Case Breaking ROI Report for Every 2012 Topps Baseball Product

Case Breaking ROI Report for Every 2012 Topps Baseball Product

2012 was a strong year for baseball cards and for Topps. Many popular releases impressed with their designs, checklists, and content. At the same time, some of the newer, less popular products stood out with similar improvements. Rather than recapping each product's content I want to focus on products from a case breaking viewpoint in terms of 'breaking value' and Return on Investment (ROI).

This can be very different from a collector's viewpoint, a traditional dealer's viewpoint, and definitely from someone who just enjoys ripping wax. For me, how a product case breaks does not tell me if a product was a hit or not.

Some of my favorite products to collect are not wise to necessarily break at the case level, at least not to try and recoup your funds. It is also not Topps' goal or top priority to make sure that cases can be opened in this fashion and the cards sold for a profit. They have several factors and audiences to consider when putting a product together.

Case busting is one of the toughest things to do and do right. You have to be fast, have a customer base, have additional avenues to move product, and have strong relationships within the card community. On top of all that, you need tons (and I mean tons) of spare time. You have to dedicate yourself to customer service and efficiency. Successful breakers need to have useable supplies, patience, general card knowledge, and they have to know which products to take a crack at and what ones to avoid. Even having all of this does not equal success every time. In fact, most case breakers I spoke to just wanted to break even by year's end.

Often, if a case breaker makes a profit, it is only a few hundred dollars. This comes after an investment of thousands and lots of hard work. A sample timeline might be that the breaker makes $1,350 from Series 1, but then loses $1,000 on Tribute, only to turn around and make $500 on Heritage to then lose another $1,000 on, say, Museum. These are not exact numbers, but it gives a picture of the roller coaster ride case breaking often is.  It requires a lot of time to break even, but case busting can be fun as long as you at least break even. Losses can add up quickly, so be prepared.

Topps had 20 traditional MLB releases in 2012. The data here combines data on all of them. Sets that had non-traditional distribution channels, like 2012 Topps Mini Baseball, are not a part of the study. Also, neither of Topps' minor league releases are included. Over a three-month stretch, I collected data from various case breakers and complied it to give the most accurate info and ranges I could for each product. I included, when possible, a three-year span to show historical trends.

It should be noted that the past three years have been some of the best of the last decade. Many hot phenoms emerged during this span, like Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Trout, Yu Darvish, Jason Heyward and Giancarlo Stanton. So these results are not necessarily typical of past or possibly future offerings.

Before I get into the release calendar and data, there are some other important things to note. First, the data is raw and may not include every expense incurred nor the time involved. I found it interesting that most breakers do not track their sales or profits/losses very closely and left out many costs or fees associated with selling. Knowing this, I feel some of the data is more positive than actual results may be. Also, none of the data considers taxes that will need to be paid, if owed. So, take the data as ballpark figures.

Second, the data complied is a small sample size and does not mean that a product was a good case break or not. Every situation is different. Factors include costs and fees, delivery dates, eBay discounts, content pulled, amount opened, exposure on eBay and other outlets, and customer base. There are no sure guarantees either way.

Third, according to most veterans in this field, case breaking for profits has been getting tougher the past six to 12 months. Many think we are headed on a downward slope in the cycle.

There have been many new large-quantity case breakers that have come on board. There has also been changes in eBay fees and policies, rising postal charges, changes in delivery dates, and continued economic questions for most collectors.

Next, the data posted here was compiled from multiple case breakers that were willing to share some data with me plus some more research on my own. I have included the ranges within the data, and it can widely vary.

Finally, case breaking is nothing I personally would recommend to try and earn a living from. Can it be done? That depends on what your expectations are and how much you need to get by on. There are so many unknowns. There are so many factors beyond a breaker's control.

First and foremost for me, case breaking adds enjoyment and cards to my collection. It became a side business for me when I was spending too much money on cards and needed a way to recoup funds to further grow my collection. I never started out to make a profit, and, for many years, I did lose a good chunk of change. But I also had some nice cards to show for it.

Now, I do expect a profit by year's end. Because I've been breaking for so long, I don't think the goals I set would be realistic for someone starting out. Although stranger things have happened.

