Well, as the year comes to a close, I really never thought I'd be back collecting cards again. After doing it for nearly 20 years, I thought I was really done with that part of my life. After 5 years though, I dunno, boredom I guess, I decided to get back into the swing of things and collect once more. Even though I hadn't been gone that long, I quickly noticed how things have changed since the last time I collected. Here's just a few random thoughts on things I noticed in the hobby that definitely caught my eye.
I should've kept my Lebron's and MJ's- So I basically quit the hobby in mid 2012 and sure MJ cards were and have always been highly collectible and expensive, but man in the past 5 years they skyrocketed BIG time. 90's MJ stuff is insanely expensive and I guess it's due to the fact that it's been what 7 years since there's been any new MJ NBA licensed cards? Isn't that crazy that the biggest star in the history of the league hasn't had any new NBA cards in the last 7 years?! It really drives the demand up for his stuff. I'm not gonna say I had even a good MJ collection, but it was decent. I had some nice inserts of him and looking at the prices now, even for his mid end inserts, I'll probably never be able to fully get them back. My biggest regret though is selling my MJ Fleer Rookie. It was a BGS 7.5 that I bought for like $550 and sold for $600 when I got out. MJ rookies sell SUPER high now and a BGS 7.5 would probably now cost me over $1,000 EASILY. The same goes with my LeBron rookie stuff. I had a pretty decent LeBron Rookie collection and man cards like his Topps Chrome Rookie Card is like 4 to 5 times what I paid for mine when I first got it. I just wish I would've kept SOME stuff of theirs in hindsight.
The Evolution of Box Breaking- I'm going to sound like an old man but back in my day, we would only dream of opening up boxes of product. When I was kid, it was pretty much packs only, but it was also a lot more affordable than it is today. Now I know back in 2012, super expensive high end boxes existed, but for me I really hadn't opened a box a cards since probably 2004 or 2005. I went strictly the singles route and it's kind of the reason I got a little bored. The excitement of opening boxes and pulling something big always seemed to trump just going on Ebay and buying the single. As I look at today's landscape though, man it just seems more expensive then EVER and the sad thing about it is that it has turned into basically a glorified lottery. The value in most products is so minimal that it makes box breaking frustrating and almost pointless because companies nowadays like Topps and Panini have zero clue how to balance out value. It's either pure crap or you hit the mother lode, and guess what..you ain't hitting the mother lode most times. Box prices are insane even for "mid end". I mean mid end products are now considered boxes that are in the $100-$200 range or so!! That's CRAZY to me. I like how Hoops, which used to be as low end as you can get is still considered low end but is $75 a box! Just because Panini gives you two crap $1.00 autographs or junk jersey cards (Ok I know that even in 2012 jersey cards were already worthless, but fast forward 5 years later and they seem EVEN MORE WORTHLESS...which just shows how flooded the market is with these. Not even star players get you $10 nowadays, it's hilarious that PARALLELS are now more coveted than game used memorabilia cards) they justify the price. It's a $30 a box product basically, that gets priced at $75 bucks. I know eventually all prices go down, but you literally have to wait a few months if you want to bust some product at a reasonable price. One thing that has been a MAJOR part of card collecting that wasn't so much when I collected is Group Breaking. Me personally? I don't like it, but a TON of people do it and it's a reason Panini and Topps can keep producing overpriced junk because Group Breakers sell out breaks easily. I just don't get group breaks or people that have card shops break their personal boxes online. Isn't that part of the FUN?? Opening stuff yourself? In group breaks, you STILL pay an arm and a leg for a premium team and run the risk of getting squat. If you do a random team break..well you can get a crap team that doesn't give you hits. I dunno...just not my cup of tea but it's definitely not going away anytime soon, hell..it's what drives the hobby seems like!
The Exclusive Licensing: As I left the card market, Panini was in the beginning of their basketball monopoly that phased out UD and Topps. That was one of the big reasons I quit collecting because I wasn't really a fan of what Panini was doing. Well...now here we all and all the major sports have 1 sole producer of cards. Panini has both football and basketball, Topps has baseball, and Upper Deck has Hockey. It's crazy to me that when I very first started collecting cards you had literally dozens of card manufacturers per sport and now it's down to a single entity. I think it sucks and is more damaging to the card market than anything and it doesn't matter who it is, as long as there are Exclusive Licensing it will never get better. I'm not one of those who says "Panini sucks, UD should have the NBA" because to me, UD would have the SAME problem Panini has. UD would be the one producing 30 sets with more than half being worthless just because that's what the NBA wants. Panini isn't perfect, far from it, but competition is what's needed and we're probably never going to see that again.
Ebay Auctions/Fixed Price: The last and final thing that really jumped out to me was how small the number of actual auctions there on Ebay. When I was collecting, it just seemed like there were a ton more open auctions out there to browse. I mean I search Russell Westbrook open auctions and there's like only 300 total and since I like to just look for the day, it literally takes me like 20 seconds to browse all of them for the day. It seems to me a combination of what people are paying for product and EBay's fee system, people are just scared to lose money and would rather put up fixed auctions than take a chance on an open auction. So you see a TON of fixed auctions that have super ridiculous prices and maybe it's me being spoiled and lazy, I just don't have the time or patience to weed through them. I've tried negotiating with Fixed Price but most won't budge at all or don't answer. It's why this go around, I've turned more to busting boxes because they are easy and accessible. I dunno, maybe I'm wrong on this and it just seems like there aren't as many open auctions than before, but it sure as feels like it to me.
So all in all...how has it been being back? Even with all the changes and frustrations, I must say it's still fun to me and I'm still glad I made the decision to return to this crazy hobby. Here's hoping 2017 is just as fun!