The Sealed Report is a bi-monthly overview of the market for unopened sports packs and boxes. Long-time industry pro Leighton Sheldon of Vintage Breaks and Just Collect will provide insight on what’s hot and what’s not, highlight recent sales of unopened product and tips on participating in one of the hobby’s hottest and most popular realms.
Not all hot products in the hobby are always from the big four sports (baseball, football, basketball, and hockey). Sometimes cold isn’t necessarily a bad thing in our industry either. In this edition of The Sealed Report, we’ll race to find the hottest wax and are active buyers on products that have cooled down.
The hottest current era wax in the market right now is actually a Formula 1 racing product. Yes, you read that right.
Topps 582 Montgomery Club members had access to pre-sale boxes of 2020-2021 Topps Chrome Sapphire Formula 1 on May 4 and public sale began May 5. The Sapphire product is a high-end version of the Topps Chrome product; each card is a distinct “sapphire blue” version of the Chrome.
A Sapphire box contains 8 packs and each pack has 4 cards. Short prints and parallels come 4 per box. Like many of the Chrome cards, there are many color parallels such as gold, orange, red, etc. In total, Sapphire offers 14 variations that collectors are chasing hard as you read this.
When the product dropped, only three races on the season had taken place, and two different winners prevailed: Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. We’re 11 races into the season now and both of those drivers have combined to win all but two races.
Hamilton is a racing veteran with 99 career Formula 1 ones; a record for drivers. Verstappen is up and coming with 15 wins and holds the record for youngest driver. Verstappen was just 17 years and 166 days old when he entered the 2015 Australian Grand Prix. Cards from these drivers, especially in variations, are in high demand. Lewis Hamilton’s base card (card number 1) in a PSA 10 sold for $1,850 and the short print variation sold for $3,800 graded PSA 10. A PSA 10 card of the base Verstappen (card number 6) just sold for $1,100 while the short print variation in a 10 was $1,621 in the last sale. Imagine what the prices are for the inserts such as a Red /5 or the Orange /10.
On the release date, boxes were sold on eBay for around $700. Today, you can’t find a box for under $1,195. The racing season is still going strong and doesn’t end until December 12th. If both Hamilton and Verstappen continue winning, these boxes are going to remain HOT.
HOT PRODUCT BONUS
After attending the National a few weeks ago, I can confirm that 1980-81 Topps basketball wax is a good buy right now.
A box comes with 36 packs and each pack has 8 cards (and a pinup). The original pack cost was 25 cents but you’ll need a little more than that today. Prices for a sealed box now are actually lower than they were in early 2021 but overall up from last the sale prices of last year. The huge craze of basketball cards and wax reached an all-time high during the pandemic and sealed ’80-81 wax was no exception. In January 2021, a box sold for $91,200. In May of this year, Goldin Auctions sold a box for $31,200.
Before you wonder why I think a drop in $60,000 considers a box being hot, let’s look at the overall picture: the same box sold $23,000 in August of last year. With the dust settling from the highs of EVERY product during the pandemic, we’re up over $10,000 on the wax price. The top card from the product is STILL setting records, too.
Topps created the perfect card when placing card numbers 34, 139, and 174 all paneled together – that’s a Larry Bird rookie, a Magic Johnson rookie, and the great Dr. J, Julius Erving, all on the same card. Goldin Auctions just sold one for a record setting number. The previous high price for this card was $500,000 set in May and again in July. A month later and we’re seeing an increase of $361,000! This card continues to drive up the price for the sealed wax. I personally own a box and am holding.
If you want to gamble on a PSA 10, BBCE is selling one 1980-81 Topps basketball wax pack, graded PSA 7, with the Bird, Magic, and Dr. J on the back of the pack for $7,500.
Do you think there are more sealed wax boxes left from 1980-81 Topps basketball or 1986-87 Fleer basketball?
COLD PRDUCTS – WITH A TWIST
1996 Basketball and 2003 Basketball
The market has cooled on basketball products from both 1996 and 2003. The ’96 products contain Kobe Bryant rookie cards while ’03 holds LeBron James rookies. A cold product isn’t always bad in the market, especially when two legendary players drive the market; you can “buy the dip.”
Between May and June a sealed Series 1 box with 36 packs hovered around $950 to $1,000. In early June a box sold for $1,225. The base Kobe rookie from 1996-97 Upper Deck in a PSA 10 sold for $650 last week, which is down from $1,250 in May. Picking up a sealed box now for under $1,000 before the nine-part Documentary on the Lakers coming to Hulu in 2022 and the documentary on Kobe that Magic Johnson hinted might be a good buy on the dip.
The LeBron James rookie card products are cold but buying icons low is usually a good move. The 2003 Topps base rookie in a PSA 10 is just under $4,000 now; copy sold last week for $3,900. The same card in June, just a few months ago, sold for $9,100. LeBron’s Lakers exited in the first round of the NBA Playoffs; something that has never happened to James before. His Space Jam movie was released (and to poor reviews). All LeBron does on the market is win, though. The same 9-part documentary on the Lakers could also drive-up sales on LeBron products, as could LeBron winning another title. If/when LeBron goes on another title run will impact the price of his rookie year wax but no matter what he’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame and go down as one of the all-time greats.
Make sure you’re shopping for the correct boxes, too – there are more expensive First Edition boxes, and hobby Jumbo HTA boxes. Base boxes are hovering around $7,000 on eBay but with no sales at those prices. A hobby Jumbo HTA sold for $4,435 in late July and “best offer” boxes on eBay are also around $7,000. Perhaps put an offer in, grab a box, and hold until things turns hot again for LeBron and the Lake show.
Speaking of upcoming documentaries and Hall of Fame inductions – wait until the next Sealed Report in two weeks for our next HOT product. Maybe you can get a head start on “The Captain” …
DID YOU KNOW?
While opening up a pack of 1985 Topps WWF cards with Wrestling Hall of Famer, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, he decided to show me the difference between a “working” (fake) wristlock and a “shooter’s” (real) wristlock. The real wristlock is legit…