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Hobby Chatz Year-End Bonanza

Happy new year! It’s always the best time of the year, when 2023 releases are still on the calendar as we enter the unknown that is 2024. I wish everyone a happy card collecting in 2024 as we all watch the hobby market make massive shifts under the current management structures.

This writer enters 2024 a bit iffy on what the future brings as a collector. 2023 was the year I made the fewest hobby-related purchases since I got back into collecting in 2019. Retail prices are up at least 25% on most blaster boxes, making any hobby box under $110 a better purchase financially as long as there is the guarantee of multiple hits.

That’s not what I wanted when I got back into the hobby. My college roommate and I were making our weekly jaunt to the local rural Ohio Walmart (the yogurt I like is double the price here in Chicago) and we’d end our journey by checking out the card rack. 

Now, I’m not sure if you all remember card racks before the pandemic but they were the best.

You’d have multiple retail options of the recent releases and there were even clearance packs, many of which I should’ve bought (cough, 2018 Topps Update Series, cough), readily available for under $19.99 or less. All you find now in these sections is a quick way to spend $30 on 20 NBA cards or the “affordable” Leaf Draft Picks where you have to pray your autograph subject isn’t the fourth-string running back at a FCS school. 

All of these factors have made this collector shift toward exclusively buying singles of subjects I feel have a chance to make it big. I derive so much more enjoyment in the hobby out of getting what I want instead of hoping for the best and ending up with a disappointing box of Topps Update Series. 

I would like to think the changes to the hobby would help bring down the prices going forward, but once card prices go up they never come back down. So for me, 2023 marked the end of retail being a viable option for collectors.

Anyways, here’s the rest of Hobby Chatz 10 

2023 Topps MLS Chrome: pretty, pretty good.

Topps/Fanatics followed up their November release of the 2023 flagship Major League Soccer product by releasing 2023 Topps Chrome MLS just before the new year. Much like the flagship set, the main attraction 2023 Chrome MLS are the Lionel Messi cards. 

The Messi options lack an autograph but the set actually has inserts of the Argentinian superstar that were sorely lacking in the flagship product for 2023. Options for Messi in 2023 Topps Chrome MLS are as follows: base #58, base holiday variation #58, base image variation #58, Big City Strikers #BCS-7, Pearlers #P-22, Let’s Go #LG-4 and Topps Chrome Layers #TCL-5. That’s a lot better than the three Messi options that were available in the endlessly delayed MLS flagship product and you can get an autograph from Messi’s baggage handler Sergio Busquets. 

The non-Messi options in the Chrome offering has a far greater autograph subject list than the flagship product despite only promising a single autograph in each hobby box. Wayne Rooney, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Frank Lampard are among the legendary former players that have autograph options, which is far better than this writer expected in the product.

It’s also noteworthy that MLS players are actually promoting the Chrome product on their social media platforms, something I didn’t see when MLS flagship was released in November. 

There are plenty of rookie subjects who will hold value long-term (how they didn’t include Chicago Fire GK Chris Brady blows my mind) from clubs around the league, allowing collectors to make long-term investments in this product. If that isn’t your speed, then please send this writer all of your Brian Gutiérrez rookie cards.

Thank you

I’ve now contributed ten articles to Hobby News Daily and I cannot thank all of you for taking the time to read my mental meanderings. Here’s to more fun in 2024!


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