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Friday, June 10, 2011

What Will Be the Next Big Thing?

I know that video cards haven’t been around but for a few months, but already I’m wondering, “What will they think of next?”

It might be a little while before they get around to anything though, seeing as though with any innovation, you get three stages: novelty, prominence, and finally, oversaturation. We see this with relic cards. At first, you’ll see an incredibly limited supply, which not only grabs attention, but creates an almost hysterical demand. Case in point, the first baseball jersey cards from 1997 Upper Deck featured just three players: Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, and Rey Ordonez. There were just three players and the cards were seeded 1:800 packs. Now, jersey cards are inserted one-per-blaster in some cases and anywhere from 2-4 in a hobby box.

With these once-demanded cards in the oversaturation period, naturally, the focus goes to the next big thing, which for the time being, are video cards. Demand is high right now, as with any new concept, but before you know it, the market will be flooded and demand will be down, leaving collectors wondering what the next big thing will be. Well, here’s what we have. There’s cards with swatches of uniforms swatches of equipment, and swatched of the stadium, autographed cards, autograph on sticker cards, autographed relic cards, patch cards, shadowbox cards, and even Upper Deck entymology cards, which feature a fully-encased insect.

There’s only one way left to go, and that’s to go further beyond the swatch and include a full, actual, game-worn item. While it has not caught on quite yet, two companies (that I know of) have already begun testing out the waters on this.

Since 2008, Just Minors has been releasing a product called “Mystery Jersey,” which was a one-per-pack product of an actual autographed jersey. The 2010 issue included names like Buster Posey, Josh Hamilton, Jason Heyward, Starlin Castro, and Freddie Freeman. Two autographed cards come along with the jersey and it has gotten the interest of collectors who don’t mind the chance of pulling a jersey of an unproven player for the chance to add one of a star to their collection.

Tri City Sports PL released Autos and Rookies Graded Football, which mainly focuses on the cards, but includes at a rate of one per 20-box case, a piece of game-used memorabilia. I believe this is done through redemption, as a box big enough to fit an entire shoe would be a bit of a tell. As a new company, Tri City has tried to put something out there that not many other companies are doing, and unless I am simply unaware, I don’t believe that any of the big three are doing this.

It seems like the littler companies, if they want to stick around for any length of time, need to be innovative and give collectors something they can’t get anywhere else. That is, until the big three catch on and they are forced to try find the NEXT big thing.

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