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While many, if not all, of the base cards and low level insert cards pulled from hobby boxes will coincide with those found in retail boxes, hobby products boast a significantly higher ratio of special inserts on a per box and per case basis. These premium cards, commonly known as hits, include certified autograph cards, game used memorabilia patch cards, serial numbered cards, and more. Hobby boxes also tend to include a higher saturation of rookie cards and inserts. In many cases they will also feature a selection of exclusive cut autographs, multi-color jersey patches, multi-signature cards, and other mid to high end inserts that aren't available in retail boxes.
Collectors in search of medium to high end chase cards, autographs, and game used memorabilia patches will be best served buying hobby boxes. Hobby boxes tend to be roughly one and a half to two times more expensive then their retail box counterparts. However, the odds of pulling a nice hit from a hobby box versus a retail box is dramatically greater - enough so to warrant this additional cost in the minds of most card collectors.
High end sports card collectors who have their sights set on brands like Topps Sterling, Topps Triple Threads, and Upper Deck Exquisite have no choice in the matter. These sets, like most other premium sports card products, are distributed exclusively in hobby box form. There are also several mid end sports card products which, for one reason or another, are exclusively manufactured in hobby box form.
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