What Data is Included?

  • Data collected from up to 17 breakers per product. The lowest-reported product had only four breakers report data.
  • Data collected came from breakers that had case breaking experience prior to 2012. Also, all of the breakers do this as a side to their regular employment.
  • Data must have all costs, fees, supplies, and shipping factored into profits/losses at a minimum to count.
  • Data does not account for group breaks, sealed wax sales, or sales of graded cards. This mostly affects Bowman releases.
  • Data is included from breakers that broke at least three cases of products that cost $100 and less per box or at least two cases of products costing more than $100 per box.
  • Costs are not the absolute lowest or absolute highest, but as close to an average as possible. Most breakers fell within the range by pre-buying cases early on. But some may have gotten cases for slightly less or slightly more.
  • In order to consider it a 'break even' case break, breakers must have actually reported profits of at least 2% in case of data error.
  • Return on Investment (ROI) is shown as a percentage coming from (Total Gains - Total Costs) / Total Costs. Whereas as costs equals investments. Example: A breaker spent $10,000 on cases plus spent $1,000 on fees, shipping, supplies, etc. The breaker than collected $12,000 in total gains or money. Thus, $12,000 (Gains) - $11,000 (Costs) = $1,000, and then $1,000/$11,000 = 9.1% ROI.
  • Products are ranked from 1 to 20 based on % of breakers that broke even or better.
  • Products are listed in the order that they were released.

2012 Topps Series 1 Baseball

2012 Topps Series 1 Baseball Hobby Box 187x300 ImageRange of Case Costs 2012: $500 to $535 Jumbo / $575 to $625 Hobby

Range of ROI 2012: 4 to 41%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-5) to 48%

Break Even or Better 2012: 100%  /  Product Rank: 1st of 20

Product Notes:

Can anyone say Rally Squirrel? This was the one sure product of 2012 for the breakers I spoke with. A huge part was the initial Golden Giveaway code contest, which had the first 100 people to type in 200 codes get a complete die-cut set and an exclusive 1/1 gold-embedded card. Most of these went to breakers. Also, a strong wrapper redemption program with no limitations added to the bottom line.

The outlook for 2013 is not as certain with a different code program and, perhaps, no wrapper redemption. With the downward trends that came later in 2012 with Series 2 and Update, many are rethinking Series 1 for 2013. Overall, 2012 Topps Series 1 Baseball was a tremendous breaking value. It will probably be one of the safest bets in 2013, although case prices are rising and ROI is not expected to be as strong as past years. Just be prepared. It is a ton of work, especially if breaking it in quantity.

2012 Topps Opening Day Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $430 to $460

Range of ROI 2012: (-17) to 16%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-24) to 23%

Break Even or Better 2012: 56%  /  Product Rank: 7th of 20 (tie)

Product Notes:

This is a simpler version of base Topps, with a smaller set size and fewer inserts and hits. Those that do well with it have been opening it for years and enjoy it because few breakers mess with it. But fewer collectors chase it as well. Those I spoke to say it is possibly the most boring break of the year, but the cost is low and it is a great intro product for kids and new collectors.

2012 Topps Tribute Baseball

2012 Topps Tribute Baseball Box 260x184 ImageRange of Case Costs 2012: $1,850 to $2,100

Range of ROI 2012: (-33) to 16%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: -(-39) to 18%

Break Even or Better 2012: 40%  /  Product Rank: 11th of 20

Product Notes:

Topps Tribute is a fun product that continues to improve. Yet it is high-end. So, as a breaker, you are dependent on what you pull. However, the bright light for Tribute are the base and parallel cards, which are stunning and command more than many hit cards, depending on the player of course. This is a gamble as a breaker and the losses can add up to $500+ a case if you miss hitting a nice card or two. But it is a nice product. One thing that helped this year, as was the case with several releases, was a special eBay listing promotion that meant no fees. Every little bit adds up, especially with the higher starting listing prices and final ending prices of these cards. All but one breaker stayed broke between two and four cases.

