If you would have asked me if I would have ever sat down and put together a piece on soccer cards, I might have gone John McEnroe “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!” on you. The 2014 World Cup matches are not scheduled to begin until June 12 with the finals booked for July 13. On May 7, Panini Prizm landed in hobby shops with a response usually reserved for high-end NFL releases in 2012 or NBA cards back in 03/04.
Sure, four years ago my store moved through about 50 boxes of the Panini stickers, but I knew as much about the soccer players as I did about hockey players when I grew up in Miami in the 80’s. Sure, I knew who Gretzky, LeMieux and Bourque were, but I probably would have still butchered Patrick Roy’s last name.
When I received our order forms a few months ago for the 2014 Panini Prizm World Cup soccer cards, I figured I would take a chance and snag a case. So far I’m glad that I did with many of the same people coming in for this year’s stickers switching over and checking out the card side of things.
Panini packed 11 different base set parallels in to Prizm, highlighted by Gold Prizms /10, Gold Power Prizms /5 and the once every lightning strike Black Prizms /1. Fortunately they threw this many in since the autographed cards appear to be hitting 1 every 2 boxes.
Man I wish parallel cards from other sports cleared this much.
Seriously, can you name another sport where putting a signed card in every other box would still work? Try seeing how long the lines for MLB products would be if Topps only threw one “hit” into every second box? Do you think puckheads would go ga-ga for 13/14 Upper Deck 1 if they knew their 12 box case would only yield 6 “hits”?
Granted Panini has a little bit more going for it with only itself to compete against and since their sticker release does not offer autographs, it’s that much easier. Since a great many of these players are enjoying their first certified autographed cards ever, it’s like Panini is riding the perfect hobby storm.
Looking at recently completed auctions, many of the hard to find autographed cards are selling in the Jordan, Gretzky, LeBron and Tiger range. I don’t know the exact ending price on this this Andrea Pirlo 1/1 autograph, but it looks like it went comfortably into the 4 digit range.
I know much more about Craig Biggio than I do Roberto Baggio, but one of his fans dropped somewhere in the neighborhood of a grand on this gem.
Other superstars (the must be superstars since I’ve heard of them) include retired players like Pele, Alexi Lalas and Carlos Valderrama. Other internationally adored players include Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Lionel Mesei, Christiano Ronaldo and other players that inspire soccer fan’s hearts to go a flutter.
Looking at current auctions, this Pele autograph,numbered to 25, is getting a lot of action. For that price, you can snag a Harper, Trout, Yu, Puig and Tulowitzki autograph (yeah, you knew I would have to drop some Colorado love in here eventually).
Granted I expect sales to start backing off the moment that teams get eliminated from the World Cup, but the next month of sales should be enough to make hobby shop owners wish this was a once every two year happening instead of every four.
Perhaps the nice folks at Panini will surprise shops with a last minute order form for Panini Black, Panini Dominon or even International Treasures Soccer and really flex their soccer muscles.
Curious? Check out the 'most watched' Panini Prizm World Cup cards below.
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]