Topps Makes Massive Duplication Error in 2023 Bowman Chrome

Earlier this week, duplicate non-autographed 2023 Bowman Chrome SuperFractor cards began popping up on social media.

PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 11: Ethan Salas #85 of the San Diego Padres sprints to first base during a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox on March 11, 2023 in Peoria, Arizona. This marks the first game the for 16 year-old 2023 international draft pick. (Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

On September 13, trading card company Topps released the 2023 version of their Bowman Chrome product, the latest edition of their prospect-driven brand that gives card collectors a chance to hunt for some of the top prospect names in the game.

The new checklist features many players, including autographed cards from Padres prospect Ethan Salas, Oakland A’s infielder Zack Gelof, and Giants outfielder Rayner Arias, amongst others. This product is the second release of the Bowman line for the season, but the cards are chrome-based this time around (hence the name), with hobby boxes starting at $289.99 USD on the Topps website on launch day.

Earlier this week, it was found that duplicate non-autographed SuperFractor cards were popping up on social media, and after an internal investigation, Topps found that 95 of these cards appeared to exist within their hobby boxes.

Amongst the cards are different variations, with base cards (no auto) and autographed cards with different color and number variations. The SuperFractor is the most sought-after of the bunch, as these are #1/1, appearing gold in color, with (supposedly) only one of the cards in existence.

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Topps Issues Buyback Program on 2023 Bowman Chrome SuperFractors

Overall, this is a pretty huge quality control blunder from the company, as the whole point of the SuperFractor is that there is only one copy of that card in existence.

For what it’s worth, Topps did address the issue rather quickly and issued a buyback program for the first person to submit proof that they own one of the impacted cards. That means that if you are the second person to pull the card and the other one has already been bought back by Topps, you have the only copy of the SuperFractor as was originally intended.

The buyback price point varies depending on the name/card, starting at $3,000 and going all the way to $75,000, which is Salas’s card. A majority of the cards range between $3,000 to $10,000 in regards to what Topps is offering, and as of the writing of this article, four of the cards have been claimed/purchased and 35 are currently pending (including Salas’s card), leaving 56 cards left unclaimed.

The buyback program makes sense in theory and is a great gesture to get collectors compensated, considering there are duplicate cards. However, there already appears to be trouble brewing.

Earlier this week, a copy of the Arias SuperFractor was sold on eBay for $2,000, and once Topps issued the buyback program (after the sale), the seller reportedly intercepted the package and had it returned, essentially looking to cash in on the bounty set by the card company. This creates problems, considering the person who bought the card feels left out in the cold. Questions have arisen as to who technically owns the card after the sale was completed but still in transit.

This would have all been avoided if Topps had been able to release the product as described, but this isn’t the first time the company has made an error in terms of quality control.

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Back in 2020, Topps used a facsimile autograph of Mr. Rogers in their Allen & Ginter product, and once it was discovered on social media, Topps had to reach out to the customer and produce a new card with the correct auto.

On top of that, numerous customers have complained of bent corners, print lines, and cut corners on cards they open straight from packs, which impacts the overall quality of the card and depreciates its value. Depending on the card, a significantly lower grade due to a manufacturing error can impact the value greatly, costing potentially hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

Hopefully, this incident is the last of its kind moving forward, although those who collect trading cards will have to get used to Topps and Fanatics, considering the sports merchandiser is slowly starting to gain a monopoly in the card market after buying Topps in 2022. This takeover is causing a stir in the trading card market, as Fanatics and trading card manufacturer Panini are currently entangled in legal battles in relation to the licensing of NBA and NFL cards (for what it’s worth, Panini has also had its fair share of quality control issues).

For those interested in trying to cash in on the buyback program, you better hurry to your local card store and pray for a little luck, as you have until March 31, 2024, to claim any card that is still available.