As I’m writing this early on September 24th, many things in the sports world are completely normal.
The NFL is in full swing.
My son Sam just got done playing golf for his high school team (sorry, I had to drop that in there).
The Rockies have essentially been eliminated from playoff contention.
Of course, there are several aspects of sports that aren’t quite as usual.
My hometown team, the Denver Nuggets, are taking on the Lakers and the Heat have the Celtics up against their possible last game of the 19/20 season.
Two NHL teams that aren’t quite steeped in rich tradition, the Lightning and Stars, are playing the Stanley Cup as summer ended and fall is beginning.
Let’s just say, if you like sports, it might never get better than this month and it seems that card collectors aren’t shedding their interest in shredding boxes and packs. My shop and many that I talk with are seeing more collectors, increased visits from their regulars and even kids are dragging their parents in record numbers to LCS all over the US and beyond.
It makes me think back to the latter part of March, all of April, May and June when we all were seemingly going through sports withdrawal and were watching anything presented to us as a replacement. Right now, it seems that each release is being received better than at any previous point and with Panini UEFA Soccer dropping this week at nearly $600 a box, it makes me wish that we had Upper Deck making Golf again, Panini had their Prizm WNBA dropping tomorrow, Leaf back at boxing and Topps offering up American Pie just to have more options on our shelves for our ravenous collectors.
In the meantime, the following releases have risen to the top of our hot list:
1) 2020 Panini Mosaic NFL
Take a product in the Family of Prizm (or is it genus or species? My high school biology is failing me.) on the heels on a wildly popular NBA release and you have a recipe for success. Aside from the Prizm Draft release earlier this year, this is the first of the Prizm/Mosaic/Select/Optic options to land. Boxes offer two autographs per and are chock filled with the parallels that collectors are now familiar with thanks to that NBA version.
Look for some sweet veteran autos mixed in with a healthy selection of both rookies and multiple rookie autographed inserts to hunt for. My store started I the $649 range and based on restocking rates, I will be closer to $799 when they arrive next.
2) 2020 Bowman Chrome MLB
Bowman Chrome has a much longer track record than the release at the #1 spot this month and on the day it hits, collectors are waiting for both the Fed Ex and UPS trucks to land. Yes, I actually had collectors who were hanging out in the shop to hopefully secure the first boxes of both the hobby version (12 packs and 2 autographs) and the HTA version (three autographs).
Chrome offers a mix of autographs from known rookies like Kyle Lewis, Luis Robert, Nico Hoerner, Dustin May, Aristides Aquino and others who I look forward to get to learn. There are 14 or more autographed parallels for rainbow prospect pursuers to plunder. Currently I have hobby boxes at $189 and the HTA version is closer to $239.
3) 19/20 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection NHL
The first thing I think of when I think of Ultimate Collection are the autographed rookie shield cards that literally make collectors go “oooooh.” Boxes offer just four cards but three of those are autographed or relic versions and at least locally, the chance to pull newly crowned Calder Award Winner, Cale Makar autographed cards. They would not mind pulling the same of Jack Hughes, Quinn Hughes, Rasmus Sandin, Kirby Dach and others.
A little story to add to this release again involves my son Sam. Awhile back, I got a call from an Upper Deck employee who asked if I could cruise over to pick up the cards Makar had signed for the product (remember, we’re in the Denver area). I had not (and still haven’t) taken a day off from my shop since the day after the Super Bowl and meeting up with Cale at a window TBD might not have been the most convenient thing.
Fortunately Sam can drive and is as responsible as any parent would hope for. Sam went to Cale’s residence and met him briefly. There was not deep robust conversation, but pleasantries were exchanged. When I got home, there the cards were on my dining room table. While I fluttered with popping open some boxes to see what the dream card from the entire set might look like, I wanted to ensure the chance of another call from Upper Deck the next time the next Calder Award winner from the Avs needed his cards overnighted back for him.
I went so far as to look at the sealed 200 and 300 ct boxes in the larger boxes, but not further while knowing that somewhere in there was the Cale Makar autographed 1/1 shield card that was going to change the card collecting life of one lucky collector. If you get a Cale Makar autographed card from Ultimate Collection and not a redemption card, feel free to buy Sam a soda– or in three or so years– a beer. Currently you can enjoy a box of Ultimate Collection at my shop for $139.
4) 2020 Leaf Valiant Football
Leaf is one of those manufacturers who collectors either really like or who really avoid when it comes to their football cards. This far, every 2020 Leaf football release has been a sell out at my shop and that now includes Valiant. Offering eight autographs per box instead of the customary five that most of their other products yield helped Valiant stand out as more Panini releases populated my shelves.
There appear to be seven autographed parallels on top of the base sets with two 1/1 versions and others with 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50 and 75 available. Boxes offer seven standard autos and unlike other Leaf options, a graded one per box. I sold out of Valiant at $199 a box and considering where online pricing is now, if I restocked it now, I would have to be above that.
5) 2020 Donruss NFL
Of all the top five products on this hot list, Donruss Football is the one that might be considered a base release. But between box prices and single card values, it is hard to relegate it to “base” anymore. Hobby boxes offer 18 packs per and you should see one autograph and one relic card.
Part of what is driving Donruss are the Marvel comic book style insert cards with some of the bigger hits like Lamar Jackson and Deion Sanders already clearing $500 per on eBay. Count on the first Tom Brady to join that group, if not the four-figure club. As usual, there are also some nice inserts and loads of parallels. I’m working on restocking them now and expect to have them in the low $200 range when they arrive.
Looking ahead, next month’s list MIGHT be populated with either National Treasures Collegiate football, Origins NFL, Allen & Ginter X (the regular version of Ginter almost made this list), Absolute NFL, the aforementioned Prizm WNBA, Triple Threads MLB, UD Premier NHL, Immaculate Collection NBA, Star Wars Stellar Signatures or one of the other multiple dozen releases we should be seeing soon.
As always, please make a point of visiting your local card shop and keeping them going strong. While sales are brisk at my shop, I know other shops are having problems landing product so make sure you’re picking up more than just supplies when you visit your LCS and are also checking out their singles and other wares.
I hope the next month is a strong one for you with your packs and boxes and feel free to respond to the Sports Collectors Daily Facebook post with your own Top 5.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, CO. His column normally focuses on what products are selling best in hobby shops. He’s got thousands of cards for sale on COMC.com under the ID cardmn5150. You can email him at [email protected]
Check out past editions of What’s Hot here.