52 Facts About Topps


Topps Company, Inc is an American company that manufactures chewing gum, candy, and collectibles.

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Formerly based in New York City, Topps is best known as a leading producer of American football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, soccer, and other sports and non-sports themed trading cards.

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Topps itself was founded in 1938, but the company can trace its roots back to an earlier firm, American Leaf Tobacco.

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When Topps next introduced baseball cards as a product, the cards immediately became its primary emphasis.

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Under Eisner's direction, Topps began to expand into the entertainment and media business with plans for a Bazooka Joe movie.

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In 2012, Topps began creating digital sports cards, starting with the Topps Bunt baseball card mobile app.

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Topps has a European division, which is based in Milton Keynes, UK.

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Topps Merlin branded Premier League sticker albums have been popular since their launch in 1994, and in 2007 Topps acquired the Premier League rights for trading cards.

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In 1951, Topps produced its first baseball cards in two different sets known today as Red Backs and Blue Backs.

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Topps changed its approach in 1952, this time creating a much larger set of baseball cards and packaging them with its signature product, bubble gum.

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Topps was left with a substantial amount of surplus stock in 1952, which it largely disposed of by dumping many cards into the Atlantic.

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In later years, Topps either printed series in smaller quantities late in the season or destroyed excess cards.

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Topps first became active in this process through an agent called Players Enterprises in July 1950, in preparation for its first 1951 set.

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However, because Bowman had signed many players in 1950 to contracts for that year, plus a renewal option for one year, Topps included in its own contracts the rights to sell cards with gum starting in 1952 .

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Topps tried to establish exclusive rights through its contracts by having players agree not to grant similar rights to others, or renew existing contracts except where specifically noted in the contract.

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The court rejected Bowman's attempt to claim a trademark on the word "baseball" in connection with the sale of gum, and disposed of the unfair competition claim because Topps had made no attempt to pass its cards off as being made by Bowman.

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However, Topps held onto the rights of most players and the set was not particularly successful.

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Stymied, Fleer turned its efforts to supporting an administrative complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Topps was engaging in unfair competition through its aggregation of exclusive contracts.

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Topps can negotiate individually and was belatedly able to create a 2004 card of Bonds.

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For example, Topps obtained a license to produce cards featuring the U S Olympic baseball team and thus produced the first card of Mark McGwire prior to his promotion to the major league level, and one that would become quite valuable to collectors for a time.

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Topps continued adding more sets and trying to distinguish them from each other, as did its competitors.

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Topps grabbed collectors' attention early in 2007 when the new card of Yankees' shortstop Derek Jeter was found to have been altered to include an image of Mickey Mantle standing in the dugout and President George W Bush walking through the stands.

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In 2009, Topps became the first official baseball card of MLB in over thirty years.

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The collection, named "Topps 206", include players from both, Major and Minor League.

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One of the features that contributed significantly to Topps's success beginning with the 1952 set was providing player statistics.

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At the time, complete and reliable baseball statistics for all players were not widely available, so Topps actually compiled the information itself from published box scores.

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The practice of showing complete career statistics became permanent in 1963, except for one year, 1971, when Topps sacrificed the full statistics in order to put a player photo on the back of the card as well.

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Thereafter, Topps began simply mixing game photography with posed shots in its sets.

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In 1993, Topps finally managed again to incorporate a player photo on the back as well as the front of the card, after some competitors had been doing so for a number of years.

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Pictures and information on baseball cards sold during one season came primarily from earlier seasons, so Topps used various tactics to give its cards a greater sense of staying current with the times.

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On rare occasions, Topps has issued special cards for players who had either died or had been injured.

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For football cards Bowman dominated the field, and Topps did not try again until 1955, when it released an All-American set with a mix of active players and retired stars.

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Philadelphia Gum secured the NFL rights for 1964, forcing Topps to go for the AFL and leaving Fleer with no product in either baseball or football.

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In spite of the lack of competition, or perhaps to preempt it, Topps created two sets of cards for the short-lived United States Football League in the 1980s.

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Topps makes cards for other major North American professional sports.

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Similarly, the Topps Company struck agreements with Amalgamated and British Confectionery in the United Kingdom and Scanlen's in Australia.

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Topps first sold cards for basketball in 1957, but stopped after one season.

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Topps started producing basketball cards again in 1969 and continued until 1982, but then abandoned the market for another decade, missing out on printing the prized rookie cards of Michael Jordan and other mid- and late-1980s National Basketball Association stars.

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Topps finally returned to basketball cards in 1992, several years after its competitors.

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Until 2019, Topps made 'Topps Premier League' stickers and the Match Attax trading card game, and since 2015 it has produced stickers and trading cards for the UEFA Champions League.

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In 2008, Topps gained the rights to production of WWE trading cards.

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Originally, Topps was purely a gum company, and its first product was simply called "Topps gum".

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In imitation of Bowman and other competitors, Topps eventually began producing humor products unrelated to sports.

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Topps licensed GPK to Louis Uncle Louie Gregory and Adam F Goldberg in 2020 and they have taken the hobby worldwide.

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In 1953, Topps began selling smaller penny pieces with the Bazooka Joe comic strip on the wrapper as an added attraction.

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However, Topps has complained that increasing public attention to childhood nutrition undercuts its candy sales.

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Topps has continued to create collectible cards and stickers on a variety of subjects, often targeting the same adolescent male audience as its baseball cards.

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Many Topps artists came from the world of comics and continued to work in that field as well.

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In 2015 Topps started to expand its non-sports category by adding more TV shows, as well as sci-fi with its brand-new Star Wars line, as well as Doctor Who, with regular autographs as well as vintage cut autographs, screen-worn relics, and more.

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Topps worked together with the Disney Channel to create trading cards of High School Musical, High School Musical 2, High School Musical 3, and Hannah Montana.

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Topps made its first foray into the world of games in July 2003 by acquiring the game company WizKids for $29.

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Topps shut down Wizkids operation in November 2008 due to the economic downturn.

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