By the Staff of NYSportsJournalism.com
December 26, 2016: In November, while the Chicago Cubs were celebrating their first World Series championship in 108 years, Topps, the exclusive trading card partner for MLB, had its own reasons to celebrate.
The iconic trading card company said that its on-demand Topps NOW platform, which launched at the start of the 2016 season, had surpassed 500,000 cards sold in the first year, "exceeding the expectations of the program and helping to re-engage thousands of fans, especially millennials, with the Topps brand."
Helping the company reach that milestone: Topps said it sold more than 9,000 sets of Cubs World Series sets.
Via Topps NOW, people are able to order an unlimited number of cards, usually within 24 hours of their availability, which Topps produces on-demand. The cards are delivered in days, as opposed to traditional methods where new cards are not available until the following season’s sets.
Topps said it produced 665 different MLB cards during the initial season of Topps NOW.
According to Jeff Heckman, Topps director of new product development and e-commerce marketplace, "This is something we’ve wanted for a long time, a way to turn product around very quickly and give fans something to remember events as they were happening. We’ve finally refined the model, and it’s exceeded our wildest expectations."
Topps said that all 30 MLB teams were represented by more than one card, with the Cubs (38 cards plus postseason), Boston Red Sox (36 plus post-season) and New York Yankees (28) leading the list.
The roster for Topps Now also includes the Premier League, MLS, AMC's The Preacher, UFC and the WWE series.
Topps Now cards are available through the Topps web site and the international ToppsDirect.com Web site.
Kris Bryant of the Cubs in November signed the biggest deal in the company’s history. He will appear on Topps and Bowman products throughout 2017, including Topps BUNT, the official trading card app for MLB.
In November, Topps signed a multi-year autograph trading card deal with Derek Jeter, former captain and five-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees, hailing it as "Jeter’s return to Topps products for the first time in more than a decade."
Jeter’s first autographed cards under the new alliance appeared in 2016 Topps Dynasty Baseball and 2016 Topps Baseball Transcendent Collection (both out in early December). He will also be featured in 2017 Topps products, starting with 2017 Topps Baseball Series 1 (available Feb. 1, 2017) and 2016 Topps Tribute Baseball.
"Adding Derek Jeter autographs to our trading card products will be thrilling for collectors," David Leiner, vp and GM for North American Sports & Entertainment at Topps, said in a statement. "He is one of the most prolific and well-known players of our time, and his addition is one collectors will be clamoring for."
Topps also has an exclusive autograph deal with Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, the 2014 and 2016 American League MVP.
November saw the release of 2016 Topps Archives Baseball 65th Anniversary Edition, a 65-card base set — one for each year of Topps card dating back to 1952 — available in Walmart.
Among Topps other top hits in 2016 were alliances with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Walking Dead and the launch of the WWE Slam digital app, which, according to Topps, will "bring thousands of WWE Superstars to life with exclusive digital cards that can be collected and traded with fans worldwide."
"WWE has been an incredible partner with Topps for many years, and we are thrilled to be able to offer WWE fans worldwide a new way to collect their favorite WWE Superstars from today and the past,"Jeremy Strauser, vp and GM for Topps Digital, said in a statement.
Other Topps apps include UFC Knockout, Star Wars, The Walking Dead, MLB BUNT, NFL Huddle and KICK, encompassing MLS, UEFA, Premier League and other soccer organizations.
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