By Michael Barton aka MonticelloCards

2009-10 has already been quite a year for the world of sports cards. We have seen Upper Deck lose multiple licenses and settle a lawsuit for producing unlicensed cards, Topps becoming the only game in town in baseball (again), and Panini becoming a major player in the marketplace in a few different areas. I am going to discuss 1 positive change, 1 negative change, and 1 change that is still too early to call in this article, and would love to hear others’ thoughts and opinions on the subject. Just leave a response below this article.

The Positive – Panini America

Within a span of a little over a year, Panini America has become a major player within the hobby. Starting with the acquisition of Donruss/Playoff in March of 2009, and ending with their most recent agreement to produce and license NHL products, the company has gone from an afterthought to a major player in the U.S. trading card business. They have handled the success very well, and their products have, so far, been mostly well received. It will be interesting to see what they have in store for NHL cards, and it will be refreshing to see non-exclusivity in the hockey card world again.

The Negative – Upper Deck

Just as Panini has risen, Upper Deck has fallen into a dangerously troubling predicament. As of today, they are left with a college football license and a hockey license alone, and long-heard rumors were confirmed in the non sports arena when they admitted to counterfeiting Yu-Gi-Oh cards. On top of that, they were sued by Major League Baseball after producing unlicensed cards for the 2010 baseball season. No one is quite sure where they go from here, but collectors lose out in all of this in the long run. The official word from Upper Deck is that everything is going to be fine, but unless they make major changes, the company’s credibility has taken a major hit.

Too Early To Tell – Topps Exclusivity With Baseball

Not since 1980 has 1 company had an exclusive agreement with a sport to be the only one to produce cards. Now, Topps is (once again) the only company with an MLB license to produce cards. From a collecting standpoint, it is really hard to figure out what happens from here. On one hand, Topps could do the right thing, market cards towards younger collectors, and the hobby could boom once again. On the other, the monopoly could cause the company to become complacent, and the collectors lose out in the long term without a viable alternative to choose from. It is far too early to see what the consequences of this exclusive deal are.

I cannot believe the amount of activity in the hobby in the past year. I have seen things happen that never would have crossed my mind as being possible. All I care about, in the end, is that the changes being made benefit us, the collectors – because without us, there is no hobby to speak of.