Marvel Hero Battle: Worth Collecting on Their Own?
Hello again! I’m slowly trying to catch up on these written reviews so I can spend the weekend filming new stuff. If you’ve been watch some of the videos, you know that I was on a little bit of a Marvel kick last weekend. I read a log of Marvel comics myself, I have that unlimited subscription, but I had actually never bought any trading cards. I’ve had some boxes of Kayou’s Marvel Hero Battle cards on the shelf for a while now, so I decided to crack it open and take a closer look.
The Game, what is this?
Before we dig into the box I wanted to take a little time to explain what these are. These are not pure trading cards – they are TCG cards. You are meant to buy starter kits and build decks and play against other people. That said, it is a really light game. Players start by drawing 9 cards, then put 5 down on the board – the other 4 are in reserve. On your turn choose which of your hero’s will fight which other hero. Resolve card rules until an outcome of that battle is determined. First player to beat 5 enemy heroes will be the winner.
This is simpler then even the Pokemon game, at least in that one you can only have one “hero” on the front line at a time, and there are more “trainer” cards to modify or react to gameplay. In a way these are both trading cards and TCG game cards. Remember how almost all the cards we’ve looked at have that basic attack/defense stat? That’s so they could mix in that system, Kayou officially supports both Marvel and Ultraman cards in the same game.
I don’t play this game, I’m only here for the cards. I really can’t find anyone who is playing this game on youtube or anywhere else I’ve looked. There are a lot or people who collect these though, and they can be graded in the US – similar to Kayou’s Naruto cards. That popularity makes me not want to review too many of these since there is already so much content out there. This series even has it’s own reddit!
This is the 5-yuan box for set 5, the latest set released as of when I wrote this. This product has a lot of different releases, even within a given set. You’ll find 2-yuan boxes with 30 packs, these 5-yuan boxes and even a few 10-yuan boxes for big spenders. I have this one and the Avengers one with Thanos on all the packs.
This box has a unique shape to it, I’ve only seen this style box used in these Hero Battle releases. It’s a wide but narrow box with two rows of packs. There are 20 packs in the 5-yuan level – which is nice, Kayou had started lowering that to 18 in other properties. These boxes do not come shrink wrapped from the factory, instead it is sealed (haha) with two tiny little security stickers. On the box I received both stickers were damaged, I can’t know if that happened during shipping or if somebody searched these – I don’t even know if these are worth searching like that.
I paid $21.22 for this from Anime Card Store, a vendor I do complain about a lot – but keep going back because they have very good prices and great sales occasionally. As usual the label on the back is quite informative, giving lots of information about the licensing and manufacturer. This is a fully licensed product in China, many smaller western grading companies will even grade these.
This particular set approaches investment level product, that’s not what I’m here for, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the secondary market for this product. When I wrote this there was a long list of 3 figure sold cards, included both graded and raw cards. That’s right – you could pay 25$ for this box and 10x your money on a big enough hit. Maybe that is why this box looked searched to me… Either way, no complaints here, I just love the cards.
It took me a while to find a real flier for this set – every vendor has the poster, nobody has the set breakdown. I finally found over on this shop I’d never heard of called Kayou Animation Card Store. I’ve never used that vendor so I can’t speak for their quality – but I thank them for posting the set breakdown for us.
From this it doesn’t look like there was supposed to be a hit pack or anything like that. Some reviewers seem to believe there is a guaranteed MR in each box – but I don’t see evidence of that on any of the fliers or posters I’ve found. In my experience Kayou never guarantees things like that unless they are in a special hit pack – like that awesome Transformers box had.
The set has a good mix of rarities but it doesn’t show the counts. I’d assume it is standard though with like 30 some R, 20 SR and goes down from there? If anybody has a full set break down let me know – I’d love to see it. On Ebay it seems that those MR and CR cards are what go for 100s of dollars, but again I’m not that kind of collector, chances are I’ll never sell anything willingly lol. This is an Archive, not a shop.
