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For the love of God, I hope they’re not eating the gum.

§ March 19th, 2018 § Filed under retailing, trading cards § 6 Comments

So I haven’t done a whole lot with trading cards at my store since opening up a tad over three years ago. I think I maybe a box of some Marvel set in 2015 that slowly, eventually sold out. It was a trend I noticed at the previous place of employment, too…the nonsport cards just weren’t doing all that great for us. I mean, sure, the game cards did fine, your Magic and your Pokemon and your Spellfire and your Galactic Empires, that’s a different story. But your “110 More Tiny Pictures of Wolverine” card sets, those just seem…passé of late.

I mean, nothing against them. I’d like them to sell, and new sets still come out once in a while, so they’re selling somewhere, but it’s not like how it was in ye olden dayes. (Okay, yeah, I know, comics themselves don’t sell like they used to, either.) But we’re a long way from when we’d get in multiple cases of whatever the newest Marvel Universe set was, and we’d just put a stack of full boxes of packs up by the register and watch the impulse buys happen and that stack disappear. In the ’80s and ’90s, it seemed like everybody bought cards. I even still have a few binders of sets I put together back then…the all-chromium set of Golden Age comic book covers is still a weird favorite of mine.

For the longest time, the nonsport cards…well, okay, let me stop being coy, specifically the Marvel cards…were like sports cards. Lots of people coming in and asking about them, but never because they wanted to buy any. It was almost exclusively “what are mine worth?” and “will you buy them?” Rarely did the words “Boy, I would sure like to purchase any available sets of Marvel Universe Series IV you may have!” echo throughout our showroom, which didn’t exactly encourage us to stock card sets in any kind of depth. And we did have card sets (again, still talking about the previous place of employment)…had a small glass case with a number of sets and chase cards prices out and displayed, but only rarely did they move.

Shortly after I opened my new shop, I had someone bring in a collection of still-sealed boxes of nonsport cards (Marvel and otherwise) that I did okay with selling online. Usually not for a lot of money, but they sold, so the demand was there…the boxes just had to be cheap. And recently, an old friend of mine began to liquidate some of his collection, and asked me to sell his card product: full boxes, autographed cards, and even some of those slabbed, graded single cards. It was from his collection that I obtained this box of Dune cards you may have seen me post about on the Twitters:

…which ended up selling for about $40, which…well, that ain’t nuthin’, but when first I saw that I figured “ah geez, a hundred bucks easy!” until I looked at the eBay card market and eh, that wasn’t going to happen. But still, that’s $40 we didn’t have before, and for a full box of relatively recent trading cards, that ain’t too bad, I guess. I sold a bunch of boxes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? cards for about $15 each, which doesn’t seem like much, but eventually you’d just rather have the $15 a pop than multiple boxes sitting in a storage room somewhere.

Just the other day, my friend brought me another box of unopened card boxes, including this set which I don’t even remember:

I mean, I imagine I would have remembered at least the typo on the lid (“FANS-tastic,” indeed) but it’s possible that 1) it was a while ago, and there’s probably plenty of card product I just don’t remember, or 2) there was so much card product that we couldn’t order everything, so we passed on this one. As far as I can tell, there weren’t even fancy chase cards randomly packed in this series, which would have been especially odd in 1991, I think. Anyway, like most sets from the manufacturer Comic Images, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of “collectors’ market” online demand for sealed boxes.

However, the new few sets seem to do have demand, selling for…well, not quite original retail, or maybe thereabouts, but certainly not the $1.29 I’ve seen some other card boxes sell for (Desert Storm cards, anybody?).

I remember the Marvel Masterpieces cards being quite the hot ticket back in the day:

…as people were really taken with the look of these cards, and, as I recall, they were quite nice. Seeing the full, sealed box like this does twinge the ol’ nostalgia nerves, I have to admit.

The thing about the next two sets:

…is not just that the design and color of the boxes attracted attention, but the size. This goes for that Masterpieces box, too…these were wee little tiny boxes, palm-sized and basically just shouted to customers “Look how small and cute we are! C’mon, don’t mess with packs, just buy us by the full box!” I can’t help but think this really encouraged the impulse buys at the time…just made them psychologically easier and more appealing to justify purchasing, over the big ol’ unwieldy Comic Images boxes with the 48 fat packs and a not-zero amount of air.

