DIGITAL DABBLINGS #5 – New Set: “Then, Now, Forever” Released & Looking at Physical-to-Digital Sets

By William M. Noetling, PWTorch Specialist


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

Occasionally in the WWE Slam Digital Card Trader App Topps will issue sets that have a physical counterpart in the real world. The first one of these was Topps Heritage which was released about six months ago, and directly copied the 2016 physical set, right down to the card numbers on the back and the write-ups.

The digital version of Heritage was based on the 1986 Topps Baseball Card design, had five base color variations, one insert set per wave, a set of mat relics, a set of shirt relics and a set of signature cards, each with the same four color variations. Multiple pack types were available from the 10K base pack promising only one white or red base card to super packs that were multiple hundreds of thousands of coins that guaranteed relics and signatures.

Topps released two waves before giving up, as neither wave was all that popular with players. The set is bloated and has too many variants. The signature checklist isn’t all that robust though a couple still command high values; the Finn Balor, Nikki Bella and Sasha Banks signatures all sell or trade for a premium. Especially the 50cc versions.

Looking at the two insert sets, Wave 1’s “Turn Back the Clock” was popular and gave out a Shawn Michaels for completion, but Wave 2’s “Record Breakers” turned out to be a monster with a Paige card that was held back from release for several days and ended up being severely short printed. It sold for up to $20 before the award was released and still commands a premium price today.

Not all the cards in the physical set were represented in the digital version, out of the 110 physical base cards, only 81 were issued in the game. Only 17 of the 27 signature cards made it in, and there are many omitted relics. It’s unknown whether or not Topps intended to issue a third wave of cards that would at least complete the base set, but they have stated publicly that there will be no more waves of 2016 Heritage released.

Today Heritage cards do not trade or sell well. Base cards are practically worthless, even the low CC count Silver edition (Silver have less CC than the Gold variation, go figure). Most of the signature cards sell for under $5. Mat relics don’t move at all, and shirt relics only have a couple of cards with any value. There were also a couple of special Brock Lesnar 100cc or under signature or relics (or both), but as Brock is so over-saturated in the app, they really aren’t that notable.

The second physical to digital set was Undisputed, a premium product in the real world that sees 10 pack/5 card boxes for well over $200 a box. Of course each box promise 10 “hits”, either autographs or relics.

The digital version of Undisputed used virtually the same template as the digital Heritage set. Multiple base set variations, one insert set per wave and a signature set. Missing this time though were relics, none were in Undisputed, despite the physical set having them, and the insert set, “Tag Teams” had the same color variations as the base set. The signature set fortunately only had two variations, a 50cc Silver and a 500cc Bronze.

Once again two waves were released, the set was skip-numbered, content was omitted, and other than some of the signature cards, they have very little value today. There were awards issued for complete sets of the Tag Team cards in each variation, and there are some of the variations that have shockingly low CC counts, but even still they are very difficult to move today. The signature highlights are again Finn Balor, Asuka and first signatures for Trish Stratus and Carmella. Just like the Heritage set, the Undisputed set was not completed and Topps has no plans to finish it.

A third set of previously physical cards was published not that long ago in game, and was based on the second ever Topps wrestling set, the 1987 Wrestlemania III product. This time they didn’t even try to completely replicate the physical set, as the backs did not contain a card number or the original write up and were basically blank. Only 15 of the 75 cards were released in game, and full sets with the award are available for basically $1 per card. They were not a big hit with modern collectors, as the card selection was an odd one at best; 4 Randy Savage or Miss Elizabeth cards, 2 George the Animal Steele, 2 Honky Tonk Man and 2 Ricky the Dragon Steamboat cards were chosen. No Bret Harts. No Hulk Hogans (obviously). No Demolition. No British Bulldogs. I could go on. There was an Andre the Giant card though.

Which brings us to today, nearly four months after the last wave of Undisputed was released, we got a new physical to digital set, “Then, Now, Forever”. TNF in physical form is actually a continuation of the standard WWE 2016 trading card set, the card numbers start where the regular set finished and they have the same card design, which is actually the same design they use for their flagship Baseball card products as well.

