This is Part 1 of a two part series on the production of 2017 Garbage Pail Kids Battle of the Bands. To read Part 2 click here.
Topps started out 2017 with a retail Garbage Pail Kids set that was well received by collectors. Collectors enjoyed both the art and gags of the Adam-Geddon set. Then Topps took a long 9 month break before the next retail set. The last 9 months were filled with various online exclusives. Collectors however, tired of the daily presidential cards, and Topps discontinued those in early summer. Topps kept up with regular small online sets in the remaining months, celebrating awards shows and holidays. Topps took a different direction with the second set of 2017. This time doing a set based entirely on musical acts. Would this new theme affect production? Or does the long 9 month absence make a GPK collector’s heart grow fonder? I’m going to attempt to answer those questions in a two part series on GPK Battle of the Bands production. And I’m going to try to do it despite Topps printing incorrect odds on the packages. The easy part? Topps stuck with nearly the same exact format as Adam-Geddon. The hard part? Topps doesn’t make it easy and has shared less and less info with each passing set. Let’s do some math!
First my disclaimer! Production numbers are never an exact science, and Topps makes it tough on us. In order to attempt to solve this riddle we need to look very closely at the clues in both the odds and the sell sheets. Some things to keep in mind for this post. 1) Topps doesn’t want the public to know exactly how much of each card was made. Why? No idea really, I think its dumb, but historically Topps only provides enough information to get close. 2) We need to make some assumptions. Those assumptions will be based on the clues we have, but still some guessing has to happen. 3) The odds never quite seem to come out completely equal. However we can round and get pretty close to how much was produced. 4) Topps changes what is printed from what the sell sheet says all the time. This will throw off all our numbers. 5) Keep in mind Topps historically holds back 5% of the print run to cover missing hits, damaged cards, and their No Purchase Necessary program. These numbers would include that 5%. With all that in mind let’s get started…(Warning lots of math coming up. If you don’t want to read about the process, skip to the bottom for the answer sheet!)
To start we need to determine how many packs were made for the entire print run. In order to do that we need a card type where all the odds are exactly the same in Collector and Retail/Hobby packs. This time around there are actually two types of cards this works for, Fools Gold borders and Artist Autographs. Which is great, so we can double check our numbers. Let’s look at the Gold borders first. The odds state that Gold borders fall at 1:98 packs.
Wait just a second….1:98?!? That’s about double of the last set! Did Topps really produce twice the amount of cards for Battle of the Bands? The answer is, no. As you will see throughout this article, I believe Topps has overstated all the odds on the parallels by double. (GPKNews has contacted Topps for comment on the incorrect odds, but Topps has not responded to that request.) How do I know? Three reasons, and they support each other. 1) The numbers don’t match up. The odds appear to be correct for all other card types like patches, sketches, etc. You can’t have parallel odds be double, and all the other inserts be half. 2) Every break from my personal experience and speaking to collectors large and small show the parallels are falling a twice the stated rate. 3) There is no way Topps doubled production, there isn’t the support for that many cards. Therefore, throughout this article and Part 2, I will be cutting the odds in half to do my calculations.
Let’s try this again, the real life odds for Gold borders is 1:49 packs. There are 180 base cards in the set, and Gold borders are /50 on the backs. Therefore, 180 cards X 50 number of golds per card = 9000 total Gold borders X 49 odds = 441,000 total packs made for release. The number of packs is very close to last series.
Are we sure about 441,000 packs being correct? Let’s check, this time using Artist Autographs. Because autos aren’t a parallel card, the stated odds on the packs appear to be correct. There are 90 different autos in the set X 25 autos per card = 2250 total autos in the print run X 192 odds – 432,000. That is really close to the number we are up with using Gold borders. So why is it different? Its Topps, who knows! Really though I’ve noticed Topps rounds the odds, so the real odds might be slightly higher or lower. One other note on total packs. After changing things up for Adam-Geddon, Topps has returned to Jumbo Retail pack odds being exactly 1/2 of a retail pack. This makes our calculations a lot easier. Just keep in mind that Jumbo packs count as 2 regular packs within our totals. I’m going to use 441,000 as our number going forward. Its going to make the calculations easier, and gives Topps the benefit of the doubt on production.
