Recent whispering from sources within distribution is that we may see Panini raise blaster prices, vaulting them from $20 to $40 per box.
And while this is all hearsay rumor, we had to ask: what if it’s true?
In today’s article, we’ll look at several different questions and possibilities that could play out if blaster boxes do, in fact, double in price.
Let’s get to it!
This might be the most burning question because the industry is so divided on flippers.
But to best understand what becomes of flippers if the MSRP is doubled on Panini’s blaster boxes, we need to understand what the landscape of flipping looks like right now.
Flippers buy out every blaster box they can get their hands on before reselling it on a secondary market for a significant mark-up. While often begrudged, flipping is currently the most sure-fire way to make a lot of money with cards.
Because the brand, year, and sport all impact resell price, it’s tricky to estimate the resell price for a blaster box, but we’ll use a price of $80.
With that price, every single box yields a 4x return on investment for the flipper. And at this rate, it’s easy to see how they make a lot of money very quickly: just 10 blaster boxes lead to $800 in profit.
That said, $40 blaster boxes will shave down the ROI – assuming, at least, that an increase in MSRP doesn’t affect the resell price. At $40 each, 10 blaster boxes will only net $400 in profit before fees and shipping.
If this is the case, the question will be how much time and effort people are willing to sink into reduced returns. But keep in mind that these calculations are based on a very loose estimated average resle price – a standard that is elevated by more expensive brands like Prizm flipping for $150 or more a box.
The actual result would probably be something closer to this: more expensive products would still be bought and flipped, while some lower-end products would become unflippable, meaning not reselling for enough to justify the original purchase.
If that is the case, more blaster boxes might be on the shelves for collectors to open and enjoy, albeit at a higher price.
There are two possible assumptions we could make from this question.
It could be fair to assume that an increase in blaster price could increase the hobby box since there is a lot of overlap in the contents.
But, more realistically, if Panini raises blasters to $40, it is more than likely because expensive hobby boxes elevate the price of blaster boxes, not the other way around.
Consider this: in 2016, a Prizm basketball hobby box would have cost you around $200, and a blaster box would have cost $20 – hobby boxes were 10x more expensive.
2020-2021, Prizm hobby boxes are available between $1,800-$2,300 on the secondary market. At $20 blaster boxes, hobby boxes would be 100x more expensive!
If Panini wanted to replicate the cost ratio between blasters and hobby boxes from earlier years, this year’s blaster box could come with a $150-175 resell price tag. That seems crazy, but based on those numbers, a $40 blaster is still a bargain.
This final question is perhaps the hardest to answer because there are so many variables at play and lots of estimates to make.
One fair assumption is this: if base-heavy blasters cost more, the overall value of base cards will rise. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee any other result.
The rest boils down to estimates we have to make based on basic supply and demand.
An increase in MSRP will decrease demand to some extent, at least with certain brands when their resell profits are no longer worthwhile. That reduced demand could also lead to Panini printing fewer cards, but they wouldn’t need to sell as many either since they doubled the price.
In many ways, a reduced print run would be a good thing for the industry and prevent the prices from dropping due to a flooded market.
An economist would probably suggest that Panini should adopt the exact opposite strategy as its business plan.
With blaster boxes, the current resell price implies that demand greatly exceeds supply. Economic theory says this scenario would normally incentivize suppliers to produce more, which would satisfy demand and drive down the price.
But there is a caveat. Since we are talking about collectibles, lowering the price isn’t in anybody’s best interest.
So what’s the most likely scenario?
It’s almost impossible to guess because of one variable we don’t yet fully understand in sports cards…
Price elasticity is a measurement of how sensitive the demand is to the price. As a rule of economics, we expect price increases to decrease demand, although there are exceptions.
Demand for gasoline is not particularly elastic. Despite price increases and decreases, demands stays relatively stable, and people continue to drive. Meanwhile, a product like pizza is far more elastic. If the price went up, people would eat more tacos instead.
Due to the laws of supply and demand, a doubling of the price should decrease demand. However, the question is how much demand will decrease. We just do not know how elastic demand for sports cards is right now.
Here’s our best guess: While doubling the price of a blaster is a significant increase, some brands will still be reselling for an easy $100 or more, and if that’s the case, the demand will still be sky-high. This means flippers will still flip, the print run will not be significantly impacted, base card value will rise slightly, and Panini will make a lot more money.
But much like the rumor that this story is based on, this is all just speculation. To learn what actually happens, we will all just have to wait and see.