I’m starting this at 2 AM or so and I’m enjoying the background noise from the classic Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man as I relive some of my early 90’s viewing habit.
Since I work at my shop from 10 – 6 and then spend 9 PM – 1 AM back at the store cleaning up, prepping for tomorrow and trying to find product my collectors are looking for at something resembling a good price, this is about the only free time I enjoy each day.
It is one of those “careful what you wish for, you might just get it” moments as the shop has never seen the interest from collectors as we are seeing these days. Literally, I get into the store, pop the lights and open sign and hold on for dear life as collectors make their seemingly appointed rounds to rid my shelves of just about every box, especially those of the NBA variety.
I literally cannot remember a hotter time in the market and I go back to December of 1992. One day I’m running out of hot singles, the next it is wax and then supplies like 55pt top loaders and graded card savers that are even more popular as collectors are rush to get both their newest acquisitions graded and seek out the gems in their basements that might now also deserve to be slabbed.
It will be interesting to see how the return of actual baseball, basketball and hockey games affect things when live sports returns. I have a hunch that when the games resume, any player who has a good AB/quarter/period will have immediate returns and the boxes that hold their rookie cards might move faster than we have ever seen before.
Now to take a peek at what has been lighting up the cash register most often and making the shredders at my shop scream.
1) 2020 Topps Clearly Authentic MLB
Once again this affordable one encased autograph per pack plastic fantastic release delivers both active and retired players with oodles of low numbered parallels. Throwing in possible signed cards of Mike Trout, Ichiro, Rickey Henderson, Nolan Ryan, Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken and newer favorites like Bo Bichette, Nico Hoerner, Fernando Tatis Jr., and others has been enough to help my shop sell out of five cases of Clearly Authentic in less than a month.
Sadly we didn’t see too many OMG pulls, but being able to offer anything in a box for less than $75 compelled any number of my collectors to at least give it a try.
2) 19/20 SP Authentic NHL
Back for another year with two autographs per box and one autographed patch per eight-box case, SP yielded a few more gems than Clearly Authentic did, but the five cases I ordered are just as gone. As the NHL collecting season goes, Series 1 release day is always the strongest day, but SPA day is a close second for sure. Locally, the chase for Cale Makar autos and signed patches kept the buzz strong. Boxes were in the $129 range, but after checking prices it looks like we might have to bump a bit when they land.
3) 2020 Panini Legacy NFL
Legacy is back again after Panini revamped their Classics release at the end of the 2017 season. Boxes offer two autos per with 12ct inners delivering (usually) one Dare To Tear insert and the grand prize of a low numbered dual signed, dual relic card featuring two recent draft picks at a cost of $125-$145 per box.
While I’m enjoying the product and so are my collectors, it does come with a slight warning. I did a 24ct case break and it took close to three hours to KO. Being an early season release, it suffers slightly from the absence of NFL player photos, team names or logos. Fortunately when we did the break, we had some helpful friends who follow the draft about as closely as Mel Kiper and make the sort that much easier. I popped my last 12ct case tonight to offer up as boxes and something tells me that very soon, this release will closely follow the previous two into the land of sold out releases.
4) 2020 Panini Chronicles Draft Picks NFL
Panini goes back to back with the first ever Chronicles draft NFL release. Hobby boxes deliver three signed cards and one relic card and like all Chronicles releases, it is a Whitman’s Sampler of Panini releases that were not offered up individually.
Collectors can go for rookies of Joe Burrow, Tua, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and many others in the following sets; Absolute, Certified, Crown Royale, Donruss Optic, Donruss, Elite, Limited, Phoenix, Playoff, Prestige, Select, Spectra and if that is not enough, XR. Boxes are loaded with oodles of rookies in each of those different releases and this one has made for many a happy collector when they look at their take aways from this highly heralded draft class.
I’m down to two cases and with how they are heating up, they too might be headed to a permanent vacation.
5) 2020 Topps Finest MLB
As a shop owner back to 1992, I always have a soft spot for products that have been around as long as I have. Finest has offered the two mini box style for quite a few years and MLB fans have enjoyed the great rookie selection, killer parallels and of course, the autographs, for many years.
This year’s potential signed selection includes Mike Trout, Ken Griffey Jr, Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Kris Bryant, Shohei Ohtani, Chipper Jones, Hank Aaron, Mark McGwire and more. Sure there are 1/1 Superfractors out there and Ichiro is getting the Finest Careers insert set treatment. If it wasn’t for some recent restocking, I would have no more Finest on my shelf and collectors would be having to move on to something else on this list.
So there you have it, another installment of What’s Hot.
Looking ahead, it would not surprise me to see the return of Topps Sterling MLB, Donruss Elite NFL, Topps Museum MLB, Panini Chronicles NBA, Gold Standard NFL, Illusions NBA or Ultimate Collection NHL gracing the next What’s Hot next month. Please enjoy supporting your local card shops and be sure to pull some beasts between now and then.
I’ll try (and will fail since it is 3:30AM now) to rest up as I enjoy my weekly schedule of working the shop, offering personal box breaks on Sunday and Tuesday nights, a case break each Thursday night and my own personal card show each Saturday night as part of my Singles Nights. If you haven’t already, please follow Mike’s Stadium Sportscards on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube and for a good time, please enjoy my podcast, The Card Shop with my buddy Shawn.
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.