Armchair Product Designer – Would You Collect Your Favorite Team by Subscription?

What if I told you there might be a way to bring back Topps Total (or something like it)?

Bark Box

Over the past year or so, there seems to have been a boom in subscription-based collectible products. Loot Crate has become huge. And if they're not, they're spent a lot of money on marketing and product acquisition to look big. In recent months, my Facebook feed has thrown adds for similar services ranging from comics to fair trade snacks and doilies to warm thoughts all shipped monthly in a box. Naturally, it got me thinking what if there was a sports card subscription service.

There are a couple that do sports-specific boxes, but these are collections of packs. It's a fun concept, especially if you don't have a nearby shop, but I'm looking for stuff from a major manufacturer, similar to how Loot Crate gets variant cover comics and Funko Pop vinyl figures.

The idea I have for a sports card subscription service is ambitious, but I think it's doable. It can be easily adapted to any sport. What if I told you I may have figured out a way to bring back Topps Total in a way that's financially feasible for both the collector and the card maker?

In a nutshell, it's a monthly team set that expands and evolves each month throughout the year.

With so many products and deep checklists today, it's become hard for team and player collectors to chase everything even from one product. Also, most sets don't go deep into team rosters. My idea fixes both of these issues.

Each month, subscribers would get a handful of cards from their chosen team. I'm thinking no more than five. That's a small mailday, but if you spread it over a year, that's a nice 60-card team set. That's enough to cover the main roster, some rookie call-ups, any trades and even a few highlights or surprises. To cap things off, to promote annual subscriptions, those that get the entire year's worth of cards could get a bonus autograph. It's the dream team set. A full set of all teams might have almost 2,000 cards by the time the year is done.

Another benefit of keeping the monthly shipment small is that it makes it more affordable. If it were done with a standard card stock, I think $5 would be fair. Given postage rates, this may have to go a little higher. But keeping it reasonable is key, especially when it's a monthly fee.

The lower price point is also important because you might have some chase a complete set that includes 30+ teams. Now $150 is quite a bit, but when there are several products that cost that much per box that come out every month, it's still fair given the overall scope at the end.

mailboxOne of the draws of this subscription set is its exclusive nature. To that end, it would need its own design and not just be a parallel. It needs an identity to feel special. You want collectors to be excited when they open their mailbox and find a package of cards waiting for them that they know right away won't be found anywhere else.

Card collectors can be a dedicated bunch. If they come across the subscription set a month or two too late, they may not want to bother at all. If this were the case, the number of subscribers might peak at the beginning rather than grow. And that's neither a good thing nor financially viable. This might be where parallels come in. There could be one randomly inserted First Day Issue-type card or colorful parallel that's only available with the initial shipments. However, the main set could be bought through the end of the year.

So there you have it -- an ongoing team set that grows each month. Installments are about the price of an average pack of cards and at the end of the year, you've got something that's comprehensive, timely and has an air of exclusivity to it.

I'm not an expert in licensing so I don't know if any of the card companies would want to tackle something like this. Under current deals, it might not even be possible. That being said, I think it's something this armchair product designer thinks has some potential and is worth considering.

What do you think? Would you subscribe to a monthly set of your favorite team? How would you like to see it work?


  1. Very well thought out. I like it. I think to be feasible on the manufacturer end the price point would need to be higher though. Part of the reason Topps orders are due so for in advance is print runs. They try to produce so that nothing is left sitting in their facility. The exclusivity nature and your idea of being able to buy any month during the first year throws off their tightly crafted printing equation. Based on that I see a price point of $9.99 -$12.99 being necessary to be profitable. Still within reason though.

  2. If I could get it exclusively for my favorite team, I’d give it a thought. I pretty much do collect only my favorite team and a couple of sets here and there like Topps football (the main set, RIP) and O-Pee-Chee hockey. After that, it’s only my teams.

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