Are collectors happy?
It’s hard to give an easy answer to such a difficult question, but after reading this week’s messages, it seems a change from today’s status quo wouldn’t be so bad. In fact, it may even be preferred.
If you haven’t been on The Baseball Card Blog over the past week, readers have been sending in their input on what makes a set great and what the perfect, yet-to-be-produced set should include.
Whether or not they come right out and say it, collectors want a set to be easy. Give a set enough base cards so that everybody on a team’s 25-man roster gets a card, a few subsets, one or two base insert sets and a few ‘valuable’ relic/autograph cards and that’s enough. Throw in rookie cards of actual rookies, All-Stars and team cards and that’s it. Really.
The Thesis of The Modern Card Collector
The writing is on the wall: Collectors are tired of confusing, multi-tiered parallel sets, endless ‘mirror’ sets (like Topps’ Mickey Mantle Home Run History), useless and worthless inserts and other bells and whistles that take their energy away from completing the set and needlessly drive up the cost of packs and boxes.
From the sound of it, give the average collector cards that look and feel like 1986 Topps or 1990 Upper Deck and they’d be content. Stuff 15 cards into a pack and charge less than a dollar per.
But it can’t be so simple, can it? I mean, The Hobby is not in the same place today as it was in the late 1980s. A manufacturer can’t simply stop producing relics, autographs and other insert sets that drive today’s pack sales. They’d be out of business.
But what they can do is ease up. Go back to the years right before the Upper Deck Era started (1986-1988) and learn from the great sets of the Eighties. Sets with iconic photography, full stat lines and Minor league stats for the younger guys. Sets where a rookie card meant something. Take the great things out of these sets and create a new take on the remaining Flagship brands: Fleer, Topps and Upper Deck. Don’t push a thousand insert cards through the Flagship; make collectors go to other brands for those. Ease up on the mirror cards and make a parallel set that’s easy to collect (if you make one at all).
The funny thing about all of this is that for all the woe-is-me gloom and dooming I do around here, I’m still the Guy Pushing Thirty Spending More Time Than Necessary In The Baseball Card Aisle At Target/Kmart/Wal-Mart/Toys’R’Us. And as much as I outwardly hate the idea of pouring money down the drain for new cards, I still want new cards. I like opening packs. I like putting together sets. I’m guiltily addicted to That New Card Smell.
And like many other collectors, I’m concerned for my hobby. I don’t want companies to stop making new cards. I just want them to make them better.
That’s not so much to ask, is it?