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Monday, August 17, 2009

What's wrong with the hobby?

Blog fodder whatever. Seems all of us bloggers have spent way too much time on the subject and beaten the proverbial horse to death. So what do I have to add to the subject? Simple. Some have said that the problem with the hobby is High end, some say it the race to the top with game used and autos, I personally think that there are too many products. I have yammered on about when the decline came. I think the decline hit critical mass in 92. Topps went to white stock, Fleer and Ultra, Donruss, Upper Deck, pinnacle. Things just degraded from there.

Again, what do I have to add to the issue? Again simple. The answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE. It is whatever the reason that people drop out from collecting. For some it is that there are too many products. Personally that is why I stopped collecting for quite a few years. I became overwhelmed and didn't really see the point. I was a set and star collector. Buy some wax, build a set, get some star doubles while I was at it. What was the use of collecting if I had no hope of getting all of the sets from the particular year. Pack prices were increasing, set count was increasing, etc. Sure with fewer sets you are going to have some miss years, but we have that already. Anyone want a box of 2003 Topps football for retail price? I thought not. I have said a few hundred times that if Topps had base,chrome and Finest with Finest having Sterling level hits, and a reasonable price I would buy it by the pallet.

The too many products theory is similar to the High end is ruining the hobby argument. What is the use of collecting if I can never get the good cards that are in demand. Nothing like being stuck with the base rookie card when there is the rainbow of refractor autos xfractors, blah blah blah. If you are an AP collector, the 07 Exquisite Patch auto is the card. If I pull on out of my case (I wont) Gellman and Hitter might come unglued. I might be pursuaded to trade it as well. Anyway, If I was an AP fan and a player collector, the out of reach cards would drive me nuts. So a lot of people get discouraged at the prospect of having a perpetually second rate collection. I feel their pain. Wouldn't be an issue for me if I was a player collector. The great thing about the 80's was that I could go down to the store and buy a pack and pull the hot rookie just like anyone else. I do remember going into shops and having all the hot cards. In some respects my collection was as good as any run of the mill dealer.

The price theory is connected to the high end theory but is entirely different. Take a retail pack $3-$5 for 4-8 shitty base base cards that all look the same. It costs $300 bucks in wax to build an A and G set at least. Back in the day it was $30-$50 or $30 and $10 in singles and commons. Donruss products do have some nice hits but they are not set builder cards. The base cards are worth nothing but you are paying .75 to $1 per card. When you spent $.40 on a pack of 87 topps you got 17 cards. Chances are you pulled a star that got you your .40 back or you could sell or trade your commons for .05 a card and get it back that way. Why people buy retail these days I have no idea.

Everyone has a different theory and they are all, to a point, correct, if only for that person.


Gellman said...

Your point hinges on the fact that one has to have EVERYTHING. Why? There is no way to get everything, and you dont need everything, so why let it bother you? Too many products are the reason that people leave? Most of the time the variety is what draws people in.

Ill give you an example. I am one of thousands of people who has been drawn in by the beauty of many of the high end products. I collected fleer and donruss and upper deck when I was a kid, but I realized that sports wasnt too interesting to me anymore.

Then, when I left minnesota, I found out just how important sports was to me, through college, my collecting habits returned due to the fact that my love of sports drove me to collect the autographs of players I loved. Did I care that there were 1000 dollar cards out there that I couldnt have? No, i focus on getting the cool ones I could afford. That drove me to get other stuff, and so on and so on.

People who want everything are usually driven away by the thought of how much there is to get. People who just want the fun stuff stick around. Lucky enough, there is a lot of fun stuff for everyone as long as the products are aplenty.

Really, a variety is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Gellman said...

That, and the fact that when there is a screw up in the land of many products, there is many other things to fill the void.

stusigpi said...


The perspective that one has to have everything is surely irrational. Then again, the idea of collecting to me is irrational, but I do it anyway.

I still don't think we need all the products that are out there. I would agree that variety, to a degree, is good. The 20 useless Upper Deck Baseball sets annoys the non collector in me as well. I find it to be ridiculous, much like spx and Rookie Threads football. I don't chase those products either.

My whole point was that each person has something that drives them away. In 1992 it was the too many sets. For me it was a difficult transition going from TFD to TFDS and UD then pinnacle, pacific etc. It was so far outside what I liked about collecting that it annoyed me.

As you said the variety is what draws people in, to that, I agree that for some people that does draw them in. Just like High end drives some people away, it draws others in. The positives and negatives are different for any given collector. I was not saying that my perspective was right because for others it is certainly wrong.

Gellman said...

People say that high end drives people away, but I dont see that happening. Its baseball cards' urban myth.

stusigpi said...


I don't know if high end drives people away or not. I was merely explaining the theory. Maybe for some it does, but maybe it draws more people in than it drives out. As I said, each particular person has something that draws them in or conversley drives them away. There is no one size fits all answer. I like a lot of the high end and a quick look at the forums, that I know you read, shows that high end sells very well so obviously hundreds if not thousands are drawn to it.

I also stated what drove me away in the 90's. Whether it was a good reason or not, too many sets had that effect, you think variety is good. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer here as a whole. The answer is a microcosm as applied to the individual.