2013 National Sports Collectors Show
Cleveland NSCC
Show Dates: 7/30/2014 - 8/3/2014

International Exposition (I-X) Center - Cleveland, OH
Wednesday 7/30/2013 4pm-8pm
Thursday - Saturday 10am-6pm
Sunday 8/3/2013 10am-5pm
National Website
  UPDATED: Links - Videos - Blogs - Tweets From The 2014 NSCC

General Admission:
$20 Advance - $25 Day Of Show
      
VIP Package:
$129 Advance - $139 Day Of Show -
Includes admission to all days. Gift Package. 12 select free autographs. + More+     

Super VIP Package:
$179 Advance - $189 Day Of Show -
Includes everything in VIP + Double Gift Package, 18 select free autographs and Free Parking.
 
All Access VIP Package:
$229 Advance - Includes everything in VIP + First in line privileges to autograph guests. 5 Free TriStar Autograph Authentications and 2 Photo opportunists with autograph guests.
 
All Access Super VIP Package:
$279 Advance - Includes everything in All Access VIP + Double Gift Bag, 18 select free autographs and Free Parking.
 
NOTE: VIP guests can get in 30 minuets early which can be helpful if you want a popular wrapper redemption offer or get in line for an early autograph signer.

- Buy Tickets on NSCC Website -

You can also buy admission tickets the day of the show. No lines, real easy, you'll just pay a couple $ more.

 

 
Panini's 3rd Annual National VIP Party - Information  
   

 
2014 National Free Giveaways
2014 Panini National Convention Julius Randle

Panini 2014 Wrapper Redemption Packs

- 60 Total Cards
- Rookies #/499
- Memorabilia Rookie #/99

 

Card Images/Info and Here

Details on what boxes you need to purchase
in order to get packs of these cards is here.


2014 Panini National Convention VIP Johnny Manziel RC

Panini 2014 VIP Set

- 6 Total Cards

  • Johnny Manziel - Cleveland Browns
  • Blake Bortles - Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Jose Abreu - Chicago White Sox
  • Masahiro Tanaka - New York Yankees
  • Dante Exum - Utah Jazz
  • Andrew Wiggins - Cleveland Cavaliers

 

Card Images/Info

A coupon for this set will be inserted in every VIP
package ticket holder. You can redeem the coupon
at the Panini America booth for the six card set.

 


2014 Panini National Convention Tools of The Trade LeBron James Jersey

Tools of the Trade Update Wrapper Redemption

- 6 Total Cards

Base Jersey #/175
Prime Jersey #/25
Super Prime Laundry Tag #1/1

  • LeBron James - Miami Heat
  • Tim Duncan - San Antonio Spurs
  • Damian Lillard - Portland Trailblazers
  • Derrick Rose - Chicago Bulls
  • Chris Paul - LA Clippers
  • Rajon Rondo - Celtics

Promotion limited to the first 200 customers during
each day of the National and will be available through
the purchase and redemption of the following products:

2013-14 Gold Standard Basketball
2013-14 Elite Basketball
2013-14 Prestige Basketball
2013-14 Prizm Basketball
2013-14 Pinnacle Basketball
2013-14 Totally Certified Basketball


2014 Panini National Donruss Rated Rookie Pack

Donruss Wrapper Redemption

- 3 Cards

  • Masahiro Tanaka - New York Yankees
  • Jose Abreu - Chicago White Sox
  • Yordano Ventura - Kansas City Royals

The first 50 collectors who bring and open a hobby box
of 2014 Donruss Baseball to the Panini America booth
during each day of the National will receive a three-card
National Rated Rookie Wrapper Trade-In pack featuring
the three cards with a special “National” stamp.

Card Images/Info


 

2014 Upper Deck National Sports Collectors Convention Johnny Manziel

Upper Deck Wrapper Redemption

Purchase 5 Packs Of
2013 Fleer Retro Football
2014 SPx Football
2014 Upper Deck Football (Hobby)
2013-14 Fleer Retro Basketball
2013-14 SP Authentic Basketball
2013-14 NHL SP Authentic
2014 SP Authentic Golf
2014 Goodwin Champions

Or 1 pack of 2014 SP Game-Used Golf

Wrapper redemption starts at 10:25 on Thursday - and you
can recieve up to 4 packs per day, per person. You must
purchase the packs from a Certified Diamond Dealer with
an Upper Deck issued voucher. Autographs are randomly
inserted in packs, and every 25th person who redeems packs
at the Upper Deck booth gets an autograph card.

