One of the most important elements in determining the value of cards is their scarcity. As we all know, base cards are printed in massive amounts, and many parallels are also overprinted. However, there are several bastions of scarcity that we can turn to. One particularly potent holder of value is the case hit. To examine these sought after cards, here is our ultimate guide to case hits.
Sports card products are usually sold in cases. A case of a product will include several items, usually between 8-18. A case hit is a valuable card that will only appear in one of the boxes within the case.
The case hit is typically, although certainly not always, the best card in the entire case.
For example, say you buy a case of 2020 Donruss Football. There are 18 hobby boxes in each case. The case hit for that release was the Night Moves cards. So, there would be a Night Moves card in one of the cases and none in the other cases.
Therefore, you can see that it would be tough to hit the case hit you want. Even if you purchase an entire case of Donruss Football (at about $13,000 a pop) and hit a Night Moves card, there is a checklist of 25. So, you may have wanted a Kyler Murray but ended up with a Saquon Barkley instead (I’m a Giants fan, but still).
With 25 on the checklist, you may be looking at spending $200,000 or more and still not be guaranteed the card you want. Therefore, it is far more common for people to buy case hits on eBay or other third-party platforms.
It can be hard to tell the regular boxes from the ones with hits. However, hardcore hobbyists have a few systems. Of course, none of them are foolproof, but what is in life? Here are a few methods people have been known to use.
With some products, Panini has been known to wrap the boxes in a uniform direction. However, in the case hits, the wrapping plastic may be facing the opposite direction. Therefore, if you open a case and all but one hobby box has wrapping facing the same direction: the one standing out is likely to have a case hit.
You may have noticed that Panini stamps the inside of its boxes with numbers. You have to dismantle the boxes to locate the numbers in many cases. Apparently, the digits in question are used to distribute the hits properly between containers.
The boxes containing the sought-after hit will likely be labeled the same. Therefore, by process of trial and error, it is possible to determine which package contains a case hit.
Not every big money insert weighs more than a base card or less desirable insert. But when they do, it can make it very easy to locate the boxes and packs with case hits. It is undoubtedly easier to do with packs than boxes. But if the hit weighs enough (especially if it is a memorabilia card or a graded one), sellers can identify the pack in advance and sell you the dud.
There is always an element of chance in ripping and breaking. When you buy a case of a product, there will likely be a case hit in there. However, there certainly are instances where none were included (presumably by mistake). There may be a few cases hits in other cases, pun intended. But don’t count on having such luck.
Despite the element of chance, buying a case is a far safer play than buying single hobby boxes. Why? It is pretty common for individuals to open a case and break box after box until they unearth the case hit. Therefore, your odds of hitting when you purchase a single random box are lower than advertised.
How likely are you to get a case hit when buying packs from a hobby box? Unfortunately, your odds are very slim. However, considering the methods we have discussed, it is not particularly difficult to determine which packs do not have case hits, depending on the contents of other boxes and the hidden stamps.
Buying a case is always safer for the reasons illustrated above. However, if you want to buy a single hobby box hoping for a case hit, you can take precautions. First, buy from a trusted high volume online seller or an established local card shop. They are far more likely to open a case and sell the boxes without tampering. Meanwhile, if you buy from COOLSAM843, it is more likely you are getting their extra non-case hit boxes.
There are many case hits out there or at least supposed case hits. Some are actually far more common, and others aren’t worth very much. So, what are the real case hits? All the ones in this list qualify. And we have them ranked. However, keep in mind that you are more likely to make a profit on an underappreciated case hit than on a super hyped one.
This series of case hits is undoubtedly the most hyped and best known. The comic book-oriented design is the secret to the Kaboom! success story. There is significant overlap between the sports card community and the superhero movie audience. Well, let’s face it, everyone watches Marvel movies.
The series is so popular that Panini has used it to boost many of its new or flagging releases. It always seems to work.
Kaboom! cards are pretty valuable. However, looking at the actual eBay figures, it feels like people somewhat overestimate the value of the cards.
