Monday, June 10, 2013

Hobbynomics: On-Line Box Breaks versus Bay of E Shopping

I'm always trying to find the best way to collect for me.

Last year, I ordered a complete set of Heritage from a very well known Ebay dealer in lieu of buying boxes/blasters and completing the set via trades.   This option was low stress but it eliminated the act of set-building, something I actually enjoy.   The pay-off was supposed to be that I could very quickly dive in and enjoy my complete set.....but inevitably, I set it aside and continued working on the building of other releases.   My thought was, "I'll come back to this later."

I still haven't.

I purchased hobby boxes for two different releases last year, Gypsy Queen and Topps Update.   The Update jumbo box was a lot of fun to bust.   There were a lot of inserts and parallels that have made for some really good trade bait.   Not to mention, it also provided the biggest "pull" of my modern collecting career - so perhaps I'm a bit biased?   I still need to share that one with you guys.   If you follow me on le Twitter, you may have caught it in some tweets.....

The Gypsy Queen was a little off.   The guaranteed "hits" weren't as exciting as I had hoped for but a redemption auto allowed me to make back about 50% of the cost via a quick flip on Ebay.  

It was Eric Hosmer.   Whew!


The Update set is complete after acquiring a few cards from trades and I only need one more card to finish up the GQ base set.   That's pretty solid but this was also an expensive and risky route to go.   The "pull of a lifetime" is not guaranteed and if the collation is bad, you could be stuck with a pretty vicious 0-for-2 start to your collecting.   But that's the risk/reward of it all, yes?   I also have plenty of duplicates - anybody need anything?

This past week or so, I tried two more methods of madness - online box breaks (team AND random) of 2013 Archives and some specific player collection shopping on Ebay.   I'll get into the laser-guided PC shopping expedition in a later post!   For the Archives, I hooked up with a great outfit called Sports Card Breaks on Twitter (@sportscardbreak and utilized their services.   They run a great operation that was very fair, transparent and fun to participate in.   I highly recommend them if you want to give on-line breaks a try.   My first break with them was a 2-box random break, meaning that I paid for a quantity of "slots" and then all MLB teams were randomized.   For $16, I received the Giants and the Rockies.  


Hey, that's the nature of the best.   At least I was going to finally snag some Archives!   If any of the "hits" from the two boxes were from SF or COL, I'd be in luck - and if not, well, I'd have some great trade bait to send off to my Rockies and Giants fans trading partners.

Yes, Virginia - that's a HIT!

My second break allowed for me to select my teams so I went with the Yankees and Braves, of course.   As a Yankees fan, you're kind of doomed to have to fork over the most money of any team, as their high end pulls tend to be more valuable.   The Braves are a little better but the real deal here lies in the smaller market teams, in my opinion.   Of course, they are cursed by Topps' reluctance to issue cards for players on those teams outside of a star or two, so it can be a double-edged sword.  

All in all, I paid $16 for the two randomized teams and a total of $25 for the Yankees and Braves ($15/$10 split).   So, we're at $41 which is about half the price of a single box (just checked BIN offers on Ebay).   I think those prices are really fair.   Again, each break busted open two randomly selected hobby boxes.

So how did I do?

I still have to pick up my Braves and Yankees winnings from the post office, but I'm excited to check them out.   I am fairly certain that I completed the base card team sets for both of them - that would be a big relief.   If not, hopefully I can swap out the Giants and Rox cards to make them whole.   I think there were a couple of cool inserts as well, so those will be great additions to my team collections.

At $41, how many of the cards that I want from this set could I have claimed off of Ebay without any risk?   I like the Tall Boys insert, the #'d gold parallels and....that's about it.   The Fan Favorites autographs are also stellar!  

My latest findings after a quick and dirty search, including delivery:

$5 -     Braves Team Set (base)
$8 -     Yankees Team Set (base)
$5 -      Freddie Freeman Gold (#'d)
$4 -      Anthony Rizzo Gold (#'d)
$7 -      Jeter Tall Boy
$3 -      Anthony Rizzo Tall Boy
$1.50 - Robbie Cano
$4 -      Otis Nixon SP

Okay, so with about $3.50 to spare, I could have notched both team sets, picked up 3 inserts for my Player Collections and even added the Jeter, Cano and Nixon (love seeing Nixon on a card again!) to the team collections.

Should be in GQ Wall Climbers, too!

Tough call!

Yes, I have a lot of Archives cards right now that I don't need, but if one of those boxes had produced that Mickey Rivers Fan Favorite Auto or the Otis Nixon Auto.....well, they didn't.

Mick The Quick!

This shopping list doesn't look so bad, either:

$5 -        Braves Team Set (base)
$8 -        Yankees Team Set (base)
$11.20 -  Mickey Rivers Autograph (Yankees)
$7.50 -    Darrell Evans Autograph (Braves)
$9.99 -    Otis Nixon Autograph (braves)

414 HR's, people!

It's hard to argue with checking off your favorite teams' complete sets and also adding three certified, on-card autographs (in nice, vintage designs).    In the end, though, for all of this - it's still $40.   That's a lot of money out of a family's budget for some cardboard!   But if you ARE able to save up and utilize some petty cash for your collecting enjoyment, the question is how do you want to spend it - methods and pursuits.   I find this to be an on-going evolution for me.

Fortunately, it's mostly fun to figure it out along the way!

What do you guys think?   Anybody else like to participate in the on-line group breaks?   Do you stick to eBay shopping?   Or do you prefer walking into a hobby shop / retail and just picking up a few packs?   These are the questions :)

Thanks for reading!


  1. Love to break boxes but that usually is an expensive route. Also love the group breaks with people i trust (not sure to do these general ones, in case they have a big hit they may do another recording of another box with little hits). Ebay is the most efficient route but less fun and addictive and expensive ! Not sure what i prefer so will keep a healthy mix !

    1. Your answer completely agrees with my feelings - a little bit of everything until I can figure out what suits my collecting habits and budget - good luck with all of your breaks, though!

  2. I love opening packs. I like box breaks (Got a Yu Darvish auto in one), but I don't buy on Ebay anymore. I have sold a couple things recently, but I found the buying on there got out of hand for me so I quit cold turkey.

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