We’re entering one of my favorite times of the sports year. It is the harmonic convergence of all four sports at once which happens, well, once a year. Yup, regardless of which of the four biggies you follow, this is a special span. That extends to the sports card scene as well with some OMG releases having just hit and the next few weeks offering up some products that we similarly wait 365 days for.
At my shop, we have been loading up on autograph sessions in between selling cases, boxes and singles. Granted, the Broncos aren’t exactly top of the heap these days, but we hosted rookie RB Phillip Lindsay a week ago, Adam “Pacman” Jones this past Saturday and this weekend, Super Bowl Champion LB Shane Ray will be gracing the shop. Between the first two, the rookie had the longer line and it will be interesting to see whether Shane and his ring will top the rook who has a short supply of autographs on the market.
Looking ahead, there’s a gaggle of cool promotions about to hit: Panini Black Friday, American Express Small Business Saturday, National Hobby Shop Day and (hopefully) the annual free Topps and Upper Deck holiday giveaways will roll out soon. I feel like a kid approaching Christmas with all these hobby gifts popping at once.
In the meantime, I have been fortunately moving a good number of boxes as well. Since this is supposed to be about What’s Hot, how about we chat it up on what my collectors have been busting?
1) 2018 Bowman Chrome MLB – How could I offer up a hot list without Bowman Chrome leading the way? Topps did what Left Twix and Right Twix could not do: offer up two distinct releases that appeal to different styles of shredders. Whether you like the standard style which offers two mini boxes with six packs per and two autographs or the HTA Cliff Note style with three signed cards, Topps has your hook up.
Sure there are the known commodities like Ohtani, Hoskins, Andujar, Buehler, Acuna and others, but there is the “plant it in the ground and wait two years” players that we can’t wait to pick. Either way, both styles are being well-received and now it’s a matter of how much to plant myself and wait for the players to “grow.”
2) 2018 Panini Illusions Football – Sure this brand doesn’t have the rich tradition that some of the other products have, but last year’s went over well and the 2018 rookies are nothing to sneeze at. This year, Panini offered several shops the chance to host a sneak preview the Friday before it was released and I literally spent three hours straight busting boxes for football fans five days before most were able to even see it live.
The ten-pack style with a box topper autograph was once again well received and we went through our two cases very quickly. It wasn’t just the hits, though. Panini packed this release with loads of inserts and low numbered parallels as well.
3) 2017/18 Upper Deck Splendor Hockey – While it was due in April (perhaps that is a Mikey Award preview) but actually didn’t arrive until the start of the current season, it seemed that the wait only made puckheads want it all the more. Seeing collectors pop boxes and cases showed me how much Upper Deck crushed it.
The checklist is ripe with the skaters that everyone knows and it seems that UD also saved some of the most excellent possible patches for this release. There’s a great mix of current and retired superstars along with the ’17-18 rookie crop to choose from and I’m ready to start using my second-hand to count all the Gretzky autographs I have seen pulled.
4) 2018 Topps Heritage Minors– Drawing on the popularity of the Heritage brand seems to work once a year for this product. Topps really figured it out last year when they dropped it to 18 packs and made the boxes more affordable. Heritage Minors boxes still offer great value with one autograph and one relic card at a very affordable price. These have a trend of running hot when some of the players inside start to emerge. We started our boxes for well less than $60 and those initial prices are probably not going to be seen again anytime soon.
Beyond the two hits per box, there are also the short prints and variations just like the big league version offers (you can check out some pulls and boxes here). Throw in some low numbered parallels and this minor league release is a major seller at my shop.
When you pop one, you get a new card of a prospect (all I have seen at least) and then another single that Brian Gray has snagged either in person or with his active singles hunt I see him offer online. It is always fun seeing what he has bought to fill these “Best of” products and I’ll be honest when I say if he ever wants to hire me to be his personal singles card buyer for this release, I might take him up on that. Imagine the fun of having a big bankroll to go out and buy cards you think would be great fun for collectors to pull. Yeah, I can handle that for sure and my collectors are sure digging the more affordable price that BOB was offered for this year.
So, there you have it. That’s what is rolling best at my shop, but the next few days or weeks will bring some other intriguing products to the shelf – 2018 Topps Five Star MLB (just arrived Wednesday), 2018 Panini Phoenix NFL, 2018 Panini Prizm NFL, 17/18 The Cup NHL, 17/18 Flawless NBA, 2018 Topps Triple Threads MLB, 2018 Immaculate NFL, 2018 Topps Dynasty MLB, 18/19 Upper Deck Series 1… and more. I can only hope that my collectors have gotten promotions at work or know of places that pay well for plasma. We’ll be busy.
Be sure to visit you LCS for the promotions and products I mentioned above and I hope all your boxes are loaded with nothing but fire.
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].