I have been back in the hobby for almost a year now. I have seen and learned so much in that time. I wanted to put together a monthly article to help new/old collectors approach the overwhelming retail market. Finding retail products that you can buy under market value… is becoming extremely hard. I am not promoting flipping but will not judge you if that is your thing. I like to open the product that has value. So should you. 🙂
If you find a box of NBA prizm, most would gravitate towards flipping as those are an insane 480-500% value on the retail price of $20 as they are currently selling for $90-$100 per blaster box. The retail market is strong, I have seen numerous pictures of people taking pictures of empty shelves and I want to help you not walk by a card section and miss a buying opportunity. I made many mistakes early on when I was unsure and overwhelmed. I remember leaving 18-19 NBA Prizm packs as I wasn’t interested in basketball at the time, I left 13 Topps 2018 series 2 fat packs as I was trying to slow down my spending. I am sure a Ronald Acuna Jr Bat down RC was in there.
This monthly article is intended to help you out and make sure you make good sound decisions when you are in your local retail store.
I am going to approach this as straight-forward as I can…and categorize into 3 categories: Must Buys, Avoids, and Sleepers to keep in mind.
For this section, I am going to break it into two sections. Newer products within the past year, and older products that could still be laying around.
2019-2020 NBA Prizm
This is the hardest to find but the hottest commodity out there in the retail world. Every retail aspect of this product (cello packs, hanger boxes, blaster boxes, Mega Boxes Target + Wal-Mart) are all nearly worth 5 times the value you pay in a retail store. The NBA RC class is so deep this year that the product holds good value throughout and is driven by Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. Currently, they are a very rare find, but if you get lucky, make sure to take advantage. If you hit a base Zion or JA you have already won, not to mention if you hit pull a Silver. For individual prices check out the Silver Pricing Ladder:
2019-2020 NBA Optic
Optic was very similar to Prizm in that it flew off the shelves almost immediately. It’s not quite at the same value as Prizm but is still highly sought after across the hobby. Its value is almost double what you would pay for at the retail store. For example a $20 blaster box most recently sold for $37. Again, this year’s basketball product is really strong with rookie talent, and the optic holo and color variations are the chase in Optic. If you see Optic, it’s a great grab. For individual prices check out the Pricing Ladder:
2019 Topps Series 2 Baseball
2019 Topps Series 2 has the makings to be as strong if not stronger than the 2018 Topps Update. It was a sleeper of mine for the past few months and I have been buying any I could find. It has 4 major rookies in it with Fernando Tatis Jr, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Pete Alonso, and Eloy Jimenez. Vladimir Guererro Jr’s No Number Rc is considered by many as his first RC card and most coveted base RC. It is selling anywhere from $40-$50 raw right now with a gem being around $230. All 4 rising superstars have a great chance to increase in value. Blaster boxes of the product are 150% of the original retail price selling for $30. If you see Series 2 sitting around grab it now, it is even a potential hold as the MLB season starts to unfold.
For this section, these are products that could still be laying around but are harder to find because they have been on the shelves longer. If you get lucky to find one in the back of the clearance rack, snag it!
2018 Topps Update
As mentioned earlier, this product exploded with three young superstars making a huge impact on the 2019 season. Ronald Acuna Jr, Juan Soto, and Gleyber Torres are massive players in the hobby and bringing a lot of value for their base rookie cards. Shonei Ohtani is also in the product with an RC card and could have a big year this year and would make the product go even crazier. Even Shane Beiber has some value in the product as a pitcher. This one is found in obscure places as well, check your local Party City, Big Lots, and even random book stores could have a few. If you find some it is a big-time score.
2018 NFL Prizm
This product is hard to find, but I have run into a couple of Red White and Blue packs that were laying around. You might even find a stray blaster box if you are really lucky.. This product is jam-packed with QB RCs, recent MVP Lamar Jackson, then Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Sam Darnold. There is a lot of value to be had with this product outside of QB’s as well….i.e. Saquon Barkley. Market value for the blasters is $52 per box ….so more than double the retail price. Value packs are worth exactly double their retail selling price from $10 to $20.
