The question is posed as follows:
Michael Eisner has just fired the entire Topps Product Development staff and chose to hire you to take their place. Mr. Eisner has given you carte blanche to do whatever you want with Topps Baseball -- as long as you keep it under $2/pack.
If you were in charge of Topps, and based upon what you've seen of 2011 Topps Baseball Series One, what (if anything) would you have done differently?
I like the design and look of 2011 Topps. It may not reflect the majesty of the 60th anniversary edition that they're trying to project, and that's really the only problem. It is not memorable in its own right. Of course, being memorable for its own sake is not the only requirement of a good card design (see 2002 or 2008 Topps). Howver, it does feel a little 1997 Stadium Club-ish on the front to me. The back I wouldn't change too much, though the second photo is superfluous because it's a repeat of the front.
Base Set Layout
Two series plus a traded series are fine. 330 cards per series is also fine. What I would change is the content of the set. Was it really necessary to have a rookie cup card and regular base card for the all-star rookie team? I like the team cards and league leader cards as is (group the league leader cards together again). I would like to see postseason highlight cards again (at least one per postseason series). I think series 1 should be a recap of the previous year's season, so it's ok to not highlight team changes from the offseason. Series 2 should complement series 1 and make everything feel more complete and not leave any loose ends. Offseason team changes should be introduced here. The update series should be a standalone set (including inserts) and highlight in-season feats and personnel moves along with rookie call-ups.
As a whole, I like insert sets. I also like having many insert sets, but not so many that there are up to three per pack. I would have used the Diamond Anniversary cards to replace the gold parallel cards for this year only. Inserts I would eliminate are Diamond Duos, History of Topps, and the retro card reprints. I would keep Topps 60 as an insert theme, but have the focus changed to not being about random statistical lists. I like the Kimball minis a lot, but I'm not sure if this is the right set to introduce them. This is a "wait 'till next year" call". The 60 years of Topps, if they weren;t on the heels of last year, are exactly the right type of idea. It shouldn't be in all 3 series though. The Lost Cards should stay and be expanded upon to include other modern subjects (A-Rod, Varitek, Bonds, etc). I would add one more insert set that would be inserted with obscenely high odds (one or two per case) and just be awesome looking.
Hobby packs would be $1.99 for 11 cards (include the ToppsTown, but give an extra card). Jumbo packs with the same configuration.
I would eliminate the Target and Walmart exclusive parallel sets. They were cool in 2009 when they had specific blasters for them, but are now a nuisance.
I would eliminate autos from the base set except for a select few. All autos would be on-card and would be inserted three per jumbo case and one per hobby case. It would follow the 60 years of Topps theme with each member of the checklist having a different base design.
Relics can stay as is because it seems they're easy to pack out and create.
The wrapper redemption is an interesting idea, but it would be executed much better online. Each box would have a boxtopper with a scratch off code that you enter (it sounds so familiar). And each code would correspond to a pack number. If the code is invalid, then you can send the wrappers. The only downside is that it discourages not opening individual packs and collect the 36 at some point.
Also, I would redesign the Topps website, start a blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account all dedicated to the hype, promotions, pulls, and experiences associated with 2011 Topps, the anchor and driver of the last licensed manufacturer.