I still get chills now thinking about the chance of opening a pack with a rare (or even not really rare) insert in the middle of all the normie cards.
I never took it out of the plastic sleeve, but I can't imagine it's considered a 10 mint (9s are selling for under $4000).
Like many of you, I collected as a kid, up until early teens, and definitely have fond memories of it all, but to me these are the things that ruined the hobby for me: inserts and grading.
I remember sets going from no inserts to 1-2 inserts to like 20. I even remember there were "insert only packs" that you might be lucky enough to pull from a box where every card would be an insert. It was cool at first, but all the companies went way too crazy with the inserts. On top of this, each company released multiple brands. You had Topps and then Topps Stadium Club, Fleer and Fleer Ultra, etc., with each different brand from the same company being totally different cards and designs (unlike say Topps Tiffany or Topps Gold which are the same design just nicer/rarer), and each had a plethora of their own unique inserts. I think a lot of collectors are some type of "completionist" you either want to get all the cards of a set, of a year, or of a player, and the multiple brands and inserts killed that fun for me.
If this site is to be trusted, there were 19 Michael Jordan cards released in '89-'90
(and I think only 4 of which were major releases), compared to 490 in '97-'98
. In '19-'20 there were 852 LeBron cards
. Who can really collect for all that?
Then grading became big and then essential, further ruining the fun. There might be millions of Ken Griffey Jr rookie cards out there, but there's only a few thousand that are graded a perfect 10. You can do everything right: open a pack in a disinfected bunker, wearing a hazmat suit and surgical gloves, while using sterilized tweezers to pull the card from a pack and move into a card holder case, then you send it to a grading service in an airtight, padded briefcase straight out of a spy movie via an armored car, and it comes back as an 8.5 (because the centering was off and the edges/corners weren't perfect even though that's how you pulled it from the pack!) making it practically worthless. This really ruins the fun/excitement/experience.
Others will point to the overproduction of cards, too many companies, people treating it like an investment, etc. (which definitely didn't help) but inserts and grading is what really ruined the fun for me.
A couple of documentaries I found interesting. Jack of All Trades on Netflix
, it's a documentary which uses the popularity of collecting cards in the 80's/90's and how they're mostly worthless today as the backdrop of a guy reconnecting with his dad. Supposedly Upper Deck just started printing sheets of nothing but Ken Griffey Jr rookies once that card became hot, helping flood the market.
Then there's this documentary on YouTube from 1990. Both fascinating and hilarious looking back at it now, with people arguing if there's a bubble or not.
If so, who wants to go for a ride on my new boat?
You know you've always been one of my favorite posters.