Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Grab Bag / Repack Boxes

For those of us who have bought or buy cards at department stores (Target, Walmart, etc.) I'm sure we have all seen the grab bag boxes of repacked cards.  Offered at a low price, which in my experience has been $5, you can buy a box of 100 cards of whatever sport you like.  The catch is that the cards are all preselected and have a wide range of sets, players, and teams.  These boxes also usually include one sealed pack of cards.  You're guaranteed at least one good card, which will be the only card you can see inside the packaging.  These boxes are already a crapshoot so if you don't like the card facing outward then you're really trying your luck.  

I like these boxes of cards for a few reasons.  First, they are cheap. On average you're paying 5 cents per card; not too shabby.  For a low price, you can get a large infusion of cards to my collection.    However, since you're paying so little for so much, you have to expect the manufacturers to give you a bunch of junk cards.  No insert cards, no autographs, no memorabilia, just the base set.  The last box I bought said 1 in 4 boxes contained a "hit," whatever that means.  

The second reason is that the boxes are a nice way to be exposed to a variety of prior sets.  Having not been a big collector my whole life, I am not familiar with many of the card sets.  There are so many different sets out there and I would never see these sets otherwise.  Plus I have come across a few sets that I really liked.  For instance, I've found the 2008 Topps as well as the 2006-07 Fleer Hockey

The downside to these boxes is pretty much the same reasons as 1 and 2, above.  The cards are so inexpensive that you end up with a lot of junk wax.  As I go through the junk cards adding them to The Trading Card Database I think to myself, "is it really worth adding this no-name player on an ugly card to my collection?"  Once it's posted to my collection, it will set in a box and never will I have a desire to look at it again.  The boxes also have a lot of older cards (i.e. from the 80s) and this is likely my recency bias, but I don't care much for the older cards.  I prefer more modern cards.  In addition to the bevy of junk cards, there's probably no less than 30-40 different sets.  This makes adding one or two cards at a time a massive chore.  It will take a while to add each card.

Given the above reasons, I will rarely buy a grab bag box.  But recently I bought such a box and I'll highlight some of the cards I pulled.  The card showing on this particular box was Jacob DeGrom.  Instead of a typical picture of him pitching it was of him in a batting stance.  With a quality player and a unique picture, that was the box I purchased.

I didn't realize this about the DeGrom card until after I had looked at it 5 or 6 times but there is no mention of a team on there.  I was completely unaware that Topps has the exclusive MLB license for cards.  The MLBPA still licenses out player likenesses so that's why Donruss, et all, are still releasing baseball cards. Even though there are not any MLB logos I still think it's a decent looking card. 
Triple Play cartoon cards, only have the player's license but still ugly

I liked the back of the Kevin Stocker card; something about bright colors is pleasing to me.  Larry Walker rookie was a nice pull. The Delmon Young card is cool because part of the World Series trophy is in it.  It looks like it's the Twins? Wil Cordero's card didn't scan well but I liked the card because of the square foil logo.  The Scott Ruffcorn back card looks like a bad acid trip.  Scherzer and Bautista were nice cards to get.  

I must be a little kid because most of these cards had some sort of shiny element to them.  It was also neat to get a couple cards of minor leaguers. Mainly due to the fact that minor league teams have some awesome names and logos. 

The one unopened pack in the box was a real dud.  It was a 6-card pack of 2012 Panini Triple Play.  It's bad enough that this is a MLBPA only set but then all the cards have laughable cartoons of players.  I applaud Panini for trying something unique given their lack of an official MLB license but I do not like these cards at all.  I dislike them so much I won't even bother scanning these cards into TCBD until a cold, rainy day, even though the checklist is in a dire need of some scans. 

Do I feel like I got my money's worth in this set? Absolutely! Despite my disappointment with the unopened pack and the major of junk cards, I had low expectations going into this box.  That's what makes these boxes so fun.  Expect the worst but hope for the best. It usually works out that way.


  1. The one thing I don't mind about these junk packs is, the do provide junk trade fodder. I've done a number of decent 400-600 card trades on these kinds of cards to find them homes with people that don't yet have them.

    1. That's a very good point, I'll have to consider that