Monday, June 23, 2008

Five for Fighting

After reading this blog for the few months its been in existence, you may think that I hate the way the hobby is heading. You are pretty much 100% correct, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think that it is a bad time to get involved in collecting cards. I think collecting SOMETHING, whether it is cards, comics, stamps, or whatever is a great way to spend time away from your work or school, and I think that collecting cards is one of the better ways to do it of those mentioned. The reason is pretty simple, as most employers gravitate towards sports and the world of sports, one can gain a great knowledge of that world by starting up a card collection. I cant count the number of times my card expertise has helped me make connections at work. Because my job deals with each and every state in the union, talking to the clients about their favorite team/player is a great tactic. I can thank my love of football and baseball cards for that.

With that, here are two top five lists on why I think it is the best time to get into the hobby, and also the worst time.

Top 5 Reasons Why It Is a Great Time to Start Collecting Cards

1. eBay

Ebay has allowed every collector access to almost every card out there at any possible time. It has also provided us with a way to determine price without looking at some douchebag's idea of what a card is worth in a monthly publication. It has become the stock market for sports collecting and has shrunk the hobby expanse into one singular website where you can find exactly what you want at market price at any time. It also gives people access to those 1/1s that normally wouldn’t see the light of day, and makes show dealers who price gouge collectors almost obsolete. There is a dark side to everything, but ill get to that later.

2. Wide Range of Products

Today, unlinke the golden age and silver age of collecting, you have a ton of products to choose from when deciding what box/pack to buy. If you want to spend $500 bucks, there are products out there for you, just like those of us who want to spend $1.00. Each product has different sell points and features, and you no longer have to buy a product just to collect the base set. With so many options out there, it has also benefitted the collector in mid range products because the companies will fight to give you the most bang for your buck. Products that once had one hit for the hundred bucks, now will have three to make sure they can compete with the other products at the same price point. Believe it or not, we benefit.

3. Blogs

Thanks to the interweb, collectors now have other sources for hobby news that don’t stem from people that accept money from the manufacturers themselves. People like Chris Harris have been braving the blogosphere for 10 plus years now, and he has yet to sell out to Topps and UD - as far as I know. Other blogs like this one, Wax Heaven and others have taken it upon themselves to make sure that the wool is not pulled over our eyes without a fight - making it harder for the donkey rapers and scam artists that litter this hobby to get one over on people. Thanks to the blogs, card companies realize that the collector is not silent any more, and have actually made strides to please us by instituting ways to contact them other than through customer service. Also, it seems that some companies actually send their reps to read the blogs, even if they may publish disparaging remarks. I know for a fact that this blog is read by the three biggies, without a doubt. Thanks sitemeter!

4. YouTube

Ever want to see what it is like to bust three cases of Exquisite? Done. Ever want to see what a product is like before you bust it? Done. Thanks to YouTube, collectors now have a haven where they can show the ups and downs of the box break and show other people what they have been wondering for years prior to its creation. Dr. Wax Battle has been filming breaks since at least 2005, and his videos are watched by thousands. His customers have become the stars, while the products are shown in a raw state with no interference from the producers themselves. Chri5784 has also created a way to see the products opened through his store, Cards Infinity, and even offers ways for people to have their boxes opened on camera by purchasing the boxes online. This would be higher, but the Joe Collectors have taken it upon themselves to make YouTube more of a burden than a blessing.

5. The Companies Actually Listen

Since I have gotten back into the hobby a few years ago, a lot of bad things have changed for the better. Redemptions are no longer taking 2-3 years to fufill, UD is going to let collectors choose replacements online rather than having it randomized, DLP is authenticating patches from their products with a special technology, and more and more auto cards are becoming on card rather than stickers. You know how all of this happened? Collectors from blogs, message boards and other venues have all said how much the above makes us fucking pissed off. For all the bad things that are STILL going on, its good to see that some of them listen to us.

