The NFL Playoffs are rushing towards this year’s Super Bowl, with the Conference Championship games taking place this Sunday. The NFC Conference Championship will see Buccaneers QB Tom Brady appear in his 9th conference championship game in the last 10 years, having now played in 14 conference championship games in his 21-year career. His opponent will be the #1 seed Green Bay Packers led by QB Aaron Rodgers, who many experts expect to win the MVP award this season. A snowy Sunday forecast for Lambeau Field should create an incredible atmosphere for this epic matchup of two great quarterbacks.
For the second season in a row, the AFC conference championship will feature the Kansas City Chiefs, who had another dominant season following their Super Bowl victory last year. They’ll take on Josh Allen and the rising Buffalo Bills in what will be the Bills’ first conference title game appearance since 1994.
Who will hoist the Lombardi trophy as victors of Super Bowl LV? We will have to wait a few more weeks to see, but it has already been a truly incredible NFL season.
The Season that Almost Wasn’t
As with most professional sports in 2020, the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic created uncertainty surrounding the NFL season. The NFL developed a plan to isolate coaches, players, and staff in hopes of preventing the spread of COVID. Although all of the preseason games were cancelled, the NFL kicked off a full 16 game regular season on September 10th.
The NFL was able to design the season with proper flexibility to move games to alternate dates and days of the week, or even switch teams that would play in the event of COVID spikes. After a 19-week season, and a total of 256 regular-season games on the schedule, the NFL managed to play all 256 games.
Several Teams Find New Homes
The 2020 season marked the Raiders’ debut in Las Vegas after spending the past 22 years in Oakland. The Raiders franchise is no stranger to moving and changing cities. After making their debut in 1960, the Raiders called Oakland home for 22 seasons before moving to Los Angeles in 1982. The team would then return to the Bay Area in 1995 and remain there until their move to Las Vegas this season, the third move in franchise history! The Raiders’ new home in Las Vegas is Allegiant Stadium, which opened this fall.
Two teams which moved to Los Angeles in recent history also settled into their new home this season. 2020 was the inaugural season for SoFi Stadium, the home for both the Chargers and Rams in Inglewood, CA. COVID restrictions in California prevented attendance at SoFi Stadium this season, so we will have to wait to see the 70,240 seat stadium filled with fans.
It’s All in a Name Change
After many years of debate, NFL owner Dan Snyder dropped the Redskins name and imagery from his franchise in July 2020. Although there was a plan to announce a new team name and mascot before the season began, the re-branding timeline was pushed into the future and the team will be renamed at a later date. For the 2020 season, they’d be known as the Washington Football Team. The first official Washington Football Team trading cards appeared in some of the 2020 football products, including Prizm.
Top Quarterbacks Change Teams
Another storyline which made the 2020 season special was that some of the NFL’s most well-known quarterbacks found new homes.
After 20 years with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady became a free agent and found a new home with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or “Tompa Bay” as their fans would soon say. Brady largely lived up to the hype and led the Bucs to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2007.
Tom Brady’s departure left a big question mark at QB for the Patriots: who would Belichick choose as Brady’s successor? The Patriots sent shockwaves through the football world by signing 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton, a former #1 overall draft pick and the longtime QB for the Carolina Panthers. The hobby’s reaction to the news reflected excitement and optimism for Cam to succeed with the Patriots, and his football cards were rapidly bought and sold in the hours following the news. Although Newton showed flashes of his former greatness, the Patriots ultimately finished at 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
After mutually agreeing to part ways with the Chargers franchise after 16 seasons, Philip Rivers found a new home with the Indianapolis Colts, leading them to the playoffs with a wildcard berth this season. This would be his final NFL season, as Rivers announced his retirement from pro football on January 20th.
Quarterbacks Rule the Game
Some of the game’s younger quarterback are quickly becoming faces of the NFL. One of those is Patrick Mahomes, who has already won an MVP award and a Super Bowl in his first four seasons. Putting up another brilliant season, Mahomes has the Kansas City Chiefs poised to make a run at back to back Super Bowl victories.
Several other young QBs are taking their place in the spotlight too. The Bills’ Josh Allen and the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson each led their teams to the playoffs, and 2019 #1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray showed signs of growth in his second year with the Cardinals.
The 2020 NFL Draft featured a trio of talented young quarterbacks in the top 10 picks. #1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow was Cincinnati’s starting quarterback from the beginning of the season, but unfortunately suffered a season ending injury in Week 11. #5 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa showed his potential to be a future franchise quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. The early favorite of the 2020 rookie QB class, however, was the player taken one pick after Tua, the Chargers’ #6 overall pick Justin Herbert. He broke Carson Wentz’s 2016 NFL Rookie record for the most completions this season, and passed for a near-record of 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns in his rookie campaign.
Don’t Miss COMC’s Football Finale Auction Event
Football card collectors, don’t miss COMC’s eBay Homepage Auctions Event January 25th – 31st. Building up to this year’s Super Bowl, this “Football Finale” Auction Event will place a special focus on modern football cards and is the perfect opportunity to find high-end football cards to add to your collections and portfolios.
While the eBay homepage the promotion will be focused on football cards, COMC Auctions lists new 7-day, $0.99 auctions across all major sports every night from 5-9pm PST. Shop auctions ending soon here! And with a COMC account, you can transfer your auction wins from COMC’s eBay store directly into your COMC account to ship later or try to flip. Link your COMC and eBay accounts today at COMC.com/Manage/AuctionsWon to take advantage of this incredible feature of COMC!
Whether you have hot football cards of your own, rarities from Pokémon, or high-end trading cards from nearly any other category, COMC makes it easy to sell them! Please review our “COMC Supported Trading Cards” blog for more information about which cards can be consigned with COMC, and get started selling with us at COMC.com/sell!
