Has the Hobby vs Retail Argument Changed?

When I first started this blog, I could not understand why people bought retail cards, especially from hit focused products. Although I still do not condone buying retail in most cases, it’s a VERY different animal these days, as opposed to the flat and terrible products it used to have.

In the past, I had a rule, and I still follow it now, with a few exceptions. Usually, I wont buy a retail product unless it has Chrome somewhere in the set, especially for products that can easily be purchased at a hobby store or online retailer with much better auto and relic odds. 2010 Bowman is a great example of why it is almost a better idea to buy the retail product in every case, as the hobby boxes are so expensive, that the Target blasters are already worth the 20 dollar purchase price if you can find them. Not only is Stras readily available in retail, but the USA cards are easier to pull than in hobby, as are a few other things. The bad thing is that there is no prospect autos, but with prospect auto prices for people not named Heyward or Strasburg dropping, giving them up isnt a deal breaker for anyone.

Chrome for football isnt bad as well, as the base cards do have some value, even though the hobby boxes are much better shots for the autos. Retail Chrome also has the blue refractors and xfracs in the packs, where hobby does not, so to collect those player rainbows, retail is a given in many of our conquests. Plus, the rack packs do deliver a few more cards for a comparable price to hobby packs, and you can pick some up with the diapers you have to get every other day.

Ginter is another exception to the rule, especially because so many people collect the base cards more than the relics or autos. You can also pull Stras minis from it, and the autos and relics have okay odds in the blasters, so its not a bad idea to try one for 20 bucks. 7 packs with a bunch of cards, including retail only minis lead to some pretty good results for set collectors.

Despite the success of the Chromes, not every blaster is created equal. Panini released blasters of the much improved Elite product from this year, but the price is absolutely ridiculous. For a guaranteed hit, you have to pay 30 dollars, even though most of the time the hits arent even worth what some of the base cards are valued at. I think a lot of the people who buy the blasters would much rather pay 20 bucks with lesser hit odds, as long as more of the numbered parallels are included. I know I definitely would, if I were collecting the sets.

It still remains a complete moronic move to buy any lose packs at any place if you are looking for hits, because Pack Searchers still stupidly search out the packs with the 2 dollar hits in them. Im not sure why anyone would buy retail for this reason, but Im sure it still happens. I think its funny that pack searchers still exist because of how common jersey cards have become, but they still do it and do it A LOT. Stick to blasters and you wont have this problem.

All in all, I would never buy retail unless I had something to gain from it that could not be obtained through hobby means, like in the case of 2010 Bowman, or even in the case of the success people were having with 2009 Topps Platinum football. Because online retailers can get you practically anything you want, even if there isnt a local shop in your area, wax breakers who bust for hits should not even think about buying packs at target. Yet, as with anything, there is always an exception, its just a matter of finding the exceptions to exploit.

Why Topps Retail Chrome May Be Better Than Hobby

Topps Chrome has always been the exception to the Hobby vs Retail debate, at least in my mind. I never think buying retail is even close a good idea, unless its something that is offered more efficiently in retail, or more cost effectively. When it comes to buying products outside of chrome, the good hits are at ridiculous odds instead of favorable, you usually pay a ton more for a lot less (in terms of hits), and the cards are even different sometimes. I am familiar its a little different for people who are out to collect the sets, but even then, hobby packs can usually live up to an beyond anything retail can offer.

With Chrome, its completely different. In addition to being able to pull all the normal types of cards from hobby, they have also added the Blue Refractors and XFractors to the product. The Blues look and sell great, and are even worth more than the coppers for some players.
Speaking of the coppers which come 2 per hobby box, those are available as well in retail, along with the blues and regular refractors as well. Paying 20 bucks for a blaster may actually net you some nice hobby cards, as well as an auto or some of the retail exclusives. Instead of paying 65 for 1 auto and 2 coppers, you are instead paying 20 bucks for 3 blues, 3 x fractors, 3 regular refractors, a copper (usually), and a possible auto, all which sell better than the hobby config. Considering that most of the autos in chrome sell for under 10 bucks, its not a big deal to give them up for the possibility of the other cards.
On top of all of this, the retail packs seem to be doing very well on the boards, and even here on SCU. I have bought 1 blaster and 3 fat packs, and I have ended up with a Sanchez copper and a Stafford xfractor among others. Those two cards alone have paid for my stuff. I have seen people pull black autos, gold autos, and regular autos aplenty over on blowout too, which only adds to the fun.
Im going to be picking up some more, as I think this year’s chrome is the best in years. Its the first time I have actually bought retail over hobby.