What’s Hot in the Shop: Sterling Black, Strata, Absolute…Whew!

Mike Fruitman

Collectors looking for some new sports card products in time for Christmas had their wishes come true last week. Hobby shops received loads of cardboard presents last week from Panini and Topps.

Last week alone, two incredibly popular releases; Bowman Sterling baseball and Panini Absolute Basketball are being joined at your local card shop by two brand new offerings; Panini Black football and Topps Strata football.

Bowman Sterling received quite the revamp this year with one less card in each pack.  Any chance of relic cards has been KO’d as all three per pack hits are autographs.  The last baseball release of the year is always one of the most sought after by prospectors, and this year should be no exception.  Throw in loads of rookies we should all be rather familiar with by now and it has the makings to be off the charts.

Back are dual autographed cards, 1/1 red refractors, 1/1 printing plates and all the other parallels that drive collectors crazy and send singles into the triple if not quad digit range.  $10,000 for this Mike Trout gem?  Perhaps Albert or Josh could buy it for him

This year, it is safe to say that Bowman Sterling now has balls.  Well, autographed Yu Darvish balls that is.  Twenty five lucky collectors will pull redemption cards good for signed baseballs by the exciting Rangers rookie.

Basketball fans recently had exciting Panini Prizm and Totally Certified to play with.  This week, 2012-13 Panini Absolute hit shelves and has been starting out very strong.  With the tried and true 1 hit per pack, the bang for the buck is always there.

This year Panini has ensured that 3 of the 4 packs in a box will yield an autograph, and having on card autographs from 21 of this year’s rookies makes it must shred material for hoop heads.

Looking for star player autographs?  Check out this sharp looking Kobe Bryant that someone flipped on eBay.  Kobe, Blake, Durant, Westbrook, Love and Nash join retired megastars like Kareem, Russell, Olajuwon, Robinson, Julius, Stockton, Dominique and many other one name needed former players.

Throw in the Every Player Every Game Patches 1/1 relic set and Panini’s hoop winning streak will surely continue. (Man I wish one of these was already listed on ebay)

New to the card shop scene is Panini Black football.  This rookie release is not only fun to rip, but also looks cool.  These dark squares stack well and when you take the 12 card pack out of the box, it looks rather impressive.  Seriously, I can’t remember ever seeing a two-inch thick pack emerge from a box before.

Enough about the packaging, the gold pen signed rookie patch cards look just about perfect.   Short of Exquisite, these might be the best looking rookie singles available this year.

I watched close to 30 boxes get opened on Thursday and even though the cards have a full bleed black border, I cannot remember any damaged cards.  As a shop owner who went through case after case of Topps 5 Star MLB, it is intimidating to push $200+ packs with possible condition concerns.  So far at least, Black is a welcome new addition to the high end club.  Take a gander at this RGIII auto someone pulled from a pack.

In hobby shops for just a couple of days now, 2012 Topps Strata football already generating quite the buzz.  Topps has put the hype machine into full blast and collectors are taking note.  For a product that has never seen hobby store shelves before, my store is getting a considerable number of calls.

For much less than a c-note, boxes will deliver 1 Clear Cut Autograph Relic, 1 Rookie Autograph and 1 Rookie Relic Card.  I’m glad the Mayan prophecies didn’t come true and the world didn’t end before I got my shipment is so I could see what the Clear Cut Autograph Relics look like in person.  This Griffin that was pulled in the Akron, OH area didn’t last long.

First year releases are always interesting since there is no history to them and collectors are usually quick to take in video box breaks to see what they are all about.

So you know, it is not too late to drop that not so subtle hint that you would want one or more of these boxes in your stocking this year.  Just remind that special someone in your life how good a boy or girl you were this year.  Not in a relationship?  Just use that money you would have spent on them on yourself.  Duh!

A happy bleated Chanukah to some of you and for those of you who have Tuesday tree time ahead of you may you avoid all the NBA second rounder or Isaiah Pead cardboard coal in your stockings.

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. 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]