Leaf President Brian Gray’s Response To The Andrew Luck Prismatic Errors

In case you didn’t notice, all the Andrew Luck Leaf Prismatic auctions were closed today.  Below is Leaf President Brian Gray’s response to the errors.

“We appreciate the feedback on the recent Metal Andrew Luck cards which included spelling errors. I am embarrassed over these oversights and I would like to apologize on behalf of LEAF that these errors occurred.

These were printed as part of a much larger job and were only one card on a 100 card sheet. With that being said, there is still no excuse for this error..

In an effort to address this issue in the most responsible manner:

1> We have removed all listings for auction style cards featuring this error. This includes ALL parallels. All bids are cancelled and the cards will be destroyed!

2> We have discontinued selling the error version of the Luck Prismatic. We WILL ship the 39 copies sold last night, but will be destroying the rest of the copies immediately. Therefore, while the cards are numbered to 350, only 39 cards will be released. We will only ship cards #1/350 to 39/350.

3> We have (at great expense) stopped the presses mid-production and added this card to our Metal Football Draft print job. We WILL be reprinting these cards with corrections made. These cards will be made available on ebay in the next 10 days for shipment approximately February 7th. These corrected versions will be made available similar to the manner error versions were.

4> The base version of the Luck card has no errors and will continue to be made available continuously until the production run is sold out.

5> We will allow any collectors who wish to swap their “error” prismatic the opportunity to swap for corrected versions…

I am pleased we found this solution to any concerns over the errors on these cards.

Once again, I personally apologize to both collectors and Andrew for these errors and hope this resolution resolves open concerns..
Brian”

I think this was handled very well.  You probably wouldn’t get that kind of response that fast from another manufacturer.  So, who are those lucky collectors that are getting one of the errors?

Hobby Interview: Leaf President Brian Gray

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Leaf President, Brian Gray was nice enough to answer a few questions for Sports Card Info today.  With the release of Valiant this week, I just had to catch up with him.  I hope you enjoy!

  • What separates Leaf from all the other card manufacturers?

Leaf is founded on one simple principle. Be what the other manufacturers aren’t while giving collectors what the other manufacturers won’t.

We are a 100% customer driven company. We do not rest on laurels of our history. We fight every day to make compelling products and provide the best service in the industry.

Plus, I collect too! I can assure you most owners of manufacturers in this market do NOT collect. How can they have a customer/collector driven vision, when they don’t even collect?

  • When it comes to releasing a new product, you truly listen to what collectors want to see.  Why do you think this is so difficult for other companies?

Honestly, it isn’t hard at all. The problem is that bigger companies have systems and red tape that makes being flexible for customers difficult. I don’t think collectors should have to settle for bad customer service just because a company is big. Or, they shouldn’t have to deal with checklist switcharoos because a manufacturer has an exclusive.

  • Since taking over the Leaf brand in 2010, what has been your favorite project you have worked on?  Why?

Working on Muhammad Ali products was amazing for me. First, I love Muhammad! He is a true hero of sports and an idol to millions worldwide. In addition, I learned a great deal in preparing these products and added Ali to my PC (personal collection).

  • Ichiro has been a huge draw for collectors opening your newest baseball products.  Do you have plans to incorporate any more active MLB players within your products?

Yes, we will be announcing another deal in the coming weeks. I am so excited to add “championship” talent to our roster.

  • Resurrecting the popular Crusade design from the 90’s was a great idea.  What other insert designs would you like to see make a comeback?

There are so many.  In 2012, Leaf will be exploring many lost (and some new) technologies in bringing that unappreciated era back to the forefront.  Plus, look for 1990 Leaf and 1948 Leaf designs to make appearances.

  • If you had to open a Leaf product right now, what would it be?

For resale value, 2011 Leaf Valiant Baseball… 10 autos with Ichiros at that level are crazy… plus I love that old Crusade design!

As a collector, Muhammad Ali Metal. It is underappreciated in the market and I would take this opportunity to break wax and use eBay/stores to fill sets while prices are reasonable.

  • Which vintage Leaf product do you find the most interesting?

1948 Leaf. Simple set with simple art that changed cards. The first color post-war baseball set was huge. We will be celebrating this in 2012.

  • Do you have a personal collection?  If so, what is in it and what is your favorite piece?

Yes… too much to itemize. I have an extensive presidential autograph collection, but frankly my favorite items are pictures of me and our personalities together signed… Ali, Tyson, etc…

I would like to thank Mr. Gray for taking the time to answer my questions.  Leaf has been releasing some great stuff and I look forward to what the future brings.

On a side note, I noticed that a Hak-Ju Lee 2011 Valiant autograph popped-up for sale and was signed in silver ink.  I asked Mr. Gray if there were any ink variations within Valiant and he said there were none.  Lee just happened to pick-up the wrong pen.