More Info/Photos and Here

   
   

 

Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Wrapper Redemption

- 2 Cards

  • Jose Abreu - Chicago White Sox
  • Masahiro Tanaka - New York Yankees

Collectors must open 1 Hobby Box of 2014 Topps
Allen & Ginter Baseball at Topps' booth #455 and 
you get 1 of the mini cards above.


 

Topps Mini Card Wrapper Redemption 

- 8 Total Cards

  • Jadaveon Clowney
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Derek Jeter
  • Jim Brown
  • Jordan Cameron
  • Mike Trout
  • Albert Belle
  • Bob Feller

Collectors must open 3 hobby packs of any 2014
Topps product (except for 2014 Topps Opening Day
Baseball and 2014 Topps Mini Baseball) at Topps'
booth #455 and you will get 1 of the mini cards above.

   

 

 

Read about past Nationals to know what to expect in Cleveland for 2014.

Sports Collectors Convention Sports Collectors Convention
2013 NSCC Chicago 2012 NSCC Baltimore

Videos From Past NSCC Shows
2013 National Sports Collectors Convention - Chicago
2012 National Sports Collectors Convention - Baltimore

Photo Gallery's From Past NSCC Shows

 

 Kevin Isaacson Industry Summit
Photo: Michael F (@MikesStadiumSC)
Advanced Photoshop Work: Me

 

I was able to sit on the sofa the last few days and follow the 2014 Industry Summit via twitter and all the 
"inside" sources I have .... which are none. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see an announcement bragging about
a 'record breaking' number of attendees. That's ok - less is more often times. 

Seemed to me (from the sofa) Panini stole the show with some 'innovative' ideas they've been working on.
A patch card DB, Panini Rewards - that replaces redemption cards, and 14/15 NBA rookie cards are all things
(if Panini pulls them off) should go a long way in engaging collectors even further. 

Topps (from the sofa) seemed about the same. Said they were making less product and they are "made to order"
so I guess that means the sales are down. They plan to advertise on Nickelodian. I bet that's not cheap. If sales are
down, it's because your product isn't compelling - not because you don't have ads on Nickelodian. Good luck.

Upper Deck is 25 years old, but acts like one twice as old. At least there are signs of life in SoCal.
Don't expect many innovations as they are just buying time to sell once that's possible.

Group Breakers. The companies are on record they account for about 10% of sales. That's no chump change
when you add it all up. That's probably why I've been very vocal on looking for ways to legitimize that business
model. They should work together on figuring out ways they can operate without risk of breaking raffle and 
lottery laws. Trust me, 10% of $100,000,000 is enough to get a lawyer out of bed one day. 

 

Thanks to the tweeters from the event. My comments below are not meant to patronize their work in any way.

 

Day 1

 

 

After posting a sheepish apology on Leaf's Facebook page


 

Day 2

 

 

 For a heck of a lot less than you think .....


 

 

 So .......... they just figured out this would be a good idea?


 

 

This is probably more difficult than making the cards bro!


 

 

That's because it's not selling through at retail.


 

 

 Tek wasn't that popular back in the day, but Stadium Club was pretty cool.


 

 

Ads on TV are hard to measure, expensive and in the hands of an amateur - a great way to burn money.


 

 

Referring to a Beckett Business Solutions service. Seems like a good idea.


 

 I owned a card store. You can't have employees if margins are < 10%


 

 

Where "due diligence" = who offered the most guarantee $$$$$$$$$$


 

 

Remember the NBA said similar things when Panini originally got an exclusive. Panini now releases 20+ products per year.


 

 

That's the million dollar question - but they are only offering up 75k. 


 

That's because fat cat in Italy screamed - STICKERS MAKE MONEY!!!!


          Goldin employee: my boss wants to be the Jeff Bezos of the industry (re: putting money back into company) #lvis

 

Amazon doesn't make a profit. Shareholders have though ....


Day 3

 

 

That's nice. If I spent $500 on a box of trading cards, I'd think the company would thank me.

