The Beckett Blog

Guest Commentary: What might Topps have in store for Bryce Harper and Bowman? by Chris Olds

By Steven Judd | For Beckett Baseball

I feel like I just spent a weekend in Las Vegas — you know the kind of trip where you sleep three hours over a span of 72.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a great experience … the excitement … the rush … the thrills … the non-stop buzz … crazy good like IHOP at 3:30 in the morning.

Just when I thought the trip was over, one recent Wednesday night it peaked over the top, again with the first major league start of the one, the only Stephen Strasburg. It all came rushing back like a frenzy of piranhas at a Labor Day cookout at the local lake.

I had meant to write about some general, not-as-riveting subject, but I just cannot resist. I am once again drawn into the spectacle that 2010 Bowman. My mind is racing as we continue to see secondary prices rise on hobby and HTA jumbo boxes, due partly to the perceived lack of product available in retail channels.

It is the perfect storm of hype, supply-demand and an iconic hobby brand. When this kind of product reaches this level of insanity everyone pays attention. Everyone. This particular release has reached well beyond the circle of the prospectors. It is hobby-wide and global in its magnetic effect.

At this point, I am pondering the tactical checklist planning for all Bowman releases through the end of 2011. We know at this point there will be a Strasburg Chrome autograph card in 2010 Bowman Chrome, which could be enough to send that product to the stratosphere.

The real big question will be how Topps handles Bryce Harper as far as when he will go into other Bowman checklists and how (regular card, autograph card, Relic card in Sterling). I wonder how far they will go to fully leverage the potential value his name can bring any Bowman-branded product.

Before I get into my proposed breakdown, I need to make two important assumptions that have timing implications. No. 1, Harper will sign a contract with the Nationals before the end of October. No. 2, Harper will get called up to the Nationals expanded roster in September 2011. I realize that last one could be a lofty assumption, but humor me for the sake of this exercise.

With good planning and some luck with Harper’s progression, Topps can use his name value to enhance at least four different Bowman-branded products. One of the key parts of this plan is to be patience and not overuse him to boost a checklist that is perceived to be soft or weak during the time frame in which sales material is released for products mentioned below.

2010 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects – Base card in Nationals uniform. That is all. This would be his first official non-USA Bowman and Bowman Chrome card. If he signs and is able to show anything in 2010, this will be enough to fuel the fire for this product.

2010 Bowman Sterling – Relic card, jersey or bat. Either Relic type will suffice, although a jersey card with a refractor patch parallel would be insane. Again, if he signs and can show something in 2010, this card would serve as the next step in his cardboard value progression.

2011 Bowman – Autograph Chrome Prospect card. This is the monster. With Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects and Bowman Sterling both being released within six weeks (or less) of each other and eating into each others sales, it stands to reason that this would be the right time to launch his biggest autograph card into the secondary market. Can you imagine the hype of Harper combined with a 2011 Bowman product with his autograph on Chrome?  After what we have seen this year, it is scary and captivating at the same time.

2011 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects – Autograph Chrome Rookie card. This one is the aftershock. Some might argue that it would be overkill and not as relevant as his first autograph card, but I would point to the 2010 Bowman Chrome Rookie Autograph card of Jason Heyward as proof that it would be meaningful and important to the secondary market.

With a player of this caliber and hype, it is crucial to properly harness all of the benefits that he can for not only one release, but multiple releases. I purposefully left 2011 Bowman Chrome out of this plan because of the production expense associated with producing that product, i.e. Topps should have a higher profit margin on 2011 Bowman. I also left it out because the retail distribution of 2011 Bowman would be further-reaching than that of 2011 Bowman Chrome. That point cannot be over looked when analyzing this type of decision.

Steven Judd has worked for Topps, Donruss/Playoff and Upper Deck.


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[…] that of 2011 Bowman Chrome. That point cannot be over looked when analyzing this type of decision. Guest Commentary: What might Topps have in store for Bryce Harper and Bowman? The Beckett Blog __________________ Shop for Sports Cards and Trading […]

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