2012 Topps Heritage Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $660 to $725

Range of ROI 2012: (-21) to 27%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-25) to 39%

Break Even or Better 2012: 67%  /  Product Rank: 5th of 20

Product Notes:

Heritage is a product that seems to do best in the five- to ten-case range. It is a lot of packs to open and a large set to sort, but that is the beauty of Heritage. The sets and short prints go over well with collectors. Outside of the flagship series, Heritage is arguably the second most collected baseball release from Topps. More breakers have been turning away from Heritage over the past few years, but mainly due to inconsistency. One year it does well and the next it seems to under-perform, but maybe 2013 will change that. We will have to wait and see what Topps has up their sleeves.

2012 Topps Museum Collection Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $1,850 to $2,100

Range of ROI 2012: (-39) to 11%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: N/A

Break Even or Better 2012: 33%  /  Product Rank: 13th of 20

Product Notes:

Although this is really just Topps Marquee 2.0, this set was widely praised for its designs and sweet patches. The autograph lineup was very strong as well. Unfortunately, as awesome a set that this is, it is still high-end. Therefore, it's not as easy to recoup your costs when breaking cases. Saying that, you never know with high-end when you are going to pull the big one. There's not much more exciting than that. Similar to Tribute, most breakers busted between two and six cases.

2012 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball Box 260x145 Image2012 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $900 to $1,025

Range of ROI 2012: (-37) to 10%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: N/A

Break Even or Better 2012: 22%  /  Product Rank: 17th of 20

Product Notes:

Gypsy Queen was the surprise product of 2011, in my opinion. It was short in production and was loaded with many nice and low-numbered hits. Needless to say it was high on my radar in 2012. This year, it saw an increase in production and several of the low-numbered hits were removed or restructured, making it more difficult to recoup one's investment. Also, while this product delivers more hits and autographs than, say, Heritage, the cost per box and case approaches some higher numbers. This makes it more of a risk. Furthermore, to many collectors (and breakers) it was a confusing set due to a different structure laid out for the short print and mini cards. As a collector, this is still one of my favorite releases. I love the on-card autographs. Topps did another outstanding job on the checklist, mixing legends and current players. Overall, 2012 was a big drop-off for breakers from 2011, so 2013 will have some question marks.

2012 Bowman Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $725 to $825 Jumbo / $660 to $725 Hobby

Range of ROI 2012: (-11) to 35%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-15) to 53%

Break Even or Better 2012: 80%  /  Product Rank: 3rd of 20

Product Notes:

This is a tricky one. Many who break Bowman hold cards. Some sell cases sealed and some get singles graded. Those who sold sealed product fared very well, especially on jumbo cases where many saw returns close to double of initial costs. Grading cards can help if you know what you are doing, and holding some cards, especially the cheaper prospects can pay off down the line. Most of the breakers that reported sold almost all their inventory in 2012, yet some held some cards. So these numbers may not include everything so that needs to be considered. Over the past three years, Bowman has been on fire. Before that, it was a tougher break. Even now, some cards, like the veterans and base sets, don't command much. Yet, there is so much added value through the various inserts, parallels, prospects, and hits. While 2013 may not have that Strasburg or Harper to chase, hopefully all the pieces will add up to some solid results.

2012 Topps Archives Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $750 to $800

Range of ROI 2012: (-23) to 27%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: N/A

Break Even or Better 2012: 44%  /  Product Rank: 10th of 20

Product Notes:

Another name-changer, Archives came after the not-so-successful 2011 Topps Lineage. Archives changed just enough to not only make it more sought after by collectors but to yield better results for breakers. Most I talked to either loved it or despised it. Personally, I enjoyed what Topps did to it, like bringing back classic designs with the card backs designed as the originals were. Plus all the late-announced additions (original Topps contracts), quirky cards (Karate Kid jumbo autographs), innovations (Cal Ripken hand-print autograph card), and a sweet on-card autograph lineup made it much ore attractive than Lineage. Even though it was a tough pull, Archives also had the first official Bryce Harper rookie card.

