It's been a moderately active couple of weeks for major sports card releases across the major sports but the real 'zing' has been the success of multiple products. Here's our look at the five hottest issues on the market right now. Click the name of the product to see what's on eBay right now.
1) 2013 Panini National Treasures NFL – Sure, National Treasures has only been live for just a couple of days, but for the next month or so, it appears to be hotter than a trading card manufacturer when I ask them a tough question in Las Vegas. While we’re on the subject, Panini did something incredibly smart with this release by allowing breakers to do some sneak peeks at the Industry Summit (next time Panini, please feel free to allow some early releases at hobby shops, but I’ll let you slide on this one).
We hosted our first ever mid-week case break in order to break it the day it released and we already have a second one set up for next Tuesday.
Our first case yielded a 1/1 printing plate relic card, a NFL shield 1/1 card, an autographed relic booklet card and enough other cardboard goodness to ensure it sells for the foreseeable future, despite a still 'iffy' rookie class.
2) 2014 Topps Heritage MLB – Once again Topps Heritage has captured the focus of MLB collectors without the benefit of a massive rookie class or six autographs or relics per box. Sure they have some incredibly cool box toppers, but as a shop owner I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have actual set collectors come in droves to buy a product that they simply love putting together.
Box prices have done very well on the secondary market and I’m glad that I went deep on my order or I would have been out a long time ago. As an aside, the fun of opening Heritage must be beyond incredible. Where else can you find people paying ~$75 a box where you have no chance of getting a set unless you buy the right case when they could simply buy the complete set for $225?
3) 2013 Panini Spectra NFL – Yes, it is possible for Panini to have two NFL releases on the top 5 list at one time. No, I am not on their payroll.
When I got the order form, I envisioned this being Bowman Sterling Jr. without the box topper pack. I went with one case just to see how it did (I mean everything else in 2013 went over so well, right?). It took hosting a box break to properly introduce this first year release to our collectors. When people saw the great looking autographed cards and the numerous, low-numbered parallels and inserts it led to a pack and box buying fury that was more than encouraging. My guess is that with National Treasures sucking all the air out of football sales like a hole in a spaceship (Aliens 4 comes to mind) that the price on Spectra may soften after the MAPP protection is over and make it an even better buy.
4) 2013-14 Panini Totally Certified NHL – It’s freaking Murphy’s Law. I literally sent Panini a congratulations email on this release two days before they lost their NHL license for the next few years. What’s up with that? Our first case blew out more quickly than I had hoped and we even sold out of our case break with ease. As of now, we have brought in four cases and will be lining up a fifth by the time you read this.
Seriously, if nothing else, I hope that every manufacturer takes a close look at what Panini did with Totally Certified when they have a popular release that could use some “oomph”. You take a six-pack release with one hit per pack, drop two packs and keep all six hits in the product. While this wouldn’t work for every release, Topps could certainly do it to their Tribute line and then perhaps offer the value and buzz it once did. It’s fun watching my collectors feel like they are getting one over on a manufacturer and while it could use some more star power with the autograph selection, it is still rocking hard more than a month after it hit our shelves.
5) Speaking of Topps Tribute baseball…it rounds out the Top 5 this month. When our first box yielded a Babe Ruth 1/1 bat card and another box gave forth a Mike Trout 1/1 autographed card I knew we were looking at a sell-out. Sure it looks a little watered down this year with some autographs of players that I really didn’t recognize (full disclosure – I don’t play fantasy baseball and I’m a little isolated as a Colorado Rockies fan), but the beast cards seem to make up for that. Just this week, we had a Roberto Clemente 1/1 parallel card hit which means that our Friday restocks shouldn’t have much of a problem finding a home either.
The last few months have been rather interesting with fewer than normal products hitting and allowing for much better sell through than what we saw in the last quarter of 2013. Heck things have been so good that hobby shops everywhere will forget about the end of last year and order the crud out of everything that gets thrown our way. It’s just how we roll.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo. You can read his column here every week (or close to it), focusing on what products are selling best in hobby shops. See his eBay listings here. Enjoy new arrivals and big hits from Mike’s on Twitter. Mike’s is always looking for more friends on Facebook and you can email him at [email protected]