As a primer for the annual NFL Draft (I told you this was going to be delayed), SAGE Collectibles has released their version of a mid-to-high end product, SAGE Autographed. Due to the advent of exclusive licensing contracts, this set does not feature any NFL or NCAA logos, but it does include autographs from some of the top draft prospects.
Hobby boxes come with 12 3-card packs for a total of 36 cards. I obtained this box directly from SAGE Collectibles, but boxes are currently going for about $115, which would translate into a $3.19/card ratio. As the main focus of this product is autographs (you will see the base design below), that is a $9.58/auto ratio. The box promises 1 autographed card in each 3-card pack with a random smattering of various serial numbered parallels.
Base Cards (#1-55): 24 – 41.8%
Red (no S/N): 1
Silver (#/400): 5
Gold (#/200): 6
Platinum (#/50): 0
Master Edition (1/1): 0
Triple Auto (#/5): 0
FIRST AND GOAL’S FOUR DOWNS:
1st Down, Design: I want to like this base design. I really do. The photos aren’t bad, considering the lack of any licensing. The various base card colors provide a nice hint of variety to what could very easily be a lackluster set. I definitely like that there are two photos on the card front, something you don’t see everday in recent years. My main beef? It is brutally obvious the base card was just added as filler. Other than the color variations, it is the exact same card used for the autographs, just sans auto label. I can’t see anyone really wanting to hand collate this base set and you would need AT LEAST 3 boxes, and that’s with perfect collation. My advice? Just drop the “base card” and give me 12 1-card lotto packs. The money saved on not printing the two bonus cards per pack could be used to drop the price of a hobby box $20. Just a thought.
2nd Down, Inserts: The only insert to talk of here is the only real purpose of this product: the autographs. While I’m not a fan of the card design for the base set, it works once you add the patented auto label. I’m not always a fan of various parallel sets, especially for autographs, but I’ll take it here. It adds a chase element to the product and makes opening the packs more interesting. I also like the hand written serial numbers. Who ever did all of these must have an iron hand. The numbering all looks the same, and there are a LOT of cards to hand number! Since each parallel is a different card color and there is no serial number press, I would think faked autos would be awfully difficult for this set, which is a very nice touch. My only complaint here is the red autos. The packaging claims over half of all autographs are from rarer chase levels, meaning there should not be any more than 651 copies of each red auto. Why not just get rid of the red autos (and maybe increase silver to 500 and gold to 250) or just number them as well? Maybe this is just part of the card manufacturing process I don’t understand.
3rd Down, Collation: Not bad. I will always cringe a bit when I pull a double and do not also pull the entire base set. But given the fact that the autos are the point of this product and I only pulled one base duplicate, I’m willing to overlook this setback. The distribution of the autos was good. There were none of the rarest three levels in this box, but half of the autos were #/200 and only one was unnumbered. Not too shabby.
4th Down, Overall Value: This product is a tricky one in this department. To me, the base set is worthless. Being released just before the NFL Draft (and therefore just weeks before the first cards to feature rookies with there new NFL team logos), the base set is just pointless to me. However, there is definitely high auto content here, which is what a lot of modern collectors want. These cards aren’t going to command the same resale prices that the NFL licensed cards will, but they certainly aren’t worthless either. Will you be able to sell every one you pull for at least $9.58 to cover the cost of the box? No. But if you’re lucky, you will pull some rare variations of the bigger names to make up for the unnumbered What’s-His-Name prospects. Plus, a lot of modern collectors seem to place a lot of emphasis on the price per auto ratio. In a lot of products, you might pay $80 and only pull 3 autos ($26.67/auto) or even well over $150 for 5 autographed cards ($30/auto). In light of that, a $9.58 pricetag for an auto of your favorite young players doesn’t seem so bad.
RED ZONE RESULTS: FIELD GOAL The base cards alone keep this product from finding paydirt, but the number of autographs and their various rare versions are enough to get 2010 SAGE Autographed on the board. I know this set isn’t going to be everyone’s cup o’ tea, and that’s fine. That is what’s great about this hobby: variety. If you don’t mind the absence of logos and are looking for a good punch of autographed goodness, this product can really work well for you. If you are a set builder or obsessed with only having licensed products, stay away. It’s pretty simple, folks.
NEXT UP: 2010 Press Pass Portrait Edition