In the sports card collecting world, there are not many things that will give you a bigger rush than opening a hobby box.
While buying retail boxes might be cheaper, hobby boxes just bring that special bit of extra spice and thrill and hope that you’ll end up with that one special card you’ve been eyeing for some time.
Now, some hobby boxes are better than others because of the cards they include. Boxes with rarer and more special cards usually cost more, but they also have a higher risk-to-reward ratio than other, safer alternatives.
This is why knowing which hobby boxes to invest in should be your priority if you’re looking to buy a sports card hobby box…
Also, keep in mind – this is no way a “these boxes will rise in price” or any B.S. like that. You can find a snake oil salesman on Instagram for that… These are just sets and boxes that I like, usually with some key cards in the hobby to chase.
Top Sports Card Hobby Boxes to Buy
If you’re looking for a good hobby box to invest in and you’re not sure where to start, these boxes might be right for you.
1996 Topps Chrome Basketball Hobby Box
For many people, the 1996 Topps Chrome hobby box is THE holy grail when it comes to hobby boxes.
Well, the obvious reason is that it contains that precious Kobe Bryant rookie card that you might be looking for.
Yep, the chance of getting a Kobe Bryant rookie card in the best condition possible is real here, but you must be willing to take a punt on this one.
And let me tell you, this hobby box isn’t gonna come cheap. Bryant’s Topps Chrome rookie card can sell for six figures if in the top conditions, so you’re going to have to provide a sizeable investment here to get one of these.
And the thing is, even if you don’t get Kobe you still have a chance of picking some great cards of basketballing icons: Iverson or Nash, to name just a couple.
1989 Upper Deck Baseball Box
Now, if you’re someone who prefers baseball cards to basketball cards, one of the best places to start is the 1989 Upper Deck hobby box.
The main reason for this is that you’re in with a great chance of getting the valuable Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card that any baseball fan would be proud of owning.
Griffey’s rookie cards will sell for thousands in top conditions, and these hobby boxes will sell for significantly less.
There are 36 packs in each box, which means that the chance of getting the so widely coveted Griffey rookie card is quite high.
2018 Panini Prizm Basketball Box
If you prefer more recent cards, then one of the best hobby boxes for you is undoubtedly the 2018 Panini Prizm basketball hobby box. This box could contain gems such as Luka Doncic RC or Trae Young RC.
Now, as you may know if you follow basketball, Doncic’s rookie card is among the most popular basketball cards of all time. And while the base Prizm card is not that expensive, you’ll see that other parallels, or the so-called Prizms, can be very valuable.
The great thing about this box is also that you’ll find, on average, 22 prizms and 2 autographs per box.
So even if you don’t find Doncic or Young RC, you still have a great chance of covering your investment with other Prizms from the box.
2003 Topps Chrome Basketball Box
Want that LBJ rookie, don’t you? Well, who doesn’t!
With this set, it’s all about that elusive LeBron James rookie card…
In top conditions, this card has the potential to sell for thousands, if not dozens of thousands of dollars, and for a decently-sized investment on the hobby box, you’re getting a fantastic chance to own one.
Don’t forget that this is a Topps Chrome box, so you’ll find several parallels and refractors inside, as well as a number of rookie cards. You can get the famous X-fractors and golden refractors inside the box, too.
Mind you, this hobby box can cost quite a lot, so only go for it if you’re prepared for a larger investment. The potential is huge with this one, however.
2017 Panini Prizm Football Box
If you’re a football fan and you prefer to collect football cards, then one of the best places to start is the 2017 Panini Prizm football hobby box.
Inside, you’ll get the chance to find the Patrick Mahomes rookie card. In recent years, this was one of the most expensive and valuable rookie cards of all time, so you will probably not regret buying this card if you can get Mahomes, of course.
Then, there’s also Christian McCaffrey’s rookie card, which is also a great one.
