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Surprising Value in Old Collectible Card Games

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Have you ever played a Collectible Card Game (CCG) besides Magic: The Gathering? I wonder how the majority of players today would answer that question—it may break down bimodally, by generation. When I started playing Magic back in 1997, there were numerous CCG’s to pick from. In fact, InQuest Magazine used to rank the top 10 CCG’s by popularity each month:

Players who started around this time almost assuredly at least dabbled in another CCG. Newcomers to Magic, however, may not have such experiences, namely because nearly all the CCG’s from the late 90’s are now defunct. The only CCG’s I hear anything about in 2020 are Magic, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh. Note that in the issue depicted above, the latter two weren’t even invented yet!

An Eye-Opening Moment

Something that surprised me recently is that just because a game is out of print doesn’t mean there are no players of the game. I discovered this recently when I shared a picture of some sealed Star Wars: CCG booster packs on Twitter, asking for opinions on their value. The response was quite strong:

Numerous followers chimed in sharing their fond memories of the game. But a couple replies really surprised me. One person messaged me directly and arranged a deal to purchase ten of these booster packs for $47. I received these packs as a gift a while ago, with the intent to learn the game. The box didn’t contain rules, I didn’t find a friend interested in learning with me, and so the cards were relegated to my hobby display shelf, where it remained untouched for years. The fact I was able to sell less than a third of my boosters for $47 was baffling.

But that sale alone didn’t inspire this week’s article. Instead, it was these replies that opened my eyes to a live-and-well subculture:

What?! The game is still maintained with modern rules and modern cards (Mandalorian cards, even!). I ran a quick Google search for “Star Wars CCG”—the first hit was its Wikipedia page. The second hit was the Star Wars Customizable Card Game Players Committee website.

The site itself has a classic feel to it, but don’t be fooled: this site is actively maintained. Check out the photo below, from the 2020 (that’s right, this year!) championship.

Then there’s the GoFundMe campaign video where Brandon Baity asks for $10,000 of support to create a Star Wars: CCG documentary! Yes, a documentary. When I first saw the video I thought, “No way this takes off.” Then I checked the donation progress…

Yes, a Star Wars: CCG documentary is going to happen. Apparently this card game is still popular and seeing a surge in interest.

The Finance Side

Before I go further, I want to emphasize that this article is not designed to spur a random buyout of Star Wars: CCG cards. I hope my reader’s would know better than to jump head first into purchasing cards they know nothing about. I just mentioned above that I am selling some of my Star Wars: CCG cards. This isn’t about speculation, it’s about awareness and education.

With that aside, I ran a quick search on eBay and sorted by ending price. Apparently, some of the last officially released Star Wars: CCG sets can sell for a hefty sum!

The Endor booster box was an auction with seven bidders, indicating this phenomenon goes beyond just a single individual completing a collection.

In counterintuitive fashion, it seems the older sets are less valuable than the newer ones. I believe this is because the game’s fading popularity meant shorter print runs as the game matured. Therefore, despite being much older, the print runs on some earlier sets are less valuable (but still worth selling).

The key takeaway here: if you run across old Star Wars: CCG cards in a collection—or if you have some buried in a garage at home—I highly encourage you to dig them out.

Looking Beyond Star Wars

My discovery of the out-of-print Star Wars: CCG’s rising value is inspiring. It begs the question: what about other CCG’s that have faded into history? Well, it turns out, there are some pretty compelling collectibles out there. In fact, when I searched for Star Wars: CCG on eBay and browsed completed listings, I found some surprising “matches”. It’s like eBay knew I was doing research for this article!

A booster box of Star Trek CCG sold for $750 plus shipping. A sealed box of Naruto CCG sold for $750. And a partial set (not even complete!) of Middle-Earth CCG sold for over $700 shipped! Sealed boxes of Middle-Earth sell for $600-$900.

Are these games familiar to you? I vaguely recognize them, but I never handled any of their cards. It looks like Middle-Earth was number seven on InQuest’s top 10 list depicted at the beginning of this article. Star Trek: TNG was ninth, and there was no Naruto listed (perhaps it hadn’t come out yet).

