Click here to find eTopps cards on eBay
Sunday, August 23, 2015
What is the eTopps Program?
If you're a collector of oddball sports cards, the eTopps program may be of interest to you. For those not familiar with the program, let me offer a brief explanation.
Back in 2000, Topps decided to try something new... the blending of high-end sportscards and online trading. This was accomplished by creating their eTopps website (www.etopps.com), which is the place where several things happen. First, this is where collectors go to register their personal accounts. Once registered, each collector is given free access to their online "portfolio," which is where they can view the cards they own, each card's current value, and even the price history of any eTopps card. The eTopps website also has a trading post where collectors can wheel and deal with others, trading eTopps cards in and out of their online portfolios.
Before I get ahead of myself, I should mention the nature of these cards. Topps produced beautiful, physical cards from 2000 to 2011 for the eTopps program. These new cards entered the market through the eTopps website, where they were made available for sale for limited amounts of time. Interested collectors placed their orders for the cards right through the website, and a short time later the newly purchased cards would show up in their portfolios. Basically, physical cards were purchased but not shipped -- unless a collector wanted them shipped. What this meant (and still means today) is that these cards can easily be traded back and forth with anyone registered on the eTopps website. And thanks to an arrangement with eBay that has been in place since day one, card owners can still sell any and all cards in their portfolio right on the popular auction site with the click of a button. Upon an auction's end, payment is made to the seller and the card is simply transferred to the new owner's portfolio.
If a collector wants to take physical possession of a card (known as "in hand"), they can contact eTopps, pay a shipping fee, and have the cards delivered right to their door. Keep in mind that once a card is in circulation, it is no longer eligible for direct online trading or price tracking on the eTopps website. Of course, the benefit of taking physical delivery of these cards is the ability to enjoy them in person, and anyone interested in obtaining some of these "in hand" gems can find them scattered here and there at card shows, card shops and internet auction sites.
As noted above, Topps unfortunately printed their last eTopps cards in late 2011 when they released the 37 cards comprising their final yearly football set. Interest in the cards had sunk to a new low after twelve years of steady releases, and as a result many of the later cards were released with production runs lower than 500 -- very modest numbers for non-insert cards.
So what's the status of the eTopps program these days?
Though the last sports card ran off the press a few years ago, the website is still chugging along with several active features still intact -- namely the trade post, checklists (price guides) and individual portfolios. Unfortunately, the eTopps message board and a popular "games" section were closed down some time ago. A small but dedicated group of eTopps enthusiasts can be found trading on the site today, swapping cards worth anywhere from a quarter on up (it's really quite addicting).
I have bought, sold and traded eTopps cards since 2006, and I'm definitely a huge fan. Anyone looking to acquire nice cards at a great price should consider heading over to www.eTopps.com and getting started! It's free to register, and then purchasing a few eTopps cards off of eBay would be the next step. All it takes is one card in your portfolio to join the ranks of potential traders!
My next blog post will examine the cards further, and I'll make the case that these classy gems are making a comeback.
Click here to find eTopps cards on eBay