Topps has sold 300,000 on-demand cards through its NOW program this year, a number the company says far exceeds expectations.
The program began last April with Topps utilizing its MLB license beginning the day after the first games of the season. Since then, over 500 cards depicting moments and milestones from the season have been offered on Topps’ website for 24 hours. The cards are then delivered in a few days, where in past years fans had to wait until the next year’s set to collect the images.
“We have been able to use Topps NOW to provide fans with a great emotional keepsake while the memory is top of mind in a long baseball season,” said Jeff Heckman, the company’s Director of New Product Development & eCommerce Marketplace. “By furnishing fans with a real-time, state of the art platform for actual cards, we have been able to both create a new market without alienating the traditional collector. The best thing is we have just scratched the surface with this technology, and have even more unique things planned for the playoffs and World Series, when fandom is at its highest.”
Topps’ decisions as to which moments are turned into cardboard are made on a daily basis. All 30 teams have received more than one card, with the Chicago Cubs (38 cards), Boston Red Sox (36), and the New York Yankees (28) having the most. The top players have been David Ortiz with eight cards, and Ichiro and Chicago’s Kris Bryant with six each. Topps has also sold over 1,000 sets of Chicago Cubs postseason sets on preorder, without a game being played yet.
All of the cards are dated on the front. Some have also featured autographs or game used memorabilia on a limited basis.
Ichiro’s 3,000th hit holds the one day sales record of over 11,550 cards sold, with the New York Mets’ Bartolo Colon second with over 8,000 cards delivered following the All-Star pitcher’s rare home run against the San Diego Padres in May. Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin from the New York Yankees have the third most cards sold at over 5,000 when they hit back-to-back home runs in their first MLB plate appearances.
The first Topps NOW commemorative relic card offer which featured All-Star Game MVP Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals sold out in just 20 minutes. The first auto relic produced in the program was made available Tuesday with Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor featured on game-used base cards commemorating the Tribe’s first AL Central title since 2007.
Not all moments are captured, however. The partnership with MLB and its Players Association mean you won’t see cards featuring brawls or other less family-friendly moments. Curiously, Topps didn’t produce a card featuring Dee Gordon’s emotional home run or other moments from Monday night’s tribute to pitcher Jose Fernandez. Vin Scully’s Dodger Stadium farewell on Sunday wasn’t captured either. Topps didn’t immediately respond to questions about why two of the season’s most memorable moments haven’t been feted in the inaugural set.
The NOW platform has also been launched with the company’s other league partners like the UFC, Major League Soccer, and WWE and those will also be expanded in the coming month.