There’s been a couple of recent Topps releases that have troubled me. Not in a bad way, of course! Not in one of those ‘keeping me awake at night’ types of scenarios! Just in a way where I’ve sat and wracked my brains as to why they were actually produced in the first place!!
Let me explain!
Bowman Inception and Topps World Baseball Classic (WBC) Tribute were both released in the first week of July. Both were brand new, never-before-seen products in an already bulging portfolio of Topps Baseball releases in 2013! Both were mid to high end sets that were aimed at (what I would guess would be) a pretty niche field of collectors!
Which brings me straight to my the issue that was troubling me – were Bowman Inception and Topps WBC Tribute really necessary? Were collectors crying out for them?? Has their presence in the Hobby enriched our collecting lives???
To be honest it’s probably too early to tell yet in terms of how they will be received on a long term basis, but I feel the question of how necessary they are is a valid one!
I questioned the need for another prospect-based set when the preview material for Bowman Inception came out back in January. I didn’t even do a preview for the Topps Tribute WBC set as it completely slipped under my radar.
The issue I have with Bowman Inception is that there are already several long-standing Prospect sets being produced by Topps, including Bowman, Bowman Chrome, Bowman Draft, Bowman Platinum and last, but not least, the high-end Bowman Sterling. I don’t think I’d have had such an issue with Inception if it had replaced one of the existing sets, such as Platinum. But it didn’t, and here it is!!
The logic behind WBC Tribute completely escapes me! To release a high-end set based around a tournament that’s all but forgotten about since it ended back in March, appears to beggar belief. A truly odd move by Topps there!! I’d argue that any interest that fans had in the WBC had pretty much evaporated once the regular season got under way!
Maybe Topps were trying to appeal to a more international market? Who knows?? Who cares?? I feel that the WBC product would have worked much better as a mid-range release rather than a high-end Tribute release, especially as it followed the customary Topps Tribute set by only a few weeks!
I’m sure that Topps must think that collectors have bottomless pockets when it comes to this sort of thing!
So where does that leave us with Inception and WBC Tribute?
Don’t get me wrong, I do feel that Topps have produced some gorgeous looking cards with these two sets. I had some concerns around potential chipping issues with Bowman Inception (a la 2012 Topps Inception Football and 2012 Topps 5-Star Baseball) but early reports suggest that this hasn’t been the case!
However this doesn’t change the fact that these products have to rank up there as two of the most unnecessary releases of 2013. Sure, they’ve started out pretty ‘hot’ on the secondary market, but it’s only a matter of time before Inception loses it’s way against the more established Bowman prospect-based releases, and as to where WBC Tribute will stand in the pantheon of great Baseball card sets is anyones guess (Hint – I don’t think it will be particularly high)!!
Whether Topps learns any lessons from these releases remains to be seen. Maybe there won’t be any lessons to be learnt! After all, I don’t know the first thing about running a major sports and entertainment card manufacturer. I don’t know what products make a profit or what products make a loss! Maybe none of Topps’ Baseball products make a loss!! Fair play to Topps if they don’t – obviously they’re doing something right!
But I’ll ask the question one last time – were these products really necessary??
Ultimately I suppose it’s down to us as collectors to determine which of Topps’ Baseball output stands or falls based on each products own merits! And just because I don’t feel that there’s any real need for these two particular sets in the Hobby, it certainly doesn’t mean that other collectors will think this way and they’ll no doubt make their feelings known to Topps with their wallets!