You’ll get 24 cards per box, so there’s a decent chance that you might come across something special here. Don’t forget that you are guaranteed to get 1 autograph or memorabilia card inside a box, which is an added bonus here.
Overall, this is one of the best hobby boxes to consider if you prefer to collect football cards.
2011 Topps Update Baseball Box
The 2011 Topps Update baseball box brought us some great cards, including the famous Mike Trout RC, which has become one of the most highly sought-after cards in the world of baseball.
Trout’s rookie card is every baseball card collector’s dream. It is one of the best modern baseball cards with great potential to keep growing further and further.
Who knows, in a few decades we might be talking about this Trout card as the most legendary card of this era, and it might continue to grow in value.
Not only that, but this card set offers you some sweet additions and bonuses if you’re willing to invest in one. For instance, you might find one autograph per box as well as two relic cards per box, which will add value to the cards you get from the hobby box.
If you are looking for a sweet baseball card that will provide you with a good ROI and great potential for the future, then this might be one of the best places to start.
1992 Topps Basketball Series 2 Box
Crazy to think that a box like this cost only 69 cents back in 1992… Today, it’s going to cost hundreds of bucks if not more.
Note that there’s one important thing to keep in mind here: you want to specifically have the Series 2 box, or else you’re going to be missing out on the main card from the pack:
Shaquille O’Neal rookie card!
Oh yeah, the Shaq is undoubtedly one of the most widely wanted cards from the 1990s. The card in the image you see is the Gold parallel, but you could also get the base version of the card.
Oh, and let’s not forget about all the other goodies you might be getting from this box – you could be getting cards of the best basketball players at the time, which are also worthwhile.
2020/2021 Panini Select Basketball Hobby Box
3 autographs and memorabilia per box, 12 Prizms, 1 FOTL Exclusive Parallel autograph, 2 base courtside cards – all included in a box like this – what’s not to love?!
Plus, you’ll get the chance to get some dope rookie cards, such as LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards.
With all that on offer, this has got to be one of the best modern hobby boxes for basketball. Yes, the initial investment might be quite high, but think about the long-term possibilities with these cards.
Yes, Select isn’t as “select” as it used to be and has a checklist that seems to double every year – but they’re a fun rip and I personally like the cards. I’m also a T-Wolves guy so Anthony Edwards is my dude.
2009 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Hobby Box
Looking to go big with your hobby box spending? Then the 2009 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects is a good option, albeit a touch expensive.
And by expensive, I mean really expensive – we’re talking about thousands of dollars here.
But you know what, you’re getting a chance to make a huge profit on your investment provided you get the so widely desired Mike Trout RC – or even better, one of the refractors.
Mind you, this box is definitely not for everyone. If you’re on a budget or you don’t have this sort of money to spend, then just skip this one. But if you’re willing to go big and want the best of the best, then it’s one to consider.
You’ll need to have guts to get it, though.
2000 Bowman Football Hobby Box
This 2000 Bowman football hobby set is all about that elusive Tom Brady rookie card.
The Bowman card is not the most valuable Tom Brady rookie card; that award goes to the Playoff Contenders card. However, the 2000 Bowman rookie card is extremely valuable, too, as it will cost thousands of dollars.
What’s even better, you could potentially be getting a PSA 10 Tom Brady rookie card, which will obviously increase the value of the card greatly.
The chances of getting Tom Brady in a hobby box like this are good. After all, the thrill of buying hobby boxes is not knowing exactly what you’ll get, but just having a chance of getting a card like this will make your heart rate go up fast.
2015 Upper Deck Hockey Box
Are you a hockey fan? Then a good place to start would be the 2015 Upper Deck hockey box with the chance of getting Connor McDavid’s rookie card.
Now, Connor McDavid is one of the most valuable rookie cards of not only the last few decades but of all time.
With this in mind, this hobby box will be one of the best modern boxes you could get if you want to get this Connor McDavid rookie card.
2005 Upper Deck SP Authentic Hockey Box
The chance to get Ovechkin or Crosby in a single hobby box? Don’t mind if I do!
