It’s been a long time now since we updated our list of top 10 sets. Back when we last updated this The Archives had maybe ~50 boxes on the shelf, and we’d opened only 16 of those. Today we’ve got well over 100 boxes, closer to 150… and we’ve opened around 70 of those. Things starting moving really fast once the Youtube channel got going. So today we’re going to update that list and pick our new top 10 sets of trading cards.
Table of Contents
- Looking Back: Our Old Top 10 Sets
- Recommendation for New Collectors
- 10: SCP Foundation by Camon
- 9: The Three Kingdoms by Kayou
- 8: Marvel Hero Battle by Kayou
- 7: Star Wars Pre Release by Step In Card Games Ltd.
- 6: Doraemon “Stand by Me”, Unknown Manufacturer
- 5: Chainsaw Man by Big Face Studios
- 4: Chainsaw Man by KX Studios
- 3: Gundam Mechanical Story by Little Frog
- 2: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure “Big Blue”, Unknown Manufacturer
- 1: One Punch Man “Hero Archives”, Unknown Manufacturer
Looking Back: Our Old Top 10 Sets
Before we update the list let’s talk about how much The Archives has grown since then. To give you some idea, back when the last list was published we’d opened only 16 boxes and had less than 200 cards in the database. Today we’ve got close to 100 video reviews, and 40 written reviews – there are over 1000 cards in the database! The Archives themselves take up 198 gigabytes on disk, with close to 5,000 individual files.
- Duel Gundam Set 2 Box
- SCP: Failure Of Reception: 5-Yuan Box
- Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki Hayao Box
- My Little Pony, CH005: 5-Yuan
- Dragon Ball, LZ02, 10-yuan
- Duel Gundam Set 1 Box
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, JJ01, 2-Yuan
- Star Wars Pre-Release Boxed Set
- SCP Failure of Reception, YCSR1, 2-Yuan
- Transformers, bootleg, 2-Yuan
Yikes, that’s the old top 10 list – and while I’m still happy with some of those, others like that bootleg Transformers has fallen far out of favor with me. It’s definitely time to update this. The only two sets I plan on keeping on the list are that fantastic Star Wars Pre Release set and SCP Foundation – but I’m not putting individual SCP boxes on the top 10 sets list, just the series itself.
Recommendation for New Collectors
I’m often asked what I would recommend buying for people just getting into this niche of the hobby. That will depend a lot on your personal tastes but these sets I would strongly recommend even if some didn’t make the top 10 sets:
- Star Wars Pre Release, it’s cheap at only $16.50, has a great secondary market and the boxes are fun to rip. Buy two, you will definitely want the other one once you finish the first
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure 2-yuan, another cheap box at around 20$ for 30 packs and drop dead gorgeous cards. If you prefer more premium cards, the “Big Blue” box is only 15$ (less cards) but with significantly upgraded card quality.
- Kayou anything. Seriously if you see Kayou’s little ant logo – it’s almost certainly going to be great. I especially like their Transformers and Hero Battle sets.
- Little Frog anything. Another fantastic manufacturer, mostly going to be various bootleg sets – but they are often better than the official sets. Especially their Gundam box, I’ve bought 6 of those, it’s that good.
10: SCP Foundation by Camon
You’d think this set would be closer to the top, given that I own at least 2 copies of every single box every made from it. It is on of my personal favorite sets, one of the few I’m seriously trying to complete. The reason it is lower is partially because the card quality isn’t great – but primarily because of the stolen art issue.
This set uses stolen artwork. Now it’s fan art created from SCP Foundation wiki articles contributed by other users, so ownership get a bit messy here. If you paint a picture of a dragon and write the word “Smaug” under it – you are stepping on Tolkien’s trademark, no matter how cool your painting is. Same thing applies here, if you made fan art of a named SCP you can’t really claim ownership of it. In fact you are technically forced to release anything you make under CC-BY-SA. That does allow companies like Camon to use your work, you might not like this but that is the license you agreed to.
The problem is that Camon did not attribute any of the art they took back to the artist – that is also part of how CC-BY-SA works (I’m trying to fix that part). Camon then did not release their cards under CC-BY-SA. So Camon is definitely in the wrong here, but these are old out-of-print sets. There really is no point getting angry as there is nobody you could even go after about it anymore.
If you can get past that it is a gorgeously designed set of trading cards, with so much variety and rarity levels to chase. If it weren’t for the super messy licensing situation, it would definitely be higher up on this list.
