Thursday, April 5, 2018

Night of the Living Set: Your PC Is Dead

  First off...


What makes this card a $449.99 card and the other more than an okay used car? Just experimenting to see how much an idiot will pay?

Moving on...



Your PC killed your PC.

This is my narrow minded rambling mess of thoughts on player collections, the current hobby climate, Topps overproduction and TOPPS LIVING SET, and what the future will bring. I haven't sat down to write in this style for a long time so I apologize if it is straight up, unreadable garbage.

We now live in a futuristic age of print at will and name your price cards monopolized by Topps. The company has handcuffed the player collector by spitting out too many sets, ridiculous amounts of 1/1 cards, and exploiting set collectors with "living" sets. We the sheep, purchase all this crap because they have us by the heart strings. They make us believe if I don't have this card of my favorite player then I am not a real fan. I can't place all the blame on money hungry Topps. A pack of this year's Donruss set contains more variations and inserts than base cards. Things are a bit out of control.

Who do you PC?

Was having a complete PC of a player, meaning one of every card made, ever really a goal? Probably before my time and up until the early 1990's you could have a real possibility of completing a player collection. Soon though, if you lived and collected long enough the emergence of the dreaded printing plate 1/1's and online exclusive cards would have exhausted you to death. If you look at The Trading Card Database and search these players here is the allotted search pages each containing up to 50 listed cards for that year. Again, 1 page is up to 50 individual listed cards.

Nolan Ryan 
1977 - 1 page
1987 - 1 page
1997 - 1 page
2007 - 9 pages
2017 - 12 pages

Roger Clemens
1987 - 3 pages
1997 - 5 pages
2007 - 60 pages
2017 - 9 pages

Mickey Mantle
1957 - 1 page
1967 - 1 page
1977 - 1 page
1987 - 1 page
DIED 1995
1997 - 3 pages
2007 - 112 pages (Topps did his career homerun cards)
2017 - 5 pages

"So what does this have to do with anything? Whats your frickin' point?" you may ask. There are lots of takeaways from these stats both positive and negative. Here is my view.

The positives? Baseball is alive in and of itself and will live on forever. Mantle quit in '68 and died in '95 and yet decades later he is still honored and celebrated in hundreds of baseball cards. That is a great testament to the resilient, timeless magic of baseball. Watching a game is exciting but as soon as the last out is made some of it gets filed away our nostalgia folders in our hearts and brains. That is why the sports thrives.
In some ways a positive is you can never get bored or have nothing else to collect as a PC collector.  New Nolan Ryan cards will still be produced 100 years from now. I think that is a good thing?

The negative aspects of this? Complete player collections are dead. Maybe they always have been and the hunt is more important than the trophy but that is a rabbit hole I am not going down today.  It is the card company's ability to access our brain and heart nostalgia folders to get to our wallets that gives me card rage. I like the idea of the "Living Set" from Topps in that they are trying something new. I am sure the person who came up with the idea got a standing ovation in that meeting. BUT, isn't that what Topps Now is supposed to be? When I go to the Topps website I get overwhelmed with all these different cards that they print at will and charge whatever they want for them. I feel taken advantage of. I am kind of old school and set in my ways. An old man already in my mid-thirties. I think it is great the card companies are moving forward and always looking for new ideas. I just wish those ideas weren't $10+ cards with a time limit. Also, if this Living Set is supposed to encompass all of baseball past, present, and future; will the style change from the 1953 one they are using now? Why start with Aaron Judge as the first card?! When he becomes a flash in the pan will they regret doing so? You cannot convince me it was a random decision simply by making Panik and Castellanos the next two cards. You know what you did Topps. Drop the charade and just make an all Judge set already.
Judge being the first card put a bad taste in my mouth for the set and made it all seem too novelty for my liking. Then they produced a Tiger player for the third card. Probably making up for the disgusting lack of Detroit players represented in every set this year. Look at the Gypsy Queen checklist. Just do it. All base players with no inserts for Tigers players. Not even one. They included Anibal effing Sanchez as a Tiger in the set. WTF. Anyway, I bought the 3 pack of the first production of the Living Set out of curiosity and the chance that the Judge will get me my money back. Yes, I am a hypocritic and a sucker.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Although I believe we are living in Junk Era 2.0, I do see some great things in the future. A lot of artistic baseball card fans are going rogue and creating stunning cards of their own. I am sure many of you have seen theses "sketch cards" and "art cards" out there. From some small companies forming (Gyspy Oak) to artists doodling cards up for their friends. I think the future is bright for out of nowhere card sets that won't compete with Topps/Donruss/Upper Deck but also won't need to. Right now many sketch artists are following Topps in its corrupt exploitation of rare cards by making countless 1/1 cards to make a quick buck. More power to them, the more 1/1's that float around this earth the less value we will place on them. I do think these talented card producing vigilantes will hold a big place in the hobby in the near future.

Time to Panik! Yeah, I'm a Sucker...

I bought the first round of Topps Living cards out of curiosity and because it included Nick Castellanos. The price sucked, buying a Judge card SUCKED, and they took forever to get to me. The case they are in is smashed on the top even though the box they came in is pristine and was bubble wrapped. That tells me the damage happened before packaging and they still sent it to me. The Joe Panik card is scratched on the face of it even though it was sandwiched by the other two cards. So overall, I was not in the right mindset to be impressed in the first place but was even more disappointed when they finally showed up.

That took a heavy shot.

The white spot on his jaw is a chunk missing from the face of the card. Come on Topps! This is why I buy second hand and NOTHING straight from the company.


  1. I agree that Topps is really pushing out a lot of over production, but it is actually quite small compared to what Panini is doing to football.

    Sorry about your Panik too.

  2. Topps' greed will be their biggest downfall. Sadly if they (or MLB) doesn't right the ship in the very near future... our hobby will be permanently affected.

  3. I like the Living Set for two reasons, but for two reasons only. First, the 1953 set is gorgeous and it looks like Topps did a fine job in replicating its design. Secondly, because for $10 I know I'll have every card of that player in that set and won't have to chase the variations and parallels. A set with no parallels/variations? 'Bout time.

    1. I didn't think of it that way. I am surprised there isn't color variations or some junk. I guess I can appreciate the set for that.

  4. I have never once bought a topps now or living legends card. I collect griffey and judge for baseball and don't feel I need those. As for football, I did Rodney Hampton. One of my favorites growing up amd is long before all of.this overproduction of Jersey and autograph cards. I do have printing Plates I need to chase and will probably never own all of his but I should come.close

  5. Can you find discounts on the living set via eBay like you can with NOW cards? I wonder who bought that NOW auto?

    I remember getting some really poor packaged cards from Topps via the redemption process, but the last few have been much better. Sorry they screwed up yours.

  6. Great post! Reading this sure makes me glad that I'm not a player collector though.