Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Changes Of Collecting

When I started blogging in 2009 it seemed like many of the blogs I was reading were dealing with box breaks. This seems to be a trend that is on the decline. Now when there are breaks it seems as if bloggers are leaning more towards retail options like blasters, hanger boxes and rack packs. Is this something that is indicative of the hobby and the direction that it is moving?
There of course will always be collectors breaking boxes but at least in the blogging community (well, the ones I read anyway) things appear to be moving away from the standard hobby box option.
I think there are a number of changes in the hobby that could be the origination of this change, with a major reason being the exclusive licensing. Now there are limited options where before there were many. I think the limited licensing has led to two very distressful issues, lackadaisical designs on one end and extreme designs on the other. When a company releases 15 or more sets a year in one sport things are going to be difficult on designers. Last year Panini released 24 basketball sets and their designers were probably reaching for ideas on many of the sets. How many times can you create an original design for the same group of players 24 times?
Another issue would be the loss of companies. Where we once had manufactures like Fleer, Donruss and Playoff we had many companies coming up with individual ideas. Now the big three own a majority of the product lines and even though there may be a name like Donruss on a product it is from the same designers who created every other Panini line.
We can also look at things like sticker autographs, plain dime-sized relics and redemptions as a loss of interest. Toss in a dilution of the checklists with the addition of scrubs who are undrafted or on practice squads and collectors don’t look forward to spending $100 or more on a box that will give them two autographs of bench players, an autograph of a player who never even put on a uniform and a plain relic of a second-stringer. I do realize that using only star players on the autograph checklist and SICK MOJO patches are not an option I think having a solid checklist of players who will actually get in to a game is a start.
So to bring me back to my observation I think that the retail option helps collectors scratch that “pack opening itch” without dropping a car payment on a disappointing box. As an alternative consider your options to buying a hobby box, I will use the recently released Topps Gypsy Queen for this example, which is currently averaging around $105 for a box. Each box contains 2 autographs and 2 relic cards so I will cover what I would rather use that $105 for (sticking with baseball) and still include 4 hits that I would prefer.
Purchase a Gypsy Queen blaster box $19.99

Auto #1- 1996 SP Authentic Buyback Ken Griffey Jr. autograph $47.00 + $3.00 shipping

Auto #2- 2010 Bowman Chrome Dustin Ackley autograph $12.99 + $3.00 shipping

Memorabilia #1- 2006 Upper Deck Epic Materials jersey relic $6.00 + Free shipping

Memorabilia #2- 2013 Bowman Inception Mike Zunino Auto/relic $14.99 + Free shipping

Total $106.98
OK, I did go a little bit over ($1.98 over) but all of the items that I included were using the BIN price and shipping included, which is a worst case scenario price because I could easily get some if not all of these cards cheaper if I were to watch auctions closely. Plus if I did buy a hobby box of 2014 Gypsy Queen it would have to be shipped since I do not have a local card shop. So in the end I would have gotten a very sweet Griffey auto that I have always wanted, a base Griffey relic card and two hits from some young Mariners and I also got the blaster box to give me some packs to open.


  1. I definitely think you are on the right track. For me, however, I will always bust a hobby box before I go to retail. I'm a set builder, first and foremost. Therefore, a hobby box (in some instances, two hobby boxes) is the best way to start the set. With the attention usually paid to collation today, you are almost guaranteed to have no duplicates. That's 200+ cards for your set right there. Now, go buy 5 blasters (equaling the roughly $100 for the hobby box), I guarantee that you won't get 200+ unique cards; you will almost certainly have multiple duplicates. With all of that being said, if you aren't a set builder, then you are absolutely right in shopping like you explained above. Once I have my base set more than 75% complete, I shop exclusively for the base cards I need and the hits I want rather than spending the $100 on another box and hoping I get something good.

    1. I agree with you that building the set through hobby boxes is better than retail, but probably the best way to build a set is to forego the boxes and packs altogether and buy a completed set from a case breaker online. But that is also probably the most boring way to do it.

      When you acquire a set that way you don't get to open any packs, you don't get the experience of sorting through the cards and putting them into piles yourself, and you remove any chance you might have had to pull something amazing or exciting. I do wind up going that route sometimes when I see that I will not be able to open nearly enough wax to build a full set.

      Retail packs scratch the itch for someone who wants to open a pack right now. I often can't get to my hobby shop right away, and ordering online has a built-in time lag, so when I just want to open a pack it is easy to run to the store or stop by on the way home from work and grab a handful of packs. Opening Day and flagship are great for this.