Rich Klein can be reached at RichKlein@Comc.com
Rich Klein can be reached at RichKlein@Comc.com
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.
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
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.
In our ongoing series ‘Fresh out of the Pack’ , we shine the spotlight on the latest sets that have emerged on the COMC Marketplace. It’s been a little while since our last installment of ‘Fresh out of the Pack’, so a lot of products have
Fresh new inventory of these sets will be added for many months to come, so be sure to check back often!
Arguably the most anticipated basketball release of each calendar year over the last several years has been Panini Prizm Basketball. Panini’s stranglehold over the NBA trading card landscape over the last ten years thanks to an exclusive agreement with the NBA has resulted in the disappearance of once established key rookie sets like the Topps Chrome Refractor and Ultimate Collection Rookie Materials Autographs. In their place rose the new heirs to the throne such as the National Treasures Rookie Patch Auto and the Panini Prizm Silver Prizm.
Silver Prizms and their respective lower numbered parallels are the beck and call of NBA basketball collectors and speculators. We’ve seen meteoric rises of Silver Prizms of some of the game’s newest established stars in recent years. Jayson Tatum silvers were all the rage in 2017-18, while Ben Simmons set new heights in 2016-17. Kristaps Porzingis won collector’s hearts in 2015-16 Prizm, while others waited on Joel Embiid in 2014-15 Prizm. While Giannis Antetokounmpo proved everyone wrong when his 2013-14 Prizm skyrocketed, we can’t forget that the 2012-13 inaugural Prizm set featured a strong crop of rookies including Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving among others.
So now here we are in 2019 and the 2018-19 Panini Prizm market is truly starting to take form. There’s no doubt you’ve probably heard the names of the top rookies all making waves in the NBA this season. But what about the rest? That’s why we’ve got you covered with our list of 20 rookies to watch in 2018-19 Panini Prizm Basketball
7. Michael Porter Jr. – Speculation is building on Porter, who missed the majority of the 2017-18 season at Missouri and has yet to play in an NBA game. With no timetable for his return, the five star recruit out of high school doesn’t have the stat lines to back it up, but that hasn’t stopped his Silver Prizm from reaching the $50+ mark.
8. Collin Sexton – Sexton suffers the misfortune of playing for a post-Lebron Cleveland Cavaliers team, but he has performed impressively so far, posting almost 15 points per game.
9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – The Canadian Point Guard from ‘The 6’ has wasted no time getting acclimated to the west coast. Strong defense and the ability to score earns him a well deserved spot in our top 10.
10. Rodions Kurucs – The Latvian small forward has come on strong as of late, and has played well in limited time this season. He’s posted 24 points twice this season, earning him recognition among collectors and speculators.
11. Lonnie Walker IV – Suffering a torn meniscus in preseason was a setback, but the Spurs love what they see in the shooting guard from the University of Miami. Recently posted a 34 point performance in G-League action.
12. Mo Bamba – The Orlando Magic big man has posted decent numbers in his rookie campaign, logging 1.4 blocks per game so far. It also doesn’t hurt that a friendship with a popular rapper has resulted in off-court attention for Mo.
13. Wendell Carter Jr. – Carter has shown flashes of brilliance mixed with inconsistency under center for the Chicago Bulls. Still, a 28 point performance is noteworthy enough to find his way into our favorite sleeper pick.
14. Miles Bridges – The 12th overall pick of the draft finds his way into #14 on our list as a strong sleeper pick. The versatile small forward has all the athleticism to either erupt into a play maker or carve our a niche as a solid role player.
15. Allonzo Trier – The Knicks shooting guard has garnered attention coming off of the bench, warranting play time as the Knicks look to get young. Suffered a small set back with a hamstring injury a few weeks back.
15. Robert Williams III – Drew attention with two blocks on Anthony Davis in a game back in December. Strong flashes of defense and playing for a large market earns him considerations for our list.
17. Mikal Bridges – Playing along side Deandre Ayton, the small forward from Villanova has performed commendably, posting nearly eight points per game.
18. Anfernee Simons – He has displayed phenomenal talent at the preps, and has the athleticism to boot, but has yet do anything of importance at the NBA level during his rookie campaign. Still, we have the optimism and Pacific Northwest bias to land Simons a spot on this list.
19. Kostas Antetokounmpo – The last name alone is going to draw him attention and speculation. The younger brother of Giannis was the 60th overall pick of the 2018 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and then traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Let’s be honest, we all know what Giannis did, emerging from the ashes of mediocre stat lines to become a mega star.
20. Josh Okogie – Quickly becoming a T’Wolves fan favorite, Okogie has split time between starting and coming off the bench. We like the shooting guard’s potential.
