Navigating Year End’s Overwhelming Trading Card Release Calendar – To say that collectors have numerous choices when it comes to purchasing sports and entertainment trading cards, between now and the end of the year, is an understatement. A quick look at the GTS Distribution Product Release Calendar shows no less than 75 different products scheduled to release. There are several others that may release in that time frame. What’s a collector to do?
This article will help identify and match specific products to particular types of fans and collectors. The scheduled release dates are in parenthesis but, please know that, these are subject to change without notice.
Navigating Year End’s Overwhelming Trading Card Release Calendar
If you like the long game of prospecting for potential profit these are the products for you.
Bowman Draft (12/7) – A longtime favorite of collectors, Bowman Draft always delivers a strong checklist of recent MLB draft picks.
Elite Extra Edition (12/16) – Savvy collectors have long praised this product for its competitive price point and strong checklist. Panini has an exclusive license with the Dominican Prospect League which routinely produces top-level MLB talent.
Leaf Ultimate Draft (11/13) – Nothing but autographs of top draft picks and prospects in a variety of prismatic numbered parallels at a great price. What’s not to like?
Two brands that baseball card collectors have always loved are Topps Stadium Club (12/9) and Topps Allen & Ginter (12/4). This year will see Chrome versions of both products! Shiny versions of Stadium Club’s stunning photography and Allen & Ginter’s quirky checklist are sure to be big hits when these products release.
If that’s not enough Chrome for collectors, or those two brands aren’t of enough interest, Topps is releasing an all-new brand in Chrome Black (11/25). An early look at this product promised an encased Chrome autographed card, a Refractor and two Chrome base cards in every box!
The saying, “big risk, big reward”, has long been a mantra of premium brands like National Treasures (11/4), Flawless (11/25), Transcendent (12/9) and Dynasty (11/4). However, with as hot as the sports card market has been, there seems to be a “less risk, more reward” mentality. While prices for these products will be hefty, even at the group break level, secondary market values will remain strong for singles. This should translate to big demand for cards from these products.
The altered schedule to the NBA season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to several anomalies on the basketball calendar. Typical collecting season ending products like Immaculate Collection (11/18) and Flawless (12/9) are releasing in the same time frame as early season products for the following NBA year.
Additionally, two all-new brands to Panini’s NBA basketball product portfolio release in November. Expectations are sky high for Clearly Donruss (11/4) an all acetate product that combines the coveted inserts that collectors love about Donruss and Donruss Optic with the always aesthetically pleasing technology of acetate.
The other new brand is also an upgrade to an already popular release in the form of Hoops Premium Stock (11/27). Both products are 2019-20 season releases and will provide some of the final opportunities to land cards of key rookies Zion Williamson and Ja Morant.
A Look Ahead
The next generation of NBA stars will be on display in three different versions of 2020 Panini Prizm Draft Picks Collegiate Basketball Cards. Each of these releases contain autographs of top NBA draft picks. They differ in the types of Prizm parallels included.
The mid-way point of the NFL’s regular season coincides with the types of products that will be releasing in the final months of 2020. Mid-range priced products that deliver good value like Prizm (12/2), Illusions (11/11) and Rookies & Stars (11/18) will be heavily ripped by collectors.
First of the Higher-End
Additionally, football card collectors will have a couple of higher-end products to look forward to as well. Impeccable (11/25) is always one of the best looking products of the year and Obsidian (12/11) is a flashy, high-tech release that should deliver a variety of uniquely created parallels.
Both of the above products pale in comparison to the price point of Immaculate Collection (12/16). There are good reasons for this fact. The primary among them being strong secondary market values for the coveted Rookie Patch Autographs. With top-rated rookie quarterbacks like Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa headlining the checklist, this year’s release will continue to see that fact be true.
Production delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly impacted the release dates of key NHL products. By this point in time, Artifacts (TBD) would have already released and collectors would be getting ready to rip, the always popular, Upper Deck Series 1 (11/18). Both products have been delayed.
Number one overall draft pick, Alexis Lafrenière, is considered a generational talent. His rookie cards will drive demand for all 2020-21 NHL hockey card releases.
In addition to the aforementioned products, December will see the release of Black Diamond (12/9) and the unusually early release of Synergy (12/16). Black Diamond has been a longtime staple in Upper Deck’s product portfolio and is considered the first higher-end release of the NHL collecting season.
The technology driven Synergy is releasing earlier than normal and continues to create a name for itself in the hobby market. This product relies more on short-printed parallels, low numbered rookies and dynamic printing techniques, rather than autographs and memorabilia. Collectors were, initially, slow to embrace the new brand upon its debut a couple of years ago. However, collector sentiment has been gradually warming to the product. The primary reason being the strong secondary market value of the short-printed rookie cards.
The continued popularity of soccer throughout the world coupled with the increased popularity in the United States has created a bull market for soccer trading cards. New money into the hobby from the international community and increased demand domestically means that soccer cards no longer play second fiddle to the sports referred to as the Big Four.
A trio of products will have soccer collectors giddy with three of the world’s primary leagues being featured. These include the high-end Bundesliga Museum Collection (11/25), MLS (11/13) and UEFA Champions League Chrome (12/2).
Best of the Rest
If you are a fan of Formula 1 racing than you are going to LOVE Topps Dynasty Formula 1 (12/16). Every card is a patch autograph #’d to 10 or less. While the price tag will be high, this product promises to deliver race worn memorabilia and on-card autographs from ALL of Formula 1’s drivers and team principals.
If NASCAR is more your speed, the super high-end National Treasures Racing (11/13) will deliver a wealth of race-used memorabilia and autographs of the circuit’s top drivers.
Pick a property, any property and chances are their is a trading card release on the calendar before the end of the year. Well, maybe not for every entertainment property. However, suffice it to say their are several choices for non-sports/entertainment collectors. Here’s an almost exhaustive list of what’s on tap.
- Upper Deck Marvel Annual (11/4) – This release focuses on the year that was in the Marvel comic book universe.
- Topps Star Wars The Mandalorian (11/4) – A recap of the highly rated show’s first season.
- Panini Fortnite Series 2 (11/11) – The immersive, world-record setting online video game gets another set.
- Rittenhouse The Orville Archives Autograph Edition (11/18) – Every box/pack includes (15) autographed cards with those of Seth McFarlane dropping 1:2 boxes/packs.
- Topps Garbage Pail Kids Chrome (12/2) – Fans of those nasty rug-rats are sure to love this shiny version.
- Best of Benchwarmer (12/2) – The lovely ladies of Benchwarmer are ready to delight their passionate collectors.
- Cryptozoic Entertainment Outlander Playing Cards (11/27) – While not a traditional trading card set, the rabid fanbase of the Starz period drama are sure to want to add this novelty release to their collection.
- Topps Star Wars Masterwork (12/9) – This annual high-end release is LOADED with premium autographs, sketch cards and more!
- Rittenhouse Star Trek Discovery Season 2 (12/9) – The longevity of this franchise property continues with a new set dedicated to this all-new show’s second season.
- Topps Star Wars Holocron Series (12/23) – Topps has billed this as “The most comprehensive set in the galaxy featuring characters, stories and information from the entire saga.”
So enjoy this hectic release schedule by planning accordingly. No one collector can afford everything, so focus on what’s most important to your pursuits and interests. We hope this helps you in the process of Navigating Year End’s Overwhelming Trading Card Release Calendar.