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Thoughts on the Continued Uncollectibility of Topps Products and More

I received a lot of positive feedback from last month’s column on Topps products. I won’t name names,

but let’s just say that some of the folks I heard from are well known in The Hobby and were in full

agreement. I will not rehash that article here, you can go read it yourself, but the release of 2023

Bowman Chrome Baseball gave us another example of the continued uncollectability of Topps products.

Since February, when they announced the concept at their Industry Summit, Topps has been hyping the

debut of the “RetroFractor.” The concept being, there are dozens of Hall of Famers who never had a “1 st

Bowman Chrome Refractor” card as their careers either pre-dated Bowman’s “Classic Era” (1948-55), or

were in the interregnum between the Classic and Modern Eras of Bowman Baseball (1956-88). Sounds

like a pretty cool idea? I mean who wouldn’t want the “1 st Bowman Chrome Refractor” of Babe Ruth,

Roberto Clemente, or Johnny Bench?

(Never mind the fact that Ruth and Clemente already had Bowman Chrome cards as part of the 2016

and 2017 NSCC wrapper redemption sets, respectively, and that Bench had an insert in 2016 Bowman

Chrome Draft.)

2023 Bowman Chrome was released with “1 st Bowman Chrome Refractors” of Ruth, Clemente, and

Bench, and …

Topps only made fifty of them.

That’s right, all three are serial-numbered to only fifty copies. Add up the base with the three Refractor

parallels (Orange to 25, Red to five, and the one-of-one Refractor) and only eighty-one copies of each

RetroFractor were produced.

This is what I mean by uncollectability. How do you expect anyone to be able to collect just one of these

three cards, much less the whole set of three? You can’t. Even if money was no object, there is no way

you can feasibly collect these cards. And if you’re spending months hyping up these cards, and make

them damn near impossible to find, wouldn’t that be considered a bit of a bait-and-switch?

Well, here we go again. Another year, another production screw-up from Topps. Last year it was the

high-number rookies that went missing from packs of 2022 Topps Chrome. This year, selected Prospects

had a second SuperFractor inserted into packs of 2023 Bowman Chrome.

Like last year, which gave us the “silver packs” and the MVP Buyback promotion, Topps has recognized

their mistake, and is trying to make good by buying back these “TwoPerFractors.” (Credit to Ryan

Cracknell of Beckett for coining “TwoPerFractor”) And boy are they!

With values ranging from a minimum of $3000 to as much as $25,000, Topps is offering to buyback

these cards for more (much more) than they’ll probably ever sell for. And, oh yeah, if you pull one, go

ahead and cash in.

(You must be the first to redeem your TwoPerFractor to get Topps’ cash. Once a player’s TwoPerFractor

is claimed, the other is ineligible. That way, there’s still one SuperFractor per player in circulation.)

Think about it for a moment. Every year, between the three “flagship” Bowman releases (Bowman

Baseball, Bowman Chrome, and Bowman Draft) there are hundreds of Prospects. Many of these are the

coveted “1 st Bowman” Prospects. You can probably count on one hand the number of those 1 st

Bowmans who will still be “Hobby relevant” in five to ten years. Most of these guys will make it to MLB,

some may even have a decent career. That doesn’t mean their cards will be worth anything.

Right now, you can buy on ten-year-old SuperFractors for less than $120. You can get a 2008

Bowman Chrome SuperFractor of a guy who pitched in fourteen games for the 2010-11 Mariners for less

than $50. In other words, if you can get $3000, $5000, or $10,000 now for a card that, more than likely,

projects to be worth a fraction of that ten years from now, you’d be stupid not to take Topps up on their


I wonder if the Wyndham O’Hare is offering time shares, because the 2025 and 2026 National Sports

Collectors Conventions will take place at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont,

Illinois. Accounting for next year’s NSCC in Cleveland, the Stephens Center will host three Nationals in a

four-year period. Rosemont was the only city to bid for the 2025 NSCC, and it is believed that they are

the only announced bidder for 2027 – which if true, would mean three straight NSCCs and four in five

years for the Chicago area.

Now, I’ve always been under the impression that not only can the NSCC not be held in the same city in

consecutive years; and not only can it not be held in the same state in consecutive years; it couldn’t be

held in a neighboring state in consecutive years. In other words, if you have the NSCC in Rosemont, IL,

on year, you couldn’t have it in Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Louisville, or St. Louis the following year. (You

couldn’t have it in Des Moines either – not like you’d want to go to Iowa. Trust me.) You can have it in

Kansas City, Kansas, but not Kansas City, Missouri. But I suppose the NSCC selection rules had to have

changed, so back to the Chicago suburbs we go.

Rosemont was one of three cities that bid for the 2026 NSCC, beating out 2022 host Atlantic City, and

Atlanta which hasn’t hosted the NSCC this century. I was expecting Atlantic City to win the 2026 rights –

after all, it is the only city in the Northeastern U.S. that can realistically hold The National. (That and

Baltimore, but the NSCC has outgrown the Baltimore Convention Center.) But the voters – that is, the

dealers who set up – said no.

Look, I’m from South Jersey, I get it. Atlantic City is hard to get to if you need to fly in from the West

Coast. (Although you can fly into Philadelphia, take the train from the airport into Center City

Philadelphia and transfer to a train that drops you off at the A.C. Convention Center.) And it’s not

exactly that kind of place where you’d want to walk the streets at night. And don’t get me started about

the sidewalk. (Seriously, what was that water/mud/trash/sludge mixture on the sidewalk in front of the

A.C. Convention Center anyway?) But the East Coast location – and the $1000 in subsides A.C. was

offering to each dealer -- wasn’t enough to lure the NSCC back to the Jersey Shore.

To wrap-up, if you got any questions, comments, trade offers, you can slip into my DMs, or shoot me an

e-mail. All my wantlists (separated be year) are up on my website.

Keep on rockin’ in the free world.


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