I have been asking myself the question for a while "What would have to happen for Topps to make a 'Cards that never Were' (CTNW) set? Would it need to be like a regular Topps set and have 8 different parallel colors? Would it need to be like a high end product where the base cards don't really even matter and all that anybody cares about are the autographs and relic cards? I don't really have an answer, just a few ideas.
First, I think Topps should poll their customers on exactly what cards they think are missing from certain sets. You would get the expected answers like a 1952 Joe DiMaggio, a 1984 Carl Yastrzemski, and a 1975 Al Kaline, but you would also get some not-so standard answers like a 1978 Ted Turner (he managed the Braves for a game in 1977), a 1980 Disco Demolition Night highlight card, and a Dave Dravecky 1990 highlight card (he returned from cancer surgery on his arm the year before). After Topps gets their poll back, they could choose the best 250-300 cards that they think would be most popular, and that would be the set. Each would be numbered as if they were included in the regular Topps set (so the first card from 1989 would be numbered 793, and so on), and they would also be numbered for the CTNW set. They could have parallel cards with gold borders or whatever, and also make a low-numbered parallel that doesn't have the CTNW set number, only the Topps set number, so it's basically like a real card. They could make a few insert sets, maybe have 2 CTNW cards from the same year paired together, and maybe have autographed/jersey versions. They could also have autographed versions of the CTNW cards. If that's not enough to convince the public to buy the set and to convince Topps that the product will sell, then I have one more idea. For many players in the CTNW set, their cards would be rookie cards had they been issued in Topps set when it originally came out. For many of the rest of them, they would be final cards. Topps could sell the product by adding 1 insert of every player in the CTNW set that would be a redemption card. Each redemption card would be redeemed for every Topps card of that players' career, and the CTNW card to complete that players' Topps run. If Topps really wanted to up the ante, the could have 5 redemption cards for every player, and for 1 of the redemption cards, have it be redeemable for an autographed Topps run of the player. It would cost Topps money to buy back the cards of the players, but I think it would generate interest in the set. There are many collectors who wonder why Topps never created final cards of some players and left them out of a set that could've had their rookie card in it. Those collectors will gobble this set up. If the memorobilia and autograph cards look well enough, player collectors will get them, as will memorobilia and autograph collectors. If the set stays in the 2-5 dollar range, kids will purchase at least a few packs becuase of the many different Topps designs that will be in it. I think ttm autograph collectors will be all over the set, especially ones that are trying to get a certain years' set signed, because Topps will add more cards to the set, and it will present more of a challenge. Topps could also split the CTNW set up over a few years, and offer it again and if it works the first year, it should the next time(s) Topps releases it.
Maybe I'm just blowing smoke and it will never catch on, but I know I would buy packs of it, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I would love to hear your comments, thoughts, and ideas on this. I have a poll up on the right of my blog asking if you think the set will work or not, so feel free to vote on that as well. Thanks for checking out my humble little blog on the Topps cards that never Were.