About the Author:
Andy is the COMC Marketing Manager, bringing a wealth of marketing experience combined with a passion for trading cards. As an active hobby investor, he enjoys collecting and selling trading cards, especially football cards. Andy’s energy and enthusiasm are shared with the local community through his volunteer efforts at the theater and shouting from the stands at the University of Tennessee football games.
“To grade, or not to grade?” This is a question which many collectors found themselves asking more and more as the trading card market reached new heights in 2020. Most collectors have their own preference for ungraded (“raw”) or graded cards when it comes to their own personal collection, but might be new to the process of sending cards off for grading themselves. Submitting your cards for grading will require research, money, and patience, but could ultimately result in profit and peace of mind for you.
Let’s examine some of the important pros and cons of getting your trading cards graded.
Why you should get your cards graded
Protecting Your Investments
Graded cards hold up much better over time than a standard raw card. If you want to invest in a player that you believe in, grading their cards is an excellent way to protect your investment for the long haul. Raw or poorly-protected cards can get lost or damaged over time, but grading them can help preserve their condition and value.
It’s a great idea to get cards graded of some of your favorite rookies or prospects. If you think they’re going to become a superstar later in their career, getting their cards graded early on could prove to be very lucrative in the long run. By the time the players are in their prime, you’ll already have graded copies of their cards in hand and ready to sell with confidence.
Simply put: the higher the grade, the better it sells! If you pull a low numbered parallel of one of the game’s hottest players, that’s great. Getting it graded and having it come back as a 9.5 or 10 is even better. Many buyers are willing to pay steep premiums for high-grade copies of certain cards, creating opportunities for value creation if you have a good eye for gem mint raw cards.
Grading a card provides you with an expert valuation of its condition, which is extremely beneficial whether you intend to sell or hold the card. Buyers who are particularly selective about the condition of raw cards know exactly what they’re getting with a graded card, saving you the headaches of condition-related returns claims.
Even if you have no intentions of selling the card, having it graded will help you establish its value and authenticity for your own collection.
There is no better form of protection for a card than a graded slab. The slabs themselves are very difficult to damage, and you won’t have to worry about the safety of the card inside. While a scratched or chipped slab might negatively affect the value, it takes a lot to damage graded slabs as long as you are careful handling, storing, and shipping them.
If you have after-market autographed cards from TTM or in-person signings, major grading companies can offer an extra sense of security that the autograph on the card is authentic. Authenticity can also be a concern for vintage cards, and getting them graded will establish that they are not counterfeit or altered.
Online Certification Database
When your card gets graded, it gets added to the grading company’s database and assigned its own certification number. This certification number could help identify your card if it were to ever be stolen, which can be especially valuable for vintage or otherwise unnumbered cards.
Why you shouldn’t get cards graded
If you want to make quick cash, forgo grading and sell your cards raw. As the trading card industry boomed amidst the pandemic, turnaround times at most major grading companies became much slower than expected and are still in flux today. Given how volatile the trading card market can be, your cards’ value will likely change during the time they are going through the grading process. For leading grading companies’ standard services, many collectors have been waiting for more than six months to receive their cards back. If you’re looking to sell your card in the short term, think carefully before sending away for grading unless you are using one of the fastest turnaround services.
While some grading companies offer services starting at $10 per card, these low-price services come with longer turnarounds and certain maximum value restrictions. Grading in bulk or using more premium grading services comes with substantial upfront costs, never mind the opportunity cost associated with sending the cards away. Beyond the grading fees themselves, you must consider all of the costs of getting the cards to the grading company in the first place. Unless you have the opportunity to drop the cards of for grading in-person, this will include supplies, postage, and insurance for your shipment. So, if you’re going to get your cards graded, you better be sure they’re going to be worth the investment.
They Can’t All Be Perfect Tens
Receiving high grades can add value to your cards, but for some modern cards any grade less than “Gem Mint” 9.5 or 10 could result in the loss of value. A card which might seem to be a Perfect 10 to the untrained eye could still have flaws, resulting in disappointment when it comes back with a less than mint grade. Even the adage of cards being gem mint fresh out of the pack isn’t always the case. Before you develop your own eye for Gem Mint Tens, consider seeking a second opinion on the condition of your cards before submitting them for grading. Another risk which must be considered is that your cards will be damaged or lost in the process, so be sure to ship them to the grading company with the utmost care.
Graded cards can be hard to store compared to raw 3 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ cards which can be easily preserved in widely-available nine-pocket pages and cardboard boxes. Some collectors will invest in custom boxes, containers, or even display cases to keep all their graded cards together, but those can be expensive and take up a lot of space in your home.
Low Value Cards
If you’re considering grading low-end cards, you should carefully evaluate whether its even worthwhile based on recently sold listings and overall demand for the card. In many cases with base and widely produced cards, there are enough cheap raw options available where sellers would probably end up losing money on a lot of what they sent away to get graded.
One of Ones
There has been much debate within the hobby about whether or not one of ones are worth grading. Some collectors would argue that the only time you should ever get a one of one graded is if you’re 100% sure you’re going to get a 10. After all, why go to the trouble of grading a one of one when there’s no other copy out there in better condition than yours? Conversely, grading can help establish a card’s authenticity as a true one-of-one.
We hope this blog provided you with some informative pros and cons about grading your trading cards. When considering grading your cards, remember to ask yourself “Is this worth the risk?” Good luck!
COMC.com accepts consignments of cards from many of the leading grading companies, including PSA, BGS, and SGC. To see the full list of grading companies whose cards we accept for consignment, visit this link. COMC also offers a Condition Review service, where 2-3 people independently look at the physical item and determine the condition rating. To learn more about COMC Condition Review, visit COMC.com/grading.
About the Author:
Roman Tomashoff is a Senior Trading Card Specialist at COMC. Prior to working at COMC, Roman worked in the sports department at the Everett Daily Herald newspaper. He’s a big fan of baseball, football, and basketball, the proud dad of two dogs, and he’s been collecting cards his whole life. His personal collection includes a wide array of Boston Red Sox, Washington Huskies, and New England Patriots cards.
