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Hobby boxes can be worth the fun and entertainment, but they are rarely worth the cost. Meaning, if you buy a $300 hobby box, you shouldn’t expect to pull $300 in cards from the packs within. Especially if you’re buying a hobby box in hopes of pulling a particular card, you’re much better off seeking out the card as a single. On the other hand, some people buy hobby boxes to build complete sets, in which case – all factors considered – can make the purchase more digestible.
You also have to consider the alternatives, right? When looking at the differences between hobby boxes and retail blasters, sure you can pay a lot less for a blaster, but does that still make it worth it? What about the guaranteed hits, completing a set, and more? There is a lot to think about.
Given the above, let’s go through a few different scenarios of when buying a hobby box might make sense and when it doesn’t, and tips to maximize your spend.
Why Hobby Boxes Aren’t Worth It
If you’re trying to make your money back
As mentioned above, if you are going with the traditional definition of “worth it,” you’re thinking monetarily.
So, as we pointed out with the 2022 Diamond Icon box cost, it’s really tough to make your money back in most cases. In this example, the cost of a box was about $3,300, and with 10 cards in the box, the total cost per card comes out to be $330! And if that didn’t sound difficult enough on the surface, consider the fact that a Bobby Witt Jr. RC auto /25 has sold for less than $250, an Aaron Judge auto /10 has sold for less than $300, and an Ohtani auto /10 sold for less than $700. In this case, making money back seems almost impossible, right?
Of course, this is just one example, and yes, some people just have a “hot hand” and great luck when ripping hobby boxes. Thus, I’m not saying it’s impossible to make your money back, but more often than not, most people won’t.
Would you be better off with a blaster in this case? On one hand, you’d be spending a lot less, and you might have a better chance of one card covering the entire cost. But you could also buy four blasters and walk away with next to nothing, just like the experience of one hobby box.
Tip: With all of that said, to maximize your chances of making your money back, you might want to consider pre-ordering a new release and being first to market with your rips. I don’t rip a lot of wax, and even fewer hobby boxes, but speaking from personal experience with products like Topps Series 1, there is a serious advantage to being first to market.
Two years in a row I’ve pre-ordered boxes from Blowout Cards and both years the boxes were delivered a day before the official release date. While I don’t remember my 2022 results, take a look at what some of these cards sold for from 2023:
- Yadier Molina Gold Foil $12.99
- Riley Greene Silver Pack $19.99
- NL HR Leaders /199 $7.99
- Seiya Suzuki City Connect Black $15.99
I don’t have to look up the recent comps on these cards to know that they probably aren’t selling for anything close to these amounts in most if not all cases. So, point being, if you want to maximize your hobby box spend and try to make it as “worth it” as possible, look into whether or not that product responds to a first mover advantage.
If you’re trying to pull a particular card
While I’ve had some decent luck pulling my PC as hits from hobby boxes, buying hobby boxes in hopes of pulling a particular card usually isn’t worth it. Of course, if it’s a base card or run-of-the-mill insert, then sure. But if you’re buying a hobby box and hoping to pull, say, an auto from a particular team or player, a short print, etc., the odds that were already against you are now stacked to the ceiling.
The only edge a blaster might give you, in this case, is if you were tying to pull a retail-only parallel, or, again, a base rookie or maybe even a silver/refractor.
When Hobby Boxes Could be Worth It
If you’re opening cards for fun
All of that said, when it comes to ripping boxes of cards, there are two approaches—hoping to hit something big in order to sell and make money on it, or, to simply have fun. As mentioned above, hobby boxes usually aren’t worth it if ripping to make money. But, if you’re just looking for entertainment, there might be worse ways to spend your money!
I like to think of it like this. If you go out to a decent sit-down dinner with another person, you’re probably going to spend around $50, right? Add kids to the mix and you’re getting closer to $100. A trip to the ballpark? Parking alone might be at least $30. Headed to the movies? That’s going to be another $50. We can go on and on.
The modern concert experience:— Chris Bakke (@ChrisJBakke) March 27, 2023
I just paid $287.98 for tickets + $1,267.89 in Ticketmaster fees + $368.56 in taxes + $80 for parking + $400 for two beers and a small corn dog
Great seats, though!
I could almost see the artist if I watched through my phone at 8x zoom. pic.twitter.com/1rAq9aMvbs
Actual costs aside, you get the point. You can spend just as much money on other forms of entertainment and walk away with nothing but a full stomach and a few laughs. And while I’d pay a lot for some great memories that come with a lot of these experiences as well, that isn’t always the result either.
So, if buying hobby boxes with the goal of having fun while doing it and as a form of entertainment, then sure, it could be. At the very least you’ll finish the experience with something tangible.
Now, I’m talking about something like $150 on a box of flagship that has multiple packs, guaranteed hits, variety, and more. But, to each their own. Some might get more entertainment from the rush of a $3K Diamond Icons 10-card break.
If you’re trying to complete a set
Did you know that a jumbo box of Topps flagship will get you very close to completing the entire set, if not completing the entire set? That’s a big plus!
Meaning, I spent about $170 to pre-order a 2023 jumbo hobby box of Topps Series 1. With that, you get three guaranteed hits (one auto), a handful of numbered cards, shots at SPs, and a near if not total complete set? Sign me up every time.
Not every hobby box experience offers the same, and we are talking jumbo here, but if you are looking to build an entire set of a particular product, a hobby box can more than get you started in most cases. Plus, it provides entertainment value, hits (hopefully guaranteed), and more.
So again, hobby boxes can be worth it, but they very much might not ever be. It all depends on your personal goals.