Why is Topps UK so Bad at Card/Hobby Box Releases?

If you’re looking at buying licensed collectible cards in the United Kingdom directly from the manufacturer, you’re likely to be dealing with either Panini or Topps

The latter is arguably one of the more controversial companies within the hobby, if you’re judging solely by reputation. For example, take a look at Topps’ TrustPilot rating:

It clearly leaves a lot to be desired, but is there any merit to the many complaints? 

I’ve had mixed experiences with Topps, but they’ve produced numerous valuable UEFA Champions League, Premier League Football, Bundesliga, WWE, Pokémon, Doctor Who, Nat Geo and Star Wars cards over the years.

Here’s what we think about Topps UK, weighing up the positives and the negatives we found with the service.  

Topps UK – The Negatives 

Topps UK – Long Wait Times & Overprinting 

Expect to be waiting for a long time if you order anything from Topps. 

I’ve ordered cards simultaneously from Topps, Panini, eBay, and UK sites on a couple of occasions. 

Without fail, the Topps order was the last one to turn up, even if I’d ordered something from the other side of the country.

It’s also fair to say that many newer sets are vastly overproduced, but that’s a common concern seen with most collectibles. (Consider Pokémon cards, which are currently being printed in never before seen numbers.)

In any case, the cards are devalued, and they’re adding more and more each year. 

Topps UK – Communication and Pricing  

They’re producing more cards than ever, but they’re also beginning to charge more for hobby boxes. Pricing is becoming an issue for many collectors, who are constantly complaining on their social media pages.  

Topps isn’t great at communication, whether it be letting collectors know when sets will actually be released, or even shipped. There can also be issues with the orders themselves. 

For example, I bought a WWE Hobby Box from Topps UK for £70 back in 2021, that was advertised with; 

“Two Hits per Box! 1 Autograph Card Per Box! 24 packs, 7 cards per pack.”

Instead, I was given a single pack, with 60 cards. Feeling a bit short changed, I decided to send them an email. Here’s their response; 

However, they were in no rush to contact me, and I wondered about any other users who were sent the wrong item. Did they get a refund too? 

Topps UK: The Positives

It’s easy to moan, but there are various positives that keep many collectors going back to Topps. 

  • Prices tend to be cheaper, unless you can beat the RRP online for an unfancied set 
  • You’ll know that packs or boxes won’t be weighed, or previously opened 
  • Exclusive licences, including a worldwide agreement to produce official Formula 1 sticker and trading cards
  • Entry-level Hobby Boxes are still affordable 

Topps do come up with the goods from time to time. For example, I’m a massive fan of the UCL Living Set, especially if it’s a talented rookie or a legend like Lionel Messi. I grabbed 20 copies of his PSG card directly from the site a while ago, and they look to be in pristine condition. 

Having sent off a few to Majesty Grading Company, they each received an elusive 10 grade. In other words, it’s a decent profit if I sell them today.  

On the other hand, I’ve sent cards off for grading which were instantly sleeved, and they ended up with a disappointing score. (All Topps cards have a guarantee of being NM-8, or Mint condition.)

They say

“Any card that is determined to grade an ‘eight’ or better meets Topps standards.

Topps categorise a grade 8 card in line with industry standards. This means that at first glance the card looks to be of high quality, but upon closer inspection there may be minor print imperfections, slight damage or fraying on one or two of the corners. Centering should be no more than 70/30 difference on the front.” 

“Due to production and handling of the cards, we strive to produce mint or better card(s), but cannot guarantee these conditions. The Topps Company will replace any Topps produced card (from the current year) that is determined to be damaged or defective from production, after being reviewed by our quality control department as not constituting a grade 8 product.”

“Print finishes, typographical errors and editorial discrepancies are not grounds for a return.”

Even so, I’ve received a few unfortunate 7s, despite the cards going straight into a penny sleeve/toploader combo. 

Why is Topps UK so Bad at Card/Hobby Box Releases?

Topps UK has taken time to get used to increased interest within the hobby, and they still hold a few important licences. 

Covid-19 was an excuse for a lower standard for a while, but they still face numerous issues in terms of getting sets out to buyers promptly, while communication can leave a lot to be desired. 

For now, we’re probably going to stick to buying singles from eBay. 

What has your experience been like with Topps UK? Let us know in the comments section! 

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