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Insider: The Value of Sealed Product

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I hope everyone’s Return to Ravnica prerelease was as awesome as mine! I played both Golgari and then Azorious and liked both, though I found I definitely preferred Azorious, at least for the 2HG format. Playing Draw-Go while your partner played Creatures was fun.

All right, with that out of the way, I have a quick question for you:

What Magic product has increased the most in price over the last four years?

I expect a lot of things are running through your mind right now. Here’s one you may have guessed.

Underground Sea is a good guess. All the Duals have gone crazy in that time frame, and Sea has risen about $70 since then. If you asked me this same question, I would have likely answered the same were I pressed, or a few other cards I could name.

But that’s not right.

Would you have guessed From the Vault: Dragons?

The special item, which opened at $35 MSRP and could be had for even less than that, is up to $150 on SCG and goes for somewhere around that on Ebay. Someone even spent $157 on one, which is a little crazy since it can be had for cheaper than that on SCG, but to each his own.

What? There’s not even any Constructed playable Dragons in the box! I know, but Collectors want it. That, combined with the short print run of the product and the growth in the player base since then has led to a $115 retail increase. That’s a rate of about $30 a year.

To be blunt, that’s insane. Investors would kill for stocks that consistently showed that kind of growth. We have that right here with Magic, but it’s something even those of us “in the business” overlook way too often.

I know why. It’s not sexy to sit on cards or product for years at a time as it accumulates dust in the closet. And, unless you’re a collector who just likes to look at it, it means very little to you.

I came into a lot of sealed product about 6 months ago in a collection, including all the good From the Vaults and all five Commander decks. I recently found a buyer for all of it at once, so I shipped to him at a bit of a discount because stocking away the money, not to mention selling it all at once instead of piecemeal, was an attractive option for me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not always on the lookout for sealed product to hold onto, even though I have no interest in collecting it.

Because it’s not just Dragons that is worth money. Hell, it’s not even the sets that come with more value in them than the sticker price. Stuff like Duel Decks: Elves vs. Goblins commands a nice price, and even things largely seen as “misses” like FTV: Legends or Premium Deck Series Graveborn routinely sell now for more than the MSRP.

I think we can attribute this to the “collectible” aspect of this Collectible Card Game we all love. As players and traders collecting isn’t something we all inherently understand, but it clearly affects the market. It is a totally advisable move to grab every sealed product you can at MSRP when it comes out, even if it’s a critical disappointment. In the long run, this will essentially give you cash to hide away in your closet, only to find it’s accrued interest when you get back to it.

Sealed Product and Ravnica

With that out there, let’s look at the most recent round of Sealed product we can get: Guild Boxes.

And, unfortunately, I’m just not sure I can advice buying into these, at least not en masse. The price on these has come steadily down in the last week as more and more hit Ebay. I have an Izzet guild box I got as prize support that I have up on Ebay, and I expect to get no more than $30 for it.

And I expect that to come down even further, for a few reasons. Firstly, these things are kinda flimsy. Now, that’s not a complaint per se, because they were great for what they were built to do and the concept was awesome, but it means the boxes aren’t going to hold up great over time compared to the way the product like the From The Vaults series will.

This is the same reason that individual Faction packs from Mirrodin Besieged aren’t selling great on Ebay; people want a wrapped box or a clearly-sealed product. With our Guild Boxes, the “seal” is literally just a small sticker. This doesn’t help matters.

Secondly, if/when the box is opened, the cards inside are just regular packs. Even the Guild pack has regular cards in it. Once it’s been “cracked” (small piece of tape broken) the entire package is worth nothing more than any other six packs of Return to Ravnica.

Now, I’m not saying these won’t increase over the years. On the contrary, I’m sure they will. The question, though, is if it will be enough to make it worth investing money in. A product that goes up $30 a year is a great; a product that goes up $5 a year probably isn’t worth keeping. That money can be better reinvested in other products.

Products like the upcoming Commander’s Arsenal, for instance. A premium set that comes in nice packaging and contains alternative art/foiling for historically popular cards? That’s the kind of place we want to be.

The first impulse upon getting these products at MSRP (if your store sells at that price), can be to flip them for instant profit. And that’s fine. But it’s products like CA that are going to keep going up in price, just like Dragons.

And that’s where I’m going to put my money when it comes to sealed product.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

22 thoughts on “Insider: The Value of Sealed Product

  1. Of course the biggest problem with this is finding a store that sells these products at MSRP. I know I could not find a FTV Dragons for much less than $75 or $90 (can’t remember now) in my area. I do not think the growth on that is quite as good as you are saying.

    1. Interesting, because there are multiple stores in my city that always sell at MSRP.

      Also, Dragons has been closing from anywhere as low as 110 on Ebay to as high as 157 in the last few months, which (along with SCG) is where I got the number.

