by Mike Fruitman
2013 Football. Yes. I did go there. 2013 football cards are popular and no, just because I live in Colorado, I have not been partaking in a recently legalized substance to people who live at my elevation.
Many months ago, before the NFL draft there was talk between shops that 2013 NFL sales would rival those of 1992 where top picks like Steve Emtman, Quentin Coryatt, Terrell Buckley, Eugene Chung and others were supposed to be the kiss of death for the collecting year. The big QBs from that year included the immortal David Klingler, Tommy Maddox, Matt Blundin, Tony Sacca and more. Yeah, you could see why the fear of 1992 coming back like The Notebook Part 2 instilled fear like few other things could.
While at the time I am writing this, only the Cowboys and Dolphins have played a preseason game and most of this year’s rookies are about as well-known as an average MLB draft class. Well this year there was a draft eligible player named Andrew (Starks) and an actual drafted player Robert (Alford). In spite of that, the fears of 1992 happening all over again are greatly exaggerated.
Looking at the eight either partially licensed or fully licensed products that have hit the market so far this year, I would have to say that for the most part, they have more than exceeded my expectations. With the exception of Score Jumbos, we have sold out of the rest with some requiring multiple restocks just to remain on my shelf. Many of my collectors are sharing that they have been getting much more for their single cards on eBay (perhaps they are competing against fewer other sellers) than they expected and those same collectors are buying box after box just to keep up with things.
Clearly the ROY and MVP has been 2013 Bowman. While Topps usually has a history of their first release being their sacrificial lamb, Bowman, with four autographs and one relic per box has been kicking some serious cardboard arse. The low numbered parallels in Bowman have been selling for some serious coin. I started with five cases and have had to restock it no less than four times just to keep it on my shelf.
More recently Topps Inception has been blowing away collectors at my store. Topps has once again put together a well-designed set based on paintings and even though they have dark borders, they have figured out the chipping issue that has plagued many of their recent dark bordered, higher end releases. We did an in store case break last weekend and saw some stellar multi-colored autographed relics come out (yes, we even knew who they were).
Panini’s offerings have been right up there as well. Prestige once again delivers a proven recipe of rookie per pack and four autographs or relics a box. Coming in at slightly less than a C-note, our first four cases lasted less than two weeks and delivered some real gems. Even though some higher-end products have hit the shelf we are still pushing boxes of Prestige out like the Octomom delivers children.
Elite NFL similarly follows the old tried and true format with four autos or relics (a Panini standard) and three numbered rookies. Just like Bowman, it is chock full of low-numbered parallels. One of our shredders found a Landry Jones autographed printing plate in one of their boxes and the First And Goal relic cards with the spinning swatches deserve some props for originality.
Panini Momentum just hit and it landed with anything but a dud. Panini stayed with the ten pack per box format instead of switching to the single pack box that they tried with their basketball offering. They did add another three base cards to each pack which is kinda cool. Most people will not care, but set collectors should enjoy double the cards in each pack.
Upper Deck is back with their base brand featuring 3 autographs per box highlighted by autographed lettermen and this year they avoided the curse of not being able to offer the #1 pick other than as a redemption. While I am mostly through my second case, I am still seeing strong pack sales.
SPX has been welcomed back by eager box breakers and I hope it never goes away again. Collectors are digging on the return of the 1996 and 1997 style singles, randomly inserted UD Premier box topper packs, and Shadow Box inserts. This is definitely one that I wish I had bought more than 2 cases directly of. Our box sales continue to be quite strong.
While most of the “big boys” are still on their way, early sales of 2013 NFL products have been en fuego. Now to hope that in the next few weeks of preseason action, some of the rookies can become a bit more famous than their 1992 counterparts.