2012 Topps Series 2 Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $500 to $535 Jumbo / $575 to $625 Hobby

Range of ROI 2012: (-12) to 24%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-16) to 38%

Break Even or Better 2012: 81%  /  Product Rank: 2nd of 20

Product Notes:

Only one breaker that I collected data from skipped 2012 Topps Series 2. Thirteen of those 16 reported successes, yet not as strong as Series 1. Many breakers are not as high on Series 2 or Update, which is understandable. I still enjoy it as I like the continuity throughout the year. Sure, it is the same amount of work for less reward, but for me I can't have a Series 1 without a Series 2. Series 2 suffered a little bit from slower code card sales, and the limits placed on the wrapper redemption, which was revamped from Series 1. And while the Rally Squirrel SP may have been gone, there were some high points such as the short-printed Bryce Harper rookie and autograph.

2012 Topps Tier One Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $900 to $1,050

Range of ROI 2012: (-46) to 55%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: N/A

Break Even or Better 2012: 30%  /  Product Rank: 15th of 20

Product Notes:

What a product! Tier One showed the most discrepancies. Some reported as their best ROI, while others had it among their lowest. Why? The answer can be summed up with one specific group of hits: bat knobs. The three breakers that broke even or better out of the ten who busted it all hit these one-of-ones. The one who had a 55% return on five cases actually hit two. I busted six cases myself, but missed out. I hit some nice autographs of several Hall of Fame legends like Hank Aaron, though. Still I took a loss, my first of the year. This was a highly anticipated and talked about product. Without a doubt, it is a high risk, high reward product. Topps improved it from 2011 to 2012, and I expect we will see even more enhancements in 2013.

2012 Topps Allen Ginter Hobby Box 218x300 Image2012 Topps Allen & Ginter Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $880 to $1,050

Range of ROI 2012: (-26) to 31%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-41) to 31%

Break Even or Better 2012: 45%  /  Product Rank: 9th of 20

Product Notes:

This was a superb year for Allen & Ginter fans. Without hitting some nice autographs or getting some good sales on mini cards, it can be a tough break. But it is fun and different from most breaks. Topps outdid themselves as far as content, setup, and checklist. This had to be one of the deepest autograph checklists since the first Allen & Ginter set back in 2006. So many baseball legends and non-baseball standouts brought in huge demand, especially the red autographs numbered to 10. Topps had guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper as well. This was the best results from Allen & Ginter since the three-year span of 2006 to2008. Most breakers saw their best results in 2012.

2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $900 to $1,100

Range of ROI 2012: (-19) to 28%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-44) to 28%

Break Even or Better 2012: 56%  /  Product Rank: 7th of 20 (tie)

Product Notes:

This was another nice surprise. The cards looked great plus Harper, Trout, and many prospects were smoking hot. In the past, Bowman Platinum had some big losses for breakers, including the first year, 2010, when retail released a full month before hobby. 2011 saw improvements. 2012 was better still. Although only about half of the breakers (five of nine) broke even or better, all were pleased with the product overall, and enjoyed opening it. The product will have some bigger expectations in 2013, even without Harper and Trout pulling so much weight.

2012 Topps Finest Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $675 to $740

Range of ROI 2012: (-44) to 11%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-44) to 20%

Break Even or Better 2012: 31%  /  Product Rank: 14th of 20

Product Notes:

Finest came out right after Bowman Platinum, and in a lot of ways they were similar. The autograph rookie checklists were very closely matched. With similar structures in regards to the colored Refractor parallels and autographed memorabilia designs, it may have just been too much of the same thing all at once. Plus Finest lacked the solid prospects lineup that Bowman Platinum had. Either way, Finest was not as strong of a break for most breakers from a profits perspective. I would like to see it come back strong this year as it will be the 21st offering since its 1993 debut, helping premium cards and parallels hit the big time. Perhaps a mix of old-school elements will help bring back the finest in Topps Finest.

2012 Topps Chrome Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $680 to $750

Range of ROI 2012: (-28) to 9%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-59) to 24%

Break Even or Better 2012: 36%  /  Product Rank: 12th of 20

Product Notes:

2010 Topps Chrome Baseball looked amazing up front but ended up having some big production issues. It ended up being my biggest loss ever from case breaking. So I skipped 2011 Topps Chrome and many reported great things and huge improvements. Thus, I jumped back in with the 2012 offering. It turned out to be not as strong a break as 2011. It was still fun and had some nice rookie cards. Unfortunately it was the third straight product where the hits focused mostly on rookies. Even with hot rookies, the market can sometimes only hold so much. Still, Chrome has plenty to offer with parallels, inserts, on-card autographs, and a nice 220-card set. While the ROI wasn't at its best in 2012, it was still an enjoyable break.

