This year has a different feel to it. Topps does a fantastic job of promoting its products and using social media to routinely whip collectors into a mouth frothing frenzy over new releases. There was plenty of hype surrounding Series 1 once again this year, and I'm sure sales will still be good numbers but I have to wonder if we will see a considerable drop off from years past. The price of hobby boxes are sinking faster than a dribbler inducing pitch from Tim Hudson. What is causing this precipitous drop in price? Inferior product? I don't think so; in fact I believe it's just the opposite.
The 2013 Topps flagship product is one of the nicest looking sets I've seen in years. The design is clean and eye catching, and the photography pops. The '72 minis blend in perfectly. The code card program isn't as ravenously addictive as years past, but still solid and I think it's important that the codes don't start to become a crutch for all base sets. I would go so far to say that the inserts in this set, specifically "The Greats" are a home run. If I didn't know any better I would think I'm holding a base card from Five Star. The cards look and feel that good.
So why is demand fading faster than in years past? Normally we don't see these type of price declines until Series 2, when other products like Bowman and Allen & Ginter are soaking up collector's wallets. I think it's a combination of factors. The increasing number of products released throughout the year, an unstable economy, and consistently high fuel prices have all combined to reduce the average collector's disposable income for cards. If you had to cut back on card spending, what is the first place you would trim the fat? I think the answer for a lot of us is base cards. Especially when factory sets are so plentiful and inexpensive by year's end, it's more convenient and cost efficient to snatch up a sealed set for a Christmas gift, and store it away in the closet for the next decade.
The current hit driven market has not only pushed away the younger collectors, but it has created a murky gray area of products (opening day, triple play) that don't seem to hold much appeal to any one demographic. Will Topps base soon fall into this category? That remains to be seen. Now if you don't mind, I need to go back to clearing out space for 2013 Heritage.
Sidenote: If you like Heritage, and you like bingo then you need to get over to Crackin Wax right now to sign up for one of the remaining slots for BoBuBingo!