I was working at my shop on Monday and I realized that on one day, I was going to be able to watch the Nuggets play their first playoff game of the year, the Avalanche were taking a 2-1 lead into their playoff game against the Coyotes and the Rockies were starting a series with the Astros.
Fortunately sports cards have been a giant part of the ride and the rush is still on. Each new release is seemingly racing out the door upon arrival. Restocks are being welcomed like never before.
I’m getting over my deep regret of every single box I’ve sold since the middle of March and while we would normally be a few preseason games into the NFL season, the newest Panini pigskin offerings are still being received like Joe Burrow went for 384 yards with 0 picks in each of his starts we didn’t get to enjoy.
Now if we could have only found a way to get the Grizzlies and Pelicans into the playoffs…
Suffice to say the sports card tsunami is in full effect still. Recent promotions like Upper Deck’s Family Weekend and Topps’ National Baseball Card Day have helped card shops seemingly find the eight or so people who haven’t visited a store since March.
As usual, the issues for most shops involve finding enough product to go around and to not have to sell our souls to get sleeves, top loaders, the ever elusive graded card savers and seemingly every other holder that our countless collectors are clamoring for.
Given all this, there have to be a few releases competing for the Hot Five and here are my thoughts on the matter.
1) 2020 Topps Chrome MLB
Once again, shops are offering 2020 Chrome hobby boxes with 2 autographs and jumbo boxes with 5 autographs and with the interest in the current year rookie crop, this release was not only highly anticipated, but the response has been nothing short of amazing.
Rookie year autos include Aristides Aquino, Bo Bichette, Dustin May, Kyle Lewis, Luis Robert, Yordan Alvarez and loads of others. Just like flagship Series 1 and 2, there are variations, SPs and SSPs to supplement these popular signed cards. Of course there are Superfractors of seemingly every card, giving us all hope that we can land these ever popular 1/1 versions.
2) 19/20 Panini Illusions NBA
For those of you who didn’t know, Panini stepped up to offer hobby shops their own, exclusive NBA release this year. It didn’t go to consumers on its site. Breakers didn’t land hundreds of cases each. The big internet sellers didn’t have oodles of it upon release day either. After multiple years of success in the NFL field, Panini thought it would be a good idea to roll it out just in time for a few popular rookies to push it handily. It was so weird having collectors calling on release day after I sent out an email saying it had landed wondering if I was playing some sort of cardboard April Fools joke on them.
Boxes of 2019-20 Illusions basketball offer 1 autograph and 14 parallels in their 14 packs and 12 box cases. Yes, Zion, Ja, Bol (Not sue if I typed out his first or last name there are you?), Rui, Cam, Coby, Tyler and other rookies have signed versions and finding it on release day was a challenge only topped by trying to find it a week or so after release. You can check out eBay’s current box inventory and prices to see for yourself.
3) Upper Deck Goodwin Champions EVERYTHING
Well, Goodwin doesn’t technically have cards for “everything”, but it sure seems like it did. Starting off with autographs from the big names UD has as exclusives like Ben Simmons, LeBron James, Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. There were some big names like Jasson Dominguez, Joe Burrow, Ken Jennings (Yup, I like Jeopardy!) Megan Ropinoe (Who I wish had a dual auto with Sue Bird), Wander Franco and many more join MMA, Field Hockey, Chess, Strongmen, Surfers, Actors, Rappers, Writers, Musicians and more personalities in perhaps the quirkiest sets made each year.
4) 2020 Donruss Elite NFL
Elite football has an incredible track record if delivering some special inserts and autographs sets. It is also the set collectors wait for in order to enjoy the first set with the current crop of rookies in their pro uniforms. This year’s set had a bit more challenges since there was no Rookie Premiere photo shoot and an absence of training camps.
Boxes still offer 2 autographs and a relic card and have been flying since they landed in spite of rolling at close to $300 per box. Back again are the popular parallels like aspirations and status along with autographs like Back To The Future, Passing The Torch, Pen Pals, Turn Of The Century and more that collectors have learned to love.
Sure there are all the rookie signatures you would expect, but my favorites are the Elite Signatures featuring fan favorites like Bo Jackson, Mike Alstott, Brian Bosworth, Jack Youngblood, Robert Smith and Willie Roaf. Fine, Brett Favre, Joey Bosa, Andrew Luck and some other more conventional names also appear, but it is just fun to type “Roaf”.
5) 2020 Leaf Ultimate Wrestling
Yup, I will admit that I am a wrestling fan. I grew up with my uncle taking me to matches and my other job has allowed me to take in more shows and I give wrestling products their space on my shelves as well. Ultimate Wrestling boxes offer 5 or 6 signed cards and the checklist is seemingly a tribute to my childhood and more recent years as well.
If you think I liked typing “Roaf” before, wait until you get a load of these names – Brutus Beefcake, Koko B. Ware, Tony Atlas, Bret Hart, Jimmy Hart, Mick Foley, Rick Flair, Arn Anderson, Jesse Ventura, Eric Bischoff, Sid Vicious, Tito Santana, Colt Cabana, Tully Blanchard, Baron Von Raschke, Terry Funk (the true star of the movie Roadhouse), Goldberg, Edge and Dennis Rodman for good measure. Yes, my case landed and flew out the same day and I wish I could find more.
Looking ahead I can see next month’s potential hot products like Certified NFL, Ultimate Collection NHL, Stadium Club MLB, Immaculate Collection MLB, Bowman Chrome MLB, Allen & Ginter MLB and more will be vying for these coveted spots.
Thanks for giving this a read and please continue to support your LCS. The times are still challenging for many of them.
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.