2020 has been full of surprises that no one, not a single one of us, has ever asked for.
Every year typically has a few defining moments, but this past year has contained so many world-changing, paradigm-shifting developments that it’s getting hard to believe we’re not in a simulation that’s running every possible scenario at once.
Against the backdrop of the global Coronavirus pandemic, the events of 2020 brought new challenges no one was prepared for, changing the way we live and how we connect with each other.
This year has taken many things from us — birthday celebrations, live concerts, and simply hugging the people we love. But COVID-19 cannot take our love of trading cards.
It can be said that 2020 was the year of the trading card hobby boomed during a pandemic. It was a year that saw wax and online exclusives from trading card manufacturers sell out instantly, and retail card aisle shelves empty shortly after each restock. 2020 also saw the hobby embrace purchasing fractional shares of trading cards, giving collectors a vehicle by which they could own a part of a trading card grail they could never own otherwise.
In many ways, this year saw more growth in the trading card hobby than any year before. Even the boom of the junk wax era of the mid-80s and 90s could not hold a candle to the explosion that we witnessed this year. There were many events that helped drive that increased interest in the hobby this year: some from the sports world, others from hobby influencers, and others born out of tragedy. This is a look back at all of those events, and how they shaped the biggest trading card boom ever.
Kobe Bryant’s Death
2020 started off with what can be described as a national tragedy. On the cold winter morning of January 26th, the devastating news began to spread that NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, along with his oldest daughter Gianna, several of her teammates, coaches, and friends, had all perished in a helicopter crash just outside of Los Angeles, California.
Sports fans began to flock to anything that helped them to connect to Kobe, including his basketball cards. Kobe’s legacy lives on through the fans he inspired, and he will be officially inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in May 2021.
The Last Dance Effect
As winter turned to spring, so did the attention of the sports world to another NBA icon. In ESPN’s documentary series “The Last Dance”, basketball fans got a closer look at Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ 1997-98 NBA championship team.
Originally scheduled to premiere in Summer 2020, ESPN made the decision to move up the premiere of the series to April in light of the pandemic. It provided a way for sports fans to re-live one of the greatest championship runs in sports history during a time when the return of live sports was still taking shape.
Michael Jordan was already an icon within the sports card hobby. His 1986 Fleer rookie card is considered by many collectors as one of the holy grails of the hobby. The Last Dance fueled even more interest in his legacy, leading to unprecedented all-time highs in his cards’ values.
Zion-Mania Takes Off
Looking to basketball’s future stars, “Zion-mania” had the hobby in overdrive chasing rookie cards this year. Zion Williamson, the New Orleans Pelicans’ #1 overall pick out of Duke, may have had the most highly hyped and sought-after basketball rookie cards since LeBron James. The chance of pulling red-hot Zion rookies sent unopened wax of the newest releases into never before seen heights.
Zion was just one of many talented rookies in a 2019-20 class which also featured Ja Morant and Tyler Herro. All of a sudden, collectors and flippers alike were buying up hangers, blasters, hobby boxes, and more in the hopes of pulling the next hot rookie they could flip for profit. It drove the prices and demand for new releases sky high and left many collectors wondering if they would be able to even find or buy any basketball card products at retail prices again.
Panini Mosaic Emerges
Another factor driving the basketball trading card fever was Panini revamping Mosaic Prizm to a wider release as the standalone Mosaic product. Mosaic Prizm Basketball had been released as a limited-edition online product since the 2016-17 season. The re-configured 2019-20 release of Mosaic Basketball brought a new spin on the product to a much larger audience, including blasters and hanger packs which flew off of retail shelves.
Panini followed up the success of the new Mosaic Basketball with 2020 Panini Mosaic Football. The fervor for this product was driven by the rookie cards of three quarterbacks: Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert. Just as with Mosaic Basketball, the product was impossible for many collectors to find on retail shelves.
The Ups & Downs of Topps Project 2020
Even as plans for a 2020 MLB season were still up in the air, Topps ignited the market for baseball cards with its Project 2020 set. Partnering with some of the best-known modern artists from around the world, Topps had created a way to marry the cutting edge of art and design with classic baseball cards.
Topps picked 20 of its most iconic cards and had each of the 20 artists chosen for the project recreate them in their own style. Two new cards were released each week and were only available for a 48-hour period on Topps’ website. Topps would print as many of the cards as customers’ ordered, and the initial print runs hovered around ~2,000 copies of each card.
What started off with little to no fanfare would grow to become one of the biggest stories of the hobby this year. As the hobby began to take more notice of Project 2020, collectors sought after the initial card releases such as the Ben Baller Ichiro and Ermsy Trout. Cards that were originally sold through Topps website for $19.99 were being sold for hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars on the secondary market. Once collectors and flippers saw these incredible returns, they started ordering more and more of the newest releases directly from Topps, pushing the print runs from less than two thousand to tens of thousands of copies. Project 2020 saw its peak print run with Keith Shore’s version of the 1989 Topps Ken Griffey Jr. rookie: 99,177 copies!
Those elevated print runs would ultimately be the downfall of Project 2020. As flippers bought more cards, the scarcity of the cards evaporated, and so did the profits. Project 2020 officially wrapped up in December 2020 and has left the hobby community with many valuable lessons and exciting questions. Will we see more on-demand card releases in the years to come, and will the hobby continue to cross over into art and culture?
Baseball is Back…Maybe
Although it is hard to remember, traditional spring training was just getting started in February prior to the impact of the pandemic. Players began to gather at their teams’ spring training locations, all while keeping a close eye on the news about COVID-19, and wondering if their season would happen at all.
This year’s baseball season came with a lot of hype, and high expectations for several young budding superstars. All eyes were on Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. following his fantastic sophomore season in 2019. Baseball fans and sports cards collectors everywhere were ready for him to have truly superstar season.