Top 5 Reasons Why It Is a Horrible Time to Start Collecting Cards

1. eBay Scams

Due to the faceless transaction created by eBay, it has become commonplace for people to scam others by a number of ways. Whether it is trimming cards to make them seem like they are in better condition than they are, resealing crap autos and jerseys into packs and calling them "hot packs," or inserting fake patches into cards to make them more valuable, it is no longer 100% safe to buy anything anymore. Personally, due to this fact, I wont buy from overseas, I wont buy ridiculous looking patches unless it is obvious that they are real, and even PSA/BGS cards make me think twice now. It sucks how many people there are that take advantage of others. What sucks even more, is that the more money the scam artists make off the Joe Collectors, the more likely they are to continue, and the more likely eBay is to do nothing due to their own interests in the deal. For shame…

2. Card Companies and Hobby Authorities Using Our Mediums Against Us

If you think that blogs and YouTube are a blessing, you are only partially correct. Thanks to these mediums, people like the manufacturers have the ability to peddle their products and make it seem like they are giving us what we would normally get from a regular non-affiliated collector. Beckett and UD consipired to shit out the worst thing to happen to the hobby in years with their awful staged Exquisite break on YouTube, that made it seem like what they got was actually possible for all us regular people out there. Most of the Joe Collectors thought it was all 100% luck, and therefore Beckett and UD accomplished their goal. Beckett also has a blog and a message board where "collectors" can go and speak their mind. What most people don’t understand is how much the manufacturers are actually involved. It is no longer a collectors voice like it used to be.

3. Graded Cards

Ebay created a necessity for collectors to know what they were getting in terms of condition without actually looking the card over themselves. Who were the first people to jump on that idea? Why, Beckett of course! They turned condition into a business by starting to grade cards that were submitted to them by collectors. The problem? Well, despite selling their own graded cards for profit, Beckett created a way for more and more people to make this hobby into a business venture. High graded cards have started to carry an enormous premium, and there are thousands of collectors out there who believe there is no marketing element involved in letting a third party grade cards. Not many people question the grades from BGS and PSA, but they should. The cards are not looked over as thoroughly as you would expect, and the bigger the order, the less time is spent on each card. Another way Beckett screws you over.

4. The Dumbing Down of the Joe Collector

Most of the bad things about the hobby are easier to spot than a black guy at a Knicks game, yet the Joe Collectors out there are getting dumber by the day. Every single day I see posts on the message boards or I get emails from people who just don’t get it, or refuse to get it. My favorite are the latter. They refuse to believe that they are being scammed or had, and even when presented with overwhelming evidence, they couldnt care less. I documented their life in my post earlier, so please check that out before going any further here. Plus, they have more money to spend than ever because they think that card collecting is the best possible way to make money. Forget stocks or gold, they want jerseys and autos and they wont stop until their PC is filled with "Sick MOJO cardz!"

5. The Card Collecting Kids We Grew Up As Are Pretty Much Dead

Cards are a multi billion dollar industry for the people involved, and they are no longer focused on bringing in the kids we once were. The average box price has jumped almost 80 dollars over the last 10 years, and the average pack price is no difference. Since the way cards are produced is changing, the people who collect are changing too. Of course, the old school guys are still around, but many of them are as old as your father, or are fathers themselves. You used to be able to buy the best pack on the market for your week's allowance and still have a shot at the big boys. Forget it now, those days are over


  1. One of the pluses that you mention actually kind of bothers me - the wide range of product available.

    But instead of a comment, I think I'll write my own blog entry as a counter-point.

  2. I can understand where you are coming from, but I actually think its a good thing in the long run. We may not be able to collect EVERY SINGLE card of our favorite player anymore, but I think this day and age is better than the 3 product per year past.

    My opinion though.

  3. Gellman,

    I have been reading your blog for a long time now, and I must say this is one of the best posts I have read anywhere on any blog. Keep up the good work!


  4. Wow, thanks Jim, just doin' my thang.

  5. Top notch post yet again! Although I agree with William. I don't think the ever expanding product line is a good thing. I think the old 3 set rule was better. But then again I still play with Colecovision so take it with a grain of salt.