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If you have a question you'd like answered, either here on this site, or personally, e-mail Heidi at All e-mails will be answered. All questions were written or updated in April 2022.

Q...There are so many brands. How do I know what to choose? (Circa April 2022)

A. We get this a LOT! A variation of this question includes "There are so many brands. How do you keep track of everything?". I'll cover both in this answer. First, there ARE a lot of brands. Given that most are produced by only Topps, Panini, and Upper Deck; it's amazing the number of choices there are. But instead of being overwhelmed by the number of products there are, I like to think there's a product for everyone (with many for some). Card buyers (hobbyists, investors, speculators, etc.) have different preferences; from everything including the look of the card, re-sale value, price point, number of players in the set, and whether stats are listed (to name just a few). There needs to be enough different selections to appeal to the different people that buy them. Let's take Baseball. We have some buyers who buy only Topps products. Some buy both Topps and Panini. Still others are prospect hunters and stick to Bowman (all of these product differences were discussed in earlier Q&A's). Within Bowman brands, Bowman Chrome has two autos per box, whereas Bowman's Best has 4 autos. Bowman Sterling has 5 autos, but not many base cards. Flagship Bowman has the coveted "Bowman 1st" cards and lots of base cards. Each product arrives at different times during the season, thus different prospects have their first Bowman autograph card within different brands. If you're not a prospect hunter, then these differences probably aren't meaningful to you; nor is this whole category of products (so, that lessens the confusion). But if you're a Bowman buyer, then they're important.

As for keeping track of everything, products tend to have a similar look and hit ratio from year to year. If you buy Prizm Basketball one year, there likely won't be any huge surprises the next year; so you know what to expect. Similarly, if you're familiar with Prizm Basketball, then you can predict what Prizm Football and Baseball will look like. Many brands have an over 10 year track history. There may be 30-40 products in a sport's line-up, but only a few, if any, are new for that year. So, once you've collected for a bit, it's not so overwhelming (although, admittedly, if you're just getting back into collecting after a long absence, it can seem daunting at first).

Q...I heard Fanatics secured the NFL and NBA licenses, currently held by Panini, when they expire in 2025/2026. What does that mean for Panini? (Circa April 2022)

A. I used to think there would be a few more years of "business as usual" before Fanatics' deals took effect. Then Fanatics bought Topps well in advance of taking over its exclusive MLB license (which wasn't expiring until 2025). So now, it's uncertain what changes will take place and when they'll take place. Will Panini sell to Fanatics before their league exclusives expire? If so, when? Will Fanatics then bring back highly popular Topps brands under its NFL and NBA licenses? This seems almost certain (especially if collectors have anything to say about it), as Topps Chrome Football and Basketball (for example) would be welcome additions to the NFL and NBA card landscapes. It's another question with the same answer as the one below. Time will tell.

Q...I heard Fanatics bought Topps. What does this mean for Topps trading cards? (Circa April 2022)

A...The short answer is that no one knows for sure. Fanatics first made news in late 2021 when it announced they secured the exclusive MLB license (long held by Topps), effective in 2025. This greatly weakened Topps' position in the marketplace; and in early 2022, Fanatics bought Topps. There is no official word yet on how things will change with the new ownership. Will Topps cards look the same? Will they become "Topps, by Fanatics"? Will different brands be added? There's been no announcement thus far on any of these changes, so time will tell. While physical cards haven't been publicly discussed, speculation is that, in part, Fanatics will aim to expand Baseball's digital and NFT markets.

Q...Topps has the exclusive MLB license, but I see Panini branded Baseball products. How is this possible, and what's the difference? (Circa June 2020)

A...There are two licenses needed to produce Baseball from the MLBPA (Player's Association), which allows the players' likenesses, and one from MLB, which allows team names and logos. Topps has the exclusive MLB license, but both it and Panini have MLBPA contracts. This means that Panini can produce cards with players on them, but has to obscure the MLB licensed names and logos. A Bryce Harper card, for example, can say "Philadelphia" but not "Philadelphia Phillies", and his hat will be all red, without the identifiable Phillies "P". Despite this limitation (and there are many Topps purists out there who won't buy Panini Baseball products), Panini does a heck of a job producing some nice releases. Panini Chronicles is one of our favorites, and Panini Immaculate and National Treasures offer some of the nicest patch and relic cards in the market. Panini products also have an advantage of sorts in that they can boast players that Topps products cannot. Topps doesn't put prospects in anything other than its Bowman branded releases. So, you must have played in the Majors in order to be featured in a Topps branded product. Panini doesn't have that same rule, so autos/patches of minor leaguers can be found in their products.

