**Friday, November 9th, 2018, 8:03 PT:**

*“Dammit. Stupid Panini app. Wait, maybe I should use their website instead. Yeah. Then I’ll be able to place an order. Ok, here we go. WTF? Oh, wait, the page loaded on the app. Let me bump my order up to 2 boxes. Crap. What’s going on? Why is the wheel just spinning? Shoot, their website just crashed. Wonder if anyone is able to order? I don’t want to miss out. Ugh! Let me refresh the website. Oooh, the website it back up! Dammit. There goes the app again.”*

It’s become a rite of passage for collectors of sports cards. The unnecessary difficulty of trying to order FOTL products on release. The latest exercise in frustration comes to us in the form of 2018-19 Prizm Basketball. It’s not so much that everyone builds a set of Prizm cards on day 1, or ever for that matter. It’s really that we want to open a box and turn around and sell what we bought as quickly as possible. Doesn’t make a lot of sense when you put it that way. However, we’re eager to provide profits for Panini, eBay, Paypal, and the USPS with the hope that we can squeeze out a little for ourselves. The promise of an additional, serial numbered, shiny parallel in a FOTL box gives us the sense that the odds are more in our favor. Maybe this time we’ll not take a loss. Once the madness around release day settles down, and prices on singles stabilize, then we’ll consider buying the cards we really wanted all along.

All that aside, I bought 2 boxes of 2018-19 Prizm Basketball FOTL for $120 through the Panini app. Here are the hits out of my 2 boxes.

Not that hot, right? The first box was pretty much a train wreck if you’re looking to flip the cards you just bought. The second box comes at least a little closer to returning a sizeable percentage of the price paid for the box in the first place.

Now that you’ve seen what my boxes contained, realize there are better and worse boxes out there. Some boxes contain a ridiculous amount of value. For example, check out this break posted on YouTube by Wolfe’s Sports Cards & Gaming.

But I don’t think it’s good enough to just know that some boxes will contain more rare, and therefore typically more valuable, cards than others. I want to know a lot more about the products I’m collecting. I want to know how much of this stuff is out there. I want to know how many of the un-numbered parallel cards exist. I want to know just how difficult it is to get the different parallel cards. There was a time when every insert and parallel had odds on the pack or the box. In fact, starting in 1992, companies started placing odds on packs because the New York City Consumer Affairs Department started issuing citations against the card companies because the department felt the marketing of insert cards was misleading. Over the years it feels like the presence of per pack odds has decreased. For example, check out the back of the Prizm box.

See that tiny print? Well, there are no odds, just a purposely vague statement saying that on average a pack will contain 2 non-base cards. Otherwise, there’s just a bunch of marketing messages printed all over the rest of the box, placed there to make you want to buy it. So much for providing clarity the customer can use.

Part of the purpose of this blog is to provide data and statistics about sports card products. In order to do this, it requires collection of data. So, I collected data about the contents of (29) 18-19 Prism Basketball FOTL boxes. The data came from my own breaks, postings on the Blowout Cards Forums, and by watching YouTube videos of box breaks. I counted the number of parallel base cards and the type of each parallel for each box break. Fortunately, since some of the cards are serial numbered, we can use statistics to make predictions about several characteristics of the product.

I’ll do something a bit unusual and go ahead and share the results with you before explaining any of it. I know that some will be interested in knowing how I obtained the numbers and others simply want the answer. Both are fine. So, here you go.

The first step in this process is to determine the total number of FOTL exclusive serial numbered base cards available in all FOTL boxes. At this stage, my calculation purposefully excludes the other serial numbered parallels. We’ll get to that in a bit. For 2018-19 Prism Basketball FOTL, the 300 base cards have a total of 6300 FOTL exclusive serial numbered parallels. That’s 21 serial numbered parallels for each base card. Across the 29 boxes I observed, there was one FOTL exclusive parallel in each box. I have heard that some boxes have had zero and others had more than one. But statistically, with a sample size of 29 boxes all containing one, a good prediction of the average is one per box. 6300 FOTL exclusives packed out at average of one per box means there were 6300 FOTL boxes produced. Simple enough. If these boxes had been packed into a typical hobby case format, 12 boxes, there would have been 525 cases of FOTL produced.

Next, for each type of non-FOTL exclusive Prizm base card parallel, I counted how many of each type was pulled. Then, I took the total for each type and divided it by the number of box breaks observed, 29. This number gives us a solid estimate of the frequency with which one can expect to pull a particular parallel from a box.

Some serial numbered parallels exist in such small quantities that I didn’t see any of them pulled out of 29 boxes. However, I did see a lot of the higher print run serial numbered cards come out of these boxes. In order to determine the probability of the more scare cards, I scaled the probability by the ratio of the print run between the two parallels. For example, a Red Prizm parallel numbered out of 299 lands once every *X* boxes. Therefore, a Gold Prizm parallel numbered out of 10 should logically have a probability of hitting once every 29.9*X* boxes (*X* x 299 / 10 = 29.9*X*). Note that this analysis assumes a uniform distribution of serial numbered cards across the entire print run, all the serial numbered cards are actually inserted into the product, and that no more than the stated print run were produced.

Now for something a little different. We step out and do a little projecting on the print run of Silver, Hyper, and Ruby Wave Prizms inserted into all Hobby packs (including FOTL). If we assume the per box odds for serial numbered Prizm parallels in FOTL are the same as Hobby packs, we can make an estimate of the number of Hobby cases were produced. Also, we need to assume the average number of Silver, Hyper, and Ruby Wave Prizms per box are the same in Hobby and FOTL. With knowledge of the number of Hobby cases plus the number of FOTL equivalent cases, in addition to the frequency of hitting the respective non-numbers Prizm parallels, we determine the print run for the 3 non-numbered parallels. The formula for the number of non-numbered Prizm cards inserted in Hobby boxes is { (# per box) x (boxes per case) x (total Hobby + FOTL cases) / 300 base cards }.

The projection on the number of Hobby cases and the print run of non-numbered Prizms is a bit premature, but it is a leading indicator. Come back soon for an analysis of 2018-19 Prizm Hobby after I collect and analyze some data from Hobby case breaks. It should give help confirm whether the projections are accurate or not.

Finally, remember that the retail release last year was rich with Silver Prizms, so the total print run of Silver Prizms is likely to be much higher than calculated from Hobby packs. In my opinion, the quantity of Silver Prizms on the market has become pretty substantial compared to the serial numbered options. I will admit, it’s brilliant what Panini’s marketing team has done. They’ve managed to create a product where relatively common inserts carry disproportionate value for collectors. They studied the Topps Chrome model and followed it exactly.

**Phase 1:** In year 1, insert un-numbered refractors with a relatively low print run.

**Phase 2:** In subsequent years increase the overall print run so that many more of these desirable refractor cards are available. Collectors remain anchored with the belief the un-numbered refractors continue to have a low print run. Be sure to keep the increase in print run hard to quantify, because of the absence of information (i.e. no serial numbers).

**Phase 3:** PROFIT!!

Historically, collectors tend to go after scarcity. That’s why PSA 10’s are more valuable than PSA 9’s. I know that people like what they like, but I have to believe that in the long-term the more rare cards will see price appreciation once collectors’ appetite for Silver Prizms has been satisfied. Myself, I’ll take color serial numbered Prizms with color combos that are appealing. That way I get a more rare card with a design that looks just as good, and often better than, Silver Prizms.

Till next time – Jeff