Baseball Hasn’t Been Boring with Topps
Image courtesy of ToppsAs the exclusive license holder for Major League Baseball trading cards, Topps has reinvigorated a hobby that has seen peaks and valleys over the decades. Although baseball cards haven’t quite reached the heights of football and basketball cardboard, the New York based company has been a pioneer with innovation and that’s been no more evident than over the past 365 days.
I caught up with Communications Manager Emily Kless recently to talk about the state of the hobby, Topps’ response during the pandemic, and what exciting ventures lie ahead.
Twins Daily: We experienced some unprecedented events in 2020, and most notably for a company dealing with logistics, the hurdles a pandemic created. How did that impact Topps' ability to produce and create product?
Emily Kless: 2020 was certainly a challenging one, but to see all departments at Topps flex their creative muscles and find a way to get product to collectors was encouraging throughout the entire year. Each internal team, from shipping to production, brand management to our Licensing group, were all affected in various ways. However, we were able to navigate the everchanging current to produce a successful 2020.
TD: What is one of the biggest takeaways from the challenges 2020 created, and maybe what is a hurdle that now is being worked on to address for the future?
EK: Between the combination of supply chain restraints, the influx of orders, new customers and popularity Topps has seen this year, our Customer Service channels have taken on a heavy workload. We understand this is the case and are proactively working to get our customer orders fulfilled as soon as possible to keep collectors happy.
TD: There's a handful of different reasons to pin the resurgence of card collecting on, but what would you attribute the growth of the hobby to in 2020 and where do you see it going from here? Is there a worry things may change again as people return to other activities?
EK: While the COVID-19 pandemic created a difficult year for so many, one thing that was able to bring people together was Topps cards. Many individuals rekindled their love for trading cards as they found themselves at home looking for things to entertain and delight the entire family. Old shoe boxes of baseball cards came out of the attic and feelings of nostalgia comforted so many with every 2.5” by 3.5” piece of cardboard. Putting 2020 aside, Topps has seen tremendous and consistent growth over the past decade, so while we can attribute the resurgence to a number of factors, one thing is certain: trading cards were hot before the pandemic forced the nation to shut down, and the hunger for Topps cards is not going away any time soon.
TD: With a calendar planned months in advance, Topps created multiple new product lines this year. What were your favorite undertakings and were there any new brands that did exceptionally well or surpassed expectations?
EK: A personal favorite of mine from 2020 was Allen & Ginter Chrome. The colors and design popped so well in our Chrome technology, and it quickly became a highly sought-after product. Of course, Project 2020 changed the game, reimagining what a trading card could be. Seeing the way collectors approached the set – from collecting all of a particular artist to all cards of a particular player – was especially encouraging because of the amount of conversation Project 2020 helped produce.
TD: Looking ahead to 2021 and the 70th anniversary of baseball cards, how has the momentum gained in the past year helped to set up what should be an exciting milestone? It's kicking off with the Rip Party, can you tell us more about that?
EK: If you’re looking for a night of big names and baseball cards, the Topps Series 1 Rip Party is a can’t miss event! We’re kicking off the official celebration of 70 Years of Topps Baseball with the Rip Party, where distinguished guests will open up packs throughout the decades of Topps (some from the decades in which they played), as well as highlight the 2021 Series 1 collection (a day before the product is officially released!). The Series 1 Rip Party will culminate with the first-ever Breaker Showcase, where four Breakers will battle it out in a three 10-min round competition to take home the prized Platinum Box Cutter. Collectors can also join a break from any one of our Topps Official Breakers in order to begin collecting Series 1 a day early. Select Breakers will be able to open Series 1 on their channels during “After Hours,” which begins at 9 pm ET immediately following the Rip Party. For more information and to see the full list of Breakers, collectors can visit: www.topps.com/rip-party, as well as follow @Topps on social media for the latest news and to watch the Rip Party!
TD: Topps has long been a leader in innovation, and collaboration was the name of the game in 2020. Going from Topps Now offerings to the entirety of Project 2020 and curated sets, was that always an intentional direction or did the success of a specific product create that desire. Anything we should be on the lookout for this year?
EK: Topps prides itself on innovation, and 2020 certainly saw a lot of it. With the success of collaborations like Project 2020 and Steve Aoki’s curated set, Throwing Cake, collectors can expect to see impressive names added to the ever-growing list of Topps partners in 2021. Topps is excited to continue the momentum, continue breaking the mold, and continue innovating and producing products that both rookie and veteran collectors will love.
TD: If there's one thing about baseball cards in 2021 that you're looking forward to, what is it? A new product? The rookie class? Continued hobby growth?
EK: Hitting me with the tough questions, Ted! It’s quite impossible to narrow down one thing in particular, but rather, I’d like to take a step back and appreciate that Topps has paved the way for baseball cards for 70 YEARS! To be celebrating our 70th Anniversary of Series 1 is something that is quite remarkable and hopefully gets collectors excited, because they, too, are a part of this history. This entire year will be a celebration of Topps, which you’ll see shine through in our various products.
TD: Finally, as more people get curious about baseball cards and collecting in general, what would you tell them about the offerings Topps brings to the table as a whole, and where is a good place for them to start the adventure?
EK: When we say there is something for everyone at Topps… there is something for EVERYONE at Topps! From dollar packs to high-end products, from MLB to WWE, Star Wars, and everything in between, Topps brings a unique portfolio of products at varying price points to appeal to all types of collectors. Topps.com continually offers new and exciting products, which is a great place to start a collection. We also encourage collectors to visit their local hobby shops, where they’ll find friendly faces with a wealth of knowledge who are passionate about Topps cards. Topps believes collecting is for everyone, and we encourage collectors to join in on the 70th Anniversary celebration fun by ripping open some packs and becoming part of the hobby community!
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