2012 Topps Triple Threads Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $675 to $740

Range of ROI 2012: (-53) to (-8)%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-61) to 7%

Break Even or Better 2012: 0%  /  Product Rank: 20th of 20

Product Notes:

This is the last ranked product as far as case breaking is concerned. However, only seven breakers broke two cases or more. I have heard from others that broke one case or less that made money, but they hit some big cards including nice one-of-ones and Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Yu Darvish cards. My break was not great, although I had some nice pulls like a 1/1 Rickey Henderson autographed patch book card. But the more high-end you open, the greater the odds are that you will not break even. The reason is that breakers are at the mercy of what they pull. So while the product has amazing cards, there just are not enough to make every case a huge hit. One case you can hit it big, maybe even two, but your odds go down the more you open. Also, the later in the year it seems the ROI tend to drop off when compared to the first half of the year's releases. This can possibly add up to some bigger losses. Personally, I do like Triple Threads. It may be the biggest love-hate release each year. There are many that are passionate about it on both sides, but few can deny the level and variety of hits it delivers.

2012 Topps Update Series Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $500 to $535 Jumbo / $575 to $625 Hobby

Range of ROI 2012: (-16) to 21%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-20) to 39%

Break Even or Better 2012: 69%  /  Product Rank: 4th of 20

Product Notes:

Sometimes Update is a bit stronger than Series 2, but not quite this year. There was no wrapper redemption and the code program was tapering off even from the already slumping Series 2 levels. There were also no highly sought after short prints as there were with the first two flagship offerings. There was, however, a great base set loaded with stud rookies and super All-Stars. This led to some of the best base set sales of the year. The All-Star relics are always a welcome addition. For myself, the break was my worst base Topps results of any series since 2009, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and always look forward to Update winding down my year.

2012 Bowman Chrome Hobby Box 179x300 Image2012 Bowman Chrome Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $675 to $750

Range of ROI 2012: (-34) to 10%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-38) to 17%

Break Even or Better 2012: 11%  /  Product Rank: 19th of 20

Product Notes:

I have skipped Bowman Chrome the past two years due to the timing and the fact that the veteran content is difficult to move, perhaps more difficult than base Bowman veteran content. I enjoy the chromium aspect and the prospects, but know that the checklist can suffer at times with Topps having to spread out the better names across Bowman and Draft as well. Many big breakers have been shying away from Bowman Chrome over the past two or three years. Based on 2012 break even or better results, they were right in doing so as the returns just weren't there. For collectors, this is one where you will want to buy singles or try prospecting and holding some cards as a breaker. Patience is a big factor here and may also explain why some of the numbers are lower as not all cards are accounted for.

2012 Topps Five Star Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $1,125 to $1,350

Range of ROI 2012: (-51) to 6%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: N/A

Break Even or Better 2012: 13%  /  Product Rank: 18th of 20

Product Notes: There was tons of build up for this product, and rightfully so. It is a high-end release with a beautiful design and a quality checklist of on-card signers. Sure it had some issues like conditioning, but it still garnered some high-dollar bids. The break does not take long, so you can get it all opened, scanned, and listed within an afternoon which is nice. Even still, only one breaker out of the eight I spoke with who opened two cases or more turned in a break-even or better. Some single sells of on-card rookie and veteran autographs have been selling below most other autograph releases throughout the year, which has many collectors scooping them up at great prices hoping to hold on for future returns. Five Star is a quality product, and I am sure Topps will continue to work on enhancements and the quality issues. I do not think ROI speaks about the quality, collectibility or overall success of a product, and I definitely believe that is the case here. It is a solid high-end rookie debut in baseball.

