It is time for another edition of What’s Hot and I feel like answering that question by yelling “EVERYTHING!” at an uncomfortably high level. I am talking megaphone loud, arena time-out loud and just-got-new-speakers loud because there are many more than five releases that are not just hot, but on fire. Collectors are buying just about everything. As I said before, it is an incredible time to own a shop –if you can get product. Fortunately my store has direct accounts with all of the manufacturers and the distributors either like (or are willing to put up with) me, so we have been able to stock new releases well as well as being able to bring in loads of restocks.
This year, though, I think may have to toss a few extra holiday gifts at my Fed Ex and UPS drivers in order to get them to make my shop one of their first stops each day. My store opens at 10 Monday-Saturday but on 2018 Bowman release day, the truck didn’t arrive until 2:39 PM. It was a minute that will live in infamy since we had already gotten about 30 calls that day wondering when it would arrive and what the cost would be. So, it is no big surprise that I am starting off the Hot List with…
1) 2018 Bowman Baseball – I used to think that the day Topps Series One showed up was my most favorite MLB release day of the year, but that has clearly been eclipsed by #Bowmanday. Luckily between my direct account and some distributor help, I was able to start with 16 total cases. When they finally landed it reminded me of the old videos of moms fighting over Cabbage Patch dolls at holiday time.
Clearly Ohtani-mania was in full effect that day and in the days that followed as the auctions for autographed copies entered unrealistic territories. I’m sure many of the $10K- plus auctions went unpaid but even seeing one of the Atomic Refractors in the 30K range was enough to inspire sales and we were actually lucky enough to have one of those emerge from one of our multitude of boxes. I am having a flashback to 2010 Bowman where Strasburg kept Bowman on the top of multiple hot lists for months. Now we just need Ohtani to get through his season better than Mr. Strasburg did.
2) 2017/18 National Treasures Basketball – My store and many of my collectors had been waiting for this season’s NT NBA since Mitchell, Ball and Tatum were still playing in college. I started with fvie cases and one box and I was blown away with where prices had been driven before it hit the streets. Personally I do not like the idea of releases going for close to two times their SRP. Sure it looks great on my balance sheet, but it drives people away from products that they usually chase and makes it that much harder for collectors to get a reasonable return on investment if they so desire.
Fortunately in one of my cases, there was an RPA of Tatum numbered to 10. That shredder opted to sell and will be doubling or tripling his initial investment. I would hope that everyone would do as well, but Panini devised this release to hit at $500 per box, not at the current rare of $1,000 and even with a standard Kobe autograph, that’s going to be tough to recoup. There are still some 2017/18 releases due to arrive and while I hope that they sell, it can’t be at the inflated levels we saw with NT. Yes, a hobby shop owner is upset about making too much money and let’s please record this moment.
3) 2018 Panini Prizm World Cup Soccer – Yes, a soccer product in the top 5. 2018 Panini Prizm World Cup Soccer hit about one month before the tournament was set to begin in Russia. It’s doing well on the heels of the earlier released 2018 Panini World Cup stickers product, which once again flew out the door. The hobby Prizm boxes offer either one autographed card or low-numbered parallel and the history of this release alone should have inspired multiple box sales. When Prizm hit during the World Cup four years ago, it floored me with how well it sold and this year has followed up rather well.
There are single, dual, triple and quad autographs possible and with 1/1 black parallels out there, there are some monsters in those boxes. With possible autographs from Pele, Messi, Maradona, Ronaldo, Rooney and many more, it appears to be enough to make collectors forget that the United States will not be part of the party this year.
4) 2017/18 Upper Deck Ice Hockey – Yes, I will fully admit it that this year’s NHL sales have been about where I anticipated they would and that’s not exactly healthy. However, Ice has emerged as one of those annually safe releases that collectors clamor for. This year, boxes offer two hits of either autographs, relics or Exquisite singles and the biggest draw as usual are the Ice Premier cards. There are ten rookies limited to just 99. My store has lucked out in the past with Crosby and McDavid being pulled and perhaps my collectors are hopeful that once again one of my boxes will deliver like they have in the past.
It is not just the rookies that are driving this release since it also offers autographs from some of the best to ever play like Gretzky, Yzerman, Messier, Bourque, Brett, Brodeur and enough other stars to make up for the absence of a monster rookie in this year’s class.
5) 2018 Leaf Metal Draft Football – Metal Draft is the first of many Leaf football releases to hit this year and if it is any indication of how it is going to be, I cannot wait for the rest to pop. Metal Draft offers five autographs per box. There are 17, yes SEVENTEEN colored parallels possible of the base card autographs and it is not uncommon to see multiple individually numbered signed cards in every box. Both QBs named Josh appear along with autographs from Sam Darnold, J. T. Barrett and Riley Ferguson. Sadly local first round pick Bradley Chubb did not make it into the set, but since I did not expect him to fall to the Broncos and I was not screaming about it before the draft happened, I will let Leaf’s Brian Gray slide on this one.
If I wrote this one day later, I am sure that 2017/18 SP Authentic NHL would be on the list and if I waited even longer (and ticked off my editor even more) you would have seen Dominion basketball, the oft delayed Tier One baseball and Definitive Collection baseball –meaning that it will still be a great time to own a sports card store next month.
May all your packs have hits, not deflectors or redemptions and be sure to make a visit to your local card shop. Sure, I sound like Bob Barker at the end of each Price Is Right Episode, but I truly believe that you should drop in from time to time, get to know your fellow local collectors, share the fun of opening a box or two and support your LCS.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, CO. His column 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. 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].