  2. After the hype of the Ftv dragons died down they were easy to find on ebay for low prices. I think this round of Planechase decks will do well. They pretty muh disappeared from shelves where I am from. My call is the ninja one being worth angel commander deck levels in a year.

  3. FWIW, In the “theories I don’t really buy into” department, rumblings from pre-release reports claim that the RTR guild packs come with a higher percentage of mythics per pack. On the one hand, this sounds like selective memory. On the other hand, if they printed entire sheets to get the mythic leaders for intro packs & the guild-specific packs…

  4. There is naturally a better chance to get the guild leader in a guild pack because there are only a select few rares and mythics that can actually be in a guild pack. Also, we have no idea what the ratio was to get a mythic. They could have added mythics in at the same rarity as rares in the pack. it sure did seem like a lot of people had the guild leaders at my prerelease.

    1. Right. There is also a possibly significant reporting of an inordinate amount of mythics in the REGULAR packs, though. Multiple people opening multiple mythics per 6 packs. Again, not saying i buy into it, but if you or anyone you know start cracking guild packs in a controlled environment? Something to keep an eye out on.

        1. Oh I didnt realize that people were talking about the other packs as well. yeah not buying that. It is just like when people say Mythics are easier to get in fat packs. I’ve witnessed some sick fat packs but just like most things it is a small sample size making us think that.

  5. While they might not hold up in the long term i think the next six months you could make a nice $10-$20 off these if one or two of the guild leaders get good, i’ve been hearing stories of Doubble Rares out of these, not to mention the only mythic you have a chance to get in your guild pack is your Guild Leader. Alot of people really like these because they feel they have a better chance in getting something awesome, unlike a fat pack. Plus you get more for your money than a fat pack. Lastly in my experience people Love Collectible dice and for those that want to collect all the guild dice this is a must have.

    1. The dice is an interesting side to it, and one we talked about on the podcast (brainstormbrewery.com) last week. The thing, I just don’t think it’s worth parking your money in these compared to something else. Yes, these will likely go up some, but there are other places you can put your money for a higher return.

  6. I think some the Golgari ones had some double rares accidently- I think this has been fairly well substantiated. If a similar product comes with Gatecrash it might be fun to have a casual sealed tournament with all the guilds. I could see these going up some for that reason.

  7. Also in AVR I opened one box from a case that almost half the packs had two or more mythics and rares. Ended up with 18 Mythics out of the box. So wish I had filmed it. will never get that again. Another box from the same case had similar distribution- including the lucky one who had 4 mythics in his sealed pool. There are some printing irregularities out there.

  8. But here’s the thing…worst case, you still have a bunch of Return to Ravnica packs.

    A few years from now, I think even those will be worth well above retail.

  9. Keeping my fingers crossed on the FTV: Realms. I have no doubt it’ll be worth more then MRSP but considering there is actual playable stuff in it I just want to see how high it can go in a year or two.

  10. On a different tack, and i don’t like to be “that guy”, but Corbin, this is easily one of your weaker articles. For insider material, i would hope to see some actual number crunching, not a general blanket statement that amounts to “sealed stuff goes up, eventually”. We know that.

    Especially given that old sealed intros and theme decks have been popping up at big box stores, a quick primer would have been awesome (like, mercadian mask theme decks are terrible, except for deck x, which is $Y.

    All in all, i love the work you guys do… But please watch out that too many overly general articles like this don’t sneak through.

    1. I’m with you. I do think, though, that some % of my readers probably didn’t realize just how much and how quickly this stuff goes up. That, along with the fact I wanted to talk about how I’m not a huge fan of the sealed boxes, felt worthy to me.

      Thanks for the feedback, I’ll keep an eye on stuff!

  11. I think there’s a danger in looking for number crunching, sometimes a break is good. Sometimes the thought process behind the product you’re likely to see as an investor is as important as numbers. I know that I see a lot more graveborn product than anything from the older sets, and having this overview was very helpful, even though it focuses on much more mundane information than many financial articles do.

    I liked it, Corbin, thanks again for focusing on a less considered area of sealed speculation.

    1. I can see that. I guess i was just disappointed that the spotlighted stuff was ftv, and commander, which have been either specifically geared to be highly collectible, or popular. They’re not really the norm.

      Corbin recommends buying every sealed product at MSRP you can find…

      So, every intro deck, duel deck, theme deck, etc? Really? I find that hard to believe. Thats a VERY strong, and odd recommendation, that i felt could use some more specific verification. Especially given that he follows that paragraph up immediately with what amounts to ‘well, except for rtr guilds’.

      1. This is a good criticism. I should have elaborated a little more on some of the other types of products. In my mind I was mostly considering the big stuff like FTV and premium series things, and didn’t give enough thought to Theme decks and Intro/Event decks.

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