Collectors’ eyes were also on two potential future superstars in the Nationals’ Juan Soto and the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. Soto’s 2019 season ended with a World Series win for Washington, and Tatis Jr.’s rookie season in 2019 had many collectors seeing flashes of a player who could become one of the game’s biggest and brightest future stars.
The interest in all three players had collectors scooping up 2020 Topps Series 1 cards as fast as Topps could print them, in search of both these superstars and the next wave of talented rookies. The hype heading into the 2020 season also saw an explosion in collectors chasing any high-grade versions of superstars’ cards. From autographed cards, relics, and more, collectors could not get enough of baseball’s superstars.
2020 also saw a continuation of a hobby trend that picked up speed in 2019. More and more collectors were paying top dollar for high-grade cards of the hottest superstars across all sports that were not the players’ traditional rookie card. Before in the hobby, collectors were only willing to pay top dollar for players rookie cards, but now collectors were willing to pay big bucks for top graded cards of players second, third, fifth, eighth-year cards, and more.
Love for Panini Prizm Continues to Grow
2020 also saw the continuation of the trend of collectors flocking to a player’s first Panini Prizm card as well. The love for Panini Prizm cards is no secret in our hobby. Collectors have the yearly Prizm releases for individual sports marked on their calendars. The chase for players’ Prizm rookie cards became increasingly competitive both upon release and in the secondary market, leading to desolate retail shelves shortly after each restock and rising online sales activity and prices.
Another important trend was the chase for veteran players’ first Prizm card with a specific team. An example is card #129 in 2019-20 Prizm, which is LeBron James’ first Prizm card picturing him in his Lakers uniform. Though the card is from LeBron’s 17th season at the time, high-grade parallels of that card have sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. This led collectors to chase other superstars’ first Prizm releases such as the 2014 Prizm World Cup soccer cards of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s a trend that exploded in 2020 and could grow into 2021.
Soccer Cards Surge
Speaking of soccer, or as our friends around the world would say “football”, no other sport experienced the level of exponential growth that soccer cards did this year in the hobby. Prior to 2020, soccer had been considered a distant 5th place among the most popular sport among collectors, but this status quo has been disrupted.
Thanks to several young stars and 2022 World Cup hopefuls, the fervor for soccer cards took the hobby by storm this year. Young superstars Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, and Jadon Sancho each set the soccer card world on fire as collectors worldwide chased after the limited quantities of their cards available. American players such as Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reyna, and Weston McKennie impressed fans as international competition resumed, fueling excitement for soccer’s future in the United States.
As 2020 comes to a close, soccer cards are argued by some to have passed hockey cards as the fourth most popular sport in the hobby this year. With the next World Cup looming in 2022, the surge in soccer card sales likely isn’t stopping anytime soon.
Pokémon’s Return to the Spotlight
Talking about growth in the hobby this year, raise your hand if you foresaw the unprecedented growth and resurgence of Pokémon cards? It seems like every day a Pokémon card is selling at a new record price thanks to celebrities continuing to showcase their high-grade collections.
Recent Pokémon releases featured stunning full-art and holographic cards of Charizard, and collectors chased after increasingly rare sealed boxes and packs of the original Wizards of the Coast releases. As the saying goes, “everything old is new again,” and this could never be truer than for Pokémon cards in 2020.
Collectors who were captivated by the original cards as children are now in their twenties and thirties, and are paying top dollar to “catch them all” decades later. If you still have a Pokémon collection from your childhood, you should check to see if you have some of the iconic cards driving the Pokémon market, such as holographic Charizards and the elusive Gold Star rares from the EX series.
As with every year, collectors are always seeking and hunting for the next big thing in the sports card world. 2020 was no different, with this year’s future star card chase revolving around one of baseball’s biggest prospects in Jasson Dominguez.
Collectors had good reason to be excited about Dominguez. He’s a power-hitting outfield prospect for the Yankees, one of baseball’s most popular and perennially competitive teams. At the time of 2020 Bowman’s release he had just turned 17 years old and had yet to appear in a professional game, but scouts were reporting a bright future and high ceiling.
His 2020 1st Bowman Chrome card and its autographed parallels became must-have baseball cards upon release. As collectors pulled more of the cards and got them graded, the prices only continued to rise, with some of his high-grade cards selling for five figures at their peak.
Without a minor league season in 2020, we have still yet to see if Dominguez’s hype will translate to on-field success. Although he’s likely a few seasons away from his major league debut in the Bronx, his minor league debut in 2021 is anxiously anticipated by card collectors.
Balling in a Bubble
In an effort to complete the 2019-20 NBA season that was put on hold earlier in the spring, the NBA decided to resume play in July for a shortened finish to the regular season in a “bubble” in Orlando, Florida. The games were played in one location to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
There were 22 teams that were invited to the bubble: the 16 teams in playoff position and the six teams within six games of playoff position. With less active teams and higher stakes games, there was a mad dash to buy and flip any and all players that performed well in the bubble, with surprise breakouts including Bol Bol and T.J. Warren.
All in all, the NBA Bubble created the perfect storm for collectors during a pandemic and exemplified just how volatile the trading card hobby has become. With little to no other sports to distract collectors, all of the hobby focus was on the bubble games.
We Finally Got a Shortened Baseball Season
Last but not least on our 2020 hobby journey is the MLB Playoffs and the World Series. Much like the NBA, Major League Baseball decided to play the World Series from one location and showcased the Rangers’ brand new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
Compared to the NBA Bubble, the MLB Playoffs were fairly quiet amongst collectors. Even with superstars such as Mookie Betts, Fernando Tatis Jr, and Ronald Acuña Jr. in the pennant races, collectors were less engaged game to game. That was until rookie right fielder Randy Arozarena broke out for the Rays in the American League Division Championship Series.
Randy had a fairly quiet regular season, but he would leave an everlasting mark on the playoffs and the World Series. He would set the record for the most hits, total bases and home runs in a single postseason run. After his ALDS breakout to help the Rays get past the Yankees, the hobby was clamoring for his cards.
