There are factions within the card collecting hobby that stick their noses in the air in regards to retail baseball packs and boxes. Others love retail, whether out of convenience or affordability.
I love both. When it comes to most releases, I side with hobby (Topps Series 1, Topps Heritage, Allen & Ginter for example).
First, what’s the difference between retail boxes and hobby boxes? Great question. Retail does not always include all of the parallels and variations of a product. The odds of “hits” are also much longer.
Seems simple, then. Hobby is better than retail. Well, not exactly. First off, it all depends what cards are in your box of either hobby or retail. That makes a big difference in what collectors prefer. If you buy a hobby box here or a retail box there, you might get a dud.
A major factor is the return on your investment. That sounds too business-like for a card hobby, but you must consider how much money you spend on a product, even if it’s just your hobby. The more money you can save on cards, or other parts of the hobby means more money in the budget to buy more.
Today we are talking about Bowman as it’s a recent release and a very popular product. It’s one of my favorites (top three with Heritage and Allen & Ginter). Usually I buy cases of my favorite products, but beginning in 2018 Bowman soared in price. I had to the retail route.
Right now, a hobby box of 2019 Bowman will set you back $150 on Blowout Cards, typically the cheapest online option for wax. One hobby box will get you one autograph. And if you’re buying just one box the odds of pulling an autograph worth anywhere close to $150 (or even $100) are about as good as me starting at second base tonight for the Chicago Cubs. Okay, your odds are slightly better.
One hobby box will get you a total of 240 cards. For that same price, you can buy six blaster boxes at Target or Wal-Mart and have money left over for supplies, or even a seventh blaster box.
For today’s excercise I went with six blaster boxes, because that’s all I could find (out of three Target stores). By the way, six blaster boxes runs less than a hobby box and it nets me 432 cards. So, if you’re a set builder no doubt you should buy retail.
I’ll admit, if you’re chasing the hot autograph (Wander Franco in this year’s example), you should buy hobby. But, for me I love the Bowman product, enjoy the gamble, love ripping packs, and of course keep the Cubs for myself. Here’s the results of my six blasters, again costing less than a hobby box.
My first pack had this…
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 30th Anniversary green Refractor 94/99
Paper Autograph James Marvel
Blue Shimmer Refractor Dustin May 50/150
Purple Refractor Jon Duplantier 26/250
Purple Estevan Florial 90/250
Blue Paper Max Scherzer 304/499
Blue Paper Aaron Nola 117/499
The results aren’t amazing, but these are pretty good hits for retail. And, I received 200 more cards and spent $25 less than a hobby box. My advice: Buy Bowman retail. It’s not worth the money chasing down a big, elusive hit in hobby.