There was a time where I collected sports cards, but the industry began catering to the hobby shops and dealers and less to the individual collector. During this era of collecting, one could go to practically anywhere and buy sports cards. I remember buying cards from a Staples store once. You name the place, A&P, Giant, Peoples Drug, 7-11, K-mart, Walgreens, Woolworth, and practically any gas station that had a store sold cards. There were not many choices and they could be found by anyone, anywhere. You could buy a pack or multiple packs and at some point expect to put a set together, rather quickly. The assortments were rather random. Then cards became less accessible and sold in fewer markets. Then there was the introduction of special inserts. Back in the day, the size and thickness varied from the regular card size, so clever people would feel the edges of the packs and only buy those packs leaving the chum behind. It was around then, when collecting cards was no longer fun or exciting. Then enter the 2019 Topps Alliance of American Football AAF Cards. This brought back the excitement for a while…
An exciting new set of football cards for what purported to be an exciting football league. This league was full of promise and excitement. From my understanding this was the first time in years where Topps produced a football card set. Week after week, I would watch a game or two on the NFL Network. There was no advertisements for the games on regular TV (that I remember) and worse, the Sportscasters in any of the local news channels or radio stations that cover everything from local tennis to high school football, didn’t even mention that there was an AAF football game. There was no coverage or interest. The camera angles of the game play would focus on the field and on occasion pan out a little to where you could see the stands and see that there was almost no turnout. Then after week 7, the season was cancelled and the league disbanded. Just days before the release of the Topps football cards.
Now for the cards. Upon the release of the cards an advertised 200 card base set, which I would argue is more of a 175 card set plus a 25 future star card set which is practically impossible to put together without purchasing multiple singles online to complete. What made this set so exciting is that there are so many inserts. A base 175 card set with multiple serial numbered subsets of the same card but with different color boards. Then there are the autograph cards.
Why is this set so frustrating to put together? One frustration with the 2019 Topps Alliance of American Football AAF Cards is that the dealers are completely glossing over this release. It doesn’t mean anything to them. I attended two card shows. At one of the shows not a single dealer brought AAF cards. The other show and this was a national show only one dealer had hobby boxes and that was it. I asked about 12 other dealers if they had any AAF cards among their 10s of thousands of cards and not only did they respond with no, some actually looked offended and walked away.
Another frustration is answered in the first paragraph. Topps caters to the hobby shops. So there are two types of boxes that may be purchased. One is called a booster box that can be found at Target or Walmart and has 10 packs of 10 cards. It has been my experience that each location only has three boxes to offer at a time at around $20 each. The other box is the hobby box. This box has 24 packs of 10 cards and guarantees three autograph cards. These boxes started at around $75. Since there is only one hobby shop in the area, they had only one box at $57 so that was a deal. I naturally levitated around the booster boxes. They were easy enough to find and if I buy enough boxes I should have set assembled in no time. To my amazement, I put together a set with three booster boxes and acquired autograph cards and many inserts. This was fun. So, I bought many more boxes. After 10 more booster boxes, I was NOT able to assemble an additional single set. There is a distinct pattern to the packs and if you do not get a certain three packs or so, you will never get a set put together as these cards are only available in their regular pattern. The booster boxes are a complete waste of money and time and I am sure Topps is aware of this horrible practice!
So, I then bought into the hobby boxes as the price of a box began to plummet. These boxes can be had for as low as $30. There is a pattern there too. You can almost always put together a set of 175 base cards with only one hobby box. I can confirm this by opening 6 boxes. Six hobby boxes yielded 6 sets of 175 cards. Now for the 25 card future star card set. Impossible to put together. As I stated, I opened at least 13 booster boxes and 6 hobby boxes and only put together 1 set after buying three cards on eBay to complete!
Don’t get me started on the serial numbered subsets..