Since Arozarena had been so under the radar, very few of his cards had been graded and those that had been became like gold to collectors. He was featured in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform in both 2020 Topps Series 1 and 2020 Chrome, so the few cards of him in a Rays uniform at that point were also sought after.
Thanks in large part to Randy’s record-setting performance and late-game heroics, the Rays were able to stretch the heavily favored Los Angeles Dodgers to a sixth World Series game, before eventually losing as the Dodgers finally captured their first World Series since 1988.
It will be interesting to watch Arozarena’s sophomore performance this coming season and see the hobby’s reaction. Was his 2020 postseason dominance lightning in a bottle, or the beginning of a great career?
What a Year 2020 Proved to Be
So how do we sum up 2020, what has been the strangest year in all of our lives, when it comes to the trading card hobby? It was first and foremost a year of tremendous growth for the hobby. Some say the hobby grew by 3 times, 5 times, and even 10 times in size this year. 2020 was the year with more active collectors than ever before engaging in the hobby. Some of these new entrants were true rookies to the hobby, while others returned to the hobby after years or even decades away from cards.
This year saw the hobby make the news again in print, on the airwaves, and across the internet. Newspapers, magazines, and more media outlets excitedly reported the hobby’s phenomenal growth amidst the pandemic. The hobby received TV coverage on ESPN and cable business news channels as well. As cards become mentioned more and more alongside stocks and other tangible investments, the great debate amongst hobbyists continues as to whether or not trading cards are true investments.
If 2020 left us with anything, it left us knowing that our hobby is stronger than ever. The passion collectors have for the hobby was on full display this year. We are all the caretakers of this hobby we love and enjoy. Let us remember to take care of it, take care of each other, and together we will enjoy this hobby for many more years to come.
About the Author:
Andy is the COMC Marketing Manager, bringing a wealth of marketing experience combined with a passion for trading cards. As an active hobby investor, he enjoys collecting and selling trading cards, especially football cards. Andy’s energy and enthusiasm are shared with the local community through his volunteer efforts at the theater and shouting from the stands at the University of Tennessee football games.
It’s no news that Pokémon saw an incredible resurgence in popularity in 2020’s trading card market. Everyone got in on the action, including celebrities and entertainers such as Steve Aoki, Logic, and Logan Paul. Across social media and streaming platforms, live content and “box-breaks” took off allowing collectors the opportunity to watch and buy into live Pokémon breaks.
So, what’s next in the world of Pokémon? I’m going to explore some key 2020 sales, highlight products to look out for, and suggest some unique opportunities for your collection. I’d love to hear from you (I’m @laurrrrmeow on Instagram) if you need advice on your collection, or come across any newly discovered Charizards!
2020’s Biggest Sales
PIKACHU ILLUSTRATOR CARD
At a record-breaking $233,244, the Pikachu Illustrator card broke the internet and went down in history as one of the most important single Pokémon sales ever. The Pikachu Illustrator card is incredibly rare, as it was given out as a prize only to winners of a 1998 illustration contest. It is estimated that only 20-39 of these exist in the world and even fewer that remain in PSA-high grade condition.
1ST EDITION SEALED BOOSTER BOXES
The OG for most collectors is Pokémon’s inaugural 1999 Base Set. Base Set soared as collectors and entertainers chased after increasingly-rare sealed products, with 1st Edition Sealed Booster Boxes leading the way, now commanding at least $300,000 in the open market. With the growing popularity of community box breaks, the 1st Edition Base Set product is becoming incredibly scarce in sealed format, fueling explosive price growth. If the trend of “unboxing” continues, the supply will continue to run thin on early-era Pokémon sealed products.
Pokémon Cards to Watch
There is no denying Charizard is one of the only Pokémon to hold value and interest no matter what era or set it comes from. The holy grail is the 1999 Base Set First Edition Shadowless Holo which sells for upwards of $25k based on its condition. More than 20 years later, the big guy has the hobby on fire (no pun intended) making a popular appearance in
Champion’s Path, which can barely stay in stock in retail locations. If you’re lucky, you can find a Champion’s Path Elite Trainer box at retail ($50) on the shelves at your local Target or Walmart giving you a chance to pull one of these fiery beasts. There are many key Charizard cards from over the years, so it’s important to research their differences in rarity and value. You can’t go wrong collecting Charizard as you will always find new opportunities to add to your collection.
1ST EDITION PIKACHUS
I purchased a 1st edition Jungle Pikachu in a PSA 10 on October 12th for just under $500. On October 18th, it sold at auction for $950. It almost doubled in price in under a week. Now with any dramatic price increase, you should think carefully about what the price reflects. From being Ash’s starting Pokémon in the anime to starring in the Detective Pikachu movie, Pikachu is iconic and a natural starting point for collectors entering the market. As the 1st Edition Base Set Pikachu starts to become too expensive for most collectors, they will look towards other desirable Pikachu cards. 1st Edition Jungle is one example, but there are a lot of incredibly fun Pikachu promo cards and holo releases.
Promo cards are a major part of Pokémon, with the majority being Japanese-exclusive. Some promo cards (like the Illustrator) tend to be very exclusive due to the fact that they are produced in limited quantities for special events, sometimes unavailable to the general public.
Japanese Promo cards have been causing quite a stir in 2020. I recently purchased the Lillie & Clefairy Pokémon Dream League Promo back in September for $25 and we’re seeing bids at Auction already for $120 in PSA 10. Another Promo Card released this year was the Eevee Futsal, only available in the UK. This exclusive card was only given out if you were a registered Club team for The FA Pokémon Youth Futsal Programme. These cards are already seeing strong price growth, and word on the street is that the Pikachu Futsal promo card is next to be released!
