If there is one sore point for collectors as of late, its box content and return on the money they spend on any given box. I, for one, agree with them on this point if not only because of how many times I have gotten burned on an expensive box. The main thing that I always tell myself is that I have some extra insight into why box content is the way it is, but it is no less frustrating when I get $2 worth of hits out of a $100 box.
Most of this argument stems from two specific parts of the spectrum, not the parts that are displayed in every product preview from any of the companies that manufacture the cards. Scrub autos and 2 dollar jersey cards are the majority of the hits we get in each box, and I get the distinct feeling that there are more frustrated wax breakers than happy wax breakers at this moment. The question remains, how important are they to the content of a product?
In terms of jersey cards, I have to say that they are watered down to the point of nausea with a lot of people. I got some feedback that they do make some money for high volume breakers in some sports, but for one person opening one box, I fail to see the benefit. The benefit is perception of the box’s content for the manufacturer, as I know that there are still a vast majority of consumers who look at the 4 hits per box as a reason to buy in the first place. If those jersey cards were listed as normal cards, and the content was labeled as 1 autograph per box and nothing else, sales would plummet due to perceived value prior to purchase. It’s a tactic that prevents initial loss of sales, in my opinion, but actual value in the hits themselves are REQUIRED for the product to go UP in price after release. Otherwise, many of the boxes end up on Blowout’s daily deals for drastically reduced prices.
My take on Jersey cards?
They don’t belong in products that cost more than 85-90 dollars a box, unless there is an autograph also present on the card. Although they are relatively inexpensive to make, which I know is a driving force behind them, I would guess that using that money to improve other facets of a product would guarantee more long term value for the end user in breaking the box. Its not even close to the whole answer, but it’s a start, or at least worthy of some consideration. If the companies want to produce a lower end product, toss them in! When someone pays 50-60 bucks a box, they have a more prominent overall value in the grand scheme of things. As I have heard from retailer after retailer (online and LCS), it’s the long term pricing that affects their business the most, not the initial sales. Boxes never maintain value, so MSRP at cost for the sellers usually ends up being higher than eventual selling price to their consumers. Bad news bears indeed.
This brings me to the second thing, which is centered around the autograph content in any specific product. I am sure that most of you know that up to 40 rookies are invited to Los Angeles every year to build memorabilia and autograph content for the entire year. Its why Cam Newton and AJ Green are prominently featured in so many products, as are players like Bilal Powell and Jerrel Jernigan. If you examine past year’s crops of rookies, more than 80% of the players at the rookie premiere are out of the league before attaining any type of status. A mere 10% hold their status as a worthy player long term. That is not a good stat. However, when it comes to the scrub rookies in a product, the percentage of success is so low that I begin to question whether these cards have a place in the industry other than for money reasons (again, the driving force).
I completely understand that initial gains on products are why they are done the way they are, but unless long term value is also explored, we are going to have more problems than ever. NFL autos cost more than many of the other sports combined. Career life expectancy is also the shortest of any sport, and I know that is a contributing factor in the cost. Yet, if you asked 100 collectors, would they rather have 1 good auto every 4 boxes or 1 auto every box, I would venture a guess at results being more geared towards the previous – as long as one factor was changed. Box cost coming down to a reasonable level.
We could play the “would you rather” game all day long, but we aren’t the ones that should be asking the questions. It should be the manufacturers asking their production teams. It also means that production teams need to be composed of at least one person who knows their ass from their elbow in terms of the hobby side of things – not the money side of things. A marriage of the two sides is utopian, but a compromise of the two sides is reasonable.
Im not saying that scrub autos should go away. Its just that they shouldn’t be in every single product during the year. There has only been a handful of Brady, Romo and Arian Foster, and the reason their cards are as valuable as they are is BECAUSE they are so rare, not because of the production. If they were in every product, they wouldn’t be worth what they are today. Three to ten players over the course of TWELVE years does NOT give companies a pass. We should expect one or two products a year from each company that functions like Contenders or Bowman Draft in baseball. It should NOT be every product.
On the flip side of the token, Rookie Premiere player attendees need to be shrunk to avoid more Antonio Pittman, Jordan Todman, and similar from happening. I want autographs of Cam Newton and Christian Ponder, but Vincent Brown is a stretch. We either need the same amount of content from the good players spread out, or more content from the good players at a higher price. I would pay more for a box if I knew that my hit was more likely to be Julio Jones or a similar vet star than Edmund Gates.
Again, this is all discussion that isn’t tied to a budget, which I understand is my main problem – I am not in this industry, nor do I want to be. However, as a collector, I hope these are the discussions being had at the people who are.