Well everyone, the speculation on the future of Topps is officially over! Topps announced today that Michael Eisner, former Walt Disney Co. CEO who purchased Topps in 2007 through his private investment company Tornante, has agreed to sell Topps to Fanatics in a deal estimated to be worth $500 million. The deal includes the Topps name and sports and entertainment division, however, does not include the Topps confectionary business, which produces such products as Bazooka bubble gum and Ring Pops.
Michael Rubin’s e-commerce company Fanatics edged Topps out of the Baseball sports trading cards market in August 2021, when they signed an exclusive deal with Major League Baseball (MLB), and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA), to be the exclusive producers of MLB trading cards, ending Topps 70-year run on being the authority on baseball trading cards. This deal, as we know, came right before the planned initial public offering of the Topps Company, which was expected to funnel $571 million in cash to Topps and give Topps a $1.3 billion valuation.
Fanatics’ trading card entity is currently valued at $10 billion after a $350 million round of funding in September 2021, likely fueled by their exclusive deals with MLB, the NFL and the NBA. Michael Rubin called Topps an iconic brand in a statement announcing the move, stating “with trading cards and collectibles being a significant pillar of our long-term plans to become the leading digital sports platform, we are excited to add a leading trading cards company to build out our business”.
Michael Eisner seems confident in the ability of Fanatics to advance the Topps brand, stating that Topps will be a “jewel in the Fanatics portfolio”, and that he thinks Michael Rubin is the “perfect entrepreneur” for moving Topps forward.
In November 2021, after the announcement that Topps had lost the licensing for WWE Professional Wrestling to Panini, we postulated that the latest blow left Topps only two avenues of action to stay alive, either licensing the intellectual property (the brands, including Bowman, Heritage, Archives, Chrome, etc.), or concede and sell entirely to Fanatics, including all its current licensing deals and intellectual property, allowing for Fanatics to decide what brands will remain in print. We now know which option Topps leadership has chosen.
The question now remains, what brands from Topps will survive the sale, and which brands will be lost to history.