Another hot promo this year was the Special Delivery Pikachu card, and it was FREE. If you follow me on Instagram (@laurrrrmeow), you know I gave early access and details on how to snag one via my story. If you didn’t catch it, stay tuned as I release promos and special deals on a daily basis. Charizard is next and it’s going to break the internet. Believe it or not, this promo was absolutely free with any purchase over $20 on pokemoncenter.com, but you had to know where to look. The card was under a “hidden category” and quickly went out of stock as soon as word got out. If you were lucky enough to get one, consider holding on to it. This free card is now selling on eBay for $130 raw and the scarcity of the card could drive the price up well into the new year. The free bundle also came with a Pikachu Christmas ornament. Check it out below.
If you can get your hands-on sealed products from early-era Pokémon in 2020, you have gold! Some sealed products to consider investing in are Japanese Base Set Starter Decks (did you know you get a random holo in each one?!) and older sets (depending on your price range). The newer products to look out for are Hidden Fates and Champion’s Path, and the exciting new Vivid Voltage.
My number one tip whether you’re just starting to invest in Pokémon, or you’re expanding on your personal collection, is to collect what you love, and not just buy what’s popular. No matter what is happening in the market, it is important to consider what matters most to you as a collector. If you are investing in this market, start with cards or sealed products that have some level of rarity. Whether it’s 1st Edition Base graded cards or exclusive promos – it’s hard to go wrong. If you are just starting out or have a small budget, I would suggest entering the market gradually. Educate yourself on promo releases and try to build a unique collection. Build on that gradually, accumulate some binder pieces that mean something to you and keep your cards in mint condition. Pokémon is redefining the definitions of modern art and investing and 2021 is going to be another revolutionary year!
Do you collect Pokémon cards? Check out COMC’s selection of over 20,000 different Pokémon cards at comc.com/cards/pokemon. If you’re looking to cash in on your collection, COMC actively accepts your Pokémon cards for consignment, including CGC graded cards! For more information about consigning trading cards with COMC, visit comc.com/sell.
About the Author
Laura is a member of our customer service team at COMC, and is a long time sports and trading card investor with a passion for discovering and collecting some of the rarest Pokemon cards in the world. She is always on the hunt for sealed product, especially out of print Pokémon and non-sports cards. She enjoys participating in box breaks, auctions, and adding new cards to her personal collection daily. Follow her on Instagram (@laurrrrmeow) to see all of her latest finds!
Following the success of June’s eBay Auctions event, we are excited to announce that COMC Auctions will be featured on eBay’s homepage from August 10th – 16th. This is the perfect opportunity to greatly increase the visibility of your auction consignments!
The focus of this event will be basketball as the NBA resumes their 2019-20 season, but high-end trading cards from all sports and genres are welcome for this event! Premier League Soccer has resumed play, and the MLB is starting their 60 game season in July.
Items must be received by 7/31 to be eligible for this promotion.
Here’s everything you need to know about submitting your sports cards for maximum exposure in this event.
When and how to submit your cards:
COMC users have multiple options for submitting cards for this event. Whether you already have cards consigned with us which you’d like to auction off, or you are considering sending new cards specifically for this event, details and key dates are listed below:
Mail-In Submission Deadlines
Cards received 7/18 – 7/24will END during the promotion Cards received 7/25 – 7/31 will BEGIN during the promotion
To create a new mail-in auctions submission, visit “Start New Submission” in your COMC Account and select the “eBay Auction” processing service as shown below.
Transfer to Auction Deadlines
Cards submitted for transfer 7/17 – 7/23 will END during the promotion Cards submitted for transfer 7/24 – 7/30 will BEGIN during the promotion
If you already have cards in your COMC Inventory Manager, you can send them to auction in just a few clicks. This includes cards you bought from other consignors on our site! Right click on “Actions” and then select “Send to Auction” to begin the auction transfer process.
Important Auctions Reminders
As you consider participating in this exciting auctions event, there are a few key reminders we’d like to share:
The minimum fee per auction, regardless of the final sale price, is $3.50. For the best possible experience, we do not recommend you submit cards to auction which will not reach a final sale price of $20 or more.
There are no cancellations once we receive your auction submission.
For more information about our auctions service, please refer to our Auctions and Auctions FAQ pages. We are so excited for you to participate in this promotion!
The first ever Sport Card Expo: Virtual Edition is now in the books. We hoped that you enjoyed this past weekend’s expo as much as we did. We want to thank everyone who stopped by COMC’s virtual booth! We tried to make it as interactive as possible with the virtual dice roll contest and the daily box breaks. We’ll take this experience and we’ll make our future online convention appearances even better!
Without further adieu, here are the winners for our giveaways during the Virtual Expo!
Virtual Dice Roll Winners
ROLL A 3, 4, OR 5 – 2015 Leaf Executive Collection Walter Payton Autograph – joshpackham
ROLL A 6 OR 7 – 2017-18 Upper Deck #247 Brock Boeser RC – ThirstyWombat
ROLL AN 8 – 2017-18 Upper Deck #221 Alex DeBrincat RC – RodKish10
ROLL A 9 – 2016-17 UD Ice Frozen Fabrics Red #FF-JQ Jonathan Quick #03/20 – After5Sportscards
ROLL A 10 – 2014-15 Panini Paramount Penmanship #P-KW Kevin Willis #69/99 – mlo9813
ROLL A 11 – 2018-19 Upper Deck #499 Brady Tkachuk RC – nickwise10
ROLL A 12 – 2015-16 Fleer Showcase PMG Blue #MU-12 Mikko Rantanen #48/50 – marshdel
ROLL A 13 – 2016-17 Compendium Blue #900 Auston Matthews RC – legionitalia
ROLL A 14 OR 15 – 2017-18 Upper Deck #201 Nico Hischier RC – tylerg215
ROLL A 16, 17, OR 18 – 2016-17 MVP #364 Mitch Marner RC – DallasDamfit
To claim your prize, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and username before 23:59:59 PDT August 21, 2020. This email is strictly for use to handle trade show prize claims. Any other customer service related issues must be sent to email@example.com.
