This Week in Sports Cards #3

Is it still considered “junk wax” if it costs over $50? I cover a few boxes that Reed Kasaoka, the head buyer for DA Card World (and previously for Baseball Card Exchange), once said people considered junk but aren’t junky later in this post.

Observations from Mudrick Capital’s Investor Presentation on Taking Topps Public via SPAC

Mudrick Capital Topps Investor Presentation

I am not a financial advisor, and I don’t buy individual stocks, so I’m not recommending buying or selling Topps stock. Still, I read through Mudrick Capital’s Investor Presentation and wanted to share a few observations from the eyes of a collector who also enjoys business & economics.

  • I had no idea Michael Eisner owned Topps.
  • Confections (candy) make up 35% of revenue.
  • Digital is only 6% of revenue and is later called out as a huge growth opportunity, which makes sense in this digitized and decentralized economy. In fact, NFTs allow Topps to design smart contracts to take 10% of every re-sale of an NFT…forever, an interesting business prospect.
  • As a publicly traded company, I can’t see Topps noticing the flipping of retail products from Target and Walmart and not raising prices to capture that value. In fact, later in the deck, they call out e-commerce as an opportunity.
  • They called out Garbage Pail Kids as part of their iconic portfolio of brand partnerships, duh!
  • Engaging customers through edible entertainment sounds like a reach to me. I could see Topps spinning off confections or selling this part of the business someday to concentrate & focus on the “Topps” collectibles brand.
  • I really like the balance of a trusted brand with innovation, innovation, and more innovation. They recognize every company is a technology company and will accelerate before someone passes them by (something 3rd party graders should learn from).
  • Potential partnerships with eSports and gambling look exciting in the ecosystem, particularly for collectors over 21 years old.
  • In the risk section, at the end of the deck, they say COVID has had an adverse impact…really? Cards have been on fire! They also say that “Our business depends in large part on our vendors and outsourcers, and our ability to effectively operate our business, as well as our reputation, may be harmed by actions taken by these third parties outside of our control.” I think this is a way of alluding to bringing supply chains in-house and “influencing” retail partnerships. Lastly, they say that the management team has limited experience managing a public company, so I suspect a leadership shakeup follows.
  • While I’m not a modern collector, I hope Topps is looking to compete for licensing deals with the other major sports – competition is always good. Or that the major sports would consider licensing to multiple companies/manufacturers of cards. I’d love to see Topps Basketball cards again.

Hobby Reads

Junk Wax That Isn’t Junk

I remember a discussion amongst unopened box and pack collectors about “junk wax” from over five years ago. For those who don’t know, Junk wax is the unopened product from the era when Topps, and other companies, were flooding the market with cards (~1988-1994), and they were really cheap to buy.

Reed Kasaoka said something along the lines that if he were looking to hoard a product from this era that many people consider to be plentiful but actually isn’t, these are the products he would buy.

  • 1988-91 OPC Baseball
  • 1986-88 Leaf Baseball
  • 1990/91 Upper Deck French High Series Hockey
  • 1991 Bowman Baseball
1988 OPC Baseball Box

Of course, he caveated the entire conversation that he really had no idea where prices were going. But based on the recent boom over the past year, I’m not sure any of the boxes would be considered junk any longer.

Here are a few recent eBay sales, of BBCE authenticated boxes from that list:

  • 1988 OPC Baseball – $80
  • 1989 OPC Baseball – $175
  • 1990 OPC Baseball – $200
  • 1991 OPC Baseball – $160
  • 1986 Leaf Baseball – $150
  • 1987 Leaf Baseball – $750
  • 1988 Leaf Baseball – $25 (Not BBCE)
  • 1990/91 Upper Deck French High Series Hockey – $100-150 (BBCE doesn’t wrap boxes that have factory wrapping)
  • 1991 Bowman Baseball – $50

In the News

Ungraded 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle Poll

1952 Topps Mantle Poll

Last week I ran a Twitter poll asking collectors how many ungraded 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle cards they thought were still out there. As of this writing, PSA lists 1742 graded 1952 Mantles in their population report (the card is considered a double-print in the high-series).

I made the poll on a whim, and my intuitive guess was that there were around 300 ungraded 1952 Mantles still to be “found.” But as I thought about it more, I now believe there are more than 300 out there. Many old-timers still don’t grade cards and have raw set runs across Topps and Bowman’s entire print run. I also had a few collectors reach out to me and tell me some incredible stories of huge raw collections that buyers have seen from the past few years. The most ungraded 1952 Mantle’s I recall seeing in a photo is around 10.

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle

And then, low and behold, after posting the poll, I saw an article from Sports Collectors Daily about the South Dakota Find from which PSA graded two raw 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards (One PSA 7 the other PSA 2).

It seems the majority of collectors agree, with 53.6% of the votes, from 84 people, was for more than 300 1952 ungraded Mickey Mantle’s in the population, again, not crazy when 300 is only 17% of the current graded population.

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