With the sports card market exploding over the last year, Topps is set to dip back into the football card world with a special set of 50 Trevor Lawrence cards that will be sold directly to consumers in packs this April.
The Clemson star quarterback’s sister-in-law and brother, Brooke and Chase Lawrence, designed 20 of the cards, while the 30 others play off past Topps designs. Trevor, who is expected to be this year’s No. 1 pick, will also autograph a number of the cards. The cards do not have any Clemson or NFL marks; competitor Panini has held exclusive NFL/NFLPA physical cards rights since 2016. Print runs and pricing have not been announced, though packs of 20 cards are expected to sell for less than $100.
“We always try to celebrate and chronicle what’s going on in sports and pop culture,” Topps global director of ecommerce Jeff Heckman said. “This is the first time we’ve done anything like this.” The closest predecessor might be last year’s collaboration with Cristiano Ronaldo on a 40-card set dedicated to the soccer star.
Going direct to consumer, Heckman said, allowed Topps to be quicker from idea to distribution. Conversations with Lawrence began less than two months ago. Topps’ direct-to-consumer business has grown 400% over the last five years.
The speed was critical as Topps reacts to a surge in sports card interest. “We’re definitely being a little more aggressive,” Heckman said, adding that the company is also careful to avoid oversaturating the market. Cards are regularly setting records at auction, eBay sales were up 142% last year (with football sales up 168%), and publishers like Topps and Panini are seeing their products fly off shelves.
There has been an uptick in interest in art-based cards in particular over the last four years, Heckman said. “We saw a lot of different people in the sneaker and fashion world collaborate with celebrities and musicians and artists. We said, ‘We’ve got this great canvas that’s 2.5 x 3.5 inches. Why can’t we partner with artists and give them the creative reins too?’”