And as it turns out, there’s still a pretty good aftermarket for these as well. Not that I’ve sold mine yet, but sales histories for the sets seem to show that there have been multiple sales at significantly better than close-out prices, so with any luck it’s just a matter of time.

None of this means, of course, that there’s any sort of potential improvement in the marketplace for new trading card sets that’ll sell to store walk-in traffic. Those are different circumstances, but still, maybe I’ll try out a new card set or two just to see how they do. The 1990s market is never coming back, but it shouldn’t hurt too much to poke at the edges of the 2018 market. so long as one pokes wisely.

Let us all bask in the soothing glow of this Youngblood trading card featuring Cougar.

§ January 6th, 2017 § Filed under sick day, trading cards § 3 Comments

Ahhhh…just what the doctor ordered.

Guess I still gotta go to work.

§ September 11th, 2015 § Filed under the eBay, trading cards § 4 Comments

So I recently acquired a whole bunch more boxes of trading cards that I’m in the process of throwing onto the eBay store, including this particular goodie:

“Whoa, a whole box of Dark Crystal cards!” I thought, “with sealed packs and everything!”

“Surely this will be worth tons and tons of American dollars!” I briefly hoped until I looked up concluded sales on eBay and saw that it generally sells in the $20 range. I mean, full boxes of this set sell for more than that:

It was kind of a surprise. Judging by the number of boxes of these that are on, and have been on, eBay, there’s no particular shortage of them. Plus, as time goes on and the turnaround between “seeing a movie in a theater” and “owning the actual film in some home video format” shortens, the actual need for a movie souvenir that recounts the plot of the film is lessened. (Same reason why movie adaptations aren’t such a big deal in comics, anymore…the focus is on “prequels” or some other kind of new story to supplement the one on the big screen.)

That’s not to say these Dark Crystal cards won’t sell. They clearly are, just not for the “Mike can retire early” money I was hoping for.

Of course, that doesn’t explain why those X-Force cards sell for slightly better money. Those are all just pictures taken from the comics, as I recall. If you have the comics, you have all the images in this set. Is it just the act of collecting and collating the cards? There aren’t even rare chase cards in this particular set. Of course, the answer could just be “I like superhero comic cards, so back off, mister,” which is perfectly fine with me.

Well, if you insist.

§ September 29th, 2014 § Filed under trading cards § 3 Comments

So anyway, have I shown you this Man-Thing sticker from 1975?

§ June 20th, 2014 § Filed under giant-size man-thing, trading cards § 14 Comments

That’s the joke you’re going with, 1970s-era Marvel and / or Topps? Well, okay then.

Meanwhile, in Mike’s collection…

§ April 23rd, 2014 § Filed under trading cards § 13 Comments

…in one of his half-dozen or so binders of trading cards, there sits these two Wizard promo cards for the Dark Horse/Valiant crossover series Predator Vs. Magnus Robot Fighter:

…numbered 3 and 4, and I have no idea what 1 and 2 were. The cards are from 1992, advertising the then-forthcoming mini-series, and there they are, 22 years later, still in a card binder, still on a shelf, no real point to having held onto them for all this time other than for using them for this blog post you’re looking at right now. Plus, it’s not like they’re in the way at home or anything…I’m not moving, like, the dining table around and saying “I’d sure like to put this over in that part of the room if it weren’t for those damned Predator Vs. Magnus Robot Fighter trading cards already being kept there.”

Trading card accumulation was a real symptom of ’90s comic collecting, where one could get in cases of Jim Lee’s X-Men or what have you and easily expect to sell through all of them. That particular aspect of the market seems very diminished now…we received the 2014 Marvel Universe cards this week, and expect it’ll take a while to work through even a single box of those. The comic collector/card collector overlap likely burnt out in the overproduction of product a couple of decades back, from both sides of the equation. I remember personally buying and collecting various trading cards, and being fairly excited about tracking down those last few missing numbers I needed to complete a set. The very act of opening packs and collating sets was a strangely satisfying and fun activity in and of itself.

And then, suddenly, that particular collecting urge within me went away. It’s not like I have any newly-found disdain for the card sets I do have: I’m glad I have my Death of Superman set, or that set of chromium cards featuring Golden Age covers, or those two sets of Berni(e) Wrightson cards (with their accompanying special Berni(e) Wrightson binders!), or any of the other oddball sets I’ve gathered. I simply no longer have the desire to obtain more sets, buy more packs, sort more cards.

