Topps Panel Discussion At The 2012 NSCC – Cliff Notes
Topps employees held a discussion with dealers but mostly collectors from around the industry at the 2012 National Sports Collectors Convention on Thursday. Ryan from Sports Card Radio attended the event, and tweeted lots of the topics that were discussed. A video of the event might be posted as well – but here are the Tweets from @SportsCardNews during the panel discussion with some added context/links.
Topps: Mark Sapir VP of sports opening presentation. (1)
Topps: we don’t like redemptions. We call the agent of a player all the time to get signing session (2)
Sapir: how do u define the value when sending a ‘replacement’ card. (3)
Redemption extra hit? Don’t think so says Sapir (4)
More we do on card (autographs) – harder to ship product on time
Topps: use Beckett and eBay to determine replacement cards. (3.1)
Topps: eBay more real time then Beckett value (3.2)
Topps: 3m stickers cost a lot…. That’s why they don’t use them
Topps: we try! (to get athletes to sign) We tweet athletes now to sign.
Topps: We deal with the agents. Not the athlete typically. (to get cards signed)
Topps: Minor league sets are tougher to make autograph content.
Topps: 2013 Topps Archives Baseball will include autos picked by collectors.
Topps: 2013 Archives Baseball will have different card stock
Topps: only a certain amount of products we can make. Need to maximize calander
Topps: we used to release unlimited sku’s (Products) (5)
Topps: I go to @FCBsportscards (Forum) a lot
Topps: airbrush images are necessary at times
Series 2 we may have been lazy with Prince Fielder image… But its tough with timetable to release product
Topps: willow cove was made up. But Topps employee was at wedding in Willow Cove
Topps: depends on product to decide which cards to short print
Topps: We messed up the Tony Gwynn Sp card in 2012 Gypsy Queen.
Topps: The editor of 2012 Gypsy Queen. That was his 1st product he worked on
Topps: we don’t release case print runs because its a business decision (6)
Topps: 5 star baseball is going to be a beautiful product (when it comes out later this year)
Topps: if we didn’t put Bryce Harper in S2 we would have taken heat from collectors
Topps: we know people will be unhappy. But we have to make tough decisions on product content
Topps: when Bryce Harper got called up everyone had to work the weekend to get him in the sets.
Topps: we don’t want to flood market w/ UFC Cards. Keep it at 3 releases
Topps: John F. Kennedy hair relic in 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter was bought from collector
Topps: we don’t cut corners when it comes to authentication
Topps: no plans for factory set for new mini set.
Topps: we can’t just do a Beatles card. (7)
But they would love to do Beatles set if $$$ is right
Topps: yes true story all those 52 Topps cards in Hudson river….. Where Lineage went. (8)
WWE cards are entertainment side. Don’t ask any (sports) employee about that stuff
2012 Topps Olympic product. Luke warm sales at 1st
Topps got Olympic product done in short window. From license with USOC to pack out
Topps: value box big hits are not on purpose (9)
Topps: add value with wrapper redemption. S1 went well. Cost us a lot of $.
Topps: underestimated demand for Bowman wrapper redemption
Topps: case breakers sent in packs early. Ended up bring frustrating to collectors.
Threw out early wrappers that got sent in
Topps: hopefully we improve with wrapper redemptions in future
Topps: we have so many distribution channels its tough to regulate people who get product early (10)
Topps: Bowman Draft hard to sell at retail after season. That’s why they made it hobby only (11)
Topps: Target Walmart can ship product back. Then gets destroyed (12)
Topps: moving forward less 4 players ‘rookie cards’ like in 2012 Heritage
Topps: we don’t love that we run out of nscc wrapper redemption cards. We need a better way. Line for hour. Then we run out if cards (13)
Topps: always a chance at NHL license. We would love it
Topps: we’d love to be in every sport
Topps: process of getting feedback on Bowman TV ads from dealers. Initially good signs
Topps: hard to quantify TV ad success
Topps: look for a big Bowman set next year.
Topps: etopps is dead. Done. Finished
Below are additional notes Ryan Tedards added after the show. Please keep in mind, the things written below are meant to add color to the presentation. Not actual quotes or things that were said by Topps. Topps: Mark Sapir VP of sports opening presentation.
(1) Mark Sapir can be found on Twitter here: @marksapir Topps: we don’t like redemptions. We call the agent of a player all the time to get signing session
(2) As sports fans well know, agents will typically handle all marketing requests and endorsements for the athletes they represent. Some high profile athletes even have special “marketing agents” that only handle endorsements and do not get into the contract negotiations of that player. The leagues like the NBA and NFL limit the amount of money an agent can take from a player from a contract negotiation. But an agent with Sun West Sports told me that when they get a deal with Topps (or another card company) the agent can take “30-40%” of that compensation. Sapir: how do u define the value when sending a ‘replacement’ card.
Topps: use Beckett and eBay to determine replacement cards.
