Is the Set Builder Endangered??

With all of the new styles and variations of cards out there today I have to wonder if set building is still a big part of collecting…

Back when I first started collecting cards it was fun to buy packs in hopes of landing more cards that would enable you to complete the set you were working on.  If packs didn’t give you what you needed, you always had a few friends willing to trade cards getting you closer to your goal.  And if that still failed there was the local baseball card store and their ‘box of commons’ that would surely get you to the finish line.

Does that excitement still exist among collectors today or has this gone by the wayside??  Has the thrill of completing a set that took work and effort been replaced by the hope of pulling a 1/1 jersey card?  With all of the new cards in the market toady is it possible to build sets anymore?  Does the old 792 card set from Topps even exist?  What about the 660 count sets from Fleer and Donruss?  Have these been replaced too?  What took over this part of the collecting world?  When did set building drop off of the radar??

The negative about set building was the extra common cards that came along with opening pack after pack searching for what was on your ‘Need List’.  Maybe this has caused the set builder to stray.  Too many extra cards that nobody wants is not a good thing.  Maybe it was getting to hard to find people or stores that had the cards needed to complete the sets. 

Who knows?  But, 1 thing I know for sure is that I do have the urge to build a set again.  I won’t do it now, but I will do it.  And like most of my hobby focus, I will probably build a set from the 1980’s.  I think it would be a great experience for my son to enjoy along with me.  Hell, it teaches some life lessons too – cherish what you own, keep things neat and organized, etc…

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6 responses to “Is the Set Builder Endangered??

  1. I still enjoy collecting sets as well, but it is not easy these days. It is nearly impossible to find a local dealer with the old standard “box of commons.” To a set builder, this means buying several more wax boxes…now called hobby boxes…of unopened packs. I can no longer buy a box or two and fill in the rest of the commons from friends or a local dealer. No, now I have to buy two or three boxes from series one and then two or three more boxes from series two in order to complete a set. There are some online dealers who post their inventories of common cards for sale, but they need to charge many times over the “book value” of these cards to make the sale worth their time. Now that boxes of even the standard sets cost so much more, and some of the non-premium standard sets have become extinct or nearly extinct (no more Score or Donruss sets with Fleer barely hanging on), it is harder than ever to find a set that I’m both excited about building and can justify the expense of doing so. But I keep trying. One thing I’ve found is that it is now frequently possible to find good deals on hobby boxes from the previous year. Any further back and they become more difficult to find. Just my $0.02 worth for fellow set builders.

  2. It’s really too bad that the old-school set builder has been put into this position. As a player collector right now it seems like the effort and money to complete a set may not be worth it. Still though, building a set is a nice accomplishment and was one of my biggest thrills when collecting years ago.

  3. Brian,
    If you build a set from the 1980’s which year and maker will you choose?

  4. Great question. My gut would say ’85 Topps because it was the first set I ever put together. But, I think it would take quite a bit of research before I would attempt this. If ‘commons’ are as hard to come by these days as I think they are it woud be quite expensive to put this together.

  5. Set building still happens. I don’t collect sets every year from the big two, but I have picked out one or two nice looking sets to fill in the years past.
    JBT is correct in that there are hardly any dealers that stock commons. You really need a good trading group to get these easily and cheaply. I am blessed with both a great local shop and a fantastic trading group. Neither of them center on the Super Quad Platinum 1/1 prime jersey auto mojotastic hits. They still show some love to base cards.
    You can buy wax boxes of the older 80’s sets for less than $20. It’s the boxes from the last several years that are tough to find for a reasonable price.

  6. If you decide to build an 85 Topps set and need a few hard to find commons let me know who the players are. If I have them I’ll send them to you.

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