Here are the highest items sold on eBay in recent months:
|2013-14 Panini Innovation Kobe Bryant #9 Pop 17 (PSA 10)||$21,900|
|2019 Panini Absolute Gold Patrick Mahomes II #K29 /10 (PSA 9)||$18,600|
|2020 Panini Absolute Aaron Rodgers Green #K-AR 1/1 (PSA (9)||$17,875|
The vast majority of Kaboom! cards sell for under $5,000. Sure, Goldin sold a 2020 Panini Absolute Kaboom! Green #K-JH2 Justin Herbert Rookie Card (1/1) PSA 9 for $79,200. But that is a real outlier. Keep in mind also that the population reports for Kaboom! cards are low. But not THAT low. Some have around 100 graded versions.
These cards are particularly appealing because they link the players to the cities they represent. So you may see Steph Curry shooting with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background or Kobe Bryant in a Hollywood movie theater. There is undoubtedly something iconic about the idea and its execution.
Here are the highest items sold on eBay in recent months:
|2018 Panini Cornerstones Trae Young #12 (PSA 10)||$20,000|
|2020-21 Panini One and One LaMelo Ball (raw)||$15,000|
|2020-21 Panini One and One Anthony Edwards (raw)||$12,600|
The prices are generally lower than Kaboom! because the cards are considered less iconic. However, it is not certain that this will remain the case. Some collectors prefer the more down-to-earth aesthetic of Downtown inserts. In addition, they have similar population reports to their Kaboom! counterparts. Therefore, they have a good chance of maintaining value in the future.
The Color Blast is a more subtle case hit than Kaboom!, featuring the athlete on a white background with colorful modern art style blasts surrounding their visage. These typically do not appear in every case. In most cases (pun intended), you will find them at one in ten. If you look at the population reports, there are rarely more than 35 graded of any color blast.
Here are the highest sales for Color Blasts on eBay recently:
|2020 Panini Spectra Color Blast Lamelo Ball #21 (BGS 9.5)||$17,875|
|2020 Prizm Joe Burrow #11 (PSA 10)||$15,695|
|2019 Panini Prizm Tom Brady (raw)||$14,099|
The prices certainly rival Kaboom! However, I feel that they do not have the same appeal and cultural impact. Therefore, they may end up losing value in the long term.
Stained Glass is a remarkably artistic and attractive insert, which Panini has utilized on and off over the last twenty years. The cards have a medieval gothic feel, depicting players with the background of church style-stained Glass. Unlike Kaboom! and Downtown inserts, these cards use in-game pictures.
How do they stack up in terms of value? Here are the top-selling inserts from that series in terms of recent eBay transactions:
|2020 Panini Prizm Justin Herbert (PSA 10)||$17,500|
|2018 Panini Prizm Josh Allen /10||$16,650|
|2017 Panini Prizm Patrick Mahomes (PSA 10)||$14,188|
The Marvels inserts feature a simple concept. They show the athletes as superheroes on the cover of their own Marvel comic. The cards come in four lines: Marvel Nets for basketball, Mound Marvels for baseball, Octagon Marvels for UFC, and Gridiron Marvels for football. However, the execution is almost perfect. The cards are, almost without exception, enormously attractive and have an iconic feel.
I believe that the Marvel movies are essential for culturally defining this era. Therefore, these cards are likely to have a genuinely historic appeal. They also sell for less than Downton or Kaboom! inserts, despite their strong appeal. Therefore, to me, investing in Marvels is a no-brainer.
Here are the top-selling inserts from that series in terms of recent eBay transactions:
|2021 Donruss Tom Brady (PSA 10)||$6,455|
|2021 Donruss Mac Jones (PSA 10)||$3,050|
|2021 Donruss Trevor Lawrence (PSA 9)||$3,000|
Where You Can Find Marvels Cards
The case hit is very much a Panini phenomenon and one of the keys to their massive success. But as we know, Panini is losing its most lucrative licenses to Fanatics and Topps. Enter the Home Field Advantage cards.
Look, there is no denying that the Home Field Advantage concept is stolen from the Panini Downtown cards. In some cases, the design is almost identical. But it has two (no pun intended) advantages. First, the cards are beautifully designed and in no way inferior to their Panini counterparts. Second, Topps will soon have the licenses to the leading sports, and the originality of the Downtown cards will be irrelevant.
If you are troubled by this fact, don’t be. There is a certain poetic justice to the outcome. Prizm was a copy of the earlier Topps Chrome releases. But that didn’t stop anyone from buying them.
