A Pox on Topps for Five Star Baseball

Featured Cards: 2012 Topps Five Star Silver Signatures #FSSI-JK, John Kruk; 2012 Topps Five Star Autographs #FSA-JK, John Kruk

Short version:

Dear Topps,

Make it stop!

No love,
14,000 Phillies

Longer version:

$500 for a pack of five cards. Let that seep into your conscious for a while. For that sin alone, this set should die a quick, horrible death. What, Topps didn’t have enough ridiculously high-end product? Wasn’t Topps satisfied with its effort on Museum Collection? (Which, I should add, became my guilty pleasure of 2012 — but more on that another time.) Did Topps not make enough money hand over fist with Triple Threads and Tribute? Furthermore, the ugly marketing of the set by Topps just left a nasty taste — somewhat similar to the gum Donruss included in packs of their ’81 baseball cards — in my mouth. In fact, it angered me that they said this set was for their “most passionate, hard-core, heaviest collectors.”

Really? Fuck you, Topps. I spend hundreds of dollars per year adding new cards to my Phillies collection. I currently own numerous Phillies cards bearing serial numbered print runs smaller than my age (in some cases less than half my age, but I’d rather not dwell on that), but because I cannot spend $500 on one pack, I’m not a passionate, hard-core collector? Here, have some 31-year-old gum from one of your products, chew it for about five hours, and then get back to me about how I am not a passionate collector.

If that wasn’t enough, the Five Star cards themselves (not the design, I’m talking the materials, and final result) are enough to make a collector cry. I was at a local baseball card store on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and saw someone purchase and open a pack. He was kind enough to let me take a look at the cards, and I was aghast to see that three of the five cards displayed noticeable chipping and/or dings. I’m sorry, but for $500/pack the effing cards should come out in pristine condition. There’s just no excuse for this hot, steaming mess. Worse still, all the cards are 180-point in thickness. The only way to properly store the things in a manner to avoid damage (in many instances, further damage) is to purchase and use a lot of Ultra-Pro holders — and this includes the base cards.

Finally, and this is a problem endemic to all high-end sets, there’s the problem with the resale market. I spent just $25 to acquire the two Five Star Kruk autograph cards shown in this post. I realize and accept that these days the resale value of all the cards in a pack very rarely matches what one paid for it. However, the problem seems especially acute with Five Star. Thinking back on what I saw in the card store last week, I doubt that particular collector will be able to recoup even half of what he paid if he was to list all five of those cards on eBay.

Topps needs to stop this crap now. I understand Topps likely needs the high-end collectors gamblers to maintain a healthy profit margin, and that once they have their money they don’t give two pieces of a Pat Burrell game-used jersey about the secondary market. However, how about treating the rest of us collectors — the ones on a budget — with a little more respect and care? How about doing more to show us that we matter and spending a little more time on quality control and not rehashing the same exact same card under multiple different brands (see any Phillies player who appeared in Topps, Topps Chrome, Topps Opening Day and the Topps Phillies Team Set). You know, try to actually mix up the photos a little more, put more effort into including bench players and bullpen long men, and stop including SPs in the base set of the Heritage brand.

I actually feel somewhat dirty for having acquired the two Kruk cards shown here. The depressing fact is, however, that it’s likely that some of the base cards will filter their way into my collection when/if I can purchase them cheaply enough. Why? Because I am a passionate collector (even I don’t meet the Topps financial criteria for such a label) and I want as complete a Phillies collection as possible. I’ll have my fingers crossed so that they won’t be too dinged or chipped when they arrive.

Hopefully, Five Star is the first and last time we see something like this from Topps. Sadly, I doubt that will be the case.


4 responses to “A Pox on Topps for Five Star Baseball

  1. Basically, Topps called everyone out who didn’t buy into Five Star.

    Okay, Topps, this ‘unpassionate’ collector has plenty of vintage and previously uncollected material to be ‘passionate’ about to last the rest of my life.

    I second the ‘Fuck You Topps’ sentiment.

    And 2013 Topps looks like crap, I might add, Topps!

    • I am withholding judgment on the 2013 set until I actually have some of the cards in hand. Sometimes, the promotional scans don’t do the cards proper justice, so maybe (admittedly a small chance) the 2012 design works better on cardboard than on the computer screen.

      It really would be nice if MLB could hand out at least one other license. I don’t know if it actually would make Topps become a little more “real” collector friendly, but one can always hope.

  2. Finally, something that Phillies fans and Mets fans can agree on that doesn’t involve Lenny Dykstra. Like you, I spent a fair amount of money on Topps cards this year (particularly on Museum Collection), but I’m no closer to being eligible for their special club than any random person who thinks Topps with two Ps is a typo. This product isn’t for the passionate collector, it’s not for the casual collector, it’s not for any kind of collector. Five Star is for flippers looking for a big score or people with more money than sense. I feel bad for any collectors who bought into it expecting a quality product because I’ve made costly high-end mistakes myself (cough-2001 Fleer Genuine). Topps should be ashamed, releasing Five Star right before Panini’s outstanding Black Friday giveaway. At least both companies have made their priorities clear.

    • I have no beef with Mets fans or the Mets. As far as I’m concerned, the 2007 & 2008 seasons were just a blip on the radar. The two teams haven’t been good at the same time long enough for a true rivalry to form.

      You’re right about Five Star — the set isn’t for any kind of collector, it’s for speculators and, as you said, flippers. Unfortunately, Topps knows that there are enough team and/or individual player collector junkies out there to make sure that the secondary market isn’t a complete and total washout on this particular set.

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