How to Break Cases of 2012 Topps Series 1 Baseball and Make Money
With each series of Topps' flagship base product I try to bust as much as my orders will fill. This year I have ordered 50 cases of 2012 Topps Series 1 Baseball and plan to increase it to 60 cases, most likely. For many years, base Topps has been one of the most reliable breaks for case breakers not concerned with losing their shirt. True, some complain that each year is like the last. However, many collectors like continuity, at least for a few years. It also makes things predictable for breakers. Personally, it makes it easier to do pre-sales. Topps also does a good job of changing things up just a bit and adding value with new inserts, parallels and things like this year's already announced wrapper redemption program.
Using breaks from previous years as a starting point, I'll outline the returns one might expect from a multi-case break of 2012 Topps Series 1 Baseball. One thing I should point out is that these numbers do not factor in the amount of time that is needed for these results. You will need days and weeks to rip, scan, list, sell, sort, and ship while dealing with emails and possibly returns.
Crunching the Numbers
Last year, the average case breaker paid around $450 per jumbo case, possibly up to $500. This year the cost went up and most will pay $500+ per jumbo case. From the case breakers I visited with, most saw profits of $200 to $400, taking into account what they paid, the series released, their bigger pulls, their customers, and the time frame in which they moved their inventory. Personally, on all three series of 2011 Topps Baseball, I averaged a $396 per case ROI after all costs and fees were accounted for. That is a huge number when you consider how many cases I broke.
I am often asked how Topps can yield so much return. There are many basic reasons, such as volume of collectors, overall popularity, the relatively inexpensive case cost, and the variety of inserts, parallels, short prints, and hits, among others. At times, I break down the numbers with others to see what we can expect from the average breaks of, say, six jumbo cases (or four hobby cases) or more.
Breaking Down 2012 Topps Series 1 Baseball
What should the average breaker expect with 2012 Topps Baseball?
I'm already seeing some challenges. Costs are increasing for almost everyone this year. Also, pre-sale set prices are lower than last year. Prior releases saw base sets selling for $25-$35 plus shipping and master sets going for $125-$150 plus shipping. Plus, 2012 has less parallels than last year, including the loss of the popular serial-numbered Gold cards. That said, 2011 Topps Update was bloated with too many parallels.
There is good news, however, even with some items not returning. The Gold Rush wrapper redemption program, for starters, is a great addition. Plus, many see more value in the manufactured pins, rings, and coins compared to last years gloves, especially if you saw how well the ones from 2011 Topps Football did. Other value-added programs will help too. A new Gold-themed code card program begins. The Prime 9 redemption program returns. Of course, there will be plenty of short print and variation cards whether you like them or not.
Perhaps the biggest excitement will come from some highly desirable signatures. There are also several autographs and autographed memorabilia inserts featuring signatures from superstars and Hall of Fame guys like Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Stan Musial, Cal Ripken, Mike Schmidt, Albert Pujols, Eric Hosmer, and many others.
Breaking Down a Jumbo Case
First, I want to begin by saying I hope to accurately represent the average break. There are many factors that go into all breaks, yet base Topps is one of the most consistent breaks, series after series. I do not base my numbers off my expectations or results as I have done this for a long time and have over 1,200 customers I deal with directly through my contacts. I mostly pre-sell sets. To give you an idea, I have already pre-sold 366 base and 16 master sets of 2012 Topps Series 1 through email.
Typically, for each product there is a formula for determining the best number of cases to open to get what you want. If you choose to open just one or two cases, you may not have the same results as you will not have good odds of pulling bigger items. More importantly, you won't be able to complete sets of the tougher inserts or parallels that add to the bottom line of an overall break. You also won't have as many repeat buyers bidding on your items since there is not as much in your inventory.
One example of this was the serial-numbered Gold parallels from previous years. Pre-sells and opening-week sales would generally go for $330 to$380, yielding about $1 per card for a 330-card set. However, a bundled lot of 200 different Gold cards might only go for $100, or just $0.50 per card. It might be a bit more opening week, but still not at $1+ per card average.
Plus the more you open, the more clients can bundle things. You can move large quantities of 10, 100 or even 250 base sets. This may get a breaker a better deal versus listings those sets individually over a long period where prices might fluctuate. This doesn't just require the quantity, but a good client base as well.
