by Mike Fruitman
While I do not subscribe to everything Bon Jovi offers in terms of advice, it appears the California based folks at Upper Deck pay a bit more attention to the rockers from New Jersey.
Just over a week ago 2011/12 Fleer Retro basketball landed at hobby stores with a bit of buzz behind it. Like all hoops offerings from UD, collectors were excited to once again bust packs and boxes that would hopefully yield autographs from UD exclusive players like Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
Don’t get me wrong, the last few years of Panini NBA releases have been well received. 09/10 caught fire when Blake Griffin finally hit the court after a year of recovery. Many of the 10/11 releases benefitted from a dose of Linsanity, but without anything from MJ and lacking autos from the most hated man in Cleveland not named Elway or Modell, it could only provide so much.
Since the late 1990s basketball inserts have been enjoying a second honeymoon in recent years, I was interested to see how well the second go around of parallels and inserts like Precious Metal Gems, Flair Showcase Row 0, Jambalaya, Autographics would go.
So when Fleer Retro (originally solicited to arrive in March) hit stores last week, I figured my shipment would move rather briskly. Even before I sent my email to my customers to let them know it had landed, I was fielding calls about packs, boxes and even cases.
Checking eBay, one of the first live cases to sell moved for a healthy $1,859.95. Not bad for a 6 box case that should yield 36 autographs with a checklist filled with third tier ‘11/12 rookies highlighted by Jimmer Ferdette and filled with loads of players with “potential” like Malcolm Lee, Josh Selby and Markieff Morris. Seriously, if you can tell me anything about those players without using Wikipedia, then you have Gatorade for blood and your skin has the same rubbery, bumpy feel as a basketball. Well, that or you are part of their entourage.
Since then, cases have moved for $3,499, $3,650 and a high of $3,995! Man this is a good time to be an UD Authorized Internet Retailer who did not move all their cases early. Sadly, I did not take all of the cash out of my IRA, line up case after case and toss all the profits on the bed like Woody Harrelson in Indecent Proposal (am I showing my age too badly?).
Even one of the most recent basketball product success stories, 09/10 Panini National Treasures NBA is not quite selling for 2x SRP.
The biggest surprise on the singles front has been with MJ himself. While it is no surprise to see Jordan autos moving for $1,200 like this gem or to see his Autographics from this year move for a move for a cool grand, Fleer Retro had some surprises up its sleeve.
Where things get really freaky is with the Jordan Precious Metal Gems. While a PSA 10 1986-87 Fleer Jordan rookie recently cleared $11,800, even that pales in comparison to one of the most talked about current year card auctions in recent memory.
For the amazing price of $20,000, one pretty darn serious Jordan collector now owns this Blue Precious Metal Gems #23/50.
Is it signed? No.
Did he ever touch it? I am guessing that he did not unless he is quietly working at the printing and packaging center.
It does happen to be perfectly numbered for the Jordan fan that has to have everything and thank goodness for people like them.
Who am I to say that they did not make the right move? For the same amount of coin, they could have walked away with 16 of his signed Fleer Retro cards. Then again they could have instead snagged 16,661 copies of Bon Jovi’s 2010 Greatest Hits CD off of Amazon.com and had drink coasters for life.
In retrospect, it now seems like money well spent.
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]