Hawaii Trade Conference Updates

At Wednesday’s Meet The Industry event Topps presented its upcoming product lineup for the remainder of the year which will mark the return of a couple collector favorites. Clay Luraschi, Topps director of product development, said the idea behind the 2009 new releases was to “turn the focus back to collecting sets instead of having collectors prospecting for the one big hit.”

Upcoming products releases included:
2009 Allen & Ginter Baseball which now guarantees three hits and baseball highlight sketch cards; 2009 American Heritage Heroes Edition which will feature cards of 125 heroic figures from American History; 2009 Triple Threads baseball featuring cards from the recently completed World Baseball Classic; 2009 Topps Ticket To Stardom Baseball which will feature tickets from MLB postseason games, and tickets from the final season at Yankee and Shea Stadiums; 2009 Topps Unique Baseball (Letters, Logos, Laundry Tags) which is a new product with a low-price point; 2009 Topps T-206 Baseball which will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the T-206 set and the famous Honus Wagner card; 2009 Topps Football, a 440-card set featuring 110 NFL rookies; 2009 Topps Magic Football, which is Topps’ first entry into collegiate players since the 1950s; 2009 Topps Mayo Football, a newly designed 330-card set; 2009 Topps UFC, which features a new lowered price point and more autographs of the UFC stars; 2009-10 Bowman ’48 Basketball, which honors the 1948 Bowman style and design and 2009-10 Topps Basketball.
Because this is Topps last year producing basketball sets, Luraschi said the company’s 2009-10 Basketball product will be loaded with plenty of extras, as the company attempts to deplete its basketball supplies. 
The afteroon session of the show featured the Upper Deck portion of the Meet The Industry session focused on the company’s 2009 Initiatives and brief descriptions of their new product releases for the rest of the year. Upper Deck senior product development manager Karvin Chueng said the company is focused on “Delivering more products with a lower SRP to the marketplace with a renwed emphasis on set collecting.”
The company will still produce several high-end products such as the widely popular Exquisite brand but will shift its focus to producing more set-building products with more bang for the buck. Other areas of concentration for Upper Deck in 2009 will be improving communication within the hobby after a product has launched; creating a new area for dealer feedback on products on its website and creating valuable hits in its products without the focus on autographs and game-used materials.
UD products set to be released during the remainder of the year are as follows:
2009 MLB Ballpark Collection: A late-summer, early fall release with the same structure as the 2008 version but the cards will now be serial numbered as many collectors had requested.
2009 MLB Goodwin Champions: A set built around its impressive artwork and design which will feature DNA relic cards.
2009 MLB Icons: Set features 30 different RCs and the popular Letterman inserts which now feature a group of non-sport celebrities.
2009 MLB O-Pee-Chee: A 600-card set with a 500-card base set that will be “loaded with inserts” and will be geared toward set builders.
2009 Icons Football: Similar to the popular 2008 version and now guaranteeing two Letterman cards per box.
2009 Philadelphia Football: Based after the 1964 set, this product will feature a similar design to the original and will feature an oversized subset of cards.
2008-09 Exquisite Basketball: This high-end product will now feature a redesigned vertical format and will also carry the new Kobe Bryant Career Portfolio cards.
Attendee quotes:
Cecil Laborde of Jason’s Sports Cards in Baton Rouge, LA.: “This was our sixth Trade Conference and we’re leaving with a good feeling about where the hobby is headed. The show was very informative and was held in the perfect place. There was a lot of information for those who attended and I like the direction where the hobby appears to be headed. It was a smaller group this year but quality people all around.”
Brian Bauman, a distributor at Great American in New York: “There was a lot of optimism among this group and I think that’s a good sign for the hobby. I think people are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Everything at the show was professionally handled and well run and the atmosphere was great.”
Dan Fox of Fox Sports Cards & Collectibles in Marion, Ill.: “To be honest, I had a little apprehension coming in about what direction the card companies were headed but I’m leaving with cautious optimism. I liked the fact the big three card companies are gravitating toward set building again and talked about limiting sale prices and such. I thanked the people at Panini for quieting are fears about what they would be doing and they assured us that they would be moving forward much as Donruss would have but with the Panini name now. I think the conference was very beneficial to everybody who attend it. This was my third conference and I’m taking back a lot of new information with me and I feel better about the direction we’re headed after having heard the company’s presentations.
The Hawaii Trade Conference is winding down with the closing reception the only remaining event on the docket. For those who were unable to attend, I highly reccomend signing on for next year’s event. This was my first conference and even though I work in the industry and report industry news every day, I found out a lot of information that could only be gathered here. Learing the inside operational side of teh card companies was very informative and interesting and finding out the particulars of newcomer Panini was also very helpful as they move forward. Connecting with dealers and distributors is a must at a show of this nature and as is the case with many live events, you can usually find out more than you otherwise could in the relaxed atmosphere that the conference provides. I look forward to many more Hawaii Trade Conference shows in the future and hope to see you there as well. I hope you enjoyed the recaps from the event and I hope everything you read will help motivate you to attend the event in person next year. 
Scott Fragale
Tuff Stuff magazne

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