9: The Three Kingdoms by Kayou
Kayou is a manufacturer you will see often on this list. They are the largest manufacturer in China, produces tons of sets every year. They are also exceptionally good at it, only rarely do they make anything bad.
This set, The Three Kingdoms, is sold in a few ways. The box I reviewed here is the best way to buy it in my opinion. They also make a TCG focused version, where the artwork is re-purposed for a simplistic head-to-head card battle system. Those are ok, but you’ll get many dupes from the box and the rules obstruct the artwork in many cases.
There is also a very expensive and very limited edition being sold now with metal versions, that would of course be awesome – assuming you can get your hands on it at all. That link will take you to a site selling the set for around 400$, given there will only ever be 3,333 made – that might be worth it. Unfortunately that is too high for me.
8: Marvel Hero Battle by Kayou
Kayou again, they feature heavily on this top 10 sets list. This time it’s a Marvel TCG they’ve been publishing for years in China called Hero Battle. There are a lot of different boxes you can get from this, everything from 12$ starter kits to nearly 40$ premium boxes. 5 different sets have been released, each with a variety of price points. If you are just starting out – seriously consider picking up a starter kit! Not only do you get a play mat, but the packs in the starter kits each have guaranteed LR cards which can be worth quite a bit.
The secondary market for this series is a primary reason I like it so much, I don’t actually sell many cards, but having a way to know the value of what you are pulling makes the rips a lot more fun. Right now there are many triple digit listings on eBay. With a spider man CR listed at an eye watering $999. So this set has serious resale value. It is a fully licensed product too, no bootlegging here.
That strong secondary market also means you will often get searched boxes from vendors. If you really want un-searched product you are actually better off finding a small vendor on WhatNot who imports their own cases. They’ll film the case opening and sell the boxes all in a single stream so you know there is no funny business going on.
7: Star Wars Pre Release by Step In Card Games Ltd.
Now we’re really getting into the good stuff. I’ve personally bought 6 boxes of this product, and fully intend to buy more. Especially now that it is being sold at so close to wholesale, $16.50! The cards are fantastic, great designs and occasionally mind-blowing printing tech. Like on that Darth Vader GP rarity card above, the lightsaber is foiled so that it looks like it actually vibrating with energy.
The set isn’t perfect though, that’s why it is a bit lower down on the list. You don’t get much in a box, 12 packs, 2 cards per pack. After a few boxes you will have almost all the base SSRs and are just hunting for hits – which come at only 2-3 per box. So when you pull a hit and it’s a dupe – that can wreck the entire box for you. It also isn’t known to be officially licensed. I’m almost certain that it is, I’ve seen so much evidence pointing at that – but I’ve never seen formal confirmation from Disney.
If you like Star Wars at all – you owe it to yourself to pick up a couple boxes of this.
6: Doraemon “Stand by Me”, Unknown Manufacturer
Doraemon is a children’s show from Japan with a long history in both manga and anime. There are a few different Doraemon sets out there, but I firmly believe that this “Stand by Me” set is the best one. You should really go check out the written review for an overview of the absolutely bonkers checklist for this one.
It’s the sheer variety of cards in here that keeps me coming back, and keeps it on the list of top 10 sets. There are so many rarity levels, sub sets and even numbered cards that each pack has had something new. I’ve only bought 2 boxes of this one as it is a bit more expensive at around 30$. If you have any fond memories of this show, definitely pick one up. The box is drop dead gorgeous too with this intricate stamped foil castle on the front.
5: Chainsaw Man by Big Face Studios
He’s a man and a chainsaw – what more do you need? What if I told you a cute puppy gave him those chainsaw powers? I love this show! It’s just fun to watch, and the battle scenes are out of this world. Be warned it is quite gory, he’s a chainsaw man after all. It is also very fan-service, with some excessive sexualization going on, that’s kind of a focal point of the story but it does make this harder to recommend generally.
Big Face Studios is not the biggest trading card designer, they mostly make these small print run, boutique sets. Everything they make is bootleg, so be warned of that. They are still one of the most innovative and stylish designers I’ve seen. They’ll cover cards with printing tech like that ZR on the left, and on other cards just have simple color printing with a little foil, like the rare on the right. Yet even those simple base cards are little works of art.
This is one of the manufacturers I will buy anything they put out. I’ve only bought 3 boxes of this product mostly because it is difficult to acquire but also because…
4: Chainsaw Man by KX Studios
Yes, more chainsaw man. It took a couple of box battles but I’m pretty sure that this KX set is objectively better than the Big Face Studios set. The only reason not to get this one is that is does lean more NSFW. You see that Ms Makima card up there with her in lingerie? That’s nothing compared to the SP and SSPs in this set, those are nearly fully nude cards.
