August 28, 2008

The Trouble with Money Cards

One thing I always wanted: a clear resin toilet seat, the kind that comes embedded with hundreds of pennies. You can find this type of thing in gigantic Las Vegas souvenir stores and other fine outlets of all-American kitsch. I mean, c'mon-- who doesn't like finding money where you least expect it?

So then let's fast-forward to the end of September, when Topps releases Treasury Basketball, a product featuring cards literally stuffed with cash. Each box is guaranteed a rip card, with exactly 429 of them containing actual United States currency (neatly folded $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1,000 bills).

OK. I can find a lot of problems with this, the least of which being that Topps has to remove their pack disclaimer that they don't claim to know if cards will have any future value, since 429 cards will be worth at least $10. But that's petty in comparison to the pandora's box this opens. What Topps has created is a lottery. Not just a pseudo-lottery that the card industry has become in general, with packs containing rare autographs and game-used memorabilia, but an actual one with predictable odds and real money changing hands. Kind of scary, isn't it?

Here's something else to consider: let's say you find one of the cards containing a $20 bill. Do you open it up? Or is it more valuable than $20 if you leave it intact? Also, what if it's stamped with a 1/50 serial number? Does that make it more valuable than $20?

But perhaps the harshest indictment of the state of the card industry is this: Topps is proclaiming that finding actual cash in a pack is the next step in the evolution of the insert card. And they may have caught on to something: it is probably far cheaper to include cash in a product than spending lots more on securing contracts for autographs and game-used memorabilia. And besides, autos and relics have become so commonplace that finding one in a pack no longer carries the same weight it once did.

If cash cards in a basketball product with limited originality or appeal works, the practice will soon become a staple of the hobby.

Read the article at SCD.com

2 comments:

Andy said...

Next year, they aren't even printing photos on the cards. They'll just be blank white cards with stuff inside. Some will contain bills while others will contain folded up pieces of paper that simply say "SUCKER!!"

Captain Easychord said...

Here's something else to consider: let's say you find one of the cards containing a $20 bill. Do you open it up? Or is it more valuable than $20 if you leave it intact? Also, what if it's stamped with a 1/50 serial number? Does that make it more valuable than $20?

isn't this already an issue with something like collectible stamps or currency (ie: a set of state quarters)? is that really a problem?