Update: Check that, no thanks


 

Yes, that's because it will be $16,000 a box.


 

Sweet. Hope they still do JUMBO boxes that deliver further value.


 

Worked well back in the early 2000's - not sure why they don't do this every year.


 

I thought I was the only person in the world who questions business models?


 

Hope everyone else in the business copies this.


 

I wonder if Kevin Isaacson would call this innovative?


 

Can't say I didn't tell all ya'll (on August 11, 2013)


 

I thought they were saving the hobby!!!!!!!


 

I bet sales to un-opened box retailers are down similar percentages.


 

They say this to a group of hobby shop owners mind you.


 

What a great idea Topps!!!!


 

6 months ago was bad? Before that must be a term not appropriate for children then.


 

Exactly. If the product is live and there's no CL - then you can complain.


 

Shows you how clueless this guy Isaacson is.


 

 So if you like high end hockey .... you've got plenty of time to save up!


lol


Day 4

Nothing cool ever happens this day .... at the Summit that is.

16:51:37

Let's Be Exclusive

I remember in high school you'd go exclusive with a girl you thought was just right - even if it meant missing out on the benefits of being single. First and foremost, it's guaranteed pu$$y, additionally it's less work to just call one girl than have to go out each friday night and find a new one.

Sometimes less is more.

NHL owners don't care about cards. Remember the money the NHL gets from these companies is divided up among many NHL owners. It's not much money for people who are usually already very wealthy.

That being said, most of these guys would bend down and grab a quarter off the ground - so you better believe they'll let people make cards with their teams' logo on it for money.

One of the biggest reasons why leagues like exclusives is it's less work for them. Remember, each card needs to be approved by a rather lengthy approval process. It's explained well in this article: 

To date, Panini & Upper Deck have pumped out over 41,000 cards during the 13/14 NHL season. And the seasons not over!

Imagine paying someone to approve all that. It'd be a full time job, and the NHL licenses 1,000's of other products.

Sometimes less is more.

Panini got into the trading card in a big way beginning in 2009. Since then, based on reports,  I'd estimate Panini has spent $60,000,000+ on just "endorsements, rights and memorabilia deals." They also employ 110+ people

That's a ton of money. ... No wait - that's a **** ton of money.

Why would you invest all that money and let Upper Deck outbid you for a license that the NHL is only going to sell to the highest bidder?

Because it's not worth it. Today's "decision" by the NHL was as much Panini's top brass sticking to a price that will actually make them money. Remember, if Panini had come up with more cash they would have the exclusive ... and the fact Upper Deck bought it shows you how much an NHL license is worth.

Not much. Especially to a company that is trying to sell for 1 billion Euros.

Don't be surprised the top brass at Panini Group divest even further from the trading card business in the future. That goes for current or future potential buyers of Panini. Making high end trading cards is both labor and capital intensive - stickers aren't.

Sometimes less is more.

Personally I think collectors are the only ones who loose in this situation.

#1 Upper Deck lands an exclusive license they needed, especially having Gretzky locked up.

#2 Panini ditches something that doesn't make them much money, and allows them to focus more man hours on the sports they do still have. Not to mention, the company has been for sale for over a year. Maybe potential buyout groups want this to be a sign of things to come? Panini's never going to come out with a press release and blame anyone but the NHL - that's because they can't say "we didn't bid high enough because our strategy going forward is going to be different"

#3 The NHL gets to cut down on the number of cards/sets they need to approve - therefore cutting headaches on their end. They don't care about Upper Deck or you. When Upper Deck's license expires, they'll squeeze the next idiot who wants to pay the most for it. These NHL owners all didn't get rich being nice to people.

Personally I see today as more of a strategy shift that will be taking place at Panini than the NHL making a big move. Leagues care about money, not companies, cards or collectors. Blame who you want - but Panini ain't gonna make it rain like they have the last 5 years. 

 

Let's Keep it Dry For a Second
Licensed card companies each year have to pay a royalty to sports leagues (NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL) and/or a players association. Royalty payments to the league are in the 10%-20% range off sales. A players association license varies, but it's lower than what the league charges. You can't make fully licensed cards without the dual license.

