Topps Wall Art | Source: The Topps Co.

Originally published Jan. 3, 2022; Updated Jan. 5, 2022

One of the biggest upsets in baseball just entered an unexpected chapter that’s playing out in the collectibles space.

Last spring, The Topps Co. was set to merge with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) and go public with an IPO slated for fall. By August, those plans were squashed when Fanatics swooped in and secured licensing deals — including Major League Baseball (MLB) — that would effectively bring to an end a more than 70-year lineage of Topps as the leader in baseball and other sports trading cards upon the launch of Fanatics Trading Cards.

Now, a surprise deal finds Fanatics acquiring Topps and accelerating the company’s entry into the red hot trading card realm nearly four years ahead of schedule.

Following a leak on Monday night, Fanatics confirmed the deal which places a $500 million price tag on The Topps Co.’s trading card and entertainment business.

“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,” says Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin. “Their iconic brand, commitment to product excellence, and passionate employees worldwide will allow us to immediately serve our league and players’ association partners and our fans.”

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In addition to its exclusive deals with MLB and the player’s union, Fanatics also struck deals with the National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) last year. The acquisition of Topps gives Fanatics licensing deals with Major League Soccer, Formula 1, UEFA, and Bundesliga.

The move to bring Topps under the Fanatics umbrella installs a team that is intimately familiar with the workings of the trading card market and preserves the legacy of a brand with decades of goodwill among collectors and fans.

Fanatics was originally slated to introduce its first series of MLB baseball cards for the 2026 season.