A little perspective for the Topps Million Giveaway fanatics

The hobby has been set ablaze again by Topps.

The company’s Million Card Giveaway has gained national media attention which has driven up the prices of unused redemption cards on eBay. One lot of 120 codes recently sold for nearly $300.

If you’re new to the Topps Million Card Giveaway, basically Topps inserted code cards one in every six packs, and each code is redeemable on the Topps Million Web site for one previously released Topps card. The pool is vast, as it contains every card (sometimes in multiple quantities) from 1952 to 2009. Topps’ main selling point of course is the fact that you could pull a sweet vintage card, like the ones your mother’s threw away.

Now I’m not going to hate on anyone buying the codes. I had 11 of them and managed to get a pair of vintage cards, albeit not high dollar ones. The purpose of this post is to put things into prospective.

As others have noted before, this is essentially a lottery where everyone wins something, but the prize is not always one worth redeeming. Yes, you have a shot at a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. The card has not been found yet, but a 1952 Topps Eddie Mathews rookie — the second best card in the iconic ’52 set — has, which no doubt has made some collectors want to buy even more packs.

I love the idea of the giveaway. But what I can’t get over is the reaction from people who get vintage cards that are pretty common place in today’s hobby. For example these three cards:

If you opened three 2010 Topps baseball packs and pulled three code cards that ultimately led you to these three vintage cards, what would your reaction be? Probably pretty damn happy.

While it seems that hundreds of collectors are coming away with 1987 Topps cards of Pete Rose, you would have wound up with a 1963 Joe Pepitone (second year), a 1968 League Leader featuring Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey, and a 1968 World Series card commemorating Lou Brock’s four hits. In a vacuum, those are pretty cool cards.

But consider this, all of those cards can be had on ebay for just a couple of dollars each when you factor in shipping. In my case, I found these at an antique shop for a buck apiece.

As noted earlier, I am not chastising anyone for getting caught up in the hoopla. I, too, want to have a shot at obtaining vintage cards that are often out of the price range for many collectors. But one must exercise caution and think before they act. With few exceptions, all of the vintage cards being given away can be purchased on the secondary market for merely pennies on the dollar — or possibly less than what you pay for a lot of 10 or 20 unused codes. Granted condition of the card may vary, but one must remember that Topps also has made no guarantee about the condition of the cards they are giving away. Heck, they basically hit eBay and bought back a bunch of vintage, the same thing you could have done for yourself at a much cheaper rate.

On a side note, check out this awesome breakdown at Freedom Cardboard of what has been redeemed in the first four days.

4 Responses to “A little perspective for the Topps Million Giveaway fanatics”

  1. […] back a bunch of vintage, the same thing you could have done for yourself at a much cheaper rate. A little propective for the Topps Million Giveaway fanatics __________________ Shop for Sports Cards and Trading […]

  2. I wonder if an intended consequence may be shortages of the 2010 product or even more of a $$$ premium on packs configurations with guaranteed code cards (Jumbos & Cereal boxes?). Is it possible that this overly successful marketing campaign may actually backfire by driving scarcity or higher prices for unopened packs? At least until next March when the offers expire?

  3. jay neureither Says:

    is it one card per household per day.what if i have more then one card.if i enter the code will i recieved the card showning.i think this is a great idea

  4. I am disabled, and cannot afford to by more than a couple of packs @ a time. I have redeemed one card, a 1987 common, which I am hoping to trade for any Detroit Tiger card, regardless of the year.

    I am happy that collectors have a chance at a great card, but you make a great point, one that symbolizes the problem with collecting cards. When you open a pack of cards it should be to enjoy the cards in the pack as they relate to baseball, not for how much someone says they’re worth…only you determine what a card is worth…not a piece of paper.

    I like your site, and will try to follow it as much as possible.

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