Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Shohei Ohtani Cards Will Be Found In Topps Heritage Packs (Kind Of)

The biggest newcomer of the year is expected to be two way Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani.  Topps recently announced the Ohtani cards will be found in the soon to be released 2018 Topps Heritage set, but they won't be easily found for the average collector.  The autographs will be inserted into both retail and hobby packs, so anyone will have a shot at those although the odds of pulling one are fairly long.  There will be a base card short print, however for some reason Topps is only inserting those into hobby boxes.  They will not be found in retail packs at all and with the current price of a hobby case at $1300 (almost twice what they were last year), not many average collectors can afford Heritage hobby this year.  I guess if you want a card of Ohtani, you will most likely have to go through the secondary market.

Another interesting point is that the card will have him as a pitcher as expected, since the Angels are heavily leaning towards not playing him in the outfield at all this season.  However, Topps also announced they will put out an Ohtani base card in the 2018 Topps Heritage High Numbers set featuring him as an outfielder.  I think his cards will have huge demand up through April.  After that, it will depend on how he pitches in the pitcher mashing American League.  Will he be more Nomo or more Irabu?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Is the Death of Topps Heritage Upon Us?

For almost two decades now, Topps Heritage has been my favorite modern sports card product. Some might even say I have an unhealthy love affair with it sometimes! But I fear Topps Heritage might be dying. I have always felt the death of Heritage was inevitable, but now that the end might be near it is becoming an emotional time for me. Let's take a look back at the past few releases.

For the past four or five years, Topps Heritage has come out of the gate on fire for the first week or two, only to rapidly cool off after that. This is in contrast to the first ten years or so when Topps Heritage would stay in demand through the summer (release date has always been late February or early March). There is also the inevitable law of diminishing nostalgia as it relates to the design years. The cards from the sixties are beloved by collectors, but not as much as cards from the fifties. And in 2019, Topps Heritage will break into the era of disco and oil embargo's with the 1970 design and while most collectors consider most of the sets from the seventies as vintage cards, they are not nearly as beloved as cards from the 60's and 50's. So there is that working against Heritage. And then we get to the the pre-release storm of 2018.

2018 Topps Heritage Preview

Over the years, Topps has steadily increased production of Heritage and prices of pre-sell hobby cases have always been in the $600-$750 range. This year, when I first started looking into pre-sell cases of 2018 Topps Heritage, I was surprised at what I found from the two major dealers most Heritage collectors get their cases from. Blowout Cards had cases prices at $950 and Atlanta Sports Cards did not have any Heritage listed for pre-sell. I emailed both dealers and Blowout would not give a reason for a price increase but said that was the best they could do at the time. Since then, they have bumped the price up as high as $1,199 per case and it currently sits at about $1,150. Atlanta Sports Cards stated that they ran out and were trying to obtain more but not having much luck. What could this mean? It could mean demand is so high that Topps cannot supply enough Heritage even with increased production. Or it could mean Topps is producing significantly less Heritage this year due to decreased demand. My bet is on the latter...unfortunately.

Update (Feb. 14th)  Case price up to $1425!  Happy Valentine's Day!

Why do I believe Topps is producing less Heritage this year? Well at first I thought they might be trying to ride the Aaron Judge wave they caught last year. After Judge's Heritage cards started to skyrocket, case prices of 2017 Topps Heritage hobby rose to over $1,000. However, Judge is no longer a rookie and Topps flagship set (2018 Topps Series 1) presell cases were priced at about the same $650 level as last year's presell prices. I talked to several big time Heritage case busters and many are upset because their cases orders which were already reserved and had deposits put down on them were literally cut in half. Some of these guys order 40 cases of Topps Heritage a year, they thought they were getting 40 cases this year only to find out they are getting 20 cases this year. I can't imagine Blowout or Atlanta doing that to some of their best customers unless they are getting less product than they anticipated. That is why I think Topps has slashed production this year...and why I fear Heritage, like the card designs it represents, will soon be a fond reminder of past glory days.