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.”

Related: Everything Old Is Collectible Again

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.

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.