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How the Trading Card Hobby Can Improve in 2023

Last Updated: January 3, 2023
The hobby is still riding a wave of renewed focus, and with it comes the opportunity to do more. It starts with transparency.

2022 was a turbulent year for the trading card hobby. The pandemic boom was followed by a crash back down to Earth for some high-value cards, though the hobby’s general trajectory is still positive. The rises of Joe Burrow, Lionel Messi, and others paint a rosy picture for 2023, and as we settle into the new year, it’s time to think ahead.

Here is how we would like to see the hobby evolve in 2023.

Transparency

It’s not just a term that you hear in the office or in politics; it’s something we’d like to hear more about in the hobby. Over the past year, we saw an explosive rise of #’d and retail SP parallels in every set that Panini, Topps, and others released, in addition to the assumed increased print runs from new people entering the hobby. Earlier this year, Topps Chrome Baseball had extended base short prints listed on the checklist but no one appeared to hit them. Topps gave a response and provided a great example of transparency, but the damage was already done, as the statement was released almost a full week after release.

It would be nice if the top brands would release print runs of every set, instead of forcing collectors to analyze the checklist and try and figure it out on their own. In Prizm Basketball, there’s non-numbered Prizm Red and Blue parallels that are rumored to be under 10, but the only way to truly know that is if the brands release the print runs. Until then, we have to rely on the population reports from grading companies such as PSA and Beckett. That can be unreliable as cards can be cracked and resubmitted due to unfavorable grades.

Condense the Sets

Increasing print runs of popular sets is fine, but when Panini and Topps do it for every set, it can oversaturate the hobby, causing individual card values to drop, hesitancy to open packs, and a steeper learning curve for new collectors.

Seeing over 15 sets to choose from is intimidating for anyone. There should be no more than six sets to collect for each sport or league every year: two high-end, two mid, and two low-end. Collecting sports cards doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Create One True Database

This is a huge task, but someone with a lot of time on their hands can do it. Instead of searching the Blowout Forums for an answer, it would be nice to go to a theoretical database and search for a card to find out which set it’s from, what insert is it, print run, etc.

The hours required for this to be a reality is more than a full-time job. Maybe Topps, Panini, and Leaf could join together to build this resource. Essentially, build out a Wikipedia for trading cards.

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Add More Crossover Events

We’ve seen a lot of people who collect sneakers cross over into trading cards over the last couple of years. Last year alone, we saw events like Culture Collision and MINT Collective take advantage of the crossover appeal of trading cards into other hobbies. Culture Collision is a massive sneaker and trading card show in Atlanta, while MINT brings in the business aspect of collectibles with workshops and speaker sessions.

Facilitate One-Stop Shopping

Breaking has increased in popularity and when you hit a big card, the first thing that comes to mind is “I need to grade it.” You then have to wait to receive the card, inspect it, and then send it off for grading. Whatnot started to provide this service for purchases made in the app. It would be cool if eBay and other platforms provided the same kind of service, lowering the possibility of the card getting damaged in shipping from the seller to you, then having to ship again to a grading company.

Create More Non-investment Content

The last couple of years we’ve seen an abundance of investment content when it comes to the trading card hobby. With the market cooling down, we hope to see actual content centered around stories behind the hobby — background stories on the most influential executives, stories behind certain sets, and more.

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