For baseball, the largest market, Topps has exclusive rights in the trading card category from MLB Properties and has the companion MLB Players Association license. Competitor Panini America also has a license with the MLBPA. Because Panini doesn't have the MLB Properties license, they can't use MLB logos and team names on their cards. They can show images of players but MLB licensed logos have to be 'airbrushed' out on player jerseys and hats. Companies like Topps and Panini's entire business revolves around having a license from a sports league or players association. Imagine the EA Sports "Madden" video game without the real players or NFL teams. Think they would sell many games?

Biased Truth?
MLB doesn't need trading cards to rake in money, at all, period, end of story. It sounds funny to even write that. Much of MLB's revenues are tied to television rights and soft goods. For licensed trading cards across all sports, business has slowed tremendously since the glory days of the 1990's. What was a billion dollar business, sales have shrunk by a huge margin. In 2012, CBS employee Armen Keteyian wrote a story and produced a video that struck a nerve with many involved in the industry. The crux of the piece was that the good years were long gone. Keteyian spoke with dealers, an author, Mr. Mint and others in his video. Each person echoed the sentiment that the industry was fading.

In response to the CBS story, Panini posted on their blog saying: "Frankly, the piece was light on investigation and heavy on sources seemingly hand picked to validate a preconceived conclusion: The collectibles hobby is dying." Panini claimed the industry was far from dead and cited examples. One being this new HRX video technology. Here is Panini's justification:

"Oh, and then there was the report last summer from FOX News on Panini America’s pioneering HRX Video Trading Cards. Both the CW 33 and FOX News reports would seem to indicate an industry that is not dying at all but transforming for a new generation."

Funny thing is, Panini didn't pioneer the technology, they just paid a vendor for it. I recently put in a phone call to the company who made the HRX video cards for Panini. The employee said they no longer had a relationship with Panini, but he asked if I wanted my own custom HRX card. I hear crickets coming from the Dallas, TX area... or maybe they are busy scanning QR Codes.

Another point Panini made in response to Keteyian was: "The late 1980s/early 1990s was the boom time with mass produced product that held no value. The category is now more refined and cards hold secondary market values. Cards sell for big money."

I guess what Panini failed to mention were that packs in the 1980s and early 1990's were sold for less than a dollar during that time. Boxes of cards produced today have wholesale prices in the hundreds, even thousands of dollars. The cards should hold their value if you increase the price 1000%. C'mon guys.

Each year the MLBPA files a LM-2 with the Department of Labor, which basically outlines all the royalty payments they receive. The final numbers for 2013 are due out in April 2014 and were not available the time this was originally written.

The single biggest revenue stream disclosed in the filing for the MLBPA is the video game segment. Annually, Take Two Interactive's MLB 2K franchise is a bigger revenue winner for the MLBPA than the entire trading card category. In 2011 TTWO paid the MLBPA $15.4 million, and add MLB The Show (Sony's) payment of $3.52 million and you get $18.92 million. Almost double what Topps paid in 2011; keep in mind it was Topps' best year from the numbers I have.

The MLB 2K game is popular, but no where near as hot as other video game titles such as Grand Theft Auto, Madden or Call of Duty. I wonder how many people in the sports card industry realize a 10th tier video game is a bigger money winner for the MLBPA than the totality of every baseball set Topps makes during an entire year.

Let's take a look at the royalty payments made by sports card companies to the MLBPA from 2005-2012. The figures are in millions. The MLBPA gets a % of every sale using MLB players. So, in effect, you can kind of tell the total revenue a particular category generated for the PA.

Also consider this revenue gets split up to all the members of the players association. The director of the MLBPA makes over $1 million a year. At the end of the day, the cards are pennies in the pocket considering the salaries some players are able to earn.

 
Year Topps Upper Deck Donruss Fleer Total
2012 $9.6M - - - $9.6M
2011 $10.68M - - - $10.68
2010 $5.77M $6.57M - - $12.34M
2009 $9.4M $8.1M - - $17.5M
2008 $9M* $10.3M - - $19.3M
2007 $10.57 $10.41M - - $20.98M
2006 $7.75M $10.06M - - $17.81
2005 $4M $5.7M $5.5M $1M $16.2M
           
*In addition to the $9M payment, Topps owed the MLBPA $8 million. It's believed the filing of the LM-2 was done prior to Topps' scheduled payment to the PA.
 

