Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's my choice

It's been about two years.

Two years since I sampled my final taste of Upper Deck. I'd gotten most of what I needed from the set and didn't really need to buy any more packs.

Even with the fact that they weren't able to use any of the team logos, I didn't think UD's final release was all bad. 

Around this time two years ago, I finally dealt with the fact that there was only one game left in town, and its name was Topps.

I have an up-and-down relationship with Topps. I haven't loved the products so far this year, but I haven't hated them. Last year's product was nice, but aside from flagship, nothing really got me all that excited. 

We'll have to wait and see what Topps has in store for us this year.

Originally, I thought just the one company wouldn't be all bad. I figured I'd save a lot of money, since I usually like to buy a pack or two of most new products. Plus, Upper Deck hadn't done anything spectacular in their last couple years anyways.

I don't mind Topps being the only company left, but I do find myself wishing for a little competition.

It's basic business. If companies have to compete, then each one will try and better the other one, usually resulting in a higher quality product. We may be sick of Topps' apparent fascination with gold this year, but people are buying it. Which gives Topps no incentive to stop.

I've found that I do miss having a choice, even if I have to spend an extra couple bucks here and there.

I'd like to go back to the 1981 version of the baseball card universe.

I don't know what the feeling on Topps was before '81 came along. Was there any thought as to having another set to choose from? Or were kids then satisfied with what Topps was doing?

Other companies finally got the chance to produce cards in 1981. Fleer and Donruss famously jumped into the ring that year, albeit with sets that were rushed into production. 

The above Ozzie Smith was card #1 in the first Donruss set ever released, a fitting choice if you ask me. (And thus Wrigley Field was the first stadium shown in a Donruss set as well.)

It must have been quite a shock to anyone collecting cards then. After years and years of nothing but Topps, kids all of a sudden had three different sets to choose from. It must have been great.

But I'm beginning to forget what that feels like.

I miss going into a Target or Wal-Mart or wherever and browsing through the seemingly innumerable different products on the shelves. Sure, not all the sets were good. But they were there if I ever needed them. 

It made my dollar feel a whole lot stronger. "Maybe I'll try some Fleer this time. Or perhaps some Upper Deck. I could just stick to good ol' Topps, though."

I miss having a choice.


Anonymous said...

I was thinking about that today while working on a future post... There were years where I actively collected 5, 6, even 7 sets in a year. It was easier in the pre-UD era because cards were cheaper, but I do miss being able to say "Eh, I'm bored with Topps, I'll buy some Score instead".

night owl said...

Before 1981, the concept of "I wish there was another set to collect" was never a thought. Not by me, not by any collector I knew.

The few non-Topps sets that there were -- Kellogg's, Hostess, etc., were cool, just because Topps was SO dominant. But we were happy waiting for Topps to arrive every year and happy to collect it throughout the year. Never felt deprived, never felt bored and restless.

Zayden said...

When I first started collecting as a child, there were so many delightful choices and at the end of the day you and your friends all had completely different cards. Instead of "it's like being a kid in a candy store," the expression changed to "it's like being a kid in a card shop" I really wish there were more choices too, but I think Topps is doing ok with keeping the products fresh and different. I'm pretty excited at every release not really knowing what to expect because I've only been collecting two years since my long hiatus from collecting as a child.