The digital product is broken down as follows: 35 base cards, 14 Rivalries inserts, 9 Mat Relics, 6 Shirt Relics, 10 single signatures, 4 triple signatures, 1 Brock Lesnar signature. There are awards for for completing the base set, Rivalries, Mat Relics, Shirt Relics and Single Signatures. The triple signatures and Brock signature were only available in the two highest priced packs that were only accessible by buying a specific coin bundle for either $10 or $25 apiece. All of the triple signatures and the Brock signature sold out within one hour of release.

Fortunately not all the content was actually behind the paywall, Rivalries are inserted 1:5 in 10K base coin packs, and Mat Relics are 1:12 in the same pack. A strange thing though with the base set in the game, it actually includes the NXT prospects, which are a separate insert set in the physical version, however, it’s not that unusual as they did the same thing with Undisputed Wave 1.

So far the set appears to be a hit with players, it’s something new and it’s fairly large. The 25cc Brock signature is selling for between $30 and $35 right now and the 100cc Triple Signature of Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Natalya is going for between $20 and $25. Single sigs are plentiful at between $2.50 and $7.50 with the highest going for Lana and Becky Lynch. This is only Lana’s second signature card in the game, her first being from the Sig-Mas set which is still reasonably priced around $3.50. The signature set also contains second cards for Enzo Amore (again Sigmas was his first) and Big E (the New Day triple was his first) and a first card for Vaudevillain Simon Gotch.

While I do understand the value levels attached to a signature card even though it’s a digital signature, I will never quite understand digital relic cards. The best part of a relic card in a physical set is that you can touch the relic, feel the material, and know that it actually touched the person on the card. Heck some mat relics might have blood on them, it’s happened. Digital relics are all the same swatch, there’s no uniqueness and it’s digital. They’re just weird in my opinion. I don’t really chase them much, unless there’s a card from one of my hoard performers (In fact I still need the Heritage Finn Balor relic). These do seem to be a bit more popular than the previous issues though (with the exception of the Topps Now 25cc cards those are just outrageously priced). With a relic award for completing either set these should see some trading. In fact I’ve already traded my AJ Styles relic for two other relics, two rivalries and 4 other base TNF cards, so either my trade partner really likes AJ, or he needed it to finish his set. Either way I’m happy.

I had been saving coins up for Wrestlemania, but decided to drop what I had saved on these packs, so after purchasing a 99 cent coin pack I bought five of the 100K super packs. I didn’t pull a signature, but I did get 3 of the shirt relics, 5 of the mat relics, 10 of the 14 Rivalries and 31 out of 35 of the base set. I may go for the relic sets and I’m definitely going for the Rivalries and Base set awards. AJ Styles is the award for the signature set and since there are already at least 27 different AJ signature cards in the game, I don’t think many people will care that much.

One thing to keep in mind is that there’s another PPV scheduled for next week, the Raw exclusive Fastlane, and the set will count towards the Season 3 PPV award. Now if it’s just as lackluster as the Elimination Chamber set it should be pretty easy to collect the base set and awards for the Season 3 award. None of the five announced matches are all that interesting with the exception of the main event featuring Goldberg versus Kevin Owens. Thus far superseding all expectations Goldberg has been a hot commodity in game. If he wins the Universal Championship at the PPV any especially low cc Goldberg cards could see an increase in pricing and demand.

The TFN set dropping a week before the Fastlane set drops could see players eschewing the PPV set which would leave it with low sales and good potential return down the road when the PPV Season Award deadline is near. This very thing happened with the Backlash award cards during the run-up to the PPV Season 1 award drop, because they were the lowest CC awards issued they commanded a premium by traders.

As always if you have any questions or comments post them here, or go to the Reddit Topps WWE Page at reddit.com/r/toppswwe, or find me in the game under user name GRENDELSEN.

NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: DIGITAL DABBLINGS #4 – Elimination Chamber Fallout and What’s Hot Right Now in Slam

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