Hobby Musings: Topps Constantly Evolving Their WWE Products – Topps has long been well known for its baseball products among other brands. They’ve also been meeting the demand of wrestling collectors with their various WWE products. As the WWE’s storylines, Superstars and shows have changed, so too have the ways in which Topps creates their products. For more on how they go about creating WWE brands, as well as some of what’s in store for 2020, I had the chance to catch up with Brand Manager Jessica Kanzer. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: What goes into WWE product development at Topps?
JK: Product development at Topps is a collaborative effort between all of our departmental teams including Brand, Marketing, Art, etc. Collectively, Topps often looks to capitalize on the latest trends on WWE programming. Oftentimes, brainstorm efforts are conducted to come up with fresh new ideas on how to offer awesome new product concepts for the Topps WWE collector.
KS: What is a challenge that you think is unique to developing WWE products?
JK: The WWE brand is constantly changing. Whether it be roster shakeups between Raw and SmackDown, Superstars returning, or Superstars debuting, there is always something happening in WWE. Although brilliantly entertaining for the WWE fan, at times, the constant change may present challenges to Topps. Due to production lead times, keeping up with the frequent roster changes can prove a bit challenging.
KS: With that being said, how can you uniquely have fun with these products in a way that other categories might not provide?
JK: The frequent change on WWE programming gives Topps unlimited content to feature on cards. Topps is able to chronologically highlight the many storylines featured on WWE programming, from the Road to WrestleMania, through SummerSlam, and so forth. Fans can collect and relive all of these matches and moments that are highlighted in Topps WWE product throughout the year!
KS: How do you keep the brand fresh overall year after year?
JK: We try to capitalize and react quickly to what is hot and trending within the WWE property as they evolve year over year. As I mentioned previously, Superstars/Legends are always returning and new, captivating Superstars are always debuting. There’s always new content to capitalize on, and with the new WWE content, fresh new concepts are created for Topps product. Currently, we’re really excited about their focus on digital content and expansion into that space and how we can incorporate it into our own card sets.
KS: What went into the decision behind splitting Raw and Smackdown and did WWE have any input in that decision?
JK: WWE has a strong roster pool of talent divided amongst all of their brands. We felt it would be a good representation of the WWE brand to replicate how they handle their own rosters — by segmenting the content based on the actual programming that the WWE fan is familiar with.
KS: Overall, what have you found to be the most popular WWE products among collectors?
JK: Typically, any product that focuses on WWE Legends tends to resonate with Topps WWE collectors for the nostalgia factor. If you’re familiar with WWE programming, WWE has been pushing the Women’s Revolution for about three years now, and it’s still pushing strong. The women of the WWE are being featured prominently on WWE programming, and the fans love it! As such, the Topps WWE collectors have responded well with our Women’s Division launches.
KS: Who are the most popular wrestlers that collectors are currently chasing?
JK: “The Man” Becky Lynch has been an overwhelming favorite for collectors. More recently, Bray Wyatt has become a favorite as well with his newly reinvigorated “The Fiend” persona. In addition, collectors are always looking for big name autos from the likes of Triple H, Ronda Rousey, Undertaker, etc.
KS: The products boast a lot of popular WWE signatures. Who would you say is your proudest/most difficult autograph to get for insertion?
JK: Mr. McMahon would prove to be the proudest and hardest autograph to secure. We were very fortunate to have him featured in the 2019 Topps WWE Transcendent set. This was the first and only time Mr. McMahon has signed a trading card — and we hope to have his autograph card pop up in other places, as well…
KS: Rookie cards are universally loved in the hobby. With that in mind, is NXT the Bowman of wrestling?
JK: Not necessarily. NXT has evolved as a legitimate third brand for WWE with its own strong fan base. NXT’s new TV deal with the USA Network has positioned the brand as a full-time, touring, main roster for WWE. Although the long-term direction that WWE will take with NXT and the two other main roster brands has yet to be seen, early responses have shown NXT to no longer be a developmental brand. In any case, there are always new Superstars coming into WWE TV, so there should always be an influx of ROOKIE cards year over year.
KS: Will there be another WWE Transcendent product?
JK: Fans can expect to see something in 2020.
KS: What can collectors expect for upcoming WWE products?
JK: For 2020, Topps WWE has condensed its product line to offer the collector greater variety in our product line. This has allowed us to look into bringing back WWE Chrome and introduce other successful Topps brands, such as Finest, into the WWE category. We hope our collectors find mutual excitement in our product as we look into experimenting with new designs and card technology for the 2020 line. We’re also working with WWE to acquire some unique new relics that have never been used in Topps WWE product. In addition, we will be utilizing promotional contests for our collectors with prize giveaways such as event tickets and replica championship belts. All exciting new things to look out for in 2020!
For more Hobby Musings from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.