by Mike Fruitman
Over a month ago, Topps released their 2012 Olympics release to a very accepting audience. Never before was there a release that allowed collectors to chase autographs and relic cards of current competitors, and the early response seemed to be overwhelmingly positive.
Of course right out of the gate, Michael Phelps autographs were all the rage. With his mind blowing performance at the previous two Summer Olympic games, box breakers immediately sought his autographs to the tune of $400+. His signed cards alone gave shredders more than enough reason to go through multiple boxes.
The addition of four more gold medals and two more silvers has elevated his card values to that of current hobby leader Mike Trout and even hobby legend Michael Jordan. There are very few living members of the “thousand dollar plus” autographed card club these days, but this monster put Mr. Phelps in that elite grouping
The overwhelming popularity and visibility of the Olympics itself combined with the barrage of gold medals heading back to the United States have served to help bring many new collectors into the hobby. My store enjoyed countless visits from first-time pack buyers who wanted in on this every four year spectacle.
With the closing ceremonies in sight, there are now many more U.S. gold medal award winners to collect including another leading male swimmer Ryan Lochte whose cards were major hits including this BGS 10 auto that went for $449 and change.
Please don't think for a second that hobby success has been limited to the gentlemen. Quite a few female athletes have emerged to enjoy some hobby love.
Fellow Coloradan Missy Franklin has emerged from the pool to have autograph values that rival the biggest stars from MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL. This gem almost went for $400.00. Now that has to be some sort of a non MLB record for an athlete who has another year of high school ahead of her.
Not all the Olympic hot-listers wear swimming goggles as shown by the interest in any Team USA ladies soccer singles. Over 80,000 fans watched the United States women’s soccer team avenge a previous painful World Cup loss to Japan. Many members of the team enjoyed rock star status going into the games and the new jewelry they are taking home should only help their values down the road.
Starting goalie Hope Solo has developed quite the following, as evidenced by this autographed single that eclipsed the $100 mark.
Another established veteran of the pitch that is enjoying some hobby love is Alex Morgan. Her many assists and the widely accepted belief that she will be the leader of Team USA for some time to come helped this signed single sell for well over $300.
What is certain is that collectors have supported this first Olympic offering beyond my expectation. It has been incredibly encouraging to see how many friends of my store have already asked me whether Topps will be offering a similar set for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
With an incredible mix of established athletes and so many others who look like they will be coming back for another shot in four more years, it will be very interesting to see where these boxes will go down the road.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike's Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo. You can read his column here every week, focusing on what products are selling best in hobby shops. 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]