Friday Box Break Results
Here are the results of from the Friday Box Break – Email firstname.lastname@example.org before 23:59:59 July 4th, 2020 to claim your prize if you didn’t acknowledge us at the booth after the break.
MichaelTBond (Predators) – 2019-20 UD Update #516 Jarnkrok
cws_cards (Blues) – 2019-20 UD Update #527 Walman; 2019-20 SPA Spectrum FX #S-75 Kostin
No hits were awarded to the following – LeighT89 (Flyers); Camronn (Wild); Panterika (Flames); Costa1000 (Canadiens); Damfit (Canucks); Chrisrobertson99 (Rangers); gilly310 (Senators); RS2002 (Predators); ThirstyWombat (Blackhawks); Stevey (Stars); Hopeman0921 (Bruins); boris213z (Avalanche); SportsCardCollector (Coyotes); 2018Collects (Oilers); kokos1000 (Maple Leafs); benlottie (Panthers); vcarneiro (Blues); yideeman (Jets); Fletcher_hater (Red Wings)
Surprisingly, we pulled a 2017-18 SPA Great White North #GWN-BO Bobby Orr Certified Autograph Card out of the 2nd pack of the 2nd box. With no team logo, we randomized 4X in honour of Mr. Orr among all 31 participants. The lucky username was smk12335. Congratulations! We look forward to seeing you at the next show – either virtually or in-person.
COMC will be in attendance at the Sportcard Expo – Virtual Edition on June 19 & 20th. Thanks to the sponsors of the show, attendance is free! We will be answering questions you may have on how COMC can be part of your hobby experience. Due to internal system limitations, we will not be able to respond to specific account user questions.
Take Advantage of our Mailbox Service
Use our mailbox service to save time on shipping. Expo sellers can send all of the cards sold to the COMC as one shipment. Cards can be deposited into buyers’ accounts through the mailbox service. Just have your buyers create a COMC account and label their purchases with that name. This will allow buyers to piggyback their Expo purchases with COMC purchases for lower cost per item shipping with buyer protection. Buyers can request shipments to their COMC Mailbox accounts for the above reasons. Read more about our mailbox service at https://www.comc.com/mailbox.
*Mailbox submissions sent to our US office will experience processing delays. Current Mailbox processing times begin when packages are opened.
Virtual Dice Game to Win Real Prices
A COMC member will roll die on account holder’s behalf for a chance to win prizes. Winners will be drawn the week of June 21st and will be announced on our Facebook page. To claim your prize, email email@example.com by August 20th, 2020 and we’ll add the card into your account along with store credit to cover shipping. Limit one roll per account.
Free Daily Box Breaks
We will be offering random team breaks to any COMC account holders who would like to participate (limit one slot per household). Winners will receive only the “hits” (no base / commons) and will have to be at the booth the “pick up” their prize. More details will be announced at the show.
Disclaimer & Conclusion
As this is the first show of its kind, we may encounter some technical difficulties, so we add the precautionary disclaimer that the show events are subject to change.
We hope you can attend its event and visit the vendors that would normally set up at the Toronto Expo.
COMC Auctions headlining the eBay Homepage June 15th – June 21st!
Inserts and Parallels have been making a big splash in the sports card markets. Some of them newly created, and some a depiction of past inserts. This Auction Event is themed around this current trend, so don’t miss this opportunity to get additional exposure for your unique cards!
When to submit your cards:
Auctions STARTING during promotion must be received by COMC between 6/1 – 6/5 Auctions ENDING during promotion must be received by COMC between 5/24 – 5/29
Marvels Inserts are taking off! Previously, this Marvel LeBron James card was valued and selling for less than $5.00. Prices over the past few months have soared to over $250.00! The Marvel set as a whole is highly collectible, so what better time to send them to COMC Auction? Get your submissions in now to ensure they arrive in time for the event!
Prizm baseball is on the rise. Take a look at the 2012 Prizm Mike Trout Rookie #50 for example. This was selling for less than $10 over 2 months ago. The current market value has surpassed the $100 mark and is consistently hitting close to $120. With a 1000% increase in price, now is a great time to send in your Prizm Inserts & Parallels!
2016 Optic Holos
Optic Holos have been on fire in the marketplace. Here we see the 2016 Optic Holo Tom Brady. Prior to the surge, this card was selling for roughly $5-10. Now, prices are anywhere from $140-160! The Optic Holo price jumps are not limited to just football; basketball is also seeing huge increases. Get all your Optic Holos in now!
This page is monitored and updated to provide real-time information regarding the status of our services affected by our precautions taken in accordance with the WHO, CDC, and WA State guidance, as well as potential staffing limitations due to the global pandemic, COVID-19.
As of Jan. 11, all counties/regions within Washington State are currently in Phase 1. We are continuing to expand COMC operations while maintaining compliance with the state mandate. To learn more about these restrictions, refer to the Washington State Coronovirus Response Page.
Expect delays and refer to this page for status updates and changes. All digital purchases and sales through the COMC Marketplace and in your COMC account will continue as normal.
We are hiring for positions on our Processing and Shipping teams in our Washington offices. As new hires are trained we will improve our shipping and processing times. If you are interested in applying please visit our COMC Job Board.
We will keep you updated on our Processing and Shipping backlog progress by letting you know the oldest due date we are working on in a given week. All non-guaranteed services will be worked on from oldest to newest.
Lead times will begin when packages are opened – expect delays of up to 3 weeks, particularly Mailbox submissions.
We are currently working on the following due dates:
Economy Shipping: 11/23 – 12/30
Completing final remaining past due orders for:
Current Year 3 Week
Canada Economy: Orders placed thru 11/11 will ship by February 5th.
Canada Rushed: Orders placed thru 1/14 will ship by February 26th.
