Allen Ginter Ichiro AutoMint Musings: Topps Getting Some Major Ink for Allen & Ginter – Topps seems determined to make a bang with this year’s Allen & Ginter release. It is the 10th anniversary of the product’s original release and the company made some waves by announcing they had signed Ichiro Suzuki to an autograph deal for the product. This marks the first time that Topps will have Ichiro autographs in their products. Considering that Ichiro hasn’t had licensed certified autographs for a little while, I can only imagine the prices they will go for on the secondary market. Topps also dipped into the pop culture pool by signing autograph deals with Sylvester Stallone and Hulk Hogan.

An already impressive autograph checklist took an interesting turn a few weeks ago when Topps announced that they had signed multiple NBA draft prospects from this year’s upcoming rookie class to autograph deals. In case you missed it, the four they inked were Justise Winslow, Justise WilsonSam Dekker, Willie Cauley-Stein and RJ Hunter. While that list doesn’t include this year’s big two in Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns, those four names are certainly nothing to scoff at in the collecting world.

To be clear, Topps isn’t setting a precedent by doing this. They actually included a few well-known NBA draft prospects in Shabazz Napier and Doug McDermott in last year’s Allen & Ginter product. They’ve also had other basketball notables, including Bill Walton and John Calipari, as autograph subjects. What makes it surprising is that they inserted so many of them into one checklist. When asked about their inclusion in the product, Topps’ Susan Lulgjuraj put it simply, “We thought they were good names to add to the 10th anniversary of A&G.”

While Topps isn’t close to taking down Panini in the basketball market, it will be interesting to see the kind of reception that these cards garner in the hobby market.

Sly StalloneI think Topps will continue to include them in future A&G sets, at least as long as it makes business and financial sense to do so. It certainly makes sense to have them in there from a box-appeal standpoint. While cards featuring players with their professional teams and logos continue to take the top spots in the hobby, having an earlier chance to get certified autographs of prospects on a mainstream card still carries some appeal. This is especially true for people hoping to turn them around to make some quick money before the market becomes flooded with the prospect’s licensed autographed cards.

2015 Topps Allen and Ginter hits stores July 22nd. It’s hard to believe Topps has been releasing it for 10 years already, but it’s certainly provided some great cards along the way. The way this year’s checklist is shaping up, 2015 shouldn’t be any different. Whether it’s an unconventional autograph card such as ESPN’s own Matthew Berry or one of the treasured Rip cards, A&G has left us with a lot of memorable cardboard. I know I’m certainly looking forward to Darren Rovell’s card in this year’s set, if for no other reason than to see how many times he gets asked to sign it at the National when we’re there in a few months.

Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan as the producer of ESPN’s Mint Condition has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on the hobby in Mint Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.

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