If you're in the Topps camp you can spin the numbers in your favor. In 2005, Topps lagged behind Donruss and Upper Deck in MLB card sales. Just six years later, they are the only ones left standing with a MLB Properties license. If for some reason you only care about Topps and loathe every other card maker, the numbers are a thing of beauty. Private equity ownership Madison Dearborn Partners successfully eliminated any and all serious competition. Even before MDP bought Topps in 2007, the then current Topps management correctly predicted the fall of Upper Deck during a quarterly conference call with investors. It was almost like Babe Ruth calling his shot.

Put a blindfold over the card company names, and just look at the total payment to the MLBPA. It shows a less glorious story. Since 2007, the total royalty payments to the MLPA have declined, and fast.  In addition to the falling revenues, collectors of cards have less choices starting in 2006.

Fleer was the first to go when they ceased operations in 2005. To show you how fast these card companies can fold up shop take a look at this timeline for Fleer. Note how quick they went broke.

  • September 9, 2004 - Fleer Signs Dwyane Wade to an Exclusive Spokesman Deal
  • January 21, 2005 - Fleer Sponsors Card and Collectibles Area at NBA Jam Session
  • February 24, 2005 - Fleer Signs Charles Barkley to Autograph Deal
  • May 31, 2005 - both Fleer/Skybox International, LP and Fleer Collectibles, LLC has ceased all operations.  The assets of both companies have been assigned to Warren J. Martin Jr., an attorney with Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C. in Morristown, NJ. Martin specializes in bankruptcy and insolvency matters.

Donruss lost their MLB license starting in 2006, and hung around long enough to sucker Panini into purchasing them in 2009. Would Donruss have gone broke? Probably. Can I prove that? Nope. The fact that the MLB didn't renew with Donruss should speak volumes. It also tells you all you need to know about the sports licensing game. A card company needs the license from the league WAY more than the league needs the card company. I mean it's laughable. The league can cut you off at any moment. That should be obvious. Wake up. These card companies are small fish and I treat them as such. They can be replaced or eliminated at any time.

The Upper Deck story is far more complicated and somewhat sad. Glory days at the now vacant 246,668 sq/ft company headquarters were when Richard McWilliam (October 20, 1953 – January 5, 2013) would drive his Bentley on the sidewalks of the property. Upper Deck was ballin'. Somewhere along the way Upper Deck, and certainly McWilliam lost their juice. Former employees will recount tales of days they were worried their paycheck wouldn't show up on time. Upper Deck missed scheduled payments to various leagues including Major League Baseball. This all led to some ugly legal battles that have left Upper Deck in ruins. The company will probably go broke or get purchased in a similar way as Donruss. Just give it some time, it could go at any moment.
 
The Bad Economy

A favorite excuse of card company execs is to blame slacking sales on the Housing/Stock Market/Fake Rich crash of 2008. It's such a cop out. I remember getting on ShareBuilder during the 2008 stock market crash and it was like a 75% off sale at Blowout Cards. The market has rebounded to record highs, and when I go to buy stocks now, I wonder where the heck my coupon code is.

Ok, so you say the stock market rebounding is a poor example. Regular Joe Blows don't have the money anymore to buy sports cards. I can see that. Ok, why haven't the card companies done anything about it? Why are box prices continuing to soar in price? Whose fault is that? I don't run Topps or Panini. I can't change their business. That's their role. If they are pricing out a bunch of potential collectors, maybe they should change the business and configure products differently. Or maybe they are just trying to hit minimum sales targets set forth by the league?

So you say it's hard to find these cards in stores? Whose fault is that? Hey Topps, Panini. Pick up the phone and make some calls. That's what you do when you have a product to sell. Hustle. Hobby shops don't want to stock your product? Call and schmooze them. There are lot's of regular sports stores, about 5 of them in my local mall. Call them and see if they want to buy some product to put on the counter. With all the other expensive crap these stores have, a pack of Panini Prizm for $5 appears cheap.

