Hobby Musings: Reflections from the National – It’s hard to believe, but another National Sports Collectors Convention is in the books. The pile of opened trading card wrappers is still fresh and the euphoria of another show hangs in the air. With that, here’s a look back at some of the notable show happenings.
One of the big concerns about the 2016 National was how the attendance would be given the show’s location in Atlantic City. While opinions vary depending on who you talk to, attendance seemed pretty good from what I saw all weekend. Especially encouraging was the number of families I saw in attendance. I’m not just talking about a lone parent with a child, but several complete families. At last year’s show in Chicago, I noted the number of children I saw and was hoping to see a similar showing in Atlantic City this year. With any luck, it’s a good trend that will continue at the National in the future.
The big winner of the show was wrapper redemptions. The trading card companies did a nice job of providing value in their packs. This enticed several attendees to rip a lot of wax in order to obtain some of them. Topps especially had a long line to redeem their special Bowman packs all throughout the show and had actually run out of packs by the end of the day Saturday. Not wanting to leave Sunday’s attendees empty-handed, they were kind enough to arrange a series of free case breaks for anyone who was interested.
Panini’s long-running silver packs were also quite popular, and the company had run out of them early on Sunday. For anyone wishing to still have the chance to acquire some, you’ll have to hit up the secondary market, including some of the larger retailers, to get some of them. For those of you wondering, there were some pretty sweet hits in the packs.
One lucky collector I came across who pulled an autograph of Rams rookie QB Jared Goff. Besides the silver packs, Panini once again hosted free kid’s breaks throughout the weekend. The popularity of these was evidenced by the long lines of youngsters looking to get in on them throughout the show.
Supported by a limit of how many packs collectors could redeem per day, Upper Deck still had a small amount of their wrapper redemption packs by the end of the show. As has been the case, their packs contained specially-made cards for the National as well as randomly-inserted autographs.
Offering super rippers a bit more incentive, Upper Deck also had premium autographs and other items to anyone interested in busting a case of eligible product. Beyond the pack incentives, Upper Deck offered free raffles almost every day of the show. With a variety of freebies ranging from sealed boxes to autographed memorabilia, the raffle drew quite a large number of people each time.
Also of interest at the Upper Deck booth was the presence of Brady Kahle. He had a table set up for most of the show. Selling cards and memorabilia to support his Cards4ACause, Brady was a vibrant presence all over the show floor. Each of the card companies and a lot of collectors stepped up in grand style by donating money and sports card items to lend aid to his cause.
The redemption center at the Leaf booth was also quite popular. Many took advantage of their pack redemption in order to score a Babe Ruth Yankee Stadium seat card. They also had special boxes containing random memorabilia for case breakers. Leaf was also a popular destination for people looking to sell some high-end cards, as their display case steadily grew with some pretty sweet cards throughout the show.
Historic Autographs and Onyx were also popular destinations throughout the weekend. Historic once again did their National-only redemption tins. For a little over $100, collectors received a tin containing a random piece of memorabilia. Talking with principal owner Kevin Heffner, the company had sold out of tins with a few days to spare.
Onyx’s table was equally as impressive as Lance Fischer and company had a nice setup of prospect autographs and game-used memorabilia set up at their table. In particular, I found myself salivating over some Ben Zobrist game-used gloves.
Another big winner of the 2016 National was Tristar’s autograph pavilion. With over 130 different athletes in attendance, the lines at this year’s show for the guests was unreal, especially for the VIP signers. From what I heard, the line for Basketball Hall of Famer Nate Archibald was rumored to have run about three hours.
Especially popular for both photographs and autographs were professional wrestlers Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. I’m amazed that Flair’s voice held out for the show since every time someone yelled out his trademark “Wooo!!!!,” he was happy to respond back in kind. Given their success, it will be curious to see if Tristar brings in more wrestlers at the National in the future.
Not surprisingly, vintage trading cards were also popular once again at the National. As crazy as this is to say, I think we may not have seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the market for vintage wax. The main stage of the case break pavilion actually had a few breaks for sealed vintage packs, one of which yielded a Mike Ditka rookie card.
Never to be lost in the fold of the National is the unique nature of what’s on display. Goldin Auctions in particular had a lot of cool memorabilia for the public to view, including a nice Tom Seaver game-used jersey. Besides the high-end memorabilia, some of the items for general sale were just plain amazing. As the son of a Three Stooges fan, I was happy to see a cut autograph featuring Moe, Larry and Curly on the same item. It’s just a shame Shemp wasn’t on there too.
All in all, the 2016 National was a fun time and a good reminder of the best the hobby has to offer. By most accounts, it seems to have been a popular show, and it will be interesting to see whether Atlantic City becomes a more consistent destination for the National going forward. With the 2016 show in the books, the countdown to 2017 in Chicago is officially on.
Hobby Musings: Reflections from the National – Image Gallery
Hobby Musings: Reflections from the National
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