2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $725 to $850 Jumbo / $575 to $625 Hobby

Range of ROI 2012: (-18) to 28%  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-27) to 28%

Break Even or Better 2012: 62%  /  Product Rank: 6th of 20

Product Notes:

In 2011, I lost money on Bowman Draft for the first time. Since it was due out around the holidays and I was unable to secure quantity of the new jumbo case offerings, I decided to skip it this year. Although the prospect class was weaker, the product still had a solid checklist, and the Bowman team did a great job in adding value with new parallels and inserts like the base Bowman line saw earlier in the year. This led to great success for many, and it seems many had more success from the hobby cases rather than the jumbo ones. This is good news. Draft seemed to be missing that extra push of late, and now appears it has even stronger legs going forward. I have always enjoyed Draft, and although its release date tends to tie me up around the holidays, I may be breaking it again in 2013.

2012 Bowman Sterling Baseball

Range of Case Costs 2012: $1,825 to $2,100

Range of ROI 2012: (-30) to 15% (estimated by breakers)  /  Range of ROI 2010-2012: (-40) to 20%

Break Even or Better 2012: 29% (estimated)  /  Product Rank: 16th of 20

Product Notes:

It is a bit too early to tell exact numbers as I have not received any final reports. As a results, theses numbers are estimates. Most expect to come out behind, which surprises me as Topps really upped their game this year by adding an additional autograph and on-card content. But the base cards typically don't add much breaking value, and some of the autographs don't bring much on the secondary market. For the past couple of years, this has been a tough product to recoup costs on unless you grade cards or held some. But I do expect the 2012 numbers to be slightly better than in the past.

Overall

Of the 17 guys that broke cases that shared data with me, only seven said they will have broken even when all is said and done. It should be noted that this includes all of their case breaks for 2012.

Do not put everything into these numbers as, again, I found that many did not track every expense from simple things like supplies to more complex like mileage or gas and time used for post office trips. The time involved was rarely factored in, and none of these results include taxes that are to be paid once the 1099s hit. The numbers are raw data, and not exact.

Also, with all the listing promotions and the months-long free listing event for the sports card category, it really made numbers strong in 2012. An interesting observance was that 13 of the 17 said 2012 was their best year breaking, which means that several still lost money while having their best year.

Case prices can play a big role in breaking even or not. At times, case prices can vary by hundreds of dollars. Often newer breakers do not consider this. If a guy can get a case at $1,000 and make 20% ROI, but another paid $1,200 and has the identical results of sales, that 20% turns to break even just because of the case cost. So again, the numbers represent wide ranges, but hopefully give a broader picture of case breaking results.

Another observance is that of the 20 products, eight showed profits for at least half of the breakers. Also, of the bottom ten ranked products, six of them came within the last eight products of the year. Many of these focus on rookies or prospects, or are higher end products.

As the season winds down and checklists have similar players, it does tend to make it a bit tougher especially, with rookies that may not have preformed on the field throughout the year. Also, by this time, many teams are out of the postseason picture.

While some of these products may not be the best choices for case breakers, they are great for collectors to get some nice cards at a perceived discount or a chance to prospect. And from the collector's perspective, these are some of them are highly anticipated releases of the year.

Final Thoughts

Breaking cases is a lot of work, but can also be a lot of fun. At times, breaks are disappointing. But if you love cards and ripping packs then you know that there is always a risk involved. For some, it is a gambling or lottery mentality. For others, it is just about finding their player or team. Some collect to share the hobby with their children. Others treat it as a business and are looking to make money. For most of us, though, it is a combination of some or all of these.

If you are ripping to collect, I would recommend buying packs or a box here or there and then purchasing singles to get specifically what you are looking for. Often, this way is also faster and cheaper. If it is about a business or making money, then there are may avenues such as a hobby store, selling sealed wax, group breaks, or case ripping. But I can tell you, none of these are likely to make you wealthy.

Case breaking may be the riskiest of them all. Sometimes you do very well, but be ready for the downturns as well. Even if you are on a good streak or have fared well with a product in the past does not mean it will be the same the next time around.

I mention this is because every week I have people a week asking me about getting into breaking cases. Odds are, starting out, you will lose money. If you are aware of the risks and enjoy ripping, collecting and helping others with their collections, then you may want to give I try on a smaller scale with one or two of the more safe, cost-effective products.

2012 was a great year for Topps products. Most, including their online exclusives, sold well and preformed strongly on the secondary market. Many dealers did well selling sealed product as most rose above initial costs and stayed that way.