One of the things we enjoy about these lists involving sleepers is that no one seems to want to tell us if they disagree for the sake of not drawing attention to the prospect they’re stashing! There are 53 rookies total in the 2018-19 Prizm base set, meaning 33 did not make the cut here. Who else deserves consideration? Let us know in the comments below!
(Note: COMC Communications Manager James Good wears many hats at COMC, including Social Media Manager and Blog Editor. While he does a wealth of the writing and curating of other blog posts found on our Blog, ‘The Good Word’ is a new regular Editorial style blog series where he will more openly share his opinions and thoughts on sports and trading cards.)
It is rumored that P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute”. I’d like to think that there are no such thing as suckers when it comes to collecting, but that every single one of us has a guilty pleasure or two that other collectors might see as silly or downright foolish. Whatever you want to call it, I have no shame in admitting that I love manufactured patch cards. Manufactured patches are hit-or-miss among most collectors, and I like how polarizing they are. There is very little gray area when it comes to them, collectors either love them or hate them.
My fascination with them began in 2008 when I was getting reacquainted with the landscape of the card industry following a hiatus from collecting. Among the first Felix Hernandez cards that I bought for my personal collection were his 2008 UD Premier Stitchings manufactured patches. The logo inside these cards was very well designed, and in Mariners colors as well.
The first Seattle Mariners card I ever fell in love with was obviously the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr.. The second was Alex Rodriguez’s 1994 Flair RC. The third card in that list is one from a set that most collectors are probably much less familiar with. When I first saw the 2007 Upper Deck Black Pride of a Nation set, I thought it was one of the most unique sets I had ever seen. I was 22 years old at the time and didn’t have a lot of money, but I was able to strike a deal with a collector via a forum and in four $25 weekly paypal payments I was the owner of this beautiful piece of cardboard:
I think that when done right, a well-designed manufactured patch or logo card is better than most authentic game used swatch jersey cards. Don’t get me wrong, there is no substitute for a sick patch, laundry tag, or logoman. But take a look at the below series of cards and tell me which one appeals to you more:
Ok fine, maybe don’t answer that last one, because as far as I’m concerned the Babe Ruth Jumbo from Tools of the Trade is the pinnacle of jersey cards. It goes without saying that most of the time we would much rather have a historical piece of the game over a manufactured patch, so my theory doesn’t exactly apply to legends and Hall of Fame players. Which creates an interesting question. I prefer the manufactured patches of Tim Lincecum and Peyton Manning shown above now, but what about fifty years from now? Will the overproduced jersey and patch cards of today’s greats be coveted or as remotely desirable as some of present day in-demand Hall of Fame memorabilia cards such as 1/1 bat knobs and the Babe Ruth that I shared above?
Card manufacturers will need to continually innovate as they roll out new products, parallels and cards that are intended to draw the interest of new collectors. For some lifelong collectors, flagship Topps Series 1 or the Young Guns RC’s in Upper Deck Series 1 hockey is more than enough to keep them ripping wax on a yearly basis. But as long as the demand remains for unique cards, the rat race of latest and greatest goes on. I think that manufactured patches, rings, and relics offer a solid creative outlet for them to continue to produce some unique additions to the hobby.
To wrap up the first installment of ‘The Good Word’, I felt compelled to share some of my personal favorite cards featuring manufactured materials. Enjoy!
We hope that your Holiday Bonus Sale is off to a good start! As we talked about last month in our major announcement, we wanted to take this opportunity to tell you more in detail about the changes coming to Sale Promotions and Port Sales starting on January 1st, 2019.
On December 31st, we’ll be retiring the current Sale Promotions structure of $3 per day with a 3% transaction fee based on the sale price of an item at the time of sale.
On January 1st, COMC Sellers will be able to set up their sales under our new Sale Promotions structure, which has a $1 per 10,000 items insertion fee and a Promotional Transaction Fee of 1% of your original Asking Price, assessed at the time of sale. You can run a Sale Promotion for 1-11 days and pay only one insertion fee.
When you set up your sale, you can choose not only your Base Sale Discount (not editable once the sale is live), but also set custom percentage off rules for individual items in your inventory as well.
Sale Promotions are a great way to have your item stand out from others on the COMC Marketplace. Items on sale are seen by prospective buyers in green text with a sales tag icon. In addition, your sale is featured on the On Sale page and on the main COMC homepage.
Starting on January 1st, we’ll be reducing the cost of Port Sales from $10 to $5 per week, or until the port is sold. Port sales are a great way to sell a lot of inventory at once to one potential buyer.
Thank you for your consideration, and as always, if you have any questions, our Customer Service Team is here to help! Simply send an email to email@example.com and our team will get back with you shortly! Happy New Year!