February 06, 2008
Will You Ride The 2008 Giuliani/Topps Ticket?
I know other blogs have beaten me to the punch (as per usual), but frankly this is a little too inane to render analysis (even by Topps's ever-diminishing standards). This being a slow Wednesday morning, let's do so anyway.
If you've read the advertorial, excuse me, story on the AP wire or in yesterday's New York Post, you already know that Topps's gimmick this year has to do with the Red Sox team card: the Topps photo doctors have inserted Rudy Guiliani into the World Series celebration scrum. Clay Luraschi at Topps has already announced the odds of getting one of these cards in a pack (1:70), and didn't correct the Post when it called the card 'gimmicky.' This is an about-face from this time last year, when Topps's official line on 2007's flagship Jeter/Bush/Mantle gimmick card was that it was an 'error in production.'
Last year I heard stories from friends who rushed out to get a copy of the Jeter card, a) because it worth something (I'll get into this regarding the Guiliani card in a moment), b) because it was fun, and c) because it was the biggest (perceived) fluke in Topps's history.
But knowing that Topps is allowing the Guiliani to be called a gimmick and not an error, and already establishing odds of receiving it in a pack, is it setting itself up for a fall? Or worse--indifference from collectors? Sure, it's an SP (short print), but so what? There are a ton of SPs included in sets every year. And if it's a true error card that you want, well, just wait until the product is actually released. Topps and sloppy, uncorrected errors go hand in hand.
The thing about this is that Topps couldn't openly call it an error. That would make it three straight years with a high-profile 'error' (Alex Gordon, 2006; Jeter, 2007; Guiliani, 2008), which some might call a pattern of 'enterprising showmanship' and others (presumably at Upper Deck) might call 'a desperate cry for help.'
Another thing to keep in mind: If memory serves correct, the Jeter card's existence was made known after the 2007 product was released. What makes it interesting is that Topps timed this year's press release, sorry, story--why do I keep confusing the two?--not only to run a day before the official release day for Topps 2008, but to run on Super Tuesday. What makes it unintentionally funny is that it was probably the most publicity Guiliani received yesterday.
The real question in all of this is not if collectors will eat it up (surely they will, as its presence, and high-dollar command on eBay already suggests), but what the card's existence says about the state of Topps. Fake error cards? I would've thought that Eisner would want to distance his new company from that old practice. Apparently he saw the dollars rolling in and that was enough to let it continue. (At least long enough to help finance his Bazooka Joe aspirations.)
From The Baseball Card Blog Archive:
The Trouble with Topps
2007 Topps Review