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In Memoriam: “Mean” Gene Okerlund
As I’m starting this column, the news that “Mean” Gene Okerlund has passed away at age 76 has just hit. My earliest memories of watching wrestling all involve Mean Gene, he was such a staple on WWF programming back in the day, and then he too made the jump to WCW, which gave them an even more professional look and feel. There really wasn’t anyone else like him in the industry, always on screen with a professional demeanor (if not behind the scenes, I hear he was a riot to be around). RIP and “Lemme tell ya Mean Gene, brother the angels are waiting for their interview.”
Before I go any further, let’s take a moment to mourn the passing of industry notables in 2018:
Brian Christopher Lawler – 46
Bruno Sammartino – 82
Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart – 63
Johnny Valiant – 71
Masa Saito – 70
Paul Jones – 75
Big Van Vader – 63
10 Bell Salutes all around….
The State of the App
2019 represents the third full calendar year of Topps WWE Slam, which will celebrate its third birthday on July 15. Active player numbers appear to be down significantly. Using the free Holiday insert cards and other free cards (cards that are one to an account) as a basis for calculating the number of accounts, today there are just under 10,000 active users of Slam. Back in May I noted that there were just about 15,000 active accounts in the app. That’s a huge amount of attrition in just 6 months. In fact other apps have now overtaken Slam in the rankings. Consider this, Huddle has between 12K and 15K active accounts. Bunt is slightly below Slam with under 10K accounts. Star Wars is still clearly the number one app with just under 20K active accounts. Even NHL Skate is eclipsing Slam right now with just OVER 10K accounts. The Walking Dead and Kick each have about half of the Slam accounts, and UFC is on life-support with a couple thousand active users, most of whom are only there to cross-trade.
Bobby Roode’s “Off the Ropes.”
Topps Apps Account Rankings (based on most recent one per account free cards):
- Star Wars <20K
- Huddle 12-15K
- Skate >10K
- Slam <10K
- Bunt <10K
- Walking Dead <5K
- Kick <5K
- UFC <2K
Actual revenue data is a bit trickier to find, but it’s out there. One site claims that in the month of November, Slam netted $40K in revenue, which puts it at 4th on the top revenue generators of their portfolio (which also includes some paid sticker apps). Revenue for Star Wars doubled that of Slam, which makes sense because Star Wars has twice as many active accounts.
Diamond sales for bundles appear to be down as well across the board. Topps grossed over $50K for the combined SummerSlam/NXT Takeover bundles back in August, for Survivor Series/Wargames they were just over $42K. That number could be mitigated by the player selection of the Survivor Series cards vs. the SummerSlam cards, as the $100 bundle for SummerSlam was Ronda Rousey, which sold 142 copies alone. Survivor Series $100 bundle card was Seth Rollins and sold only 83 copies. Still a drop of almost $8,000 in sales is telling.
To those who are saying that the app is dying, well, it does appear that way, however, there’s still a long way to go before it’s kiboshed completely. UFC is still around despite being the absolute lowest revenue generator for the company, so unless they lose the license, Slam will be here for a long time. Also you can expect more uses to sign up the closer we get to Wrestlemania. Especially if Topps decides to actually do some marketing.
“Finn Balor is very Mystic I guess.”
Recently released sets are not doing anything to help the situation. Seems like most sets now are just the same old renders on new backgrounds. Backgrounds that look like the come from Photoshop at that. We already get enough of those with monthly PPV sets, we certainly don’t need another “Neo-Tech” or “Mystic” set (though I happen to actually LIKE the backgrounds on those). The recent “Off the Ropes” set is a retread of a past Flagship design, which is fine, but I wish they’d just digitize some of those older sets rather than ape the design with new renders.
“Schamberger Art Level 2 of The Undertaker.”
Topps is releasing some new artwork though, Schamberger Art cards are back this month as well, once again with two levels of rarity: 3 cards available in coin packs and 6 available in diamond packs. Additional Boom Comics covers were released in a massive 18 card drop as well, both available in coin and diamond packs, still without awards.
“What is Neo-Tech? Shinsuke Nakamura doesn’t know either.”
Topps also keeps pushing low CC base variants, with an “old-school” set of 25cc Neon multi-color cards, a Cyber Monday set of 100cc Electric Blue cards, and a “Neon” set of 250cc Garish Neon colored cards. All of these sets were released since middle of October, alongside a whole slew of Gold Rush base which were released toward the end of the year as well. That makes a total of 18 different colors that a base card could conceivably be released in, though not every color had a full set of releases, the Raw and Smackdown Live base variants only saw a handful of cards released. What’s worse is that many of the limited sets such as 4th of July, Lime Green and Pink didn’t even reach their sales limit, and thus were available in the “catch-all” pack for 750 diamonds last week.
“Bret Hart Old School – I need this one for my Player Collection.”
Top 25 Cards – 4th Quarter
Finally, let’s take a look at the top 25 Singles in the game currently, in terms of value for actual cards sold on eBay. Oh look who’s back on top at #1, that’s a 1 CC Undertaker Gold Mat Relic from Wrestlemania. The SAME card that sold for $850 earlier this year. So someone took a $400 hit on that card. YIKES. Another card of note is the Purple Dual Signature of Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, which sold for up to $170 in Q1, now it’s $125.
Alexa Bliss seems to have cooled off a bit, most likely due to her not being in action for several months, and now it appears her career might be in jeopardy. After appearing six times on the Q3 listing she only appears here three times, one of which probably wouldn’t make the list but had a single very high sale, one of 7 copies that sold during the 90 day window of closed sales. Ronda Rousey’s initial Gold Signature has cooled off quite a bit but still pushes the $100 limit when it sells.
Other cards that stayed on the list from Q3 include Alexa Bliss’ Gold Platinum which increased from $100 to $125, Nikki Bellas’ Lime Green Base Variant from 2016 went from $83 to $65 and The Rock’s Gold Signature from the 2nd Anniversary set stays at $100.
Survey taken December 27, 2018
What does 2019 hold for the top 25 list? I would expect to see some new names this year, with new superstars being called up shortly, and some old stars no longer as popular as they once were, changes are bound to happen.
Don’t forget you can find me in game at GRENDELSEN, and I’m always happy to trade or answer any questions you might have. Leave questions or concerns here and I’ll see you next time.
My Collecting Blog –The Budget Collector
The Daily WiLL – http://willaday.blogspot.com/
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: DIGITAL DABBLINGS #29 – Personal Favorites and Trading