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Buying Hobby Boxes vs. Retail Boxes

Today's sports card collector has a world of options when it comes to buying unopened sports card boxes. All modern sports card boxes can be divided into two main groups - hobby boxes and retails boxes. Some products are distributed via retail and hobby boxes, while others are solely available in hobby form. To the sports card newcomer, these two types of sports card boxes can appear almost identical to one another. However, upon closer investigation it will quickly become apparent that the differences are more then just cosmetic. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of buying hobby versus retail is the first and most important step to making an informed sports card buying decision.

At first glance the sports cards yielded by a retail box will seem to have a great deal in common with those found in hobby boxes. The only distinguishable external differences between the two comes in the form of small markings on each of their packaging. Hobby boxes and packs can be quickly identified by the large "H" surrounded by a circle. Retail boxes and packs will typically be labeled as "Retail", though this is a bit tricky to locate on some products. A good rule of thumb for modern sports card products is that if you do not see an encircled "H", assume the product is a retail box. However, a more detailed look at the two types of products will soon reveal that these differences are just the tip of the iceburg.

  • Hobby Boxes: Sports card hobby boxes feature much better quality hits, and a higher quantity of hits then retail boxes. This, however, comes at a greater out of pocket expense. Retail Boxes
  • Retail Boxes: Retail boxes have more mainstream appeal then hobby boxes thanks to lower prices and easier accessibility.