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A Look At Ryan O’Hara: Topps Gets A Social Media Upgrade

Yesterday, Topps announced that Ryan O’Hara would become its new CEO.  Departing is Scott Silverstein who has been with Topps since 1993 and will stay on the Topps board.

O’Hara holds a BA in Economics from Stanford University and a Masters of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School.  This guy has spent so much time in school, he probably hasn’t opened a single pack of trading cards in his life…… just joking 🙂  O’Hara is coming over from TV Guide and TVGuide.com and in the past has worked for Nestle and Fox Sports.  Having worked for Nestle could possibly help Topps out with their candy business and working for Fox Sports means that he’s not totally lost when it comes to sports.

One area that I’d like to see O’Hara succeed in at Topps is their social media division.  O’Hara is one person that truly embraces social media and marketing.  This is one place that Topps drastically needs to make some improvements in.  Topps does send some products out to a few websites other than Beckett, but other than that, they really fall short of what some of the other manufacturers are doing.  They do have Topps Town and that iPhone card flipping app, but other than a few Tweets every now and then they don’t do anything too spectacular.  Don’t even get me started on the augmented reality stuff your suppose to do with a webcam.

On March 1, O’Hara will start as the CEO of Topps, and it will be interesting to see what changes he can bring with him.

What type of changes would you like to see at Topps?  For one thing, cover up the redemption codes so people can’t use them and then place the redemptions up for sale!

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HOBBY INTERVIEW: Thomas Fish, President of Blowout Cards

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Blowout Cards is one of the most popular online destinations for collectors to go when then feel that urge to bust open a box, learn about new products, or just want to see what other collectors are doing around The Hobby.  Recently I did an interview with Blowout Cards President, Thomas Fish to learn more about the company and his perspective on The Hobby right now.
  • What is the history behind Blowout Cards?

Blowout Cards was founded in 1998 by Chris Park.  It was a time when card shows were at their peak, Publications such as Beckett and Sports Collectors Digest were the dominant media source and card shops could be found on every corner street..(literally).  The marketplace for sports cards on the Internet was just starting to take off.  Blowout Cards began by specializing in breaking unopened cases and then sorting the singles into team Sets.  We had buyers lined up in each city waiting to purchase 500-1000 team sets of their team along with all the inserts associated with their home team.  Demand quickly overtook supply and Blowout Cards transitioned from selling single cards and team sets into wholesaling wax boxes & cases.

The turning point for Blowout Cards was in 2003 when Thomas Fish became involved.  Fish was already well established in the Collectibles & Gaming industry.  Soon after, Chris Park and Thomas Fish became partners in Blowout Cards Inc. and thats when the company began to expand to where it is today.

  • What would you say is the most difficult part of your job?

Keeping up with technology and innovation.  It’s amazing how quickly the marketplace can change.  You can’t sit back and hope that customers will find you.  We are constantly keeping up with technology.  Whether its our Blowout Cards Forum which currently offers tens of thousands of collectors a place to exchange ideas and product info.  Our Twitter profile updates daily which reaches thousands of collectors and informs them of spontaneous sales. YouTube sponsored box breaks is where collectors can get a discount on their boxes while breaking them on YouTube.  Blowout Blogs is where collectors can get some notoriety by posting original articles.  There are many other new features added this year alone such as:  Blowout Auction Tracker (B.A.T.) – tracks the highest dollar singles for new releases,  Blowout “Hot List”-tracks the hottest wax boxes on a DAILY basis, and Product Information Pages (PIP) offers collectors everything there is to know about upcoming products such as: checklists, sell sheets, videos, box breaks, and other collectors opinions.

  • Is there anything different you would like to see the major card manufacturers do with their products that would help attract new collectors to The Hobby?

A lot of what we would like to see are the same issues that collectors have. Solve these issues and collectors will buy more which in turn means distributors and wholesalers will order more from the manufacturers.

-Eliminate redemptions
-Stated print runs or print to order
-Additional content in products
-Better customer service.  Even simple tasks such as updated release dates, having employees who are knowledgeable about products, and updated web sites
-More social networking to keep collectors involved
-More accurate price points based on content
-Buyback program.  If the product does not sell or live up to its billing, offer to buy it back from distributors at direct cost.  Stand by your product.

This would be a start.

  • What do you think were some of the best products released in 2009 and why?

2009 football products from Panini immediately standout.  Almost every release provides collectors with bang for their buck, and prices have moved up steadily throughout the year.  Just look at Donruss Limited, Absolute, Rookie & Stars, Certified, ect…  2009 UFC from Topps was a huge hit.  Series 1 started off as a $50 box direct and trades for over $400 now.  The UFC has as much potential in the near future as any other sport.  Here’s a quick breakdown for the major sports:
– Baseball: 2009 Topps Triple Threads, 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter, 2009 Topps Unique, & 2009 UD Goodwin Champions
– Basketball: 2009/10 Topps & 2009/10 Panini Rookies & Stars
– Football: 2009 Topps Triple Threads, all the Panini football products, 2009 Topps Finest, 2009 Topps Chrome & 2009 Topps Magic

  • What future promotions can collectors look forward to in 2010?

