Similar to my conversation with Adam Gandolfo (I posted about my convo with him before), I was honored that Brad was willing to spend some time with me as I drilled him for almost an hour with my obsessive questions. I learned so much and I hope you enjoy this convo!
Q. What was your role during the creation of and eventual release of this product?
I was the Senior Brand Manager, this was “my baby!” This was probably the last product that I managed on an individual basis because I moved to a Director role after this. This was a special one to me; shepherding the product from ideation to execution, holding its hand throughout the process until it’s on the shelf. We worked with finance, manufacturing, sales, etc. These were all group decisions, not just by me.
I introduced the Topps Heritage brand to the team, that was the first nostalgic product that we did in the modern era. There are a lot of old time collectors out there, wanted to pay homage to what they’ve done in the past, ‘52 design with modern players. That’s where this whole idea of the retro sets took root, this was back in 2001. Heritage was doing really well and just started thinking about the next step. There are other old designs out there, T cards, took a look at it, T206 set and Allen & Ginter was the next one.
Q. How did the team choose the design, colors, types of parallels, etc.?
Had a great group of artists and designers, that’s what they do, they design cards. A lot of the inspiration came from the original cards, looked at all of the original cards, looked at the packaging, what was that like, take that as inspiration, if we were in the 1800’s and designing a product what would it look like? Can’t remember how they landed on the final design but it “just fit”.
Feel of the cards, try to mimic the cards, board stock was far different than other cards. There is a process to antique the cards.
Q. Know anything about the Framed Originals (1800's buyback cards) by chance? Specifically, know how they were selected?
We did this before with Heritage, just bought as many as we could from dealers and places throughout the country, had a budget and a person would handle acquisition. Get as many cards as you can. Wanted to get as many as you could. Separately, we made sure they had some higher value cards in there as well. There were some redemptions at the time, but consumers don’t like that. We thought about just inserting them into the packs but then we thought about framing it and that’s what we did.
Q. What was it like around Topps pre-release time of the 2006 product? Excitement? Nerves? Would love to hear about expectations that the team had, etc. Anything you can shed light on really.
A lot of excitement! Hot time to do retro brands, eclectic collection of stuff, got a little crazy. We had never put in cards of random people before so it was a lot of fun. We tied in with the hobby dealers, teased them with product and early glimpses, everyone thought it was great. This was all about “the find”.
Q. What was the craziest card?
Some cool autographs in there. Takeru Kobayashi was a BIG DEAL for them, “so out there” to land him.
Q. Have you ever been featured on a Topps card?
Yes! It was an Allen & Ginter card, for the National Show, that year was Ft. Lauderdale.. Handed these out at the show individually.