The 2005 SP Authentic hobby box remains to be seen as one of the most memorable packages of hockey cards of all time. It contained some of the best rookies of the modern era, such as Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
Both of these two cards will sell extremely well. They have the potential to sell for thousands of dollars and even more.
Plus, if you buy this box, you’re getting the chance for at least one signed rookie card in each box, which is an additional incentive for you to get this box.
Overall, this is one of the best hockey hobby boxes to get if you’re a hockey card collector.
Sports Card Hobby Box – Buyer’s Guide
Looking to buy a hobby box but you’re not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered here.
What is a Hobby Box?
A hobby box is a box with sports trading cards that are sold exclusively to distributors and are usually not available in large retail shops or stores.
Unlike a retail box that could be bought at your local grocery store, a hobby box can only be bought if you have connections, through smaller and local retailers, or on online trading sites like eBay, for instance.
Compared to retail boxes, hobby boxes:
- Are more expensive
- Have memorabilia and more exclusive cards than retail boxes
- Have more autographed cards
- Are better for specialty collectors
- Are tougher to find but have a better chance of giving you that one special card
The cons of buying a hobby box instead of a retail box are that they’re not available in your local Target or Walmart, and they’re usually more expensive.
So if you’re into premium and rare cards and you want that something extra bit special, then hobby boxes are for you. However, if you just want to try your hand at collecting cards or you’re just getting started and you don’t want to overspend, then retail will be just as good.
What You Should Look for in a Hobby Box
Now, if you’ve decided that you want to get a hobby box, then there are a few things that you need to look out for when you’re deciding which box to get.
Here are some key criteria that will help you decide which hobby box you’re going to buy.
The Quality of Rookie Class
First and foremost, you should take a look at the rookie class for the year of the hobby box.
Ideally, you’d want to be excited by at least one rookie card from that box. Hobby boxes that have two or more great rookie cards are usually best, but they do come at slightly higher prices.
For example, we’ve included the 1996 basketball box because it includes the Kobe Bryant rookie card; or the 2000 Bowman football set which has the Tom Brady rookie card in it.
The thing is, you might not be getting these rookie cards at all, but at least you’re in with a chance to get these valuable rookie cards for a slightly lower card than usual.
The second factor you should consider is the rarity of the cards included in the pack. Do you have the chance to get something special from the pack, or does the pack only have base cards?
The more autographs, memorabilia, and other similar cards the box has, the better it is. You will want the box to have at least some parallels inside so you’ll be able to sell them for a profit.
So when you’re buying a hobby box, also consider what types of cards you’re getting inside. Is it just base cards or are there any parallels, memorabilia, or autographs also included?
Price of Cards Individually
As you may know, most collectors buy cards individually that they like. So even if you don’t get any rookie cards in your box, you might want to have some cards that are valuable enough to justify the price of the box.
For example, the 1989 Upper Deck baseball box is popular because of the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card, but it also has some other fantastic cards that can also be valuable, such as:
- Bo Jackson
- Nolan Ryan
- Mark McGwire
You should be looking at the overall quality of the box, and not only the quality of the rookie cards. That’s how you’ll get the most out of your investment.
Take special care of the print runs of the selected boxes. The higher the print runs, the less valuable the cards are going to be.
Ideally, you’d want to have lower print run boxes, but they do come at higher prices, so they’re certainly not for everyone.
You’ll want to strike the sweet balance between lower print numbers and affordable prices, so take some time to research the overall prices of the cards included and their print numbers.
How Likely You Are to Get a Top Card
Ultimately, it’s all going to come down to this factor: how likely you are to get a top card you’re desperately looking for from this box.
When you buy a hobby box, you’d want to have the best chance possible of getting the best cards inside the pack to make your investment worthwhile.
Above are the boxes that are likely to bring you that top card, but you should know that with hobby boxes, it’s almost never a guarantee.