Compare and contrast: $80 spent on Allen and Ginter

4 10 2008

After buying a third Allen and Ginter blaster box, I realized I had sunk almost a hobby boxes’ worth of cash into the things.  So rather than spend another $80, I figured I’d spend another $20, get a fourth blaster box, and see how the two would compare.  For this experiment, I’ll be using the hobby box break by dayf at Cardboard Junkie.  I have no idea if he actually spent $80 on his box, but that’s the approximate going rate at online stores at the time of this post.

And do not imply that the use of his hobby box is an endorsement of anything in this post.  

Lets see how it goes.

First, the commons:  Out of four blasters, I pulled 130 base cards and 14 of the short prints.  dayf’s hobby box produced 142 base cards and 12 short prints.   But, of those 130 cards I pulled for the set itself, 97 of them were unique.  I ended up with 19 doubles and 19 triples.  So while the hobby box will give you close to half the set, my four blasters netted me only 27% of it.  Not too good, but only a real problem if I cannot trade them away.  Still, it’s always easier pulling cards that you need instead.  

Advantage:  Hobby box

Next, the minis:  For my troubles, I pulled 18 minis, 2 Allen & Ginter backs, 5 black border minis, and one no number mini (print run of 50).  dayf’s hobby box yielded only 10 minis, the same number of black border minis, and 5 Allen & Ginter backs.  If we throw in the world leader minis, then blasters win 3-2.  So if it’s the mini set you are going for, it’s clear the advantage goes to the blaster boxes.  And since I think they are nicer than the regular cards (less empty white space), I’m voting…

Advantage:  Blasters.

State Flags:  Since these are 1:1 inserts in hobby boxes and 1:2 in blaster, the clear winner here is the hobby box, by a score of 20-13.  

Advantage:  Hobby

Other inserts:  My four blasters resulted in a World’s Deadliest Shark mini, a Team Orange mini, and two World’s Greatest Victory cards (although they were both Mark Spitz).  dayf’s hobby box had a Baseball Legend’s mini, a Pioneers of Aviation mini, and one of the World’s Greatest Victories cards.  I would rather have the Baseball Legend mini, but that’s personal preference.  I think that we can agree that these are pretty much a wash.

Advantage:  Push

Relics and autos:  I got two game used cards, one of Carlos Zambrano, the other of Melky Cabrera’s pants.  dayf pulled three relics and an auto, and while I think Cabrera’s pants should trump all, impartial judges would claim that the hobby box skunked the four blasters.  However, Topps says the hobby boxes should only guarantee “Two Autographed, Relic, Printing Plate or Allen & Ginter Original Cards Per Box,” so dayf’s hobby box outperformed what was expected.  Still, I’ve seen a lot of hobby breaks that feature more than two hits. 

Advantage:  Hobby

So where does that leave this experiment?  Well, if you want the mini set, and you want to do it by opening packs,  go blasters.  This will be especially true if you can trade away the base cards for other minis to fill in you set.  But other wise, it seems that hobby boxes are a better value for 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter for sets and for relic cards.  

That said, if you’ve only got $20 to spend, then blasters will still give you the thrill of ripping cards and a reasonable start to the set.  And I don’t want to imply that you shouldn’t buy blasters, or that I think they are a waste of time.  Remember the hobby’s about fun, and I think both my wife and I would agree that we enjoyed these four boxes quite a bit. 

But I wouldn’t go overboard on blasters, either.  I’m not a role model, and I did what I did for scientific purposes only.  If you’re standing there with that $20 in hand at your local box store, and you’re getting birthday cards in a week from your grandparents, each with $30 inside, I’d wait.  But I can understand your impulse purchase, too.  I’m not made of stone.

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