Ah! There is that Kayou magic on full display. These cards shine, so much quality for so little money. These are true TCG cards too so there is a common back on all the cards across all sets. Mixing in cards from non-marvel sets likely requires sleeving and creative rule making – but again I’ve never seen anyone actually play this game. The box did not include any rules either, there are starter kits available that I suspect have the rules.
My first pack had 4 R and 2 SR. For a 5-yuan pack that’s a little sad, I should have like a 50/50 chance at an SSR. Maybe I’m just unlucky, I’ll know once I get through a few more packs. Still I loved this Mohawk Captain Marvel card – it looks awesome, you should check the video. The cards without any rules are nicest since they feature the most artwork.
Check out that Spider-Man! Even as just a base R rarity card it looks great and has an interesting cubic foil pattern on it. All the R cards share that treatment. Rather than show you all the cards from the pack, you can see those in the database, I wanted to compare these Marvel cards with some others I have in my personal collection. I do have a lot of western cards too and I love to compare and contrast the differences.
Western Spider-Man Cards?!?
Above is a 2018 Spider-Man trading card from their “Into the Spider-verse” set. That set is sold in Upper Deck’s typical hobby box configuration. When new those hobby boxes cost 150$, for 15 packs of 7 cards. Since this set is older, and doesn’t seem to include any high value cards – sites are selling it off for 70$ these days. I bought my 2 packs from Burbank Sportscards for 7$ each. That’s a bit higher than online prices, but I like supporting the retail shops in my area.
If you saw any videos of me talking about these cards… I was disappointed… to say the least. It’s not that they are bad cards, they reproduce the artwork of the film just fine – and it was a gorgeous film, I love that movie. The problem is that nothing has any treatment on it, like none. There is no foil or anything except a clear coat on any of these. I assume that higher tier cards might have that, but Kayou puts awesome foil treatments on their base cards and then just get crazier from there.
So for now it seems that western cards are losing pretty badly to these far cheaper Kayou offerings. These spiderman cards were effectively 1$ a piece, the Kayou cards are more like 18 cents in this 5-yuan configuration. That’s a massive difference. But I think there is a reason these cards are so, I’ll say “boring”. I think it’s because these are based on a specific media property. Chances are Upper Deck was restricted on what they could do with the artwork.
What can Upper Deck do if they don’t have those restrictions…
Redemption in the Metal Universe
That’s not where this now very long story ends. I actually had another set of western Marvel cards stashed away in the archives. It’s a blaster box of 2022 Spider-Man Metal Universe. Blaster boxes are low-end retail configurations, these used to be sold in Targets and Walmarts. They typically include 3-6 packs and try to price right around $30. So this blaster alone costs more than the Kayou box.
But oh wow the cards! These are so much better than Into the Spider-verse. These all look awesome, some use classic comic art, others modern illustrations, but they are all creative works of art. The blaster was also loaded with parallels – that Spider-Man card up there is either a yellow parallel which pulls at 1:2 packs or a gold at 1:8 packs. I can’t tell the difference and the cards aren’t marked well.
That Rhino though is called a “Grandiose” card, and one is sort of guaranteed in each blaster although the pull rate on it is listed as 1:9. Those red/blue lines behind Rhino are nicely animated foil refractions – they look awesome, check the video! That card alone could pay for the blaster if I sold it (I only paid 25$ for it), that’s kind of awesome, but I’ll be keeping it.
I need to wrap this up, this is longest post so far. I really wanted to get some comparisons going with the western cards though – I find it really interesting to see the ways the different manufacturers approach their products given the completely different economics in China vs the USA. A 150$ hobby box is never going to sell at any kind of volume in China – at the same time a 20$ hobby box would be perceived as “Cheap” by a US consumer. Fascinating stuff.
Which do I prefer? I’m not going to lie – those Metal Universe cards are really awesome. I would definitely buy a full hobby box of those if they make another release someday. The quality of the art and finish just makes it seem like a premium product, not to mention a functional and fully supported secondary market for the cards.
Anyway enough talk, time to go look at some more trading cards, see you next time!