This is a topic I've been wanting to address since the release of Footy Stars 2023. But I wanted to wait until the community was able to enjoy the first product of the year, and give the predictor market an opportunity to settle.
As I've touched on previously, the amount of predictors available in Series 1 releases is the largest its ever been! And while a lot of the focus has been directed towards prices and how on-field performance can influence prices, there's also another aspect to this conversation which HASN'T been mentioned. And it reads as follows:
If the winning 'Rising Star Predictor' is redeemed as a booklet, which is to be expected with individual award-based predictors, that would bring the total amount of booklets produced from Footy Stars Retail & Hobby to a whopping 960!
Which leads me to today's discussion; Are the current print runs of predictors potentially leading to a saturation of booklets within the hobby? Or is the situation not as it seems?...
If you aren't familiar with how predictor cards have evolved over the years, follow the link to one of our resources 'What You Should Know About Predictors' to catch yourself up to date! But to put it simply, as the AFL Hobby has grown and likewise the demand for its releases, so have the number of predictors that have become available to collectors. The longest serving predictor to grace Select's Footy Star checklist is the 'Brownlow Predictor', which has featured in every iteration!
So why could the increase of predictors, and in turn booklets, become a sticking point in future releases? Even though booklets were created BEFORE the inception of releases like Supremacy in 2019, the widely loved series has placed an element of prestige upon booklets as they form the 'big ticket items' within those releases. i.e. Quad Coaches Booklet, Quad 1000+ Goalkicker Booklet, Superstar Patch Signatures, etc. No matter who appears on the booklet, even the likes of Lewis Taylor, it seems that booklets have this inherent value which collectors can't get enough of!
Or can they? The sentiment the community has with booklets is going to be tested NOW more than it ever has previously as we refer back to that total of 960 expected booklets for 2023. Will the expansion of releases such as Footy Stars impact the grandiose nature of booklets, or will we begin to see a watering down in value for these unique collector pieces?
You may be reading this thinking my opinion of the future of booklets is pretty 'doom and gloom', and while I think there are aspects that collectors need to be wary of, there are also factors working in the favor of booklets and the success to their longevity. Factors which are supported by concrete DATA!
The narrative that's been proposed above, rests on the fact that 960 successful predictors are going to be packed, redeemed, with a decent proportion of booklets being listed on the secondary market. This is definitely not going to be the case, and here's why!
What can be confirmed by Card Authority, given the information provided by Select Australia, the amount of successful predictors redeemed year on year is FAR from the amount printed! To our knowledge, prior to 2019 the average redemption rate ranged from 35-40%. Whereas from 2020 onwards, with collector numbers and in the hobby growing, the redemption rate rose to 45-50%! Therefore using the print run of predictors for 2023, we would only expect there to be around 450 successful predictors redeemed across both the Footy Stars Retail and Hobby releases.
As mentioned previously, Footy Stars is a mass-market product which has a wide spread distribution channel. There were approximately 68,000 boxes of Footy Stars Retail & Hobby printed for its 2023 release. 8400 of those boxes make up the hobby release, of which its contents have a much greater chance of reaching Facebook groups and eBay. But that leaves approximately 60,000 boxes of Footy Stars retail left open for the market to consume. What happens with the contents of retail packs is up for debate, but when taking into account the 'kid collector' factor, the passive consumers and unopened stock, the percentage of predictors that hit the market is miniscule compared to the hobby release..
And that's where we land in terms of predictor booklets. Because there's so many variables which inhibit the distribution of predictors, in particular the gold variants, the redemption rate of successful predictors is SIGNIFICANTLY LESS than the total amount which are minted! As you can see from the graph above, the amount of booklets produced has more than TRIPLED since Footy Stars 2020, but it would be inaccurate to say that the corresponding amount of booklets floating around will be anywhere near that number.
To further support the argument of the current print runs of predictors, I decided to run a mini social experiment to determine how attainable previous 'Brownlow Booklets' are in the current market. After posting a call-out for an Ollie Wines Gold Brownlow Booklet from 2021 Footy Stars, it was made pretty clear that these cards aren't lying around willingly. For a card that's numbered to 140 and only 2 release cycles old, plus being from a non-Victorian player/team, it shouldn't be IMPOSSIBLE to find one at market prices. But we were happily proven wrong, and the post led to NO solid leads. So if these booklet's are going to be so abundantly available, where are they all?
So, it seems that no matter the booklet or the player commemorated, they all seem pretty hard to find? In recent times, I've only seen a handful of the Platinum Brownlow Booklet's of Nat Fyfe and Tom Mitchell. There's also a population of the hobby which actively collect these booklet's as memento's. So maybe instead of thinking that the booklet print run will increase, it could be a matter of MORE neutral collectors buying these cards and eating up the supply. This year is obviously the first edition of the 'Rising Star Predictor', so it will be interesting to see how taken aback the community will be for potentially the winners first licensed signature!