Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Top 10 Card Boxes I want to open

I love to open cards. I prefer buying an unopened box when I can...and I used to be able to get one or more boxes of every NBA and NASCAR set released. But...things change, and I have not been able to do that since 2005. Since my "card renaissance" that began in 2009, I have been averaging about 6 boxes a year...or roughly one every other month. A far cry from my two per week of 2002-04. (ish, not exact dates)

I don't want to sound greedy or like I'm complaining; I am very grateful for all the cards I do get...and I realize being able to have a collection as large and all-encompassing as I have been able to build is a definite privilege, and I sometimes contemplate just what exactly I've done to be so lucky in the hobby.

With that said, there are still boxes I would love to open, and here is a rough top 10 list. (with a sample card from each set) Subject to change, of course, as I learn about new sets, or, more likely for the NBA and NASCAR with the amount of research I've already done, as I get enough cards from sets that opening a box would just lead to too many duplicates and not enough new to make it worth the money. (That's why this listing is pretty much 1990s free, my favorite decade, I simply have too many to make it worthwhile...however, I would not turn away most if the price was right! There's always inserts and parallels to chase, if nothing else)

Note: for all of these listed below, the boxes I desire to open are Hobby versions.

#10. 2009-10 Panini. The first of Panini's flagship brand, which, surprisingly, has only been produced 3 times in Panini's NBA run. It's the largest Panini flagship release at over 400 cards. I have roughly 2 packs worth. While I'm not Panini's biggest fan- they do appear on this list twice, though- they got this set right and it also has an added bit of importance for me- my first NBA additions to my collection after I thought I was done forever are from this set. In fact, this card is one of them.

#9 2009-10 Topps. The last Topps set, at least until the NBA realizes exclusives contracts are bad for the hobby. At 330 cards, it's almost large enough to be complete, as well. I have less than a pack's worth, until this past weekend, I had only two cards. (One of the new cards I got on the weekend is the example) While I like the design of the 2008-09 Topps flagship more, the fact that this was the last one, and the length of it's checklist, made me give the nod to it instead of 2008-09 or even 2006-07, which would both have made an appearance if this was a Top 20 list.
#8. 2009-10 Upper Deck. Again, being the last set helped this get the nod over any UD flagship set from 2006-07 through 2009-10, all of which are ones I want to open someday. This gets ranked higher than the 2009-10 Topps or Panini sets because of the three it's my favorite design. I have about 40 cards from the set, but about half are damaged and need to be replaced.
#7. 2011 Press Pass Fanfare. The first of three consecutive NASCAR sets- the only three on the list-and all of which are the FanFare brand. FanFare was produced for only three years, and all I have are several retail blasters from each year- none of the three years have more than 7 base cards in my collection. Press Pass considered these 100 card sets to be comprehensive, which is laughable, but the designs are excellent, and there are several drivers who only got cards in FanFare and nowhere else. 2011 is my least favorite design of the three. (not that I dislike the design, I just like the other two more)
#6. 2012 Fanfare. Most of the the caption I wrote for 2011 holds true here, 2012, the second year of Fanfare, is my second favorite design of the set. It's also the set I have the most base cards from.
#5. 2013 Fanfare. The final FanFare release, and my favorite of the three. I have only three blaster's worth, counting inserts/parallels. (5 cards per blaster)
#4. 2012 Topps American Heritage Heroes Edition. A somewhat frustrating set, I got 4 packs worth at retail, but several of the cards were duplicates so in reality I have less than that. I did not know about this set at it's release, learning about it the day I found the last 4 packs in my local Target; then I did some research and I discovered that Topps issued two sets in 2012, both titled American Heritage, and both using pretty much the same designs- that's where the frustration comes in. This is the second set using the title (I think!). To add to the frustration, I am not sure if Heroes Edition appears anywhere on the packaging at all. It's certainly NOT on the cards- in fact, when I purchased a box of the NON-heroes edition, I was surprised to find cards of different people with the same numbers, which is when I started researching and figured out this was two separate sets. This set featured better inserts, with a set honoring Medal of Honor winners, Purple Heart winners, and the American Space program, something I have always loved. Something amazing to me is that there are even actual pieces of the space shuttle included as relics- I have seen scans online of a card with a piece of wiring that actually flew on the Space Shuttle. I'm not a "hit" chaser, but there are some I really would love to have. This is, surprisingly, the only non-sports set to make my Top 10 Most Wanted list, but to add even more confusion to this set (Like it needs more!) is that some people have it listed as a baseball set. It's not; though it does include a baseball insert called Heroes of Sport. Both a DC Comics and Star Wars set were in the running but ultimately did not make the cut.
#3. 2004-05 Fleer Tradition. This was the one I really thought long and hard about putting on this list- and then even more about ranking it so high. I already have around 80 cards from the set- exact number unknown yet as at one time I didn't realize the blue and green versions were parallels, not base cards, so my listing is incorrect. (I won't know until I finish scanning my collection, which is sorted mostly by player right now). It's a 268 card set so even though I do have a few I still need well more than I have. The design of this set isn't my favorite...but it's the last Fleer set as produced by Fleer. Fleer was always my favorite NBA company and while this is the only Fleer set to make the Top 10 list, had this been a top 20 list there would be more. Only one more, as this and 2000-01 Fleer Focus are the only two Fleer sets produced by Fleer that I need enough of to warrant a box purchase. (The Upper Deck produced Fleer and Ultra sets were in consideration for a spot in the top 10 as well) Fleer, unfortunately, spent more money than they had in an effort to get more things to put onto cards as relics, and it put them out of business. Not a happy day for me- not only was my favorite card company at that time gone, they had several redemptions outstanding that I knew I would never receive- and I don't even remember what they are anymore. Even so, this was the last Fleer flagship set, and the only one (barring 1961-62) that I don't have either complete or within 15 to 20 cards of being complete. That was enough to make it onto the list, and so high up as well. (I can hardly believe it myself, and it's MY list, but this is the oldest set on here!)
#2. 2009-10 Panini Basketball Hall of Fame. Surprising to see a Panini set so high, isn't it? I'm a big fan of history- had more card sets related to history been produced, perhaps the balance of non-sport sets on this list would be higher, but I digress. Panini has a habit of including retired players in most sets- but rarely anyone pre-1980s. The history of the NBA goes back to the 1940s, and while occasionally Wilt Chamberlain or George Mikan will get included in a various Panini release, the majority of pre-Bird/Magic players have made their only appearance on a Panini release in this set. In fact, this set includes the ONLY cards EVER for some people, and even better, it includes some of the people who are in the HOF who actually pre-date the NBA- for example, this set includes the only card I am aware of for any player of the Harlem Rens, a pioneering barnstorming team that pre-dates WWII (and lasted into the early 1950s, I believe- my knowledge of non-NBA/ABA teams is surely lacking. I do know they applied for the NBA in the early days but were denied, but that's another topic). There would be several One Hit Wonders in this set were it not for Panini's propensity for parallels.
I have only one card. I wanted the set in my collection, (as if I don't want them all, right?) and in doing a search to see what was available, I discovered a card for sale that was a player I have in the 1948 Bowman set. His last card before this release was in 1957-58 Topps, (also in my collection) one of the few players who was in the league long enough to be in both sets. That was a connection I couldn't pass up. (although to be honest if any of the people not yet in my collection had their cards for sale at the time, that would have changed it!)  (His name is Andy Phillip in case the foil is hard to read in the scan)
Before I get to #1, I am going to throw in a bonus...My #1 most wanted Factory Set which would be 1993 Maxx. I began collecting NASCAR cards in 1993, having discovered the sport at Christmas 1992. But surprisingly, I never got a lot of 1993 Maxx. I have completed 1989-92, and I'm one card away from 1994 Maxx, but 1993 Maxx is mostly missing from my collection...even more odd in that it's the greenest set of NASCAR cards ever, which has always been my favorite color. It doesn't make sense. The cards were issued in both pack and factory set form, as were most Maxx flagship sets, and it is the Factory Set I desire to aquire- that would give me the complete set, no ambiguity of hoping there will be a complete set and wondering who I can trade the probably many duplicates a box would yield. I have only 50 of the 300 cards, 50 duplicates from a factory set would be acceptable...and not all of those 50 I have are in perfect shape either.