International Economy (non-Canadian orders): Currently working on orders due up to 12/18 Note some countries do not currently have mail service so some packages may need to be held longer. Please review the list of countries not currently accepting international mail on the USPS International Service Alerts page.
Please note we are working as quickly as possible in both Processing and Shipping to complete all past due items. Our Customer Service Team is unable to process any expedite requests for items with due dates on or after the dates listed above.
Items Stored Remotely: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the processing of some consignments is required to be done in a remote facility. The “Stored Remotely Standard Shipping Only” designation, while not optional, is only temporary while these submissions make their way to one of our fulfillment centers; please note that we are unable to provide an ETA as to when this designation will be removed for a given submission.
The following service levels are currently affected:
To better support the processing of previously submitted items and reduce any additional delays, we have suspended our 12 Week Service effective 5/12. We feel the gravity of suspending this service and look forward to bringing back a more affordable processing option for you, once we’ve made significant progress on our processing backlog.
Lead times will begin when packages are opened – expect delays of up to 3 weeks, particularly Mailbox submissions. We are prioritizing opening packages containing Elite, Auction, and 1 Week submissions.
The following service levels will still receive a processing discount for items deposited after the due date:
Vintage and Obscure Services
Comic Book Services
The following services are not eligible for processing discounts due to delays for the duration of the pandemic:
Current Year 3 Week
Effective April 1, 2020 the Shipping Bonus Credit has been temporarily suspended.
The wonderful differentiator with COMC is you can buy now and ship later. We want to encourage our customers to take advantage of that and please ship later. Customers should expect slower shipment times on all services and we are not guaranteeing ship dates.
We are suspending support for in-person customer drop-offs/pick-ups.
We are suspending phone support. Please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please expect delays in response time.
To ensure we are able to resolve your issues as quickly as possible, please include all of the following information when available:
Brief Description in Subject Line (Combine Shipment, Missing Cards, Return Item, etc.)
Detailed description of your request
The more detail you provide regarding how we can provide support without needing to request additional information, the quicker we will be able to resolve your issue.
We value your business and we are diligently working to complete orders as quickly as possible.
If you have changes or need assistance, please contact customer service at email@example.com.
Please stay safe and healthy during this critical time. Our thoughts are with the people and families who are affected by this health crisis.
Struggling to figure out which 2019 Bowman Chrome prospects to watch out for? Looking for a few potential sleepers this year? We have complied together a list of 10 prospects in the 2019 Bowman Draft product. This list contains everything from first round draft picks to potential sleepers that you may not know about, yet.
1. Adley Rutschman (Orioles) – With being the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, the top spot obviously had to go to Adley. The 6 foot 2, 216-pound catcher from Oregon State was a great pick up for the Baltimore Orioles. With only playing in 37 minor league games in 2019, he blasted 4 home runs, had 26 RBIs’ and added 33 hits. He also caught a combined no-hitter, so he is not lacking on the defensive end either.
2. Greg Jones (Rays)- This may be the most unique player in the draft. Jones is a switch-hitting shortstop that will most likely trend towards being a centerfielder. He is extremely athletic and puts that on display when running the bases as he took him 19 stolen bases in only 48 minor league games. He batted for an average of .335 and an OPS of .874. One thing that he will need to work out his striking out. He totaled 56 strikeouts.
3. Hunter Bishop (Giants)- Drafted 10th overall, Hunter brings in a ton of power batting from the left side of the plate. He is the younger brother of the Seattle Mariners prospect, Braden Bishop. Hunter stands at 6 5’ 210lbs which helped him tally 22 home runs his final season at Arizona State University. He is listed as an outfielder, but his home is centerfield.
4. Braden Shewmake (Braves)- Shewmake is not going to win the eye appeal, but he is going to be a fantastic shortstop for the Atlanta Braves. Unlike the other guys we have named, Braden does not have the big-time power bat. However, in 65 minor league games he was able to keep a .300 batting average, bat in 40 runs and total 74 hits. This kid knows how to hit without power.
5. Josh Jung (Rangers)- A very talented 3rd baseman out of Texas Tech had an outstanding batting average of .316 over the course of his 2019 minor league games (42 games, 2 teams). Jung is a great balance between an all-or-nothing player and all-around good player which makes him a safe bet to someday be a solid pro.
6. Riley Greene (Tigers)- Although drafted 5th overall by the Detroit Tigers, Greene fell on our list simply due age. At 19 years old, it could be awhile before we see him play any Major League Baseball. However, he did have an average to above-average minor league season with a .271 batting average, 60 hits and a .749 OPS. If you’re okay with waiting a few years, Greene is one to watch.
7. Rece Hinds (Reds)- Rece was a mid-2nd round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds out of IMG Academy. He suffered a quad injury early in the season which limited him to only playing in 3 minor league games. With only being one year out of High School this type of injury should not worry potential Rece Hinds investors. He has plenty of pop in his bat and should put that on display this upcoming season.
8. Matthew Lugo (Red Sox)- A late 2nd round draft-pick out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, Lugo has endless potential. He is only 18 years old and has shown to have a very strong arm at shortstop. Although not a power hitter, he did post a decent .257 batting average in his 41 minor league games.
9. Tyler Callihan (Reds)- A potential sleeper in the draft, Callihan has shown to have a bright future. With 57 games played in the minors last year, we got a good sample size of what Tyler has to offer. He posted a .263 batting average, .422 slugging percentage an added 6 home runs. He still needs to develop the power which he was scouted to have in High School, but at age 19, he has plenty of time to mold himself.
10. Peyton Burdick (Marlins)- Another sleeper in the draft, Burdick fell to the Miami Marlins in the late 3rd round but has already shown to the other MLB GMs’ that they missed out. Burdick played in 69 minor league games and hit a modest 11 home runs, .308 batting average, .407 OBP and a slugging percentage of .542. These are eye popping numbers for someone to fall almost to the 4th round. Expect to see Peyton in the Majors sooner than later.