I tried browsing completed eBay listings for BattleTech cards, number three on InQuest’s list. Sure enough, sealed product sells for $150 to $600, depending on the set. Random lots of 900 singles have fetched north of $100. Shadowrun (number four) doesn’t appear to fetch much, but a large collection of Legend of the Five Rings cards can sell for over $100 on eBay. I’m sure the list goes on and on.

What Does It All Mean?

Studying these out-of-print and/or defunct games has taught me three things. First, as I mentioned before, it’s definitely worth digging out any old CCG’s you used to play. It looks like there are players for many defunct games still out there—if you’re uninterested in playing yourself, you could probably help the player base out by placing your cards on the market. It increases their supply while also making you some cash.

Second, I learned that there’s still hope for me if I want to learn how to play Star Wars: CCG. I’ve always been a major Star Wars fan and the concept of manning the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo to lead an attack against the Dark Side has always been exciting. With social media (and stay-at-home orders), I’m sure I could find an online playgroup who would be willing to teach me if I wanted to commit the time. Perhaps this stay-at-home order is inspiring folks to do just that, and it’s causing a resurgence in demand as @CCGHistory stated on Twitter.

Third, looking at unsupported CCG’s is one way to study what would happen to Magic should it one day go belly-up. Granted, the magnitude of the game is much larger, so a great deal of extrapolation is required. But I could definitely see a scenario where sealed product climbs steadily in price over time. I don’t think arbitrary collections of random cards would sell as robustly for Magic simply because a) the game has been around for much longer and b) the supply of random Magic bulk is seemingly endless. If Magic were to collapse, I’d want my money in sealed product and the game’s most iconic cards.

Wrapping It Up

I enjoyed this momentary dive into other Collectible Card Games, digging for financial relevance. It turns out I didn’t have to dig very deeply—many now-defunct CCG’s are fetching real dollars at auction on eBay. It seems people are willing to pay up in order to relive their childhood memories—it’s true for Old School MTG, it’s true for vintage video games (I’ve noticed many of my rare Sega Saturn games have shot up in value over the past couple months), and it’s true for obsolete CCG’s.

If you’re sitting on some older CCG’s, now’s the perfect time to dig them out and do some research on eBay. People have more spare time sitting around at home these days, and you never know if a game you used to play has a strong, concentrated following in 2020. If so, you just may be able to sell those dust-gathering cards for real money.

Sigbits

  • The same hotlist cards from last week remain on Card Kingdom’s list this week. Dual Lands and Reserved List cards dominate the top of the list. The most valuable card on the hotlist that’s not on the Reserved List is foil Force of Negation, buylisting for $88.
  • Despite its recent buyout, Revised Wheel of Fortune isn’t worth selling to Card Kingdom’s buylist at the moment. They dropped their buy price to $50—it remains on their hotlist, but half of the market’s price is hardly considered “hot”.
  • I find the price history of Jace, the Mind Sculptor fascinating. It was $50 back in 2012, then spiked to $150 in 2013, slowly drifted down to $65 through 2017, then spiked back to $140 in 2018. From there, it has bounced between $100 and $150 before fading back toward $100 again in 2020. Card Kingdom’s $50 buy price doesn’t give me confidence in its outperformance going forward.

 

4 thoughts on “Surprising Value in Old Collectible Card Games

  1. Holy phreaking cowbells Sig! Thanks for waking me up. Just finishing up liquidating my MTGO collection, kicking myself for still subscribing here, but now learning I have 10s of Ks worth of old school card games in teh storage unit! Wanna buy some Star Wars? 😉

    1. LOL my pleasure! Yeah some of these old games are worth real money now. People crave their nostalgia.

      If the price is right, I’d buy some Star Wars CCG (Decipher). Especially sealed product. Whatcha got? 🙂

  2. I literally just found my old Starter Set that I got as a kid, and this was the first site I found when I wanted to see if it was worth anything. The only thing is, I can’t seem to find anything to compare it to, because all the Starter Sets I find now seem to be more recent ones, I can’t find any with my box. I was given it as a kid, so everything was opened, including the special booster pack that was included with it, and the box is slightly worn from age, but the cards are in amazingly good condition. Should I try to sell it as the box, or just sell the cards individually?

    1. Great question, Ian. Unfortunately I don’t have a simple answer. I’d start with some eBay searches to see what sells and for how much. If that doesn’t work, go to Twitter and ask your question, tagging me. I’ll RT and you’ll likely get a couple responses that way.

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