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
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.