Before I get to my usual current event chatter, I wanted to share some thoughts about the unfortunate passing of hobby veterans Rich Altman and Ben Ecklar.
Rich owned Hollywood Collectibles in my old stomping ground of South Florida. I only briefly met him at the 2019 Industry Summit. I had always been impressed with his exclusive autograph relationship with Bill Russell and since we shared a locale, it was a pleasure to finally meet. While we didn’t get deep since it was at the breakaway event, it was nice to pay my respects to an incredibly well established representative of the hobby we shared.
Also sadly passing recently was Ben Ecklar. Ben had worked for Beckett, but many know him better from his efforts with Donruss and then Panini. Ben was never shy about taking on questions from shop owners and should be appreciated for his contributions to many Panini offerings. Adam Martin shared with me that Ben is the reason that National Treasures exists and clearly we owe him respect for that and so much more. There has been a fundraising effort created and I would urge you to please offer some support to his wife and six children.
Peace to both of their families, friends and co-workers.
Sorry to have been away so long and I guess it is a reflection of how much time it takes these days, coupled with a week in Alaska helping put together 3 Foo Fighters shows. They happen to be among my top 5 bands to see in concert and an opportunity arose to work security for two of their shows in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks. It wasn’t all work as I got to see Pat Moe, the owners of Bosco’s, a long-time hobby shop in Anchorage. We happened to be seated together at the bar at Club Paris when the news first broke regarding Fanatics securing the MLB license some four years out.
No, we didn’t drain the bar of all their offerings, but it did have me starting to wonder of the possible implications. While I do not have a solid idea which way Fanatics will be going once they lock down those licenses and start the presses rolling for their products, clearly it is something I and my hobby shop owning brothers and sisters will be paying quite a bit of attention to in the coming years.
Instead of another article that details what might or will happen, since nobody was talking in detail in Vegas at the Beckett Industry Summit, let’s please enjoy what’s been going on in the hobby since we last chatted.
As for what is selling, please enjoy my shop’s current top 5 selling products:
1) Upper Deck Skybox Metal Universe NHL
Yes, we are about as far away from the Stanley Cup and the beginning of the next hockey season, but collectors are clamoring for the only Metal Universe release they can get their hands on. Last summer, Metal singles from all sports started generating significant interest for not just the parallels, but for the base cards as well.
The incredibly low numbered PMGs are driving the set and it has created some awkward moments as some of my shoppers have asked when we will see the same release done again in NBA and NFL offerings.
2) 2021 Donruss NFL
Just as last year, we lost the term “junk wax”, perhaps we have now lost the right to use the term “base set” as Donruss is now perceived as a higher end release with the best prices at around $460. Hobby boxes offer one autograph and one relic and are now available in the $500 range. Any number of years ago, Donruss offered rookies in the $2 and $3 range and while it won’t exactly cover a box cost, Mac Jones base cards are topping $30.
Where things are getting crazy are the Downtown inserts. Here the Jones rookie year inserts are eclipsing 2k. While I would rather be offering these boxes for much less, it is cool that each box could possibly deliver so well.
3) 20/21 Donruss Optic NBA
When the NBA season ended, I looked and saw how many offerings there were still to come. The big rookies didn’t make the playoffs and in the case of LaMelo, they missed significant amounts of time this season. I had concerns that while they wouldn’t be blow cost, whether there would be collectors looking for them. Looking at my shelves and remembering how many of each box landed upon release, clearly my fears have been alleviated. Boxes started off at $850 and in less than a week, the best prices on eBay are a hair under $1,000.
4) 2021 Leaf Signature Football
One of the biggest trends we have seen at my shop in the past three years is the emergence of retail products and blaster boxes. I understand (look two numbers above) how tough collecting has become for many who didn’t invest in Bitcoin at $1,000 per or Zoon a couple of years ago. With this product, Leaf is offering collectors three rookie autographs and one Hall of Famer auto for less than $50.
Sure some of the key rookies aren’t dropped in and yes, after Joe Montana the HOF selection isn’t the best ever presented, but for about $12 per autograph, my collectors are giving this a try for sure.
5) 2021 Topps Chrome Star Wars Galaxy
It was a toss up for spot 5 between Chrome Star Wars and Chrome MLB, but since Star Wars releases appear perhaps annually on here, I thought it might be fun (and appropriate) to use The Force for a change. Boxes offer one autograph per and there are randomly inserted sketch cards that collectors really enjoy as well. With it being Chrome, it is no surprise that much of the possible value comes from parallels and there are nine to hunt down.
Looking at the autograph checklist, it is nice to see Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson, Adam Driver and Billy Dee Williams. It is even more special to see that Topps still had stickers from Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew and were able to include them as well. And, unlike a lot of products, this one comes at a fairly reasonable price point.
Again, my apologies for taking so long to share a new edition of What’s Hot and I hope that the next time we talk won’t be so far down the road.
Until then, please head down to your local card shop for a box or two, enjoy the Panini NFL Player Of The Day promotion and jump in a box or case break.
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]