Buy this pack and I’ll give you 10 bucks…

31 08 2008

Topps announced this past week that they will be bribing people to buy this year’s Topps Treasury Basketball by placing actual money inside rip cards scattered throughout the release.  The rip cards themselves fall one a box, and 429 of them will feature cash monies between $10 and $1000 dollars.

What a horrid idea.

There are reports and videos on the nets that people are able to tell what’s inside a rip card without ever ripping it. I can only hope that Topps has worked hard to fix this problem before putting actual cash inside them. Either way, I’m not touching one of these on eBay, even if I did collect basketball cards.

Ben Henry at The Baseball Card Blog also brings up an interesting point:

Here’s something else to consider: let’s say you find one of the cards containing a $20 bill. Do you open it up? Or is it more valuable than $20 if you leave it intact? Also, what if it’s stamped with a 1/50 serial number? Does that make it more valuable than $20?

My gut says these cards are worth less than the money inside them, since you have to actually damage the card to get to the cash prize. I know I don’t see myself paying more than $20 for a card with $20 inside of it, but I also suspect that their are people who would. As for overall value, though, I’m just not seeing it.

Finally, what does this say about the state of the hobby when you have to bribe people to buy your product? Well, for one it says to me that Topps is fresh out of ideas. The cards themselves are pretty ugly, and the rest of the release seems pretty uninspired. Why not work on these aspects first, Topps, rather than going straight to payola?

It also reinforces my feelings that card companies (Topps and Upper Deck, anyway) don’t care about the long term collector anymore and are more concerned luring big hit hunters. Set builders and hobbyists are an afterthought. It’s the investors these companies want (further enforced by Upper Deck’s baseball slogan “Invest in your passion”).

I wish I could say this surprised me more, but I just hope it’s not a sign of more bad gimmicks to come.

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