Topps Project 2020 is on the rage right now – cards prices are going crazy. But what is it anyway? Is it a set to collect? Are the cards in the set worth investing? Read on to know my take on the skyrocketing baseball-slash-artwork cards.

1993 Derek Jeter by King Saladeen - Topps Project 2020
1993 Derek Jeter by King Saladeen – photo credit: Topps Project 2020

What is Topps Project 2020, anyway?

Topps Project 2020 is essentially a new set launched back in January 2020 by Topps featuring 20 sports-defining baseball cards and 20 culture-disrupting artists. So, the set is essentially all about each classic baseball card redesigned and reimagined by 20 artists – which means that the set will comprise 400 cards in total.  

There are rare parallels for each card, namely the Artist proof (numbered to 20) and the ultra-rare gold frame card one-of-one.

2001 Ichiro Suzuki by JK5 - Artist Proof - Topps Project 2020
2001 Ichiro Suzuki by JK5 – Artist Proof numbered to 20 – photo credit: Topps
1969 Nolan Ryan by Gregory Siff - Gold 1/1 - Topps Project 2020
1969 Nolan Ryan by Gregory Siff – Gold 1/1 – photo credit: Topps

What’s interesting, the cards in the set won’t be available in full. Topps will release 2 redesigned baseball cards every 48 hours. This creates a sense of expectations and intrigues, which help drive the popularity of the set.

Collecting vs. Investing

Rightly so, collectors and investors – not necessarily baseball fans – are starting to see the Project 2020 cards as something to collect and invest. The early-released cards enjoyed well-deserved attention from baseball fans, sports card investors, and art enthusiasts. As a result, prices are going crazy. On eBay, the cards’ prices are skyrocketing, and buyers are rushing in like there’s no tomorrow. 

Let’s take probably the most well-sought-after card in the set as of today – the Mark Trout Topps Project 2020 Artwork by Ermsy.

2011 Mike Trout by Ermsy - Topps Project 2020
2011 Mike Trout by Ermsy – photo credit: Topps

These cards are consistently being sold on eBay in the $1,500 – $2,000 range. The purchase price? You can get a single card for $19.95 on the Topps website. From an investment standpoint, that’s a gold mine there.

But then the classic issue of print runs arise. In the early days, Project 2020 cards’ print runs are in the 1,000-ish number. Along the way – Topps has watched the market’s reaction, for sure – print runs increase accordingly. As of today, the lowest print run is the Dwight Gooden Project 2020 Artwork by Tyson Beck at 1,065; the highest print run is the Ken Griffey Jr. Project 2020 Artwork by Keith Shore at 99,117.

You can track the print runs on this Beckett’s page. For the full list, you can get it from Topp’s archive.

The huge print run figures beg a question: Will the crazy prices on the secondary market will remain justified? Sure, collectors will collect as long as they’re enjoying the art – often regardless of the prices, but what about investors? What about art enthusiasts?

So many questions will get better answers as the set will reach to 400-card mark in the year’s end.

My Take

Geoff Wilson of Sports Card Investor says that it’s madness when the original rookie cards’ prices are exceeded by the redesigned cards released in the Project 2020 set. He made a good point on this; as a sports card investor, I fully agree with his arguments.

But then again, what about the rising trend that says sports cards are today’s era pieces of art? With the huge art market combined with the sports market, wouldn’t it mean that the sky-high prices are justifiable, considering the Project 2020 cards appeal to BOTH sports card investors/collectors AND art investors/collectors?

I see both worlds as a win-win combo. I’m a sports card investor (mostly NBA cards), not an art collector. But I LOVE artwork, and always enjoy sports cards that feature unique artwork. Like Panini’s Kaboom set, for example. Or Panini’s Court Kings series. I personally CAN’T wait until Panini America takes action in response to Topps Project 2020 and release the NBA version of Project 2020. That would be HUGE, in my humble opinion.

For now, I test the water by getting the South Park-style card of Ken Griffey Jr. by Keith Shore – which has a huge print run, by the way – from eBay. I bought 30 of these cards at $17-ish each.

1959 Ken Griffey Jr. by Keith Shore - Topps Project 2020
1959 Ken Griffey Jr. by Keith Shore – photo credit: Topps Project 2020

I also bought the 1959 Bob Gibson card with artwork by Ermsy – I bought two at $95 apiece, also on eBay. Update May 30, 2020: I bought 8 more of the Bob Gibson – Ermsy card at $59 apiece on eBay.  The less-than-15,000 print run is the lowest among the rest in the past few weeks!

1959 Bob Gibson by Ermsy - Topps Project 2020
1959 Bob Gibson by Ermsy – photo credit: Topps

Please note that both are presale cards, so no cards in hand. Let’s see how those pans out, but even if those didn’t go anywhere in the value, I’d still keep them as I enjoy the artworks.

To conclude, I see Project 2020 as a game-changer, and I wouldn’t surprise if other trading cards companies follow suit. I enjoy the artwork, and whether my investments will work or not, I really don’t know. But I’m excited to find out how this will turn out later on.

So, what about you? What do you think of the Project 2020? Please share your opinions.