61Tf1While comics and trading cards were once joined at the hip in the Speculatory Era as twin collectibles, the trading card industry has faded over the years into more of a pure hobby and less of a game for flashy high rollers. Since we hadn’t been keeping up, we were a bit surprised to come across a story commenting on the news that Topps had lost the NFL license. Players Inc, the NFl players branding arm, declined to renew Topps’ license.

Since we still have a few old Topps football cards tucked away in a binder, this was saddening in many ways. But, this concise rundown shows it’s been a pretty tumultuous year for the trading card business in general, with far fewer sports licenses, increased competition for those remaining, lawsuits, cancellations and other juicy stuff. In August, Topps got an exclusive on MLB baseball, right from under Upper Deck’s nose, prompting Topps owner Michael Eisner to talk about protecting the children:

“This is redirecting the entire category toward kids,” Topps’ Michael Eisner told the Times. “Topps has been making cards for 60 years, the last 30 in a nonexclusive world that has caused confusion to the kid who walks into a Wal-Mart or a hobby store. It’s also been difficult to promote cards as unique and original.”



  1. Here’s an interesting analysis of trading cards, from Sports Illustrated:

    Page 3 is especially worth reading, as the reporter visits what was once the Upper Deck card shop.

    I got into card collecting in 1979, starting with Moonraker and Mork and Mindy. ($0.25 a pack) I bought some football cards, but it seemed too large a set, and not interesting enough. Stopped collecting a few years later, but got back in with the Upper Deck Looney Tunes.

  2. It doesn’t help that a pack of cards can be as much as a comic these days.

    And then there’s the “super collector” level of cards with inserts that can run hundreds of dollars a pack. Insane.

  3. It’s called capitalism, Mike. Investors want to see a nice return on their investment. If that means charging kids for a product worth 1000% more than the cost of producing it, then so be it. The future is going to be expensive. Better study hard and get those multiple degrees so your child can enjoy his trading cards. By having these cards, he’ll be more well-adjusted, and more successful. Later on, you can steal one of his girlfriends from him and go, ” Opps. My bad. I didn’t know you were still seeing her” when confonted, ” “This wouldn’t happen if I never got you those ‘super collector cards.’ “