Hobby Musings: Big names highlight 2020 A&G checklist – One of Topps’ most intriguing products of the year, Allen & Ginter hits the market this week. In addition to the top names in baseball, the 2020 edition will continue the product’s tradition of including subjects outside the world of baseball in its checklist.
To find out more about what this year’s product will contain, I spoke with Emily Kless via email.
KS: Emily, the 2020 edition of Allen & Ginter releases this week. What are the highlights collectors can look forward to with this year’s release?
EK: Wow! Where to begin?! There are loads of exciting names and features to this year’s Allen & Ginter. From Paul Rudd to Ludacris, Briana Scurry to Chip and Joanna Gaines and Charlie Day to Spike Lee, there is something for everyone in Allen & Ginter. There are of course the standard wacky and fun inserts which collectors have come to expect from this product, including animals, buildings, cities, and my personal favorite in this year’s Allen & Ginter: 9 Ways to First!
KS: One of the calling cards of A&G is the checklist’s non-baseball subjects. Who was included this year?
EK: Aside from the few mentioned above, some other stand outs include Andy Cohen, Alex Morgan, Bucky Lasek, Doc Emrick, Maria Pepe, R.L. Stine, Simone Manuel, Megan Rapinoe, Joe Burrow, Johnny Bananas, Danny McBride & more.
KS: How do you decide on the non-baseball subjects for the checklist?
EK: Allen & Ginter is one of the products that everyone gets excited for at Topps. Our team has a meeting where employees come together to throw out suggestions. We also use that meeting to go through our social media submissions to see who our followers want to be included in the set. From there, it’s off to the races to see what contacts we might have that would put us in touch with those subjects’ agents. It’s incredible to see every person at Topps put their heads together to come up with fun and quirky subjects to include.
KS: What challenges, if any, did you run into creating A&G this year?
EK: One of the biggest challenges for Allen & Ginter is being able to actually contact the subjects we’d like to include in the set. After we’re successfully able to contact an agent or rep for a given subject, we then have to explain the unique process of producing baseball cards and keep our fingers crossed that the talent wants to be in the set! (It’s safe to assume we have a high success rate… I mean after all, who doesn’t want to be on a baseball card?!)
KS: Topps started producing the line in 2006. After all of these years, how you keep it fresh and compelling?
EK: The Brand team does an incredible job at thinking outside of the box. While the big names are something that we are constantly searching for to include, there are also a lot of aspects in the product, such as inserts, that we make sure are fresh and fun for any collector. Giants Beneath, featuring the biggest that live in the ocean; Reach for the Sky, showing off the tallest buildings; Where Monsters Live, bringing back our childhood fears of a monster under the bed… Each year brings something new and different and the Topps team looks forward to rising to the challenge of coming up with something new.
KS: Do you solicit any outside feedback for the product for things like design or the checklist?
EK: Our social media followers are a huge help when it comes to Allen & Ginter! We typically post something from the Topps accounts asking for suggestions, and our fans certainly DO NOT disappoint.
It’s fun to watch the team sift through the social media suggestions – it sparks great conversation and shows how our fans and followers think outside the box for Allen & Ginter.
KS: Where do you think Allen & Ginter ranks among Topps’ baseball products in terms of popularity?
EK: Allen & Ginter is incredibly popular, because it brings new and unique faces to baseball cards! Any collector that is looking for a fun, wacky, surprise-around-every-corner type of product, Allen & Ginter is for them. The beauty of our hobby is that there are so many different types of collectors, and Topps is able to cater to anyone: from those who look out for baseball superstars to those who look out for a card of an egg, which became the most liked Instagram photo in 2019. There is truly something for everyone to collect.
KS: Do you have a dream person you’d eventually like to be able to include in the checklist?
EK: As a Jersey girl, I would love to see a Bruce Springsteen card! I can even picture an insert set dedicated to musicians from NJ… Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Jon Bon Jovi, Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah, Sugar Hill Gang, Gloria Gaynor, Dionne Warwick, My Chemical Romance, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons… (I’ll stop now – my Jersey pride is showing.) It would be a fun one to chase!