Collectors right now are bored.
I understand. Let's see. So far this year there have been the three "illegal" Upper Deck releases, only one of which was really exciting (Ultimate Collection) and is no longer really buyable because of pervasive counterfeiting.
There has been Topps, Topps Lite (Opening Day), Topps Jr. (Pro Debut) and Heritage on the other end. That is three of the same basic design and one of a rehashed design using the same formula for a decade. Recently, there was Topps Finest, which I thought looked snazzy as always, but failed to set the world on fire.
So people are cranky. And bored with what's out there. And not excited about collecting anything but stuff from the mid-aughts, or vintage things or what have you.
It's gotten so bad that eTopps was just listed amongst the best current releases and Beardy is already hyping up Gint-A-Cuffs II even though we're still months away from the next Allen & Ginter iteration.
These are Dark Times.
The Good Ol' Days I admit that I don't remember such a unified lull among bloggers at this time last year, but I'm not sure why. It's not like we were swimming in card-collector paradise. Just look at the release calendar.
February 4 - Topps Series 1
February 5 - Upper Deck Series 1
February 6 - Playoff Contenders
February 25 - Topps Heritage
February 27 - UD Spectrum
March 11 - UD First Edition
March 26 - SPx
April 2 - Topps Finest
April 16 - UD Piece of History
April 23 - Donruss Century Collection
April 29 - UD Goudey
That release calendar extends until the end of April 2009. In it we see two unlicensed products that nobody thought twice about (Playoff Contenders, Donruss Century Coll.), the unequivocally "meh" UD Spectrum, SPx--which people were ok with , the hit or miss UD POH and UD First Edition which not even UD First Edition's mother cares about.
With this in mind, it seems as though we are all going through a bit of withdrawl. Ask yourself this: were you really excited about Spectrum, or POH or SPx? No. You weren't and you know it. But they were something fresh and different and new to tide you over with a pack here or a pack there while you waited for something that you really wanted. The next big thing, as it were. In this case it was probably Goudey, or maybe something else.
So what are we to do, the masses seeking something to be excited about and with nothing new out there to feed our cravings, no matter how mediocre? Where is the excitement?
Get Excited It's coming.
I think, mostly because of the HUMUNGOUS INITIAL BACKLASH over the product previews, that people have written off National Chicle. If you are one of those people, you are a fool. Here are three reasons why (from one of Beckett's two galleries):
Oh, and there is a page of many, many more reasons why that have been posted in an unprecedented display of transparency to remedy the PR nightmare that was the initial preview of this set. This set not only replaces Goudey on the release calendar, it looks to me like it is going to surpass it in many ways.
Lest we forget:
1. Topps knows how to do vintage-y cards. They do them really, really well.
2. The #1 Biggest Complaint in the card industry since I re-started collecting has been the use of sticker autographs. These are all on-card and the initial checklist, if it stays intact, is strong.
This may very well be the first set that I decide to collect in its entirety since 2007/2008 UD Masterpieces. Why? The cards, by and large, look phenomenal. Sure, you'll get your occasional duds:
Of which I'm FURIOUS that these two players are made to look like brothers with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, thereby ruining, in my eyes, the best Tigers card in the set. There are others too, that are just not very good paintings. But they seem to be the minority. Taken as a whole, with a ton of preview images out there, this set looks great. Like, best set in a long long time great. Like, these are all hand painted and many of the images look as good if not better than UD Masterpieces great.
Yes, I'm annoyed by the Chipper/Ruth card. It is stupid. It is also just one card in a subset that I don't need to collect. Did I complain when 2008 UD Masterpieces featured Zombie Roy Halladay? No. It was what it was and I just turned the page and looked at my beautiful Evan Longorias and the like.
To me, the only question remaining is how will these cards look and feel when they are released? The only thing that I can see sinking this ship is a crappy cardstock choice or a bait-and-switch auto checklist and I think that Topps is too good at making sets like this to make that mistake (especially the former).
So Buck Up Suck it up folks. Quit moping. What is potentially the best baseball card set to be released in two years is coming out NEXT WEEK and there has been exactly ZERO hype for it. Zero. This passive-agression will not stand. Get on your computers, browse some images, see that box pre-orders are pretty darn affordable given two on-card autos and buck up.
I don't care if you buy any of these. I'm not a Topps shill. I don't even care if you like the cards or not. What I care about is shattering the illusion that there is nothing going on in the hobby and nothing to look forward to for months. There is and it's time that you start paying attention.