Hobby Outposts from the North – Soccer’s RC designation arrives! – As announced last week, Topps is releasing 2020-21 UEFA Chrome, with a major addition – the Rookie Card (RC) designation.
Most major sports have had these appearing on cards for years, and now soccer will join the ranks and have the RC insignia. The shield will tell collectors that they have an official rookie card, just as has been found in baseball and other lines.
To get more insight on the birth of this important facet, I spoke with Topps Brand Manager Aaron Abrams by email. Here is our conversation:
JW: Walk me through the RC designation process a bit – how did the process start? Who initiated it?
AA: As we look for more ways to engage soccer Collectors in the way we do with baseball, the Rookie logo is one of the first elements that comes to mind. As a collector, it’s always fun to scout out a young, new player and collect their rookie cards, then watch as the player progresses through their career. With so many offshoots of soccer products out there including stickers, playing cards, trading cards, etc. we really wanted to add that RC mark to get European collectors in on the fun as well as provide some clarity for North American collectors starting to dip their toes in the soccer hobby. We’re really excited about the future of soccer trading cards and how much more prominent they will become in the North American market with an electric crop of young American and Canadian talent coming up through the ranks.
JW: Was there any outside consult on the designation with collectors, dealers or outlets like Beckett who traditionally have implemented the RC designation independently?
AA: We took into consideration a number of online resources and forums discussing the topic since there are a lot of soccer collectors with differing opinions. Of course, there is always a great dialogue that goes on between our team and prominent names in the hobby at our tentpole events, and soccer was a topic brought up within the last few years as we looked for more feedback on what current soccer collectors are looking for. From there, we aggregated some of the most prominent and reoccurring notes and tried to meld that with how we have traditionally determined a rookie designation with our other sports brands.
JW: There’s no question that RCs are a big driver in other sports like baseball. Do you anticipate the same in soccer immediately or do you feel there will there be a learning curve?
AA: We believe that the RC designation will have an immediate impact, based on what we are seeing from cards in the market without the designation, alongside the select cards that have been released through Topps.com with this designation. There are a lot of collectors who have created their own definition of a rookie, whether that be first sticker, playing card, or trading card. This will help the cardboard faithful have a clear-cut choice when it comes to which rookie cards they want to collect.
JW: Can collectors expect other Topps lines that don’t currently have RCs (e.g. F1) to have the RC designation soon, or is there a wait-and-see approach?
AA: While we plan to closely monitor the reaction to soccer RCs, we do expect to bring the RC designation to our line of F1 products and will always look to make the best decision for the hobby with any new licenses down the line.