Monday, May 23, 2005

Mad About Medallions

At the start of the month, the Twins and the Star Tribune began a promotional series of collectible medallions, each featuring the picture of an individual player, and one Ron Gardenhire. One new coin to be released each day, Sunday through Friday, until the series of 21 is completed this Wednesday. A special coupon in the Star Tribune paper each day entitles the bearer to buy a particular medallion for $2.99 at Cub, Holiday, and Super America. I've been avidly collecting the medallions since they released the first in the series, featuring Johan Santana. They're nice items. The coins have the appearance of silver and white gold, with a color photo head shot on the "heads" side, and the Twins logo is engraved on the "tails" side.

Here's a photo of the Torii Hunter medallion:

Dick Bremer a few weeks ago predicted that the medallions would be like 'the next bobbleheads craze.' Indeed, they've proven to be very popular. Sometimes I've had to visit two or three outlets to get a coin the day after its coupon appeared in the paper. Once I got the last Luis Rivas at a Super America on the same day it had been released, and I just nicked it ahead of an annoyed man at the other window who asked for it only 15 seconds after I did.

The Joe Mauers are something else, though. I drove around to at least a dozen outlets on a Tuesday evening, after the Mauer coupon had been in the Sunday paper, and nobody had it. After driving around another hour on Wednesday, I struck out. Everybody said it had been gone by late Monday or Tuesday afternoon. Some said it was sold out on Sunday. When I asked how many medallions the stores had been sent, I heard they got 60 at Cub, and 25 at the Holiday and Super America. There are no plans to distribute or produce more.

Clearly, the Twins and the Strib badly underestimated the demand. Star Tribune spokesman
Ben Taylor said in a story printed by his paper, "Part of what makes it enticing is that it is a limited edition. There was never an expectation that everyone who wanted one would get one." Well, Mr. Taylor, "limited edition" is one thing. Running out within a couple days, or on the very day the item is released, is just ridiculous.

It's created quite a secondary market on e-bay, however; which brings me back to that picture of the Torii Hunter medallion. Avid collectors of the series like myself may have already noticed what's wrong with the picture--namely, you may wonder how I got a picture of a coin that won't be released until Wednesday. Actually, I haven't seen the coin, and won't get my hands on it until Wednesday just like the rest of the chumps amongst the public.

But several sellers on e-bay already had it listed for sale this past weekend, along with today's "Central Champions" coin and the Justin Morneau coin that will be out on Tuesday. Many of the sellers claim to have at least 10 of each medallion available for bid. "These coins sold out in a matter of a few hours!" the soothsaying sellers proclaim. Well, with so many being pilfered before the public gets an honest chance to snap them up, I guess it's no wonder, eh?

Here's a sampling of some e-bay sellers who already had Morneau and Hunter medallions listed last night:


I encourage you to contact e-bay to report these individuals for selling stolen property; even if some of them paid for the items, they've acquired them dishonestly, before the coins were released and without the redeeming coupons normally required to make the sale. They're essentially running a scalping operation from whatever job they hold which allows them access to the medallions before they go on sale. I'll be writing to e-bay and also to the Star Tribune.

I don't know if the Strib will come up with a satisfactory response to the pilfering, or the fact that they severely underestimated the market for the medallions. I hope they will recognize that while they boosted their circulation for the month, they also left a lot of people feeling frustrated--and created a rich secondary market for exploitive profiteers on the internet to boot. I started collecting the series, gladly willing to pay $62.79 plus tax for all the coins as well as $14.25 for newspapers. That's about $81 total. Should the Strib representatives just shrug because their poor planning might cause people like me to pay over 6 times the retail price to get that one damn Mauer coin to complete the collection?

Maybe that's just capitalism, baby. Sometimes the customer gets stuck holding a bill of goods, eh? But I say the Strib--or the Twins promotional department--could generate a lot of goodwill amongst the fans, while sticking it to the profiteers, by releasing a second run of at least the Joe Mauer medallions sometime this season. Why not? Otherwise I may become just another profiteer on e-bay, selling off the pieces of my incomplete collection--and I tell you true, Star Tribune marketing execs, that $14.25 will be the last I ever spend to pick up one of your papers. In that case, you might consider having it framed, quarter by quarter. Fifty-seven quarters would complete your collection. I hope you cherish it.


At 5/23/2005 6:19 PM, Blogger TwinsJunkie said...

I was weary about these and therefore didn't get in on them. $2.99 plus every player on the roster seems like a 100% money ploy. I will pick up a couple eventually, though.

At 5/24/2005 2:33 AM, Anonymous amr said...

I was surprised that I couldn't find Grant Balfour in the few stores near me, so I gave up.

At 5/24/2005 9:06 AM, Blogger SBG said...

Amount of money I spent on Twins Medallions and Star Tribunes to buy them: $0.00.

At 5/24/2005 10:50 AM, Blogger Third Base Line said...

I got the Rincon, 'cause...well, it's Rincon, and I love him desperately (albeit asexually). I may also try for Morneau, as he's the only Canadian infielder I've got these days.

But the set? I've got a subscription to the Strib, so there would be no extra cash outlay there, but frankly I didn't want to spend enough time in Super America to collect the whole set. :P

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