The 2011 Topps “Meh” Sets

Featured Cards: 2011 Topps Marquee #39, Cole Hamels; 2011 Topps Tier One Top Shelf Relic #TSR10, Roy Halladay; 2011 Topps Finest Finest Moments Autograph Relics #FMA8, Ryan Howard

While I have a goal of trying to accumulate as many different Phillies cards as possible, I know that I will never actually have the comprehensive collection that many years ago I hoped to one day achieve. While personal finances are a major reason for this, Topps doesn’t help matters any with its high-end sets. In fact, the price of the base cards for these sets are so detrimental to my card-collecting budget that I barely bother with them. Oh, I occasionally pick up a few of them when I can purchase them cheaply enough (as the card scans in this post clearly show), but in a set like Topps Tribute, y0u can easily spend $15 (at a minimum) putting together a seven-card team set. It’s just not worth it — there are better uses for my limited resources.

So, when Topps announces the checklists for sets such as Tribute, Triple Threads, Marquee and Finest, it doesn’t really register on my card-collecting radar. Sure, I track them for the purposes populating the Phillies Database Project, and sometimes I’ll even pick up the odd base, relic, or autograph card if I can acquire one cheaply enough. However, my overall reaction to these sets — no matter how attractive they are — is almost always, “Meh.” I just can’t be bothered with them. It’s just more cards of the players who are already receive multiple cards and inserts in all of the other Topps issues.

More importantly, why should I have any other reaction to such expensive product? Clearly, I’m not the type of collector that Topps relies on to fill its coffers. Furthermore, in their effort to squeeze as much as possible out of the high-end market, they are literally only paying the barest minimum of lip-service to collectors like me. By my quick estimation, the only sets* they produced this year where I had any realistic chance of picking up all the Phillies in both the main set and the majority of the inserts were Topps, Bowman (whose prospect inserts I wasn’t interested in), Heritage, Lineage, Gypsy Queen and Allen & Ginter. Even then, there were plenty of inserts in all those sets whose limited print runs effectively priced them out of my budget.

If I had one Christmas wish for the upcoming year, it would be that MLB and the MLBPA make a surprise announcement and tell us that they have licensed another company to once again make trading cards. I really don’t care which one — take your pick. I would just rather see more sets with prices and availability designed to appeal to collectors like me. I know the new company would make a few “Meh” sets of its own, but its low-to-mid-range sets would get plenty of my attention. As an added bonus, I could more easily ignore all the other “Meh” sets that Topps feels the need to put so much effort into.

* Not counting derivative sets such as Opening Day, Topps Chrome and Bowman Chrome, which are all essentially parallel sets marketed separately.

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