All things said, I will try to show what a case might get you if you begin selling now or at least release week.
Please note, these are estimated numbers, taking into account selling prices before fees and before any shipping you may collect.
Each 2012 Topps Series 1 jumbo case should yield the following:
(6) 330-Card Base Sets = $120
(1) 595-Master Set with Inserts = $100
This is actually tricky this year since there is a 75-card insert set that, if one per pack, will take over a case to build.
(60) Gold Code Cards = $180
Wait until the site goes live or wait until April/May when the codes dry up. At this point, there are no retail value boxes or Series 2 cards. Codes have gone up to $3.50-$4 each the past two years.
(60) Golden Moments Parallels = $40
Maybe more on multiple cases and selling sets.
(60) Wrappers for Redemption Program = $30
This is based on earlier programs. However, if you redeem them you might to do even better, especially if you hit an autograph.
(6) Prime 9 Redemption Cards = $15
This brings us up to about $485 so far towards our $500-$525 case cost. Now comes the unknowns as we do not have the exact odds yet or know all the specials and SSP cards. Not to mention, especially in smaller quantity breaks, much of these results will depend on the players pulled.
(18) Hits - 6 Autos, 6 Relics, 6 Manufactured Pins, Rings, Coins, etc = $180
These hits actually average more than $10 early on, and some of the autographs can bring $50-$100+. With so many big names this year and low print runs, we could see some at $200-$300. Last year I averaged $17 per hit from base Topps. Sure, you have many $2-$5 relics, but relics from bigger players, autographs, autographed relics, jumbo patches, etc can really add up. On the other hand, it can be less too, but not much.
(4+) Black Border = $30
These fell at a rate of 3-6 a case last year. Again, it depends on the players pulled, so I stayed with a nice average of early sales.
(3?) SP Legend Variations = $35
Last year, these fell anywhere from 2-5 per box. This is also assuming they will be made again. These add great value.
(1+) Silk Collection = $15
In 2011, some boxes had two and some had none. This all depends on the player with some going as high as $50 or more. Being conservative, I stayed on the lower end.
That would bring our total to an average of $745 per case. Extra base or insert cards could be combined to make extra sets or sell in lots. Rare hits, such as the just-announced Pujols and Jose Reyes super short prints, printing plates, 24K Gold Cards, and the 1/1 Solid Gold, Platinum and Wood parallels could send returns even higher.
Based on these numbers you are looking at profits of $220-$245 per jumbo case. But, again, we are missing the Gold cards and the case prices jumped this year. I expect the veteran breaker with even a small customer base that breaks six or more cases to expect returns of $200-$300 per case if they locked in at about $500 per case. Those who got slightly better pricing and pre-sold when base sets were closer to $25-$30 each and master sets were $110-$130, could see better results. Of course, if you hit a 1/1 card, huge auto, sweet jumbo patch, or a 'Golden' card, things only gets better. That is why the bigger breakers do well, as they generally hit at least a few high-end cards.
Many case breakers will miss the serial-numbered Gold cards as there was a strong collector base for them. The Platinum Diamonds that debuted in 2011 did not sell as well in Series 2 or Update. The new 2012 Golden Moments parallels are very similar.
I asked Mark Sapir of Topps about the Gold cards. He said they felt they had added enough gold and various inserts and parallels to go without them. Yet, they are reconsidering their inclusion for 2013. Maybe we can see them return in Update with a 990-card set, like with last year's Cognac and Hope Diamond sets.
No matter what the numbers are, I am thrilled to be breaking 2012 Topps. It marks the beginning of a huge streak of breaks that, for me, includes Heritage, Allen & Ginter, Bowman, Gypsy Queen, and others. It is the flagship brand that always yields surprises and brings joy to collectors of all ages. It brings out many big case breakers and collectors who chase after code cards. It can pack more excitement with its hits than many other high-end brands. As with any product, it is not for everyone, but it is as close as any release all year. As Mark Sapir told me earlier this week, "Topps 1 is as always a beautiful product that will delight our collectors. It's a celebration of baseball with a great base set, wonderful inserts, tons of content and special surprises."
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