Mail Call 9: Welcome to the World of Sports Cards

We are the trading card archives, that means we are going to look at as many different sets as we can get. That includes the world of sports cards, buckle up, here we go.

Here at the trading card archives I pride myself on variety, variety and novelty above all else. To accomplish that I need to spread our money as far as I possibly can. That’s why there are so many AliExpress sets on here – they cost like $14 – $30, the most expensive fancy sets like Duel Gundam cost 30$. I’d be doing a disservice to our readers though if I didn’t at least look at the wider world of trading cards, the western manufacturers. So, welcome to the world of sports cards.

This is a Betrayal!

Yes, I guess it kind of is… but stick with me for a few paragraphs – I bet I can change your mind. When you think of sports cards you probably picture $200+ hobby boxes, and $1000 graded cards. That all exists, it’s a huge industry and I enjoy hanging out on breaking streams and watching people drop 10k on case breaks – it’s fun! That’s not me though, I’m not poor but I’m definitely not 10k on trading cards in one day rich.

So everything you’ll see in here was cheap, less than 50$, in some cases much, much less. These are what are referred to as “Retail” sets by people in the hobby. The alternative to retail in “Hobby”. I’ll lay that out more explicitly when we get to the boxes but for now just understand that retail cards are a lot cheaper than hobby cards – but you are not going to be pulling 1000$ cards from retail packs without a crap ton of luck.

So in that way I’m sticking to my mission with the site. My goal in buying these is two fold, first I want to show you what the western manufacturers are producing – what the hobby has become these days. Second, I want to be able to compare cards from Topps and Upper Deck against the best from Kayou and Little Dinosaur. I’ll be able to put these side by side and show you exactly what kind of treatments exist on Kayou cards that are missing on western cards, and vice versa.

Enough foreplay, let’s crack some boxes.


This was the easiest one for me to buy, in fact it was super hard to resist buying a case of F1 Chrome Hobby. Those boxes cost ~$300 shipped, $275 in store. That’s a lot of money, but you stand a non-zero chance of making half that back, and a slim chance of making a profit from a box like that. To do it though you’ll need to know the sport well, know who is popular who isn’t. Be willing to pay $30+ per card to grade the cards, and then pray it’s above a 9 or you might as well throw it away.

So yeah, I didn’t do that. I love racing, and will happily watch an F1 race any day of the week — but I couldn’t identify drivers outside the top 2 or 3. I don’t know who’s leading in points for the season, I’m a super casual at best. So we turn to retail, this what I meant as the difference between that “hobby” box up there with more cost and more reward vs this retail box.

Turbo Attax is Topps’ retail F1 series, this is the storefront box from 2022 – the 2023 sets are not out yet (I will buy a chrome hobby of 2023). You might have to pay 50$ for this box on release day, you’d get 24 packs of 10 cards each. A chance at a some relic or autograph cards – relic is a card that has a real thing in it, like small piece of a uniform or a patch. Auto cards are autographed, these are the cards that tend to go for very high dollar amounts on the secondary market.

I bought this box from Dave and Adam’s card world – one of the two largest online trading card retailers. I paid 29.99$, so is now directly equivalent to a 10-yuan AliExpress set! I’ll actually review this someday, for now let’s move on.

Sports Sports

So the F1 cards were easy, I know a bit about racing and will enjoy opening all of those. These three I really know nothing about. I mean, I guess I played little league baseball 30 years ago. And sure, I was technically on the basketball team in high school, I played once for 2 minutes when we were 50 points ahead – that means I wasn’t very good btw. I was born in Canada so you’d think for sure hockey would be my thing, but now, I know nothing about hockey.

These I bought because they were cheap and representative of the manufacturers I wanted to look at. Those baseball cards are by Topps, that box cost me 50$ but it’s the latest retail release with some actual good pulls in it I’m told, we’ll see. Basketball up there is Panini’s Hoops series, which is their pre-season retail set. They will also make multiple in season and post season sets, cause people are insane idk. You might recognize that name, they also made those super sweet Warhammer 40k cards.

The hockey ones are from Upper Deck, the other major US based manufacturer, Topps being the first – Panini is an Italian company. These three boxes should give us a good enough idea of what is being produced by these companies for the retail market in 2023. We can then directly compare that to the incredible sets Kayou is putting out like The Three Kingdoms. The basketball and hockey boxes are what is called a “blaster” box in the hobby. They typically cost less than 50$, these were 30$, and contain 6-10 retail packs. Usually blasters have special insert cards, that was true in the Warhammer set too.

