The 2016 State Of The Union Address (Weigh-In #53)

Ladies and Gentlemen… The President of The Shlabotnik Report

Madam Speaker… Mister Subwoofer…  Members of the Blogosphere… My fellow Collectors…

TSR State Of The Union

2015 was a notable year for The Shlabotnik Report and for the collecting community.  Flagship Topps had an outstanding design; Stadium Club’s photography had everybody talking.  A lot of accomplishments were made, but there are a lot of challenges remaining as we move into a new year.

However, 2015 was also a year without structure, a year of following impulses rather than pursuing the declared objectives.  There’s a lot of good to be said about following  impulses and doing what feels right at the moment, but the end result is a number of unfinished projects, unopened packs and box sets.

While we’ve been successful in keeping our spending in line with previous years, and also in keeping a handle on incoming cards, the fact is that we’ve had a large drop-off in the number of exports in the form of cards leaving the house.  As you can see from this table…

2012 2013 2014 2015
Inbound 4,335 5,378 5,337 4,200
Outbound 8,894 19,677 8,562 2,881
Added 1,719 3,223 2,833 2,322
Removed 2,389 3,908 3,202 1,189

…During Fiscal 2015, the number of cards leaving the house (listed in the “Outbound” row on the above table) were significantly down from prior years.  While it’s true that 2013 was an aberration caused by the recycling of large quantities of junk wax doubles, the truth remains that 2015’s totals were still nearly 6,000 cards below the previous lowest amount.  Similarly, the number of cards removed from the collection were down in 2015.  Better efforts need to be made to return these to their previous levels.

In light of these shortcomings and challenges, a series of initiatives are being considered;  some may be implemented as they stand, some may be modified before being implemented, others may get vetoed.

While a “budget” has often been referred to in this blog, the truth of the matter is that “I’m on a budget” is often a euphemism for “I’m cheap”.  That being said, I don’t have a handle on how much is spent on the hobby during any given year.  One initiative being considered for 2016 is tracking the money spent on cards, mainly out of curiosity but also to see whether the return on investment is there for certain expenditures (i.e. lunchtime Target runs).

Similarly, alternate retail strategies are being considered.  In 2014 and 2015, the plan was to buy factory sets of flagship Topps while getting most of the pack-busting stimulus from Heritage.  Studies have concluded that while factory sets are economically prudent, there is a significant shortfall in the amount of “fun”.  While Heritage expenditures will continue in fiscal 2016, alternates to the factory set strategy are being explored.

One such strategy being floated is to focus more on Opening Day than on flagship Topps, which would allow for an easier set-building goal plus more enjoyable inserts.  However, it’s recently come to this administration’s attention that 2016 Opening Day will no longer have 3-D cards, which diminishes the projected return on the Opening Day investments.

An initiative being explored is a two-pronged effort to devote more time towards domestic resources rather than imported resources;  in other words, being more involved with cards already in the house rather than those in stores or on COMC. Part of this initiative would involve spending more time and energy with cards already in the collection, while the other part would involve exploring the vast cardboard reserves believed to exist on the surface of my dining room table.

One obvious place where cutbacks can easily be made are with inserts and with current cards of retired players.  More and more studies are finding that inserts provide a short-term level of enjoyment;  they may seem appealing when acquired, but later become something of an afterthought.  I’m proposing a more strenuous screening process that would allow entry only to those inserts and retired players who fall into the collection in some predefined way.  For instance, Cal Ripken would be allowed, as there’s a established Cal PC.  Nolan Ryan would be welcomed if pictured with the Mets, but Nolan Ryan with any other team would be turned away… This is due to a distinct surplus in non-vintage Nolan Ryan cards.

Finally, several existing programs, – “1966 Batman” project and the “Steelers Team Sets” project, just to name two  – will be temporarily put on hold and reevaluated at an undetermined future date.

In conclusion, we are pleased with the state of the collection as well as that of The Shlabotnik Report, and there is no doubt that 2016 will be a landmark year for both.

For additional statistics on 4th quarter performance, I refer you to the following statistics, illustrated by some imports from The Republic Of COMC.

The numbers here reflect changes since September 14th.

Net change in the collection since 9/14/15: +147 (442 added, 295 purged)

Net change to the # of cards in the house since 9/14/15: -1425 (1304 in, 2729 out)

1964 Topps George Brunet

In the below figures, “to date” means since I started tracking this stuff on 10/16/2011.

Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 11,784

Net change to the collection, to date: -1,476

1966 Topps Mike McCormick

Total # of cards which have left the house, to date:  44,743

Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -25,533

1967 Topps Jack Baldschun

Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 51,662

Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 17,623

1970 Topps Joe Moeller

…which means I’ve got at least 69,285 cards in my collection.

Thank you, and good night.

1961 Topps Joe Christopher

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5 thoughts on “The 2016 State Of The Union Address (Weigh-In #53)

  1. Great post. I’m so jealous of how well you’re able to track your collection. I either need to get more organized… or more motivated. Or… I could just continue to be the unorganized collector that I am… who is envious of all of the collectors out there who have their stuff together.

    • Believe me, I’m far from having my stuff together. I created a spreadsheet for the stuff coming and going and I make myself keep up on it… But beyond that I’ve only been able to get my collection from “a horrendous mess” to “a less daunting mess, but still a mess”.

  2. What’s this about a 1966 Batman project? I have to admit I haven’t been able to keep up with all the blogs I read over the holidays. But baby it’s cold outside now and I can catch up. If you made a post about the 66 Batman please give me a link. I must have missed it.

    • “Project” is overselling it… I’ve been acquiring 1966 Topps Batman “Black Bat” cards with the goal of re-acquiring lost cards from my childhood and of completing the “Batman vs. Joker” subset… Both goals have been reached and I’ll be posting all of the cards in that subset in the near future… so just hang tight, it’ll be better than links to posts scattered over the past couple of years.
      At the moment, I’m satisfied with where I stand, Batman-wise, so I’m putting that set on hold. I’ll probably pick it up again later, but right now I need a little more focus than I have.

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