"Yeah, it's a great autograph, but it's on a sticker and I don’t collect sticker autographs…"
For over a decade, collectors have been saying this as they open their packs and boxes of cards. Although, there has always been a large group of collectors who despise redemption cards so much that they can appreciate the use of stickers to avoid receiving a dreaded redemption card.
But for that first group of collectors who don’t collect sticker autos, In The Game has worked diligently to bridge the gap between the pulling of “sticker” autograph and a “hard signed” or “on card” autograph.
The use of labels or stickers in many of our products was not an easy choice to make," said In The Game President Dr. Brian Price. "However, the reality of what it takes to make trading cards forced our hand. As a longtime collector myself, I believed it was important to make collectors feel as if they were still getting value whenever they received an autograph and I think we succeeded in that mission and in ensuring that we would not be placing redemption cards in packs."
By switching from a darker label to a lighter one several years ago, In The Game moved toward making the labels harder to spot as the label area also became integrated into designs as well. For some products, efforts were also made to embed the labels into cards - even though the process is more time-consuming and costly.
Most collectors have a great appreciation and preference for “hard “signatures. Ever-tightening schedules and other factors do not make this an easy thing to do for any maker of trading cards.
"In a product where we have longer lead times, we are able to offer on-card signatures, but we are often at the mercy of athlete schedules and have sometimes ended up with hundreds of cards that come in late and because of our “no redemption card” policy, we could not release in products."
After numerous interactions with collectors and hours of internal discussion, Price may have come up with a solution that may help solve the issue and close the debate about hard-signed versus sticker autographs.
In a forthcoming baseball release, Past, Present and Future, In The Game is set to unveil their latest innovation – a three piece autograph card that almost seamlessly integrates the autograph into the card itself. Set to hit the market in late March, early reaction from those who have been lucky enough to see the cards in person is extremely positive and exciting.
"Once collectors are able to see and touch these cards for themselves, they can ultimately decide whether or not they can be considered as hard-signed or not. We are not going to make that designation for them," remarked Price. "The reality is that the athlete will be signing a portion of the card directly and it will feel like any other hard-signed trading card. It will be interesting to hear what collectors will be saying and how the market will react."
Past, Present and Future will be released in late March. Complete details about price and configuration will be available in the near future.
In the meantime, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments on this new way of producing autograph cards.