My Journey to Topps MLB’s Arrival on WAX.
I’ve been collecting baseball cards since I was a child. Unfortunately, as is the case for most children from the 80's, this means I have boxes of worthless cardboard rotting in my basement. Despite that, I love collecting, and even have a few complete sets, but eventually I reached a point where I couldn’t deny it was a waste of money and space. Collecting Baseball cards is not a practical hobby.
That means I was very happy when I discovered MLB Champions (formerly MLB Crypto) in 2019. Thanks to blockchain technology I could collect digital bobbleheads of my favorite players and teams. Not only that, but I could use them in a fantasy style baseball game or freely sell them. Unfortunately Lucid Sight’s mismanagement of the project combined with obscene gas prices on the Ethereum network led to the game’s failure. At least the bobbleheads I currently have are awesome.
If you want some of your own, you can buy them very cheaply on opensea.
When it became obvious that the project was moving away from blockchain technology, turning into a mindless clicking app, and likely to be abandoned, I began looking for my collecting fix elsewhere. The next logical choice was Topps Bunt. While not blockchain, at least it was free and had a built in fantasy game as well. It helped scratch the collecting itch, and if you don’t mind violating the ToS, cards are sold on ebay.
Time passed and NBA Topshot entered the scene. Thanks to the active community and NBA involvement this project was massively visible and it demonstrated exactly how much money could be made through blockchain collectibles. Presumably this caught the attention of Topps as they released their Garbage Pail Kids cards on the WAX blockchain in 2020. That was clearly a test for something bigger, and everyone knew it was a matter of time before MLB came to WAX.
This week Topps MLB finally arrived on WAX!
It was exactly what I expected, and unfortunately that is not a good thing.
The page itself is a slightly enhanced reskin of the Garbage Pail Kids website. It does the job, but it’s lazy and underwhelming. To top it off, if you want to view your collection, or buy cards from other people you are redirected to the Atomic Hub website. Using an existing marketplace makes sense, selling was pretty disastrous when GPK came out, but they could have made their own collection display at least.
A crummy website can be forgiven if the cards themselves deliver. They don’t. Physical baseball cards have relics. Both physical cards and Topps Bunt digital cards have holograms. Bunt also has videos. What does Topps WAX have? Pictures of the cards, sometimes with a slightly animated background overlay. I had to run through all the subsets on the collection page before seeing anything more complex than that, the Team Cube subset.While that’s certainly cool, it’s a lower quality Topshot knockoff.
On the positive side, Topps MLB has crafting recipes which burn common cards to gain exclusive cards. It’s a very nice touch, similar to what you can do in Bunt, but feels like an artificial attempt at stimulating the market.
Despite that, it’s still digital baseball cards, and I could overlook those flaws, except for the fact that the sale was a mess. Blockchain collectibles have been around long enough that we all know what happens during a limited run sale. A massive number of people slam the servers and it fails. A large number of these people are either bots or flippers looking to turn a quick profit. Some people get lucky and get a lot of cards, others completely miss out. Unfortunately those who miss out are often the actual fans. They are left with no choice but to pay exorbitant prices for the packs. This is not healthy for the growth of the community.
Here are the highlights of this sale:
- The website failed to load.
- The credit card service seemed to be overwhelmed.
- People got billed for packs they never received.
- The secondary market went wild for a few days before calming down to semi reasonable card prices.
As for my own experience, after an hour long struggle I managed to buy four standard packs. Even though that was much less than I wanted to collect I gave up after that.
If they paid any attention to high profile sales over the last two years they could have avoided these problems. They could have used a signup list, a queue, preordering or a raffle for instance. They could have gone even simpler and released more packs. Regrettably they took the approach which earned them more money now instead of laying the framework for a strong community.
Series one came to the plate and Topps MLB definitely struck out. I’m sure they made a boatload of money, but it was poorly executed and rather than hooking a lot of people it left a sour taste in their mouth. We will inevitably see series two later in the summer or fall. I just hope they will have learned and improved from this chaotic sale experience. I still want to collect blockchain baseball cards, but if they don’t improve I’ll simply wait until they add minting to Bunt.
Thanks for taking the time to read my rant! I’m happy to see MLB on WAX, but I’m disappointed about the execution. I look forward to seeing how it grows and improves in the future though.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Did you participate in the sale? How’d you fare? What do you think the future of blockchain sports collectibles is?
Thanks again for reading.