July 18, 2020

The End of the 7 Day Trading Card Challenge Road

Here I am, I've come to the end of the line for my 7 Day Trading Card Challenge. There have been twists and turns...planned and unplanned pauses, but the journey ends today. I really appreciate everyone in the blogosphere that took some time to engage with the idea and share their takes on these topics. I truly enjoyed reading everything.

When I first developed the list subject matter, I had a very specific idea of what I was going to write about for the final prompt: Best hobby trend to emerge this year. That being said, my thoughts have changed significantly on this since then. Many other great trends have been highlighted by other writers. I agree that at least 1 or 2 other topics are 'better' than what I'm going to write about. The resurgence of the blogging community would top the list for me. Whether it be the revival of long-dormant blogs, the birth of new ones, or the incredible generosity that has been flowing for months, it's all been a bright light shining through these dim times in which we find ourselves. However, there's no reason to fully rehash these ideas that have already been shared so I will stick to my originally scheduled topic.

Subscription/Club services are a relatively new concept for Topps. This started in 2018 with 582 Montgomery Club. I didn't know about is until early this year and have not paid for a membership, but I have looked into some of e Club's offerings. They include but are not limited to the following: a factory set with a silver foil Montgomery Club stamp on each card, several 'exclusive' mini sets inspired by some part of Topps' history(some including autos), access to purchase club only products, and early access to some other popular products. Since I am not a member, I'm not going to go into too much detail on this, but I feel that last perk deserves some attention. Especially in the current hobby climate, where product is scarce in the wild and trying to order exclusives online(Bowman First Edition or Sapphire for example) is impossible, having early access to the ability to order product is a huge benefit. I'd argue that it even shows that Topps is trying to take care of its customers(I know some may disagree, but I'm keeping it positive here folks). This is actually one of the reasons I am thinking about making an attempt to secure a membership for 2021. Heck, Finest Flashback just came into my awareness over the past few days and members had an opportunity to buy boxes before Topps employed a lottery system to offer purchase opportunities to non-members. That would have made membership all worth it for me this year. For those wondering what Finest Flashback is, consider researching it a bit, especially if you're a nostalgic collector and loved the 1993 Finest set, you won't be sorry.

The newest subscription offering(and the one I am familiar with) began in April this year. It is the Topps Future Stars Club. The premise is similar, but on a smaller scale. For $26.68/month, you are opted in to the club and will receive a blaster of product(TBD each month), an exclusive themed set(roughly 5 cards/set thus far), and a 'collectible' item. I am a sucker for some of the 'exclusive' sets that Topps has put out between this and Montgomery Club, so that is a nice perk. The real draw for me has been the blaster. Once again, in the current hobby environment, product is hard to find and no one in their right mind would want to risk trekking out to multiple big box stores just to find sports cards right now. Ordering blasters, hangers, fat packs, and the like is also next to impossible these days, so te fact that Topps is going to deliver a blaster a month along with a small, exclusive set, and a random collectible item for a little more than the cost of a blaster in the wild is very appealing to me. Since I've rambled for a while, let's just take a look at the inaugural box contents from April.

I was excited when this arrived in my mailbox(I was a bit surprised that it fit in there too).


Before you say it, I know that the Opening Day Blaster isn't really worth the monthly subscription cost. I agree. In May, they sent a Topps Series One. Going forward, it seems like the cost will even itself out. The collectible item for the month was that Future Stars Club patch. It's unlikely I'll ever put it on anything, but I still think it's pretty cool.

Here is a closer look at the 5-card set. Pretty vanilla design, but it's clean and I like the Club logo on there. It kinda reminds me of Topps Kids in a way.

...And a view of the card back which reveals that the theme of the month was left-handed, power hitting outfielders(while taking up a majority of the real estate). Kinda random, I know. At least they included a player specific trivia question. Overall, it's not a bad set in my opinion.

I may be in the minority on this trend as others may feel things like this are horrible for the hobby, but the collecting landscape is changing and evolving whether we like it or not. These offerings provide a unique way to experience our hobby and in the case of the Future Stars Club, a way to enjoy ripping some packs on a semi-regular schedule without having to leave the comfort and safety of your home. What else can you ask for in the middle of a pandemic? Thanks for reading.

July 17, 2020

My Favorite Non Sport Card - 7 Day Trading Card Challenge

Today's Challenge topic was probably the most difficult for me. I don't have a huge volume of non-sports cards to choose from. You'd think that would make it easier to pick a favorite, but for me it was the opposite. If you've read any of my other Challenge posts, you know that I have selected my favorites based upon the stories behind the cardboard and most of my non-sports stuff doesn't have much to tell about. I've really enjoyed writing those stories down and sharing them so far. Hopefully you've enjoyed them a little bit too. I had to dig deep for this one, but I definitely landed on the right one in the end.

Back in the fall of 2014, my wife and I took our 2 daughters(our third wasn't born yet) to Walt Disney World. Since the girls were too young for most of the rides, a lot of our time was spent on character meet and greets/autograph collecting. One day, while walking around Hollywood Studios, we stumbled upon the Wreck-It Ralph characters. They did a really great job recreating a space from the movie for the meet and greet area(see below).

My oldest daughter, Kara, loved that movie at the time(still does) and since it had so many retro video game references, so did(do) I. We stood in a relatively short line and she repeatedly told me how excited she was to meet them and add their autographs to her book. When it was our turn, she ran up to meet Ralph and Vanellope. I took a few pictures of her and then she asked for a picture of both of us with them. The cast member working the area took my phone and snapped a few for us in addition to the ones taken by their photographer for our PhotoPass. Once photos were done, we were informed that Ralph and Vanellope weren't able to sign autographs(the large costume hands made it too difficult to manage signing). Kara was so disappointed, for a split second. Then the cast member pulled a few cards out of a bag...

As these were handed to us, we were told that it takes Ralph and Vanellope a long time to sign autographs. Since they didn't want people to wait so long to see them, they 'signed' these cards before they came out for their meet and greet to make things go faster. Kara was so excited! We were given three(one for each of us and one for my other daughter).

Here is the back. In reality, these are PhotoPass code cards(used to access the individual character photos for the folks that hadn't already purchased the full service). Personally, I prefer the story told by that cast member. I love that these are standard trading card size and that all of the promotional info was squeezed into the bottom 2/3 which left room for 'traditional' card back info as well. I think back to the moment she was handed this card by that cast member often and it always brings a smile to my face. It is one of the best souvenirs I have ever gotten. Thanks for reading.