Harder to be unique

One of a kind, but not any more? I’ve spent the last few years designing my own baseball cards. I’ve stated before that I’ve done it more as a response to not having the ability to fully replicate that year’s issue of Topps baseball cards.

Topps brought back custom cards last year, and they’re still not quite where I’d like for them to be: a true and accurate reflection of what the normal set is produced as.

And Topps, and Panini, have done a lot more. I’ve written about Topps Now. The company has produced exclusive designs that are similar for baseball as they are for WWE, UFC and the election.

Topps has been using their past designs – even some from other sports or non-sports – in a deal called Throwback Thursday – and those are using more designs.

But Topps Bunt appears to be one of the biggest agents of design changes. The company produced an actual set based on the phone application. Plus, some of those designs that were exclusive to the app have made their way as an online exclusive set in the form of Topps Crossover.

I don’t collect all of Topps’ products, as I’ve stated before, but it is difficult to ensure originality in the designs I put together. Certainly, there are influences. The hot design seems to be the stark parallelogram, whether it includes a logo or a name or whatever.

I getting closer to design a new baseball card for 2017, something that continues to be led by influences and traditions of the game. Some flash, but more substance.

Topps puts together an NFL card app, and I just started using it. Football, to me, can be some flash, but there can be substance. The substance is there especially if the particular program has a winning tradition. When teams are successful, it’s much harder to change those things associated with winning. Teams without that can puff themselves on changes.

Bottom line is, I haven’t looked at the NFL trading card app extensively, and I haven’t bought NFL trading cards – now exclusively produced by Panini – in a long time. Panini, like Topps, has an exclusive license for the NBA and the NFL for actual cardboard products. Panini, like Topps, has online on-demand card selling, too. I began using that today to see what it is like.

I’ve looked at the on-demand selling by Panini, but thanks to my favorite NFL team being not very successful (the Detroit Lions), I haven’t felt the need to buy a Lions card at $10 or so each week they win. It will need to take a Lions playoff run for that to happen. Might only take a Super Bowl bid.

Panini also has an app called Panini Gridiron, that’s that company’s version of Topps Huddle.

I stopped following NBA religiously more than 20 years ago for a variety of reasons, and I don’t collect those cards, either. With Panini having that license, I’ve looked at the on-demand cards of the NBA by Panini. I haven’t looked at the company’s app that is similar to Topps Bunt or Topps Huddle called NBA Dunk from Panini.

When it comes to the Panini apps, I have not downloaded either. The depth of the crossing over for Topps, though, doesn’t appear to be there. I might download those apps to take a look at them, and that way I don’t get any outright claims of copyright infringement.

The good news is I already have my 2016 football card designed. I just need to get the photos in order.

Hockey is a different animal. Upper Deck owns the physical trading card rights the NHL exclusively. The company that ushered in a lot of changes to the industry in early 1990s appears to be the No. 3 company in the trading card market, partly because of its sole exclusive contract and possibly because of its attempt to do an end-around on Topps’ exclusive baseball contract.

I have yet to find a trading card app similar to Topps or Panini for my iPhone from Upper Deck. Topps stared one recently, and it’s something I’m just now getting going. Upper Deck had EPack, but that was online and not a native app when I searched for it on the iTunes store.

I haven’t seen any news, either, on the on-demand cards. That might be something I’d be interested in if I felt my Detroit Red Wings were on the way to a Stanley Cup (they probably aren’t).

All of that leads to this: there are just as many card designs now – both physical and virtual – than there were when the sports card industry was flooded in the 1980s and 1990s.

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