If you can get past that, these are better. Better designs, higher quality cards – not that the BF cards are poor or anything – these are just even better. Those URs where you are likely focused on the sexy lady in the middle have mind-bogglingly intricate refraction textures on them. The first time I pulled one I was staring at those ring patterns just trying to figure out how they even did that.
It’s also a much more hit-heavy set. BF can be a bit stingy with the hits – giving you maybe 3-4 in a box, and I’ve done full box breaks of it. KX gives you 1 or even 2 hits per PACK – yes per pack. I’m actually having trouble getting a full set of the base for that reason, it’s almost too hit heavy. KX is also a bit pricier at 30$ a box, that’s the only reason I haven’t bought more of it.
And with that, let’s move into the top 3 products on our top 10 sets list.
3: Gundam Mechanical Story by Little Frog
This set, this set right here is my obsession. I started this entire project to get out of building Gunpla models as a hobby. They take up way too much space, I can pack 100 trading card boxes where maybe 10 models would have fit. At first I though those Duel Gundam sets were the best – and they are some amazing looking Gundam cards. But these are better, maybe not better looking, but a better overall set.
Little Frog is a weird manufacturer. They mostly make all the Goddess Story waifu cards. They also manufacturer bootleg sets for nearly every franchise out there from Demon Slayer to Naruto and even multiverse sets. As far as I can tell everything they make is bootleg, including this Gundam set.
The set is called “Mechanical Story”, it’s a huge set with over 60 cards at the base level. It is difficult to pull hits from this one though, you’ll see around 3-4 in a box. That ZR RX-0 with the signature on it is the biggest hit I’ve ever pulled. I own 6 boxes of this, 5 are still sealed and I cannot wait to rip into them. I have a binder dedicated to this set and it’s another I’d like to complete, at least to the SSR level.
2: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure “Big Blue”, Unknown Manufacturer
If you’ve followed the Youtube channel at all you knew this set was going to rank high. I’ve done 3 different half-box battles between this one and the also amazing “Rainbow” box. Both boxes are great, but the presentation and price of this “Big Blue” box just puts it ahead in my mind. You can get these boxes for just 15$, I have 5 of them still sealed on the shelves.
The cards are super premium, mostly, you will occasionally pull a damaged card – but that happens in western sets too. The SSR base cards all feature manga cover art with gold framing, they look so good as a set in a binder. UR features “glitter printing” where actual glitter sand is applied to the card in multiple colors. The boxes come with 2 smaller mini-boxes inside, each of those then has 12 cards with the hit in the middle. Theoretically you could pull actual gold or silver cards from these.
I say theoretically because I have never seen a box of this with it’s security sticker in tact. Every single one I’ve opened, or seen opened has had the sticker broken on delivery. That’s not an accident. When the set includes precious metal cards without requiring redemption, it is too tempting and the vendors will search each box. So you will never find one of those. Still the things they don’t take are awesome – metal and even wooden cards have been pulled.
1: One Punch Man “Hero Archives”, Unknown Manufacturer
This was not an easy pick, I really love those JoJo cards – but I have to admit that this “Hero Archives” One Punch Man set is just better. I did a box battle last weekend that finally convinced me to put at the top of the top 10 sets list. I then went and ordered 3 more boxes of it, at only $20 a box – that was an easy buy.
It’s an incredible set of trading cards. Just look at that artwork! It’s also really fun to rip, the packs are full of hits – so much so that you end up with duplicate hits from a single box! I had more hits, UR or higher, than I did base cards at the end of my first box. It doesn’t overly sexualize any of the characters either, a serious problem with the Chainsaw Man sets. The short print levels like those two SSPs instead feature monsters from the show.
Printing tech is also great, it doesn’t have quite the level that the KX Chainsaw Man set has – but some of the BTPs did take my breath away the first time I saw them in person.
Thanks for reading! It was not easy putting this list of top 10 sets together, narrowing and ranking my top 10 sets was agonizing. Even now I want to go flip a few around, but now, we should let this list sit for a bit. In a month or so, when The Archives reaches 2000 cards maybe, we can revisit and update it again.
Any set on this list is an easy recommendation for me. Even the bootleg sets here all have healthy secondary markets and tons of people collecting them. If you buy only one set from this list, but the One Punch Man box – if you can get 2 though, grab a copy of JoJo’s “Big Blue” as well. Until next time!