Next we need to try to figure out how many of each pack type was created for the set. Collector packs are always easier to figure out because they have the cards that are exclusive to the set. We need card types that are only in Collector packs, and we know already how many were made. Once again there are three types, Patches, Bloody Red borders, and Spit Blue borders. Here’s what the math looks like on those:
- Patch Cards – 20 cards in set X 50 made per card = 1000 total patches x 41 odds = 41,000 Collector packs made
- Bloody Red borders – 180 cards in set X 75 made per card = 13,500 total Red borders X 3 odds = 40,5000 Collector packs made
- Spit Blue borders – 180 cards in set X 99 made per card = 17,820 total Blue borders X 2 odds = 35,640 Collector packs made
As we can see the numbers for Patch cards and Red borders are really close. However, the Blue borders seem to be off a bit. Why is that? Remember, I mentioned above that Topps rounds the odds on the packs. When it comes to Red borders collectors are pulling exactly 8 per box which is 1:3. Blue borders however are seeing 11 per box for most boxes. That makes the real odds slightly higher than 1:2, and the pack total would therefore be higher. I am confident in using 41,000 as the number for total Collector packs produced.
How about other pack types? Once again Hobby boxes are nonexistent, and exist in name only. Starting with Adam-Geddon Topps has made Hobby boxes the same as Regular Retail boxes. There are no longer any marks on the packs or boxes that distinguish a Hobby box vs. a Retail box. Also, the odds are exactly the same. Since all cards types are the same there is no way to tell how many Hobby/Retail boxes were produced. Sadly the same holds true for retail packs. In order to determine how many different types of retail packs were made, we would need a card type that is only in one type of retail pack, and we know how many were made. The only cards types that are individual to retail packs are Loaded Sketches and Panoramic Sketches. Topps no longer releases how many sketches are inserted into each pack type. So just like with Adam-Geddon the rest of our discussion will combine all Hobby/Retail pack types into one number. Keep in mind a Jumbo Retail packs counts as 2 packs in our numbers.
We know there are 41,000 Collector packs. How many Retail/Hobby packs to we have? 441,000 total packs – 41,000 Collector packs = 400,000 Retail/Hobby packs. That sounds like a whole lot of packs, but in reality, Battle of the Bands is the lowest produced GPK set in the last two years.
Here’s what I believe the total production numbers to be for Adam-Geddon:
- Total Production – 441,000 Packs
- Collector – 41,000 Collector Packs or about 1700 Hobby Boxes or about 213 Collector Cases
- Retail/Hobby – 400,000 Retail/Hobby Packs
(Once again my numbers could be off. We had to make some assumptions, trust the sell sheet, all while ignoring the printed odds. But I’m confident these numbers are really close.)
So what does this all mean? Production is down compared to the previous set, Adam-Geddon. However, the numbers are really close to what was produced with the Adam-Geddon set. In looking at the numbers, production of Collector boxes is actually up, while retail is down. Take a look at the last four sets and the production numbers:
- Total Pack Production
- Apple Pie – 484,000
- Trashy TV – 638,000
- Adam-Geddon – 459,000
- Battle of the Bands – 441,000 (4% decrease in total overall production vs. Adam-Geddon)
- Collector Pack Production
- Apple Pie – 36,500
- Trashy TV – 35,000
- Adam-Geddon – 36,000
- Battle of the Bands – 41,000 (12% increase vs. Adam-Geddon)
- Retail Pack Production
- Apple Pie – 408,500
- Trashy TV – 550,000
- Adam-Geddon (Includes Hobby packs) – 423,000
- Battle of the Bands (Includes Hobby packs) – 400,000 (6% decrease vs. Adam-Geddon)
Topps prints to order their product. Which means based on distributor pre-orders, Topps decides how much product to produce. The numbers show for the most part this set was printed in very similar quantities as Adam-Geddon. Collectors continue to gravitate to purchasing Collector boxes. More than likely collectors have stop purchasing “Hobby” boxes, since they have figured out now they are the same as Retail. In sticking to the same formula you will see similar results in Part 2 to Adam-Geddon. I expect Topps to stick to this formula for the first set of 2018, We Hate the 80’s.
All fun stuff to think about as you bust into those new packs! Let me know your thoughts on the numbers in the comments!
This is Part 1 of a two part series on the production of 2017S2 Garbage Pail Kids Battle of the Bands. In Part 2 we will look at production numbers for all parallel and insert sets. To read Part 2 click here.