Monday, February 23, 2015

Base Cards

Last week I saw a conversation on Twitter about the significance of base cards in our hobby and how it seems they are not really needed anymore. I even saw the word

First off I wanted to ask you guys about this, What do you guys think of that statement? Do you agree? Should base cards leave the hobby?

Now, here is my take.

I think in today's hobby of hits, mojo and big pulls that base cards do play a much less significant role, but as for them not playing one at all anymore or not being needed, I don't see that. There are still, though very few, set collectors around. There are also team and player collectors who do both hits and base such, I know I still do. I think these types of collectors alone are enough reason to keep them so my immediate response is to keep them. In my opinion, I don't think base cards are really the problem, I think the problem is,  the companies that are making them.

The biggest problem with base cards right now is the lack of innovation and design with them (I feel the same way about inserts but we can save that topic for another day). Most are now usually printed on thin card stock, have either a white, silver, or artsy background, and the ones that have nice photography are usually gobbled up with borders. To me, most feel like fillers in a pack which is why a lot of collectors rummage through their packs looking just for the hits. I like creativity and I know others must as well. What happened to using acetate or holograms? What about thicker base cards with foil? Die Cuts? What about ones with little border and full-blown photography like you are at the game? Spend more than five minutes on a base card design and add a little innovation. I think companies would be amazed by the difference and maybe see an increase in sales with certain products and maybe a boom in base card wants.

Another problem is a lack of players in base card sets right now. Most base card sets consist of 50-100 cards and in most boxes you can easily put a set together or two if you choose. Where is the fun and chase in that? Why not add more players than 2-3 of each team? There are more players than that on a team that make a significance. Why not add some Sp's in the base card set? You know, subsets that fall 1:4 packs so you don't get the complete set in every box. And before you mention it, no, I am not talking the annoying sparkle or photo variations. I am talking subsets like All-Star or MVP's or something along those lines. Maybe even number them to 1999 in mid-end products. There is nothing more us set collectors enjoy than bigger sized sets and a challenge. I, for one, have slowly been losing interest in today's base card sets besides a select few, but I have been chasing ones from the 90's.

Finally, I think companies emphasize way too much on the hits. If they made a great product overall and not just focus on the hits in a product, the base cards would be better off and the hobby. They are called base for a reason, they are the base of a product. To me they are the center of a product where the hits shouldn't be anything but a bonus. It seems that has become forgotten. You can't grow a apple tree without it's roots can you? Yes, it has nice fruit, but if you don't have it's base you won't have the fruit. ALL of the tree matters just like ALL of the cards in a pack. Treat them equally and build a nice overall tree because the fruit can only grow if it has it's roots.

Many of you will just say, well, it's not the 90's anymore and times have changed and that I am stuck in that era. Well, to answer that, yes I am. That was the era I grew up collecting in and enjoyed the most. It was also a time when people in my area were collecting and were into it big time. Most now just try to get rid of the cards calling them a waste of space. Which isn't a bad thing as I have found some tremendous deals, but at the same time there are no collectors left because of it. I think it's mostly because there are not many good OVERALL products anymore and just too many hit filled products. Hits also mean more costly products.

I guess here is what I am trying to say, I want to see more of these as base cards again

Less of this

If you can't see the difference in the base cards, I would be surprised.

Overall, base cards will continue to hang around.........for now. But, at some point companies may decide to cut costs a bit more and just focus on hit only products. To me, that would be a very sad day in this hobby and hopefully not something we will never have to face. I think that would be another death blow to the hobby. A death blow I am not sure the hobby could handle as many of the old time collectors might leave.


  1. Each year we see more hit oriented boxes, but I think the base card will stay around. Between set and TTM collectors I think their is more than enough to warrant to continuation. Now we just need the companies to give the base some love.

  2. To be honest, I would like to be able to buy packs that are *just* base cards. A lot of the inserts are redundant or boring or etc. etc. - Inserts and hits can be fun, sure, but I like team sets and complete sets and larger runs of cards you can easily identify with a year / team / player.
    I think on the other hand no one would complain if there were easily identified premium packs that were all insert / short print / Parallel / Hits.
    As long as Stadium Club keeps coming back, I think base cards will have at least one good design.

  3. As a Packers and Virginia Tech PC guy, I absolutely still pick up base cards! There are a ton of great players who have few, if any, hits, but I still collect them because they have plenty of base cards. Some guys, like Aaron Rodgers, would price me WAY out of collecting them if they didn't have any compelling base cards.
    One of my current favorite products is Crown Royale, with its shiny, die cut, foil base cards. This year's Topps Valor with the team logo backgrounds and the colorful, radical Topps Fire were pretty solid, too.
    Also, I insist on getting my base cards when I buy into a break. I feel like I'm at least getting something back for my money if I miss on the hits, especially if it's a pretty solid base set!

  4. I dread the day card companies no longer make base cards. If they're going to cut back on anything... I think it should be the abundance of cheesy inserts.

  5. I agree with Fuji. I collect sets. I put together at least two or three sets every year. I would like to see a product that is over priced because of the inserts, with just the base cards. The base cards are still the source for most rookie cards. If they are going to make inserts, make ones that aren''t so "cheesy". For instance, this years topps with the historical card inserts. If I wanted historical cards, I would look for a product that sold historical cards. They don't belong in baseball card packs.

    So, I would really hate to see the base cards disappear!

  6. Very well written post! Set building will live on despite the nature of the market focusing more on "hits"... collect what you love and you will never lose. I think the manufacturers are making more efforts with making nicer base cards again lately...hoping that continues.