Hobby Musings: First impressions from the 2018 NSCC – The first two days of the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention are in the books. The 39th running of the show, it has been at Cleveland’s IX Center for the first time since 2014. Thanks in part to a sold-out VIP crowd, attendance has been pretty good the first few days. The VIP party kicked off the National on Wednesday . With Basketball Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy and former MLB greats Luis Tiant and Mike Hargrove in attendance, fans formed long lines to get their autographs.
The autograph pavilion has been a popular spot at the National so far. Headlined to this point by players like Francisco Lindor and Franco Harris, it has been an oft-crowded area The signers in the VIP package like Len Barker have had lines that went on for a few hours as attendees took advantage of their tickets.
Not surprisingly, vintage has been a consistent presence on the showroom floor. Surprisingly to me though is the amount of Roger Maris autographs and rookie cards that I’ve seen at booths. Maris is a popular subject in the hobby to be sure, but for the life of me, I’m not quite sure as to why there’s been so much of it for sale this year.
The trading card manufacturers have also been busy with their box redemptions. All of the companies have done a nice job of including incredible value into their packs this year. Upper Deck has almost entirely run out of their case breaker items heading into Friday morning. With autographed cards like a dual Serena Williams and Tiger Woods autograph, it’s no wonder they didn’t last long. The Monumental boxes, which feature autographed UDA memorabilia items, have been a popular item once again.
Topps’ Bowman-themed packs have also been popular. Featuring Shoehei Ohtani among other highlights, Topps has done a nice job managing the program this year. In the past, the packs have typically run out early much to the unhappiness of attendees. This year though, they’ve been able to last longer into the day to give more attendees a better chance of getting them. That being said, if you do want to get some of the packs, I’d still recommend going early in the day so you don’t get shut out.
Topps also had a couple of cool guests at their booth on Thursday. Chauncey Leopardi, known for playing Squints in “The Sandlot,” and HQ Trivia host Scott Rogowsky were both on hand and signed specially-made cards. Rogowsky also hosted some special Topps-themed trivia with prizes later in the afternoon.
Panini has been very busy at their booth with their redemptions. In addition to the traditional silver packs, they’ve also had special packs related to Charles Barkley and NASCAR. Another National tradition for Panini that has continued to be popular this year is the free kid’s breaks. The lines for them have been especially long as young collectors have had a chance to score some nice cards.
Leaf’s 70th anniversary has been front and center with their box and case promotions their year. In addition to their cards inspired by their 1948 Leaf design, people breaking a case have had a chance to pull a 1/1 autograph card from a checklist that includes Hope Solo and Shaquille O’Neal. Leaf’s also had a number of cool items for sale in their retail store, including a variety of autographs featuring recent football players like Kareem Hunt.
With three days still to go for the show, it’s looking like Friday and Saturday will be well-attended. One quick note though. The internet inside the IX Center all weekend has been pretty rough. If you’re someone who likes to tweet or needs internet, you could run into some challenges at the show. Also, the lines for the concessions have been fairly long, so be prepared to wait a little bit if you need to get food. If you’re at the show over the next few days, remember to stop by the Mike Berkus main stage as GTS’ own Rob Bertrand and Ivan Lovegren are hosting and giving away plenty of cool stuff.