Q. I see different packaging for the same year of Topps Baseball factory sets. Do they have different cards? (Circa November 2016)

A. Not in a meaningful way. Topps typically releases a "Hobby" and "Retail" version of the same set that we carry (as well as sometimes a "Holiday" or "All-Star Game" packaging, among others). The basic card set is the same in each set. What varies is two-fold...the packaging itself (color of box, players featured, etc.) and possible bonuses that come with the set. The Hobby and Retail sets (for the past 10 or so years) have each had a DIFFERENT 5 card bonus pack. The hobby bonus pack has been 5 random parallels from any of the cards featured in the set (so, bonus packs can be different from each other). The Retail bonus pack has been 5 rookies selected by Topps for that year (so, each 5 card pack is the same).

Q. How can you tell if a baseball card is a rookie card? (Circa November 2016)

A. This answer got more difficult in 2006, when the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) changed the guidelines of what makes a rookie card a true rookie card (and added a special Rookie card logo to each card falling within their new guidelines as of that date). Topps' Bowman brand historically featured many rookie players before their major league debuts. Bowman scouts did a tremendous job finding and featuring minor leaguers early on and producing their first official rookie card in the Bowman set. The rookie rules change in 2006 was multi-fold, and affected the rookie classification of Bowman cards (among others). The rules mandated that to be considered a true rookie card, the player must be on the major league team's 40 man roster; so players now must be in the major league to have an official rookie card. Bowman still features the first cards of many MLB players. They just don't have a true rookie classification. It's a confusing issue and one not easily understood (or always agreed upon) by many hobby enthusiasts.

When in doubt, look up the card in a Beckett magazine. True rookies should have an RC listed after their names.

Q. What is the difference between HOBBY and RETAIL packs? (Circa November 2016)

A. The difference varies by manufacturer. Generally speaking, a RETAIL pack is one found at a mass merchandiser (Target, Wal-mart, etc.) or convenience store (7-11, gas station, etc.), while a HOBBY pack is found at a trading card store/hobby shop (like ours!). Often, there is a different number of cards per pack or packs per box in hobby vs. retail. Sometimes, there is a hobby-only or retail-only insert set that you can only get in one version. Still other times, the cards themselves are different design-wise in hobby vs. retail (different colored borders for example).

But the difference that seems to matter most to our customers and what drives them into hobby shops is often the markedly better odds of pulling "hits" (jerseys, autos, etc.) from hobby packs (which is one of our advantages being that we're a hobby store). Many of our hobby boxes boast 3-4 hits per box, whereas the corresponding retail box may not even guarantee one hit. This also accounts for the cheaper retail pack price in some cases (and why we carry certain retail boxes in addition to our normal hobby). If you're curious about the difference for a specific product, just ask us. We usually know.

Q: What's a relic card? (Circa November 2016)

A. Sometimes people get confused by this term. A relic card is synonymous with a memorabilia card. For baseball, this could be a card with a piece of the player's jersey, patch, number, name, tag, MLB logo, button, bat or even dirt from the field! For football, it could be a piece of jersey, patch, number, name, tag, NFL logo, helmet, shoulder pad, or game used pilon, goal post, or grass! A "relic" is just a generic and all-encompassing term for a piece of anything game-used.

Q. What does "event worn" mean? (Circa November 2016)

A. "Event worn" items are worn by a player, but not during the course of a game. You mostly see event worn items in the case of rookies. Because manufacturers want to feature relic cards of rookies as soon as possible (even before the rookies have been able to play in their first pro game), they use "event worn" clothing pieces (jerseys, patches, hats, etc.); often worn by players at the rookie photo shoots.

Q. Why does Topps no longer make football cards? (Circa November 2016)

A. As of 2016, Panini secured an exclusive with the NFL. All four major leagues have made exclusive deals with manufacturers. Topps has an exclusive with MLB. Panini has an exclusive with both the NFL and NBA. And Upper Deck has an exclusive with the NHL. You'd be hard-pressed to realize that only one manufacturer is serving each market though, as each company produces many brands. Topps, for example, produces regular Topps Series 1, 2 and Update; Bowman, Bowman Draft, and Bowman Chrome; Heritage, Heritage High Number, and Heritage Minor League; Allen & Ginter; Topps Chrome; and Gypsy Queen (just to name a few) under their licensing agreement. Each exclusive deal lasts a finite number of years, at the end of which, other manufacturers could potentially join the market (or try to negotiate their own exclusivity).