Topps: eBay more real time then Beckett value
(3) This refers to when you pull a redemption card, and Topps will not be able to send you that card. Sapir was saying it’s tricky to decide the card you will get as a replacement. Maybe the card you were waiting for was of your favorite player and you didn’t care about eBay or Beckett value. You really wanted that card. So it’s tough for Topps because they know collectors look at the hobby in different ways. Redemption extra hit? Don’t think so says Sapir
(4) So if a product has “2 hits per box” those would be “live” in the product. Any redemption card would be an extra hit in the box. Sapir says that won’t happen. Topps: we used to release unlimited sku’s (Products)
(5) Topps used to be able to make an unlimited amount of products in a year for the MLB. Now they are limited – by the MLB – with how many that can release each baseball season. Topps: we don’t release case print runs because its a business decision
(6) This refers to announcing “how many cases they made of (insert product name).” Topps will not do this for a number of reasons. For one, they are a privately held company and releasing that type of information could help their competitors (like Upper Deck and Panini) get an idea how big of a business Topps is, or to put it another way, how much money they make. Also, in respect to the cards themselves, releasing the total print run of a product might “limit” the value a card may have. Collectors pay very close attention to serial numbering and the overall “rareness” of a card. Having those numbers set in stone might close off the market to mainstream sets that have huge print runs. Topps: we can’t just do a Beatles card.
(7) Topps just can’t make a set called 2012 Topps Beatles Collection. Topps would need to negotiate with the party that holds the rights to the Beatles name and trademark. And let’s not kid ourselves, that wouldn’t come cheap. The same way Topps has to negotiate a licensing deal with the MLB, NFL, United States Olympic Committee, etc, they would need that same type of “deal” with whomever controls the Beatles properties. Topps: yes true story all those 52 Topps cards in Hudson river….. Where Lineage went.
(8) Topps couldn’t sell all the 1952 Topps Baseball cards they made. So back then they sent them out and dumped them into the Hudson River. Amazing to think about. In one of the funniest moments of the presentation, one of the Topps guys said “Where (2011 Topps) Lineage went.” I busted out laughing. Topps: value box big hits are not on purpose
(9) Refering to the Baseball Value Boxes that collectors were reporting they were getting huge pulls from. Forums like Blowout Cards and Freedom Cardboard have threads with collectors showing off their hits from those products. Topps: we have so many distribution channels its tough to regulate people who get product early
(10) So distribution channel – for the Hobby Box side, they have to ship out to all their authorized distributors. Then of course there are places like Target and WalMart that have their own, totally separate vendors that handle getting the retail boxes into the stores. It’s almost impossible for Topps to control when a place like WalMart puts their product on the shelf. Some regions of the country may get product first. Some distributors may get the product a day or two before the other one. It’s a tricky business. Topps: Bowman Draft hard to sell at retail after season. That’s why they made it hobby only
(11) 2012 Bowman Draft Baseball will be a hobby only release. Typically you see that product available at Target and WalMart (like $19.99 blasters and $2.99 packs). Now that product will only be sold in hobby stores and online at places like Blowout Cards and DACardWorld. Topps: Target Walmart can ship product back. Then gets destroyed
(12) Apparently they even destroy them at WalMart themselves. Check out this tweet. Topps: we don’t love that we run out of nscc wrapper redemption cards. We need a better way. Line for hour. Then we run out if cards
(13) Topps only gave away 100 sets of the Bowman Platinum cards and Gypsy Queen 9 card set each day. Before any paying collector was allowed in, Topps would have a line of 40 people already in line. How? Dealers would line up and get them. Look for Topps to have a new gameplan in 2013 in Chicago. They took a lot of heat for this years handling of the wrapper redemption cards.
Topps gave away a ton of boxes and cards during the presentation. But I thought it was real funny they were giving away these prizes from an empty case box of 2012 Donruss Elite Football. The picture is blurry – but just trust me on that. I got a chuckle from it. You can also see the box in the picture at the top of the page.
They also gave away cards from the yet to “street” 2012 Topps Football (although I think there were already cards on eBay from retail breaks). Topps even said, with a smile, “Don’t sell these cards on eBay until Wednesday (August 8, 2012)”. But check out one of the cards a nice young man won. It’s a picture of Joe Namath but it says Bart Starr at the bottom. We shall see if that card is corrected in the actual set (waiting to find one on eBay). Could make this “error” card very, very rare.
Overall Impressions: Really awesome of Topps to have such an event for collectors at the 2012 National Convention. They have had other such Q&A sessions at past NSCC’s. Mark Sapir literally opened the presentation up for questions. He didn’t have some kind of speech or power point or anything. Which I thought was fantastic. Besides Twitter, this is a great way for you to get your answer about a question you might have. To me, this is a must attend event if you go to the NSCC. I had flashbacks to the 2012 Las Vegas Industry Summit – when day after day they had company presentations.
Every Card Company should have one of these @ the NSCC
Audio From NSCC
@SportsCardNews Interview About Topps Panel Discussion
August 2, 2012 – Sports Card Radio
More 2012 #NSCC Show Coverage: