[Tutorial] How NOT to Ship Your Trading Cards to COMC

The COMC Processing Team opens hundreds upon hundreds of boxes, padded mailers, and envelopes containing incoming trading cards on a weekly basis. We’re happy to report that the majority of those incoming items are adequately packaged by their owners for a safe journey to COMC through the postal system. We’ve seen some truly well packaged consignments that would make even our longest tenured Shipping Team Members proud. But we’ve also seen some unfortunate poorly packaged sports cards and comic book consignments arrive with excessive shipping damage due to poor packaging methods.

Our Processing Team recently sent over some pictures of an incoming consignment that was heavily damaged in transit due to not utilizing some of our best shipping practices. We always recommend a box-in-box approach to prevent contents from being damaged. It is best if items are put in penny sleeves, and then put in an inner box with padding. If noise can be heard while rotating this inner box, it is best to add more padding. The inner box should then be placed in a larger, outer box for mailing, again with sufficient packing material so that the inner boxes and the cards inside are not rattling loosely and are guarded against damage.

Unfortunately for the consignment below, by not utilizing safe packaging methods, the majority of the loose cards within the box arrived to COMC damaged.

Padding material was used, but only on the top of the box, and not evenly distributed to cushion the items in the center of the shipping box.

The contents of the box may have originally been organized, but became heavily jumbled around in transit due to the amount of the free space within the box.

Loose cards were saran wrapped, and thicker cards were secured using rubber bands. We strongly discourage both of these practices.

 

Loose cards without penny sleeves were sandwiched between clear plastic slider boxes. The majority of these items suffered corner, edge and surface damage as a result.

Toploaded items fared slightly better, but still were  jostled around the box during transit, damaging the loose cards around them.

 

Graded cards were also not protected, causing some slight chipping to the cases as they rubbed against one another.

To Recap what went wrong here:

  1. Items were only placed in one shipping box, not using our box-in-box method.
  2. Items were not well secured and jostled around the box throughout travel, damaging those items and the ones around them in transit.
  3. Saran wrap and rubber bands were used instead of penny sleeves and team bags.
  4. Packaging materials such as bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and newspaper was sparsely used, leaving a lot of empty room in the box for items to move around.

We hope that these photos of this incoming consignment that was inadequately packaged is enough to convince you to consider utilizing the methods shown in our best shipping practices video!

The Official COMC Fantasy Pack Baseball Team of 2019!

When we’re not processing the millions of trading cards that come through the doors of COMC on a yearly basis, we like to embrace the hobby and have a little fun. Many members of our team have been fantasy sports enthusiasts for decades, and over the last few years we’ve tried to develop innovative and fun ways to incorporate sports card pack and box breaks with fantasy sports. You may remember our Fantasy Baseball Pack Battle League from last year.

This year, we’ve come up with a fun concept to build a fantasy baseball team using packs of the 2019 Topps Opening Day Baseball Card product. Unlike other fantasy games, we’re not trying to score points,but rather trying to build a team that can ‘win’ the most games using a unique scoring system.

If you want to play along at home, it’s really simple! All you’ll need is to two $9.99 blaster boxes of Opening Day and a way to keep track of your team and stats!

How to play: 

  1. Open all of your packs. Separate your batters and pitchers into two piles, then separate your batters into piles sorted by player position.
  2. Build your offense. Your Offense should consist of 9 players (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 outfielders, and a Designated Hitter). Choose three reserve players (any position) as well for backups in case of injury. Duplicate players are allowed if a player is an outfielder or listed at multiple positions. (If you did not receive a position player from each position, you may play a player of any position to compensate)
  3. Build your pitching staff. Your pitching will consist of 5 Starting Pitchers, 1 Closer, and 2 reserve pitchers (SP or closer). Duplicate pitchers are allowed. (If you do not receive enough pitchers to field a full staff — each pitcher you received may be played up to two times to compensate.If you didn’t receive a closer, you may play a sixth SP.)
  4. (Optional) Hard Mode: Play with a salary cap and build your team using the league average of $132 million or less by utilizing salary information found on Sportstrac.
  5. (Optional) Ultra Hard Mode: Any player with an real life salary of under $1 million is automatically bumped to $3 million. Players on rookie contracts still provide tremendous value, but not nearly as much as they do under hard mode.

Scoring

The scoring system for this game involves converting your players on-field performance into ‘wins’, with a goal of building a team that can win as many games as possible. You can track your players performance throughout the year using Baseball-Reference.

Hitting Scoring 

Every 40 runs = +1 win
Every 15 Home Runs = +1 win
Every 15 Stolen Bases = +1 win
Every 30 RBI’s = +1 win
Every 50 walks = +1 win

Example: Mike Trout in 2018: 101 runs (2), 39 HR (2), 24 sb (1), 79 RBI (2), 122 walks (2) = 9 wins
A team with an offense comparable to nine 2018 Mike Trout would earn 81 wins.

Pitching Scoring

Every 5 Wins = +3 Wins
Every 5 losses = -1 Win
Every 5 Saves = +1 Win
Every 75 Strikeouts = +1 Win

Examples:
Justin Verlander (sp) in 2018: 16 wins (9), 9 losses (-1), 290 strikeouts(4),= 12 wins
Edwin Diaz (rp) in 2018: 0 wins (0), 4 losses (0), 57 saves (11), 124 strikeouts (1) = 12 wins

A team with a pitching staff comparable to five 2018 Justin Verlander and a 2018 Edwin Diaz would earn 72 wins. Combined with the hitting total, this team would win a total of 153 games.

Exception: Autographed cards pulled from your 2019 Topps Opening Day Blasters are worth 50% less points than their non-autographed counterparts. Why? Because you’re already a winner if you hit an auto out of an Opening Day Blaster, duh! Also, you should be submitting that card to COMC to sell ASAP!

Substitutions: If any of your hitters fail to appear in at least 108 games (2/3rds of the season) during the 2019 season, you may swap them for a reserve player from any position. If any of your starting pitchers fail to make 20 starts throughout the 2019 season, you may swap them for a reserve. If your closer fails to appear in at least 45 games in the 2019 season (save opportunity or not), you may swap them for another relief pitcher.

Our Team:

For this game, we’ll be using the hard mode of staying under the $132 million salary cap.Opening two blasters yielded enough position players and pitchers to field several teams, so you should have no trouble building a team or three to play along. A lot of good players got the snub due to our salary cap restriction. We passed on elite fantasy players like J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve, Nolan Arenado, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, and Stephen Strasburg simply because we could not make the numbers work. Our strategy was to divide the money in half as close as possible to balance out hitting with pitching.

Hitting:

Designated Hitter: Mark Trumbo ($13.5 Million)
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto ($5.9 Million)
First Base: Anthony Rizzo ($11.28 Million)
Second Base: Gleyber Torres ($605,000)
Short Stop: Francisco Lindor ($10.55 million)
Third Base: Rafael Devers ($614,500)
Outfield: Ronald Acuna ($560,000)
Outfield: Mike Trout ($17.6 million)
Outfield: Mitch Haniger ($590,000)

2019 Hitting Payroll = $61.19 million

We ran into a salary cap problem after our initial team configuration, which meant that J.D. Martinez and his $28 million contract had to be downgraded to Mark Trumbo’s more manageable $13.5 million deal. Our second and third year players provide insane value for their price tag, allowing us to pay for Trout, Rizzo, Lindor , and Trumbo. We went with the hometown favorite Mitch Haniger as a sentimental pick over a certain player riding our bench. More on that later.

Pitching:

SP: Justin Verlander ($28 million)
SP: Gerrit Cole ($13.5 million)
SP: Trevor Bauer ($13.0 million)
SP: Blake Snell ($1.6 million)
SP: Jacob Degrom ($9.0 million)
Closer: Edwin Diaz ($607,000)

2019 Pitching Payroll = $65.7 million

We had way too many good pitchers to choose from, so we had to make some extremely tough decisions. In the end, we decided that the Houston Astros 1-2 combo of Verlander and Cole simply provided too much value to overlook. Trevor Bauer has in insane K/9 ratio, and reigning AL CY Young Winner Blake Snell is the best deal in the Opening Day set. We round out our pitching staff with the NL Cy Young Winner Jacob Degrom and his new teammate Edwin Diaz, who should still be capable of closing 50+ games for what should be a competitive New York Mets team.

Reserves

Hitter: Juan Soto ($578,000)
Hitter: Max Muncy ($575,000)
Hitter: Whit Merrifield ($1.0 Million)
Pitcher: Dereck Rodriguez ($561,000)
Pitcher: German Marquez ($565,000)

Bench Reserves Payroll = $3.279 million

Admittedly, spending $126.89 million of our $132 million before considering a bench probably wasn’t the best idea. Our team finds itself extremely thin in the event of a pitching injury, with us not having the cap room to add a veteran or top backup pitcher. All in all, we spent  $130.1 million of our $132 million, and it was extremely difficult to pass on some of the game’s best. If we had played uncapped, our team would have looked substantially different!

What do you think about our fantasy game and scoring system? Have you come up with any good ways to turn your trading cards into an interactive ‘fantasy sport’? If you decide to play along at home with us, let us know how your draft goes and who’s on your team! We’ll be checking in with an update blogs along the way throughout the season to track our progress!

Catch COMC in Virginia (USA) on March 29th-31st and Edmonton (Canada) on April 6th & 7th!

We’re sending our team on the road for our first trading card show appearances this year! These are just the first two of many stops that we intend to make in 2019. For our full trading card show appearance schedule, please see our Upcoming Appearances Calendar. Here you will find dates, show information, and all the info you need when we’re coming to your area!

The Chantilly Show (Dulles, Virginia, USA)
March 29th – 31st.

Come join us in Dulles, VA for The Chantilly Show on March 29th-31st, 2019! We will be at table number #343 accepting your drop-off submissions, answering your COMC and account related questions, and much more.

To expedite the drop-off process, please be sure to use our submission wizard prior to the show and print paperwork to include with your consignment. Please use the Chantilly Show option when prompted to select a submission center.

 

The Summit Sports Collectible Show #10 (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
April 6th & 7th, 2019

The first Canadian stop in 2019 will be at the Summit Sports Collectibles Show on April 6th & 7th, 2019 in Sherwood Park, Alberta.  Stop by our booth for all of the following and more:

  • Drop off consignment submissions to save time and money on shipping!  Please package your items well for drop-off and include paperwork using the submission wizard prior to the show. Choose The Summit Show as a submission center when prompted.
  • Free giveaways for everyone (one per person per day, while supplies last)
  • Games for COMC account holders with a chance to win prize cards including a 2015-16 Upper Deck MVP Connor McDavid rookie card.  Be sure to sign up, Registration is free!
  • Games for COMC account holders’ children to win instant prizes
  • Answering all your COMC and account-related questions!

Guest Blog: Cardboard Therapy

(Editors Note: Please welcome COMC Member Jason1969 to the COMC Blog! This post comes to us thanks to the Call to Arms we put out earlier this month seeking guest writers. Jason enjoys writing about baseball and baseball cards for the SABR Baseball Cards Committee and on his personal blog. He can be found on twitter as @HeavyJ28.  His main collecting interest is vintage baseball, especially Hank Aaron, but he also boasts (and yes, that’s the right word) over 600 different playing career cards of Dwight Gooden cards, many of which he was able to obtain right here on COMC)

By Jason A. Schwartz

For my guest appearance on the COMC blog I will get personal. My hope is that most readers will never find themselves in my shoes, but I hope my experience can help any of those who someday do.

Just under five years ago I found myself in a near-empty apartment alone. In the basement was my guitar, in the kitchen was a coffee mug, and in my hands was a small cardboard box containing the top hundred or so cards I’d saved from when I was a collector back in the day.

For the first time in a decade I opened the box and flipped through the cards. The rush of memories was incredible. Sometimes it was of the player and how much I loved him (in a fan sort of way, please). Other times it was the recollection of where I was and who I was with when I bought the card. The one constant as I made my way through the stack of top loaders was joy, something I hadn’t felt for a while.

I hadn’t purchased a baseball card for 20 years, and I suspected a lot had changed in that time. Were the Beckett Monthly and the Kit Young mail-order catalog still around? (Yes.) Were there still local card shops in every neighborhood? (No.) Were my Jose Canseco rookie cards worth a lot? (No.) Had the Hobby moved to the internet? (DEFINITELY!)

By evening I had made an online purchase of three of the Hank Aaron cards I needed for his basic Topps run. There were important areas of my life where I felt powerless, but it turned out buying Hank Aaron cards wasn’t one of them. Ditto for completing my 1957 Topps Brooklyn Dodgers team set that had been one card short for more than two decades, and ditto for starting on the 1956 version of the same.

I may have gone a bit overboard at times, but man oh man did I love coming home to a #MailDay! Man oh man was it a thrill to frame my completed Hank Aaron run and hang it on my wall. And man oh man was it fun to become part of an online community of collectors who not only buy, sell, and trade cards but eat, breathe, and sleep cards as obsessively as me! (Okay, don’t take that last part completely literally.)

When we’re at low points in our lives we sometimes hear that “it gets better.” I’m here to bear witness that it does. There was a lot I did to get from there to here, and I won’t kid you that some of it—maybe most of it—completely sucked. However, one little thing I did that made a huge difference was getting back into the hobby I loved so much as a kid. In my case, pairing “cardboard therapy” with “real” therapy proved to be the perfect combination for rebuilding my collection as I rebuilt my life.

10 Baseball Rookies to Watch in 2019

Who doesn’t love rookie speculation? With the start of a new MLB season comes a fresh new crop of rookies who’s potential will spark the imagination of millions of fans. Who will walk away with Rookie of the Year honors? Who will make an immediate impact with their team? Will they be remembered among the greats of the game? Will they jump out of the gate at an unprecedented trajectory that looks to rival the record books?

Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge put on a spectacle in 2017, crushing nearly every pitch that came there in way. Shohei Ohtani, Ronald Acuna, and Juan Soto carried the rookie torch in 2018, dazzling baseball fans with raw talent that infused much needed youth and excitement to their respective teams. Now we turn to 2019, where the next wave of call ups will have to fill some very big shoes. Without further ado, here is our list of 10 prospects that we believe can live up to that hype and then some!

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3b, Toronto Blue Jays) – The number one prospect in all of baseball is expected to make his debut in Toronto in 2019. The son of a Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero (who knew a thing or two about hitting himself), Vlad Jr. has been revered as a generational talent, capable of winning MVP awards as a premier MLB hitter for years to come. He hit .381 in the minors in 2018 split between AA and AAA ball. When he arrives in the majors he will be 20 years old, and is expected to lead a youth movement in a city that is eager to compete with the titans of the AL East.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

2. Eloy Jimenez (OF, Chicago White Sox) – By utilizing his tall 6’4″ frame, Jimenez generates incredible power and bat speed through the zone, drawing comparisons to the likes of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton from a power perspective. This 22 year old also hits for huge average, hitting well north of .300 in the minor league level. The White Sox may have missed out on the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, but they have a superstar waiting in the wings in Jimenez.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

3. Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, San Diego Padres) – While all eyes might be on San Diego’s newest Megastar Manny Machado, who inked a 10-year $300 million dollar deal with the club last month, Tatis should also be arriving to the team in 2019. Tatis is a player more than capable of posting a 20-20 stat line while hitting for high average.He’s touted as above-average in the field, bringing a blend of speed and athleticism to his game. With the revival of competitive baseball in San Diego, Tatis Jr. will not fly under the radar on a team that is expected to contend for a playoff spot in 2019 and beyond.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

4. Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros) – Even though Tucker struggled mightily during his ‘cup of coffee’ with the Astros in 2018, failing to impress in his 72 plate appearances, the Astros have high hopes for this 2015 first round draft pick. Praised for his hand-eye coordination and strong plate discipline, it’s only a matter of time before Tucker puts it all together at the major league level. Kyle has the luxury of playing for a World Series contender, which has allowed him more time to develop in the minors before cracking the big league starting lineup. The Astros expect Tucker to bring that progression to the major league level at 2019, and he should fit in nicely to an already stacked batting order once he gets acquainted to major league pitching.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

5. Austin Riley (3b, Atlanta Braves) – The hot corner in Atlanta belongs to Austin Riley once the time is right, and it appears that time will be 2019. His raw power combined with an above average arm and athleticism makes him a dual threat at the plate and in the field. Riley is not afraid to strike out at the plate, as his contact rate could use some work. With a little refinement, he should slot in nicely to an already power-packed Braves lineup. With so much protection around him, Riley could find himself in contention to deliver the same Rookie of the Year crown that Ronald Acuna Jr. brought to Atlanta in 2018.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

6. Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals) – Suffering an injury that took him down for much last season, this rare five-tool talent is expected to return to form in 2019. All was not lost for the Nats however, as Robles injury opened the door for the emergence of Juan Soto. Robles is expected to be the rookie to watch in Washington in 2019, possessing a blend of power, speed, and athleticism that make him a dynamic player. He should have no trouble getting on base often, and keeping opposing hitters off the base pace with his defense in center field.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

7. Nick Senzel (3b/2b/OF,  Cincinatti Reds) – Drafted second overall in the 2016 draft, Senzel should help boost the Reds infield in 2019. While the team will appreciate his versatility in the field, fans will love Senzel for his pure hitting ability, as he is a contact hitter who doesn’t strike out often and earns plenty of walks as well. The Reds have a good track record of developing similar players (see: Scooter Gennett), and with the Reds adding Sonny Gray and Yasiel Puig in the off season, Senzel could be the missing piece to help spark a wild card push in Cincinnati.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

8. Brendan Rodgers (infield, Colorado Rockies) – Great bat speed? Check. Mammoth home run power? Check. Playing all his home games in Coors Field? Check! All signs point to Rodgers being a shot in the arm to the Rockies offense in 2019, joining the likes of Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon with his 30+ home run per season potential. Rodgers has improved his K:BB ratio over his minor league career, and is touted as an above average defender capable of playing multiple infield positions. He could be a late season call-up depending on how competitive (or lack there of) the Rockies are in 2019.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

9. Forrest Whitley (SP, Houston Astros) – The second Astro featured on our list, Whitley’s arrival at the major league level will bring much needed depth to a thin pitching rotation. Beyond Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, the ‘Stros will need to find consistency, and could turn to Whitley early in the season. He posted a ridiculous 143 strike outs over 92 innings in 2017, but found his 2018 season shortened due to a drug violation suspension. Although his command could use a bit more work, he has multiple plus pitches, including a 12-6 curve and slider with late movement to compliment a 98 MPH fastball.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

10. Peter Alonso (1b, New York Mets) –  A power hitting first basemen who will play his rookie season in New York. That should be all the convincing that you need that Alonso could be the real deal. The Mets top prospect mashed 36 minor league long balls in 2018, while hitting .285 and drawing nearly triple the amount of walks he did the previous season. As long as he can improve and show consistency at the plate, he will be given a pass for his below average speed and average at best defense. At 6’3″ and 245 lbs, this 24 year old should be the talk of the town if he can live up to the hype.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

**Bonus** : Justus Sheffield (SP, Seattle Mariners) – A little home town bias before we wrap up, shall we? The Mariners acquired Sheffield as part of the deal that sent ace James Paxton to New York. The M’s believe they have their ace of the future in ‘Shef. He posted a 2.48 era over 116 innings between AA and AAA in 2018, while striking out 123 batters. With a wipe out slider and above average sinking fastball, Sheffield will play a pivotal role in the youth movement in Seattle and will find himself in the starting rotation in 2019 and beyond.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

What do you think of our list? Did we snub someone who you’ve got your eye on? Let us know in the comments below who you think will be a rookie force to be reckoned with in 2019!

Guest Bloggers Wanted! Write for the COMC Blog!

Hello COMC Nation!

We are putting out a Call to Arms…err…Pens…hmm.. Keyboards! We want you to write for the COMC Blog! We want to offer the talented writers of the COMC Nation a platform where they can share their experiences in the trading card card industry and be read by thousands of fellow collectors! We’re hoping that this initiative will help bring a wealth of diversity and different collecting backgrounds and points of view on the hobby to our blog.

Here are just a few ideas of the type of guest blogs that we are looking for:

  • Personal Collections: Do you have a collection that features a specific player, team, set or theme? We want to hear about and see your collection! Share your story and pictures of your collection!
  • How Do you use COMC?: Our team absolutely loves Customer Testimonials. How do you use COMC for your collecting experience? Do you have any good tips for buying or selling that you wan to share with others? Do you want to talk about your ‘flips’ and steals? Sound off and let us know!
  • Your Favorite Sets & Cards: Can you tell us why a card or two stands out the most to you? Does a particular insert set have a place in your heart? We want to hear about it!
  • Top 10 lists: Everyone loves lists right? Share with us your ten favorite cards in your collection, or ten favorite cards of a particular player!  You get the idea!
  • Expert Analysis: Do you know more about a particular set, theme, or niche in the hobby that anyone else does? Share you wealth of knowledge with us!
  • Your Hobby Experience: When did your journey into the trading card industry get started and where is it now? Share your history in the hobby with fellow collectors!

To Submit a Guest Blog: We ask that each guest blog be at least 500 words, and contain at least two photos and/or images of trading cards. Using images found on COMC is encouraged!  Blogs can be submitted via email body, word document, or any other standard file format. Simply send your content to Jamesgood@comc.com. In your email, please include a brief biography (1 paragraph or less) about yourself, so that our readers can have a little insight into who you are and what you collect!  Please include your COMC username as well! We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

The Good Word: It’s in the Game!

One of the best parts about my job at COMC is the amount of collectors I get to talk with about the hobby on the weekly basis. Whether it’s at The National talking to our members in person, or retweeting personal collection pick ups on twitter, it’s fascinating to see what collectors enjoy collecting and how they build their personal collections. I was recently talking with one of the members of our Developmental Team who didn’t collect cards prior to joining the COMC Team, but is slowly carving out his niche in the hobby – collecting trading cards featuring dogs!

That conversation led me to the discovery of a set that I had never seen or heard of before – The 2006 Enterplay Nintendo Nintendogs set. Nintendogs is a real-time pet simulation video game that was released on the handheld Nintendo DS console almost 15 years ago. This would fall somewhere in the timeline after the rise-and-fall of Tamagotchi toys, but before social media and mobile games such as Farmville gained massive popularity. The game spurned a whole slew of spin-offs and imitation games that can be had for a buck or two at any used gaming store.

Furthering down that rabbit hole, I wondering what other video game themed trading card sets were out there that I didn’t know about. To my surprise, the answer is shockingly not that many. Before we go any further, for the sake of this blog post, I’m removing all Pokemon related cards from the discussion, as that is a video game that has transcended beyond gaming to pop culture status. My Grandmother can name far more Pokemon than just Pikachu, and she hasn’t played a single video game since the days of Atari in the early 1980’s.

The origin of video game related trading cards can be traced to the 1980 Fleer Pac-Man Stickers set. Each $0.30 pack contained 3 stickers, 3 trading cards, and 1 piece of gum, with each box consisting of 36 packs. The cards themselves even feature a cleverly designed rub-off game that is essentially the Pac-Man game built into a card. The price point is interesting at $0.30, considering a game of Pac-Man at the arcade would cost you $0.25 (or your whole pocket of quarters, because who only plays one game of Pac-Man?)

Nintendo appears to have initially been hot on trading cards as they began to make a name for themselves in the United States. In the late 1980’s, they released stickers and several trading cards sets that featured similar scratch-off games themed after popular video games such as Double Dragon, Punch Out!!!, Super Mario Bros, and the Legend of Zelda.

Perhaps the lack of retail success of these sets could be the attributed to the reason why Nintendo branded trading cards all but dropped off the face of the earth in the 1990’s. While there were a handful of food issue cards and promo cards included with video games, there are very few Nintendo trading cards from the 90’s. In fact, the only real video game set with any hobby relevance appears to be the 1993 Topps Sonic the Hedgehog set, a Sega-brand character, and even that is a set that COMC has seen very few cards from over our existence.

It strikes me as odd that the 16-bit and 64-bit eras of gaming in the 90’s are incredibly underrepresented in the trading card world. The Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 produced so many great series that would have translated well into  trading card sets, such as Kirby, Yoshi’s Island, Donkey Kong Country, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter just to name a few. Even Sony didn’t venture too far into the world of trading cards, with only a couple of sets released highlighting Final Fantasy, one of their flagship series at the time.

It wasn’t until Enterplay acquired the licensing rights to several of Nintendo’s most popular franchises in the late 2000’s that video game related trading cards would see any sort of consistency with products and releases. Along with the aforementioned Nintendogs set, they also released sets for Nintendo Wii games such as Mario Kart , Super Mario Galaxy, and the Legend of Zelda. While it appears that Enterplay still has a partnership in place with Nintendo, they’ve since shifted their focus almost entirely to the My Little Pony Collectible Card Game, which now has over a dozen different sets since it’s debut in 2012.

My biggest issue with the Enterplay cards is that they’re emotionless, featuring very uninspired designs and characters ripped straight out the video games. These cards do a very poor job celebrating these beloved franchises, which have been well represented elsewhere through time by big named artists and fan-created artwork that put the Enterplay cards to shame. I understand that Enterplay is a relatively small player in the trading world, and probably needed to keep production costs down on these products, but even fan submitted artwork om these sets would have drastically increased the overall production quality. Give me an insert featuring painted landscapes of all of the locations in a Zelda game, or the tracks in Mario Kart. But don’t expect me to get excited over cards that come across as second-rate marketing material.

Arthur Morgan from Red Dead Redemption. An incredibly complex character who struggles with morality and social stature of the life of turn of the century cowboy.

So where do we go from here? Video game sales topped $43 billion dollars in 2018, an 18% increase of 2017. We’ve come along way from the days of 8-bit side-scrollers and top-down racers. Gaming franchises are only becoming more beloved as their creators tell deeper and more complex stories, with characters displaying stunningly human-like ranges of emotions, motivations, desires, flaws and traits. I would argue that most story-driven video games do a better job with their narratives than even the very best Hollywood movies can accomplish. So why do we have so many non-sports card sets for  movies such as Doctor Strange, Aliens, and James Bond, but none of Final Fantasy 10-15, Red Dead Redemption, or Assassin’s Creed?  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a knock on movie cards , but rather a call to action for the gaming industry

Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins made nearly $10 million dollars in 2018 as Fortnite’s most popular streamer and gaming personality. He appeared on the cover ESPN Magazine, sparking a transition into full blown celebrity status.

Fortnite is the biggest video game on the planet right now. Children, teenagers, and even (or, especially) adults spend literally hundreds of dollars on a game that is free to play by purchasing cosmetic items that allow them to customize their character. These items have zero effect on competitive game play. With Fortnite’s publisher Epic Games making money hand over fist with their product (the company has an estimated value of $8 billion dollars), why aren’t card companies like Topps, Upper Deck, and Panini eagerly trying to acquire the licensing rights? There HAS to be a multi-million dollar market for these products just waiting to be capitalized on.

Imagine if a card manufacturer was able to sign some of Fornite’s top competitive players and popular streamers, offering chase cards that granted those who pulled a card the opportunity to play with some of these players? It doesn’t even matter what the quality of the product was at that point, that concept alone would sell insane amounts of product. Those unfamiliar with the concept of eSports and video game streaming culture may not understand why this would be a big deal. So imagine if you busted a pack of trading cards, and inside you won a trip that involved taking batting practice with Kris Bryant, or running routes and receiving passes from Patrick Mahomes II, or learning how to shoot threes with Steph Curry. For those ingrained in the video game world, who watch these players on a daily basis the same way we watch sports athletes, it’s the exact same concept.

Perhaps I’m just angling too hard for the cross-over potential of two things that I love and am passionate about. The history of video game related trading cards over the years paints a picture of repeatedly missed opportunities. There have been a lot of clever innovations over the years in the video game industry. Nintendo is among the those at the forefront of that effort, from utilizing NFC-technology in their Amiibo figurines to creating Nintendo Labo DIY kits that are functional robotics with just the technology of a Nintendo Switch controller. But aside from Pokemon cards, they don’t seem to have a desire or clue how to take their franchises, their most powerful asset, and capitalize on the beloved characters and stories they’ve created over the last 40 years. Maybe it’s time to pause and hit the reset button, because they’ve been playing the trading card game wrong for a really long time.