Last week, Topps held its annual Industry Conference in Phoenix, AZ. In addition to announcements and speakers, the company also holds Q&A sessions that are always enlightening. This is a big time of change in and growth in the industry, and that was evident in some of the news that came out of the conference. Here are the top highlights.
Fanatics remains committed to “10x-ing” the hobby. The phrase “10x,” or multiplying tenfold, has been spoken ever since Fanatics entered the trading card space. Despite the market contracting a bit, the folks in charge believe in the idea that the number of collectors has that much room for growth. I tend to agree; there are not a huge amount of active collectors, and there is still a ton of space in the industry to innovate and reach out.
Some cool stuff is coming. Tom Brady cards are going to be in Bowman Draft this year, as part of a “draft picks that never were” offering (Brady was drafted as a catcher by the Montreal Expos). Autographs might even pop up, too. Topps also noted retrofractors, albeit in a different way than they’ve used the term in the past. In 2001, the term was used as a refractor front with a rough-finish vintage-style back; here, they are using it to mean a Bowman card of players throughout history who never had a Bowman card before. The idea of a “frozenfractor” with negative serial numbering “lower” than 1/1 was also tossed out there. Personally, I doubt we’ll ever see that come to market.
Several brands are going on hiatus. A lot of the brands going away, at least for now, were once that were online exclusives or less-popular offerings, like Bowman 1st Edition, Archives Snapshots, Bowman Chrome X, and Bowman Heritage. Gold Label is re-entering hibernation after it came back a few years ago, and retail-exclusives Fire and Gallery are taking a break as well. The two most surprising to me are Clearly Authentic, which was always geared toward the thrill-seekers at a low price point, and Opening Day, which has been around as a cheap product forever.