Thoughts on the 2012 Topps Baseball SSP Announcement: There Has To Be A Better Way

I know what you’re thinking.  This of all things brought me out of semi-retirement?  Well, yes and no.

Andy has been holding down the fort for a while, and he may have to for a little while longer.  I haven’t posted in a ridiculously long time for several reasons.  I’ll get into that in another post soon.  Tonight I have something to say and I don’t need a scanner or my broken desktop computer to say it, so it’s posting time!

Today, Topps announced two of the usually unannounced Super-Short Prints (SSPs).  The company revealed that customers and 5 Jumbo Case breakers (we’ll be the latter if you have any Topps needs) have the opportunity to find cards of Albert Pujols as an Angel and Jose Reyes as a Marlin.  The cards will be given the numbers #331 and #332 respectively, and will be found in Series 2 with those same card numbers.  What makes these SSPs, however, is that Series 2 will feature a different picture and Topps claims that these additions to series 1 were late and, thus, limited in quantity.  Of course.

Here’s a look at the Pujols card, courtesy of Topps

Nice touch choosing a the Royals game to keep it AL

A lot of people hate the SSP.  In fact, Stale Gum has already sworn off buying any 2012 Topps products due to continued gimmickry.

I understand his position and don’t completely disagree with his points.  But I don’t have the same qualms since I’m not a set collector.  As a player collector, I can say it’s really only affected my collecting habits by meaning that I have to chase that stupid Abe variation of Ryan Dempster.

Ok, I don’t have to.  But it falls within my defined collection constructs.  I could just as easily say, “nope, that doesn’t count.”  Instead, I figure I’ll wait a couple more years and hopefully find one on the cheap when people stop caring.

Still, there are people who do want these cards.  If they didn’t, then they wouldn’t be produced.  Topps is catering to these folks, but I think they’re going about it wrong.  I think there’s the potential to attract a few more people to the chase.

What if the card looked like this?

Don't laugh, this still took me about 90 minutes to figure out this poor franken-image

A big turnoff for me, and I suspect several collectors, is the fact that these SSPs have historically featured photoshopped action shots.  I don’t understand the reasoning behind that.  I know collectors want to have the very first card of a player in their new uniform, but why not just buy the rights to a press conference photo?  Why does it have to be an action shot?  The first image isn’t really his first photo in a new uniform when you break it down, anyway.  With the press conference, you have the player in an actual new uniform.  Sure, he’s not fielding or hitting, but it’s real and my guess is it could even be a cheaper route, since there’s no computer manipulation to pay for on top of the image rights.

If you don’t like just changing the image, what about making it a single-card insert?  Who says it has to be a gimmick variation of the base set?  Why can’t it be an unrelated, one-off limited insert?  I don’t have a mock-up image for that type of thing, but I guarantee you it would be just as popular as the base variation if it’s just as limited and SSP-ey.

Don’t you think that would be better than alienating a portion of your customer base?  I don’t know if that would have prevented Stale Gum from boycotting Topps, but it would be more palatable to this collector.

What do you all think?

7 comments to Thoughts on the 2012 Topps Baseball SSP Announcement: There Has To Be A Better Way

  • Play at the Plate

    I can certainly understand Stale Gum’s anger, but if gimmicks were going to chase you from the product, then it could have happened years ago. Of course, people can only take so much. I’ve given up wished Topps would stop resorting to trickery to sell product.

  • I don’t understand the appeal of a card that features a photo that is photoshopped. It’s just a more elaborate, fancier version of what kids did in the old days — scribbling out the name of the team on the card and writing in the new name. You can make it as “almost real” as you want, but I know it’s not.

    I’d rather have the press conference picture — or, here’s an idea — wait until Series 2 when you can get an actual photo of the players actually in their new uniforms playing in an actual game. But that would require patience, I suppose.

  • Since they are the only game in town now, these monstrosities don’t need to exist. I understand to an extent, why they had them pre-monopoly because they needed something to convince people to buy their product instead of UD. Of course, my choice would have been good product development, quality control, photography, and price. But hey gimmickry works too. It just seems like something that belongs in the past.

  • Since I got back into collecting I’ve been building the annual Topps set. This year I decided not to for several reasons and just focus on my various PCs and smaller insert sets I’m building. That said the decision to include these SSPs doesn’t effect me much, but I can see why so many people are up in arms over this.

  • Upper Deck Michael Jordan SP1. These things can be done, SP’d to high heaven and designed to fit in perfectly with the base set, all without screwing with it. This is a gimmick designed to drum up interest for the product, but is clumsily done. Why not just make it an SP’d insert?

    Still, on its face, this is really no different with #661 Strasburg (two versions of the same card), or the Legends Variations that have been around the last couple years (which I actually like). In fact, this is very similar to the 2007 Topps rookie variations which were EXTREMELY hard to find and only available in Wal Mart packs (I’m still looking for my Andrew Miller 15b!)

    My bottom line: I don’t like it, but it doesn’t affect me directly (team collector). In fact, if it makes people bust more cases/boxes/packs, then the cards I really want will be in greater supply on eBay. So, silver lining I guess.

  • The press conference photos have been around forever in basketball- I’ve got no qualms with them. The biggest complaint I have about these cards is that not a single player has played a game in that Marlins uniform. It’s like a meta-gimmick!

    That being said, in a few years, collectors will forget all of this and we’ll have moved on. I’m not bothered by it in a big picture kind of way other than that it messes up the continuity Topps was establishing with its SPs and base set numbering over the past couple of years. I’m a stickler for continuity!

  • […] the damage was done upon the announcement, but we offered up suggestions that hopefully wouldn’t alienate anyone (or maybe less people).  One of those suggestions […]

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