Thursday, November 18, 2010


How much about this great hobby should we be allowed to know about? How much of a company's 'going's on' should we have access to? How much information from the head honcho should we expect? Demand?

Are some issues taboo? Are some a must have?

Things like quality control, exclusive contracts with players, pre-release checklists, promotions or consumer access. What should the average hobbyist be allowed to have? How about the store owners? How about those who just spend a lot of dough on product?

Where is the line drawn and who gets to draw it?

Back in the 80's, the only 'contact' I had with a card company was when they would send me my annual card locker after I mailed in my wrappers along with a few bucks. The only other thing I cared about was where I could pick up packs of cards. It was pretty simple.

Then again, I was only 8 or 9 at the time.

These days, it seems with the internet and social media becoming not just the norm - but a necessity, information flow to and from card companies seems abundant bordering on overkill.

Part of the fun of opening up the newest card release was the sheer excitement in all aspects - who was in the product, what would it look like, how many Flames cards are in the set? Whatever it may be.

Today, all of these questions are answered before I even leave my house to go to the local card shop. The passion and excitement has turned from something innocent to that which is way more calculated.

For example....stated odds of certain cards being in packs, boxes and even cases. It's not about picking up a few packs and opening them, it's become a task now of buying boxes and systematically eliminating the throwaway cards and showcasing the 'hits'. Why do we need that information?

I understand that the amount of information we are given by the company is mostly for marketing purposes. With multiple products from multiple companies now on the docket in a given year, competition is at an all-time high. Trying to get an edge is what the game is all about.

But do I really need this information? Why can't I get this 'on the go' or second hand from the consumers themselves? Why must I be told what's going to be in my 'Christmas present' before I open it?

Let's move on to pre-release checklists. Why is it so vital to know the entire extent of the player selection in a product before I go buy it? Why must I see sell sheet after sell sheet promoting the product and giving me detailed looks at the various card designs?

Again, why not get that info 'on the go'? Clearly it has become a case of people buying wax not to collect.....but to flip. The hobby has seen the development of 'businessmen' as opposed to collectors. You can even see it in the kids nowadays. How fast can I bust open the product, find the hits and sell them.

Finally, let's look at having the ear of the top guys in the industry. Why should I have access to them? Why should I be allowed to tee off on them when I don't get my 'money's worth' on a box of cards?

Should I be allowed to have the same face time with the boss as someone who buys 10 or 20 times the amount of product as I do? What if I buy just one card from a company and I don't like it. Should I be allowed to vent at the company brass? Why?

To be fair, they put themselves out there in certain instances, but I feel it is again a marketing thing. Those who can bs with the common collector and make themselves seem like my thoughts matter might make me (and others) feel a level of trust with the individual. Hence...I buy more product from them.

But I have no doubt that if their contact with consumers didn't affect the bottom line....they would not put themselves out there nearly as much as they do. There is definitely an aspect of 'work' going on.

If I go out and buy a painting or a cd or go to a movie and then come home and determine 'I got ripped off', I don't get on the horn with them and tell them what I'd like to see them do. I don't ask them for a replacement set of songs. I don't ask for a re-do of the canvas work.

So why do we have that expectation when it comes to cards?

I believe it is a result of the level of transparency (or apparent transparency) that we have been given with the card companies. We feel we are more than just a buyer.

It's as if we are board members or stock holders. We are not. We are consumers. And if we don't like the product....then don't continue to buy it.

The level of transparency is a luxury, a bonus. It should not be an expectation. And in my opinion, I'd like to see less of the business aspect of the industry. I'd like to get back to more of the innocence.