And now...the #1 most wanted box to me, is.....

2005-06 Topps Chrome. You may be thinking, "Huh?" This doesn't fit in with your writer's normal line of thinking, and you'd be correct. I like big sets, I cannot lie, and Topps Chrome is not really big at 274 cards- although it's not the shortest NBA set listed here, with the Hall of Fame set coming in at 169 cards. Also, it's the set with the least amount of cards per hobby box (I think- not sure how many cards come in a box of the HOF set). There is no possible way to complete a set of Topps Chrome from one box, from any year. Believe me, I opened a box or more from 1998-99 through 2004-05. (1997-98 Topps Chrome was the only 1990s NBA box that was in consideration for this list). But 2005-06 Topps Chrome has something going for it that moved it all the way to the very top, and has kept it there, ever since it was new. Yes, I have been wanting this box since 2006 when it was released, I just never got it. In fact, I only got one pack's worth- 4 cards- and I got two cards loose as singles, including one just this past Saturday.

The thing that makes this set #1 is the fact that it is the only set (so far) to include the NBDL, currently known as the D-League! Cards #221-274 are all D-League players, and, on top of that, since most of them never got any other cards, they are all people missing from my collection as well. In fact, when I typed up the list of people missing from my collection, roughly 1/3rd of all the people missing are the D-League players from this set. Pictured is the only D-League card in my collection.
And there you have it. My top 10 most wanted card boxes with bonus most wanted factory set. Will I ever get any of these? Who knows...I hope so...but time will tell. You can be sure, though...that if I do, there will be a Box Break Review to follow!


  1. Some great ones on this list. I busted a bunch of the 09-10 UD but only in retail

  2. Panini has really mastered the Hall of Fame sets. Even without the license in baseball versions they still look great.

    1. I wish they would do more for basketball. This is the only one they did.