2018-2019 NBA Prizm & Optic
These two products are another rare find. If you find it, it will be worth your money. Don’t even think twice. Five cello packs recently just sold for $116 on the Prizm side…, which is over $23 per. They are originally $10 per pack. This product is driven by Luka Doncic and Trae Young but gets additional value from Michael Porter Jr and others. Luka is a main chase in the NBA world with his well-rounded game, so any retail shots you have to snag his base rookie or even silver you have to take it.
2018 Topps Series 2
2018 Topps Series 2 seems to be available to find more often than others. It has two chases, the SP Bat Down Acuna RC, and the Horizontal SP Gleyber Torres Rc. Those two cards carry a lot of value and both can be considered the first rookie for each. Outside of those two, there isn’t much. It is an all or nothing type of buy. But I’d absolutely rank it as a MUST buy.
I wanted to give you a couple of products to avoid / save your money on….. It is fun to buy cards, but even more fun to buy cards you have a chance with hitting big cards in….
2019 Topps Series 1 Baseball
Unfortunately Topps 2019 Topps Series 1 was an awful product for the hobby. With no rookies to chase or any overly impressive autograph cards, the product is essentially worthless on value. Its only allure is for those set builders that want to get the complete 2019 set, which I also enjoy doing. This product has close to zero upside. I wouldn’t even consider 2019 Topps Series 1.
Panini Prizm Baseball Cards
Panini still does not have an MLB license and in turn, their cards overall don’t hold much value. It would be nice for another brand to challenge Topps and Bowman but right now, that isn’t the case right now. It is frustrating because if you are collecting for PC purposes, the cards overall are pretty cool outside of not having MLB logos on them. In terms of investing they don’t carry much weight. If you want to open cards purely for entertainment and not look up their value, then go for it, but if you want to get some cards that will hold long term value you should simply avoid Prizm Baseball.
These are a few products that aren’t quite “MUST” buys…but if this is all you have…then I’d be taking a shot!
2018 Topps Series 1
I have been a strong advocate for this set for some time, through facebook rooms, twitter, discord. Most dismiss it in 2018 because Acuna is in Series 2 and Update. However, this set has its special place in the hobby as well. It has my number one target currently in Rafael Devers it also has my number one break out player in Victor Robles. With those two I am happily buying this off the retail shelf, but besides them, there is also Ozzie Albies, Jake Flaherty, and Walker Buhler who move the rookie needle for me. If you read my top offseason buys you will understand why I like this product so much. This product is often found on clearance so be patient with it in terms of retail. However, you can get a jumbo hobby box (I just did) for $70 which is also a great deal but it is starting to rise a little bit in price.
2019 NFL Prizm
Overall, the 2019 NFL RC class was underwhelming to most in the hobby. However, there are still quarterbacks to chase. Kyler Murray is the obvious chase and Daniel Jones even has value. You also have Drew Lock, Garnder Minshew, and Dwyane Haskins as potential starters next year to fall on. Lastly, with Tom Brady’s departure, Jarret Stidham has some appeal. The non Qbs are fun as well with Josh Jacobs, DK Metcalf, AJ Brown, Marquise Brown, and Terry McLaurin. This product had two tough years to follow behind it but year two could show some progress with QBs and give it some more value to watch. Check out this recent 2019 NFL Prizm Pricing Ladder for RC prices.
** Since I wrote this 2019 Prizm Football has exploded in value. Listen to this podcast to hear me give my reasons.*
2019 Topps Update Series
This product has started to sell above retail value, but if none of the steals are available this product still has a lot of opportunities. It has two key rookies with Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Keston Hiura to chase who both have SP and SSP rookies in the product. It also has Cavan Biggio. It is a relatively deep product on already productive rookies, so keep your eye on it and it’s a good buy at current cost of retail as the Hobby/Jumbo boxes continue to climb in price.
2019-2020 Draft Picks Prizm
Originally I was going to put this on my avoid list but after further research, it has reached a value of $30 for a blaster box which is $10 above the retail price of $20. To me, this simply is an illustration of how strong basketball is in general. Any type of color or parallels of Zion or JA is worth going for. College products generally don’t hold value and compared to the NBA prizm it doesn’t compare but it is having value here based on what you would pay to take it home. If you can’t find the NBA must-buys and want some basketball, go for it.
Retail raiding should be a fun experience especially if you know what you are looking for. I hope you can use this article as a guide as you hunt. Share with me on twitter your finds at @tbanker28. I generally enjoy seeing different retail card setups and options. Have fun & best of luck!