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As a small-time collector, I am not in the hobby just to open cards hoping for a big hit so I can make a profit. I like to open boxes / packs of cards and see what I pull. When a new set of cards is released (mostly Rittenhouse Star Trek), I will buy a box and binder, and have a fun time opening the packs. If I like the cards and inserts, I might even buy a 2nd box a bit later.
Every now and then, I will go through some of my old binders, and decided it would be fun to open another box try to fill in some of my missing inserts, and maybe pull decent auto card or two. But as time goes by, it gets harder and harder to find older boxes available from dealers and the prices seem to keep going up. I realize it would probably be cheaper just to go to the auction sites and buy a complete insert set to fill things out, but to me, that takes the fun out of things (besides leaving me with the extra inserts that I got when originally opening boxes)
Do other small-time collectors have the same issue? Or do you buy multiple boxes (or a case) of cards, complete a set, sell the hits to try and make some money back, and then move on to the next set, never to think about the older sets again.
Do you simply buy a base set of cards, buy the insert sets, buy a few autos you like and again move on?
Or are you like me, who have a lot of binders full of base sets, and lots of partial insert sets that you would love to complete one day, but am not sure of the best way to do it while not simply spending money to buy the inserts missing and taking the fun out collecting
This does make me miss the Philly Non-Sport Show as I was usually able to find some old boxes and sort through trays of inserts and pick up a few cards for a reasonable price all while having fun
|Silver Card Talk Member|
I have some incomplete sets too. The one I think about most is Topps 75th. I could buy what's missing one at a time, but like you, I like to roll the dice and see what I get from a sealed box. I bought a box a few years ago and would like to at least come close to completing the main parallel set and pick up a couple of the other chase cards that weren't in the first box (test cards and certain autographs). Prices seem to have come down on various singles, though boxes have gone up, so waiting has worked for and against the collector as you've also noticed.
You can also post your extras in the trade area and maybe get at least one card you're missing for the price of shipping.
I am in the same boat as you. Finding good trade partners (and I have a handful) is really nice to help with the older sets. Finding boxes is a whole different adventure. I found a box of Marvel Flair two years ago for 30 bucks. While I had all but two inserts it was fun opening those packs again. There is an antique shop that has multiple boxes of Marvel Masterpieces 2 but they look like they have been crushed and for the price he is asking, no way! Now days ever antique/second hand store might have a box here or there but they price to the highest price they can find on the internet. So, it is a never ending search.
|Silver Card Talk Member|
I think my collecting evolution parallels AWR's close to 100%. I have a huge number of 4-inch binders with base sets, low insert sets, and sometimes incomplete medium insert sets. I haven't been a big collector of Hits, but more a fan of variety and the full stories told in base sets etc. When the trading community was full of people who had the same approach and had gaps/extras across many sets, that's where I hung out instead of buying a chase set from a casebreaker.
Really, the quest was much easier about 15 years ago. There were still remnants of higher print runs from the early to mid 1990s (before the trading card 'recession') and several sources of "consolidators" of unsold cases. Right after everybody populated the auction sites, the price competition was fierce and bargains (or even sales at original MSRP) were available. Gradually the supply got whittled down.
In the 00's I would complete 3-4 major trades a week across dozens of different sets. There were even a few trading "angels" who spent quality time collecting wants/haves lists from many people. They accepted cards they didn't need for themselves from one trader, just to package them to send to a different collector. (US and even international budget mail was cheap, too.)
With the propagation of 'hits', there are plenty of casebreakers who extended into minimaster sets, further discouraging my checking for boxes and feeding the thrill of opening packs. The trading community dwindled even more when dealers started focusing on high end cards for their revenue and dumped their excess base sets for next to nothing.
So, I don't even watch for opportunities very much any more. I search box/boxes with eBay "check other auctions" when one auction catches my attention. But more often or not I only see things I picked up in early years. I avoid partial insert sets because I'd want to complete them but don't have the time or opportunity to trade or buy singles. Very often I'd be satisfied stopping at a base set.
Where I do find occasional gems is for independent and small-volume cardmakers, from the 1980s onward. And smaller dealers with diverse inventories do still come into the auction-site jungle from time to time with offerings of leftover product. But for newer boxes/packs, the casebreakers do the work for me on big releases and I go to crowdfunding for the rest.
Auction searches for box/boxes also find boxed sets, which is a different theme. But it extends the chance of finding pleasant surprises if you were searching for older boxes of packs.
|New Card Talk Member|
I'm in the same boat. I love the idea of building a mini master set by opening boxes and packs but it's just not possible for many of the sets I want, even recent ones like Psych, JAG, or Parks and Recreation. I buy base sets cheap and slowly work on the insert sets. I need just one card to finish my Psych mini master set.
I bought two boxes of Starship Troopers on eBay last year but didn't come close to finishing any of the three insert sets. I didn't feel like buying box after box after box hoping to pull six or seven cards, so I bought singles on eBay.
Just the other day, I bought a bunch of Star Trek: The Next Generation movie base sets and inserts but still have holes. Some of the boxes are cheap, so putting together a base set wouldn't be hard, but the costs add up when you want to finish all the inserts.
I did try very hard to complete my Marvel Metal Fleer 1995 set buying sealed packs on eBay. Boxes are too expensive but I managed to get maybe 18-20 packs at a decent price over the course of six months or so. I was down to needing maybe eight cards and couldn't keep spending $5-6 a pack hoping to find those cards. I had to buy singles on eBay to finish the set.
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