Here are the highest-priced recent Home Field Advantage eBay transactions:
|2022 Topps Series 1 Mike Trout (PSA 10)||$1,300|
|2022 Topps Series 1 Ken Griffey Jr. (Raw)||$910|
|2022 Topps Series 1 Juan Soto (PSA 10)||$750|
While the Night Moves series doesn’t have the high profile of the others we have placed above it, it does have a significant advantage. A remarkable scarcity. They come one in every 3-4 cases of Donruss and have appeared in fewer releases than most say Downtown.
Many collectors love the artwork, and it’s easy to see why. The contrast between the colors and black night background stands out in impressive relief. However, I did see one Blowout Forums user refer to it as “a random background that has nothing to do with football. Looks like that generic space art that street artists spray paint on Hollywood blvd.” Everyone’s a critic. By the way, I live right off Hollywood Boulevard, and I wish our graffiti was at this level.
Here are the highest sales for Color Blasts on eBay recently:
|2021 Panini Clearly Tom Brady 1/1 Holo Platinum (raw)||$8,988|
|2014 National Treasures Kobe Bryant /10 (PSA 9)||$3,174|
|2021 Panini Clearly Justin Fields 1/1 Holo||$2,125|
As you can see, it’s a significant fall in value from the most prominent case hits. However, the lower pop numbers may increase the value over time.
The En Fuego inserts have been around for over two decades, carving out a following niche all their own. Not many hits on this list have Michael Jordan versions, but this one does, guaranteeing its classic status.
While Phoenix has a few short print inserts, the En Fuego are easily the most sought after of the bunch. In particular, the die-cut versions of these cards found in the 2020 release found popularity. One of the best things about this insert is that it is available in a relatively cheap box. Or at least cheap by Panini football standards at around $500 in resale.
Also, note that the die-cast versions of this card do not grade very well. So, a PSA 10 or BGS 9.5 could do very well in the long term when the pop report is taken into account.
Here are the highest sales for En Fuego on eBay recently:
|2020-21 Select Luka Doncic Black Prizm (BGS 9)||$2,850|
|2020-21 Select Ja Morant||$1,607|
|2020 Phoenix Justin Herbert (BGS 9)||$800|
Panini loves using astronomy to inspire its card design, and Aurora is true to that tendency. In a tribute to the famous, the cards feature players with a background of swirling bold colors. But the set’s highlight is the Aurora font, which I think is stunning.
The set has been reasonably low pop because it is traditionally found only in Court Kings and Diamond Kings releases. However, the cards can now be found in Prizm, which may devalue them somewhat.
Here are the highest sales for Aurora on eBay recently:
|2018-19 Panini Court Kings Luka Doncic (BGS 9.5)||$5,925|
|2017-2018 Panini Court Kings LeBron James (PSA 10)||$1,735|
|2016-2017 Panini Court Kings Steph Curry||$1,726|
Intergalactic is a Score line case hit and is therefore not particularly sought after. After all, Score is considered a low-tier release. Nonetheless, these are fantastic lenticular 3-d cards. While photos cannot do them justice due to the shimmering light effect, they look great in person.
Since they have a very unique look and are only found in Score, the Intergalactic cards may develop a more substantial following in the future. However, they are also relatively new, first appearing in 2020, which means they have not had enough time to catch on as of yet. In addition, the inroads Score is making in the soccer world will undoubtedly help the chances of this case hit.
Here are the highest sales for Intergalactic lenticular cards on eBay recently:
|2020 Score Tom Brady (Raw)||$200|
|2021 Score Josh Allen (Raw)||$172|
|2021 Score Joe Burrow||$150|
Case hits can be awesome and are one of the most exciting elements in the hobby. But trying to hit one can be very expensive and is often not worthwhile. For example, let’s say you buy a Crown Royale case to hit the Kaboom! You pay the current price of $7,850 and start cracking. If you are super lucky, you may get a Steph Curry or a Jalen Green. Of course, neither is worth as much as the case, but you have to figure out that you will recoup more than the box is worth.
Maybe you hit a Jalen Sugs worth $960 or a Ben Wallace worth $400. Was that worth the outlay? You will likely lose a good deal of money on the case. If you buy hobby boxes, your chances of recouping are even worse. So, what are you left with? The best deal, as always, is to bite the bullet and buy the singles hoping they go up in value.