There are circumstances where I would want to buy more cards, of course, but more as a subset of other obsessions, rather than “I must buy and complete this new set of cards.” If DC Comics put out a new line of cards that included Swamp Thing images, I’m sure I’d set out to track down those specific cards, rather than acquire a full run of the whole release. Unless it was a full Swamp Thing series, in which case, okay, they got me.

Until then, I’m happy with the number of card sets I do have, in those half-dozen binders, resting on that shelf, where I can occasionally pull them down and look at them. And, of course, scan ’em and show them to you.

I had one heck of a busy and crazy day at the shop on Tuesday…

§ March 19th, 2014 § Filed under low content mode, trading cards § 7 Comments

…with this being the least of it, so I’m just going to contemplate card #49 from my complete set of Superman III trading cards:

…and relax while basking in the glory of Richard Pryor.

“Scratching off” is a terrible euphemism.

§ June 15th, 2012 § Filed under publishing, trading cards § 12 Comments

Michael G. suggests:

“How about a comic where crucial story-event panels are hidden behind a scratch-off coating like that used on lottery tickets? In fact I can’t believe they didn’t already try that in the early 90′s.”

You know, this idea sounds so probable, especially in the gimmick-laden comics industry of the 1990s, that I think my brain actually tricked itself into believing such a thing actually happened. …It didn’t, at least not that I’m aware of, though if I’m wrong, I’m sure someone will correct and / or remind me. But I swear, I’m sitting here thinking “I know I scratched off something in a comic book…but what? WHAT?” and I’m hoping the answer isn’t “eyes from every character’s face” because that would be a bit weird. But…I don’t know. Was there maybe some kind of contest insert that needed scratching? I have no idea, but Michael G. bringing that up really triggered a very vague sense that such a thing has happened within recent memory.

Anyway, such a coating would have to be on a thicker paper to resist tearing, like maybe on a stiff paper centerfold or, perhaps, on the inside back cover, given that the cover was sturdy enough. How much more awesome, would, say, Wild Dog (already an awesome comic) have been, had the reveal been concealed by scratchable coating? “WHO IS…WILD DOG? Scratch here with a coin or key to find out!”

It did remind me of a particular…adult entertainment card set that we carried, way back in the wild ‘n’ wooly days of the trading card boom, and well out of the reach of young’uns, in which some of the special randomly-packed insert cards did indeed feature this scratch-off technology. I Googled shameful things to bring you hyperlinked, certainly Not-Safe-for-Work proof of these cards’ existence, and here you go. …It’s about as classy as you’re expecting.

And before you mention it, no, I’m not confusing scratching off these cards for my vague memory of scratching off something comic-related. I never once applied coin-to-cardboard on those trading cards, NOT ONCE well maybe once NO I DIDN’T SHUT UP

But anyway, if DC Comics is looking for a way to make that cover for Catwoman #0 even sexier…well, you folks there can have this idea for free.

EDIT 6/15/12: Corey (Ottawa) reminds us of this G.I. Joe cover from late last year!

I think I’ve probably featured that Galactica card on the site before, but c’mon, just look at it.

§ February 22nd, 2012 § Filed under star wars, trading cards § 8 Comments

So as a young Mikester in the late ’70s, I found this particular Star Wars trading card to be of interest:

…as it gave us one of the few really good glimpses as to what the Jawas looked like under their hoods:

The official (or semi-official, or “canon,” or whatever) explanation is that the Jawas are “rodent-like,” and that what we’re supposedly seeing there isn’t a Jawa’s actual face, but just more protective covering with gemstone eyepieces. But I think it’s this specific image that has me associating Jawas with more insectoid characteristics than rodential. I mean, look at it…it’s like a giant ant under there. That’s completely creepier than a rodent.

By contrast, this Battlestar Galactica sticker featuring the Cylons’ Imperious Leader could’ve used a little more mystery:

The Cockeyed Space Tyrant is puckering up…for you.

Some days I just don’t have anything to say…

§ February 13th, 2012 § Filed under galactus, trading cards § 4 Comments

…so here’s a Comic Images card trading card from 1988, featuring Galactus:

Somewhere there is fanfic somehow linking this guy to Galactus. …Unless I’m the first, in which case I’m not sure I could live with that burden.

BONUS: A History of the X-Men sticker from 1987 featuring Farouk AKA The Shadow King:

…Whaddaya mean, you don’t think that’s a bonus? I thought you people liked dudes in fezzes.

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