2016 appears to be the year of the great oddball return in baseball cards, or at least the first year in a gradual, renewed ramp up. We've got baseball cards coming with New Era hats, over-sized SGA cards making the rounds throughout the league (although, both of those just clone the Topps Flagship design *grumble*) and loose foil packs floating around in Marketside, ready-made pizzas. Oddballs seem to be trending in the right direction.
Now, I'm all sorts of in favor of this; I say, bring back the days of the early to mid-90's, when you could find cards with your cereal, soda pop, underwear, batteries... pretty much anything. Of course, we'd more than likely need more than one company with a license to have that happen (and not be lazy with the designs).
The Marketside cards have definitely been a big hit; however, they're time in the spotlight seems to be waning and I still haven't come across either of the Cubs. Of course, I don't go to Walmart and I'm kind of a pizza snob, so that kind of limits my exposure. Thankfully, the rest of my family isn't quite so discerning with their tastes:
My ever-so-generous mother saved me this foil pack from the latest pizza box to be emptied in the family household. I guess temporarily living here while my fiancee and I are saving up money for the wedding does have it's perks after all.
Also, I noticed that Walmart has absolutely slashed their prices on these pizza pies, since the promo only has a few week's left. The large pizza was marked down to $3.88 - so, if you find this pizza tolerable, you might want to get in on that.
Anyway, would this be the pack that landed my my first Marketside Cub? Let's take a looksie:
Ugh. A bad baseball player and an even worse human being... we're definitely not off to the best start here.
A Yankee... man... I legitimately just mailed off a package to the Lost Collector yesterday afternoon. Doesn't that just figure? Oh well, at least it's a nice action shot.
Only one more card left, will this be the one?
Yay, it is! This pixel-y, bathroom tile-ish, Tetris-like backdrop with the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year and MVP candidate front and center is all mine. Now, all I need is Kyle Schwarber to complete my team set. Hopefully I don't have to pay a hometown markup to finish it off.
Of course, there were also the coupons included in the back of the pack:
As of this writing, I've already used the one on the left for a value pack of Archives (which isn't a product listed as an option on the coupon - I'm such a rebel) and if I were a Royals collector, I would feel obligated to categorize the Bunt one on the right as a KC card.
After the glow of pulling one of my needed/wanted cards from a gift pack gradually wore off, I kept staring at that Bunt code card. A three card pack only barely scratched that pack ripping itch and, though the concept of digital cards holds no appeal to me (I still buy all music on vinyl or CD, after all), free stuff is still free stuff.
So - I logged into my Bunt account for the first time in at least six months and typed in that code. Though digital cards don't really hold my attention, I did create an account and give the app a shot, since I'll try (almost) anything once.
Let's see what "cards" were contained within my free "pack:"
No Cubs and none of their fancy-pantsy inserts; so, all I'm left with are digitized versions of the 2016 Flagship cards. Blah. Again, I'm glad that Topps is starting to broaden it's horizons, but is it really necessary to repeat the same, exact design through all of Flagship, Opening Day, Bunt, New Era, etc.?
Even with my indifference at best to Bunt, I am looking forward to the physical versions that will be hitting shelves later this year (with an original design, to boot). First of all, it's a new product and that's always going to catch my eye. Also, some of those fancy-pantsy inserts are actually pretty cool (I'm especially fond of those Program cards) and I sure wouldn't mind having a few physical copies in my collection.
Another pretty Kris Bryant, image courtesy of Topps.com
Most importantly, though, is the fact that I think this is the future of the trading card collecting. The hobby is never going to go all digital because humans need something tangible to hold onto, especially those that collect. The hobby is never going to stay exclusively physical though because computers are so completely interwoven into our lives and, no matter how curmudgeonly you may be, that's not going to change.
A healthy and happy medium, a product that blends the physical with the digital is the way of the future, in my humble opinion. It'll be interesting to see how it does in it's maiden voyage.
Image courtesy of Beckett Media
Anyway, in conclusion, that's my 2 cents on digital trading cards and physical, oddball cards. Both appear to be trending upward and the Marketside promotion is indicative of just that.
Now, if only I had an excuse or desire to run out to my local Lidz and purchase a $25 hat just so that I could sample the baseball cards that come with them. I've been wearing the same Cubs hat for more than 10 years now and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Hopefully, these kind of oddball pairings continue though and the next product they come with is actually something I would buy anyway. Fingers crossed.
If so, we can always look back at the Marketside promotion and point to that as the kick off of the renaissance of retail oddballs. That is, if I'm not entirely wrong and the whole collecting hobby is digitized in 10 years time :)