Funny thing is. I had a sports card store from 2006-2008. Wow. Talk about bad timing. Epic bad timing. I owe close to $20,000 on a loan I still pay for. In February 2013 I wrote an article on the top 5 reasons I failed at the business. I didn't blame the economy, I looked in the mirror. That's what you do when you fail. Don't make excuses. There are card stores still open today that weathered the 2008 crisis. Why couldn't I? I failed, it's okay to admit that and learn from it.

The irony is that I never made money in the sports card game until after the 2008 economic downturn. Always a net loser before 2009. So the bad economy thing, just doesn't resonate with me. If your business model sucks, change it or go broke. Real simple.

 
Go Ahead, Make an Excuse Why Not

Why don't these card companies authenticate their own cards? No I'm serious, like PSA & BGS would but don't even grade them. Charge some money, make a margin. I can imagine people buying a box, then sending the cards to Topps to "authenticate" them. Such a sick greedy business, I love it. Easy sucker money. Look how easy the grading money has been for PSA & BGS. Collectors Universe (PSA) does quarterly conference calls about raking in money from coin and card grading. Why do card companies let all the good business models go to other outlets they have no piece of?

Topps made failed attempts at running their own marketplace: The Pit and eTopps. Seems like fan boys would be slurping at the opportunity to list their cards on the "Official Site to Sell Topps Cards". There are way more people who want to sell cards than buy them. Why don't you grab some of that money? COMC has, and shoot, eBay sure has. I find it funny that the #1 place to buy and sell sports cards, eBay, has absolutely no ties or obligations to the industry. I look at it like this, these card companies need to find a way to continue to get revenue off sets they've produced long ago. eBay and COMC sure have proven a business model, I guess Topps and Panini will just let them take all the money.

 
Conclusion

Topps: Owned by private equity. When is the last time you've heard a statement from ownership? Do they have a CEO? Research a little bit what private equity does when they buy a company. Also, look into the few years at Topps before the 2007 sale to MDP. The plan all along was to eliminate competition, seek exclusive licenses and run a lean business. These guys don't care what you get out of your packs. If they did why would you have to wait years for redemption cards to be exchanged? Kids in their 20's are product developers on the famous Bowman brand. How much do the cards really matter to the ownership at Topps? If you like new baseball cards, you're forced to buy Topps and that's just the way they like it.

Panini: Who knows what will happen here. Could they go broke like Upper Deck and Fleer did? Yeah, that's probably the way I would lean. What are they doing different? I almost feel like they wish they had the culture and buzz Upper Deck had during the glory years. Sad thing is, Panini is just 20 years too late.

Upper Deck: When it gets to the point where employees are worried they won't get paid..... well. That does hit a soft spot. Hopefully they are able to sell the assets they still have before it gets to be game over.

Is the Industry Dying: I'm probably not the best guy to ask. The business aspect of the hobby gets my juices flowing, not sparkles in Series 1. I'd rather read through the old Fleer bankruptcy files then open a pack of cards. I don't think the business of making cards like Topps and Panini is a good model. Real bad actually. They not only have to get a license (where the card company is the *****), but they then have to get separate autograph deals with players, secure game/event used items. Shoot, they don't even print and manufacture the cards themselves. That's all outsourced. Have fun with that business. 

That doesn't mean it's all bad. Over the years billions of cards have been printed and there are people who want them. If you have Michael Olowokandi autographs, then you can probably find me. It's the accessory businesses where you can find success and there are plenty of examples.

"Service" type businesses have proven to be a good way to connect collectors and keep the industry alive, primarily online. A platform to sell cards like COMC. A website or forum where information is shared or discussed. BGS and PSA have got to be making gravy train type money. I shouldn't have to tell you how much money eBay and PayPal make servicing sports card buyers and sellers. 

While the service industry can thrive, the retail end can be brutal. People ask me quite often if they should open a sports card store. I reply: are you crazy? I actually think most buying and re-selling models in the sports card world are bad ideas at the moment. Things would have to dramatically change for me to sign off on them. Most are real low margin, lots of work. No barrier to entry. Anyone can open a store. Anyone can group break. Anyone can rip and flip. The odds of you making real money is slim. Good luck.

This thing isn't dead. There are dead business models but you better not say anything about it.

 

Disclosure: I've purchased zero retail rack packs of 2014 Topps Series 1 as of 2/6/2014

Ryan T.........