that’s all I got to say about that.

4. Speaking of Topps, their corporate booth wasn’t really all that busy.

In the four or five times I walked past or gawked at the Topps corporate booth, I counted more Topps employees than collectors. Granted, Topps’ NSCC redemption program was only available during a certain time of day, and I guess I must have missed that. But (and this is only my personal opinion), I got the impression that Topps really, really, didn’t want to be there, and by the looks in the faces of those staffing the booth, it showed.

5. Nobody gives a shit about Topps Mini Baseball.

The much ballyhooed website-and-NSCC-exclusive mini-sized parallel went over like a giant diarrhea turd in a punchbowl. You’d think that a low-production (only 8400 waxboxes produced) product that delivers six inserts, five low-numbered parallels serial-numbered to 61 or less, and a BIG MOJO HIT! for $50 a box would sell like hotcakes, right?

And you would be wrong. I have no idea exactly how many of those 8400 waxboxes they brought to Baltimore, and have no idea how many boxes were allocated for sale on Saturday, but I sure as hell didn’t see a whole lot of collectors actually buying minis. In fact, every one of those times I passed the Topps booth, their display counter was packed to the gills with Mini boxes.

The guys over at Freedom Cardboard said they bought a dozen boxes – although that probably had to do more with providing content for their live webcast than anything else – and I only saw one dealer selling singles. Other than that, I did not observe a single collector opening a pack of Topps Mini Baseball in the six hours I was on the floor.

6. Topps Minis wasn’t the only new “anonymous” baseball product.

Just like with Topps Minis, I could not find a single dealer selling boxes or singles of 2012 SP Signature Edition. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough, but I didn’t even notice it at the Upper Deck booth. Not even an empty display box.

7. The price of a gallon of unleaded may have doubled in price since the last Baltimore National, but the price of "street water" has not been affected.

It’s still ice cold, and still only a buck.

8. You can get anything you want at The NSCC … Except late-90s wax.

The initials NSCC do not stand for “National Sports CARD Convention.” There was a lot of memorabilia for sale (and in some cases, not for sale). And there were a lot of vintage cards for sale as well. There was new and recent wax available, and junkwax by the pallet load. But if you’re looking for wax from 1994-2000, you’re out of luck.

9. Football memorabilia is completely undervalued.

I’ve never seen game-used (and in some cases World Cup-used) football kits at an American card show before. I was actually able to touch the Argentina shirt Lionel Messi – the greatest athlete in any team sport in the world, right now -- wore against South Korea in the 2010 World Cup. I also saw some pretty sweet game-used shirts from the likes of Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Charlton, and even a Santos shirt worn by Pele himself. Best of all, you can probably pick-up one of these for less than $10,000.

10. Suzy Lulgjuraj has no idea who Diego Maradona is.

You'd think the new editor of Beckett Football would know who Diego Maradona is, am i right? Well that's what I thought. But as it turns out, Beckett Football has nothing to do with football. Somehow, it's a magazine about handegg cards.

11. If you've never been to the NSCC, what's your excuse?

If you call yourself a card collector and haven't been to the NSCC, then you're not really a card collector. This is our Mecca. If you're reading this, start planning your hajj to Rosemont next Summer.


deal said...

Topps booth was manned by a bunch of temps or interns who didn't know what they were there for.

Of course if you have a monopoly on the product, is there really any point to actually paying someone to know what they are talking about???

Spankee said...

Around new years I was completely committed to going. Since it's only a short drive, and lodging would be free with family, it seemed reasonable. Then an unfortunate circumstance arose that cost $20K. Bye-bye NSCC.

dayf said...

Wait, I'm not really a card collector?


Now I can put all my focus on ponies and dubstep.

(mostly kidding)

night owl said...

If I had a sugar daddy to pay my way, then I might've been there, too.

Anonymous said...

After the show was over, I had less money left over than I thought I would. I didn't worry too much about it until I read about your $60 windfall, and I thought "Holy #()@&! Could I have dropped three twenties????" I had to sit down and write down purchases I'd made until I was able to satisfy myself that I ain't yo sugar daddy.

Glad you had a good time, glad you had good fortune, glad I'm really a card collector.

Michael J Buchanan said...

To echo the first comment, of course the guys at Topps looked like they didn't want to be there - because the DIDN'T! Booth was manned by a bunch of people that couldn't care less about cards or the hobby.