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Monday, November 12, 2007

Rookie Photo Shoot Autograph Cards

Up until this year, Topps had the lock on the "very unique" autographed cards from the Rookie Photo Shoot. Now Upper Deck has decided to get in into the game with their Rookie Debut Autographs, also signed at the Rookie Photo Shoot. They have print runs ranging from 77 to 130, and were inserted in packs of 07-08 Upper Deck, released last month.

Topps' inaugural set was introduced to the hobby in the 03-04 year, which turned out to be a prime choice of seasons with its stock of up-and-coming stars. The only downside was that it lacked the biggest rookie of that year, Lebron James (an Upper Deck auto exclusive). This set continued in 04-05 (again missing the top star of the class - Dwight Howard, another UD excl). In 05-06, they added some spark to the set with dual & triple Auto's (but it again missed the top star - Chris Paul, for the same reason). Last year, in 06-07, I would say that Topps had their biggest miss in the set's four-year history. It was missing Brandon Roy, Tyrus Thomas & LaMarcus Aldridge (I think all UD excl again).

I guess UD decided that it wasn't enough to just sign up the top stars from each class in exclusive Auto deals. They wanted to compete head-to-head and go after a piece of what little market share Topps still has in Basketball. I'm sure the Marketing team at UD did their homework and found that the Topps Rookie Photo Shoot set was still ranking pretty high in hobby stature, so naturally this would be their next course of action).

I'm not a collector of the Rookie Photo Shoot Autos, but I'm sure that those who are will jump all over this new offering from UD. There's a nice photo of the set in the November Beckett (pages 6-7). The big name missing is Greg Oden, who Topps signed an exclusive deal with, but since he's out for the season, I don't think it'll be that much of a turn-off for collectors (good try, but yet another miss for Topps!).

Topps had the right idea to insert these gems in their cheapest product line (which is probably heavily reliant on sales volume due to it's low pack price) in order to boost the brands' numbers. Kind of like how UD did with it's industry-pioneering game jerseys back in 97-98.

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