Hopefully this data just gives you a small bit of information to mull over. Even if these results don't match up with your own breaks, it provides something to think about. It also answers some collector questions.

I thoroughly enjoy numbers, but these results do not equate guarantees for the future. Many factors can change year over year and from product to product. Every case breaker has their favorites and results can vary. Every experience is different. Stick to the products with the smaller ranges and those that have historically shown better results.

I think 2012 was one of the best years for Topps baseball products, especially for the collector. Topps maintained and tweaked their strongest lines, and made big changes (including product name changes) to those that were struggling.

While Topps and baseball are my main hobby passions, I know many who break other sports, entertainment and other companies' products as well. Find what you love and develop a niche. If you do not enjoy it, lose money, or feel you are in an over-crowded environment for breaking then change it up a bit.

First and foremost, opening should be enjoyable. Yes, it is a business for some, but it still a hobby. If you are going to rip cases, do not go into it thinking you will make money. Instead, have fun with it. Otherwise it will be all work and stress. Results vary, but so do the people, costs, content, and other factors. Just remember that if you bust one pack or many cases that the next one may be the pack.

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brentandbecca

E-Mail Author |  http://www.cardboardconnection.com/shop/brent_and_becca/

Visit Brent's eBay Store and catch him on Twitter @brentandbecca.

Brent has been a card collector since 1985 and an eBay card seller since 1995. He is one of the largest case breakers of Topps baseball products, each year busting 15-60 of most of their baseball products, as well as some football products. He is a believer in Christ and along with his wife Rebecca has two children: Luke, and Hannah.

The majority of his collection consists of Arkansas Razorback Players, Lance Berkman, Jose Canseco, Kurt Warner, Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Tiger Woods, Graded Baseball Rookies from 1978-now, Retired HOF Topps Heritage Autos, Base Topps and Heritage Sets, and Random HOF and Superstar Autos.


User Comments

  1. Wow, excellent article Brent!

    I found it fascinating that the top ranked products for ROI were the basic Topps sets, but it makes a lot of sense.

    There are a lot of set building traditionalists out there who have to get their annual Topps sets for their collection archives. The other sets are more reliant on hits to generate ROI, which is much tougher to predict from a revenue standpoint.

    Your advice to treat the hobby more like a hobby than a business is so true. So many people look into this line of things as an avenue for making big money only to get burned by a bad break or poor investment choice.

  2. You mention that Topps Update didn’t have any SSP’s to chase, but it had the Adrian Gonzalez and Jim Thome cards. The AGon sold for $200 during the week of release and the Thome went for $100+ in most instances. Sure, it’s no $600 Rally Squirrel or a $300 Bryce Harper, but they existed and if you hit one and sold it, that represented 18-30% ROI in a single card.

  3. Charlie, I could have worded it better. I said there were no highly sought after short-prints. I was not talking about super short-prints that were 1 in 8-15 cases for just 1 player, but referring to the ‘hot’ ones that were all over media outlets, garnering attention and much easier to come by as well. The Rally Squirrel was an easy pull as it had the same odds of any regular SP. I also know from my 50 cases of Series 2 I pulled 5 Harpers, whereas in my 50 cases of Update I only pulled 3 of the 7 different Traded Player SSP. So, it could have been worded better, but was trying to keep it short/sweet.

  4. Great article – unfortunately I’m just coming around to finding this gem.

    I have a question regarding case busting. I’m considering starting with a small scale operation. So I’m not trying to be on the scale or your or any larger case breaker. I’m a fully time CPA, so I’m not trying to turn this into a large organization, but more of a small side business to help with extra funds and create some tax write-offs, etc.

    How important is it to sell off of eBay? How important is it to sell base sets? Do you rely mainly on eBay and/or just the ‘hits’?

  5. Ben » I can’t speak for brentandbecca, but a lot of his other articles touch on many of the questions you have.

  6. Thanks Ryan – I’ve done some Google searches, but I haven’t had very much luck. I figured there were plenty of articles – care to point the way for me?

    Thanks!

  7. Ben » Here’s a link to all of his articles: http://www.cardboardconnection.com/author/brentandbecca/

  8. Thanks Ryan – I appreciate the help. Very interesting stuff!

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