We have a lot of promotions planned for 2010.  They will all have a common theme – giving back to our customers.   Some of our most successful promotions in 2009 centered around that core theme.  Our Columbus Day specials centered on boxes and cases as low as $14.92.  Our 09/09/09 promotion had boxes & cases as low as $9.99 and $99.  Collectors went nuts with over 60,000 hits.  Then came the most successful promotion in Blowout Cards History – BLACK FRIDAY 2009 – BE THERE.  It was a spin off of our 09/09/09 promotion but we decided to get other sites that we work with involved.  Beckett was a huge contributor offering many annual online subscriptions.  Pro-Mold donated supplies for orders shipped out.  We also had many of our partnership sites involved including COMC (Checkoutmycards.com), SCU (Sportscardsuncensored.com), SCF (Sportscardforum.com), and FCB (Freedoncardboard.com).  In the end, there were over 2 million page views that shattered all expectations.  So what do we have planned for 2010?  You will have to stay tuned to our Forums to find out….

  • If you went into your warehouse right now and busted a box, which product would it be?

Out of all the boxes we have had in our warehouse, my favorite one to watch being opened was the $2,500+ Razor Oval Office boxes.  Its the most expensive 5 second rip I’ve ever seen.  With only 99 boxes made, we sold out a while back, but was fortunate enough to see 2 boxes ripped.

Out of the current inventory, I would say 2006 Playoff National Treasures Football.  If you hit a rookie its a bonus, but this product was loaded with all the old school big hits that you can’t find anymore.

Meeting with TRISTAR President & CEO Jeff Rosenberg

On Tuesday morning I received an e-mail from TRISTAR that said the following:

Dear Valued Customer/Media Member,

As many of you already know, the 30th Annual National Sports Collectors Convention is quickly approaching.  Every year is special to us at TRISTAR because we like to bring you, as well as fans across the globe, the best autograph guest line-up to ever appear at the National each and every year.  But, this show is particularly eventfully for us, as we are debuting a new product on August 25th, TRISTAR Obak.  This set commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 1909 Obak Minor League Baseball cards as we pay homage to both the stars of yesterday and today.

But as a very important part of the baseball card industry, you will not have to wait until August 25th to see a special version of the set.  I would like to offer you some special National Obak promo cards that will be only available during the show to you.  In addition to this, we have a special autograph card or numbered TRISTAR card from our other products to extend as well.

To redeem your Obak promo cards and TRISTAR autograph/numbered card, you simply need to bring this email to the TRISTAR Booth near the autograph pavilion and tell us your name and blog/publication that you are with.

I am really looking forward to the biggest National Sports Collectors Convention that the industry has ever seen, and I truly hope to have the chance to talk you at our TRISTAR Booth just to make sure we are doing everything we can to make your lives a little easier and provide you with products that you can be excited about.  Have a great show!  See you in Cleveland !

Sincerely,

Jeff Rosenberg

President & CEO

TRISTAR Productions, Inc.

I printed out the above message and took it with me to the National.  As soon as the show opened, I went over to the TRISTAR booth and was able to meet with Jeff Rosenberg.  Mr. Rosenberg knew who I was and wanted to say how much he enjoys reading all the blogs collectors have started.  He couldn’t believe the power blogs have over the industry.  I bet we talked for 15-20 minutes about baseball, cards, and the hobby in general.  The whole time we talked he was putting together a display case full of memorabilia like a Babe Ruth autographed baseball, original pack of Obak cards from the early 1900’s, and the 1869 Peck & Snyder Cincinnati Red Stockings card he recently purchased.  I thought it was really cool meeting him, and I’m glad to see a manufacturer embracing the sports card blogosphere.

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For stopping by to talk, Mr. Rosenberg gave me the above 8-card Obak set made for the National.

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He also gave me the above mini Obak cards: Heyward, Stanton, Montero, Morrison, Matusz, Bumgarner, Freeman, Kelly, Taylor, Fuentes, Westmoreland, Grichuk, Jackson, and Obama.

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Before leaving, I got Jeff Rosenberg to sign the e-mail he sent.

Baseball Card Humor

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Maybe President Obama is more fond of the Turkey Red “Cabinets”.

Williamsport Crosscutters Read Sports Card Info

Yesturday afternoon I received an e-mail from the Vice-President / Marketing & Public Relations head of the Williamsport Crosscutters, thanking me for mentioning the Phillies Dinner and posting the pictures on Sports Card Info.  I thought this was pretty cool.  He was the guy interviewing J.A. Happ on Wednesday night.  I wonder who else reads this blog?

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