Non-Sport, Entertainment Cards

These next two boxes I bought to get a sample of what is called “non-sport” or “entertainment” cards in the hobby space. On the left is a box of Garbage Pail Kids trading cards – yes they make those still. This box is from 2022 but it was half the price of this years box so I bought it. These are sticker cards, every trading card is also a sticker. These sets may seem like kid things to you – but this is still a major niche with cards selling for $700 ungraded. That’s right you could watch me pull a 100$ card from this set, which I would immediately sell to Burbank Sports Cards and then buy more Gundam sets.

I should mention that while I got that F1 box from Dave and Adam’s – their prices are a bit high, and their shipping is REALLY high. In truth I paid 50$ for that F1 box, if you include shipping. If you spend more than 200$ that isn’t a problem as shipping is free, and spending 200$ is also REALLY easy in this hobby. All the other boxes in this post came from Blowout Cards. This will be my main vendor for US cards from now on. Mostly because I already spend over 200$ with them to get free shipping, and I’ve got a Star Wars Chrome Galaxy 2023 hobby box on pre-order with them.

Blowout Cards had cheaper prices so I went with them mostly, I just wanted to buy one from Dave and Adams in case there was some major experience difference I could mention here. Both vendors were essentially perfect, easy payment, super fast shipping and great packaging. Nothing was damaged in these boxes – then again, they didn’t ride across the ocean packed on a ship with a million other packages.

Sorry, this post is getting long… honestly I probably bought too many of these, I doubt I’ll ever open 30 packs of baseball cards. Maybe I can donate them to a school or something for a fundraiser. The other non-sport box here is a blaster box of Upper Deck’s excellent Metal Universe Spider Man series. The cards I’ve seen from this look so good, I can’t wait to put them up against that painting card from The Three Kingdoms against one of these. Ok moving on.

WWE Cards!?! How high were you when you ordered these?

Really high. Anyway, yes we’re doing this. My family was a wrestling family – I watched a lot of this as a kid. My brother is likely the most knowledgable wrestling expert on the planet – I’ve seriously seen him reference specific off set occurrences from 20 years ago with some 6th tier dude. Hey Zack! So yeah I splurged a bit and bought a full retail box of WWE cards. This series by Panini looks pretty cool – nothing like their signature “First Off the Line” boxes, but this doesn’t cost 600$ either.

In truth, UFC is where the money is in this sub-genre of trading cards. There are these Habulla cards that go for 1000’s of dollars, some 5000$ – for 1 card. You pull that from a box that costs around 500$ – so you start to see how similar this is to gambling. And it is, this type of set, with that kind of floor/ceiling price variance, it is 100% keying in to the gambling addiction in people. There is a difference though, even if you don’t get that card from the box – it’s actually pretty hard to make at least half the cost back from a box. You always get something though, that’s what this isn’t technically gambling in the legal sense. Just like Japan does with Pachinko actually.

Yo Gabba Gabba!

This is the last box, thanks for hanging with me this long – assuming you didn’t just scroll to here without reading anything else. It’s fine if you did, I’m just happy you are here – welcome! These are Yo Gabba Gabba trading cards manufactured by Press Pass. This is a now defunct manufacturer of entertainment cards. This set is pretty old, 2007 ish, but my Initial D set is older at 2005. I’m not sure if this is a blaster or a proper box, it doesn’t say how many packs are in it. It is heavy so I’m guessing at least 20. This cost 9.99$ so it is the cheapest item I have in the archives.

My son loved this show growing up so I still remember it well and know all the songs. These will be a fun nostalgic trip for me to open.


So that’s my sports cards order. Those boxes are all sealed away, waiting for their day on the table. I’m not sure which to open first, maybe the baseball just because they are popular right now and might get me some new subs on youtube. This won’t be all, but I also won’t be following all of these product lines unless they really wow me.

Like I said, I’ve already got a Star Wars Chrome Galaxy 2023 box on pre-order, should get here June 7th or so. That box could have autographed or serial numbered cards in it. I plan to go out this weekend to a few local shops, I live in Los Angeles, and try to buy a MetaZoo hobby box, specifically the chrome edition. I’m looking to pay ~120$ for it, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to pull that amount back out. I mean there is a 76,000$ card in those boxes.

Lol, anyway… long post but we’re done with these for a bit. I should be able to film video again tomorrow and all weekend. It’s hard to film during the week since it takes a long time to set it up and make sure it all looks good. I hope to start talking on video too soon – I know it’s weird not to, but I hate my voice, gotta get over that I guess. Anyway, goodnight, or good morning, see ya!

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