Leaf Announces New Products, Challenges Dealers at the Industry Summit
According to Leaf Trading Cards President Brian Gray, the hobby landscape could look a lot different in a few years. During an address at the 2013 Industry Summit in Las Vegas, Gray announced several upcoming products and licenses. He also challenged dealers in attendance to stand up against practices they feel are unfair to customers or hurt the hobby.
Hoping to push the envelope, Gray pointed to the use of original art work as a way to create cards for virtually any subject or personality. He alluded to celebrities who either aren't interested in a trading card deal, are exclusive to another company or they simply can't come to an agreement with.
"We think trading cards are periodicals like anything else as long as they have stats and information on them," an enthusiastic Gray said during the early-morning presentation. That calls into question the need for licensing deals.
"Some day there will be no licenses and I'm going to be the guy that changes that," Gray said. Later, he said that he's fine making licensing deals when the numbers make sense and Leaf can deliver a quality product for a fair price.
"I love this stupid business and I'm not going to do stupid deals just to be able to be a big deal and beat my chest and say, 'Ha, ha! I have 500 employees."
He became even more fired up in challenging dealers to stand up for themselves and the hobby. Gray told dealers to demand a strong level of value and customer service not just from his company, but all manufacturers.
When the topic of exclusive athlete deals came up, particularly as it pertained to Leaf's deal with Damian Lillard, Gray said, "Exclusives hurt everybody. It sucks." He pointed out how Panini signed exclusive deals with 12 NBA rookies while Leaf just signed Lillard.
Gray also issued something of a challenge saying that if Panini doesn't sign any exclusive deals, he won't either.
Those at the address were shown images of several cards using sketches and original art. These included cut signature cards and jumbo patch book cards that had the swatch on one side of the card and a detailed drawing of the subject on the other.
Gray announced a new gridiron product, 2013 Leaf Trinity Football. As the name suggests, the product is based on three elements: jumbo patch autographs, inscribed autographs and glass cards.
Hoping to expand their presence in the entertainment area, Gray unveiled that Leaf has acquired the license to The Mortal Instruments films. Based on a series of best-selling young adult novels, the first film, City of Bones, is scheduled to hit movie theaters in August.
Gray continued to go back to his vision statement for the company several times during the presentation, "Ask people what they want, listen when they tell you and give them what they want."
He highlighted how Leaf is implementing this with 2013 Leaf Originals Wrestling. Gray pointed out how many requested new, less cartoonish art work than that used in 2012. The new set features a different artist who worked with WWE during the late 1980s and early 90s.
Other highlights from the presentation:
- 2012-13 Leaf Metal Basketball will include on-card Patrick Ewing autographed jumbo patch cards. Ewing is a rare signer in the hobby who hasn't had autograph cards since 2003-04.
- 2013 Ace Signature Series Tennis will be one of the final set to include the Ace branding before tennis products switch over to Leaf branding. The set will use the last of the silver Ace sticker autographs.
- Al Pacino autographs will appear in 2013 Leaf Pop Century.
- Legends of the Links is an upcoming cut signature product focused on golf that will also have scorecards including Tiger Woods.
- An upcoming autographed helmet product will include an autographed Michael Jordan helmet.
- Gray emphasized his displeasure with redemptions and said Leaf only used them in desperate situations for major players. Less-desirable players who don't return their autographs in time are not included in the final checklist.
- Gray once again highlighted Leaf's online patch database that shows all of their patch cards online in an effort to combat counterfeits.
- New Matrix cards will use intricate designs in the backgrounds of chromium-style cards.
Here's a full video of Brian Gray's Leaf presentation: